Most believe B2B branding is unique; we believe that’s BS

Christian Markow and Barry Saunders have spent decades thinking about brand strategy and customer experience while working on top-notch brands, such as GE, Chick-fil-A and Target. They also lead Joe Smith, Padilla’s brand consultancy. I sat down with Christian and Barry a few weeks ago to discuss how B2B companies should approach branding.

Christian Markow

Christian Markow

Barry Saunders

Barry Saunders

Q: How is digital disruption affecting B2B branding?

B2B customers have been influenced by extreme improvements in customer experience and design on the consumer side. Everything we deal with in our daily lives – from the way we pay bills, buy stock and order sandwiches – influences how we think about our business relationships. So we have wonderful, dynamic, interesting and joyful experiences that are equally influenced by both digital and human interaction on the consumer side, but then our B2B interactions are total “BS.” They’re laden by horrible procurement processes, impossible invoicing and a customer experience with sales people who just spit stuff at us. Or we end up in the silo the salesperson represents when we need…

Higher Education

Trump Fuels Liberal Arts for Takeoff

Credit: Whytoread.comToo bad the Washington Post got to “Democracy Dies in Darkness” first.

Any number of colleges and universities nationwide could have used the line to market the heck out of their liberal arts programs, which have a huge growth opportunity thanks to President Trump.

His surprise election and clumsy administration have reignited an interest in governance that’s been dormant for decades.

Americans are marching by the millions, protesting at airports, starting Facebook groups, attending town hall meetings, joining the ACLU and the League of Women Voters, calling their representatives, holding rallies, downloading podcasts and boosting newspaper subscriptions.

We have a renewed focus on the meaning and worth of values like inclusiveness, respect, responsibility and truth.

Those values are the hallmarks of a liberal arts education.  They’re also the hallmarks of citizen leaders, regardless of party affiliation, that a changing nation needs in its boardrooms, nonprofits, classrooms, hospitals, laboratories, factories, communities and governments.

The case for liberal arts education is not any stronger this year than it was last year, it’s just more timely. Catch the wave.

PR Industry Trends

Lose Weight by Petting Puppies

You may have to continue the activity aggressively for many hours to see any benefit, but keep trying. Now that we got that out of the way, let’s talk about clickbait. Maybe you have been a recent victim of it. Perhaps as recently as visiting this page.

Clickbait is not new, and the concept predates actual clicking. My first experience was a circus sideshow that failed to deliver on the dog faced boy I anticipated from the barker. In today’s page view economy, your clicks are the equivalent of the two bucks I forked over for disappointment. You have seen the headlines:



  • 11 things that will shock you about BLANK
  • You Won’t Believe Where These Child Actors are Now
  • This Berry Found in The Amazon is the Real Fountain of Youth

We’ve seen clickbait on news sites, using salacious language in headlines that doesn’t always reflect the facts of the story. This doesn’t consider outright Fake News that we saw surpass mainstream news views on Facebook last year.

For marketers building long term engagement strategies, we need to forgo the temptations of clickbait to boost…


Serious About STE(A)M

CaptureManufacturers in all industries face a potentially paralyzing reality: 600,000 unfilled jobs by 2025. These jobs require education and training in science, technology, engineering and math (STEM). What’s more, according to SME Education Foundation, 69 percent of companies believe the shortage of skilled workers will get even worse.

So why the drastic deficit? Retiring baby boomers make up part of the decline. But the disheartening reason is that too few young people are entering skilled trade and degreed STEM fields. Why? Because we, the parents, have told them that manufacturing is manual, dirty and dangerous work. How wrong we are! Today’s manufacturing facilities contain some of the most highly technical and innovative technology found anywhere.

To help improve the image of manufacturing and educate young people about exciting careers in the field, companies are taking action. They’re partnering with educational institutions, and providing the money and equipment required to train students. They’re welcoming young people – and their parents – into their plants to show off the clean and high-tech environments. They’re training their own employees on the latest technology used to manufacture goods, large and small. They’re working with organizations like…


What’s Driving Technology in Health Care? A Look at How Digital is Changing the Patient Experience

It’s undeniable we are in the midst of a national discussion about patients taking charge of their health and how health care providers can become more resourceful. There’s a clear call for health care to improve how providers manage their patients, practices and day-to-day medicine. And, there’s a distinct parallel with technology innovations that offer convenience, flexibility, efficiency and engagement with health care providers.

Patients want to be in control of their needs. Patients want to diagnose their illness, manage their condition and select a health care provider based on what’s important to them. To help understand some of the challenges and opportunities facing our clients, here’s a look at the latest technological developments that are changing the way we market health care and gain loyalty from physicians, patients, and providers.

digital health


Virtual Visits

Recently, we discussed why it’s not necessary to complicate the patient experience – it’s a lot like the consumer experience. Patients want access, affordability, and personalized service, so it’s no surprise that smartphones, social media and online retailers are shaping consumer expectations when it comes to their health care experience. From a patient’s perspective, a health