Bravery vs Fear


Maybe you heard the entire dialog, but as I turned on the radio in my truck, I caught the tail of a conversation regarding Bravery vs Fear and the options you have available to you (in your mind) when you are feeling brave, vs when you are feeling fearful.

I have certainly felt this, as I am sure many of you have. 

The big question is, how do you get out of that fearful funk? How do you become brave?

As a creative person in business, these two concepts are in constant dialog. It is the way we do things. If you are being creative, in most cases, you are doing something that not only you have not done before, but something that has not been proven to work, succeed.  The brave me pushes the envelope, looks for something new, is an explorer looking to discover the unknown answer. 

Then comes the presentation. Fear sets in, I start to second guess myself. Confidence. I take a deep breath, I repeat in my mind that I have faith in my work, my process and my intentions. In most cases, the client is excited and thankful. In others, the client is feeling the fear. Did I project that on them? They are unsure if the design/campaign/content will give them the outcome they are depending on. My work ethic I gained from my father and grandfather forces me to be ethical to the clients needs. To provide them with the value that they are depending on me to deliver.

So what do I do?

I challenge myself. Constantly. I do things that I have never done before. I will open a retail store to learn what it is like on the sales side. I take a ride as a monkey on a Speedway Sidecar going for a turn at near 100 miles per hour dragging my butt (literally) in the dirt. I produce an incredible amount of work. I am constantly thinking and working on building something. (that also comes from my construction family ties)

I know you do stuff to challenge yourself. Share with me and everyone what you do. It will inspire us all and help us to be more brave and kick fear in the teeth.

Your Brand Advocates

The Blacktop Media Network exists to help you build your brand.

One of the things we dig the most is creating content for your marketing department. Our content can be in the form of Press Releases, Testimonials, Photos, Video, Audio and Broadcast. We recently completed a Brand Advocacy program for a local nitrile glove distributor. Billy took up the task as Brand Advocate and offered his testimonial for their products. Take a look:

Here are the testimonials Billy presented:
I wear gloves because my hands are important to me. Not only do I use them as tools like everyone else, but I also use them to get around in my wheel chair or with my sticks (crutches).

I saw Adenna at the SEMA Show and had to try them out. I found their nitrile gloves to be comfortable for my daily medical use and strong when working on my Harley or other projects in the garage.

If you want to protect your hands, I suggest you look into Adenna latex or nitrile gloves. They have a wide assortment of styles and weights for most every job.

-Billy Colombini, Blacktop Magazine

I use the Adenna Miracle gloves for my medical issues, it is important to be as clean as possible. When I use a catheter or administer a shot, the Miracle gloves are a good fit and work great for my needs. The thin gauge, and skin-like feel help me to be precise when using a catheter.

Billy Colombini, Blacktop Magazine

We appreciate the opportunity to contribute to YOUR success too. If you'd like to build a brand advocacy program for your business, simply give us a call at 949-584-5669.


Creating a Consistent Brand Image

Here at the Blacktop Media Network, we are very fortunate to work for clients who appreciate the value we have to bring to their brands.

AskewBlacktop Branding has developed a consistent and robust “Brand Standards” program. The program starts with a review of your current brand equity. Basically, we work to answer the question: “How do people currently view your brand?”. The answers lie in both the visual and the perceptual quality of your brand image.

Visual Quality:
The Brand Standards become the pallet or guideline on how we present the brand identity going forward. Strict use and definitions of design elements, typography, color, and iconography are outlined.

Perceptual Quality:
Since day one, Blacktop Branding has been a leader in developing a thematic voice for brands. A good thematic concept will touch people on an emotional level. They will be able to add their own story to the theme and connect in a way that will enable them to be brand advocates. What is the theme of the company? How do you want your brand to be perceived? We see themes in use at Helpful Honda, Subaru; Share the Love, RAM Trucks; Work Hard.

The link below is the brand identity design standards of an extensive corporate identity program for Boyd’s Garage. A blacksmith and hot rod shop in rural Montana:



3 Ways “Cool Old Stuff” Helps You to Succeed.


We all need a place to go to and break away from the stresses of the day, the week, the year. This private space becomes our sanctuary.

IMG_0906I was hanging out in my sancutary the other night. Looking at some items that were as old or older than my grandfather. My Nonno came here from Italy when he was 16 years old in 1922. Hanging in my garage is a portrait photo of him and his brother with their father just before the two boys set off to live in America. He came here with nothing and lived the American Dream.

I was throwing darts, thinking about how good all this cool old stuff makes me feel. There are certain scientific circles which agree that a happy mind makes a happy body. The mind/body continuum comes from somatic psychology originated by Pierre Janet and Sigmund Freud. Also known as Namarupa in Buddhism.

