The Blog and Pony Show

Author Archive

Paola Schifino - 5:28 pm June 1, 2017

Brands that #RefuseToLose


Recently, a potential client was sharing his background and mentioned that while he had studied advertising in college he knew that to support his family he needed to take a real job—not settle for some typical fly-by-night advertising agency.  Mind you, he was talking about different times, so as the co-founder of my own agency, I didn’t take offense. But it did get me thinking about how, over a period of 25 years, Schifino Lee has managed to beat the ad industry odds to successfully remain one of the premiere boutique firms in the southeast?  The secret boils down to constantly revisiting and redefining our brand’s value proposition in order to turn adversity into opportunity.

Years ago, at a time when most agencies serving the mid-market were focusing on design and aesthetics, Schifino Lee was focusing more on strategy and results. With that value proposition, our small firm was able to win major brands, such as AT&T and The New York Yankees. During our history we have constantly reevaluated our brand, going from Schifino Lee Advertising to Schifino Lee Advertising and Public Relations to Schifino Lee Advertising and Marketing, and last but not least, to Schifino Lee Advertising + Branding.

Today, the world of branding reaches far beyond traditional media to affect digital media, social media and even culture—and so does our agency.

There are many triggers for reevaluating your business’ brand.  Here are just a few examples:

  • Launch of a new product or service offering
  • New competitor entering your space
  • Your brand is stale
  • Technology has changed your business
  • Your business is experiencing significant growth
  • Sales are trending down for a significant period
  • Your brand no longer represents who you are

No matter the size of your company or its past success, achieving real longevity means refusing to lose by regularly evolving your brand to stay in step with the times.

Paola Schifino - 3:43 pm May 31, 2013


When it comes to business, client relationships are your most important asset.  Your long term clients know who you are, understand your full scope of services, and know what you can do for their company. But what happens when a new generation of customers ladder up. Don’t assume they have been briefed on your great relationship or how you have come to their company’s rescue on more than one occasion.

In fact, even if they are aware of your company and its services, this next generation client might not value the company you are today or the way you present your services. They might seek a company with a more innovative approach. The truth is, when it comes to the next generation client – perception is reality.

Identifying and nurturing a new generation of customers is imperative and will require you to take action:

  • Don’t assume your current contact will be there forever. Communicate your brand on an ongoing basis to relevant players in the department even those subordinate to your point of contact. You never know when they’ll move up.
  • If a new player enters be sure to introduce your brand and services. Don’t assume they have been briefed on your company’s greatness.
  • Connect with your new contacts on LinkedIn and if your company has an LI Group invite them to connect there as well. Follow their companies FB pages.
  • Most importantly evaluate your brand every two years. If you haven’t evaluated your brand in the last 5 years you are on the verge of extinction. The next generation customer has a whole new set of values and needs that might not line-up with your company’s offering and brand.
    • Conduct customer surveys and/or focus groups (be sure to include non-clients in this research)
    • Afterwards, adjust operations and service offerings if needed
    • Re-align your brand based on customer insights and retooled services
    • Develop strategic messaging for each audience

Remember, if you don’t define who you are to your next generation client, your competitor will do it for you.

Paola Schifino - 7:49 pm February 11, 2011

Michelangelo, Bernini, Calder, Slee

Cradle of Champions before its unveiling in Fort Worth

On January 28, 2011,  Slee’s contribution to the civic monuments was unveiled by officials from the City of Fort Worth and Gerdau Ameristeel. The Cradle of Champions sculpture is the steel manufacturer’s gift to the city, one of the co-hosts of Super Bowl XLV, and was designed by Schifino Lee.

The artwork is made from steel recycled, cast and rolled  by Gerdau at one of its mini mills. This is the the third time the Brazil-based metals companies has given a monument to a Super Bowl host city.

The sculpture stands in Sundance Square, the heart of Fort Worth.

According to a story on ESPN cable and internet, Cradle of Champions honors the rich tradition of scholar football in Texas. The 14 tons of steel come from North Texas Stadium, which was recently demolished, and high schools were asked to contribute some bit of steel from their own facilities. On the back of the sculpture will be engraved all the names of Lone Star high school and college football players who have and will play professional ball.

Paola Schifino - 3:10 pm January 4, 2011

Luxury & Vanity


What is significant about this ad from fashion and luxury goods purveyor Hermes?
It’s not that there’s nothing the least bit vulgar or titillating about it. Or that it occupied the back cover of a speciality magazine (Opera News) with advertising focused almost exclusively on its specialty.


Paola Schifino - 4:05 pm July 15, 2010

Y branding is big news

When an organization unveils a new logo it usually get s a squib on the business page. But this past Tuesday it was big news. I mean BIG news. From Tampa to Enid, OK, to London, UK to Mumbai, it was in practically every daily newspaper and online news feed you can think of. It even made the front page of the New York Times. (more…)

Paola Schifino - 11:12 am May 27, 2010

Fresh from the kitchens of Schifino Lee

Two new websites are hot out of our creative and programming ovens.

The first is for La Segunda Central Bakery, the premier maker of Cuban-style breads and pastries in the U.S. (at least according to a  poll of diners at Columbia Restaurant). The site greatly enhances the hundred-year old Ybor City bakery’s profile in the food service industry and spearheads their expansion as a regional commercial baker. Senior Interactive Art Director Nico Gomez (an expert on the Cuban sandwich) designed and built this great-looking site. I personally quality-tested all the products before they were photographed.

Our other delicious new website is for HOPCO Food Brokers. Tampa-based HOPCO represents national and local brands to the food service industry in the southeast states. It allows the brokerage and its clients to extend their reach into the kitchens of restaurants, hotels, schools, hospitals, retirement homes and other institutions. In addition to information about the brands, the site features important resources for food managers and contact info for all of HOPCO’s offices. Creative Director Max Blevins took the lead and was assisted by Mark, Nico and Eric.

Paola Schifino - 10:01 am April 27, 2010

A new model for earning value

On April 17, at an event in Nashville, TN, Tim Tebow said his Super Bowl ad for Focus on the Family cost him sponsorship deals. He didn’t say who objected to his pro-life, pro-traditional family (some would say anti-woman, anti-equality) message. If these companies do not support his values, he’s right not to shill for them.

The recently graduated University of Florida quarterback is learning the ropes as a sports celebrity, trying to find the right balance between his athletic and personal lives. That is: creating value without compromising values. (more…)