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Justifying doing things right - the first time - for cost savings - risk reduction - and avoiding 'uh-oh'.

By Rob Cummings

Brand and product managers, senior management, shareholders, others...

If you have been putting out fires, a few remain burning, or you even think you might smell smoke, you have clues.

Since 1999, many seem willing to risk the company's future based on the 'insight' and advice of next month's X-Box or PlayStation champion contender - who just learned the software in a trade school. Could the kid be a genius? Could the software be that advanced? Really?

If you are willing to take the risk, skip the research, strategy, depth of thought, and especially knowledge and experience that comes from years of being on earth, and disregard all other things market leaders used to consider mandatory, we're probably not for you, and this article will waste your time.

On the other hand, if you even smell smoke...

What is a  'reasonable' budget?

Have you noticed the downward spiral in marketing, advertising, and branding strategy and product/service quality that seems to have started around 1999?

Is there one brand you can identify as the leader in your industry? Is it yours?

If there was software that explained 'step by step' how to do your own dentistry for $49.95, would you buy it and cap your own front tooth - skipping the dentist?

Even if it worked, would you skip consulting with a dentist about solutions that could 'avoid the cap' before you shave your tooth down to a point?

What's the risk? It's just a logo, a name, a brand? Right?

Think about risk in any step you skip.

If you are slightly concerned that:

  • budget cuts went too far

  • the cost of doing things right might be the 'more affordable' option

  • things could be going better, or could go wrong

  • cost-saving measures are increasing risk

  • you're not 100% sure the name you chose is 'safe'

  • it's harder to get a full night's rest

  • stories of other people's potential nightmares could be yours

  • what you read here is more true than not

If what you read on this page is more true than not, it may help to try to make others understand since your concerns are entirely valid.

You might not even know you skipped a step.

Cummings Design avoided problems in the past, like trademark problems, brand issues, printing issues, marketing problems, and much more - while helping companies make all the right decisions.

This took time and effort, still does, nothing changed (except these days fewer people are doing more things, and often things they aren't very good at doing).

Remember all the layoffs and cost-cutting back in 1999/2000? Had an effect...

Today, we primarily fix problems - for a select few - that never would happen if steps were not skipped.

We haven't cut back too far, in fact we plan on cutting more!

Rob Cummings believes that many people are under the elusion that nearly all the corners can be cut and that they still can succeed, a 100% turnaround from the days before 1999.

Skipping truly important steps, they put themselves at risk - often unaware until the company-killing trademark Opposition or production failure, or both.

Perhaps this 'cut and hope to still succeed' mentality happened as a result of the free-spending years preceding the burst of the Internet bubble - yet the burst of the Internet bubble (in Rob's mind) was taken far too much to heart - and was only related to a few silly Internet businesses - not all businesses.

Coupled with scandalous accounting practices - like ENRON, Andersen Consulting (now Accenture), Worldcom, and others (nothing to do with the Internet), and 9/11 (nothing to do with the Internet or scandalous accounting practices), all of a sudden things changed.


Many companies failed around 1999, yet many now enjoy great success... online and off. The Duh Decade provides numerous opportunities for those able and willing to invest in Non-Duh thinking and initiatives.

What happened between 1999 and today?

In the 1970's, 1980's, and 1990's, companies made the investment and took the time and effort to truly create exceptional brand strategies... and it paid off. These companies became recognized leaders that people trusted.

Then came 1999. The Internet bubble burst, Enron and Worldcom and others went belly up, there was talk of a recession, and, day by day, month by month, the only sound you could hear from corporate America was cut, cut, cut - along with outsource and eliminate.

For those who may not clearly recall how many companies were involved and how many people lost their jobs (in numerous companies), the Quality Testing  Labs web Site will appear updated at Cummings Design soon.

The cut, cut, cut never stopped - and the results are becoming apparent.

Today, it seems that
everything we knew about doing things properly - with care, due diligence, and careful thought - no longer matters that much, if at all.

Things that produced real results that came from serious, thoughtful consideration... like brand positioning, true competitive advantage, strategy, thorough research and analysis, innovation, even product/service quality...and other aspects that the world's leading ad agencies, design firms, strategists and brand managers of the 70's to the 90's held as vital... appear to have nearly vanished.

In the creative fields, many of the most talented have simply called it quits - and today may literally be serving you a mocha latte.

Projects that formerly took months have been reduced to days - and it shows - immediately, or later down the road.

Sidebar: Many of the trademark problems we help resolve are the result of little or no thought, and no advice. Considering that a trademark is the basis of an entire company or product line (and a successful opposition could cause its demise), you begin to see what we do... and that maybe budget cuts have gone too far.

Nothing changed in terms of the steps that should be taken in the creative process to develop and assess a truly great and comprehensive solution...

... yet the computer on everyone's desk somehow made people think that the answer was all in that box - or in the next version of the software - or a click away online. Templates replaced original concepts, stock images replaced compelling photographs. Operators replaced truly brilliant creative professionals who spent their lives thinking about what motivates people.

Because computers couldn't think, a great deal of the conceptual thought, psychology and strategy, which was the foundation of great promotions of earlier days, also disappeared - replaced by images that didn't make much sense and didn't compel people to really buy, but looked 'pretty good'. 

Because people are not aware of issues, including but not limited to trademark problems, they don't even think or know to ask. Then 'uh-oh'.

Just like the person that relies on spell check yet can't spell, issues are not always caught, many are overlooked.

Lose and loose are both spelled properly, so spell check doesn't 'bring it up'. See?

