Tag Archives: brand

The Relentless Pursuit Of Concision

March 23, 2018 by
Photography by Bill Sitzmann

As an ad nerd, I love a good tagline. Think different. Just do it. But taglines (or slogans if you call pop “soda”) are tricky things. They’re easy to get wrong—easier than most everything else branding-related. They’re often too trite, too obvious, too obtuse, too clever by a turn, too forgettable, or too overstuffed with “messaging.” So, I’d like to offer some advice gleaned from two-and-a-half decades of writing more than a few taglines.

Pick one message. Unless you’re Miller Lite circa 1974, chances are you’re not going to get away with saying two things in one tagline (and I’d even argue that Miller Lite’s was a single message as neither “tastes great” nor “less filling” meant anything without the other). Yes, this forces you to define your business and its purpose in very specific terms. Remember, that one thing doesn’t have to be a product feature—it can be an emotional pull or a shared state of mind.

Keep your voice. The fewer words you use to say something, the greater chance there is of it sounding generic. That’s just how language works. But maintaining your brand voice is imperative if you want your tagline to ring true. And if your overarching brand voice is already generic (no “We’re all about…” please), now’s a good time to fix it.

Set realistic expectations. Most taglines are not destined to enter popular culture in any real way. Because it takes millions upon millions of dollars in media to accomplish this feat. Instead, understand that your tagline acts as a nice reminder of what your brand represents—both practically and attitudinally—to your customers. Better yet, a good tagline can act as a great battle cry for your employees better than any Successories-style mission statement ever could.

Don’t mess with a good thing. If you’ve managed to create a memorable, ownable tagline, don’t screw it up. Sure, times change and businesses change and consumer tastes change. But don’t change your tagline just for the sake of change. Take Lexus, for example. When they launched in 1989, their tagline was “The relentless pursuit of perfection.” Spectacular. That was the goal of their company—to never quit refining their cars regardless of the obstacles. Then, a few years later, they removed “relentless,” implying they’d get around to perfection if it weren’t too much bother. Today, it’s the hyper-generic “Experience amazing.” Which sounds like a headline from a billboard for Big Zeke’s Reptile Emporium and Gator Wrasslin’ Expo. Avoid this (both the tagline and Zeke’s).

Honestly, it is wiser to forgo having a tagline at all than to attach a mediocre one to your brand. But if you manage to craft a great one, you’ll wonder how you lived without it. As a calling card, a mantra, and a reminder of what’s important—an exceptional tagline has no equal in ad land.

Jason Fox is a freelance creative director and writer. He can be found at jasonfox.net and adsavior.com.

This article was printed in the April/May 2018 edition of B2B.

The Brand Brief

February 23, 2017 by

I have good news and bad news. The good news is that greatness is a state of mind. The bad news is that others’ minds decide your state. As with many things in life, this is true for people as well as brands. A brand is, in its most basic description, what people believe, feel, and think about a company. Companies like to think that their brand (or “brand image” if you’re old school) is whatever they’re currently telling the public it is. Which is rare. However, that is the goal. Because when what people think of you matches up with what you claim to be, you’ve hit the branding bull’s-eye.

Great branding is built on a solid foundation. This foundation is commonly referred to as a “brand platform.” Used correctly, a brand platform can act as a launching pad for your branding efforts. Conversely, it may resemble the 10-meter Olympic diving platform, except, instead of water, the pool is filled with buy-one-get-five coupons that cause financial ruin and death by a thousand paper cuts.

A brand platform defines who you are as a company in a way that everyone in the organization can understand—even Chuck in H.R.—by codifying beliefs into a framework that doesn’t change with the shifting winds of accounts receivable. The platform becomes the guiding document in how you speak about the brand and how the brand acts. It is no use marketing something and then failing to live up to those promises operationally when people finally find time to “act now.”

