Posts by: David Weinberger

The Tough Tribe

April 10, 2014 — David Weinberger

Do you remember your first day at middle school? High school? Walking into the lunchroom, unsure of where your friends are and needing to choose a table? You don’t want to be embarrassed. You want to sit with the cool kids. You want to be with folks just like you. At an early age, you realize that who’s at your table can define who you are. Sound juvenile? Sound mean?

Brands are always trying to define their consumers. Customer segmentations help define what type of people make up the customer base and and why/how they engage with the brand. While this is a tried and true method of strategically targeting consumers, it’s also becoming a bit old school. More brands every day are moving away from thinking in terms of segmentation and towards thinking about their tribe. That way they can connect with consumers based on a sense of character, intrinsic motivations and shared values.

To connect with these tribes, which are often made up of people across a broad  demographic, some brands are identifying a cast of characters that really put a stake in the ground. You could almost imagine a lunch table of different, yet like-minded middle schoolers. […]

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What Coaching Taught Me About Coaching

October 3, 2013 — David Weinberger

Before a wrestling match, I once told my younger boy – who was 5 at the time – that his opponent said he was going to take his toys from him. I’m pretty sure that’s the worst thing I’ve ever done in my life and I immediately decided that wasn’t how I would coach him in the future.

I’m one of the head coaches for our town’s youth wresting program, which includes kids in kindergarten through 5th grade. I also coach youth soccer and have coached tee ball as well. Keep in mind, I’ve never played baseball before but I’m pretty sure I could coach archery at the kindergarten level. I think back to one of the greatest sports movies of all time, Hoosiers, a movie that actually focused on the coach instead of the players. That coach knew how to get his team to perform beyond their means. What an amazing thing! You see, coaching isn’t about a coach’s physical skill, but about the motivation he provides his team.

I’ve realized that when I started coaching kids, I became a better creative leader at work. A better coach = a better motivator. I’d like to share with you three […]

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What Color is Coffee?

July 3, 2013 — David Weinberger

Designing a compelling coffee program or retail coffee experience, you need to take into account the entire consumer journey. Everything from need state (Hmmm, I’m getting tired, maybe I should go somewhere to get some coffee) to decision making (Hmmm, where should I go?) to consuming (Hey, this is good coffee) and connecting (I like those folks at Irving Farms). Depending on how you analyze the journey, there could be dozens of touchpoints along the way that each need to be carefully planned. To illustrate this, let’s look at one of them.

We’ll focus on something simple. The cup. A coffee cup can be an important tool and appears at a few points along a consumer journey map. Seeing someone with a cup on the street. Seeing the cups stacked in the store. Holding the cup and drinking the coffee, which may even involve reading the cup.

Does a cup design affect the consumer’s coffee experience? Of course it does. A coffee cup is an interesting thing. It’s a package but you don’t buy it while it’s on the shelf. It doesn’t need to compete on shelf with other coffee cups. It’s a purchase reinforcement. It’s like when you buy […]

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Kids are dumb and that’s funny

April 25, 2013 — David Weinberger

I was feeling lazy on another lazy spring afternoon. I had just finished watching “The Lazy Song” by Bruno Mars on YouTube. My kids love that song and the irony is that it’s actually pretty clever with a well-choreographed video. I’m not sure exactly why the monkeys are in there. Maybe to imply that Bruno “monkeys around” on his days off? What the monkeys do provide though is innocence. They don’t know any better. Instead of judging Bruno for being lazy, they’re just happy to be there, having a good time and eating things out of each other’s hair.

The next video I clicked on was a commercial for AT&T. It was one of many in their “It’s not complicated, faster is better” campaign. Not quite a universal human truth but OK, I’ll nod. It shows a man in a suit sitting with 4 kids and asking them simple questions like, “Is saving money better than not saving money?” and “Is being fast better than being slow?”

The kids are as funny as kids can be when you get them talking. They are answering questions correctly and incorrectly and saying funny things like “pickle roll” when they should be […]

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Gas Station of the Future? Better Look the Other Way

October 26, 2012 — David Weinberger

Having worked on “Store of the Future” gas station projects all over the world, I often encounter similar professional scenarios: Clients have an existing network, an old design and a need to attract new consumers to get more out of their existing one. They all want “a store design,” “forecourt design,” “new food offer” or “site plan” that “needs to start rolling out next year but also will need to be relevant in 10 years.” In other words, they want a store of the future.

I love these projects. They are ambitious and necessary to help gas station companies and brands evolve. Reinvention is sometimes a goal, but moving the business is always a must. As creative director, one of the first things I aim to do is open a client’s eyes. After all, they may know their business inside and out and still not be students of the world. I caution them with this: “If you want to reinvent the idea of a gas station but all you look at are other gas stations, you’ll probably end up with a gas station.” For example, if we were organizing a best-in-class tour, we’d begin with visits to Wawa, Sheetz, Litro, Topaz and Repsol (that is, if we can make it around the world). But […]

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Confusion Branding, or, My Brands Have Brands

December 21, 2011 — David Weinberger

Brands continually add new ingredients, flavoring and benefits to their products in order to get consumers to think they are new, different and worthy of their dollars. They know that consumers respond to innovation; they want “new news.” But for certain categories, there’s only so far they can go with innovation.

