3 Reasons Why Internal Brand Adoption Deserves the Spotlight

“Every decision every employee makes has an impact, small or large, on your brand, and what you do internally can bridge the gap between perception and reality, promise and delivery, credibility and hypocrisy.” – Steve McKee, Author of Power Branding; Leveraging the Success of the World’s Best Brands

Steve hit the nail right on the head with this quote from one of our favorite books. Internal Brand Adoption is one of the most crucial actions a company can take in order to ensure their brand reaches its full potential. However, it is often shoved backstage and not given the attention it deserves. Lately, Clear Blue has been dealing with the importance of internal brand adoption first hand. Our clients who focus on their internal team first, enjoy these benefits as a result:

  • Creates Brand Alignment. Your employees must understand, believe in, live, and deliver on your brand in order for your target audience to do the same.
  • Builds Employee Morale. When your employees have a clear understanding of what is expected of them in their daily interactions and know they play an important role in the success of the company, they become more productive and satisfied.
  • Brings the Brand to Life Internally. When your employees embrace the brand internally, they gain an emotional connection with the customer. This is then reflected in external efforts through better customer care, product development, and other positive brand experiences and benefits.

“The more you can ensure that the decisions that your people make through the course of each day are true to the essence of your brand, the better.” - Steve McKee

Don’t make the mistake of ignoring this very critical and beneficial process. It’s almost impossible to have successful branding to your external audience; start with the spotlight on your internal audience.

BAAAAHHH! It’s Spring!

The foodies here at Clear Blue welcome spring with winery visits, ice cream and lots of special foods.  Yes, our work on food accounts often means we can actually combine work and pleasure and when we come across a tasty treat, we like to share.  So our tip for foodies everywhere this spring is, Icelandic Lamb.  Forget everything you think you know about lamb and read on.

Iceland is relatively pollution free and the lambs range free, grazing on willow and berries in the cold clean land of glacier-fed springs and northern lights.  Sheep framing is a cultural heritage, rich with respect for the land and the animals, including the horses and sheepdogs that tend the sheep.  Spring lamb from Iceland is shipped all over the world to eager chefs who treasure the meat for its tenderness and mild flavor.

Visit www.icelandlamb.is to find recipes like: Basil and honey coated lamb crown roast with cumin black-eyed peas and basil pesto. Check out their website and new brochure – as you can see, they are proud of it. Cheers to you, Icelandic Lamb. Skál, baby!

Make your headline a head-turner.

Every day calls for a headline, whether you realize it or not. You might not have received the glory of coming up with the headline used on the latest ad produced, but you sure did knock putting a subject line on that email out of the park. Whether it’s social media, emails, blogs, press releases or ads, an effective headline is a must.

At Clear Blue, we are accustomed to spending hours upon hours, dishing out every version possible until we find the perfect fit. This effective statement is what captures your reader’s attention, enticing them to find out more of what you have to say. Here are our top three tips to accomplish just that:

1. Understand The Messaging – The more information you can gather around the key message and purpose of what is being presented, the more focused your headline can be. Convey that message or purpose in the headline so your reader’s clearly know the benefit to come from looking at your material.
2. Short And Sweet – Don’t put your audience to sleep before they reach the good stuff. Keep it simple and to the point, while at the same time grabbing their attention in an informative yet catchy way.
3. Write It Last – Put the main material on paper first, allowing you to flush out all the facts. Once the message is in front of you, creative opportunities for a killer headline can surface.

Keep these tips handy for when the opportunity presents itself, and let the creative juices flow as you work to find the perfect head-turning headline.

LiuGong shines at ConExpo

It’s a long way from home, but Clear Blue’s client, LiuGong Machinery Corporation of Liuzhou, China, showed no signs of jet lag at Las Vegas’ ConExpo 2014. ConExpo is one of the world’s largest conventions, held for the immense unveiling of the newest equipment, technology and products in the construction industry. LiuGong’s booth was a sight to see.

Account Executives, Addison Prophet and Mandy Shelton were the lucky attendees, helping to spread the news about LiuGong’s new Visual Identity. Clear Blue was chosen over 5 other agencies on 3 continents to create the VI which debuted in the form of booth graphics and collateral designs.

After a collaborative two-year process of research and development, the VI debut was a hit! Compliment after compliment and words of endorsement not only came from LiuGong North America team members and dealers, but representatives of competitor companies as well.

The overall trip was a huge success for both LiuGong and Clear Blue, making us even more proud to call them our client. Keep an eye out this month for LiuGong’s new Brand and Visual Identity launch!


