All posts in Local Design

rsiWhen you talk to Jay McMillan, founder of Royal Services, you can’t help but be inspired not only by his passion for his business, but by the passion he has toward yours! In an era where too many business owners are only looking out for their bottom line, Jay eschews the “what’s in it for me” mentality and serves to connect people. It’s refreshing to meet someone like Jay who realizes that business relationships are formed when you first seek to help someone other than yourself. Continue Reading →

Screen Shot 2012-07-30 at 1.01.44 PMThis is exciting. What you are about to read is the first installment in our “This is Working” series. What we’ve set out to do with the series is highlight entrepreneurs and their businesses. We’re not just looking to feature anyone with a tax ID number. Ideally, these are business owners who have something that really gets us excited here at SOZO / PIVOTAL. Our first featured company does exactly that! Continue Reading →

News this morning that Borders has filed Chapter 11 bankruptcy and may be closing up to 200 of its stores is yet another defining moment in publishing and may forever be the true beginning of the end to the entire bookstore experience. Continue Reading →

Ahh, the Chrysler Super Bowl spot. I better get to this while it’s still somewhat timely. Where do I begin and how do I write this so it doesn’t sound like a negative piece? I can start by saying what I liked about it from a creative standpoint or I can begin by talking about how I really think it missed the mark. Oh well, I’ll just begin… Continue Reading →

Over the past couple years the North American International Auto Show has taken on a more low-key display of the cars and trucks. Gone were some of the over-the-top and impressive stages that showcased the various manufacturer’s product lines. Also missing from the floor plan was Porsche and a few other luxury badges that thought Detroit wasn’t worth including on their auto show circuit. Continue Reading →

What’s one way of confusing sponsors, alienating the public and blowing thousands of dollars? How about unveiling three logos in as many years?

That’s what the Woodward Dream Cruise did when it recently unveiled a new logo that looks an awful lot like a bad classic car cliche and carries more detail than what could effectively be reproduced on the side of a 747. How exactly do they plan on printing that on hats, polo shirts and key chains?

I caught word of this change last night over at the Tanner Friedman blog and was stunned to hear that the sleek design created last year by former GM Design Director, Dick Ruzzin, was being put to rest.

Over here we loved the identity created by Ruzzin and thought it was a mark that could take the Dream Cruise well into the future and reach out to everyone (sponsors, affiliates and businesses included) in this area—whether or not you’re a hardcore car enthusiast. From merchandising to visibility, Ruzzin’s creation was spot on and had the ability to resonate with everyone from Detroit to Birmingham to Pontiac. This year’s version is tough on the eyes to say the least. Catch someone walking down the street with that shirt on and you don’t know whether they attended the Woodward Dream Cruise or a Wednesday night parking lot car show at Big Al’s Diner.

I’m assuming the designer was a professional and he was just set back to the drawing board over and over again by an uneducated committee. Or, perhaps they did their research and this is the right direction for the event. But as far as I’m concerned, The Woodward Dream Cruise should stand out as the world’s biggest and best classic car exhibit. In our opinion, it lost a huge part of that when it so quickly shelved last year’s icon in favor of … this.

So I’m meeting with a client yesterday and this is how it went…

After showing the website design concepts and site architecture our client, who loved both concepts, favored the second version. Both directions were different in their approach, but similar in that either one would have been effective in communicating the client’s message.

This is when I heard the best testimonial ever…

“Dave, it’s like pornography,” said the client. I wasn’t quite sure how to react, but I knew it was a compliment so I laughed.

He continued, “You know it when you see it. I knew what I wanted to see, but I wasn’t sure how you were going to pull it together and this is exactly what I wanted to see.

We have great clients here at SOZO | Pivotal!!


Last week the Detroit Lions pulled the curtain on a new logo and uniforms. If you don’t pay too much attention to this stuff you’d hardly recognize the changes if not for the team making it a bigger deal than it is.

