Dan Gershenson

I've always felt strongly that thoughts and ideas are the great equalizer of brands. No longer do we live in an era where only the largest of companies dictate their degree of influence based on how much money they spend to get in front of more eyeballs with one more 1-way message that's all about them.

The greatest influence can now be in the hands of the most helpful, transparent and personal brands of the world. Are you ready to be one of them? Caliber's Revolution of Influence blog aims to equip you with the strategies, content know-how, tools and trends to find the path that catapults you to newfound success.

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“If we as health care providers do not think like designers,
we will fail in our mission to serve our patients.”
   -Dr. Joyce Lee

In attending Chicago’s recent Cusp Conference, I came across a host of innovative guest speakers who are changing business models through better design. One of them I thoroughly enjoyed hearing was Dr. Joyce Lee, who is an Associate Professor of Pediatrics at the University of Michigan Medical School and an Associate Professor in the Department of Environmental Sciences at the University of Michigan School of Public Health.

Comics Journalism: Tales From The Cusp

Posted by on in Events
Last week I had the opportunity to spend some time at The Cusp Conference, a 2-day celebration of all things design put on by the agency team at Multiple. I originally planned on writing about all the guest speakers but frankly, there were so many of them I would be writing solely about each of them between now and next year. So I decided to select a few shining examples of speakers at Cusp who inspired me and opened the mindset to how I view design. If one of them strikes a chord with you, you’ll want to attend Cusp in late October next year when it comes back around.
Yahoo is an excellent case study of what not to do when you’re changing your logo.

In my humble opinion, what the company has done in its grand “unveiling” of its new logo after a good deal of fanfare is deliver essentially the same thing. It’s OK to slightly tweak your logo. It’s not OK when you have significant buildup for the first major logo change in 18 years, ask the online community for their opinion on a variety of logos and then go in a direction that doesn’t even include any of those options.


“This represents a significant evolution of the logo. (The purple) is far richer, deeper.”
In Russia, wearing a rainbow flag pin will land you in jail.

In Russia, two men cannot hold hands because they could be beaten to death — not necessarily by neo-Nazi skinheads but by ordinary citizens. You can’t be caught talking about “nontraditional sexual relationships” in Russia for fear of being fined up to the equivalent of $31,000.

This is the very real climate of persecution in Russia as a result of President Vladimir Putin’s sweeping — and dangerous — anti-gay propaganda law.
There’s a Facebook community I was recently excited to join, led by one of of the people in our industry I truly respect.

Within two weeks, I found I had to leave it.

It wasn’t largely the group leader’s fault. It was the people who killed it from within. Why? The entire mission of the group was to be a helpful forum, where people could learn from one another. Admirable enough, right? I could go with that. There are always good things to learn from one another.
Here, go craft a brand that speaks for an entire city.

It’s a gigantic challenge for the Choose Chicago team that CEO of Johnson Publishing Desiree Rogers heads. Chicago needs a fresh tourism campaign that captures the imagination of potential travelers abroad who can spend a pretty penny on their destination of choice. Why? There’s a new set of questions. There’s crime. There’s teacher layoffs. There’s a pension crisis. There’s an inordinate amount of debate over Wrigley Field Jumbotrons. And we’re still feeling a bit of a sting over not getting the Olympics and what that means in terms of how the world views our city.

3 Big Tips For Relaunching Your Website

Posted by on in Websites
In the second part of my writing about working on your own agency brand, I’m really excited to share the news that Caliber’s new website is launched!! Go check it out when you get a chance and let me know what you think.
Go customized. Here’s a simple but powerful tip that more brands need to take advantage of on their social media channel design to establish a presence.

I recently spoke about the need to treat yourself as your most important client or you’ll perpetually push yourself to the bottom of the list. Knowing that this involves walking the walk and talking the talk, here’s a first example of a simple but very important self-branded piece that we often forget about because it can fade into the background – literally.

You’re Ignoring This Client The Most.

Posted by on in Positioning
There’s a popular excuse that many agencies make for themselves when it comes to developing their own brand that has to do with “the cobbler’s shoes” and basically how we’re all like a shoemaker who makes shoes for every customer except his own children. I should know. I used to make this excuse myself. But with a semi-embarrassed grin that was actually more of a badge of courage, gosh darn it, you’ve got to service those clients that pay the bills!

I’d keep making this excuse over and over as if someone would take pity on me, “Wow, it’s so admirable that he services all those clients but doesn’t do anything for himself.”
 b2ap3_thumbnail_2013-06-28-10-35-18_20141102-105626_1.jpg

You don’t get to celebrate a sports title coming to your city every day, every week, every year and in some cases, every few decades. That’s why as I took a few hours out of my day to savor the importance of celebrating this moment with the NHL champion Chicago Blackhawks’ Stanley Cup parade, I considered the hundreds of thousands of people who had joined me.

Sure, some of them might have had to take a vacation day or make up an excuse (“I..(cough, cough)…don’t feel so good, boss.”). Yet I know of at least a few Fortune 500 companies here that told their employees: “Go. Take this in. Spend some time within reason to applaud this team for what it meant to our city.”
When you’re a position to have to tell a client that they have a weakness or two or seventeen, it’s not the easiest thing in the world to do. Someone asked me that recently: “So, um, what do you do when you have to tell a client that, uh, a few things they’re doing aren’t…quite…good?”

“You’re asking me how do I tell someone their baby is ugly?”

“Well, I’ve never heard it said that way.”

