Brand Champion: Sister Jean Dolores-Schmidt

Image Source: Sister Jean Dolores-Schmidt, screen capture courtesy NCAA

March’s Brand Champion is Sister Jean Dolores-Schmidt

Most Brand Champions have a story to tell and this month’s Brand Champion is no exception. Sister Jean Dolores-Schmidt has stolen the hearts (and souls) of fans all across America. The 98 year old nun and team champlin for the University of Loyola, Chicago, is not your typical sports icon – she has claimed the hearts of not only sports fans, but non-sports fans around the world.

The former player and coach provides scouting reports, pregame speeches and postgame analysis by email, along with more spiritual guidance. The Loyola Ramblers of Chicago were the lowest-ranked team in the final four and Sister Jean is the team’s most recognizable figure. Sister Jean has received a ton of publicity and attention including tweets from Barack Obama, another basketball fan with Chicago roots, and even there’s a petition to get her to appear on Ellen. When asked during an interview about being a national star, she replied, “really, if I can correct you, international.”

Considering the problems surrounding the NCAA had before March Madness started, it’s so refreshing to have an unconventional star rise out of nowhere. One of the best things about Sister Jean is that she’s sweet, funny, wholesome, not afraid to say what she believes in, i.e. God, and the guys on the team just love her.

Sister Jean is March’s Brand Champion because who else could even stand close to her, especially in a time when controversy, scandal and skepticism reign in politics, business and sports. It’s refreshing to have a Sister Jean, an unlikely champion, inspire people and that is why she is our Brand Champion for March.

Secrets of a Brand Champion and Brand Champion 100 are part of the Brand Iron brand. Brand Iron is an outcome-focused brand marketing agency located in Denver, Colorado.

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#NCAABasketBallTournament #UniversityofLoyola #SisterJean

How Public Relations Gets People Talking About Your Brand

Every brand, no matter which industry they are in, shares the common goal of creating more buzz around their business. Most brands put all their energy into paid advertising tactics whether it be social media ad campaigns, TV, radio, print ads, or billboards. But there is another way to generate publicity: Public Relations.

Public Relations, or PR, is the idea of creating coverage for clients for free, rather than through paid marketing or advertising. There are a few tactics brands can use to increase their brand awareness such as press releases, interviews and article publication.

Press releases are probably the most well-known strategy within PR. A press release is used when a brand has newsworthy information that they would like to share with the rest of the world. A release should be brief, straight-to-the point and not “sales-y”. These releases are distributed either via email or placed on a news wire and hopefully picked up by editors from various media outlets.

Another way brands can create media buzz is to pitch stories to editors that feature their brand or product. They key here is to not be too self-promotional. A great way to to do this is to find current news stories that your brand could comment on as an industry expert and then reach out to editors or reporters and offer your insight in the form of an interview. For example, if your business is in the automotive repair industry, and there happens to be a local or national news story on vehicle recalls, your company could comment on the dangers of faulty vehicle parts. Because your brand will be mentioned in the piece the reporter is writing, your business is positioned as an expert and creates more opportunities for potential customers to learn about your brand.

PR is a great way to get people talking about your brand without looking too promotional. If you need help creating a PR strategy to gain more publicity for your brand, contact Brand Iron today. 

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Brand Champion: Sarah Huckabee Sanders

January’s Brand Champion is Sarah Huckabee Sanders.

Let me preface this by saying this not a political article but Sarah is a Brand Champion because she has brought stability to the Trump White House and the Press Secretary position, where three men before her couldn’t do it.

Josh Earnst Obama Press Secretary White House  Sean Spicer Press Secretary White House Donald Trump  Anthony Scaramucci Donald Trump Press Secretary White House

Source: Jdarsie11 (no attribution implied)

Huckabee Sanders is a calming presence that was desperately needed, she is self controlled, has a wit and she has an emotional intelligence about her that was/is desperately needed.

Sarah Huckabee Sanders is a Brand Champion because she has help to establish a sense of stability, something that her three predecessors couldn’t do. She is calm and rational, something that many thought was missing before she arrived at the White House. Brand Champions need to have a  “presidential quality” about themselves to forge a brand and effectively communicate what it stands for.

Another part of being a Brand Champion is being calm under pressure and having the ability to stand firm in the face of pressure and adversity, which she clearly has had to master. In a year, that was rough to say the least in that position, Huckabee Sanders has carried herself in a professional manner and represents the White House and the President very well. Brand Champions also communicate the brand message and position in a clear and concise fashion. Huckabee Sanders does this exceptionally well behind the podium each and everyday, making her an effective communicator and Brand Champion.

Brand Iron is a s a strategic branding, marketing, and enterprise value creation agency. Our conversation starts with you and the goals you set for your company. Founded by Michael Doyle in 2002, Brand Iron delivers on the promise to forge brands and drive revenue through strategy-based business development, creative, public relations, social media, positioning, and marketing.

7 Secrets of a Brand Champion is a book, talk and blog by Michael Doyle and Brand Iron.

Brand Champion 100 is a blog and product of Brand Iron.

