Rebecca Courtney, Corporate Communications Director

Rebranding is a powerful marketing tool, whether you’re trying to connect with your audience in fresh ways, looking to shake loose from an outdated perception or expanding to a new demographic. But if done incorrectly, it can do much more harm than good. 

From Elon Musk’s controversial renaming of Twitter to “X”, to Weight Watchers (now WW) repositioning themselves as a wellness company, to something as simple as Gap’s logo change, there’s no shortage of cautionary tales. 

Most recently, online dating app Bumble’s rebrand has set off a wildfire of criticism, even going as far as eliciting an apology from the brand. 

Why is this rebrand dubbed the “Bumble Fumble” and what went wrong? 

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Esther Fabian, Account Director

This Mother's Day, let's celebrate the real, imperfect journey of motherhood. The pressure to fit the mold of the "perfect” mom is suffocating. But here's the truth: good enough is good enough. 

The "good-enough" mother is flawed, real and relatable, and shatters the facade of perfection, allowing working moms to bring their whole selves to work, interruptions and all. 

So what can advertisers do in this new era to embrace the imperfect? 

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Esther Fabian, Account Director

The term "tourism" often conjures images of busy streets, landmarks and crowded attractions. However, nestled down less-traveled paths are many hidden gems waiting to be discovered.  

Lesser-visited cities, often overshadowed by their larger counterparts, offer their own unique charm and allure not found in bigger metros. And what better way to uncover these hidden gems than through the lens of environmental events that are driving tourism? 

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Reid Klintworth - Director, Growth & Development

First, I want to congratulate both Dr. Russell Zwanka and Western Michigan University for putting together such a successful conference. From the keynote speakers and panel discussions to the amazing students that showed up to support the Food Marketing Program, the 2024 Food Marketing Conference was truly a top-tier experience. Following up on our recent blog about contextual commerce, I wanted to share a few of my thoughts on the main themes of the conference as they relate to one larger overall theme: the rise in hyper-personalization in retail. 

Hyper-personalization is a marketing strategy powered by data, analytics and AI, providing marketers with the insights and capabilities necessary to adapt to individual customers in real time. Examples of this include Starbucks using AI to craft custom messages to audiences in their apps, Amazon creating hyper-personalized homepages with relevant product recommendations and more. 

So what are the factors driving the rise of hyper-personalization and its viability as a successful marketing strategy? Let’s dive in. 

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Rebecca Courtney, Corporate Communications Director

The past year has been significantly concerning for the media industry. As reported by Fast Company, more than 21,400 media jobs were lost in 2023. Just three months into 2024, the Los Angeles Times has laid off more than 20 percent of its newsroom, The Wall Street Journal has cut 20 staff members in its Washington, D.C., office (during an election year, at that), and TIME Magazine has laid off 15 percent of its staff. Even the relatively “new” media outlet BuzzFeed, which was once scoffed at as a valid news source due to its prolific spelling errors and use of memes, shut down its BuzzFeed News division in April 2023. 

While these recent numbers are staggering, the collapse of traditional journalism is certainly not a new issue. In fact, newsroom employment in the United States alone dropped 26 percent between 2008 and 2021 according to Pew Research Center. 

While we tend to blame the collapse of traditional journalism on the rise of social media, it is important to note that democratizing the dissemination of information isn’t an inherently bad thing. It has given a voice to many who may have not otherwise had the opportunity to have a platform.  

However, there are a few key concepts we face in this new world: 

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Reid Klintworth - Director, Growth & Development

This week, I have the privilege of attending the WMU Food Marketing Conference. It’s a special moment for me to reengage with my undergrad alma mater (Go Broncos), and an opportunity to connect with some of the brightest minds in food marketing. This industry is facing massive shifts in consumer preferences toward healthier food options and overall consumption changes, and consumers are seeking expanded digital and e-commerce experiences that offer more personalization and efficiency.  

I'm looking forward to hearing industry experts talk about these topics and more, helping to ensure that at Hart, we’re doing all we can to continue assisting our food and beverage clients evolve alongside the industry. 

Here are a few topics we’re keeping an eye on:

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Jeff Lutz – VP, Corporate Communications & Content

Caitlin Clark, the electrifying point guard for the Iowa Hawkeyes, has become the biggest name in college basketball – men’s and women’s – captivating audiences with her unparalleled skillset and must-see performances on the court.

But what makes Clark special today isn’t just her talent; it’s the impact she’s had on basketball and women’s athletics. 

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Marc Paulenich, President

This week, I attended the DISCUS Annual Conference & WOTVS Global CONNECT! event to join in on the conversation with spirits industry leaders, decision-makers and supply chain partners. This was an incredible opportunity to dive into some of the mission-critical policies concerning the industry, connect with various industry executives and gain important insights from thought leaders in the spirits space. For me, one of the most interesting discussions of the event revolved around the importance of focusing on ways to generate value and growth as a brand in the spirits industry.  

As anyone in the industry knows, there have been tremendous changes taking place over the past few years. New products and competitors like cannabis-infused products, new legislation and regulation, and increased levels of responsibility stemming from diversity, sustainability and moderation initiatives – it can be a lot to navigate and easy to lose your path as a brand. 

That’s why, amid all this change, there is an increasing need to focus on the things that have always generated value and growth in the industry. So what does that look like?

Let’s take a closer look at some of those tried-and-true strategies. 

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Scott Hauman, VP Strategy and Innovation

Most marketers and brand champions know the importance of creating engaging experiences with brands. But what truly makes an impact? Think back to the last time you were genuinely impressed and inspired by a brand. It wasn't just a single interaction, but a carefully crafted series of micro-moments that left you feeling appreciated and understood.  

These are the invisible threads that make up the fabric of customer loyalty. These threads are none other than your customer touchpoints – the moments of truth, the silent but powerful conversations your brand has with customers throughout their entire shopping journey.

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Jeff Lutz – VP, Corporate Communications & Content

[Tater definition

The infamous “tater.” In the world of liquor, the term “taters” takes on a different meaning, referring to avid and discerning consumers who have a deep passion for premium and rare spirits. Liquor brands find themselves in an ongoing tango with the tater community and consumers find their bottled hopes and dreams slashed by the allocations already cornered by a more aggressive consumer. 

Taters do, however, play a crucial role in shaping brand perceptions, as their reviews, recommendations and preferences can significantly influence the purchasing decisions of other consumers. A tater’s impact extends beyond immediate sales, as their endorsement can elevate a brand's reputation and contribute to long-term success in the dynamic and evolving world of liquor. As such, creating the currency of “the insider” by building relationships with tater through exclusive releases, personalized experiences and engagement on social platforms is paramount for brands looking to thrive in the competitive landscape of premium spirits.  

Here are five key learnings that can be leveraged from how taters operate.

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