It’s no secret that this year’s Super Bowl was a flop on the field, but what about all the heated chatter around the commercials?  After a couple days of everyone’s comments and fan favorites having time to air out, Clear Blue would like to speak our Super Bowl Commercial peace and how we fell in love with certain ads from a Brand perspective.  Our picks dig a bit deeper:

  1. AT&T’s Beats Music – We are used to seeing the sleek, cool, fresh look from Beats that puts the product in the hands of the hottest musicians, athletes, and fierce icons in Hollywood.  This ad demonstrates a shift in the Brand by talking to a different audience.  AT&T and Beats chose Ellen DeGeneres, a comedian and female, to broaden their appeal.  There was a spin on Beats’ Brand Personality as well, showing the carefree and funny side, verses their normal modern, cool-kid side.  Wonderfully bold move, bravo Beats.
  2. Wonderful Pistachios – Just when we thought our fill of pistachios was complete, viewers got hit with a follow-up commercial :30 seconds after the first ad.  The “let’s poke fun at branding” approach is pure hilariousness, but also reminds us what an advertisement is worth if the viewer cannot simply remember the product.  If you hadn’t walked away from the first spot laughing about a pistachio, you sure did on the second one.  Touché Wonderful, touché.
  3. Budweiser – Here is a company that truly knows who they are and what their Brand is about.  The two Super Bowl ads, ‘Homecoming’ and ‘Puppy Love’, captured viewer’s hearts and respect for Budweiser without even showing the product.  Budweiser never lets us down and never strays from what their Brand represents.  Show us a Clydesdale, and we know we are watching an advertisement for Budweiser.  What the Brand has accomplished by making a simple connection to their product is monumental.  Cheers, Budweiser.

Check out our Chief Creative Officer, Robin Konieczny’s opinion featured in the Charlotte Observer:


Hunter Fan Company Engages Charlotte Agency, Clear Blue

October 22, 2013 – Charlotte-based brand and marketing agency, Clear Blue, has been hired by Memphis-based Hunter Fan Company for marketing services.  Hunter cited Clear Blue’s excellence in Branding and Brand management as key factors for the decision.

“Clear Blue came highly recommended by brands we respect for their growth-oriented marketing and brand development initiatives.  Clear Blue’s reputation for problem-solving and inspired creative is impressive, we are thrilled to partner with Clear Blue,” said John Alexander, CEO of Hunter Fan.

Hunter Fan is the world’s original ceiling fan manufacturer and has been one of the nation’s most trusted brands since 1886. Today, Hunter Fan continues its tradition of craftsmanship and innovative designs to provide comfort, energy savings and style to homes and commercial outlets around the world.

“Hunter is an iconic American Brand with an extremely talented team that is passionate about the company’s future.  We are honored to assist Hunter in its journey toward greater brand awareness,” said Robin Konieczny, President and Chief Creative Officer of Clear Blue.

The Hunter family of brands and products are available in retail showrooms and home centers as well as other traditional and online retailers nationwide.

About Clear Blue

Founded in 1998, Clear Blue, Inc is a Brand and marketing agency serving Brands based in the US and China.  Clear Blue is listed as one of the top agencies in its region and has helped Brands like Char-Broil, Levolor, Irwin Tools, Rubbermaid, LiuGong, JanPak, and Spiroflow Systems build successful Brand and marketing initiatives.  www.theclearblue.com


Is Your Brand Ready to Go Global?

As the world gets smaller, Brands have the opportunity to get bigger.  One category that projects flat growth in the US, offers 10% annual growth projections in Europe.  A Chinese Brand that has strong domestic share of market can redefine its Brand to capture international acceptance and sales.  The numbers are always the major player in global expansion, but Brand Health can be a contributing factor to success.

Take a hard look at your Brand before you go.

Brands, like the people who run them, usually grow organically. The Brand story or narrative fades away, overcome by daily challenges and sales demands.  New products and their names are adopted because they’re trendy or “catchy.”  Massive data is available but rarely collected or codified.

Before you go global, take a hard look at your Brand.  Is your Brand Portfolio a disorganized jumble of names, colors, products and product lines? Or is it clearly organized around the parameters that your domestic customers need?   What about your international customers, are they accustomed to different organizing principles?  Can every employee tell you what your Brand stands for, what it promises to everyone who touches it?  Can you?  If you can’t jot down your Brand’s Story or its position, promise, role and personality in a skinny minute, do this:  Gather your team to resurrect your Brand story.  Embark on the analysis and hard work of clearly defining your Brand domestically and in your expansion markets. A little housecleaning now, will deliver a big pay-off down the global expansion road.

