Latino Branding Power debuts in Rapid Growth Media

Last week, I was happy to have a small feature in Rapid Growth Media, a local online weekly that reports about the arts, innovation, and economic development in Grand Rapids, Michigan. I was interviewed by journalist and creative strategist John Rumery about Latino Branding Power as well as some of my thoughts and insights about marketing to Latinos.

Check out the Rapid Growth Media feature here.

Latino Entrepreneurs: West Michigan’s best kept secret

I was honored last week to be invited to participate on a panel discussion with other esteemed West Michigan colleagues at Davenport University. The panel was part of a series by the university entitled Secrets of Success. We were asked, as Latino business owners, to talk about lessons learned, barriers overcome, and our thoughts about how other businesses and organizations can connect to the burgeoning Latino demographic. It was a privilege to be invited and I truly enjoyed the engaging conversations held with the audience and my fellow panelists.

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Latino youth education achievement gaps

Last month I wrote a post about a new human centered design initiative from the Keller Futures Center for improving resilience among Latino youth. Interesting enough, about the time we were completing the project, an article appeared in The Rapidian (a local Grand Rapids online news and information source) about the Grand Rapids Latino student achievement gap. Unfortunately, the statistics look bleak. According to the article post, Grand Rapids students in the eleventh grade are scoring at 18% proficiency in math and 32% in reading compared to statewide scores of 52% in math and 63% in reading. What are causes of these educational gaps and what can be done to close them?

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California vintner Amelia Ceja to deliver keynote at West Michigan Hispanic Chamber of Commerce Awards Banquet

This afternoon, the West Michigan Hispanic Chamber of Commerce will hold their annual awards banquet at the JW Marriott in downtown Grand Rapids. The coveted keynote address will be delivered by Amelia Ceja, owner and president of the Napa, California winery Ceja Vineyards (watch my video interview with Juan Tornoe, last year’s keynote speaker). Amelia Ceja has been recognized as “Woman of the Year” in 2005 by the California legislature for “breaking the glass ceiling in a very competitive business” and is the first Mexican-American woman ever to be elected president of a winery.

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Latino communities: Better by design

Since last month, I have been involved in a new initiative that uses human centered design to solve issues within Latino communities. The Keller Futures Center, an innovative program through the Grand Rapids Community College, facilitates project-based initiatives to help solve unmet and emerging needs in West Michigan communities. Previous research determined that resiliency is a key ingredient in the success of Latino youth – specifically within education.  Existing as a community coalition representing education, business, non-profits, philanthropy, parents, and students, the Latino Resiliency Project will innovate for seven weeks on the topic of what drives resiliency in our youth and determine how resiliency has a positive impact on the educational achievement and overall life conditions for Latino youth.

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Branding to end racism

In October, I wrote a post proclaiming a manifesto against discrimination for multicultural and Hispanic marketing professionals. In my opinion, not only do we have an obligation to our clients and business needs, but also to make our communities better places to live. Unfortunately, discriminatory attitudes still exist in advertising, marketing, and media. The good news is that those who have had the most negative impact on the perceptions of race and ethnicity are also in the unique position to propagate the most good. A recent campaign from Mexico may suggest there are other professionals that agree.

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Navidad sin barreras

A year ago at this time, I was in Puerto Rico enjoying the holiday season with family. One night, we experienced a holiday tradition known as a Parranda. During a parranda, friends and family will gather at the front door of a local home and sing traditional Christmas songs. Eventually the guests are invited in for more singing along with food and drink. The parranda will make its way through the neighborhood stopping at more homes and gathering people along the way. As you can see from the video above, we had a lot of fun participating in the parranda. In additional to being a popular holiday tradition, can the idea of a parranda help to create Puerto Rican unity online through social media?

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Latina strong

At last month’s LATISM conference, I couldn’t help but notice that the majority of attendees and presenters were Latina. I realize this observation should not be a surprise, as Latina bloggers continue to influence the online world. But this being my first social media conference, I found it a refreshing divergence from the typically male dominated worlds of computers and technology. Every day, these social media mavens provide highly valued content to their peers throughout the nation and internationally. Many brands have jumped on board with their advertising dollars. Those who haven’t would be wise to take notice.

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Bicultural Mom interviews Latino Branding Power

Last month, I had the pleasure of being interviewed again. This time it was by Chantilly Patiño of the respected blog sites Bicultural Mom and Multicultural Familia. Chantilly has earned a community of followers that values her insights and perspectives. (She is also a fellow West Michigander, originally from Muskegon, Michigan) Although Chantilly covers many topics related to multiculturalism, she excels with her discussions about families and relationships. Being a blogger of multicultural marketing related topics, I was honored to receive the invitation.

