Save your brand: when you need more than just a new logo

Picture it, if you will.
You’re a designer, working amongst a throng of designers, at one of the biggest retail corporations in the country. The work you produce is seen by millions of people. High profile, to say the least. One day, however, you enthusiastically announce that you’re leaving the corporate rat race for better, albeit smaller pastures. “Where is this golden opportunity?” your designer friends ask. You awkwardly mumble the name of your new employer, knowing full well that it will simply prompt inquisitive squints and ambivalent nods. Worse yet, when they search the name — if they remember it — they’ll land on a website you, yourself, admittedly winced at prior to your interviews. It needed a facelift, first and foremost. But upon further scrutiny, that was barely the half of it.


Out with the Old

When I joined Zeon Solutions just over a year ago, I had no idea that I was about to embark on the most intense, insane, incredible journey of my professional career – past, present, and I dare say, future. But let’s back up for a second. Let’s talk about branding.


You may or may not realize that branding goes way beyond your company logo. It goes beyond your color scheme, your tagline, your website, your photography, your style guide, even your powerful, super inspirational corporate value statements. Brand is about emotion. Sure, branding can be artfully articulated, but it cannot be dictated. Brand is your company’s personality, its core essence. It is the stuff your company was born with and exudes to the world. Brand is the promise your company makes to its clients, customers, prospects and employees alike. “We do this!” your company exclaims to the anyone and everyone who will listen. “And we promise you, we do it the best!”


If you’re doing it right, your clients, your customers, your prospects and your employees alike – well, they will all believe you.


Brand Inspiration Board


Nike. Apple. Google. Zappos. BMW. Coca-Cola. Think about it. It’s all so much more than a logo. It’s a gut feeling. It’s promise that you’re going to get fit, that you’re going to be the coolest kid on your block, that you’ll find exactly what you’re looking for, that you’ll get the best customer service, that you’re getting top notch quality, and that you shall thirst no more.


Stay Brandy My Friends.

So when I told my new boss and, gulp, my new CEO that our company logo…well…kinda sucks a little, I realized that it had nothing at all to do with our uninspired logo and ho hum colors and the chaos of content on our lackluster website. What happened was that I got to know the people who worked at Zeon, affectionately known company-wide as Zeonites. I wanted – no – needed to unearth and deliver to this exceptionally creative, hilarious, talented, hardworking, brilliant crew of people the brand they rightfully deserved. I needed to give them the brand I saw as footballs flew through the air, as friends laughed and supported one another, as our fearless leader doled out enthusiastic high fives for a job well done. This was stuff the outside world just had to see. Zeon was like the ‘80s movie nerd, clad in thick-rimmed glasses and high-waisted pants, who just needs a makeover. So I was officially tasked with what we called a “rebrand,” but for all intents and purposes, merely a brand refresh: strip away the mundane exterior to reveal the true beauty underneath. Take off the chunky nerd specs and suddenly everyone sees what was always there, just, better.


Rebrand Roadmap

The following nine months were a challenge to say the least. Zeon’s marketing team, our new user experience strategist and I joined forces. We more or less started from scratch. We overhauled everything. We interviewed our leadership. We challenged their view of Zeon’s landscape and vision. We challenged each other. We pushed limits. We threw out our tip-toe shoes and gallumphed over eggshells. We put all fears aside. I’m not gonna lie, it got dramatic. But it’s important to realize that branding is a dramatic experience. As I mentioned, emotion is at the heart of branding. You shut off emotion and you’re wasting your time.


In the months that followed, we established new company value statements, which actually encompassed our culture and would hopefully act as sincere inspiration, rather than corporate gobbledygook. We crafted a new positioning statement that announced to the world: We are more than just an eCommerce development shop! We conceived a tagline that, well, isn’t Accelerating Revenue Through Technolo … zzzzzz. And we designed a new logo based on a heroic backstory and archetype that we felt truly captured our dedicated crew, now affectionately known as Zeonauts. It all sounds so easy on paper, doesn’t it? Well, while the core essence of Zeon Solutions came to us naturally, we scrutinized over the details for months. We put the final touches on our new brand book — the Flight Manual — and revealed it internally at our holiday party in December. We reluctantly urged our Zeonauts to hold tight and keep mum until the new website launched in the Spring.


Rebrand Flight Manual


For all the blood, sweat and tears we poured into the brand refresh, we had no idea what was in store for the devoted group in charge of building our flagship and our mecca: a new corporate CMS-based, responsive website. I could wax poetic for at least ten more blog posts about the challenges our UX strategist, our marketing team, our front end developers, our Sitecore gurus, our .NET experts, our program manager [....AND our dear, dear family, friends, pets and significant others] faced over the past few months. I mean who in their right mind rebuilds a complex company website from scratch in a few months anyway? Insanely determined people like us, that’s who.




