Jan 6, 2013 - Life    No Comments

Be Different, Be Relevant: Parting Words from a Brand Man

The following are notes from my last Advanced Branding class at the American University of Paris.  I thought what he said was a great way to end our class. Profound in some ways as well.

Be Different, Be Relevant: Parting Words from a Brand Man (Notes from class)

Differentiation is the key to almost everything. Those things that make you different are important. They must be meaningful. They can be real or they can be perceived.

Separating brands, which are parity products, is important. We are in a mode of creating deduction in brands. Today, brands are expensive to manage. They are combined into into megabrands—it is far more efficient.There can only be three or four brands who can dominate a category. There are no room for others. It is much better to be the giant.

Differentiation is the key to everything. It is the key to success. Differientiation is about making it compelling (e.g., Elvis and Beatles). The differentiation has to be relevant. It will define how big the brand can become.

We looked at targeting, the transitionals, the succeeders (in class). Targeting has become more important than ever before. Everything is individual communications. You have to know consumer far better than ever in the past.

The consumer relationship paragraph is the standard operating procedure based on knowledge and insights. We want to get closer to the consumer to market effectively to that person.

Positioning statement and the brand ladder define the opportunity in the marketplace. They define the communications. They define the manufacturing. The higher they are, the most powerful they can be.

Brands have values. They are character traits. Values like health, integrity, forward thinking. They have personalities. We also have our own internal values which define us. What kind of human beings are we? Values are all about character.

The logo is the creative center piece of the brand. It has to articulate the brands promise to the market—the brands essence is its unique promise of value.

Integrated Marketing Communications & POEM (Paid, Owned, Earned Media). IMC is central to marketing activities.  IMC is the use of many different marketing tool all around the same purpose to build brand equity. Brand equity is driven by the brand’s strategy. This is strategic—always delivering the promise of the brand.

Everybody is a brand. We live in the world of brands. We never used to talk about politicians as brands. Personal branding puts a lot of pressure on a person. A person ia not a tube of toothpaste. I have mixed feelings about it. Some things shouldn’t be brands.

The exceptional complexity is stuff you learn on the job. You have the context for it all. Education is about developing your perspective.

Sometimes brands can be imitated. Louis Vuitton is an example. Branding down the imitated (e.g., LV counterfeits). They require careful management.

Luxury is hot and the driver is the far east. 2012 total ad money spent is around $500 billion. Growth is coming from the far east from the developing world (BRIC countries).

The west is old is compared to the east.The west is far wealthier than the east. This is changing the game on brands.

Status is important to emerging cultures going through this change. All this change.

What will never change: if you want to be successful in this world you have to be different, you have to be relevant.


Sep 3, 2012 - Life, Paris    No Comments

Tips for Americans Visiting Paris

I think I have written this blog post a bunch of times for friends via Facebook who visit me in Paris. This blog post has random thoughts on where to go, what to do and what to expect. I don’t think you can really know Paris unless you’ve lived there for years and have French friends — which means you have to speak French.

Make no mistake about thinking that you won’t be like all those “OTHER” American tourists. You will be. Just try not to be so obvious about it. Leave the white sneakers and fanny packs at home. Whisper. And if you speak french, try to jazz it up a bit. Don’t be this lady:

As much as I love Woody Allen, I do not think that rain is romantic. It’s wet and usually cold. It also can ruin my pretty shoes. Make no mistake that Paris and London share the same weather system. In Paris it rains a lot. Like almost everyday. You never know when it will rain. When it does rain it’s like a deluge. Good thing that it usually doesn’t last too long. If the rain lasts more than 30 minutes, it will likely rain the rest of the afternoon. Don’t forget it’s cold too. Think San Francisco weather (sans October). Layer and bring weather gear.

You will walk, walk, walk. You should tread mill before you come, like 3 miles a day if you don’t want to be sore. Find shoes to walk in. Good on yah if you can walk for a day in heels in Paris. I can’t. But one inch boots–if they are good boots. That is possible.

Pace yourself. You can’t fret that you won’t see everything. The real crime is to try to do too much and you miss out on the best of Paris which is wandering the streets, having a cafe creme or glass of wine, enjoying the fantastic cheese, bread and chocolate. Plan to do less than you want to do. The worst thing is to get all annoyed that you can’t get it all done. Relax…

Some of these recommendations are based on fact that I live a block from the Eiffel Tower in Paris’ 7th Arrondissement. My neighborhood is full of Americans. The french folks that live in my neighborhood seem like upper west siders of New York City.