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#BrandChampion #SarahHuckabeeSanders #PressSecretary #Marketing

Care, Compassion, and Chick-fil-A: Brand Champions in Times of Crisis

When a crisis hits too close to home, we feel as if we have woken up from a strange dream with our ears ringing, still reeling from losing our grasp on reality. As these horrendous events continue to happen, a few companies have developed nearly instantaneous responses to these situations, quietly lending a helping hand while showing the public they truly stand for the principles neatly laid out in their mission statements.

Other brands go above and beyond to generate social media support and monetary donations for victims and families in crisis, like Disney, Darden Restaurants, and the Orlando Magic.

Some brands have been on the support scene for years. Tide’s Loads of Hope initiative has been providing disaster-stricken communities with clean laundry since Hurricane Katrina devastated the Gulf Coast in 2005. Other brands go above and beyond to generate social media support and monetary donations for victims and families in crisis, like Disney, Darden Restaurants, and the Orlando Magic.

One particularly powerful example of company outreach came from a surprising source: the conservative restaurant chain Chick-fil-A. In the past, Chick-fil-A has been painted as an opposing force to the LGBT community, with unsavory remarks on gay marriage. When the largest mass shooting in US history occurred on a Sunday in Orlando, Florida, Chick-fil-A restaurants around the country were closed, giving employees a day of rest in accordance with the Christian values that founded the company. However, one location in Lee Vista, just 7 miles away from the site of the shooting, decided to fire up the grill for hungry first responders, volunteers and blood donors.


For a company so entrenched in Christian morals, this act of kindness was not simply an appropriate display of corporate action, but managed to seamlessly align the company with the epitome of Christian values: compassion, acceptance, and doing what is right to help those in need.

In times of uncertainty, the public turns to the voices of leaders for guidance and comfort. Chick-fil-A is a unique mouthpiece that balances religious and business practices and as such, takes an encouraging stance on company policy in times of crisis: Brand Champions’ actions speak as loudly as their branding.    

Brand Iron Client Makes National Headlines

attentionLongtime Brand Iron client, Lariat Partners, made national headlines this week in backing their partner company, LaMi Holdings, in the acquisition of ATA retail services. The new merger adds ATA’s retail, distribution and workforce resources to the LaMi merchandising efforts.

Brand Iron played a major role in focusing the spotlight on this new private equity acquisition. Through in-house PR expertise, Brand Iron was able to craft a press release that focused on getting the word out to the private equity industry. The press release was picked up by the leading private equity community news board, PE Hub, as well as Yahoo Finance, Reuters, and various other publications.

An integral piece of the branding experience, Public Relations is all about precision, timing, and promotion. Is your brand saying what it needs to say at the right time? When you need headline-grabbing attention for your company, make sure Brand Iron is your first call.

Cam Newton, Brand Chump

If you caught the Cam Newton Super Bowl press conference after the game, you saw postgame a great example of a Brand Chump.

In the interviews and press conferences leading up to the big game, it was story after story of Cam Newton and his inevitable win over the Denver Broncos. When you talk the big talk like Cam Newton, your performance better be able to back it up. Confidence is one thing, and there’s even some room for cockiness when it comes to the NFL, but if you lose, you better be able to take the loss in stride like a real champion.

12479185_1507646909544695_842367489_nIt’s clear that Cam’s mother, Jackie Newton, understands this based on the text message she sent the Carolina Panthers player before the game, advising him to always stay positive. However, after all was said and done and the Broncos took the title, Cam failed to follow the wise words he had posted so recently to Instagram.

Here, Cam Newton demonstrates a withdrawn demeanor as he answers reporters’ questions in short one-word phrases. Coming fresh from a huge defeat must be extremely difficult, but as a leader, it is Cam Newton’s job to exhibit a positive attitude. Eventually, Newton gets up and flees the press conference.

Deflecting nearly every question, Cam Newton kept his comments short about his team’s Super Bowl loss and fled the conference quickly. Viewers on social media quickly took to Twitter, calling Newton “classless” and a poor leadership example. Hopefully, Cam Newton learned a valuable lesson when it comes down to personal brand management. It is best to be gracious in defeat and exhibit the characteristics of a champion regardless of winning or losing. That is how you become a brand champion for yourself because actions speak louder than words, and at the same time, the words we don’t say sometimes speak louder than the ones we do.

Donald Trump – Media Champion

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Whether you love him, hate him, or tolerate hate, one thing is for certain Donald Trump knows how to grab headlines like no other presidential candidate. Donald Trump has to believe in the old Public Relations adage that “all publicity is good publicity,” even if the facts don’t necessarily support all of his claims or you don’t like what he has to say.

Looking at Twitter this morning, Tweets regarding Trump are well over 1 million over the last several days. Even with the media going crazy over his Muslim comments and views, he knows how to harness media attention and stay in the headlines leaving all other candidates in the dust. Both the media and the public are going haywire over his comments, not only this week, but also regarding immigrants from Mexico, Megyn Kelly, and the list goes on and on since he announced he was running for President.

