Bionic Brand Lab - Advertising Agency

Behind the Scenes of The Shops at the Ritz-Carlton Catalog, Amelia Island

March 18th, 2017

We are excited to announce the launch of Bionic Brand Lab and The Ritz Carlton’s latest collaboration: The Shops at the Ritz-Carlton Catalog, Amelia Island.

Over the years, photo shoots for The Shops at the Ritz-Carlton Catalog have taken us to beautiful locations near and far. We have held shoots in Grand Cayman, Laguna Niguel, St. Thomas, Palm Springs and most recently Barcelona. This year, our host properties were right here in Florida in Amelia Island and Naples. Our shoot began at The Ritz-Carlton, Amelia Island where the natural beauty lead us to breathtaking, unspoiled natural settings.




























Our main model, Becca, is based in Los Angeles, but flew to Florida on her way back from a modeling assignment in Paris. We loved her relaxed casual attitude and natural elegance.






































































































































































































































Our next stop was The Ritz-Carlton, Naples – where we photographed products and a few kids’ lifestyle shots.








































Behind The Scenes of The Ritz-Carlton Catalog Photo Shoot, Hotel Arts, Barcelona, Spain

March 3rd, 2017

We have been the proud producers of The Shops at The Ritz-Carlton Catalog since 2003. Now that distribution to Ritz-Carlton properties is underway for the 2017 catalog, what better way to celebrate TBT than with a behind-the-scenes look at our 2016 catalog shoot? Every year we are privileged to have a different Ritz-Carlton hotel host our photo shoot. In 2016, our gracious host was The Ritz-Carlton, Hotel Arts, in Barcelona, Spain. In the coming weeks, we will reveal our 2017 location with a behind-the-scenes peek at that shoot, but first, please join us as we take a look back at 2016.

The Hotel Arts in Barcelona provided a stunning location for our shoot, as well as exquisite accommodations for our team. With such spectacular gardens and extraordinary dining venues at our disposal, there was hardly any need to leave the grounds of the magnificent, 44-story beachfront resort. In fact, our base of operations was the soaring 2-story Presidential Suite, located on the 42nd and 43rd floors!

Our enchanting model, Claudia was a Barcelona native and proved to be a terrific tour guide when we ventured through the winding alleyways of The Gothic Quarter – Barri Gòtic.

Breathtaking, birds-eye view of the majestic city of Barcelona from our Presidential Suite balcony

Our stunning model, Claudia, lounging poolside in Helen Jon with Frank Gehry’s iconic fish sculpture as a backdrop.


Art imitates life: Our photographer, Emily Nathan, photographs our models taking their own photographs.

Art imitates life: Our photographer, Emily Nathan, photographs our models taking selfies next to tourists taking their own.

Whetting our appetites in a few of the hotel’s six exceptional dining venues.

It’s all in a days work in the hotel’s tranquil gardens.


It’s a wrap! Post-shoot, the local crew dispersed while the rest of us savored one final tapas meal before our journey back to the US.

Corporate Names

March 9th, 2012

Ron Johnson was shocked at what he found when he became CEO of JC Penney & Co. The chain ran 590 separate sales last year, and nearly three-quarters of its merchandise sold at discounts of 50% or more.

You have to admire what he did next: Out with nonstop promotions, and in with everyday low prices.

That goes against conventional wisdom. Almost every mainstream department store operates on a continual-sale basis, essentially training the consumer not to buy anything until it’s on sale.

I was then surprised by what Mr. Johnson did with the chain’s logotype: a red-bordered white square, with “JCP” in a blue square in the upper left-hand quadrant.

JCP? How many consumers call Penney’s JCP? No one I know refers to it that way.

A recent Associated Press story about Mr. Johnson referred to JC Penney three ways: J.C. Penney Co.(three times), Penney’s (three times) and Penney (nine times). JCP, zero. If consumers “own” the brand, then they also own its nickname. And they probably prefer “Penney” or “Penney’s” to “JCP.”

Then why would the company even consider using the initials as its logotype?

Having worked with a number of big companies, I’ve noticed that employees often call them by pet names. I wouldn’t be surprised if many JC Penney staffers routinely use “JCP” in emails, reports and other internal documents. JCP, three letters, is easier to write than J.C. Penney . I’m sure that, after years of typing “JCP,” many executives think of it as the name of the company they work for.

Consumers are different. What companies write about, consumers talk about. Spoken length is what matters. Consumers almost never use a nickname unless it’s shorter than the full name of the product or service.