I’m a lucky gal since I live a block from the Iron Lady. Aside from being at the beach, looking up at the sparking tower at night is one of my favorite things to do. I could look at it for hours. Good thing it only sparkles at the top of the hour for 5 minutes. My neck would really hurt.

Getting back to where I live, a bunch of thoughts in this blog originate on Rue de l’Universite between Avenue Rapp and Avenue Bourdonnais. It is right around the corner from the Place de la Resistance. I attend the American University of Paris, so I walk to school and this neighborhood is where I spend the most time.

I have only been in France for 6 months and I’m not all that hip.So these aren’t hipster places to go. The following is a few quick tips on where to eat in my hood (and beyond). Again my biggest tip would be that I wouldn’t rush or feel that you have to get it all in. Take the time to stroll, sit for the afternoon and drink wine—just enjoy. That is what’s Paris is really about. Just taking the time to enjoy the randomness of the everyday

You can check out my photos from my time in Paris via poplifegirl.com/archive/ 


The “Getting Excited About Paris” Prep

Eiffel Tower/Champs De Mars
My overall thought about the Eiffel Tower is that its great to visit for happy hour picnic with wine (that you conceal) and nosh you collect such as cheese, bread and chocolate. Throw in an olive. Say early evening like 8-10pm in the summer. The tower lights turn on at 9pm for the first time. People cheer. The tower goes dark at 1AM with a sparkle sans lighting. I like a good sparkle.

One tip for Bastille Day, go to Trocadero not Champs de Mars. All the fireworks are on that side. Bastille Day is a whole other blog and crazy in the city. It also kicks off the beginning of the city completely emptying out to make room for the tourists who flock to France in August. Paris in the summer can be hot. In France air conditioning is au natural. The only kind of Florida-type of AC that is around is likely to be in very expensive hotels like George V. Even the movie theaters are not cooled really.  Regardless of the air, I would say that the best pictures to take of the Eiffel Tower are from Trocadero or on the bridge at Pont de Alma.

My Thoughts About the 7eme. 

  • La Fontaine de Mars on Grenelle is the place where the Obamas ate when they visited in 2009. Great food. Pricy. The inside reminds me of Carmines in NYC, but its french. Maybe its the red and white checked table cloths. You need to make a reservation. Nobody eats there for dinner before 9pm really. Get the roasted chicken with black truffles. Nom nom nom. Expect to drop $100 Euros+. For me its a little noisy and crowded for that kind of price.
  • Rue Cler is a street that has a bunch of restaurants and a great foot market.  On that street there is Cafe du Marche. It’s in the Rick Steve’s book and is a good local place. The food is cheaper than others in the neighborhood. It’s my choice of when I go there usually. Cafe Central is a brasserie across the way and has great burgers and fries (if you need a burger). Cafe Central is pricier than Cafe du Marche. When I want fries I’ll go to Cafe Central, but I like Cafe du Marche much better. At lunch you can get a steak with fries at Cafe du Marche for 10 euros. It pays to eat earlier. The later in the day, you can see the prices go up. Literally, at Cafe du Marche I watched them scratch out the price board for lunch then put the higher prices for dinner.
  • On pizza, there is a touristy yet tasty place called something like Pizza, Pasta and Plats right on Avenue de la Bourdonnais where it meets with Grenelle. It’s a red awning up towards Bourdonnais. I can’t find the Yelp references. Get the pizza with jambon and creme fraise – it’s basically ham pizza with sour cream on top. It looks a little crazy but it’s delicious, ask for the extra shaved parmesan cheese.
  • My favorite chocolate in all of Paris is Michel Chaudon. It’s on Rue de L’Universite. Get the pave chocolates.  I don’t think anyone else makes them.
  • If you walk all the way down Grenelle toward Invalides, at the corner of Grenelle and Rue Fabert there is a nice restaurant that is really good called Le Cafe de l’Esplanade. You can just have drinks outside or go inside and eat. Its pricy. I get the steak everytime. It’s the closest I’ve had to The Palm since I’ve been here.  I’ve have never had a reservation to eat there before either (or I’ve eaten too early like a crazy American would). I highly recommend the fresh berries and creme for desert. Its my favorite restaurant so far. Expect to drop $100 Euros+. Its quiet place and its beautiful at night overlooking Invalides. You can enjoy it and not drop a bunch of money too. Just have a drink.
  •  My favorite Indian place (It’s not on Google that I can see) is on Rue Surcouf. Walk down Saint Dominique (towards Invalides) its the last street on the left, its the third storefront or so, its says Indian Restaurant above it. The guy in there is so nice. You can eat in or take out. Service there is the best I have had in Paris (aside from $100 Euro+ restaurants) Get the mint tea. I love it.
  • My favorite eat anytime brasserie is Tour de la Eiffel on Avenue Bourdonnais (across from Cafe Gustav). It’s my favorite because its 5 seconds from my apartment and the waiters joke with me and try to teach me french. I try to teach them the difference in saying “hungry” and “angry.” The letter “H” isn’t widely used. It’s a great place just to have a quick lunch or even to sit and read. They also sell sandwiches and are the closest place to get bread. I like their salads. If you are at AUP, the brasserie right around the corner from the AUP library. They are open all the time which is nice. Get the beef special of the day. The quiche is good too.
  • Bikes! Best way to get around the neighborhoods. You can do some legwork and get a pass. There is nothing like biking across the quiet streets of Paris at 3AM. In fact, likely it is the only way you can get home at that time of night as the metro is closed. Taxi’s can be a pain and are expensive if you depend on them.
  • If you need Internet, go to the Orange store (right next to the Militaire Ecole metro stop), you can get a Pay as You Go Sim card. It’s worth it. I would not recommend random Wi-Fi.
  • DO NOT eat Chinese take out anywhere in Paris. Where in France almost everything you eat is fresh, Chinese food takeaway is not. Trust me on this.
  • I know I’m forgetting other places. I know there is a super cheap and totally awesome beer place across the river in the 16th. I forget it’s name. I do recommend Passy for just regular clothes shopping if you go to AUP. I would never go to Haussman for anything. If you want Chanel, the same thing is probably in NYC for a third the price…