6-Point Brand Test™

Once you have clearly articulated your Brand, put it to the test.  Clear Blue® uses a 6-Point Brand Test™:  Is the Brand Articulation Unique?…Relevant?.. .Authentic?…Energizing?.. Sustainable?…and Credible?  Sure, you’ve heard most of these criteria at one time or another, but be certain you don’t discount that point about, “Energizing.” While data drives much of the foundation for Brand work, only an inspiring articulation can go beyond motivating to actually energizing your internal team.  Make sure you have the creative firepower to energize your Brand Articulation and you’ll have the foundation to capture the hearts of your customers, too.

Brand is the Buzz

Years ago, marketing publications and conferences had little room for Branding as a topic.  Today, entire issues of creative magazines are dedicated to Branding.  Presentations about Branding  dominate marketing conferences.  Companies from Char-Broil barbecue grills to Levolor window treatments and LiuGong construction machinery turn to Branding firms like Clear Blue for help. There’s a reason.  Proper Brand management almost always leads to dramatic increases in Brand value which goes straight to the bottom line.  Whether it’s calculated in USD$, € or ¥.

Clear Blue Competes for Global Project

Charlotte’s Clear Blue competes on 3 continents for global project

As one of China’s largest manufacturers of construction equipment, LiuGong of the Guangxi Province recently searched the world for a partner to help the company update its branded visual identity and tagline.  After narrowing the global field to 6 firms on 3 continents, LiuGong chose Clear Blue of Charlotte, NC.

Robin Konieczny, President and Chief Creative Officer of Clear Blue noted the excitement around this project and the milestone it represents for LiuGong.  “Five years ago, LiuGong was a Chinese company expanding globally. Now, LiuGong is a truly global company with globally competitive products, services, vision and soon, visual identity.”

Clear Blue is partnering with Winstead Wilkinson Architects of Raleigh, NC for dealership designs suited for all of LiuGong’s global markets.  Carl Winstead , President said, “With our experience in projects in China and western markets, WWA is uniquely qualified to address LiuGong’s branded dealership needs.”

China claims fifty percent of the world’s construction projects and is increasingly facing competition within its own borders from the world’s top construction equipment brands such as Caterpillar, Volvo and Hitachi.

Barry Wilson of Planet Central in Charlotte, NC is also assisting with the project.  He noted, “Deep cultural and marketing differences present unique challenges for a Chinese company to develop and implement a visual identity that resonates both domestically and in western markets.” Clear Blue conducted global brand research and worked with LiuGong to document its global Brand.

Clear Blue has developed and executed research and branding projects for both B2B and B2C clients since its origin in 1998.


Clear Blue Wins Gold Awards for Packaging and Merchandising

If you have to make sales happen at retail, the Clear Blue designers and studio can help. This talented team just won gold awards for both packaging and merchandising at the National Hardware Show in Las Vegas.

The Char-Broil® TRU-Infrared™ Grill2Go® X200 package received the Gold Packaging award from the NRHA (North American Retail Hardware Association) at the show.  NHRA calls the winners, “The best of 2013,” based on overall shelf and sales appeal, graphic design, innovation, packaging efficiency, shelf life and selling features.  Robin Konieczny, President of Clear Blue said, “The package graphics are bold and rugged, just like the product. Clearly, this is a winning combination.”

The Gold Award winning Grill2Go X200 packaging designed by Clear Blue.

Clear Blue’s design for the Char-Broil Wood Chips displayer won the Gold Merchandising award.  Clear Blue collaborated with Copac Global Packaging who developed the innovative free-standing shipper/display system to be re-packed and re-used several times to encourage recycling.  Sheldon Rhyne of Copac commented on the award, “It’s great to be recognized for our attention to details that build brand awareness and make our customers stand out in the crowd.”

Both Clear Blue and Copac serve global clients from their headquarters in the Carolinas. 

Congratulations to Clear Blue and Copac!

Clear Blue Launches a Revolutionary Product

Every nurse knows that every second counts.  Every time a patient comes in symptoms need to be evaluated, decisions on treatment need to be made and everything needs to be documented.  There is someone’s child, parent or grandparent in the bed and a nurse needs to be on top of his or her game so the patient can get the best medical care possible.

Medical carts are supposed to make a nurse’s job easier.  They should be designed so everything is at a nurse’s fingertips.  They should help save time.  They should move swiftly throughout the hospital and support a nurse through an entire shift.  At least this is what the nurses told Rubbermaid Healthcare when they conducted research while designing their revolutionary new mobile nurse station.

It’s called CareLink and it addresses what a nurse needs to maximize time available for patient care with an easy-to-use-platform.  Clear Blue was proud to help Rubbermaid Healthcare develop their product launch plan and made sure their sales videos were top-notch and would get people talking about CareLink across the country.

We partnered with DownHome Films and developed two sales videos to create buzz around this revolutionary product and help Rubbermaid Healthcare achieve their sales goals.  Check out the videos here.  Stay tuned for an announcement on the success of this project!