The Neon Museum


Last week,  I hopped onto a plane at Salt Lake International Airport and forty five minutes later, landed in Las Vegas, Nevada.  Now, I'm not a huge fan of the typical Vegas vacation.  Shopping, gambling, drinking and wandering through crowded and confusing casinos seems like a gentle hell to me.  So my mom, sister and I looked for some sights off the beaten path and the first place that came up was, The Neon Museum.  

neon museum

The Neon Museum is a museum of retired neon signs.   Yep, just about every time a hotel is bought, sold or rebranded the Neon Museum adds something new to the collection.  Essentially, The Neon Museum is the place where Las Vegas' neon signs go to rest. But somehow, in this outdoor boneyard of Vegas' neon past, these signs are reborn into beautiful sign-posts of bygone eras. We caught the last daylight tour, (they give tours at night and the signs are lit up) and it was so cool.  The tour guide talked about the history, design and technology of the most famous signs and each story was surprisingly interested.  This neon sign lens of Las Vegas history gave all of us on the tour some interesting insight and appreciation for the strange and sordid history of Las Vegas. 

As a design and marketing nerd and a total nostalgia junkie,  I was fascinated by the different eras of design we could see in each sign. From the Atomic Age design of the original Stardust sign to the Disney movie-inspired, giant skeleton head from Treasure Island, the last eighty years of graphic design can be viewed inside of this special little place. 

Here are some of the photos from our expedition.  PS - if you're thinking of visiting the museum- be sure to book your tour a day in advance.  The Neon Museum has a huge collection and they are expecting to expand in the next few years so they can show more of the these neon giants.

neon sign museum las vegas
neon museum las vegas
The stars of the old Stardust casino sign rising behind the old Treasure Island pirate.

The stars of the old Stardust casino sign rising behind the old Treasure Island pirate.

neon museum las vegas
neon museum las vegas
The sign from the Moulin Rouge, the hotel that paved the way to racial integration in Las Vegas.  It only stayed open for something like 2 months but it was ground breaking. 

The sign from the Moulin Rouge, the hotel that paved the way to racial integration in Las Vegas.  It only stayed open for something like 2 months but it was ground breaking. 

The Yucca Hotel sign, an early example of neon technology.  

The Yucca Hotel sign, an early example of neon technology.  


Building a Brand? BE YOURSELF

Last fall I attended a meet up for local entrepreneurs called "Marketing on a Shoestring Budget".  I didn't think about writing about it at the time but I learned something from one of the panelists that really stuck in my oversized marketing compartment of my brain.  So I thought I'd share his brilliant advice.

Here it goes. 

Three successful local entrepreneurs were asked to speak to the group about marketing. Each of the panelists introduced themselves and talked about how social media marketing has given them access to a much larger pool of customers.  It's also given them valuable information about what people like, what's working and what's not and where they need to expand.  

 Okay, so most of these technical aspects I was totally familiar with,  The really important information came from the owner of Jed's Barber Shop, a hip local, barber shop with an incredible social media following.  Jed's opened 5 years ago and has now opened a second successful (and now third) location.  

When Jed opened up his barber shop,  he set out to build a company that he would enjoy running.  And that, my friends is the simple but brilliant idea he based his branding upon. 

First, he asked himself, what do I enjoy? And his answer was,

"I like to have fun. I like to drink beer and I like to be around other people that like to have fun and drink beer!"   

Secondly, he asked himself, what am I good at?  and his answer was "I'm good at being funny"  and there was the second part of his marketing campaign, humor. 

And there he had it.  He would build his brand around humor, fun, beer and fun people who like to drink beer.  (Sounds pretty good to me!)

He started his campaign.   He set out to attract like minded people. People HE wanted to be around.  He used his humor to get the attention of fun people and he watched his social media influence grow and grow. 

By deciding who he was and what he liked, he built a brand to attract the kind of people that would also like these things.  Its brilliant.  I know, it seems simple but how many people, brands or companies build a brand this way?  When you do what comes naturally to you, what you enjoy, it's much easier to do the work!  We are always worried about being liked by everyone but what people really like and admire is other people being REAL, (as in really being who you are- as long as you're not a sociopath).  It's possible that you may lose a couple of customers or clients being you-  but in reality, you'll save yourself from the stress of working with someone who doesn't get you. 

If you're working on your brand, get to know who YOU are.   There's no point to building a brand and company that you don't love and that doesn't allow you the freedom to be yourself. 

Ask some questions.

  • What do I enjoy?  This matters! If you don't enjoy marketing the brand you've built, then it's not going to be as successful as you want it to be. 
  • What am I good at?  What comes naturally to you?  Use your assets! Don't force yourself to be anything you're not.  Inauthenticity reeks inauthenticity and no one wants to buy it. 
  • What can I do?  More importantly, what do you WANT to do?  




Kinabuti, Nigeria's Best Ethical Fashion Label

There is nothing I enjoy more than doing work that is in line with my beliefs! If I can't get behind the brand, I don't really want to put my energy into making it a better brand. I truly believe in the goodness of people and think that from the food we eat, to the clothing we wear, we can make responsible decisions, and in doing so we strengthen communities instead of damaging them. I do my best to buy goods that ensure fair wages and working conditions because I believe our individual choices can create global change. This is the reason I started working with Kinabuti Fashion Initiative. The brand is part ethical fashion label part non-profit. (Ethical fashion is an approach to design, resources and manufacturing of clothing which which maximizes benefits to people and communities while minimizing the negative impact on the environment). The people at Kinabuti are constantly creating educational and community improvement programs to improve local economies in Nigeria. From the conception of the designs to the dying of the fabrics to the sewing of every stitch, Kinabuti brings empowerment, income and education to Nigerian communities. Here is a video I edited for them recently for their entry in the annual Fashion Crowd Challenge. The video was projected on the runway in Lagos and Milan and at other Kinabuti events. Kinabuti's outstanding clothing will be available in Utah during the Sundance Film Festival and will soon be available online.