“Let’s get some stuff at Penney’s.” Penney’s is shorter to say. And consumers will never use “JCP,” three syllables, instead of “Penney’s,” two syllables.

Years ago, Western Union was one of our accounts. Early in the relationship, I was mildly surprised to see internal memos about “WUCo”: Western Union Corp.

Western Union, whose reputation suffered because of the connection with telegrams, was a candidate for a name change. (As Time magazine once reported: “It was on time and had no typographic errors, so we knew it was a fake telegram.”) We recommended “Westar Corp.”

We spent a lot of time and money on presentations and prototype ads but got nowhere with management. We finally threw in the towel.

Big mistake. We should have advised the company to change its name to “WUCo.” That was the name insiders knew and loved. It probably wouldn’t have occurred to Western Union executives that “WUCo” didn’t sound very good as a name, because they never spoke it aloud.

That’s why many naming decisions get it all wrong.

Why saddle the largest-selling citrus-beverage brand with the label “Mtn Dew?” A brain has to convert “Mtn” to “Mountain.” So using the abbreviation just gives shoppers extra mental work to do.

It’s highly unlikely that a marketing campaign will change the way consumers refer to a brand. How many people call Dunkin’ Donuts “DD?” or Gatorade “G”?

Instead of trying to force-feed a nickname to consumers, a company needs to wait for them to popularize one. Coca-Cola, for example, didn’t put “Coke” on its bottles until after people began calling the product that.

Many companies use initials to distance themselves from the past.

For example, the American Association of Retired Persons became AARP, not wanting to present itself as an organization restricted to retirees. And yet, that’s what the initials do.

The media isn’t too helpful, either. A recent article in the New York Times referred to AARP as “formerly the American Association for Retired Persons” — 13 years after the switch.

(We once suggested that the organization become the American Association for Revitalizing People and call its magazine “Act Two.”)

When people see initials, they think, “What do those initials stand for?”

IRS stands for the Internal Revenue Service. FBI stands for the Federal Bureau of Investigation.

Shorter names are better, but not ones that lack meaning.

Back to where we started, JC Penney could have used “Penney’s,” a name that creates a connection. The chain could then have run a campaign with the theme, “Save dollars at Penney’s every day of the week.”

By: Al Ries, Date:March 5, 2012, Publisher:

Hanging Tough

January 5th, 2009

In the late nineteen-twenties, two companies—Kellogg and Post—dominated the market for packaged cereal. It was still a relatively new market: ready-to-eat cereal had been around for decades, but Americans didn’t see it as a real alternative to oatmeal or cream of wheat until the twenties. So, when the Depression hit, no one knew what would happen to consumer demand. Post did the predictable thing: it reined in expenses and cut back on advertising. But Kellogg doubled its ad budget, moved aggressively into radio advertising, and heavily pushed its new cereal, Rice Krispies. (Snap, Crackle, and Pop first appeared in the thirties.) By 1933, even as the economy cratered, Kellogg’s profits had risen almost thirty per cent and it had become what it remains today: the industry’s dominant player.

You’d think that everyone would want to emulate Kellogg’s success, but, when hard times hit, most companies end up behaving more like Post. They hunker down, cut spending, and wait for good times to return. They make fewer acquisitions, even though prices are cheaper. They cut advertising budgets. And often they invest less in research and development. They do all this to preserve what they have. But there’s a trade-off: numerous studies have shown that companies that keep spending on acquisition, advertising, and R. & D. during recessions do significantly better than those which make big cuts. In 1927, the economist Roland Vaile found that firms that kept ad spending stable or increased it during the recession of 1921-22 saw their sales hold up significantly better than those which didn’t. A study of advertising during the 1981-82 recession found that sales at firms that increased advertising or held steady grew precipitously in the next three years, compared with only slight increases at firms that had slashed their budgets. And a McKinsey study of the 1990-91 recession found that companies that remained market leaders or became serious challengers during the downturn had increased their acquisition, R. & D., and ad budgets, while companies at the bottom of the pile had reduced them.

One way to read these studies is simply that recessions make the strong stronger and the weak weaker, since the strong can afford to keep investing while the weak have to devote all their energies to staying afloat. But although deep pockets help in a downturn, recessions nonetheless create more opportunity for challengers, not less. When everyone is advertising, for instance, it’s hard to separate yourself from the pack; when ads are scarcer, the returns on investment seem to rise. That may be why during the 1990-91 recession, according to a Bain & Company study, twice as many companies leaped from the bottom of their industries to the top as did so in the years before and after.

