Rebranding the John Jay College Experience—Webinar

The Design Management Institute, which awarded Siegelvision First Prize at its annual Design Management Awards ceremony this year, hosted a webinar with Siegelvision CEO Alan Siegel and John Jay College President Jeremy Travis on how Siegelvision’s work with the school transformed the entire college experience.

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Simple reviewed by Doctors of Bookshelf blog

“The authors have shone a light on the pervasive problem of complexity and why it thrives. The book is well-written and easy to read. The authors make use of several relevant examples and anecdotes, and proffer practical solutions. The book’s emphasis on the consequences of complexity on healthcare is relevant to doctors.”

Read the full review here:

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Siegelvision’s work with Breaking Ground mentioned in New York Times, Crain’s Business

Siegelvision’s work with NYC-based nonprofit Breaking Ground (formerly Common Ground), which builds housing for chronically homeless and mentally ill New Yorkers, was recently mentioned in the New York Times and Crain’s New York.

“After 25 years, the organization decided its old moniker no longer fit its vision for developing housing for the homeless and low-income New Yorkers,” writes Crain’s.

We wanted a name that reflects the history of restoring structures and building as well to reflect what we do to help people restore their lives and become successful once again. —Breaking Ground President and CEO Brenda Rosen.

“‘Common’ no longer seemed to suggest shared goals…rather, it had begun to connote ‘ordinary,'” Dan Sheehan, group creative director at Siegelvision, told the New York Times. The New York Times article goes on to explain how important and involved rebranding efforts can be: “a rebranding can take months. In the most involved efforts, consultants conduct one-on-one interviews with current and former employees, clients, contributors and staff members at government agencies that provide nonprofits with financing.”

Read the full NYT article here:

Read the full Crain’s article here:



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Remington Tonar speaks on digital marketing at Cloud Business Summit

Siegelvision’s Remington Tonar, who leads our technology practice and digital strategy engagements, on Wednesday November 4 spoke on a panel to a crowd of senior executives and directors about digital marketing trends and best practices in the age of cloud-based technologies.

The annual Cloud Business Summit, which this year took place at the Yale Club in New York City, is sponsored by Saugatuck Technology and brings together hundreds of senior business and finance executives, marketing strategists and technology leaders to explore how enterprises can, and are, realizing the most from the Cloud in all of its forms.


Remington Tonar (left) speaking to senior executives on digital marketing in the age of cloud technology.

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Alan Siegel receives Lupus Foundation’s Visionary Award

On Wednesday, October 21, 2015, the Lupus Foundation of America honored several key supporters of the fight against systemic lupus erythematosus (SLE) at the Evening of Hope New York City Gala. Alan Siegel, the President and CEO of Siegelvision, who received the Visionary Award for helping with the Foundation’s branding and messaging.

This prestigious event was co-hosted by ABC Family’s Pretty Little Liars star Ian Harding together with 17-year-old SLE patient Josie Pearce, who learned of her disease in 2013. Both Harding and Pearce have spent several years advocating for the fight against SLE, under the Foundation, and are currently active supporters of the KNOW LUPUS national campaign launched earlier this year.

The star-studded gala featured an inspiring performance by Meghan Linsey of the 8th Season of NBC’s The Voice, and a surprise appearance from Whoopi Goldberg, who was previously recognized by the Foundation in 2012 for her contributions in raising awareness on lupus.

Find out more at

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Siegelvision receives First Place for John Jay College work at DMI Gala

In a glittering ceremony riverside at the Royal Sonesta Ballroom, the Design Management Institute announced the winners of the 2015 dmi:Design Value Awards, recognizing teams who have delivered significant value through design or design management practices. The Design Value Award winners are exemplars in their fields, a distinguished list of international organizations that include non-profit agencies, government entities, large multinationals, and regional enterprises.

The results are stunning. The financial gains, social impacts, environmental effects, and positive results on organizational culture will inspire you, challenge you, and most certainly make you proud to be part of an industry that is a powerful agent of change.

Siegelvision worked with the John Jay College of Criminal Justice in NYC and found that the college was an organization with inconsistent, undisciplined communications, a lack of clear definition and mission, compounded by an unengaged community, a low affinity with its students, and a low student retention rate.

Seigelvision offered a simple recommendation to brand the experience: John Jay is a College for “fierce advocates for justice.” The phrase captured the special essence of John Jay and resonated with the idealistic young, as well as with faculty, board members and donors who aspire to be part of a purpose-driven institution. The strategy was then brought to life across the John Jay experience—from the building interiors to uniforms to marketing collateral. Today the walls of John Jay are emblazoned with the ringing call to be fierce advocates for justice.