It may seem crazy, but it sure seems like Donald Trump is playing the media and using them to promote his run for President of The United States. I think he strategically says controversial things knowing it’s going to grab headlines and keep him in the headlines. When things slow down or there is a big media event he jumps into the fray, says something, and knows all too well he is going to get headlines and stay front and center in the news.

Can’t stand the guy or love him, Donald Trump is a Media Champion, like the kind we have never seen. As long as he stays in the Presidential race, we can continue to expect him to keep grabbing headlines and playing the media like fiddles in orchestras for media headlines and to become the next President of these United States.

New Brand Iron Website

I’m sure you’ve already noticed that Brand Iron recently launched a new website. But why???

Actually, I was asked a great question yesterday: “How do you know when it’s time to redo your website.”

There are many reasons to update your site: refresh graphics, add functionality, restructure navigation, add a call-to-action – but the main reason we updated our site was because the message didn’t accurately reflect the high level of support we provide our clients.

Our previous website didn’t communicate the true value we were delivering to our clients. Yes, we still do websites, we still do PR, we still do corporate IDs – but we do those things as a part of an integrated plan to help your business succeed. We have also developed new programs for developing brand champions, helping companies get acquired or go public, raising capital, etc.

We help our clients determine the activities that will make the biggest impact to their bottom lines. We take a holistic look at their brand and company – and help them forge the plan that will make them competitive in their market.  Brand Iron works with our clients to drive short- and long-term revenue while identifying the activities that will make the biggest impact.

If your message has changed and you need to reposition yourself in the market, contact Brand Iron today. We’ll help you develop an integrated plan to drive short- and long-term revenue to your business.


I woke up the other day and was watching the news and I heard the newscasters talking about something called H1N1 and how it is spreading across the United States. My first thought was, “there another pandemic like virus in our country?” This new term caught my attention and I started to listen to what they were speaking about more closely. I quickly put two and two together and realized they were talking about “Swine Flu”.

So, why the new name? Right…

It turns out pig farmers of America have some media pull. Because of the uneducated general public’s fear for “Swine Flu” and the misconception you can get it from eating a pork product, people all but stopped buying pork products. The Swine Flu has been re-branded by name only to H1N1. I did look it up and it is a medical term for subtype form of influenza A better known as the “flu”. I still think H1N1 sounds just as scary.  Now I am not saying that H1N1 is something to not be worried about; it could still turn into a major pandemic.  I wanted to bring up that pig farmers in this country are seeing the effects of a branded name for a virus, which ultimately had an effect on sales.

This reminds me of a dietary supplement that was wildly successful in the 1970’s to mid 1980’s. The product was called “Ayds”. It was a supplement that was supposed to reduce your sense of taste to curb poor eating habits. Ironically around the same timeframe, just around the mid 1980’s the HIV virus and AIDs was largely becoming a social issue. The avid AIDs awareness in the media and public was the start of the down fall of the “Ayds” supplement. The company did not re-brand itself by name and clearly stating that this product is in no way related to the life threatening disease. So the Ayds product quickly stopped selling and eventually the product stopped being produced.

Luckily the pig farmers in this case spoke up to have the media change the name of Swine Flu. Now they should actively campaign through commercials and other media outlets to educate the public that pork could in fact help prevent H1N1 by keeping you level of protein up in your body keeping you healthy which in turns helps your immune system. Just a thought.

Written by Mike Slife

Communicate Proactively During Time of Crisis

Protecting your company – or more specifically your “brand reputation” – is the ultimate goal during a time of crisis.  The ability to withstand and endure a few “chinks in the armor” goes a long way to maintaining a strong, stable reputation.

Many companies, however, fail to develop a crisis communications plan thinking they can and will deal with it as necessary (in many cases they feel they are not susceptible to a business crisis).  As a result, the typical reaction due to unpreparedness is to hide in the corner and hope the problem goes away.

But enter social media.  With the explosion in recent years of YouTube, Facebook, Twitter, etc.,   information spreads more quickly than ever.  Last month’s Dominoes crisis where two North Carolina employees posted aYouTube video doing disgusting things to food should be considered Exhibit A.  Hiding in the corner won’t make it go away.

Here are some questions to ask to determine your preparedness in the event of a crisis:

  1. Do we have a protocol in place outlining how we will react during the first few hours of a crisis?  Do we know where to funnel all information about the crisis?  Do we know who will serve as our company spokesperson?  How will we communicate the situation to our employees?
  2. Are we properly prepared to deal with media?  Does our media spokesperson have a familiarity and comfort level in dealing with the press?  Who is monitoring the general media as well as the social media outlets so we can respond accordingly?
  3. After gathering and reviewing the situation, how soon can we prepare ourselves with the facts to address our various publics (employees, customers, community, media, etc.)?
  4. What is the best and most efficient method to communicate our message?  How do we respond to their questions and concerns?
  5. During the initial days following the crisis, how can we best maintain and protect our reputation?  How can we show our willingness to be proactive in dealing with the situation?

Failing to address or “take control” of the situation can lead to more damage and deeper company wounds.  Taking hold of the situation, on the other hand, will have positive effects on your overall brand.

Written by Jim Miller