Bread in the 7th.
There is a place on Rapp  but my favorite is on is the Artisan Boulangerie on Saint Dominique across from the Church of Saint Pierre de Gros Calliou  a block from Bosquet (or you can walk up Rue Cler). Its on the corner before the Starbucks which is further up Saint Dominique on the left. They are closed on the weekends.

The Marais

  • Eat a Falafel — they are delicious and only 5 euros. Add the hot sauce. L’As Du Fallafel is the best. 
  • If you want a fun beer place while you are in the Marais there is Stolly’s in 16 Rue Cloche Perce. Its great to watch soccer. It’s a British bar I think.
  • In general the Marais is the hip place in Paris, you can go further up around Republic and Oberkampf. I’m not that hip so I don’t know too many places up there yet.
  • Close to the Marais on Ile Saint Louis is a good brunch place called the Le Saint Regis. Tasty and a stone’s throw stroll over the bridge from Notre Dame. It’s kind of like you are eating in the Pottery Barn but then you realize that Pottery Barn swiped French styles in some of their catalogs.


The best hands down thing to do in Paris is just stroll along the canals and the river at night. The second best is to bike around the city (Fat Bike Tours or better, Velib on your own). The third best is to sit at Sacred Coeur and look at the view of the city. Sometimes they have their own french version of the Venice Beach drum circle going on.

Nightime is the right time in Paris. (H/T to Ray Charles) Being outside, walking along the canals. The boat rides aren’t that romantic. Think confined space with tourists and everyone is loud. As you can tell, I’m not a loud place person.

You are planning on declaring your love in Paris maybe you should lock it down by Notre Dame? Forget the diamond, bring a big ole’ Masterlock padlock with you and your love’s name on it. Declare your love, lock the lock on the bridge and throw the keys in the water signifying that your love will last forever.  Voila – everlasting love!

Being a Tourist
In the sum of my friends who have come to see me, Rick Steve’s books seem to be the travel book of choice. The Rickster even mentions Rue Cler. Smart guy. The guide book is good for all those history things. I would however recommend getting outside of the city. There is a great book called Paris to the Past that is a pre-designed tour of old France by tours you can do yourself within an hour’s train ride from Paris.

Honestly, I’d put Versailles at the bottom of the must see list because what you end up finding out is that there really there isn’t anything in Versailles but tourists. Don’t wear heals, its all cobblestone there. If you end up going to Versailles, check the Rick Steve’s guide tip about the special door where for an extra Euro you can get a guided tour. It is totally worth it.  Get a $40 Euro museum pass so you can cut the lines, but if you do that you have to do back to back museums to make it worth the money.

