Category Archives: Branding

Gearing up for Gen Z: The #Selfie Generation?

HeadshotPattiGirardiEmailJust when you’d thought you’d wrapped your marketing minds around millennials, along comes Gen Z to really mess with your head.  Born between 1996 and 2013, the oldest part of this group is just now entering college, wreaking havoc with their multi-tasking mobile mindset and no doubt, creating huge challenges for the marketers trying to engage with them.

One such marketer is Patti Girardi, VP of Marketing with Chartwells Higher Education Dining Services, a division of Compass Group that feeds the students at 270 colleges and universities across the U.S.  Patti and I got connected through Incite’s upcoming Content Marketing Summit, where we’re on a panel together. And it turns out, she’s has had serious success engaging Gen Z with content — user generated content. Based on our conversation, we might just have to call them the #selfie generation. Read on to find out why.

Drew: I read about your “Where Hungry Minds Gather” program, which was designed to address the “unique attributes of Generation Z.” Can you talk about the strategy behind this repositioning?

Chartwells’ new brand identity positions its brand for the new generation of college students, Generation Z, which is replacing the Millennials on college and university campuses. With its extreme affinity for technology, Generation Z is described by thought-leaders like the Harvard School of Public Health as “over-connected, yet under-related,” and its work suggests that brands promoting high-intensity relationships will be the key to helping prepare this generation for the future. We looked at what we do naturally to promote high-intensity relationships — our dining programs bring students together and serve as centers of academic life on campus, for example — to arrive at our new slogan, “Where Hungry Minds Gather.”

Drew: How did content marketing fit into this program?  What kinds of content did you develop to appeal to Gen Z? 

Content marketing helps us stay true to communicating with Gen Z “in their language.” This group wants a story, not a sell. So our emphasis is on developing visual content that is quirky and playful, versus a more traditional sales-oriented communication approach.

Drew:  What is the biggest challenge you’ve had to overcome in the content space?

Gen Z multi-tasks across five digital screens (versus two for Millennials). So we are always striving to tell our story consistently across multiple digital platforms.

Drew:  How do you measure the effectiveness of your content marketing activities and how have things been working?

We look at the volume of interactions (likes, shares, retweets, etc.). In some cases, we’ve been able to boost same store sales.

Drew: Is there a particular type of content that is really working well for you right now? 

Gen Z communicates in images: emoticons, emojis, video. Regardless of the platform, we emphasize visuals over text as much as possible.

Drew: How does social media fit into your content strategy?  

This group is really all about social. As the first generation that has always had social media and the Internet, this demographic does not differentiate between the two. User generated content programs are highly popular with this generation – this is the age of the selfie!

Drew:  What are the 2-3 key lessons you’ve learned when it comes to developing effective content programs?

Keep it short: this generation communicates in snack-size portions (when it does take the time to read).
Produce content that is sharable. If Gen Z isn’t sharing your brand, you don’t exist.

Free Graphics Tools. Three Ways to Make Yourself Look Good

Are you using online graphics? How can anyone avoid it, right? But how can you make yourself look good?

Three Free Tools to Make Yourself Look Good

Why do you want to spend at least some time on your graphics?

  1. To look good
  2. To look professional
  3. To get people’s attention
  4. To build your brand
  5. To look like you are a bigger organization than you might actually be

Free graphics tools:

      1. Gimp:   This is a free version of Photoshop basically. So if you are already familiar with that tool, this will be an easy thing to master. If not, you can still use it and make yourself look like a pro.  And remember when you get stuck, just find a YouTube video to show you exactly what you need to do.
      2.   A truly great tool that is (almost) free to use. Actually it is free if you use your own photos. But their stock images are only $1. Can’t beat that, right?Canva is extremely easy to use, and can actually be fun. Just use one of the many templates for just about any type of image you want (Facebook ad, Twitter header, YouTube Channel Art, etc.). Use images then layer on your text. This is highly recommended for people that don’t want to spend a lot of time, but still want to look good.
      3.   Finding free images that no one will complain about you using, use Pixabay. There are an incredible number of really great images available. Be careful about the search because they will try to lead you to the paid listings.  But no reason to do that because you can find just about anything you need. Then upload it into

Using these three free tools, you can have a great online presence. And always look professional. I made this in Canva:

build your brand



Build Your Brand – The 5 Keys to Success

build your brandIf you are building an online business one of the keys to success is to build your brand.

