Branding is stupid, here's why...

Working in different circles of marketing and communication I hear this word being thrown around, "Branding".  People are Branding Agents, Brand Developers, Branding Experts.  At first I thought everyone is talking about designing a logo, but no this is bigger than that, way bigger. 


A brand is the way you are seen or heard.  It's the promise you are bringing to your customers.  It's who you want to be, and how you want the world to percieve you to be.  Why don't you sew yourself a ski mask and wear it?  You're basically creating a facade. 

A mask.   

An authentic mask? 

What?  Ok, hang on.  If you're unfamiliar with the 2003 Documentary, The Corporation, I encourage you to watch how a brand is truly built.  If you have a brand, you're not allowed to speak your mind anymore because it will inhibit your brand.  You aren't allowed to take stances because it will undermine your brand.  You won't be able to be a human being anymore because now you are a brand.  Or as The Corporation puts it, a Sociopath. 


This is a buzzword, a piece of jargon that needs to go, along with synergy and entrepreneur (you're a businessman).   

I was always a kid that never liked wearing logos because I never wanted to be a walking billboard for anyone's brand, not even my own.  We are people, and we are also Americans.

What does that mean?

We have the right to agree to disagree with each other.  If someone disagreeing with you offends you, then there are a lot of social skills to be learned.

I always thought you become successful by making other people successful.  You listen to people, understand what they truly want, and giving them the best thing you can possibly output.  This isn't a brand, this is hard work, this is passion, this is blood, sweat, tears and grit.  This is humility, expertise, and years of deliberate practice.   This is putting in long hours, not billing for every ancillary little thing.  This is making sure that what you're making will make the other person successful or you won't be godamned successful, and yes, that fucking matters!  All this stuff cannot be put into one word.  And if you think it can, then you have no idea how complex running a business truly is.  Make the absolute best product you can.  And when you think you have it perfected, make it better.  After that, worry about branding.  Speak your mind, keep your word, and pay your debts.


I like dealing with people not brands. 


Branding can go in the drawer with the Kale.






Brand Man

Brand Man

Excuses to not use video

Using video as a marketing tool can be a great way for your business to reach an audience that blogs, brochures, and newsletters just cannot reach. I understand that making the decision to use video can be complex, and I know that there’s a lot of misconceptions that could change your mind.


I want to address those misconceptions and make sure you understand the truth about video marketing.

1. Video is too expensive

While it is true that professional video production costs more than making a video on your iPhone or tablet, the return on investment you get from using a professional is immeasurable. You don’t have to hire a Hollywood producer to be successful in your video marketing, and you don’t need millions of dollars to get the results your business needs, but branching out a little from your Financial Comfort Zone will be worth it in the end. There are video solutions to fit every need and budget.

2. Video is too time consuming

When you work with a professional video service, you don’t have to worry about the process taking too long, or taking too much time away from your own responsibilities. All you need is a vision, and the pros can do the rest. Also, I love when you want to be involved in the process.  How long does it take? Based on the type of project, it could take anywhere from two weeks to a couple of months.  If you have a deadline, I'll meet it.

3. I’m not good on camera

While being a confident speaker always helps when you’re on camera, you’re not trying to win an Emmy Award. The occasional fumble in your speech displays authenticity to the viewers. Sometimes an overly polished delivery can seem too rehearsed or “salesy”. Also, you may not even need to be on camera. There are multiple types of videos. Depending on the message you’re trying to convey, videos like whiteboard videos and animated explainers do a great job at getting your message across without requiring you – or anyone at all – to be on camera.

4. My business does not need video

I may be biased because video is what I do, but here’s what I know: If you want to differentiate yourself from your competitors, increase conversions, and add professionalism to your products and services, you need video. Everyone wants their business to experience more conversions and more revenue, but this shouldn’t be your only goal. Videos can showcase a specific brand and encourage purchases, they can raise awareness about your business or brand,  they can strengthen your online image with customer testimonials, and they can even teach your customers how to use your products.

Still not convinced? Take a look at these statistics:

  • 90% of users said that viewing a video helps in the decision making process.
  • One minute of video is equal to 1.8 million words.
  • After watching a video, 64% of users are more likely to buy a product online, according to ComScore.
  • 96% of B2B organizations use video in some capacity in their marketing campaigns of which 73% report positive results to their ROI, according to a survey conducted by ReelSEO.
  • Including a video on your homepage can increase conversion rates by 20% or more, according to ReelSEO.
  • 96% of B2B companies are planning to use video in their content marketing over the next year.

Video may not be the be-all and end-all solution, but it is a powerful one. And the truth is, you need to start embracing video as part of your online marketing strategy. Don’t let a few myths keep you from giving video marketing a shot.

You’ve got things to tell people.

Share it.

Why shouldnt you use video? 

