47. Landor Associates – Stand up, stand out and stand for something.

Last Wednesday, I had the opportunity to visit branding agency Landor AssociatesNew York City office. Hidden within one of the tall, ominous yet beautiful buildings along Park Avenue, I gaped in awe at its majesty…while enjoying the conveniently located Starbucks across the street. Nothing like being 40 minutes early for an appointment! Even after accidentally going to the entirely opposite end of Park Avenue…

 

Protein box! Just my style.

Landor, I’ve found you!

I met Mindy Romero, Landor’s Director of Public Relations, when I was in NYC back in May with fellow UO classmates for Creativity Week. She and I were both attending the UnConference and ended up chatting together at lunch. I made it a point to stay in contact with her after leaving New York, and it definitely paid off! Networking is such a powerful tool in advertising. There are so many wonderful people in the industry who will happily help out new college grads. Mindy was no exception! When I found out I had the chance to be in New York last week, I quickly emailed her. I not only was able to set up a meeting with her, but she helped out so I could also meet with Alyssa Montalvo from the HR department.

When it was time for my meetings, I ventured over. With a clean, crisp lobby with security guards, I couldn’t help but feel a little intimidated.

Compared to the bright lobby, the Landor office was full of dark brick, sleek furniture, graphic art and examples of award-winning work on the walls. They even pay tribute to Walter Landor on one of the walls.


I’m so appreciative and thankful for being able to meet with both Alyssa and Mindy. We talked about Landor and how they function, things I’ve done in the past, what I want to do in the future, different possibilities and the industry. They both critiqued my resume and gave me tips for networking. I also have some ideas for personal projects to do in order to be a better potential employee in general.

Both reminded me of the importance of keeping a blog. Read and stay up to date on the industry. Form an opinion about what brands are doing and share it! When I struggled (only momentarily) to name a brand that had recently don’t something I liked, I knew I’d been away from industry news a little too long. On your blog, don’t be afraid to have a post every now and again about your new favorite song, shirt, recipe, whatever! It shows off your personality. If you’re able to tie it back in to advertising or branding, even better.

We’ve all heard it before –  LinkedIn and Twitter may be your best friends when it comes to landing a job. If you meet someone in the industry, try your best to establish a connection and keep in contact. Nothing beats face-to-face communication, but messages every now and again will keep you in their mind. If it’s someone who works at an agency, maybe they have some new work out that you admire. Strike up a conversation about it. Alyssa told me about a person she interviewed in the past. Landor wasn’t able to hire that person at the time, but s/he still keeps in touch with Alyssa. Alyssa said she would definitely think of that person if there was a job opening.

I had a great time at Landor and would love to come back (and someday land(or) a job there). I’m feeling more motivated to work hard. Let’s go!

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9. The power of brands and fashion faux pas.

I had a bit of an “ad major learning about brands” moment while shopping with a friend over the weekend. We were perusing the sales rack in forever 21 when my friend spotted this jacket.

Pulling it off the rack, she said, “It has an A for Alissa! You have to get it!” I was in desperate search of a coat (I still am!), but the style and cut definitely wasn’t for me, despite the cute “A” patch. Just as she was about to place it back on the rack, she noticed the price tag was written in Japanese, yen symbol and all. My friend and I are both Japanese majors, so this probably excited us more than your average forever 21 shoppers. After noticing the tag, it was as if a switch had been flipped in my mind. Suddenly the jacket was much more adorable and something I could totally see myself in. Pulling it off the hanger, I tried it on. It fit okay. Just okay. The cut was wrong for me, but the fact that it came from Japan made me want to like it.

Before taking Creative Strategist, I may not have realized exactly why I wanted the jacket. I would have thought, “I like Japan! That’s why!” But is it that simple? If I look at Japan as a brand for a moment, it makes more sense. People want to associate themselves with the ideas and emotions of brands they like. They want to be associated with other people who consume the brand. As Debbie Millman puts it in her book, “Brand Thinking and Other Noble Pursuits”, when she was younger she “believed that by the sheer virtue of acquiring these objects, they would magically convert [her] into a dramatically different person – the person [she] longed to be.” In no way am I implying that I long to be Japanese, but my interest in the country, language and culture makes me want to purchase things from there or things that Japanese people purchase, even if it may be something I might not normally purchase. I know I’ve done it in the past. At times I stop myself and think, “Wait a minute. Why am I buying this?!” In Dan Levy’s article about personifying brands, his interview with Jeff Pulver leads him to the realization that “people often extend their love of the brand directly to the person who represents them without any indication of who that person really is.” While I’m not comparing the Japan brand to a person here, his idea also represents how people who are loyal to a brand have a higher tendency to buy whatever the brand produces, no matter what it is. For me, simply the fact that it came from Japan was enough to grab my interest and make me take a second look.

Scott Bedbury may refer to this phenomenon as my desire to feel a deeper connection and sense of belonging with a country I’ve invested the majority of my college career in. In his book “A New Brand World”, he discusses the importance of belonging and how it affects our decisions to invest our time and money in a particular brand.  He explains how “the mere possession of a product can make consumers feel as if they are somehow deeply connected to everyone else who owns the product.” Owning a jacket that was most likely sold in Japan and purchased by Japanese customers would definitely give me some sort of feeling of having a closer connection with Japan.

Thankfully I resisted all these urges and put the jacket back, knowing all too well that if something doesn’t fit me perfectly in the store, I’ll never wear it at home. Besides, it’s not the clothes I wear that let people know of my love for Japanese, right?

With all this new knowledge about the strength of brands, I don’t think I’ll ever be able to ignorantly shop again! Turns out I can’t escape my ad-major mind, even on the weekends.