There is no standard template for a brand platform. Most advertising agencies that deal in branding have developed their own process and format. I prefer a classic format that defines a brand purpose (why you exist beyond making money or even your current product), brand position (who you are relative to your competition and audience), brand personality (five or six adjectives, none of which are “sleepy”), and brand affiliation (the type of people your brand wants to attract). Feel free to Google these terms. Other platforms include brand archetypes or variations on all of the above. The important thing is that the platform brings clarity, unity, and direction. So beware the agency attempting to sell you a process that they themselves don’t seem to fully understand—just because it comes with a cool infographic doesn’t make it actionable.

I do not recommend trying to create a brand platform on your own. Anyone inside the company is too close to the situation to be completely objective. Nonetheless, you should be actively involved in the process. An agency that insists on doing everything themselves before delivering a final document fait accompli is probably doing a lot of finding and replacing on a platform they first wrote in 1998.

Once your platform is in place, use it. This is not as obvious as you would think. Weigh marketing decisions against it. Use it to filter operational objectives. Spread it throughout the company so that when an employee gets asked about where they work, they give an accurate answer. Eventually, because branding is a long game, your brand will be cohesive and consistent. And all your marketing will automatically be strategic in tone and message (and media, too, if you’re paying attention).

You will still need to decide on creative directions and tactics, of course, but you won’t have to do the heavy lifting of figuring out foundational principles every time you write a new tweet. Because you will know who you are. And, more importantly, customers current and potential will, too.

Jason Fox is a freelance creative director and writer. He can be found at jasonfox.net and adsavior.com.

This article was printed in the Spring 2017 edition of B2B.

The Catholic Issue

February 21, 2017 by

The March/April issue of Omaha Magazine hits the streets just as Oscar season comes to a close. Meanwhile, the subject of Omaha’s best-known Oscar-winning story is up for an even greater recognition—sainthood. A tribunal from the Vatican is currently scrutinizing Boys Town’s founder, the late Father Edward J. Flanagan, for canonization.

Boys Town (the movie) tells a fictionalized story of the real-life Father Flanagan. Released in 1938, the movie was actually filmed on the grounds of Boys Town. Spencer Tracy won the Academy Award for Best Actor with his portrayal of Father Flanagan, and Tracy’s Oscar sits in a protective case at the Boys Town Hall of History.

The Village of Boys Town was engulfed by Omaha’s westward sprawl. But Boys Town itself has grown significantly, too, with satellite locations throughout the metro (and nationwide). This year, Boys Town enters its 100th year of operation.

Should Pope Francis designate Father Flanagan to be a saint, the Village of Boys Town would become a place of holy pilgrimage. Add that to Omaha’s list of annual pilgrimages (a cherry—or maybe “halo” would be a better word—on top of Berkshire Hathaway’s annual shareholder meeting and the College World Series).

Although Father Flanagan’s earthly remains now rest in a tomb adjoining Dowd Chapel on campus, if he is canonized a saint, the village would need a shrine to accommodate the throngs of devout pilgrims (to avoid disrupting the normally calm chapel that was designed by local Omaha architect Leo A. Daly according to Father Flanagan’s own instructions).

Omaha Magazine’s March/April cover story tells the tale of Father Flanagan’s life and his ongoing canonization process. With St. Patrick’s Day, Lent, and Easter taking place during this issue’s distribution period, the magazine has taken on a noticeably Catholic theme.

There is a guide to Omaha’s St. Patrick’s Day bar crawl, a guide to six of the best Lenten fish fries, and a story about the mysterious stained glass windows of St. Mary Magdalene Church (which was also designed by Omaha architect Leo A. Daly).

The cover story’s author, Carol Crissey Nigrelli, converted to Catholicism one year ago on Easter. She has become the magazine’s go-to writer for all subjects Catholic. Nigrelli wrote about the last nuns of Duchesne Academy in the September/October 2016 issue. She also profiled the University of Notre Dame’s president in “From Omaha to Notre Dame” for the cover story of our November/December 2015 issue.

Omaha Magazine’s 35th Anniversary

A publication titled Omaha Magazine has existed in Omaha since the 19th century. The earliest version, according to publisher Todd Lemke, was published in 1890. It was a satirical newsprint publication in magazine format, he says.