Why shouldnt you use video? 

I mean really?  Why wouldn't you? 

Being a Professional

Being the guy behind the lens is a glamorous business.  Every shot is flawless, every subject an Oscar winner, every lighting scenario is golden hour, every day is amazing!   



Yeah right.

I've recently learned that people know me as the guy who takes pictures of Utica.  I'd like to make a correction to that statement; I'm the guy that takes pictures, it just so happens I'm in Utica while taking them most of the time because I live here.  Many people know me as the guy that takes pictures for that "food magazine".  They always enjoy the photos, as they should!  The food always looks amazing.  

Ok when a guy gives you a burnt egg on a plate and tells you to shoot this because "we don't want to waste any food" you know what time it is?  That's right!  It's time to be a professional!  Hey if I can make Utica look good I can make anything look good(I'm from West Utica, I can say these things). 

Not every shoot is amazing or something I look forward to.  Yes this is my passion but it's also a job and has to be done the best it can be every time.  In the beginning I used to shoot and thought everything I shot was beautiful, amazing, fantastic, that is until I looked at what I shot on my nice Retina display and saw how fucked up my image was.  Eventually I got to a point where I was ok with what I shot and what I saw in post was ok.  Today I hate everything I'm shooting, I really do.  I've developed an extremely discriminating eye, but you know what?  What I see on my 5k Retina display looks stellar.  Is it the gear?  No, well maybe, it's most likely the experience.   


When you film an interview it's always painful to see the person talking on camera not possess the ability to complete a sentence.  It's not easy being on camera, I hate having my picture taken and if you put a camera on me you won't get much out.  That camera will be capturing what you say or do forever on a recording or until the hard drives stop working.  But that why I'm here, I understand what cameras do to people.  When an interview is being filmed or I'm taking a portrait I let people know that all this equipment doesn't exist, it's all junk and I'm beneath you.  When they realize that it's not the millions of people watching they are talking to but just me or my interviewer, all the pressure goes away, they can speak or smile(or not smile) freely.  This is how to be a professional.


Look, not everyday is going to be amazing, and I never say my shoots are amazing.  I let my finished work speak for itself.  Camera work is messy.  The composition is never perfect, the lighting/color/tone is never perfect in camera, the camera gets shaky, the focus is out, but that stuff never makes it to the final cut.  That's the stuff I always see that you never will.  It's work to make a good piece of art.  Always show up to the shoot on time and always deliver on the deadline.  Always mind everything and never give anyone less than your best.   


If I can make Utica look awesome, wait till you see the burnt egg! 


Down to the last lens

Huge Thunderdome style video wall being built at the Utica Aud for Country Music Concert

Huge Thunderdome style video wall being built at the Utica Aud for Country Music Concert

This is for all my fellow gearheads out there.  We've all been there.  Someone on our Facebook feed buys a new camera, B&H Instagram feed shows a new lens, YouTube says this is the best tripod, Amazon has a cheaper memory card, The other photographer took a shot of his new Doc Martins, whatever.  First thing that pops into my head is, "Oh man!  My stuff is never gonna look as good as that looks now!"  Right? 




As a person who's worked in technical production for 15 years now, I've worked with lots of gear.  Fleets of tractor trailers full of gear.  Lights that can turn a dark room brighter than a summer day.  The question is, how much gear do you REALLY need?  Let's say today, I step into a time machine and go back to myself when I bought my first DSLR with a kit lens.  Would the stuff I shoot look anywhere near what I'm shooting today?  


I'd bet on it.


So does having the new gear make you better?  Well this takes me back to my Heavy Metal days when I was shredding guitar in front of 1000s of people(ok maybe 100s).  I had a tendency to get a new guitar and beat the crap out of it rendering its resale value $20.  But what did I care?  It was just a tool to get my message across.  I never owned a Les Paul, but played with a lot of people that did.  I could still sweep arpeggio them under a bridge.  Ah!  So it must come down to 3 things then.






Being a musician gives you the gift of pulling emotion out of people with a tool.  The same goes for photography and filmmaking.  Sure you could keep spending money on new equipment and spend more time thinking about what lens or light you want to use over what is this story really about?  But people have made films with DV camcorders and won Cannes, won Sundance, WHY?

Because the guy with the camera put in his/her 10,000 hours of practice, developed good cinematic technique, and went over the message of the film a million times.  Gear at this point is icing on the cake.  Ever ate a cake made completely of icing?  Again, it comes down to the balance of these 2 things:


Remember production value doesn't mean more gear(although I've used tons of it).  Production value can come down to someone experienced with visual storytelling, who put in the practice of his/her craft, and only brought one lens to the shoot.

Now if this doesn't inspire you to make film, this movie here was shot on a Panasonic DVX100(a DV tape camera)



Happy Shooting

Matt O