View an explanation of our winning work on the DMI website.

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“Conquering the Crisis of Complexity” in Finance and Insurance

You’re invited to join Siegelvision and HP for a breakfast event on Tuesday, September 228:00–11:00 AM

“Conquering the Crisis of Complexity” in Finance and Insurance

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Customer relationships are delicate. Your customer communications strategy is critical to your company’s success. How you talk to your customers can make the difference between a customer for life and a customer you never hear from again.As the figures below suggest, loyalty is enormously valuable once you’ve earned it. From that point on, every experience either strengthens that loyalty, or chips away at it. Consider the findings of a recent study:

– Companies that prioritize customer experience generate 60% higher profits than their competitors.

– Satisfied customers tell 9 people how happy they are. Dissatisfied customers tell 22 people—a case of bad news traveling faster.

– 80% of your future profits will come from 20% of your existing customers.

Join Tom Clayton and Irene Etzkorn, customer engagement experts from HP and Siegelvision, respectively, for breakfast and a look at how to significantly improve your customer communications and the resulting customer experience to drive better business results. Innovative companies are concentrating on frequently overlooked brand touchpoints—account statements, bills, correspondence, illustrations, forms and disclosures—to change the customer experience. They are transforming “necessary evils” into “customer delights” while achieving cost benefits through streamlining and customization. This session will cover:
· ways to shift the mindset of a large, risk averse company in a highly regulated environment
· techniques for improving content, design and wording
· institutionalizing communications improvements
· measuring outcomes
· living the brand in tangible ways

Limited number of seats available so reserve your spot now

Location Details
The Westin Time Square
270 West 43rdStreet
New York, NY 10036
T: 212.201.2700

· 8:00 – 8:30 AM – breakfast/networking
· 8:30 – 8:45 AM – introductions
· 8:45 – 9:30 AM – presentation
· 9:30 – 10:00 AM – wrap up and Q&A

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Irene Etzkorn, Chief Clarity Officer, Siegelvision

Irene is one of the nation’s leading experts on plain English writing and simplifying communications. She frequently authors articles and addresses audiences on the business and societal benefits of clarifying information to improve the customer experience. Most recently, Irene co-authored Simple: Conquering the Crisis of Complexity, which was released in April 2013 to critical acclaim and named a “Best Business Book of 2013” by Booz & Company. The driving force behind many milestones in consumer information, Irene has been instrumental in the development of simplified prospectuses and comprehension testing of consumer documents. In fact, she led the development of the first investor-oriented account statement on Wall Street and the first simplified hospital bill. Irene has deep expertise in the insurance, banking brokerage, healthcare, government and utility sectors. She has pioneered breakthrough programs for organizations including Allstate Insurance, the Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services, General Electric, the Securities and Exchange Commission (SEC), Bank of America and PNC Bank. She has also led simplification assignments of massive scale, notably for AT&T, IBM and the IRS.

Tom Clayton, Industry Consultant for the Financial Services, HP

Tom Clayton is an Industry Consultant for the Financial Services and Insurance practice within the Enterprise Software business at HP. With more than 25 years of experience in customer communications and document management strategies, Tom is considered an expert and is often called upon to assist with client opportunities. Tom also contributes thought leadership articles for several insurance and financial trade publications and has been a speaker at industry events such as ACORD.

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The Aftermath of Trying to Buy Shoes

A year and a half ago I had the good fortune to speak at a cloud marketing conference in NY. For most of the morning and into the afternoon I sat through mind-numbing panels and presentations on the miracle of the cloud, its ability to target, to track, to persist, and hopefully to bag its intended prey. Pretty exciting stuff, except for one fairly important hiccup — the importance of messaging. It was nowhere to be found at this conference on cloud marketing

What seems to have happened in the rush to the latest digital targeting technology is that persuasion is now taking a back seat to persistence.

A year ago I went online to look at a pair of Allen Edmonds shoes. (I ended up buying them at a store in Manhattan). But since that fateful click I have been served an almost daily barrage of Allen Edmonds ads. Same ad, same pair, same everything! I am sick of them, and safe to say, I will go barefoot before I ever buy another pair of their shoes! And I am sure there are tens of millions of consumers just like me who are as fed up as I am.

