Jennifer B. Davis
On a recent flight to Europe, I saw a WorldShop catalog full of duty-free items that can be purchased on the plane. They advertised everything from jewelry to toys, from luggage to candy. This ad caught my eye. In the States, the warnings on cigarettes are big, but they fill the square with lots of fine print. In this catalog however, the messages were not subtle.

Two words.

Smoking kills.

It reminded me that sometimes there is no time for subtly. Sometimes you have to be direct. Give a clear directive.

So, next time you think about delivering a marketing message, talking to employees, or pitching a new direct.
Jennifer B. Davis
So, "The Next Great American Band" is on reality TV featuring groups with names like Dot, Dot, Dot, The Clark Brothers, and Sixwire (the former being the least favorite, I must admit, and the latter being my favorite). In this case, I am not sure the names matter, but they certainly can hurt (perhaps when the boys in "Light of Doom" grow up, they will find a better band name).

Meanwhile, businesses all over the world are struggling with naming their products and services. How to pick something meaningful? How to pick something clever? How to make sure it can be spelled correctly? Is the URL taken?

I have written about this before and offered some online automatic name generation solutions. If you are still lacking inspiration however, I have a new suggestion...think about your product or service like you are naming a band.

I know this might not be a new approach. Afterall, we all know companies like Yahoo!, StumbleUpon, Apple, and others that probably started off as the names of rock bands. To get you started check out this list of great band names posted by one of my favorite humorists, Dave Barry. Maybe one of these would be perfect for your next product launch!

"Rodent Passion" might be perfect for your pest control product or I could imagine the empire you could build around "The Foliage Eaters." The possibilities are endless!

P.S. Dave Barry celebrated his 60th birthday this past July. Happy belated birthday, Dave.

P.P.S. This is just the kind of thing I might have written about at the Creative Outlet Labs' blog had I known. I am doing a series called If you know of someone who is remarkable (whether or not they are famous enough to have their own page on Wikipedia or not) and celebrating a once-in-a-lifetime or everyday event, please email to recommend them for a feature.
Jennifer B. Davis
We have all heard that laughter is the best medicine, but it is also the best business. According to a study by Goleman and the Hay Group referenced in a Daniel Pink's A Whole New Mind, found that "within organizations, the most effective leaders were funny (that is funny ha-ha, not funny strange). These leaders had their charges laughting three times more often than their managerial counterparts."

So, it is good for your career to laugh. I read about this humor test to determine your preferred style of humor. Warning: the test itself is a raw for my taste and the requires registration (and they email you afterwards at annoying frequency). I am not recommending you do it, if you are offended by body humor.

Here is what they said about my sense of humor:

STYLE: The Prankster
Your humor has an intellectual, even conceptual slant to it. You're not pretentious, but you're not into what some would call 'low humor' either. You'll laugh at a good dirty joke, but you definitely prefer something clever to something moist.You probably like well-thought-out pranks and/or spoofs and it's highly likely you've tried one of these things yourself. In a lot of ways, yours is the most entertaining type of humor because it's smart without being mean-spirited.

PEOPLE LIKE YOU: Conan O'Brian - Ashton Kutcher
Jennifer B. Davis
If everything that we really needed to know, we learned in kindergarten then it is true that we should share. If you have documents to give to others, then you know what a pain attachments can be and how hard it is to post anything but pictures and text onto sites like blogs. Now, you have a few additional options:

Adobe has launched a beta of a new application they appropriately call "Share." With an Adobe ID, you can post files (up to 1GB) on their servers for free, allowing you to embed them in webpages,k access, them anywhere, and share them with whomever you want. Not only that their sign-in interface is really clean and straightforward.

For users of Microsoft products, you can store up to 1,000 documents and access them anywhere with Microsoft's new Live Workspace. People criticize it for a lack of editing features (like Google Apps or others), but that isn't the point really. Thousands of documents are created each second in Microsoft applications, so sharing these might cover most of the things you want to share and now you can do it for free.

Jennifer B. Davis
Ditch the gift cards (which Seth Godin says are a rip-off anyway). Toss the fruit cake. This season give personalized t-shirts for Christmas!

Here are a few options:
  • Zazzle: They are the best choice if you want a shirt with a text message on it or if you want to vary the text that accompanies a photo or image. I am a customer of Zazzle. I have made one for my toddler son (see image below). I have set up a storefront here for Little Masters by Rebecca Hull. Enter code SURVEYBR1107 until November 30th to get free ground shipping! The quality and service has been excellent! They offer a wide variety of products besides shirts, including postage, stationary, mugs, and stickers.

  • CafePress: They are the best choice if you want to design lots of products with the same design. I am using them for, which is a collection of apparel and gifts celebrating the lifestyle of Hot Springs Village, Arkansas. They do have a nice collection of women's items (not just smaller-sized men's clothes) and more than just clothes. Only company to offer things like license plate covers, yard signs, and other unique items.

  • Threadless: Not really sure how the personalization works on this site, but they have a whole host of unique products to buy that you are sure not to find at the mall and the prices are good.

