Month: April 2017

April 14, 2017 Sandra Linville-Thomas

We’ve been there. At a concert our favorite band jams through its latest songs when audience members yell out requests for golden oldies. The band wants to move on to new creative paths but the audience hangs on to the comfort of the old band—the old brand. Sometimes fans want to bring along some of the old songs during a change in direction.


Recently, a large New York Dairy shut down its 90-year-old dairy operation to introduce a range of plant-based milks. Market challenges inspired the company to set out in a new direction so it developed a rebrand. It also brought along some of the old brand for the transition.


Digging to the core of the brand

Comparing websites provides a snapshot of the transition. The original Elmhurst Dairy website focused on the company’s commitment to the local community. The family story was at the center and showed how owner and operator Henry Schwartz kept his business going in an increasingly tough business environment. Although the dairy had a strong foundation it was in a mature industry losing market share.

Photo credit:  from Elmhurst website,

The why of Elmhurst leads to new perception as revolutionary

The new Elmhurst story features a modern, bright design. The new website still showcases Elmhurst’s history in the milk production industry as well as its family business roots. This heritage story acts as a bridge to its new endeavor and role as a committed leader in the plant-based revolution. The foundation of what made it a favorite brand to many still exists. The company remains committed to quality and in trusted family hands.


The website features a story about how Schwartz convinced Dr. Cheryl Mitchell, a leading culinary innovator, to join the company and bring her “methods for making these non-dairy Milked Plants to Western New York, where the expertise of Elmhurst in the packaging and distribution of dairy milks, could be used to deliver these unique milked plant products throughout the East and beyond.”


Elmhurst bloomed as a new brand by following some basic principles of rebranding. If you or your business have changed direction here are 5 top tips for you to consider.




Dig to the core of your brand suggests Bethany Spilde, certified personal branding strategist and chief possibilities officer for Rise Above. “It takes time and intentionality,” she says. “When a company or individual evolves to the point of needing to rebrand or reinvent themselves, it can feel vulnerable and risky. Yet, at every brand’s heart is not the product or marketing, but those deeply embedded values and strengths which rarely change.” Identify your brand foundation to ground you while moving toward your vision.


Go deep and find out why,” Spilde says. “Why do you do what you do? Drill down. Ask why, then ask why again, and again. At the core of every why are deeply embedded beliefs, values and a unique story. The what can always change and is common, but the why is unique and sets you apart.” Spilde notes neuroscience indicates that telling your story around why resonates in the minds of listeners much better than when we simply state what we do. The why makes and leaves the first impression. “A mentor once said that what makes you unique, makes you successful,” Spilde says.


How do others perceive you? “Get feedback from those you work with, who lead you, follow you and are in different spheres of your life,” Spilde says. Ask questions. What are your strengths and weaknesses? What kind of car would you be, and why? Are these perceptions accurate? Next, do an online audit of your brand as if you were a potential client to see what they would find.


Decide how you want to tell your story and on which platforms. Study your audience and provide content that is valuable, which also builds your thought-leadership in that area. “Today, your online brand is important in getting discovered offline,” Spilde says.


Then LIVE it! Your brand can’t be just a plan or content on paper. It’s who you are and the value you provide to others; how people experience you/your company. Live your brand completely,” Spilde says.


April 13, 2017 Sandra Linville-Thomas
Credit: Copyright © 2013 Karen B. Jones. All rights reserved.

#TimeForRecessThursday. You deserve a recess today. Renew and revitalize your creative spirit with recess tips and virtual field trips. Regular recess is good business.

1. See life from a new perspective

Jumpstart your journey to a fresh frame of mind. Indulge your inner Jackson Pollock at Jackson Pollock by Miltos Manetas. Place your cursor on the blank screen, start clicking and move it around that blank canvas at different speeds.


For more info, watch a Portrait of an Artist: Jackson Pollock at YouTube and see more of Pollock’s work at Artnet. Miltos Manetas gives you plenty to change your perspective at his website.



2. Get out…of this world

 Me as Flannery Shan in-world with the Greenies
Credit: Second Life website,

When everything seems too much of more of the same, learning something can be exhilarating. Second Life is a free 3D virtual world where users socialize, connect and create. It has a steep learning curve so will take more commitment, but if you enjoy spreading your wings through technology this could be a terrific tonic. Get acquainted with Second Life on its Facebook page. Try it out and your first life may get a much-needed infusion of creativity.


I’ve spent a fair amount of time in the past learning how to navigate Second Life and admiring what the residents have created, but I haven’t visited lately. “Second Life is Back for a Third Life, This Time in Virtual Reality” in the MIT Technology Review sparked my curiosity again so I may take some time soon to see what’s new. About 10 years ago, Second Life was touted as a promising place to hold corporate and educational gatherings in articles like this in the Los Angeles Times.


It’s always fun to see what all the makers in the world are doing. And I’m always on the lookout for the newest ways that technology helps us communicate and form community.



3. Take 5 minutes and go to a world of wonder

Disney Parks has bundled a bunch of mini vacations when you’re ready for recess. Disney knows how to use YouTube and other social media platforms. You may find inspiration for your own business social media plans, but remember recess.


Enjoy an entire day at Disney World’s Magic Kingdom in a few moments.
Watch this tilt-shift video — a complete story without words.


For some new adventure window-shopping, browse through some of the best travel places for 2017 at AOL Travel.

