Adventurous travelers made house-sharing platform Airbnb into an overnight success - but not everyone saw the upside in opening their homes to strangers. I was one of those people. It took me six years to fix up my place in an old Italian parsonage, and I wasn't convinced the extra income was worth the risk. But what finally convinced me to host was the same thing that inspired me as a guest. Airbnb isn't about private beaches or gilded guestrooms, but about feeling at home in unlikely places: Nashville barns, Mongolian yurts, and yes, Italian parsonages.
For their brand re-launch, Airbnb challenged me to capture this idea. Instead of a grand mission statement, I wrote an ode to kitchen tables as the company manifesto. We also launched a roundtable storytelling platform where hosts and guests could share their stories, building trust and community. Within one month of the brand re-launch, new host acquisition rates shot up 82%. Public data shows total available rooms grew from 1 million to 1.5 million within eight months, raising total Airbnb revenues 55% over the previous year. But there's a qualitative difference, too: we're not strangers anymore.
When beauty knocks me speechless, I take it as a linguistic challenge. "Um … wow!" may be flattering, but it doesn't necessarily win artists or designers the audience they deserve. That takes more specific, convincing words. This is how I wound up writing design magazine features and a weekly San Francisco Chronicle art column - and branding high-design products that may seem too dazzling for words, like Flipboard.
The sleek magazine-style media app was already a runaway hit with leading publishers, advertisers and influential adopters. But users weren't always looking past its stunning design, and discovering Flipboard's rapidly expanding functionality. I worked closely with design, leadership and engineering to match Flipboard's content brand to its design standards, and show the smarts beneath its surface.
Early on when I was working on marketing knowledge software for Procter & Gamble, I had an epiphany: marketing can either make an impact, or make noise. I decided to go for impact. But first, I needed some decent coffee. I'm originally from the rural Midwest, and I like my coffee to be hot, strong, and support family farmers. That craving was hard to satisfy - until Fair Trade USA changed everything.
When I first heard Fair Trade USA was planning to launch fair trade coffee in the US, I immediately contacted founder Paul Rice and offered my services. What started as a consumer education campaign quickly became a movement. The Fair Trade brand promise of quality, better lives and a healthy planet resonated across product launches of fair trade coffee, tea, chocolate, sugar, fruit and textiles, with $1.5 billion in sales directly benefiting family farmers worldwide. Together we showed that positive impact can be achieved with thoughtful marketing, and a decent cup of coffee.
Brand clients include: Kingsford Charcoal, Treasury Wine Estates, Hipmunk, Blurb, Procter & Gamble, Urbandoor.