  • GoodStorm: The prices here are the lowest I have seen for shirts (base prices as low as $5.95) and the storekeeper profits are much higher.

  • Etsy: If you are looking for something a little more "out there," check out the collection at Etsy. This site is all handmade items. Some of the t-shirt designs (under the clothing category) are really whimsical and the prices vary widely. Most are hand-stiched or silkscreened.

Jennifer B. Davis
Regular readers of this blog know I love (I mean L-O-V-E) print-on-demand and customizable products. I think it is revolutionizing the way the products can be brought to market and enabling all sorts of new business models.

One is called Ponoko. You think up a design. You send it to them. They use their tools to make it out of wood, acrylic, etc. You can browse though designs that others have updated and they can be made in quantities of one. You pay for the materials, making, and shipping costs. Some of the designs are free. They provide templates. Very cool for those who like unique things in the their home or office, or those who like to design furniture, jewelry, or other stuff. Products available for sale today range from $2 to just under $1,000.

The company is in New Zealand and they are giving free shipping to anyone who can refer someone with a laser-cutter. Apparently they are trying to grow their network of production locations.
Jennifer B. Davis
Apparently it is very common for corporate recruiters to Google (the verb) a candidate's name. I am sure it is common in other circles as well (if I, heaven forbid, was on the dating circuit right now, Google would get a work out searching for skeletons in the closet of any would-be boyfriend). Not only that, but if you want to make a name for yourself in any field, reinforcing your expertise online is critical. So, the good folks at TheLadders have put together their recommendations on how to build your online brand and I thought it was worth summarizing here. The authors are William Arruda and Kirsten Dixson nauthors of Career Distinctions.

  • Publish: Get articles or white papers published in online publications, preferrably those highly ranked themselves.
  • Posting: Post a review on Amazon or BarnesandNoble on subjects that are "on topic" with your expertise.
  • Pontificating: Post comments on other people's blogs. You can find relevant blogs at You can subscribe to the best ones in your field directly or you can keep your eye on the entire landscape by subscribing right on BlogSearch to any blog that contains your keyword choices.
  • Publicizing: Write a press release and post it. PRLeap or i-Newswire will release them for free. Check out an earlier article I wrote about doing your own PR.
  • Partnering: They recommend networking sites like LinkedIn, Ryze, ecademy, and Facebook. I personally like LinkedIn.
  • Profiling: They recommend creating the basic online profiles at Ziggs, LinkedIn, Naymz, and ZoomInfo, which I have written about before to make sure that they are complete and show your expertise clearly.

I guess I have some work to do...this personal branding thing could be a full-time job!

Jennifer B. Davis
"Anything, but beige" you say. If you love color and like to experiment, you will enjoy a site called ColourLovers. You can mix palettes (naming the colors yourself, which I always thought would be the best job at a paint or finger nail polish company) and see other combinations that people have come up with. You can search for the post popular palettes or select by colors that you are trying to match. Then you can use the palettes in your website designs or the like.

One of the top ranked palettes when I visited is featured here. It is called Chupacabra and it was submitted by EnaBean (who interestingly enough is 16 years old according to her profile and has put together what seems like thousands of combinations most of which are beautiful).
Jennifer B. Davis
There is a new product from Snapfish that looks pretty cool - talking greeting cards. You personalize the card on their site with your pictures and then you record your voice in the little microchip with the card arrives. In case you are interested, they are offering a 20% off special with the coupon code TALK20 until November 30th.

However, I just can't help but think there is a better way to do this in the future. Why not allow the person to pre-record the message by calling into a number (or similar to how GrandCentral lets you set up your voice mail by calling you)? Then instead of receiving the card yourself, you could have them send it to your recipient directly.

If you'd rather not record it yourself, why not have a celebrity recording you could choose from? Marilyn Monroe's singing Happy Birthday or Clint Eastwood saying "Make my day." They could be pre-recorded or the technology exists to have a personalized greeting in a celebrity voice. Remember those voice mails for Snakes on a Plane with Samuel L. Jackson?
Jennifer B. Davis
It seems like the hot color for business books today is orange. Here are three of my recent favorites.

Jennifer B. Davis
You will now find a new site posted at with some features you should check out. The most exciting of which is that we are now collecting volunteers for an upcoming beta test of a new service called Remarkable by Creative Outlet Labs. There will be more on this posted on the site and on the company blog in the coming months, but in the meantime sign-up and make sure you are on the list to be notified when we have something to look at.

While you are on the site, you can also read the company blog and take the survey that is posted there. This will help set the direction for the product offering, which we believe will provide a better way to appreciate, collaborate, and celebrate.
Jennifer B. Davis
It started with the band Radioheads and extended to Paste magazine. I blogged about it here. Now, you can subscribe to the company blog for Creative Outlet Labs and pay whatever you want.

Well, in all seriousness, you can’t pay for it even if you wanted to. However, if you are interested in keeping tabs on the development front, go to and add it to your RSS reader.

So, save your donations. There will be something for you to buy soon enough.