Lemke entered Omaha publishing in March 1983 with the first issue of City Slicker, the precursor to his current Omaha Magazine. This March issue of Omaha Magazine marks the 35th anniversary of Lemke’s career in magazine publishing. That history explains why Omaha Magazine’s issue numbering starts with No. 1 in March.

When CitySlicker was initially in distribution, another Omaha Magazine was on the streets. Lemke says the previous Omaha Magazine—no relation to the current magazine—started in the 1970s and folded a few years after he had entered the local media market.

The Omaha Magazine brand name came available in the late 1980s. Lemke secured the copyright, and the first issue of his Omaha Magazine came out in 1989. The rest is history.

Today, Omaha Magazine Ltd. is the parent company of Omaha Publications, which also produces several other local community-focused magazines such as Encounter, B2B Magazine, Omaha Magazine’s Family Guide, and assorted custom publishing products.

For 35 years, Lemke’s Omaha Magazine (previously known as City Slicker) has told the stories of Omaha people, culture, and events. Thanks for reading!

Sell Softly and Carry a Big Brand

December 9, 2014 by

In that specific world where only closers get coffee and WKRP’s Herb Tarlek is spoken of in reverent tones despite being 30 years past his pop culture sell-by date, there exists a special something known as “The Ask.”

It most often occurs after a salesperson has given their spiel, answered questions, deflected objections and has still managed to keep either the proverbial or literal door from being slammed in his or her face. They ask for the sale. They ask what can be done to get you into that car today. Or that new wireless plan. Or even if you want fries with that. Done correctly, “The Ask” can push a potential customer over the edge. Done poorly, it can do the same thing—just not in a good way.

As advertising is at best one-and-a-half Kevin Bacon acquaintances away from sales, “The Ask” has become a staple of everything from TV spots to direct mail postcards to lettering on the side of plumbers’ vans. Only it goes by a different name, one you probably already know—“the call to action.” “Act now, supplies are limited.” “Julie your Time Life operator is standing by to take your order.” “Call or click to like us on Facebook.” “Follow us on Twitter.”

Here’s the thing. In most cases, the “Call to Action” is superfluous, a waste of space, unnecessary and, wait for it, redundant. Why? Thanks for asking. Because the call to action isn’t just contained within the ad, it is the ad. People know what ads are. People know why brands advertise. No one is ever confused by the motivation behind an ad. People understand what you want them to do after they’ve seen your ad. You want them to buy your stuff.

But is it really so wrong to go for “The Ask?” What harm can it do? Well, as with most things in advertising, it depends. If your brand voice would generally be considered of the Crazy Eddie variety—loud, obnoxious, in-your-face, and stuffed to the margins with as many hucksterish clichés as possible—then a sweet, gradient-filled starburst imploring people to “CALL NOW! TUESDAY IS TOO LATE!” makes perverse sense. If you’d rather keep your brand on the path to glory, it does not.

Because your brand should be the strong call to action.

Think about it. If the totality of your brand—the products or services it offers, the way it treats customers, the personality it has adopted, the experience it delivers from start to finish—isn’t enough to suffice as the foundation of an interesting piece of marketing, do you honestly believe a cry of desperation is going to get them moving in your direction? It is enough (and difficult enough) to entertain and inform without adding instructions to the mix that will duly be ignored. “The Ask” weakens. It distracts. It diminishes your brand. “But what if people haven’t heard of my company?” Then your advertising must be compelling enough to inspire them to seek more information. Not merely ask them to join your Google+ circle.

“But what if what I’m selling is a limited-time offer?” By all means, tell people there’s an expiration date on your supply of seasonal, eggnog-flavored beef jerky. That knowledge, combined with your target’s existing impressions of your brand and their rather eclectic taste in reconstituted meat snacks, acts as the call to action. Telling them to “Swing by the Jerky Joint today!” does not.