The 5 Keys to Building Your Brand:

  1. Belief: Believe in yourself, your industry, your business, and the value you possess.
  2. Consistency:  Being consistent in knowing what your brand stands for and continually reinforce that message.
  3. Value:  Function from a place of service. Always, always provide value. That is what you will become known for. And people will start to expect it from you as you build your brand.
  4. Be bold:  Face your fears and doubts. Function from a position of power. People will sense that and want to join you.
  5. Think big:  Go for it.  Think big, really big.  Isn’t that the kind of person you want to join? The kind of person you want to follow as well?

Build Your Brand

7 Questions to Ask Yourself:

  1. How do you want to be remembered?
  2. What is your vision and purpose?
  3. What are your values and passion?
  4. What does your business look like in the 1/3/5 years?
  5. What are your goals?
  6. What are you core strengths and skills?
  7. Who is the competition and what makes you different?

You will want to accentuate your qualities. But if you are just starting out, what do you have to offer? Plenty. Always remember that there are going to be people who are just starting out on their network marketing journey. Many of the things you now know they have yet to learn. Don’t you want to be the leader? The teacher?


  1. Properly frame your results
  2. Be yourself
  3. Specialize in your strengths
  4. When you build your brand continually improve your online image and messaging


  1. Misrepresent results
  2. Sound like everyone else
  3. Pigeon hole yourself
  4. Make everything fancy and perfect
  5. Come across as too professional

Be real and transparent and show your personality. After all you are the perfect leader for certain people. Let people into your life and you will be amazed at the results.

Also make sure your online presence is congruent with who you are. Always keep in mind why people should be interested in joining you and your team.


Do an about me video. You might already have one. Check it out again. Does it represent who you are right now? And who you want to be?

This is a lot to think about. Trust me, I know. But before you can start creating powerful, productive content you need to build your brand.

Good luck with the assignment.


PS: Click here to learn more about Instant Authority Status. Learn from the pro’s!

Branding Yourself

Branding yourself

How do you brand yourself?

Everyone recognizes certain brands. The Warner Bros. shield for example. But do you get recognized?

tom leonard Warner Bro. logo

Of course you are going to recognize the shield. But it has been around, in different formats for nearly 100 years. And the dollars spent on marketing and advertising would be an astounding amount. So the lesson here is that if you have time and money, you can build a well known brand.

But if you are just starting out there are ways to brand yourself. You can:

  1. Advertise – even a guy just beginning can advertise on social media for just a few dollars a day. Think Facebook PPC (pay-per-click) and Twitter PPC. Even Google AdWords can work well.
  2. Video – for branding yourself it is important that people get to see and hear you. That is the beauty of YouTube. You can post for free and start to get recognized.
  3. Blog – your personal blog can be the hub of your online presence. No one can ban you or shut you down. You will own your content and it will be up there as long as you want.
  4. Use Social Media – keep up your posting on Facebook, Twitter, YouTube, Pinterest, Instagram, LinkedIn, Slideshare, etc. There are too many places sometimes. But that is a good thing for branding yourself, right?
  5. Engage – go out and find smart people and engage with them. Comment on blog posts and on Facebook. Get in front of the right people. Say smart things and they will pay attention.

The most important thing is to be consistent in branding yourself. Post every day. Yes every single day. That type of consistency will get you noticed. Not many people do that.

Be positive. Don’t be too controversial – unless it suits your purpose to get attention. No one wants to pay attention to a chronic complainer. Would you?

Have fun online today!

PS: For a great resource, click here to check out Posting on Purpose. I know it works.