(un)Happy Prime Day

Amazon’s 20th Anniversary Prime Day Sale Starts Off With a Slow Fizzle

Prime Day Fail

For weeks Amazon has been pushing out content via social media and on its own website boasting about Prime Day, the internet super sale to end all super sales. So, when it finally kicked off today, users were most likely not expecting what they ended up receiving, a digital garage sale rife with things that no one, including Amazon, want. To say that Prime Day was a bust would be a massive understatement. After promising to have “more deals than Black Friday,” you would think that the shopping giant would have offered its Prime customers, who pay $99 per year for the title, at least a handful of things they were hoping to catch a deal on. Instead, what users received early on in the day was the digital equivalent of walking into a Radio Shack going-out-of-business sale on the last day only to find all the odds and ends you didn’t know you didn’t want. To make matters worse, many of the purported “sales” were minuscule in terms of the deal you were getting. Call me a pessimist, but $2 off a 48 pack of Quilted Northern toilet paper hardly registers as a bargain to me.

The best part about it all? I’m not alone in my tickled negativity. In typical fashion, the internet reacted hilariously to the perceived fail, taking to Twitter to post screenshots of some of the more hilarious “deals” and make jokes at Amazon’s expense, using the hashtag #PrimeDayFail. Below are just a few of my favorites that I found after just a minute of scrolling.

I’m sure that in the end the numbers will work out in Amazon’s favor as the deals get better later in the day, but there is no denying that today Amazon’s brand and their ego took a bit of a hit. The only thing for them to do now is to take one on the chin and chug along.

Lebron James: The Brand

How Lebron James Grew From Superstar Athlete into a Global Brand

Lebron James

With all the hype swirling around last night’s NBA championship game I think that now is as good a time as any to jump on board the train and discuss a few things. I’m not going to talk about NBA MVP, “Chef Curry,” or his “Splash Brother,” Klay Thompson. I’m not going to talk about how this years Golden State Warriors team is one of the best NBA teams we’ve seen in the last 20 years (congrats on winning the championship by the way). Instead, I’m going to talk about Lebron James, and not his finals performance which was probably one of the best by an individual player in the history of the game.

We all know the name. Lebron James: world-class athlete, physical specimen, superstar, olympian, business man, champion, the best ever (debatable). You’ll hear any one of these things when people talk about Lebron James. However, there is another lesser used term out there that defines the man myth which might be the most important of all: brand.

In 2014, Forbes listed Lebron as the most valuable individual brand in all of sports at a staggering $37M, besting Tiger Woods after pulling in $53M in off the court endorsements through the year. This comes at the young age of thirty after making one great business decision after another thanks in part to his agent, Rich Paul, and longtime friend, Maverick Carter. Going back to the very beginning before he had even graduated high school, Lebron James was living a life that even professional athletes dream of. Hailed as the “The Chosen One” on the cover of Sports Illustrated as a high school junior,  Lebron had all the hype in the world fueling his ascent to the top. He was one of the first ever high school players besides Kobe Bryant to garner national media attention, and he had the benefit of coming into the global spotlight during the beginning of what would become the social media revolution. His next big break came only a year later, still while not a professional player when Nike signed him to a 7 year $90M endorsement deal. Soon after, he was drafted first overall to his hometown team, the Cleveland Cavaliers, and with his meteoric rise to stardom, accompanied by his first year stats, came more and more ridiculous deals and endorsements. Within his first few years in the NBA, Lebron had received endorsements from global giants such a Coca-Cola, Microsoft, and McDonald’s as well as smaller companies like Cadbury, Upper Deck, and Statefarm. It didn’t take long after this for Lebron to go from being invested in to making huge investments of his own. In 2004, Lebron set up his own marketing firm with his previously mentioned childhood friend, Maverick Carter. LRMR Marketing and Branding as it would come to be known, was the product of Lebron James befriending billionaire Warren Buffet and receiving what could only be referred to as  great investing advice.

What started with low profile investments in real-estate and start-ups eventually blossomed into a 10% equity stake in Cannondale Bikes in 2007 which was then sold for a fair bit of profit. Lebron followed this move with another in 2008 when he invested in the then new Beats by Dre company for a small equity stake. Soon enough he began to be featured in Beats commercials, and even went so far as to purchase a pair of Beats for all of his Team USA teammates during the 2008 Olympics. This is a gesture he would go on to repeat in 2012 for his Miami Heat teammates and again in 2015 for the entire Ohio State Buckeyes football team. The latter gift came less than a year after Apple purchased Beats by Dre for a whopping $3 Billion earning the superstar $30M in profit for his stake.

Going back, 2011 was another huge year for the business of Lebron after he invested in the sports energy brand, Sheets, and LRMR partnered with Fenway Sports Management to land him an ownership stake in the Barclay’s Premiere League soccer football team, Liverpool FC. He also went on to sign yet another, Asia-specific endorsement deal with Baskin-Robbins and Dunkin’ Donuts when it was assumed that attaching Lebron’s name to the company would boost sales after he had the highest selling jersey and shoe in the continent (he still had the highest selling jersey and shoe in the world in 2014).