And here we are. In the blink of an eye, we’ve arrived. It’s the pivotal scene. The clunky, awkward glasses are off, we’ve pushed open the doors to the gym in slow motion, the DJ cues up “I’ve Had the Time of My Life,” balloons and confetti rain from the ceiling, heads and spotlights turn.


We have officially launched.


Dramatics aside, rebranding isn’t for the faint of heart, but it’s definitely worth the price of admission. If you feel the same way I do about your own company, I urge you to throw caution to the wind and go all in. If you’re lucky enough to have the support and inspiration from your fellow coworkers to fuel the arduous journey ahead, the results may not only surprise you, but galvanize you and your team in ways you never expected.


Dear Zeonauts,
Go forth with pride in the brand you deserve. Be confident. Guide our customers to their better destination. Fulfill our brand promise. But, above all else, continue to be the inspiration that started this whole crazy adventure.

Be yourselves.

Big Data? Big Deal! – PIM Is the Glue that joins Omni-Channel Marketing & eCommerce

For this brief I’m going to focus on PIM and will write at a later date about eCommerce Platform’s, CDN’s and DAM’s.

My original title for this post was going to be, “PIM, the ‘irrigation channel’ that sustains your multi-channel crops.” (Please forgive the Midwestern boys farming analogies):

I wanted to reflect how essential data, (like water) is to any organization but also how difficult it is to get it to flow steadily and efficiently to all the places you need it. Just like in agriculture, the engineering, planning, and organization that goes into laying out complex irrigation channels for crops is very similar when architecting a data syndication model that delivers your data easily and efficiently to all of the channels that allow your organization to thrive.  I use the word channels specifically to refer to things like print catalogs, outside sales teams, online web sites and last but certainly not least, channel partners who distribute your products.

Some Disclosure First

Try as I might to be objective and unbiased, I must reveal that I spent 20 years at an Industrial Manufacturer in Milwaukee, WI named Brady.  Therefore much of my opinions were formed during that time and I often write and comment from the perspective of a manufacturer.  That said I’ve also worked very closely with the largest national distributors down to the individual single location distribution outlets.  After 5 years at Zeon, and with a strong focus on industrial B2B, I’ve seen the perspective of channel and brand owner, and I think I understand very well the challenges big data represents to both of them.

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Manage Your Content the Sitecore Way!

I have a CMS but…

There is a notion that a content management system will act like a silver bullet and will solve all of your content problems. While this can be true after initially starting to use your CMS, sometime down the line there will inevitably be a need for more enhancements to meet your ever-changing business needs. If your business grows globally, there will come a need for a multi-lingual website; if you want your users to be free of the burden of remembering their password, enter the need for social login integration; if you want your users to buy your products online, you’ll need to integrate eCommerce. So, to thrive in eBusiness and get the maximum out of your investment, various CMS enhancements will become necessary.

Ask – “What do I need?” rather than “What can be done?”

While implementing a content management system, it is important to fully understand the full capabilities of the platform. To start, Sitecore includes various exciting features that make the life of a content author easy. From there, they provide scalability through customization, to enhance and expand from the core system, making your user experience even better. From managing very large amounts of product data, getting various custom reports to analyze sales and determine marketing strategies, to managing multi-lingual and multiple sites from a single admin panel – Sitecore provides a future-proof solution. With the amount of customizations available, approach enhancements from a business need first.

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Guitars, Business & SEO: Lessons from the Stage



I’ve learned over my years as a musician that connecting with your audience is much more important than being technically “good”. This was one of those hard lessons learned only by going to countless open mics, where I would spend hours and hours perfecting difficult guitar pieces only to have them fall on deaf ears. I would finish the song and get a few polite claps, but I would rarely get the feeling that I had caught anybody’s attention.

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Beware of 3rd Party SEO Metrics When Analyzing Link Quality

For any search agency, a new reality of the job includes cleaning up messes created by others.  At Zeon, we’ve had several clients hit with manual actions from Google, largely due to poor link building tactics by previous agencies.  Anyone who has been through this kind of cleanup process before can appreciate the pain-staking effort required to get to a successful reconsideration request.  One major roadblock is, the kinds of data points that could be used to build efficiency cannot always be trusted.

Let’s look at a real example…

One client had several links from this domain:

I’ll save you the agony of visiting the site, all you need is a screen shot of their header.

awesome spammy article directory

Even someone that does not work in SEO should know that this is a poor quality site, and you want nothing to do with them linking to you.  In the case of our client, Google even used a link from this site as an example of unnatural linking.

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But I Want Commerce AND Content Management!

But I Want Commerce AND Content Management!

You have an e-commerce site that serves a variety of vertical markets, perhaps diverse geographies, but more critically – a wide array of customers. You may have spent tens of thousands of dollars to ensure your site provides a positive user experience…yet you can’t seem to really reach or engage your potential customers.

