Monthly Archives: September 2016


This page is a work-in-progress, a list of people that I find helpful in thinking about marketing. 

Seth Godin

He understood why Google Maps wasn’t working, and helped them fix it. Initially it was just about the novelty factor of seeing where your house was, what it looked like from space – but for it to be truly useful to people, to be something people talked about, it needed to really be about directions.

Rory Sutherland

Appreciates that perception = reality.

Elon Musk

Appreciates value of superlatives. Knows how to play the media. Knows how to satisfy his tribe of nerds. Turned buying a luxury supercar into a status symbol AND an act of charity. Made people feel good.

Dietrich Mateschitz

The man behind Red Bull. Very strong personality. Real sense of adventure. Understood pricing. [More: 1]

David Ogilvy

Had a very clear sense of who he wanted to work with, well in advance. Personally wrote some great headlines.

“The customer is your wife” – appreciated that you can’t and shouldn’t screw around with customers.

Science Educators: Richard Feynman, Carl Sagan, Michio Kaku, Neil Tyson & Bill Nye

The best science educators have this beautiful sense of wonder about them. They have a low tolerance for bullshit or jargon. They explain things as simply as they can. They respect and honor their audiences, and have a sensitivity to their context. They’re all particularly great with children.

We Stopped Dreaming

Mr. Rogers


Jason Silva, MateusZ

Appreciates the power of spectacle, pacing, rhythm, buildup, etc.

Tim Urban (WaitButWhy), Mark Manson, Evan Pushak (NerdWriter), Bill Wurtz (History of Japan), Paul Ford (What is Code?)

Modern educators, longform writers.

Tim Ferriss, Elliott Hulse

Building a personality-centric brand.

Brian Balfour, Brian Dean, Neil Patel, Hiten Shah, Ramit Sethi, Andrew Chen

When these people talk about marketing, I usually pay attention.

Ed Gotham, Tom Albrighton, Dan Shipper 

I’ve liked their blogs.

Greg Ciotti. Noah Kagan. Tim Soulo. Kevan Lee. Courtney Seiter. 

Have encountered their stuff while working.

Back to Marketing.


I’ve always thought that self-promotion can actually be a really great thing as long as there’s an expectation that the person responsible is engaged – that is, they take the time to post not just the post itself, but their personal thoughts on the matter, questions they might have… and then respond/react to whatever other people are saying. Such posts and attitudes encourage discussion.

Really, every single point of interaction in a sub-reddit is an opportunity for a decent conversation, if people are willing to make it so. Even a shitty post can yield good discussions if people put in the effort.

The final form of any brand logo is hypersimplicity

The final form of any brand logo is hypersimplicity

“Can an illiterate child draw it from memory?”

I’m a writer, not a visual designer. But I have always been very particular about visuals.

Nike colonized a tick.

Google colonized a circle with a line.

You want a logo that anybody can draw and identify. If a child who doesn’t speak English can draw a recognizable version of your logo, you’re golden.

pretty but complicatd
way simpler, a child could replicate it

McDonald’s comes next with the golden M — no translation necessary.

Adidas did a good job with the three stripes

Instagram did a killer job with its redesign. It represented a camera with just three strokes:

The important thing isn’t the colors, but that it can now be represented so simply:

Facebook F

Chanel C’s

Nazi swastika



Yahoo Y! — Similar to Virgin logo




Star of David



I’m still not sure how I feel about Uber’s redesign.

The frills on the outside are redundant and can be removed, that’s a trivial thing. Square within a circle is easy to remember/visualize, but I’m not sure it means anything. Why is the line / hole on the left rather then up (where it would still be “U”)?

I would’ve voted for either of these instead:

by “Parallaxe”
by Arcoalex

Cisco is good

San francisco, bridge, wireless connectivity — genius.


I like it.

Of course, not all brands need to be hypersimple. Lamborghini, Ferrari, etc probably benefit from having complicated logos and would lose something if they oversimplified it.

Sensual brands like Victoria’s Secret or Lady Godiva or Magnum ice cream — they need their swirls and serifs to convey indulgence. Stripping that away would strip away the sex.