“So I shouldn’t include my phone number or website address?” Of course you should. But it’s when you tell people what to do with that information that you start rubbing them the wrong way (Again, people know what to do with a phone number. If someone can’t operate their phone, they probably can’t use your product).

So sell softly and carry a big brand. After all, any ad can have a call to action. But a great ad for a great brand is a call to arms.

Jason Fox is the Executive Creative Director at Webster, and the chin behind
@leeclowsbeard

JFox_Headshot_BW_base

Digital Immigrant, Meet Demand Generation

May 25, 2013 by

Chances are you are a “digital immigrant,” one who was not born bathed in bits, who played video games as a toddler or learned keyboarding in third grade. This means you have a steeper learning curve than “digital natives”—those for whom all this social media stuff isn’t stuff at all. It’s just part of everyday life…how they live, work, play, access information, and make decisions.

Indeed, there is a whole generation of digital natives, who command where, when, and how they find information. They are in control, and that is why they are called the “demand generation.” They compose our customers, our prospects, our employees, our constituents, and our advocates. A key to understanding social media is understanding how to reach, and more importantly, engage with the demand generation.

Here are some tips:

  • Acknowledge that the sales process is no longer linear. The internet has jumped squarely in between you and your customer and interrupted what used to be a good opportunity for you to control the conversation. Now consumers visit blogs to get information and recommendations on what to buy. The average consumer uses more than 10 sources to make a buying decision today, and 70 percent of Americans look at product reviews. What was once linear may be turned upside-down, twisted sideways, and backwards. Consumers may see a product in the store, but then go out into cyberspace to investigate it, only to go back into the store to buy.
  • Content is king. As a writer by trade—and a digital immigrant—knowing this makes me very happy. It also makes me work hard to relate to my target audience with personal, direct, relevant conversations that matter to them. Customers who engage with brands online spend 20-40 percent more on that brand’s products/services. Know your target. Understand their perspective. Quench their thirst for the knowledge they seek. A long time ago, author and speaker Bert Decker impressed me with his edict, “You’ve got to be believed to be heard.” Break through that frontal cortex, and your message just may get through.
  • You do have to be everywhere—and on-the-go. This seems the antithesis to target marketing, but what it means is you can’t think that because you have your website and a Facebook page, you’re good to go. Chances are your target customers aren’t sitting still. It’s likely—not statistically shown—that 78 percent of consumers shop across multiple channels. This means the internet—your site if your SEO is up to date, social media, Twitter, Vine, blogs, e-mail deliveries from you/your competitors, and their phones. And here’s the deal with phones: 31 percent of consumers research products on their phones before buying in-store while 40 percent research products from their phones before buying online. Is your site mobile optimized/responsive so that it feeds the information to fit the user’s screen?

The good news about all this—for those willing to keep swimming in the deep end—is that there is demand, a marketer’s dream. We can meet that demand with products people need and want—and by getting in and staying in the conversation with relevance, content, personalization, and engagement.

Special thanks for inspiration and sourcing for this article from Bob Thacker, former CMO of OfficeMax.

DO!

April 25, 2013 by

Omaha’s Old Market is a destination known by people from around the world. So are Downtown Omaha’s corporate headquarters. Renowned facilities, such as the Holland Performing Arts Center and the Bemis Center for Contemporary Arts, and restaurants, such as M’s Pub, Upstream, and many others, are also very well-known, not only to locals but countless others. What do these all have in common? The answer is that they all excel at what they do, and they each have a strong identity and brand.

While Downtown Omaha is comprised of numerous strong and successful brands, the DID realized that a brand for Downtown Omaha that represents all of the employers, bars, restaurants, hotels, museums, entertainment venues, residences, retailers, parks, services, and opportunities that are offered simply does not exist. With the help of Rebel Interactive and input from many downtown stakeholders, Downtown Omaha now has a brand.

DO! Downtown Omaha is the answer to everything a person wants to know about the heart of our city. Where is the best place to work, to live, to go on a date, to celebrate an occasion, to stay the night, to shop, to see a Broadway show…DO! Downtown Omaha. It’s that simple—DO! Downtown Omaha.