That’s why in this morning’s New York Times I read with great interest about the dramatic increase in the adaption rate of ad blockers on the web. The benefits? Faster browser speeds, less wasting of bandwidth to download ads, and of course far fewer of those Allen Edmonds ads! Count me in! And count out some of those “algorithm only” marketers who are crowding into my space.

So now what? What’s an aspiring brand manager to do?

Here are some thought-starters. Maybe get serious about the fine art of persuasion. Maybe get serious about having readers or surfers or listeners “lean in” as opposed to “push back.”  Maybe pay more attention to the fine art of brand engagement. And maybe take more seriously the role brand positioning, voice, messaging and competitive differentiation must continue to play in brand choice.  It’s time to bring “art” back into the science of brand marketing. Algorithms are great. Art and algorithms are even better.

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Brand Voice: A Differentiator in the Age of Digitized Noise

Every popular retail store that’s part of a big national chain has a familiar feeling all its own. Walking into any Dunkin’ Donuts is like finding yourself in the best-kept, nicest section of a municipal bus station.

It’s never going to feel like home or a fancy law office. You step in, stand in line and squint your eyes at the brown and pink colors lit up by the harshest fluorescent bulbs this side of Bellevue Hospital. You stand there smelling coffee faintly mixed with spray cleaner, and you know exactly what’s offered without glancing up at the menu.

Then you order and take out a donut—and bite into it. You’re feeing better already, and your coffee—while not what is served in Istanbul or Havana—is blazingly hot and warms you like a mother’s hug. “America runs on Dunkin’” proclaims the ads. You’ve run in and out and are on your way feeling that the four bucks was well spent.

That experience—the reliable, utilitarian nature of the environment, product and marketing themes—is the distinctive voice of Dunkin’ Donuts. It comes to you as clearly and consistently as does the voice of your favorite rock star or the President of the United States.

Dunkin’s voice speaks to you harshly in its color scheme but comfortingly in its hot, sweet products. It varies the way a familiar relative’s voice varies—but it is always Dunkin’ just like the familiar relative is always recognizable no matter what the setting.

And that voice is so different from, say, the voice of Starbucks. We don’t need to belabor the point to note that Starbucks’ colors, aroma, seating arrangements, offerings, vocabulary and prices speak to you in an entirely different voice from Dunkin’s.

The Starbucks voice is not the sound of a guy redoing the sheetrock upstairs. It’s the voice of a college-educated, somewhat self-centered person who has a thing about Europe and a preference for Wired Magazine and sugarless gum. How noisy are the Starbucks ads? So understated that you probably can’t recall one.

This comparison is easy. These two coffee chains are polar opposites in tone of voice. But in the digital age defining a strong brand voice that people want to listen to is not easy. It is, however, essential. And our firm helps clients do it.

Claude Singer is an Executive Vice President at Siegelvision.

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Alan Siegel Speaks at John Jay on Veterans Day

Alan Siegel shared some of his experiences from his service in the US Army during the early 1960s—including meeting Elvis Presley and attending atomic weapons school—at John Jay’s Salute to Veterans celebration.


Alan Siegel’s Salute to Veterans Speech, November 13, 2014

“I grew up on Long Island in the 1940s and 1950s when the draft was part of our culture. Coming from a patriotic family, I took it for granted that I would serve in the military—and even looked forward to it.

When I attended Cornell University in the 1950s, all students were required to take ROTC for two years. Since the draft was still in force, I signed on for the additional two years so I could serve as an officer. The summer of my junior year I went to Fort Bragg, the home of the 82nd Airborne, for officer training. I was one of the few candidates that didn’t sign up for three parachute jumps to get my wings. I was terrified of heights.

My commission as a 2nd Lieutenant was awarded at graduation from Cornell. I was assigned to the US Army Artillery when I went on active duty despite my request to join the Quartermaster Corps. Active duty was deferred while I attended NYU Law School.

I took a leave of absence from law school in 1961 and was shipped off to Fort Sill, Oklahoma for artillery training. The American military was advising South Vietnam during this time, so there were 50 Vietnamese officers in our program. No one paid any attention to them until they won a volleyball tournament beating a team of college athletes including the captain of the Ohio State football team, who eventually became an All-Star defensive end in the NFL.

When my orders came assigning me to sit in the rain at Fort Lewis, right outside of Seattle, I volunteered to go overseas.

My father waved goodbye as I boarded a World War II troop ship bound for Bremerhaven, Germany in January. At the same time, Russia’s Yuri Gagarin became the first person to orbit the earth and outgoing president Dwight Eisenhower warned Americans about the accumulation of power in the “military industrial complex.”

