Sunday, September 10, 2006

Dirt Cheap Inspiration

I'm discovering creative resources online that are as good, and in many cases, much better, than what once cost thousands of dollars. Today I found--and spent all day poring, a royalty-free art source with an incredible collection of drop-dead gorgeous graffiti. Downloaded, cropped and modified a few images and printed them on my puny little Canon inkjet. Wow. I'm, like, a designer already.

This site has over a thousand full-color photos of graffiti--funny, shocking, weird, beautiful--alive with color and form. Download any image for a dollar and go crazy. Next time you need a marketing piece with real stopping power, ditch the grip-and-grin corporate crap for something a lot more interesting.

Worth a look are,, and And when I get around to it, I'll pass along a few resources for creating logos that cost very little and look like a million bucks. Eat your heart out, Landor. (Chris Coleman)

Saturday, August 12, 2006

Weasels Attack the Ritz

The Ritz-Carlton flushed 20 years of brand equity down the drain last month. In a move that was probably influenced by some mush-brained consultant, the hotel chain replaced the "Ritz-Carlton Basics"--clear-cut rules for customer service--with 12 "Service Values".

The Basics were specific. Say "Certainly" and "My pleasure," for example, rather than "OK" or "No problem." When guests ask for directions, don't point the way; escort them.

But the newly adopted Ritz Service Values are fluff at a new level. Here's one: "I am empowered to create unique, memorable and personal experiences for our guests." And another: "I continuously seek opportunities to innovate and improve the Ritz-Carlton experience."


The Ritz had the secret to brand-building nailed: clarity, consistency, frequency. So what possessed management to mess around with success?

Well, people are different now. At least, that's how Cornell University professor Cathy Enz sees it. "As times change, so does the expectation for the luxury guest, who has more choices than ever," she told the Wall Street Journal. (6/21/06)

Bah, humbug. Expecting 32,000 employees to create a unique, memorable and personal experience for every guest they serve with no clear-cut rules to follow is absurd. I'll probably stay at the Ritz again. But the minute an employee refers to me and fellow travelers as "you guys," I'm outta there. (Chris Coleman)