The man behind BlackBerry, Swiffer and Scion on how to do branding right

– Connie Loizos is a contributor for PE Hub, a Thomson Reuters publication. This interview originally appeared here. The views expressed are her own. –

In the brand-naming world, Sausalito, Calif.-based Lexicon has become legendary for its work over the last 30 years, and no wonder. It named the Pentium chip for Intel, the PowerBook for Apple, the Swiffer for Procter & Gamble, and Dasani for Coca Cola. As a recent New Yorker piece about the firm observed, Lexicon also managed to transform Research in Motion’s bland, corporate, painstakingly matter-of-fact smart phones into caressable little devices, all with the word Blackberry.

It’s not an easy trick to pull off, says Lexicon founder David Placek, who believes a good brand has to blend numerous variables, including resonance, pluck and the ability to tell a service or product’s story, often in just a few characters.

Following Netflix’s now-famous Qwikster debacle, I called Placek to learn more about his job, and how both big and small companies might do a better job of selecting brands for themselves. Our conversation has been edited for length.

Q: Let’s start with a really annoying question. Why can’t you just tell a client, ‘I’m going to give you 25 great names, and you’re going to love one of them.’ That tactic seems to work just fine for Don Draper.

Serving up cupcakes with soft-sell social media

Foiled Cupcakes has found a loyal following for its gourmet treats, all without a storefront or traditional marketing.

Instead, owner Mari Luangrath built her growing customer base almost entirely with social media, engaging 18 to 40-year-old women on some of their favorite topics: designer accessories and chocolate.

“What do we have in common? We all like shoes and handbags,” said Luangrath, 32, who founded the Chicago-based cupcake delivery business in 2009. Last year Foiled Cupcakes reached $350,000 in sales.
“We started a Twitter search for people who were tweeting about shoes in Chicago,” she said. “And we starting replying to them.”

Coaching program aims to empower female entrepreneurs

Dr. Mary Jo Gorman decided to help patients in intensive care units five years ago when she saw a problem brewing in hospitals.

“There’s a crisis in the intensive care units today based on the shortage of specialists taking care of patients in ICU combined with the aging population,” says the founder of Advanced ICU Care.

Gorman’s company uses telemedicine to allow communication between doctors, patients and their families. “Our physicians and staff are watching and interacting with patients 24 hours a day from our central office in St.Louis, Missouri,” says Gorman.

Small businesses hiring more online workers

When Casey McConnell started text messaging marketing company Qittle he took the traditional route of hiring onsite employees. But he soon realized it was more advantageous to hire workers online.

“We found it was easy to find these specialists or people that we could hire for a certain amount,” said McConnell, the CEO of Qittle. “We didn’t have the extra overhead and we just got the project done. It’s really easy for us to ramp up our needs or pull back using contractors. If we had an internal staff it’s pretty hard to fluctuate like that.”

Qittle’s preference to hire workers in the cloud is reflected in Elance’s recent survey that shows 83 percent of small businesses plan to hire half their workers online within the next 12 months. Only 10 percent of those surveyed plan to hire predominantly onsite workers (90 percent).

LinkedIn expands promotional features for businesses

The online networking site, which more than a year began ago letting companies create their own profiles, last week expanded features within Company Pages that allow businesses to build and sustain their own followings in the professional community.

“It’s some pretty good intelligence,” said Ryan Roslansky, who heads LinkedIn’s Content Products. “It really helps members to have deeper insight and richer business intelligence on these companies.”

Not unlike the microblogging site Twitter, LinkedIn’s Company Pages update individuals about specific businesses of interest. But the depth of content is richer, said Roslansky, noting that posts include company news, employee moves, videos and white papers, among other information. These status updates appear in a follower’s news feed.

from MediaFile:

Online education site raises $3 mil in a round led by Groupon founders

Groupon co-founders Eric Lefkofsky and Brad Keywell have invested in online educational site (with one complicate name) Udemy through their venture capital fund Lightbank. Udemy just announced a $3 million Series A round of financing led by Lightbank that also includes funding from MHS Capital and 500 Startups.

Udemy plans to use the money for hiring and marketing and biz development.

Udemy "the academy of you" offers 6,000 courses covering all sorts of hobby-related subjects like social marketing, how to build a iPhone app, and Art 100 in addition to more traditional topics like intro to psychology. About 90 percent of Udemy's courses are free.

Online education is a pretty hot sector now -- just go ask the Washington Post and its Kaplan division which for the most part has been the driver of growth behind the company synoumous with Watergate and newspapers . Even News Corp is getting in on the act and set up an education unit focused on technology last year.

11 business lessons Steve Jobs taught me

– Neil Patel is a serial entrepreneur that blogs about business at Quick Sprout and is the co-founder of KISSmetrics. The views expressed are his own. –

Steve Jobs will be remembered as one of the greatest visionaries ever. What he did for the technological as well as entrepreneurial world, will never be forgotten.

Although I’m young and haven’t been following Jobs’s career as intently as others, he has taught me a lot about business in the last five years. Here are 11 things I’ll never forget that Steve Jobs taught me:

Why do customers shop at local small businesses?

– Stephanie Rabiner is a contributor to FindLaw’s Free Enterprise blog. FindLaw is a Thomson Reuters publication. This article originally appeared here. –

Despite hard times and shrinking profits, Americans still shop at locally owned, independent retailers.

A new small business survey from American Express polled 1,000 consumers aged 18 and older. Ninety-three percent of respondents believe that it’s important to support local small businesses. And on average, they spend about one third of their monthly discretionary income at these stores.

How to cope with a control-freak boss

Controlling bosses can make the workplace a living hell, but winning their trust is essential to improving office relations.

So says Kaley Klemp, an executive coach and co-author of “The Drama-Free Office: A Guide to Healthy Collaboration with Your Team, Coworkers, and Boss”.

“Trust is a big, big deal,” said Klemp, who wrote the book with her fellow coach and dad, Jim Warner. “Controllers are looking for those who are on their side.”

Seattle startup raises $1.3 million to encrypt the cloud

Kory Gill’s “a-ha” moment came in the form of a lightning bolt that struck his Seattle home and fried his computers. In the aftermath, his wife’s main concern was whether their digitally stored family photos had survived the blast.

“What more of a sign do you need to go start this company?” Gill recalled his wife asking him, who used the scare to leave a 20-year career at Microsoft (MSFT.O) and launch his own online backup company.

Three years later (Reuters first interviewed Gill in 2009), Gill and co-founder Marius Nita – a former Microsoft colleague – are seeing some traction with Newline Software Inc, having launched the first version of their online storage product, Exact, into the market in August.