I see it like this: When I am around items that are from my father or grand-father’s era, I feel as though I am part of a much larger world. I am inspired. Ideas roll in and motivation energizes me to action. And, that makes me feel good. When I feel good, I feel stronger and more resilient to the stresses in my life.

Here are the three ways Cool Old Stuff helps me succeed.


This “Cool Old Stuff” makes me grateful for the strong work ethics my patriarchs have taught me. “Good things don’t come easy.” “If it was easy, anyone and everyone would do it.”


I look at the work they have left us. The craftsmanship and design are deserving of respect. Respect in how I display the items, and respect in the work I do to continue their legacy.


The items help me to gather my focus and work on what is really important. I am reminded of the “Good Old Days” where there was great collaborations in the United States. Companies collaborated together to get great things done. During WWII manufacturers changed their plants for the war effort, the public learned to be frugal. During the space race companies collaborated their engineers and designs for the common goal.


When I am around these historical items I learn quite a bit about myself, and what we are all capable of, when we work together.

3 Tips for Great Storytelling

I have been told that I am a great storyteller.

Depending on the situation, that can be a compliment or not.

One-time while on a road trip through the backroads of Vermont in search of covered bridges, I would make up ghost stories about driving through a road very much like this one, and when I came to a climactic point I’d touch the brakes to emphasize the point. It would scare the bejezus out of everyone from grand-daughters to grand-fathers riding in that van.

And when I was a kid and had to explain the bits and pieces of model cars in the backyard, I would quickly come up with a reason that did NOT involve firecrackers.


I have taken those lessons and what I had learned in Art History and Sculpture classes at the Laguna College of Art and Design to the benefit of my clients with my Strategic Design Parameters diagram. The diagram was developed for visual communication, however it works well for storytelling as well. Here we find the “sweet spot” between the Physical, Emotional and Intellectual parameters.

BB_TriadA good story draws people in, compels them to learn more and leaves them feeling content. That’s the structure, or the Physical Parameter. The Intellectual Parameter is the part that compels them to learn more. There is something interesting, fascinating or educational that essentially sucks them in. Then there is the Emotional Parameter that pulls at their heartstrings and creates a bond.

1) Physical Parameter
Outline the structure of your story. Be sure that there is a beginning, middle and end. Sounds simple enough but without the plan, your story will ramble. I have found it best to define the ending first. What is the result you want someone to achieve at the end of the story? The beginning will create the question that the end will answer. The middle is the meat of the story. It will provide the support to create a paradigm shift in your audience and allow them to accept your solution in the end.

If there are problems in the Physical Parameter the message will be lost because the audience will be focused on the flaws. Spelling or grammatical errirs our grate exampuls.

2) Intellectual Parameter
As defined earlier in the meat of the story. The Intellectual Parameter is going to have a historical or contemporary reference that the audience will appreciate. For that to happen you must research your audience to use the proper references. Obscure references will distance you from the audience. Be careful not to overuse industry terms that they may not be aware of. Keep jargon at a minimum.

When there are flaws in the Intellectual Parameter the audience will not get the meaning of the message and cannot make an informed positive action. Be clear and concise in your meaning.

3) Emotional Parameter
In order for the audience to completely “buy-in” to your story it must touch them spiritually. An AHA moment. Something that will connect with them on a deeper more personal level. In researching your audience look for clues to what they are responding to. This could be as simple as a color choice, or as deep as a nostalgic remembrance.

A story may be well written, be full of meaning but without an equally strong emotional quotient, there will be no connection. It will be difficult for the audience to share the story. We need them to share the story with gusto!

I trust this article will help you in writing your STORY. If you would like to discuss how we can specifically assist you in your story, please feel free to call.

– Tony Colombini 949-584-5669

Notes from Recent Online Marketing Seminars

I recently attended three different marketing seminars focused around online marketing. The first was sponsored by Constant Contact, which was a good overview of e-mail, and social media marketing. There was a special guest at Faststart Studio; Benny Luo from NextShark who shared his Facebook marketing tips and at a recent OCMA Luncheon, Scott Rogers from Mercantile Mobile Marketing focused on text messaging.

Here are my notes as a conglomeration of these seminars. I hope you find them useful in your marketing.

First thing, what is your goal with digital marketing? Is it to drive traffic to your website, to boost online sales? Each of us has a different purpose for marketing online. What is your goal in digital marketing? The good news is that everything is measurable, so you can define what works and capitalize on its structure. The bad news is, everything is measurable and you can become overwhelmed by the data.