I was assigned to an 8-inch howitzer battalion stationed at a German Kasserne in Butzbach, Germany—an agrarian hamlet 30 kilometers north of Frankfurt where the farmers walked through the cobblestone streets every morning behind their oxen.

Most of the officers were regular army who served in Korea and didn’t appreciate an Ivy Leaguer from New York who was sympathetic to the enlisted men.

The middle of Germany was inundated with US military, over 300,000 personnel—infantry, tank battalions, artillery and support groups—focused on defending the Fulda Gap from a Russian invasion. The Cold War was at its peak highlighted by the construction of the Berlin Wall and the dramatic tensions President Kennedy faced in solving the Cuban Missile Crisis.

 My responsibilities were diverse and demanding:

  • Serving as a forward observer to call in artillery fire from long range 8” howitzers. This involved field maneuvers where I lived in a tent on the firing range that attracted massive, fierce wilder schein (wild pigs) at night. Sometimes we directed fire from spotter planes, where I frequently saw explosions activated along the East German and Czech border as Germans tried to flee to the west.
  • Serving as safety officer during field maneuvers where I had to double-check the settings on the howitzers—frequently in the middle of the night—to ensure that artillery rounds were properly directed to targets.
  • Negotiating damages the American military caused on hamlets and fields from these maneuvers—where potatoes stored in the walls of houses were spewed out over the roads. This required lengthy meetings at local guesthouses as the local forest meisters mulled over maps pinpointing every tree, plant and structure in the community.
  • Checking the bars with the military police to ensure that the enlisted men returned to the base before the curfew. I was frequently subjected to abuse by enlisted men high on alcohol and drugs.
  • Attending atomic weapons school in southern Germany since we had the capability to deliver these deadly weapons, and frequently traveled the roads with them. We were poised to arm the howitzers for atomic delivery when the Berlin Wall was being built. While I was at school, one of the lieutenants tried to climb over the 15-foot wall after curfew and was shot by a Czech guard.
  • Defending enlisted men in summary court-martial. Since I attended law school and was sympathetic to the enlisted men, I handled over 100 of these administrative proceedings. I will never forget one case when a bartender was providing details of a fight in his bar. When I asked him what he did to stop the fight, he said, “I hit the more aggressive soldier with an oxtail.” I asked to see the oxtail. He replied, “It’s in yesterday’s soup.”
  • Traveling eight to ten hours in open vehicles—we were training for wartime conditions—to firing ranges on the Czech border with temperatures 10° to 20° below zero. My colonel frequently reminded me that if any of my men got frostbite I would be court-martialed.

I don’t want to suggest there weren’t opportunities to explore Germany and Western Europe.

  • I visited Private Elvis Presley, who was stationed in Bad Nauheim, a charming spa town near my base, and who lived in a small house with his mother.
  • I attended two Oktoberfests, one in Wiesbaden and one in Munich.
  • I charted the premium wineries in Germany on our artillery maps, visited most of them when I had time off, and became an expert on the German wines from the Rhine and Mosel regions. When I wanted to bring some cases from the vintners to ship home with my personal possessions, the owners told me not to bother. I could get the wine cheaper at Macy’s.
  • I bought a fabulous Pentax camera in the PX for $50 and hired the director of the photo lab at the base to teach me how to develop and print film and take decent photographs. I ended up winning a lot of awards from the photographs of 8-inch howitzers firing at night, which gained visibility for the unit and the colonel.

What did this add up to? What did I learn?

  • “Whatever it takes” was reinforced as my approach to life
  • Team work
  • Leadership skills
  • How much I loved this country

 I will never forget the day I was released from the army. I volunteered to be a courier officer so I could fly home for the holidays. After flying all night with a cord tied to the documents I was responsible for and turning them over to the authorities, I set off on the bus from Fort Dix in New Jersey to see my father and sister for lunch.

When the bus arrived at the tollbooth on the NJ Turnpike, there was a terrible commotion. The bus driver then announced that President Kennedy had been shot in Texas.

As I reflect on the period when I served in the military, what disturbed me most was what would happen to the enlisted men when they finished serving their time. Most of them didn’t have an education or vocational skills. They didn’t have the opportunity you have at John Jay to get an education and build a career. Be sure to appreciate and take advantage of this opportunity.

I also look back on this brief era with a young, dynamic president who personified the values of citizenship, heroism and sacrifice. We need to reinvigorate our commitment to collective and individual responsibility and to the rebirth of authentic leadership for the country.”

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