  • To get an overview of the city do the $29 Euro bus tour. It’s good for the first day when you are trying to stay awake to get on European time. You might get to cross things off your list quicker.
  • My friends rave about the Budda Bar, its very hip and chic…I haven’t been yet. Drinks are $20 Euros a piece. Swanky.
  • If you want to thrift and see cool old french stuff, there is Marche Dauphine. I really liked the stuff there. Lots of music there too.  You have to wade through a crazy market to get to Dauphine. You know when you get there because the market is all inside.
  • Go to the movies. Get Sugar Popcorn. It’s like kettle corn. Make sure you go to a VO movie, that means its the “original version”
  • Go to Angelinas tea room and get their hot chocolate. Its heavy like with a consistency like chocolate syrup and they give you dollops of fresh whip cream. Prepare yourself for a loud lunch and to wait in line. Don’t expect to function or eat anything after that.
  • So I amend my Chinese food note with the exception of fresh restaurants like Happy Nouilles. Spicy. Yum. Cheap. 95, Rue Beauboug in the 3rd.
  • There are all kinds of walks in the city. I’d schedule a chocolate walk.


Hard to Change American Habits

  • Food: The deal is that in America we have gone a little food crazy. In France food is a big deal in how it is made and served. In the US its volume, speed and convenience.  There are little things like if you are at a restaurant, food will usually come out pretty quick but you might wait to get the check. You have to ask for it. Also it’s not too cool to try to create some kind of custom order. There is high adventure eating if you are brave, mostly in the meat family.
  • Soda & Ice: From someone that loves Sonic, the concept of large ice filled drinks  simply does not exist. I don’t think that anyone is made to drink 44 ounces of soda. In Paris, soda is served in smaller sizes and more expensive than wine. You can pay 5 euros for a 16 oz Coke but you can get a nice glass of red wine for 3.50 Euros. Water (carafe d’eau) is always free.
  • Tipping: You don’t need to do it, it is usually included. If you like the service or they went out of their way, a Euro or two is usually good depending on the meal.
  • If you need a big American breakfast, Paris does have a diner kind of place that has pancakes! Aptly called “Breakfast in America” touts that it has the big breakfast Americans crave. The bonus is that while breakfast is served all the time, junk food like chicken wings and nachos.  I haven’t been yet but I bet its interesting.
  • If you need a TexMex fix, the first Chipolte just opened right by Grands Boulevard. It’s next to the McDonalds and there is a Starbucks two stores up and a Subway across the street. All of America on one block.
  • Speaking of Grands Boulevard and being American, if you go further up the street there is a great fry place close by called De Clercq Les Rois de la Frite. Belgium fries at Fritland are the best. Insane fries with crazy sauces. You are an American if you order ketchup.


An American Story: What Not To Do

A little story about being American. One spring day I threw cultural caution to the wind when I went to Chipolte, noshed a burrito bowl and a Dr. Pepper for lunch. Then I went next door and got a Chai Tea Latte to go. Yes, to go. Then even more brazen, I walked — in the streets of Paris — sipping a Grande Chai Tea Latte. I didn’t just walk and drink in the street (a major sign that you are American) but then I proceeded to bring shame to La Cantine by co- working all afternoon with my latte as my co-pilot. That day I broke about a million unsaid rules of living in Paris. The first is that you don’t drink Starbucks in France (but I do). That you don’t walk around with it and you certainly don’t bring it to the workplace! That day proved that while I might want to strive to fit in as a Parisian, I’m definitely American. Désolé Paris…

One’s Internal Clock

Every city has its own rhythm. Paris seems to wake up later that DC. The city doesn’t bustle until about 10am. Breakfast is coffee and a pastry, Lunch is either a full dinner like lunch or a cold baguette sandwich, dinner isn’t until 800pm (if its a fancy place, reservations are from 830pm – 11ish) food shuts down everywhere around 9/10. The little stores that are open after hours aren’t great. They have cigs, wine and soda usually.

Gotta Have Peeps

This list probably could not have been completed by myself because I’m lucky to have friends who took me to most of these places. My biggest thanks go to Ken and Peter for getting me out of the 7th on a weekly basis and for such good taste in everything! I love you guys. Lots of thanks goes to La Cantine, especially @PaulRichardset who has been Paris’ tech ambassador to me and who makes me speak (er, butcher) au francais and gets me mixing around with the real Paris!  I owe Ken, Peter and Paul a lot of what I know about Paris outside of the 7th. For inside the 7th my peeps Dawn, Kim, Eileen and Jean have been there to explore many of these places. They have endured my prefer for the Indian food place off of Saint Dominique more times they they probably wanted to go!

Like Arnold, You’ll Be Back

I think that the hardest part of visiting anywhere is that you are afraid you will never come back. You can’t think that way. If you want to come back, you can. Paris will always be there. It’s been there a heck of a lot longer than America. In fact, we Americans have a lot to thank the French for in our history. J’adore Paris.