It’s now our goal to share this brand and continue to build upon Downtown Omaha’s great reputation. So the next time you’re looking for whatever it is—DO! Downtown Omaha.

This column is part of a series detailing the activities and efforts of the Omaha Downtown Improvement District (DID) to further strengthen Downtown Omaha.

Seth McMillan

Photography by Bill Sitzmann

Seth McMillan, is a self-proclaimed “accounting nerd” by day at Infogroup and by night he’s owner and renaissance man of the quirky downtown men’s boutique McLovin on 10th and Mason streets.

McMillan considers himself an intense and multifaceted person, which definitely lends itself to his careers in two vastly different fields. “I am an economics nerd, and I like to read biographies, but I also like to watch stupid teen comedies, and I enjoy people. I think you just need a bit of different things in your life.”

Having his hand in a multitude of pots is something McMillan says is not a new lifestyle for him. “Work is great, and the store is off to a good start, and I’m happy, but it’s a struggle to balance. It’s hard work, but at the same time it’s really fun.”

Originally from East Tennessee, the University of Memphis graduate studied both accounting and music. He earned his stripes in accounting at PricewaterhouseCoopers firm in Atlanta before being recruited to act as Director of Revenue Accounting at Infogroup here in Omaha.

His path to Omaha wasn’t intentional, McMillan says. “I knew that I wanted to have a segue job into being an entrepreneur. I saw that I could do all these things in my current job that would help me get the skills I need while I’m figuring out my segue.”

McMillan gives big compliments to his boss at Infogroup for allowing him these opportunities to pursue his passions. “I think he’s very progressive and sensitive to unique situations…and he has a really high tolerance.”

“I didn’t know retail, but what I do know is fun, and I do know how to engage people.”

Since moving to Omaha in June of 2011, McMillan has settled in nicely. “In January [of last year] was when things really started cooking. I bought a truck, a piano, and my partner came into my life. All of these things I’ve always wanted started happening.”

McMillan says he also fulfilled a life-long passion of being an entrepreneur with McLovin. “I had never had an interest in retail prior. It was principal, supply, and demand. I didn’t know retail, but what I do know is fun, and I do know how to engage people.”

Brian Williams, a friend of McMillan’s and one of his best customers, says it’s his personality and passion that have made his transition into his jobs as well as into the community so smooth and rewarding. “It’s his drive more than anything. He puts in a lot of hours, and I don’t know how he does it,” Williams says.

“One of my mottos is whatever you do, add value,” McMillan says. That seems to be his plan not only for his career but as a larger plan for Omaha.

McMillan says that down the road, he hopes to help brand the area south of the Old Market, where his shop lies, as well as brand Omaha as a whole. “We need to recruit more young professionals here, so they don’t move to Chicago, Denver, New York, or Los Angeles. The way to do that is to do cool things here. We need to have fun, and we need to invite more people to the party.”

“He’s not afraid of new challenges like bringing a new business to Omaha,” Williams says. “He’s very driven and outspoken.”

McMillan says what he wants to do is simple. “If I can help take care of people’s needs along with helping elevate Omaha’s cool-factor, it’s enough for me. At the end of the day, it’s about having fun.”

Secret Penguin’s Dave Nelson

December 25, 2012 by
Photography by Bill Sitzmann

Seven years of touring full-time as a sponsored skateboarder leaves you with A) a lot of skateboarding product from your sponsors and B) a definite magnetism for skater kids looking to channel their energy.

“Skateboarders have an addictive personality,” confesses Dave Nelson, a former skateboarder for Untitled Skateboards and the owner of Downtown Omaha brand strategy and design firm Secret Penguin. “That’s all they think about…skating. They’re consuming, passionate people.” So when fellow skateboarder Mike Smith asked if he’d like to be on the board of a new nonprofit called Skate For Change, “I was like, yes, instantly. Completely excited about it.”