The traditional website has generally been one of two things: transactional or informational. The advantage to those who launch informational sites is the fact that they don’t normally have to worry about shopping carts, inventory, integrations to third party systems, and the nuances associated with ensuring that a main revenue channel is up and running perfectly.

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Try to Game the Google Algorithm & It’ll Soon Be Game Over For You


Black Hat SEO Game Over

I know you’ve heard of this little thing called SEO – search engine optimization – and you know you should be doing it for your website, but you might be wondering: where do I start? There are so many things you could be doing to optimize your site but you don’t know how the strategies actually work, how to implement them correctly or which is of highest priority. Plus, the Google algorithm changes to frequently it’s hard to keep up! What worked just two years ago might not even work today.

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Agency versus internal hire – what’s the right call for your business?

A little background on me….

I’ve spent the majority of my career managing large internal marketing, UX/UI and content teams, and the companies I’ve worked for fully supported me building internal teams over outsourcing – in fact they pushed for it. At my last gig, I started with six very bright, but very young employees. Six years later, the team was 32 deep and I’d managed to keep three of the original crew, mentoring them into lead positions. In my opinion, it was an ideal situation, but it was one that grew organically with the organization and it worked for us at the time.

Towards the tail end of that role, I hired some agencies to augment my team when we couldn’t find the right talent to hire outright or to cover in cases of attrition and I’d be lying if I said it was an easy decision because it wasn’t. It was a difficult decision first to outsource, and second, who to select because for some reason, there’s a bigger element of trust at play.

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The Top 3 Things I’ve Learned (So Far) As a Search Engine Marketing Intern

Well, since this is my first blog post I don’t really know how to start this.  Hi, my name is Zach Dumke and I am the SEM Intern here at Zeon Solutions.  I am a senior at the University of Wisconsin-Milwaukee.  It was a dream come true when I found out I received this internship, this is where my passion lies.

There are a couple things that I learned right away as an intern in search marketing and I thought I would share these ideas for those of you who are new to the field, or are new to Search in general.

Number 1: Google Adwords and Analytics: Your ‘BFF’

One thing I learned right away was the importance of Adwords and GA.  I had dabbled a little prior to interning in both, but nothing to the extent as I am right now.  When it comes to tracking ads, keywords, etc, etc, both of these tools can tell you practically everything.  The amount of filters you can put on your data to find the exact metric you want is crazy.  If one can master both these tools, the possibilities for your clients (or your own website) are endless.

My Suggestion as an intern: Learn GA and Adwords, Know GA and Adwords, Become GA and Adwords.

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Zeon Solutions Exterior

Intern Life: It’s time to enter the (gulp) real world.

Getting an internship (and a paid internship no less) is no easy feat. It requires a killer portfolio, persistence, and a hefty amount of footwork. But arranging your resume, throwing on that one business suit you own, and practicing your handshake with your roommates, are all part of that experience. Fidgeting in the lobby as you wait to be greeted by your interviewer, feeling like you’re talking too fast, and the nausea you feel as you wait for that follow up call? Yup, we’ve all been there. It’s terrifying, I know. But it’s all worth it.

My name is Justi Everts, Marketing & Sales Intern here at Zeon Solutions. When I started, the first couple of weeks my mind was doing cartwheels; all the new technologies, terminology, coworkers, and projects? WHOA, am I really ready for this?! Running on limited sleep, lots of coffee, and an obscene amount of enthusiasm, I was able come to terms with my new, exciting “big girl” job. As the nerves melted away, I began to feel proud and accomplished to have landed such a sweet position my first go-round.

I dove head first into numerous projects including (but not limited to) social posts, copywriting, contact sourcing, and graphic design work. I never imagined I would gain so much experience in these short 8 months. It’s amazing how time flies, and even more amazing how much a real world experience can change your life!

So what rocks about working at Zeon? (Where do I even begin?) Lets start here: It’s one thing to love the work you do, but to love who you do your work with is a whole other realm of awesomeness. You are not only given direction, but support, friendship, respect, and… taught super cool Zeon secret handshakes. You get to exchange ideas, brainstorm, and create with some of the most skilled, creative, and passionate peeps in the entire world!

What Zeon offers is truly unique. Their internship program is head and shoulders above the rest. When you intern at Zeon, you’re given real projects with all the fixin’s – Guidelines, deadlines, and constructive feedback. You are expected to behave with responsibility, professionalism, and dedication. You work with professionals in your field, gain real-world experience, and continue to gain valuable industry knowledge that no other company can possibly provide (not that I am biased). And with all this hard work happening, you are also expected to play hard. From ping pong tournaments, chili cook-offs, and summer picnics, to Brewer games and Wii dance offs – Zeon Solutions knows how to reward hard work. How does that sound for a first time internship experience?

So if you’re on the hunt for a great internship, and you think you have what it takes, don’t hesitate to give it a shot! Polish up that portfolio, shine those leather loafers, dust off that pencil skirt, and check to see if we have any upcoming job fairs and open positions!