Brand Inspiration

To Transform our Brands is to Transform Ourselves

The process of branding involves not only transforming our companies, but also transforming ourselves, and the extent to which we successfully embrace the challenges of our personal growth is reflected in the growth of our brands’ potential.

Be bold and prosper.


Chipotle's "Scarecrow": a Triumph of Branding and Storytelling

How do I love thee “Scarecrow”? Let me count the ways:

• I know Chipotle is a business whose primary motivation is not to rid the world of factory farming, but to sell me more burritos, and was once owned,  in part, by McDonalds, but the craft and beauty of their story so entranced and moved me  as a consumer that, frankly, I don’t care. Hook line and sinker for your messaging—that’s how I fell.

• At QUO VADIS one of the lines in our Manifesto is, “Nothing is more memorable than truth beautifully told”, and this video epitomizes that spirt: from the gorgeous score and singing of  Fiona Apple, to the beautifully animated graphics, and everything in between, it demonstrates the ability of a brilliantly realized brand video to rivet an audience’s attention in a way that competes with anything on the big screen.

• We often say “People think with their hearts first” and this is also a wonderful example of that adage—the piece so effectively puts the viewer into  a emotional state that their chicken could be raised in Fukoshima and I’d still order my burrito with “extra chicken, please.”

Sometimes business wonder about the effectiveness of branding and justifiably so. The jury’s not in yet on the number of mobile app downloads, or how their brand awareness has been enhanced, but from my perspective, from the standpoint of brand strategy and creative direction, I predict it will be an out of the park home run.

Congratulations to Fiona Apple, CAA Marketing and the Oscar-winning animators at Moonbot Studios for this remarkable piece of work.

Be bold and prosper.

Rick Julian QUO VADIS

Rick Julian is an award winning Creative Director and Brand Strategist at  QUO VADIS, a branding agency in Atlanta, GA.

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Sharing Your Brand In Social Media

In social media, as in life, the more available we make our brand to our audiences, the more available their brand awareness, understanding  of our value propositions, and, yes, revenue,  become available to us.

Be bold and prosper.


Jonanthan Adler On: Creative Iconoclasm, Brand Essence, and Focus Group Hate

Warning: if liberal use of profanity offends you, then don’t watch this video. Otherwise, you’re in for some great insight from a man who confesses he made every mistake possible en route to his remarkable success.

I particularly enjoyed his thoughts on ignoring others’ opinions of work you believe in, having his work look like no one else’s, finding his true brand “irreverent luxury”, and his utter disdain for focus groups.

It’s a thought provoking and entertaining watch for creators and brand marketers alike.

Be bold and prosper.



We Will Not Be Ignored

‎”Be so good they can’t ignore you.” – Steve Martin

How high your aim is is he cornerstone of greatness in branding. If you’re satisfied with OK work, you’ll get OK results.

If you’re lucky.

On the other hand if you demand that everything you deliver to your customers and prospects be “insanely great” as the late Steve Jobs demanded of his products and brand,  you’ll set the table for truly remarkable outcomes.

Be bold and prosper.

–Rick Julian

(Painting by QV friend and collaborator HENSE for a private commission in Washington, DC)


Where Does Love Fit in Branding?

A few months ago, I was speaking with a potential rebranding client and put the concept of fostering love in the middle of the conference table. You’d have thought I farted.

Funny how we think of life and business existing in separate spheres. It’s what leads us to labeling human beings as “targets”, “audiences”,”resources”, “users” . . . my guess is these abstractions allow us to reconcile ourselves to doing things we otherwise might not if we called them “brothers and sisters” or “friends” or simply “people”.

Anyway, after everyone had finished clearing their throats and wriggling in their seats, we got down to the real business of the *human* enterprise, and began to speak of the mechanics of human interaction, and why people care, and how to encourage them to care about one another more. Only after *that* exploration did we get to the topic of revenue growth and how it was a natural consequence of how people felt about the company, its brand, and its value/meaning to them. Predicating our work on this level of understanding will, I predict, yield far greater success than had we stuck to the raw data of demographics and market research.The good stuff begins when we turn off the powerpoint, step away from the whiteboard, close the laptop, and look one another in the eyes and speak from our personal experiences and truths as people. there’s far more intelligence in that content, than in all the schools of business in the world.Be bold and prosper.
–Rick Julian

Teeth! Hair! Feet!













This morning, Hugh Macleod at Gaping Void  sang the song that never ends in branding: the idea that mundane brand positioning can make you special in the eyes of your potential buyers.

Imagine writing a singles ad for your very best friend, and describing her as “covered with skin, has two eyes, and walks upright . . .”

Yaaay, a human!

If you wrote that ad, what kind of response would you expect your friend to get? What, you mean touting the most basic characteristics of all humans doesn’t make your friend seem special, or more importantly–don’t capture her most appealing qualities–the ones that make her a truly remarkable woman?

Branding your business is no different.

“Value, service, quality, efficiency, ‘our people make the difference’, ‘you come first’, low prices . . .” do not a brand make. Actually they do make a brand: a very generic and unmemorable one that blends in with the rest of your competition and underperforms. Truth is, though they aren’t always delivered, consumers expect all of these basic attributes from companies, so stating the obvious gives you no traction with them, and only ends up muddying the waters in your brandscape vs. clarifying your company’s unique position in it.

Your friend is wonderful and appealing because she once saw an old couple celebrating their 50th anniversary over a shared plate of tacos at a Mexican restaurant, and decided to send  a bottle of Champagn, a flan with a birthday candle, and the Mariachi band over to their table, then paid for it all. That’s what makes her special–not the fact that she maintains a body temperature of 98.6 degrees.

Your brand has a similar story to tell people–those sometimes not so obvious details about your product and service that truly define your value, and make people want to do business with you–that’s the song you need to sing.

Now go out and sing it.

Be bold and prosper.

–Rick Julian