I suggest you focus on driving traffic to your own site. Algorithms can change on social sites and such where you don’t own or have any control over the content or structure. However, sites such as Facebook are weary of the links going away from their site, and therefore have changed the viewing of blatant external links.

So let’s start with your website.

Google Analytics. Obtain a Google Adwords account. You may not use Adwords, but without the account you cannot find the most common keywords people are using when searching for your product, service or site. If you have a website which is subscription based, such as an online magazine, consider a Google Adsense account and allow Google to place ads on your site which you get referral money.

Before I get into the social media or e-mail channels we should talk a bit about content.


  • Use intriguing shots or behind the scenes photos.
  • Be dramatic! Emphasize a key element in the image.
  • Review the image for contrast and clarity. Make it really small, like the size of a postage stamp to see if the image is clear as a thumbnail.
  • Include a person in the photo. Happy, smiling people get more click throughs.

Copy – The words or verbiage.

  • What’s your story? Why are you unique? Inspiring? Problem Solving?
  • Use outrageous titles in your posts, however, be sure to back up the outrageous claim in the content.
  • Know this, most people will gloss-over the copy and not read it all. Make it understandable in the gloss-over. Bullet Points, bold sub-titles, like the stuff I am doing here.
  • Write about what people want to read. Who is everyone talking about? Who should they be talking about? Etc.
  • Start a controversy. Pit two opposing ideas against each other. The purpose is to start a conversation. This allows people a way to share the content.
  • “What’s In It For Me?” Tell them. Give them ideas to take home and use.
  • Define your small group that you can empower to share the content.

E-mail Marketing
From Boomers to Millennials E-mail is still the most trusted platform for messaging.

  • Use a reputable e-mail service provider when sending mass e-mails.
  • Obey the CAN-SPAM Act and send ONLY to opt-in subscribers.
  • Include a call to action and repeat it. Join, Share, Visit…
  • Don’t give too many options to the reader Make it easy.
  • Structure as a conversation. Use conversational tone in the copy.
  • Save a list of readers (people who have clicked on your e-mail links) as a separate contact list to send targeted calls to action. This is your main tribe to empower to share.
  • Check Auto Response notes and Welcome E-Mail for conversational tone.

Mobile Marketing
The use of mobile devices has grown exponentially in the past couple of years. More and more people are using mobile devices INSTEAD OF desktop to access the web.

  • Make sure your website is “Responsive” where it is optimized for viewing on smart phones, tablets and desktop systems.
  • SMS reaches every phone with text up to 160 characters uses text
  • MMS unlimited text and 40 sec. video uses phone number
  • OTT (Over The Top) App Based Messaging.
  • Must get written permission to market by text. “Text JOIN to 1234 is allowed by the TCPA or enter text on a website. The call to action must disclose why they are getting your info.
  • Add a way to cancel. STOP, END, QUIT, CANCEL, UNSUBSCRIBE are 5 words to unsubscribe.
  • Message every 7-10 days is 6-8 times more effective than more frequent messaging.

Social Media Marketing
The landscape for social media is always changing and the rules, which the sites use to showcase your content also change as mentioned earlier. Optimize your brand messaging with these tips.


  • Customize your page with consistent branding with your website. Cover photo can have a call to action.
  • Make sure your profile picture is clear at the smallest of sizes.
  • Customize the App bar at the top to show the most important three apps such as Events or E-mail Sign-up.
  • Include your web link in the top part of the About info so it can be seen without clicking on it.
  • Photo Album posts get more engagement, almost twice as many as a simple word post.
  • Boost Key Posts – use Facebook Ads to help stimulate traffic.
  • Post a photo, THEN add your external link in either the description or in a comment.


The only note I have on Twitter is to use the # option to search for conversations your audience may be interested in. For example, if you are looking for conversations in Autocross. Type #autocross and find the dialog and interests in the media.

83% of LinkedIn users are B2B Marketers. If you are looking to communicate directly to other businesses, this is the platform for you.
Company Pages have changed where they are retiring the Products and Services tabs on April 14th. LinkedIn suggests you use either the Company Updates or Showcase Pages for promoting your Products and Services.

  • Company Updates appear on your Company Pages AND in followers’ feeds in every device.
  • Showcase Pages were built specifically to highlight a particular brand or product line. They make it easy to build a dedicated community for ongoing conversation, and followers know to expect news about the product or services.

 Other Tools
There are a couple of suggestions for managing these social media networks. Hootsuite and Tweetdeck, are a couple of programs for scheduling and managing your posts. Be strategic about the scheduling. Look at when your audience is online in the various platforms.
Nutshell Mail is a Social Media Monitor that sends the updates to your e-mail inbox in one, scheduled send.