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Como familia…

Last week, I had the privilege of attending the Latinos in Social Media (LATISM) annual conference in Chicago. LATISM is credited as the largest organization of Hispanic professionals engaged in social media. The 2011 conference, held at Chicago’s Navy Pier, was two and a half days of sessions and workshops that focused on opportunities for Hispanic professionals to use social media in public service, community empowerment, and business development. To augment my participation in the LATISM conference, I designed an infographic to show how Latinos currently engage in social media across the U.S. Originally, I had planned to write this blog post as a follow up review of the professional development and networking opportunities provided at the LATISM conference. Although there were certainly plenty of these opportunities, I decided to modify my post’s focus in light of all that transpired for me both personally and professionally during my attendance at LATISM’11.

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Infographic: Latinos are winning in social media

By the time you read this post, I will be in Chicago at the annual Latinos in Social Media (LATISM) national conference. I had been looking for a relevant professional development opportunity for several months and when I found out LATISM’11 was being held in Chicago, a relatively close traveling distance for me in Grand Rapids, Michigan, I immediately registered my attendance. In honor of the LATISM’11 conference, I have designed an infographic inspired by the popular Mexican game Lotería. The infographic features information about how Latinos continue to “win” with their presence in social media. Please feel free to download the infographic and post it proudly in your place of business, office space, or on your computer or mobile device screen.

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What we can learn from the Day of the Dead

The video above is a montage from a vacation I took to Michoacán, Mexico during the holiday known as El Día De Los Muertos (The Day of the Dead). My mother and I made the journey together a few years ago and had a fantastic time. Although a celebration to honor the dead may seem a bit macabre from a Western influenced point of view, for the indigenous populations of Mexico and Central America, it is a very commonplace tradition. What can this fatalist inspired holiday teach us about the attitudes and values held by many Latino communities?

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A Latino/a manifesto against discrimination

In 2005, during my sabbatical in Mexico, I spent a period of time working in a Querétaro marketing firm as a designer. I decided to lend my expertise in exchange for the opportunity to experience day-to-day life in a Spanish-speaking work environment. One day, I was working on an assignment for a real estate client, developing layouts for a promotional print ad. As I had done many times before, I scoured stock photography websites for good images. I found one particular photo of a smiling young couple enjoying their recently purchased home. The couple in the photo happened to be of African heritage. I later reviewed the new designs with the agency’s director. When we came to the layout with the young couple, he pointed to the image and said, “I’m sorry, but here in Mexico we cannot feature images of dark complected people.”

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Let la música take control

The recent passing of Apple founder and super-star innovator Steve Jobs has saddened us. Mr. Jobs truly challenged many dialogues with regard to how people access technology and media. One such area Jobs has been credited for reinventing is the digital music industry. Through the invention of the iPod and the iTunes music store, he and Apple placed music and entertainment into the hands and pockets of people the world over. Interestingly enough, a recently released study by Dr. Felipe Korzenny of the Center for Hispanic Marketing Communications at Florida State University (FSU) explored the use digital music by Latinos and other ethnic populations. Considering audiences that marketers in the music industry have traditionally targeted, the study results may be a bit of a surprise.

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A tale of two fiestas

This time of the year is always exciting for me. Being the middle of Hispanic Heritage Month, there are many activities and an increased sense of pride among Latino communities. Here in Grand Rapids, Michigan, we celebrate with two major festivals dedicated to Hispanic interests. The first full weekend of September is the Fiesta Hispana, a celebration of the wide variety of Latin American nations. The second festival, Fiesta Mexicana, coincides with Mexican Independence Day and is a celebration acknowledging the largest group of Latinos in West Michigan, the Mexican Americans. Because I was involved for several years in the planning of Fiesta Mexicana, I am occasionally asked, “Why are there two Hispanic festivals in Grand Rapids?” or “When are they going to combine both festivals into one?” Although I am not overly surprised when this question arises, I believe it does indicate a larger misinterpretation among some about how Latino communities exist and perceive themselves.

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Social media opens doors for “mama y papa” businesses

We have read the news and are aware of the hype – Latinos continue to rock in the social media world. Likewise, recent statistics indicate Hispanic small business owners continue to grow in influence as well. Case in point, a quick drive down the Latino dominant Grandville Avenue in Grand Rapids, Michigan, one will pass several locally owned “mom and pop” businesses; party stores, restaurants, bodegas, taquerías, and salons. Although we have seen plenty of professional and acculturated Latino businesses embrace social media, what kind of value can it deliver for local “mama y papa” businesses?

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