How to market your B2B brand like a pair of pleather pants

My favorite rebranding in recent history is the shift from “pleather” to “vegan leather.” I remember being horrified in high school at the thought of seeing a pleather jacket, let alone wearing one. Today, I proudly own several “vegan leather” pieces – from fashion to office accessories – and don’t blink an eye.

So what has moved pleather from taboo to – dare I say – cool? And what does it mean for your B2B brand? The rebranding of pleather to vegan leather has two things in common with any successful B2B rebrand: using brand ambassadors to help sell your story, and telling that story with a socially responsible mindset.

Use brand ambassadors

More than a decade ago, celebrities and fashion designers used their influence to build acceptance – and favor – for vegan…

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Sustainability and social media: Made for each other

I have to give credit to Matthew Yeomans, founder of Sustainly, a sustainability communications research firm based in the U.K., for so clearly putting into words what I have felt strongly about over the past five or six years – sustainability and social media are made for each other. Sustainly is the provider of the annual Social Media Sustainability Index, which is now in its fifth year.

Here’s why sustainability and social media are such a good fit, according to Yeomans’ presentation at the Sustainable Brands conference last month in San Diego: Each is a “fundamental business philosophy,” not a tactic or strategy. He made a strong case that both social media and sustainability are underpinned by the same…

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What do The Atlantic, Deutsche Bank and my lawn mower all have in common?

You know that question makes me feel like Johnny Carson playing Carnac the Magnificent.

But the answer is … video.

The Atlantic is a storied magazine that was started in 1857 and which remains a powerhouse. It is creating more video stories for its digital edition as part of a growth strategy that is enabling this media property to succeed. There is a video ad fronting every single video story, and that is boosting revenues.

Deutsche Bank is one of the largest financial services companies in the world. It is creating more video stories in a thought leadership initiative to create brand separation from competitors. Check out its videos – on an array of topics suggested by its stakeholders – and see this positioning as it works.

So how does my lawn mower fit here?…

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Strong themes abound in annual reports

From differentiation to discipline, consistency to partnership, the most recent annual report season featured a variety of strong themes as companies endeavored to tell their stories in new and compelling ways. Here are a few notable examples:


A flexible set of colors and design elements has helped Sherwin-Williams present a consistent brand identity from year to year.  Distinctive colors and photography highlight the company’s four reportable segments throughout each report, as well as the company overview and geographic reach map. As a result, the three latest reports have an impactful, consistent style that reflects the company’s leadership and strong financial performance in the paints and coatings industry.

Fairmount Santrol – Defining…

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Jared may be getting off the Subway

The news that Subway restaurant pitchman and famous weight-loss success story Jared Fogle might be linked to a child pornography case underscores the need for companies that leverage celebrity spokespeople to remain vigilant of their activities long after background checks are conducted upfront. Fogle has been a mainstay of Subway advertisements for 15 years, and founded the Jared Foundation in 2004 to encourage children to develop healthy habits of eating and exercise.

Let’s be clear. Fogle hasn’t been accused of anything, but he may never regain his credibility as a spokesperson. Even the hint of crimes against children can taint a person forever in the court of public opinion.

In May, the Jared Foundation’s former director was indicted on federal child…

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