Simple things - like names - become huge liabilities - yet are entirely overlooked, until one day, maybe years later, uh-oh - opposition.

With a computer and the right software, everyone's an expert?

A computer will never replace a brilliant mind. It's a tool. The creative process never changed - nor did the steps required to create big ideas.

Computers, initially seen as a boon to the industry, enabled virtually anyone with a mouse to create some form of graphic design, advertising, and promotion - as well as a business plan, a marketing plan, and more.

As the cuts continued, the truly talented pros were replaced by anyone available who could move a mouse around and skim through a software manual.

In far too many companies today, an admin with no marketing background whatsoever, or an overburdened Sales or Marketing Director (who should be concentrating on sales or marketing), or the boss's son or daughter is now developing nearly all of the company's marketing and promotional materials, and perhaps the packaging in Microsoft Word as well. In many cases these materials critical to success are based on no business or marketing plan, or one hastily created with Business Plan Pro.

Who are we kidding but ourselves? And at what risk?

Budget cuts have trimmed advertising, marketing and creative budgets to a point where many companies would be far better off doing nothing at all since the image presented by poor execution and strategy can hurt more than it helps.

Then there's customer service, that used to provide competitive advantage, but that too has been given a back seat - either outsourced offshore or poorly automated.

Is less turning out to be best - or too risky?

It's no longer a matter of which vendor is best... it's become more a matter of which vendor is not as bad as the other one. And this is America in the 21st century? Is this the world today?

Have you been
notissing an increased number of wurds that are not spellled propurly in major ads, brochures, on television? That's minor compared to the larger errors being made - just due to cutting too far - or today 'two farre'.

Is do it yourself (whether you can or cannot) the smart way?

Have you noticed:

  • how no company or product or service stands out above the rest in many markets (as was the case in decades past)?

    Have you noticed the blurring of companies that once were leaders?

    Can you even tell who the leader is?

    Are you a little concerned that the template or stock photo your company uses looks exactly like that of your competitor (since it is)?

    Is it ok that directory assistance doesn't even know the spelling of Milwaukee?

    Are you annoyed when customer service can't speak your language or has been trained to read a script no matter what the question?

Completely unaware, companies are losing customers all the time, while unseen 'competitors' - by being smarter - creep up in the back yard.

Companies that understand the value of and embrace image enhancement, brand development, competitive advantage, real strategy, and reducing all risk, can and have come out of nowhere, appearing far larger and more capable than their competitors, and stealing market share overnight.

Remember IBM in better days?

Look at recent history and take a tally of the winners and losers. Who would have imagined things would be as they are in America in the 21st century?

See Rob's Bio and learn more. Click here.
Rob Cummings knows about a lot of things - from training, self-education, and life experience.

We dramatically reduce the risk of fizzle - and avoid risk - always for better outcomes - and often at reduced short and long term cost.

Cummings Design is not for everyone... but Cummings Design is for those who want all things seriously considered - and who want to win, not just play.

First of all, we leave the kids at home. We are a team of leading professionals with at least 15 years of experience, and some with much more..

Though we're not entirely unsympathetic to the increasing costs businesses today must bear for things like increased fuel and transportation costs, insurance, and the other necessary and unavoidable costs of doing business - we're not going to recommend cutting corners where corners should not be cut.

We're not going to low ball an estimate just to get you in the door, and we're not going to tell you the corner-cutting methods are the correct ones and without risk.

For example, if we help develop your brand, we're not going to recommend skipping the trademark search. If we help develop an ad campaign, we're not going to recommend you skip the market research and analysis. If we help develop a web presence, we're not going to recommend the same template-based solution available to your competitors. In other words, we're not going to encourage you to skip the steps that increase the risk of failure somewhere down the line.

A professional, responsible approach can be 'priceless'.

This page was written as Cummings Design finds itself making more money today on fixing problems than developing brilliant solutions that avoid them and work better.

Trademark problems have become our primary business, and can put you right out of business. See why.

Companies would not have these kind of problems - if we helped. 

We are professional and seasoned and aware of the right way things need to be done, all the things that need to be done, and how to get everything that needs to be done properly and in the correct order. More often than not, this saves money at the outset and saves money and reduces risk over the long term.

We're smart enough to realize that computers are simply another tool to get the job done, yet, in the creative business, we're keenly aware that computers did not reduce the time that it takes to assess a problem, and discuss alternatives, and develop and refine a thoroughly conceived and proper solution.

Therefore, we try our best to keep costs reasonable, but, as professionals, we are not able to steer companies down a path of destruction, cutting corners just to make ourselves a few bucks.

On the other hand, we also have a great deal of experience and can often save money in many areas by making smarter choices in the way things are done.

We're young enough to be hip, yet old enough to be wise - and safe.

Located everywhere, we're amongst the best, the brightest, the most talented, and, from the 'old school' (but not that old),  the most committed to true success.

We follow trends but don't fall prey to fads that are here today, gone tomorrow.

We know both the old and the new processes and techniques, understand them, and know the advantages and the drawbacks.

We know how to assess and judge solutions, and how to help others assess and make the right choices, avoiding the wrong ones.

If you're thinking 'maybe we should be a bit concerned', contact Rob today.

Since 1979 Cummings Design, now located in Orange County, Southern California but serving clients nationwide, has combined the services of a traditional advertising agency, design firm and PR firm - all in one - and more.

Cummings Design is likely not the least expensive, yet, in both the short and long term, we help make all the right choices for real business success. See pricing.

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