Monday, December 24, 2012

Keys to Making the Most of Brand Portfolios

The first key to creating an effective brand portfolio strategy is in understanding exactly what is a brand. Is it a logo? No. Well then, a symbol, a name or a spokesperson? Not exactly. OK, then is it a catchy jingle, a clever slogan, a well-designed ad or a popular product? Well, yes and no. While it can be all of these things, for our intents and purposes we must think of it as a valuable asset. By strategically creating, implementing and managing brand assets, they can be so powerful as to push growth at the top and from the bottom at the same time.  But the portfolio of brands must be carefully maintained. Or to borrow an idea from Babe Ruth, "You may have the greatest bunch of individual brands in the world, but if they aren't well managed, the portfolio won't be worth a dime."

Saturday, December 1, 2012

Luxury Products

Demand for luxury products has been a real mixed-bag this year. While some of the major brands that have been depended on to hold up the market in the past are announcing serious shortcomings, others are picking up the slack and even raising their sales growth targets. So can we safely assume that the failing of some of the major luxury stocks are brand specific and is not reflective of the general market? Maybe.

Sunday, November 18, 2012

Small businesses

Small businesses are an essential component of any local economy. They supply sorely needed tax revenues and employ the local workers. Hopefully the small business owner will become wealthy in the process.

Just How Small is a Small Business?
In recent published reports, any company that employs less than 500 workers is considered a small business. According to those numbers, small businesses go way beyond the Mom and Pop shops. In the US, small businesses account for 99.7 percent of all firms hiring employees. In addition, small businesses add to the new job growth and they contribute to the national economy. However, out of those businesses, seven out of ten last for two years or more and only about 50 percent survive for five years or more.

Tuesday, October 23, 2012

Manufacturing in the UK on the Rise in 2012

The manufacturing industry inthe UK has been in a bit of a slump, but according to the figures that came out this summer, we may be on the road to recovery. Or at least we can see the decline easing up. If all of this holds true, we can hope that the Bank of England will hold off on announcing increases to the quantitative easing programme that's worth some £375bn and hold the rates steady.

Thursday, October 11, 2012

Uncovering the Risks in Real Estate Investment

Real estate has the reputation of being a good investment, no matter what's going on with the global economy. Through upturns and downturns, investment in real estate can often slide through on an even keel and eventually come out a winner for the wise investor. As with all investments, the purchaser must understand all of the terms and conditions of the sale and know how to ask the right questions to get honest answers.

Sunday, September 23, 2012

UK Luxury Property Market Experiencing a Boom

Where are buyers from Europe and Asia going to protect their investments from the fluctuating economies of the Euro zone? Many of the most cautious investors are heading to London, where there is a £38bn development boom in the most high-class neighborhoods. There are plentiful upscale developments in the planning due to the increasingly strong demand for expensive housing within London. Foreign investors are flocking to the capital in a bid to locate stable and low-risk investments that are not affected by the present turmoil we see going on in the international financial markets.

Thursday, September 13, 2012

Risk Assessment for Beginning Investors

Managing your own investments is quite a challenge and not advised for the weak at heart, but with a little careful consideration and investigation on your part, investing can be extremely rewarding. The trick is to understand the connection between risk and investing and devise a plan to fit your investments into a risk category that you can live with.

Tuesday, August 7, 2012

Summer Fun with Historical Tours into Italy's Wine Country

With summer fun on the way, it's a great time to rethink the way we visit vineyards and tour wineries. Keep in mind that the wine industry is expanding and changing quickly, so if you're planning to go winery hopping on your own, a good guidebook and a designated driver is a must.

There have been two major developments in the wine industry of late. One is the expansion in the number of smaller wineries that should not  be missed. The second is the huge number of small labels that are coming from the custom crush facilities (places that produce small runs for large growers, or those who don't own a winery). There's plenty to see and taste, but do your homework and make a plan to avoid the disappointment of arriving at the right winery on the wrong day. Or vice verse.

Sunday, July 22, 2012

Staying Cool with New Wine

The hazy lazy crazy days of summer are here, and as they get longer and the temps get hotter, we might spend more time looking for ways to relax and cool down. Whether we find ourselves basking at the sea, picnicking in the forest or enjoying an outdoor music festival, a nice glass of cool wine is sure to do the trick, and here are a few new choices worth consideration.