During the press conference—which drew a ton of fans chanting “don’t draft Stafford” or some variation of that—the Lions called these changes their new brand.

Ouch. Really? You can change your brand at the drop of a curtain? Why didn’t I think of that? Heck, why didn’t they think of that when they were 0-4 last year.

Rebranding actually started when Bill Ford, Jr. came out and said Matt Millen should be fired. It continued when he actually was let go a few weeks later. The effort continues and really becomes public with the NFL Draft. The players they draft today and tomorrow won’t produce overnight results. Don’t get excited about their college stats—YES, last year’s Lions team would easily defeat an NCAA National Champion.

Last month when the new logo leaked on NFL.com, I wrote here that I thought the minor revisions were perfect. Those remarks got people excited. People said things like “this team needs to change everything from the top down,” or “look at New England and Tampa Bay, they changed their uniforms and won Super Bowls.”

Rebranding is a transformation process that has to start from within the organization. It has to be a mandate from the top. The right people have to be in the right places. I find it hard to believe, but perhaps this new logo and sense of identity has made the organization stronger internally. I won’t completely dismiss it. Maybe that’s indeed what happened when the Tampa Bay Buccaneers got rid of the creamsicle uniforms and opted for a better color scheme. Did it lead them to the Super Bowl? Perhaps in some small way. But you couldn’t put last year’s Lions team in Pittsburgh Steeler uniforms and think their record would be anything other than 0-16. We’ve seen clients get excited when we launch a new brand identity. It’s helped to reinvigorate their brand, but it’s not the only answer.

On a side note, from a pure business standpoint the only thing I don’t understand about the new logo is that with such a minor tweaking can they really expect a significant spike in merchandise sales? Maybe that loss of revenue will be a wash since they don’t have to rent a bunch of jackhammers.

Hearing this morning that Compuware Chairman Peter Karmanos is about announce that Kwame Kilpatrick will work for an affiliate of his company in Texas left me scratching my head wondering what’s going on here?

Clearly there’s more back story and back-scratching than we know now, but I can’t understand why this would be a good move for Karmanos or Compuware.

Your employees play such a huge roll in the culture and brand of your company. What does this say about Compuware? Is there anyone in that company saying “Wow, this is a great idea. Let’s align our company with a disgraced public official.”

I doubt it. Instead we’re left wondering why Karmanos would do this and what’s the real story behind the decision.


It’s refreshing to read about a company that is doing well. These past couple weeks of talk about the Big 3 and the economy, in general, have done nothing to boost spirits around this great Great Lake State.

So yes, it was nice to read about Zingerman’s in DBusiness the other day while riding the stationary bike. It made me pedal faster and it got me excited that there are great companies here. And, most importantly, they’re are also doing well — regardless of the economic climate they find themselves in.

I encourage you to read the article and take advantage of learning about the good that is too often neglected. If your from these parts, I assure you it will make you feel good proud. It should give you a few ideas on how you can improve your business and the morale of your team. While the article talks about the company’s success and its revenues, the main point throughout the piece is that Zingerman’s simply has an outstanding brand — both internally and externally.

The company’s solid brand position explains how it’s been able to extend the brand to so many different businesses — today there are nine under the Zingerman’s Community of Businesses. Most companies have a difficult time maintaining focus on their brand after branching out that much. Not Zingerman’s. Its family of brands are all strong and company’s focus is on doing different things really well rather than taking a franchising approach and risking the consistency.

Whenever we meet with clients in Ann Arbor, we stop at Zingerman’s. You can drop $13 on a sandwich, but price never crosses my mind. It’s also fairly busy during the lunch hours, but the wait doesn’t bother me either. I’m willing to pay and wait for the Zingerman’s experience. I can’t say that about a whole of things. I’m sure there are other delis out there with great sandwiches for half the price and half the wait. And is it possible the sandwiches could even be better?

Maybe.

Unfortunately, I don’t know about them. It’s just too bad they don’t take their brand as seriously as Zingerman’s.