It seems that Lebron James’ name has the Midas touch on whatever it is attached too and it’s not an effect that’s going to be tarnished any time soon. In the last three years he’s been attached to Samsung, who made him the focus of their Galaxy phone ad campaign and designed a Lebron specific app giving people an inside look at the man’s life, Chinese internet giant, Tencent, and luxury watch maker, Audemars Piguet, who designed a Lebron James inspired timepiece which retails for $51,500. It sold 815 units as of January 2014. Come May of that same year, LRMR would go on to sign polarizing superstar college quarterback, Johnny Manziel.

Most recently, Lebron has signed on to partner with Teneo Holdings, a sports marketing firm that boasts partnerships with two other superstar athletes who know a thing or two about being a global brand, Kobe Bryant, and the lengend himself, Michael Jordan, the first ever Billionaire athlete.

At 30 years young the future is bright for Lebron James both on and off the court. Thanks in large to his determination and work ethic, he has built himself up to be the icon that nearly every child dreams of becoming, a man whose brand in so ingrained in our culture that we just can’t help but stare in awe of what he’ll do next. Yes, the business of Lebron James is alive and well and most assuredly will continue to get big bang for minimal buck long after he achieves his goal of becoming a billionaire.

Font In Design

The Importance of Choosing the Correct Font

In the world of design, font is as important as the use of color and images in creating a deliverable product. It is literally the part of a design that conveys the message of a piece and often times, in the case of good design, goes unnoticed to the casual viewer. Designers have a way of seeing things differently though. Typographers and designers in general have a way of nitpicking at the use of fonts and typefaces in their surrounding environments (at least I do). Often times it’s in a negative manner such as sighing at the use of Comic Sans in a newspaper article or Papyrus on the cover of a book (DON’T EVER DO THIS!).

Comic Sans Font

Papyrus Font

Other times though, there is a positive reaction in admiration of a solidly implemented font selection. One such case that is fairly recent is Apple’s development of their new (or is it old?) San Francisco font for the iWatch that is expected to expand to all iOS devices in the near future and maybe even replace their use of the Myriad font. But what goes into selecting the correct font for your project? In all cases it comes down to context. What are you doing with the font? Where is it going to be seen?  Are there brand qualities you are trying to convey?

At it’s bare bones font selection often comes down to the choice between  Serif and Sans Serif, a classic rivalry that has waged on for years. It is generally accepted that Serif fonts such as Times New Roman and Charter are used for publishing and print while Sans Serif fonts like Arial and Helvetica are more suited for digital contexts. Luckily, Urbanfonts has taken it upon themselves to make a great, comprehensive guide to further expand on these ideas, going into detail regarding typographic anatomy of each, dpi, and classification, and concluding, as I mentioned at the beginning of this post, that “the best font choices are ones where readers do not notice the font.”


I hope you enjoyed this post about the basic differences in font and the importance of using the right one in your design. In my next post I hope to go into the importance of learning typographic anatomy in order to recognize fonts in the environment and distinguish similar fonts from one another.

Simple Logo Design

Is Your Company’s Logo Hurting You?

A common facet of all types of advertisements and especially logo design is that they rely on simplicity and cleanliness to convey a message. This is generally because the attention span of most people isn’t one that likes to be held captive for long amounts of time. It is also because there are usually limiting factors on advertising and logos, such as space, time, and our ability to retain information. I often see designs where a  designer has tried to meld multiple elements together, or ignored layout basics, and the result is that it just doesn’t work. This is because they are ignoring the basic foundation of a logo design from the start: simplicity and effectiveness from all angles in order to be clean, timeless, and recognizable.  As an example take a look at the image included below that shows the logo progressions of Apple and McDonald’s, two globally recognizable companies, over time.

Apple Logo Progression


McDonald's Logo Progression

As you can see in the case of both companies, the logos have become simpler over time. The final versions of each are able to stand on their own, sans text, thanks to simple shapes which render them clean and recognizable. The fact of the matter is that we are bombarded with logos and other information at an astounding rate daily. It’s estimated that we on average take in 5000+ advertisements per day. Because of this we have a tendency to ignore complicated and convoluted material. A smart simple design such as the finalized versions of both company’s logos is easier to remember and is much more likely to make an impression on someone in the minimal time they may take to look at it.

Notice also that as each became simpler, they did so without straying away from symbols that have become synonymous with their brand. It’s no wonder that as time goes on and social trends change businesses must adapt. However, in adapting it is important to adhere to the things that have gotten you where you are. Imagine if McDonald’s were to all of a sudden change their logo to something completely different like their 1953 logo and began to implement it at locations around your city. There would most definitely be confusion amongst patrons because most people identify McDonald’s with the golden arches. This is the aspect of timelessness in play. Simple logos are easy to redesign as time goes on while remaining easy to identify.

Here are some of our favorite logos at Marketing Gunslingers

IBM Logo Progression Microsoft Logo Progression Starbucks Logo Progression


Spartan Golf Club Logo