“It’s exactly like that. Because when someone is close to their brand, it’s their baby. Some people know that deep down, their baby isn’t perfect even when they talk about it to other people. And they’re right. After all, a baby is a human being and humans are far from perfect.”

Conversations with Your 22-Year-Old Self

Posted by on in Culture
I was taking a look at my very first Advertising portfolio the other day.

Have you done that recently?

It’s a fun and a bit humbling trip down Memory Lane. You should try it.

There they were, a collection of ads that were decently written but from an art direction standpoint…a total mess, really. I chuckled to myself as I saw the ads pasted on black construction paper. They were still good. I was proud of them. But it’s a good thing I was going for a Copywriter position and not anything in design.

The Future Favors The Nimble Agency

Posted by on in Media Trends
Big or small, traditionally focused or digitally focused, only one kind of agency will be left standing in the future:

The nimble one.

There is a grim future for agencies that have a process that looks like so:

Writer and designer team get Creative Brief.

Writer and designer concept, concept, concept, concept, concept…

Eureka! They stumble across an idea they love. Brilliant.

They present to their Creative Director.
By now, if you’re on Facebook enough each day, you’ve probably noticed the persistent presence of some people who think you should know about them. They aren’t your friends and they aren’t Fans of your business page.

No, instead these special un-invented guests to your Facebook News Feed belong to a category of what’s called Suggested Posts. And if they’re any indication of how Facebook “knows” you, its brain isn’t looking so smart.
Tagged in: Facebook Facebook Ads

Why They Buy From You

Video shared by on in Caliber Video


It's not your services. It's not your number of office locations. It's probably not even your years of experience. Dan Gershenson of Caliber Brand Strategy + Content Marketing talks about planning and crafting emotionally-charged content around the types of events and issues your audience actually cares about so you can trigger a real reaction.
I never thought I would see a day in Chicago when Derrick Rose would have his heart questioned, but it’s obvious that we’re officially there. While we can debate to no end whether it’s right or wrong for him to sit on the bench when he’s been medically cleared to play for two months now, the fact remains that there is a definite faction in this town that is flat out frustrated with #1. They see his teammates playing on less than two healthy legs, throwing up in the locker room due to the flu, getting stitches in the head, wearing gear that enables them to play but probably isn’t terribly comfortable and so on. These guys don’t care. They just suit up and go to war.
So let’s say you have a relatively new business that’s no more than 1-2 years old. Things are progressing nicely and you’re making a decent amount of money. Maybe you aren’t quite yet jumping into a pool of it like Scrooge McDuck, but you’re doing OK for yourself.

Still, the challenge of filling the pipeline becomes a regular thing in your mind. The conversation with your team becomes, “Maybe we should hire a New Business Salesperson.”

Hey, that sounds intriguing. Someone who can get out there and sell for you, huh? You can focus on the work you’re doing and another person can head out there to make it rain.
The student across the table from me at the Portfolio Review had one of those deer-in-the-headlights looks my way when I asked the question. It was a question that I thought was simple enough, but apparently it was a real brain teaser. I wondered if I was dealing with a kid who had just had too much to drink the night before at a frat party and was regretting it now. But she seemed fairly lucid, so I asked again:

“What was your thinking behind this campaign?”

She stammered out, “Well, I, uh, guess I just thought this logo effect would be cool and the colors looked pretty good.”

I asked it again to another student and got, “I did this because that was our assignment, to do a logo and an ad and a website…”
This scene from Mad Men sums up an important point for me about prospect relationship building.

There are Believers and there are Non-Believers. The difference is easier to spot than we make it.


As Don Draper says when explaining an ad campaign, “You either have it in your heart or you don’t.”
Mike Royko. Irv Kupcinet. Gene Siskel. Jack Brickhouse. And now, Roger Ebert joins the company of these and many other Chicago media icons who have passed on. For Ebert, most will memorialize him of course for his landmark TV program bantering with Siskel. But my first thought upon hearing of his passing was how this remarkable man, due to devastating cancer that had robbed him of the ability to speak, had found a new voice in his use of social media. Most of us couldn’t even fathom the thought of not being able to speak, yet Ebert channeled his energy into a wonderful new electronic format. There, in true journalistic form, he rendered opinions that carried great weight and credibility, just as he had for so many years before. In fact, unless it was my imagination, he even threw more opinions online that weren’t necessarily confined to cinema either.

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Are we a fit for you and you for us? We certainly could be. But let’s start simple. Take a look at your calendar and see when you have no more than 45 minutes to talk further about your goals while receiving greater insight on next steps.

Let's Schedule a Time

  • "Dan did a great job crafting our website's language as well as developing our brochure. His work was top notch and very impactful. We really appreciate the way he worked his "magic." Dan has our strongest recommendation."

    Michael Casaburi, CEO at Revulus Growth Partners
  • "Dan is not only a person with creative ideas, he is a professional with high intelligence and integrity. He has tremendous energy and technical acumen. Dan is is focused and loves what he does...creating brands and building relationships. He is always willing to offer a helping hand and brings a strong dynamic to any team he is on. I highly recommend Dan to any company that is seeking exposure, growth, financial results and brand development."

    Chadia Meroueh, V.P., Auto Tech and Body
  • "I hired Dan to freshen up the writing on my website, and am delighted with the results. Dan GOT what my consulting business is about in a way that I hadn't experienced from anyone outside my field! More importantly, he was able to take that understanding and write clear and compelling language about my services – AND suggest format changes to the site to make it more effective. I highly recommend him."

    Dina Petrakis, Renovation Coach, Littlerock Construction, Inc.

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