Chrysler’s fortunes in the Great Depression are a classic instance of this. Chrysler had been the third player in the U.S. auto industry, behind G.M. and Ford. But early in the downturn it gave a big push to a new brand—Plymouth—targeted at the low end of the market, and by 1933 it had surpassed Ford to become North America’s second-biggest automaker. On a smaller scale, Hyundai has made huge gains in market share this year, thanks to a hefty advertising budget and a guarantee to take back cars from owners who have lost their jobs. Those gains may turn out to be temporary, but in fact the benefits from recession investment are often surprisingly long-lived, with companies maintaining their gains in market share and sales well into economic recovery.

Why, then, are companies so quick to cut back when trouble hits? The answer has something to do with a famous distinction that the economist Frank Knight made between risk and uncertainty. Risk describes a situation where you have a sense of the range and likelihood of possible outcomes. Uncertainty describes a situation where it’s not even clear what might happen, let alone how likely the possible outcomes are. Uncertainty is always a part of business, but in a recession it dominates everything else: no one’s sure how long the downturn will last, how shoppers will react, whether we’ll go back to the way things were before or see permanent changes in consumer behavior. So it’s natural to focus on what you can control: minimizing losses and improving short-term results. And cutting spending is a good way of doing this; a major study, by the Strategic Planning Institute, of corporate behavior during the past thirty years found that reducing ad spending during recessions did improve companies’ return on capital. It also meant, though, that they grew less quickly in the years following recessions than more free-spending competitors did. But for many companies recessions are a time when short-term considerations trump long-term potential.

This is not irrational. It’s true that the uncertainty of recessions creates an opportunity for serious profits, and the historical record is full of companies that made successful gambles in hard times: Kraft introduced Miracle Whip in 1933 and saw it become America’s best-selling dressing in six months; Texas Instruments brought out the transistor radio in the 1954 recession; Apple launched the iPod in 2001. Then again, the record is also full of forgotten companies that gambled and failed. The academics Peter Dickson and Joseph Giglierano have argued that companies have to worry about two kinds of failure: “sinking the boat” (wrecking the company by making a bad bet) or “missing the boat” (letting a great opportunity pass). Today, most companies are far more worried about sinking the boat than about missing it. That’s why the opportunity to do what Kellogg did exists. That’s also why it’s so nerve-racking to try it.


The Miami Museum Of Science & Planetarium Changes Its Name

June 21st, 2007

New Name, Logo and Design Is Unveiled to Update Miami-Dade’s Oldest Cultural Institution and Anticipate the Future Bayfront Location

MIAMI, Fla. – May 14, 2007 – The Miami Museum of Science & Planetarium has a new name: The Miami Science Museum, or MiaSci for short. The new name comes with a new logo for the Museum and logos for each of the core components of the current and future building to be located in Museum Park on Biscayne Boulevard.

The name and logo were developed to build excitement for the bold new $275 million Museum, while honoring the Museum’s history as Miami-Dade’s oldest cultural institution. MiaSci (pronounced my-sigh) was chosen because it evokes a personal connection to this community and incorporates “MIA” which is recognized internationally as an abbreviation for Miami.

“We wanted a logo makeover that anticipates the new Museum and the ‘living laboratory’ that we are constructing for all to enjoy,” said Gillian Thomas, Museum President and CEO. “I think this logo does it perfectly. Not only is it eye catching with its blend of modern and retro design, but it has global appeal and nicely represents the many facets of science and technology.”

Logo Design Packed with Meaning

The logo design, created by the Bionic Brand Lab team in Miami, isn’t just a graphic designers’ inspiration – its visual appeal is packed with meaning. The bubbles, or circles, represent the idea of being dynamic and ever-changing. This key element also represents many scientific themes like air and water, chemical reactions, cells and microorganisms, atoms and molecules, and of course planets.

“The scope of the new Museum is quite ambitious and the end result will place it among the ranks of some of the world’s great museums. We wanted to create an identity that reflected the Museum’s stature in the world while at the same time giving it a strong connection with Miami,” said Bionic Brand Lab’s Executive Creative Director, Walter Strump. “We believe that the designing of the logo is a vital first step in the ‘building’ of the new Museum.”

The orange represents energy and the aqua blue color represents the ocean and sky – together the colors combine the various aspects of the aquarium and marine science center with the dynamics of space and our new planetarium. The green reiterates the Museum’s focus on developing a “green” building that leverages South Florida’s natural resources.