In Conclusion
There are many ways to market your company’s product or services online and if they sound easy, they are however they are also time consuming. Don’t think that marketing online is free. There is an expense in time, resources. As you can see with the example on Facebook, the free lunch is over, you will need to “boost” or “enhance” your post with pay-per-click advertising.

If you would like some more detail on navigating through this overwhelming landscape give me a call, I’d be happy to help you out.
— Tony Colombini, Creative Director, Blacktop Media Network, 949-584-5669

Working IDEAS

Blacktop Branding’s Tony Colombini will be presenting his Creative Thinking Workshop: “Working the Idea, Makes the Idea WORK” at Platt College of Design in Ontario, California.

The course objective is designed to combat the commoditization of design by having a structured idea development process. Colombini will share his proprietary process “Intersection” and offer tips on developing a process unique for each participant and instruct ways on communicating the process in a clear and professional manner.

The course goes into the creation of a Unique Value Proposition and create an unfair advantage in a highly competitive landscape.  We will dig deep into the reason why businesses hire design. To increase sales, grow company, increase size, scale and profit. It’s a matter of measurement.

If you are interested in a Creative Thinking Workshop for your organization, please contact us at 949-584-5669. We offer different topics including: Idea Generation, Form and Function, Team Building.

Lessons from Snake and Mongoo$e

Alone you can be a winner, and with a team you can be legendary.

Last night I was invited to go see the Los Angeles Premiere of the Snake and Mongoose movie. It was a wonderful evening hanging out with legendary drag racers and motorsports industry personnel. Inspiring enough to be able to have a chat with TV Tommy Ivo and others.

Onto the lesson from the film.

As two friends and drag racing rivals in the late 1950’s Don “The Snake” Prudhomme and Tom “Mongoose”  McEwen were sharing competencies in their jobs and sharing wins on the track. And they struggled at making a living. That is until they banded together and formed Wildlife Racing, Inc. From that point they put their strengths together and were able to not only increase their standard of living but change the world of Drag Racing. Tom with his keen business and marketing sense and Don with his incredible driving ability. Because in Drag Racing it is all about the win. When you cross the line first,  your sponsors cross the line with you.

I learned that building a team of like-minded, yet varied background personnel will give you an edge, and win. In the case of motorsports sponsorship, it wasn’t just in the size of the logo on the car where they won with the sponsors. It was the access. Fans have access to the racers in Drag Racing. The pits are open. Access was also available with the sponsors. The first major sponsor the team had was with Mattel’s Hot Wheels. Mattel made a commitment to create access for their customers. Re-tooled and marketed toys for the young fans and their families.

At Blacktop Branding and the Blacktop Media Network we build value. Value from creating specific teams for your project. Value when partnering with our clients in their success. The value is quantified by specific metrics to your project. Let’s team-up and become legendary.

The 2012 SEMA Show – Aisles of Opportunities.

While at the recent SEMA Show, I got to thinking about Las Vegas as a city of chance or a city of opportunity.

Commonly known as a gambling town, chance plays a big part in their economy. And as the election was coming near there’s a lot of talk about the economy and how one candidate may be better than the other. All along, I say fooey to the naysayers. The President of the United States doesn’t make me any more successful than the last guy and I will create my own success!

blacktoptosema2And that’s how I experienced this Vegas trip. As a city of opportunity. There were thousands of exhibitors at the SEMA Show. Many that would be a great fit as a client in the Blacktop Media Network. We gave away some great value at the show with our daily review of the show, our in-depth booth articles. Fortunately for us, Emily Sherer stepped up to help us out. She made a great ambassador for Blacktop Magazine posing for pictures to help pique the interest of our readers. It has been just over a week since we’ve returned and had the opportunity to bid on a couple of projects and keep in touch with those who we met. Visit our special page on Blacktop Magazine to see all the reports in one place.

Also at the show I decided that I should support the organization that has helped me in my career and joined SEMA. I joined because the industry needs the support of passionate people and services.

Now for the big announcement.

Blacktop Media Network and Blacktop Branding are committed to having six SEMA exhibitors as clients by the next SEMA Show in November 2013. We can help automotive aftermarket parts manufacturers with design of Catalogs, Websites, Marketing Collateral and Advertising Campaigns. So as a new member, we am offering a special SEMA Exhibitor Promotion. SEMA Exhibitors will enjoy a 20% discount of our services at Blacktop Branding and on advertising with Blacktop Magazine! Now is the time to take advantage of our unique design offerings and connect with our valuable followers.

Are you ready for the power and value of The Blacktop Media Network? If so, give  us a call at 949-584-5669.