Tuesday, July 10, 2012

Making a Difference

How good are you at selling yourself? It's pretty simple to study someone's product line and represent it to the public or even to promote an important personality or their issues. But being your own promoter takes guts. We have to develop a good image of ourselves or our business and then find a way to convince everyone out there how great we are. 

Wednesday, June 27, 2012

Be Consistent in What You Do

Being clear and consistent in your personal dealings effects every aspect of your life, both at home and at work. This is advice I have always given to troubled youth and young entrepreneurs as it happens to be one of the most important ingredients in building trust. Consistency in making right decisions, consistency in being punctual, consistency in paying bills on time. Being consistent is a trait that can be learned and practiced everyday amongst everyone we come in contact with.

Sunday, June 10, 2012

Art as Investment

Who doesn't dream of incredible works of art on the walls of their homes or offices to wow their friends while adding a splash of colour? That is definitely one reason to buy art, but according to the Financial Times, art is right up there next to prime property in its list of relatively safe investments for global spending. Contemporary and modernist art sales are on the rise and have realised some of the highest profits, but South African art is also making its presence known in world-famous art auctions. In recent years, South African artists have been commanding record prices, even through times of recession, as they find their own unique niche in the international art world.

Tuesday, May 29, 2012


Bordeaux, France is not only the home of some of the finest wines in the world, but it is also where the first official wine spa opened in 1999. After stumbling upon the secret that grape seeds are chalk-full of the  antioxidant polyphenol and vitamins C and E, Mathilde and Bertrand Thomas used the leftovers from grape harvesting on their Château Smith Haut Lafitte estate to create the Caudalie line of skin care products, now trademarked as Caudalie Vinothérapie. Their first hotel, Les Sources de Caudalie, offers guests vinotherapy treatments such as a leisurely splurge in the depths of crushed fresh grapes,
 a pulp friction massage or a soothing soak in vintage tinted baths.

Tuesday, April 24, 2012

The Road to Personal Financial Wellness

We're well into the new year and hopefully on a good footing to perosnal financial success. The economy is recovering, new markets are opening up and the opportunities are available to us all for enjoying a profitable 2012. But as with everything that we do well, it all starts with a well thought-out plan.

Step One: Investing in Your Future
A good place to begin is by realistically evaluating your financial goals. Where do you want to be six months from now? And what about six years from now? What do you need to do today in order to be prepared for tomorrow? The first item in your plan should address a savings plan; some sort of an investment scheme that is funded straight from the top of your monthly income. Don't wait until you have a little extra money to put away for the future - take a regular investment plan seriously by funding it first.

Tuesday, February 28, 2012

A New Digital Publication That Highlights the Younger Generation

The abundance of energy and creativity that dwell within the younger generation is known to all. Not bound by tradition or conventional restrictions of the past, the world is open to them in a way never before experienced. The power of today’s digital technology is the glue that unites and empowers the young people of today to make a difference, and they are doing just that. With the aim of giving the younger generation a strong voice, Urbane Sophisticate, a new lifestyle magazine, highlights the accomplishments and talents of phenomenal young people across the globe. Urbane features the stories of passionate and innovative 20‘somethings who have taken risks in order to change the world we live in.

Wednesday, February 15, 2012

Why You Should Invest in Business Cards

There was a time when business cards were just about the most important tool going for introducing yourself, running after new business associates or maintaining contact with valued customers. They were sleekly designed, printed on a stock with the right percentage of rag content and an appealing blend of carefully selected Pantones. They held the exact amount of information in that little 9 x 5 piece of card stock to create a desirable impression. Business cards were as exhilarating to pass out as they were to receive, which usually included a smile, a penetrating look and a firm handshake. You got to observe the person on the other side of the card and make a quick evaluation.

Thursday, January 5, 2012

It's All in the Swirl

In my mind, it doesn't sound very glamourous when physicists refer to the very elegant gesture of expertly swirling a nice wine in a crystal goblet as "orbital shaking", but experts in the field of fluid mechanics report that's what it takes to release the bouquet so that we can differentiate between exquisite wines and those that don't quite make the grade.
According to a recent study released by scientists a the Swiss Federal Institute of Technology, the swirling process makes a wave in the glass that churns the wine, pulls in oxygen and ultimately intensifies the smell. And that's what we're experiencing after giving our glass the oh-so pretentious swirl, as the waiter or waitress anxiously waits on the sideline for a "thumbs-up". Without going into the details of the glass shape, shaking diameter, rotation speed, oxygenation or bioreactors, we can safely conclude that the end results of swirling the glass benefit our tasting experience.