Updated Look Anticipates New Construction

The brand image and identity captures and communicates many of the planned features of the new Museum including the environmentally friendly “green” features; four times the current capacity with the addition of two or more floors, more than doubling exhibition space; an aquarium; a Planetarium and rooftop Observatory; 25,000 square feet for the Historical Museum of Southern Florida; an outside science playground; a science theater; and an entertainment suite for public events.

The Museum’s popular Wildlife Center will have a new home as part of a green roof, which will reflect the South Florida hammock and integrate the Museum’s living collection of birds of prey and reptiles. The new building will also feature an innovative three-story Aquarium that will capture a “slice” of land and sea life representative of the Miami coast. The new Planetarium and rooftop Observatory will greatly upgrade the existing facility and expand the Museum’s long term commitment to naked eye astronomy with the latest in interactive digital technology.

Each of the future Museum’s key features including the aquarium, atrium, energy center, exhibits, laboratories, planetarium, interactive learning components, theater, and wildlife center will all have their own logos. The logo variations include:

The conversion to the new Museum brand identity will be fully implemented by the summer and will include a new website. Two weeks ago the executive search team at the Museum made recommendations for its architectural team which includes top-contenders Grimshaw Architects of London, and Rodriguez and Quiroga Architects Chartered of Miami.

The MiaSci Museum will be funded through a combination of public and private donations. Fundraising efforts are led by capital campaign committee chairs and noted philanthropists Paula Brockway and Paul Dimare.


The Miami Science Museum continues to bring special traveling exhibits to South Florida such as Amazon Voyage, Titanic: The Artifact Exhibition and The Dinosaurs of China. The Museum aims to make a difference in people’s lives by inspiring them to appreciate the impact that science and technology can have on every facet of our world. The Museum is accredited by the American Association of Museums and is an affiliate of the Smithsonian Institution. For more information about the Museum, visit or call (305) 646-4200.

Why Spec Creative Doesn’t Pay

March 2nd, 2007

Looking for a New Agency? Don’t Ask for a Sample Campaign. Ask the Team Out for a Few Beers

By Tom Denari – Advertising Age
Published: February 12, 2007

Unless you keep reading past the first couple of sentences, you’re probably thinking I’m going to explain why giving away speculative creative work devalues the most important thing agencies have to sell: our ideas. And while that notion is true, it isn’t the reason you should not ask for spec creative work. Asking for spec creative could actually damage your brand.

It’s reasonable that a company looking for a new advertising agency would want to see what it’s going to get before they hire them. Unfortunately, a spec campaign has little chance of moving your business forward. Why? Because a spec campaign is typically developed with only the most dangerous input: the preconceived notions, biases and personal experience of the team creating the work. A pitch process doesn’t provide enough time or resources to enable the agency to do the appropriate amount of consumer-insight work. Without proper understanding of the target audience and the marketplace, how can the agency possibly develop an appropriate strategy? Advertisers have long complained that their agencies don’t take the time to get to know their business or their customers. Yet many of these same advertisers choose an agency based on a spec campaign developed with shallow consumer insights, if any at all.

Collaborative partnerships
Second, you’ll get a strategy developed without your input. The best client-agency relationships are collaborative partnerships, where strategies are developed together. If the agency and client have not worked through the process together, the agency may end up at a place very far from what the client expected. And, even if the agency ends up in the right place, the client won’t accept it because they weren’t on the journey together.

And finally, you’ll get really comfortable, safe work. The spec creative process creates an incentive to please you first and consumers second. Remember, the goal is to win your account, which means agencies likely present campaigns that they think you’ll really like. The campaigns that usually win in spec shootouts are familiar, comfortable and more direct. These ads are focused on what the advertiser thinks is important. They make the selection committee feel warm and fuzzy — and finally understood. Unfortunately for pitch-dependent advertisers, the campaigns that usually engage consumers and drive sales are the ones that are surprising and unexpected. They start with what’s important to the consumer, not the advertiser.

Let’s face it: A campaign that’s new and different is hard to buy from people you don’t know. The spec shootout eliminates any positive friction between a good agency partner and client. You should hire an agency that will challenge you and fight for the ideas and campaigns that will most likely engage your potential customers and motivate them to action. This kind of relationship allowed us to develop a revolutionary brand strategy for Delta Faucet Co.’s premium brand. The development of our ads for Brizo came through a deep study and understanding of multiple target audiences, as well as plenty of discussions with our Delta clients. Had we presented the idea of a faucet brand as a fashion label in a spec-pitch situation, it’s safe to say that the idea — and our agency — would have been dismissed.