Disney deserves its swirls — it’s a stylized version of Walt Disney’s signature, and it’s very smart to use such an iconic founder’s identity as part of the product. and castle— but their simplicity comes from mickey.

It’s a very clever move of them to put in Mickey Mouse into the “corporate logo”, because it evokes emotions when you look at it:

Ogilvy uses a stylized version of it’s founder’s signature, which is a smart move despite the complexity.

YouTube — the red arrow. Perfect. You can make cushion covers out of it. All sorts of simple merchandise. They colonized a red triangle.


Starbucks — can’t get too simple too fast, but you can see they’ve been progressively simplifying

Could be better: NASA. Way too complicated. There’s a suggested redesign that cuts out too much of the text and makes it hard to read, but the slight


Burger King should exploit their crown. Rolex is currently colonizing the crown space (and Corona, I suppose, but that’s not obvious), and Hallmark.


Good / relevant / related links: – Your Logo as a design element (good blog overall, very happy to have discovered)  kena a little bit scooped but eh I have more to say

How to think about leads


In the SaaS marketing world that I’m from, a lead is a person who gives you their email for some reason or other. Ideally, it’s because they’ve liked something that they saw, and they want to hear more from you. (Seth Godin called this permission marketing.) They liked you enough to give you access to their inbox, you repay them by sending them something interesting or delightful.

I never really cared about leads when I was starting out on my own. I just wanted to have a decent place, I guess, and didn’t want to worry too much about visitors. (Is this true? I’m not sure…) On retrospect, I should’ve started collecting emails earlier. I guess I thought, I don’t have any products to sell, I don’t have any ebooks or anything like that, and I don’t even really want anybody’s money. Why should I bother?

Well, if you’re depending on people following you on social media, you might find that Facebook or Twitter changes their algorithm tomorrow and suddenly it’s a pay-to-play environment. If you’re depending on search, you may find that Google changes their algorithm to penalize you one way or another. The humble mailing list remains the most direct way of reaching out to your readers. So build it. I had so much blog traffic coming in to this site in the past, but I’ve had to re-earn a new audience most of the time with most of my new posts. If I had built an email list, I could’ve sent a blogpost to a few thousand people right after publishing it. I think that’s great motivation to publish, too.

I used to personally think that I don’t really like to subscribe to anybody’s newsletters, but that’s just me, and I’m not representative of how most people are. Also, you can manage newsletters with Gmail labels and filters, so you can collect those things without them disrupting your email reading flow.

I recommend using SumoMe – that’s what I’m using at ReferralCandy and it’s what I’m using for some of my blogs.

More later


How to think about traffic


How do you get more blog traffic?

First you need to publish content. When you’re at 0, you can pretty much publish whatever you like. You need to get into the habit/process of being able to publish things, so don’t obsess too much about publishing the right thing. If you’re new, you don’t yet know what “good” or “correct” is, so there’s no point trying to overthink that. It’s something you’ll figure out with output. So publish as much as you can.

Answer specific questions. I think it’s a good idea to write content that answers specific questions that people have. People often type in questions directly into their search bars – I do the same myself. I think, in order to stay motivated and focused, it helps to work backwards from questions that you’re actually sincerely interested in. (I’ve had a lot of fun curating a list of curiosities on this blog, for myself.) People are always starving to hear from other people who are genuinely interested in things.

Work backwards from your end-goal. What is the point of your blog? In ReferralCandy‘s case, the point is to help educate and inform people about referral marketing. We want intelligent, well-informed retailers with great products to achieve tremendous success through their referral campaigns, delighting their existing customers and getting lots of new ones in the process. So our blog needs to do a few different things. It needs to help retailers understand how and why referral marketing works, how businesses can use it, and so on.

Distribute your content. Once you’ve made something decent, it’s worth talking to other people to see what they think about it. Before you can do that, you’re usually going to have to contribute something first. (Ah, reciprocity.) Leave some thoughtful comments on quality content that you find elsewhere, share it yourself on Twitter. Email these people and ask them what’s up.