4. Be still

 Credit: from

 Sitting quietly, doing nothing, spring comes and the grass grows by itself. — Zen proverb

Unstructured time for unhurried, undirected thinking keeps you creative. Acts of creation are strengthened by moments of rest to allow for the “great aha” moments. Stay in one place and watch the world. Reflect. Imagine. Ponder. Daydream. Watch. See. Let your mind wander. Take time, stop and think.


Creativity is seeing what everyone sees and thinking what no one has thought. — Einstein


What activities do you enjoy for creative renewal and to gain fresh perspective?  

April 12, 2017 Sandra Linville-Thomas

Words pretty much hit me in the face while walking through the Whitney Museum of American Art in the spring of 2004. My only visit to the Whitney Biennial left an impression.


I anticipate a magic moment, maybe an epiphany, but feel a bit overwhelmed. I turn a corner and am delighted to find words among all these images. Walking through the exhibit, seeing the world through artists’ eyes transports me, but the Whitney Biennial is a lot to take in, particularly in one speedy trip. Now I find focus in the five word paintings of accomplished and veteran conceptual artist Mel Bochner.


Words in bright, candy colors

Each painting begins with one word in the upper left corner and then begins a trek through a thesaurus. The word “nothing” leads to “negation,” “goose egg,” etc. The other four words in the paintings include: “indifference,” “stupid, “meaningless,” and “mistake.” “Mistake” leads him to words such as “botch,” “boner,” “fumble,” “fluff,” “gaffe,” and “snafu.” All words are painted in bright, candy colors and I see them as if for the first time.


I don’t even try to interpret the message, if any, from the artist. I merely experience the paintings in the moment and find them powerful as words can be, even with no context. Maybe more so with no context. They stand alone.


Minimalist, conceptual art isn’t for everyone. But, I would suggest following John Cage’s advice: “If something is boring after two minutes, try it for four. If still boring, then eight. Then 16. Then 32. Eventually one discovers that it is not boring at all.”


It’s never comfortable

I enjoy conceptual art. It’s not always comfortable. Actually. It’s never comfortable. I don’t always know if I understand, but I always connect in some way that’s hidden in my conscious mind. So, I don’t try to connect with the art in a disciplined way. I just meet it head on and let it wash over me.


As I experience these words in a new environment and way, I feel the power of art to slow down time. My senses sharpen and I stuff any preconceived notions into my pockets, resisting the urge of my own ego to make this an intellectual experience. I stand in front of the five paintings and contemplate the orange, blue and red words: “Nothing,” “Indifference,” “Stupid,” “Meaningless,” and “Mistake.”

Blah, Blah, Blah, 2014
I-70 Sign Show, Hatton, MO
Credit: Mel Bochner website,

Intrigued and want more? Watch this short video, “Blah Blah Blah: Mel Bochner in His Own Words”. Don’t miss the end of the trailer. Also, see what the 2017 Whitney Biennial offers.


Have words displayed in unexpected ways in unexpected places ever captured your attention?


April 11, 2017 Sandra Linville-Thomas

Yes, Facebook wants you, small business, and so do several other companies as they hope to be the chosen one to help small businesses manage workplace conversations and collaboration. In October 2016, Facebook launched its stand-alone version of Facebook targeted for companies and organizations, called Workplace.


Facebook stated that “we’ve brought the best of Facebook to the workplace.” On its website, Facebook reported it has been using an internal version of its app at its company for many years.
Competitors are offering small businesses similar products:

♦       Microsoft Teams, part of its Office365 subscription suite. (no free version)

♦      Google Hangouts Meet that integrates with its premium GSuite. (14-day free trial)

♦      Slack (free version)


Free version from Facebook

Facebook is now testing a free version to sign up more small businesses and companies in emerging markets. It’s called Workplace Standard and is available to any company or organization that wants it.


The Workplace Standard free version offers Groups, Messenger, audio and video calling, Events, live video and network profiles. There are also new features such as Reactions, Search and Trending posts. As the Workplace website states: “This means you can chat with a colleague across the world in real time, host a virtual brainstorm in a Group, or follow along with your CEO’s presentation on Facebook Live.”


If companies want more capability, such as administrative and analytical tools, they can pay for Workplace Premium. Workplace Premium is always free for non-profits and staff at educational institutions. A free trial period for Workplace Premium is also available.


Facebook’s familiarity among users should help the company’s case, but it may also hurt it. It’s hard to forget that Facebook is a social platform that’s been a discouraged activity at work up to this point. Facebook is quick to remind everyone that the Workplace is separate from personal Facebook accounts.


What do customers think?

Customer stories on the Workplace website provide insight of how it is perceived.


“You don’t hear this too often, where the company is rolling out a new product and users cheer. They are literally delighted,” says Jim Daniell, COO, Oxfam America.


“We’re removing hierarchies, removing silos and creating organized chaos for ideas to flourish,” Sigve Brekke, President and CEO, Telenor Group, Norway says.


Bold move, Facebook

Facebook faces fierce competition, but given its loyalty and familiarity with personal social media among the public of all ages, it could have an edge. Since so many people use Facebook personally, it can be assumed that the learning curve for Facebook use in the business environment should be close to level. Also, the free service is a bold competitive move and will bring those ready to chat in a business environment to Workplace to try it out.


Have you signed up for any of these chat services for your business? Does Workplace by Facebook intrigue you?