A better process
So what’s a better process? Think about what you’re trying to do. Hopefully you’re looking for a long-term relationship, much like you do with a potential employee. Think back to when you were interviewing for your CMO job. Did they ask you to sketch out a marketing strategy? Of course not. You couldn’t have known enough about all of the variables that needed to be studied to develop an adequate plan. You were judged on your past performance and a rigorous interview process that determined whether you would be a good fit for the organization. You should treat your agency search in the same way.

First, really get to know the firms you’re considering. It may be the most valuable time you and they can spend in the selection process. Instead of having the agencies spend ungodly hours developing a campaign that might never be used — or, worse yet, might be very ineffective — have them commit to a two-day session of intense interviewing.

Spend time with the agency principals. Interview them individually. Find out what they believe in.

Interview the team members individually. Find out if they really like and respect each other. A cohesive team will be much more productive than one that has trouble getting along. Go out to dinner with the team. Have a beer with them. Find out if these are the people with whom you want to work for the next five to 10 years. Remember, you’ll likely have bumpy times with your agency. All good relationships encounter conflicts. Make sure you can work with a group that might present something you won’t like.

Still think that a non-spec process is risky? Not nearly as risky as choosing an agency based on a campaign that’s designed to win your business, not move your business.

Miami Science Museum Selects Design Team For Its New Museum Park Location

January 5th, 2007

An International Team is Recommended by the Selection Panel and Couples Grimshaw with Rodriguez and Quiroga

MIAMI, Fla. – May 9, 2007 –The Miami Science Museum has adjourned final presentations in the search for the architectural firms that will design its new state-of-the-art science building. A selection panel of eight members – including Chairman Walter Revell, Museum board Co-Chair Trish Bell, Museum President-CEO Gillian Thomas, and select local delegates – ranked each firm based on their presentation. Five architectural firms vied for the position of design architect, the team in charge of overall vision and primary design services. Three firms competed to become the executive architect, which will provide local expertise and preparation of construction documents for permitting and building.

“We have seen some really spectacular presentations from some of the most innovative and seasoned architectural firms in the world—they each demonstrated great knowledge and understanding for our project,” said Revell. “We are confident that the top firms selected will make our iconic vision for the Museum and our commitment to ‘green’ a reality.”

“We are absolutely thrilled to be the selected architect for the new Miami Science Museum. The Museum’s mission statement captured our imaginations, and we look forward to working with the Museum to realize their vision. Alongside Herzog & de Meuron’s new art museum in Museum Park, this will be a truly transformative project for an incredibly vibrant city,” said Vincent Chang of Grimshaw.

The Museum’s Construction Committee, also headed by Mr. Revell, will now begin contract negotiations with the top-ranked firms in each category. The final architectural team will be announced within the next several weeks.

The $275 million new Miami Science Museum building will have almost four times its current capacity with the addition of two or more floors, more than doubling exhibition space and adding an aquarium, as well as 25,000 square feet for the Historical Museum of Southern Florida. Other facilities include an outside science playground, a studio theater and an entertainment suite for public events. The Museum’s popular Wildlife Center will have a new home as part of the green roof, reflecting the South Florida hammock and integrating the Museum’s living collection of raptors and reptiles. The new Planetarium and rooftop Observatory will expand the Museum’s long term commitment to naked eye astronomy with the latest in interactive digital technology.

The Miami Science Museum is accredited by the American Association of Museums and is an affiliate of the Smithsonian Institution. For more information about the Museum, visit or call (305) 646-4200.

Grimshaw has grown steadily over the last decade, and now has permanent offices in Europe (London), Australia (Melbourne) and the United States (New York). Each office has succeeded based on the continuation of a common design language, rigor and culture established by the founder of the practice, Sir Nicholas Grimshaw – as well as a strong commitment to exploration and a belief in the transformative nature of architecture.

The firm is dedicated to the deepest level of involvement in the design of their buildings. Put simply, its employees choose to be a part of the places in which they live and work. In part, this commitment stems from a desire to gain familiarity with local manufacturing and building processes and to develop relationships with the best consultants, in order to deliver buildings that meet the highest possible standard; and in part, it is based on a desire to be truly engaged in the evolution of a place – to contribute to its development on a meaningful and logical level. It is the firm’s aim to be wholeheartedly engaged in its environment, and from this awareness generate truly functional, inspiring and transformative design.