In his TEDxOmaha presentation last October, Smith explained that a closing skate park had offered him its ramps while he was working with homeless teenagers in Lincoln (TEDxOmaha is a local conference inspired by world-renowned TED events, dedicated to spreading world-changing ideas). Taking the opportunity and running with it, Smith started Bay 198, an indoor skate park in a Lincoln mall. “It answered a missing point,” Nelson says. “The kids needed a place that was genuine and safe.”

In the meantime, Smith had been skating through Lincoln on his lunch break, handing out socks and bottled water to the downtown homeless. Friends started joining him, then kids, then energy-drink maker Red Bull even stepped in with a launch party for the park and effort. “I’m just watching all of these skate kids pour their lives and their hearts and their souls into helping people,” Smith said at TEDxOmaha. “Feeding people.”

“He said when I gave him that board and took time to talk and skate with him, it made him realize that there are good people out there that do care about others.”

Secret Penguin handled the branding of the new incarnation of the skate park (now simply called The Bay) at 20th and Y streets in Lincoln. The Bay’s new park is made out of cement and bricks, “so it would feel more like the street,” Nelson explains. Most indoor skate parks are made of wood.

An indoor skate park for Omaha similar to Lincoln’s The Bay isn’t far from Nelson’s thoughts, but for now his typical haunt is Roberts Skate Park at 78th and Cass streets. He’s there about three times a week, meeting new people and trying new tricks.

“A few months ago,” he recalls, “I ran into this kid that I’d met at Roberts maybe 10 years ago.” The young man told Nelson that on that day, his parents were gone on yet another bender. His friends knew no one was home, so they broke into his house and stole all his stuff. The boy decided he was going to kill himself but first, one last skate at Roberts Park. He met Nelson there, who gave him one of the boards from his sponsors and talked with him. “He said when I gave him that board and took time to talk and skate with him, it made him realize that there are good people out there that do care about others,” Nelson remembers. “He said that was the first time he can remember feeling like someone cared. And that skateboard was a representation of hope to him throughout the years.”

On Saturdays, Nelson meets interested skaters at either the Mastercraft building, 13th & Nicholas, or in front of The Slowdown for Omaha’s own version of Skate For Change. “We’ll go hand the stuff out to whomever,” he says, referring to the donations of bottled water or socks received at the Secret Penguin office or purchased with donations forwarded from Smith. “Kids just get behind something like this.”

“We don’t need money,” he says, “just supplies.” Anyone wanting to donate water, socks, canned tuna, or hygiene kits can drop them off at the Secret Penguin office in the Mastercraft building.

The Troy Davis Story

Photography by Bill Sitzmann

Leading Omaha hairdresser Troy Davis long ago showed an educational and entrepreneurial knack for his craft and for building the Edgeworthy brand at Fringes Salon & Spa in the Old Market. Now that his mentor and longtime business partner, Fringes founder Carol Cole, has sold her interest in the location, he has a new partner and a new focus on managing costs. The result is record profitability.

“Fringes of the Old Market is the busiest and healthiest it’s ever been,” says Davis, who’s made Fringes an Omaha Fashion Week fixture.

“Troy and Fringes have been a very important part of Omaha Fashion Week, as they style many of our veteran designers and constantly impress with their ability to interpret the latest hair and makeup trends on our runway,” says OFW producer Brook Hudson.

Davis is glad to share in the success. He’s lately seen members of the Fringes team represent well in a recent competition and awards show. Never content to stay put, his Clear Salon Services business is a new generation, grassroots distributorship for independent hair-care brands.20121130_bs_6230 copy

These professional triumphs have been happening as Davis addresses personal problems that “came to a head” last August but that have their roots in the past. Growing up in Blair, Neb., he began drinking and using drugs to mask the sexual identity issues he confronted as a gay teen in an environment devoid of alternative lifestyles.

“I felt so completely isolated. I lived in fear so badly that I hid it with drinking and weed,” he says.