This idea struck me this morning as I was shaving, because let’s face it (pun intended): the need state of that category hasn’t changed in about a thousand years. Hair grows on face. Man solves problem by shaving hair off of his face. Hair still grows at the same speed. The desired effect hasn’t changed. Comfort has always been an issue, which is why – while you used to buy aftershave to soothe your skin —  shavers now have lubricant built in. And whereas there used to only be one blade, now there are five, plus an extra one on back for precision (and yes, the extra blades DO make a difference). Unfortunately, no one can really own the idea of how many blades there are. So where to now? Gillette already tried putting a battery in their shaver and had to settle a class action lawsuit […]

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You’re Welcome

September 27, 2011 — David Weinberger



Waiters and waitresses with attitude? There’s plenty in NYC but no thanks. I do love restaurants with attitude though. Sometimes it comes in the form of loud decor or over-the-top menu items but for me, some humor and bravado go a long way. Attitude seems to go better with sandwiches, wings and beer but really, personality can be found anywhere.

Here are a few spots I go to when in the neighborhood:


Jimmy Johns Chicago, Illinois




Pat’s King of Steaks Philadelphia, Pennsylvania



Jack Astors Barrie, Ontario Canada




Rice to Riches New York, New York








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Keep Magazines Alive!

June 28, 2011 — David Weinberger

I often encourage strategists and designers to hold on to design material that inspires them or may help as reference on future projects. Tags, invitations, clippings, packages, annual reports…they are all valuable resources. I try to collect stuff from every project I work on and then add it to the pile. This inspiration can come from literally anywhere, so it helps if your eyes are always on the lookout. I still find that magazines are one of the easiest and best ways to get a quick view of the world.

Magazines are relatively cheap and flimsy, so you don’t feel bad ripping out their pages. Most importantly, new issues come out every month, enabling them to capture the cultural and visual feel of the moment. New ad campaigns, new products, points of view and color trends, photographic styles, typefaces — these can all be found in a single issue.

I know, I know. There’s a thing called the World Wide Web out there. I’ve heard of it, and I am an avid user. Google Images, Flickr, FFFFOUND, siteinspire, The Dieline. And they are updated several times a day, if not up-to-the-minute. There are a million sites out there, […]

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Names You Couldn’t Name

April 14, 2011 — David Weinberger

Inspired by Joe R.’s recent post called, “Growing Up Brand,” I started thinking about brand names of yesteryear. Two of the visuals in his post were of “Sugar Pops” and “Sugar Smacks,” sinfully sweet cereal brands that I’ve enjoyed my fair share of over the years. Joe mentioned that “Sugar was not a dirty word back then.” Having “sugar” in the name was no doubt a smart decision at the time; it clearly said that these are sweet products that would immediately appeal to kids. Today, though, I just don’t think a name like that could be created and sold through the system. First of all, no one is bragging about sugar content, and secondly, the process of branding and naming has changed dramatically over the years. Brand names are now often focus grouped, chosen by management consensus and legal availability.

In other words, names are safer these days.

Product brands and subbrands often go with generic descriptors masked as brands by add-on suffixes. Thanks to Oscar Mayer’s successful Lunchables brand, we now have “ables” in every section of the grocery. Salad dressing called “Pourables?” No shit.

There’s nothing horribly wrong with names today, but perhaps they […]

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Apple Tosses its Core

February 7, 2011 — David Weinberger

Apple Inc. is the world’s second most valuable company, recently passing PetroChina and trailing only ExxonMobil. Much of Apple’s growth in the last 10 years has come not from desktop computer sales but from consumer electronics such as the iPod, iPhone and iPad. Apple has been able to convince millions of folks to trade up and pay more. There is still, however, huge room for growth.

Apple long stood for products that were user-friendly. Apple was a club and like most clubs, it was exclusive. The problem is that “user-friendly” is now the cost of entry for electronics. Today, Apple is focused on product innovation and expansion of their customer base for existing products. To take the next leap, Apple will have to move from the original club members—tech-savvy urbanites—to other consumer targets: Soccer Moms, Plumber Dads, Investment Banker Uncles, Awkward Aunts, Cuddly Kids and Boring Brothers… Everyone.

Apple needs to target EVERYONE. The business demands it. Apple can no longer be a club; they need to be a mass consumer brand and they are well on their way. Apple products will no longer make you cool. They will however solve your “what should I get Mom for Mother’s Day” dilemma this year.

For proof, look no further […]

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