A healthier form of self-expression he excelled in, speech and drama, seemed a likely direction to pursue out of high school. But first he moved to Omaha to experience the diversity he craved back home. He briefly attended Nebraska Wesleyan University in Lincoln, even landing the lead in the school’s fall production, before dropping out to attend beauty school in Omaha.

From their first meeting, Davis and Cole knew they’d found a new best friend they could grow in their chosen field alongside. She says she immediately responded to his “passion and energy and drive,” adding, “Troy Davis has definitely made me a better person and stylist and leader.”

Within four years, he’d proven to be such a trusted asset that Cole partnered with him in opening the Old Market shop.

“I’ve always been a very honest and open person. I’ve actually shared publicly via Facebook some of my bottoms and what I’ve learned.”

“He earned that,” she says. “He just really wanted to be downtown. His heart was there. I finally said, ‘Look, if you want to be a partner, I’ll do it, but you’re going to have to step it up and find a location.’ And he did. I have to give him a lot of credit because he put a lot of grunt work into it to get it started.”

The rest is history, as Fringes became a presence in the Old Market for its ultra-contemporary, urban styles and high-end hair care and beauty services. Cole let him run things there so she could concentrate on Fringes’ West Dodge site.

For Davis, Cole’s been more than just a business partner.

“Carol and I are so close. We just absolutely click,” he says. “She’s a very intelligent, very professional business woman. There’s not a lot of partnerships that make it. In a lot of ways, our relationship is like a marriage, only platonic. I think it’s healthier or better than most marriages I know of. We are able to communicate in a way that most people are not. We can say anything to each other, and even if it’s something that ends up hurting each other, we know that’s not our intention. Usually, it’s one of us misunderstanding something, and we’re always able to go back and clean it up.”20121130_bs_6095 copy

Davis has moved fast within the industry. While still in his 20s, he became one of 10 international creative team members for Rusk, a role that saw him flown all over the world to teach other hairdressers the use of the international distributor’s haircare products. He worked in the Omaha salon during the week and jetted around on weekends. It gave him the stage, the lights, the theatrics he felt called to. It also meant lots of money and partying.

All the while, his addictions progressed.

He was prepping for the always-stressful Omaha Fashion Week last summer when he and his life partner split for good. Amidst the breakup, the all-nighters, running his businesses, and leading an online advocacy campaign for a Fringes team that showed well in the national Battle of the Strands competition, Davis crashed.

“By the time I hit bottom, I was drinking every day and drinking to black out three days a week and, you know, it just had to end. I finally realized I am an alcoholic. It was a real wake-up call.”

He’s now actively working a 12-step program. “It’s definitely helped me get sober. I definitely thank my Higher Power for the strength I’ve had to get where I am today.”

He’s not shy sharing his ups and downs. “I’ve always been a very honest and open person. I’ve actually shared publicly via Facebook some of my bottoms and what I’ve learned in my treatment. In order to achieve something you need support in your life, and there is a connection through Facebook with family and friends that I think is very useful. I see it as an opportunity to share with them what I’m going through and the choices I’m making for myself.”20121130_bs_6028 copy

He calls his 12-step group “a new addition to my family,” adding, “They’re great people.” Like many addicts, he’s replaced his former addictions for a couple new, blessedly benign ones—Twitter and tattoos.

As his recovery’s progressed, he’s grown in other ways, too, including taking charge of his Fringes store’s finances. “It’s absolutely the best thing that could have happened for this business. It’s given me a whole new level of accountability. I see things more clearly and because of that, we’ve broken through a plateau we were never able to get past.”

He credits new business partner Sarah Pithan, a former assistant, for helping increase business by more than $4,000 a week. He also credits the “amazing team” he and Pithan have cultivated, including Omar Rodriguez, Kristina Lee, and Teresa Chaffin, for taking Fringes and Clear Salon Services to new levels.

For more information about Fringes Salon & Spa, visit www.fringessalon.com.

Read more of Leo Adam Biga’s work at leoadambiga.wordpress.com.