Hello world – I’m Cale Johnson and welcome to my blog about branding, marketing and communication – with plenty of random stuff as well.

In terms of both personal relationships and business, I’m a big believer in the value of being genuine, of being creative, of sharing a unique story and of making meaning.

If we’re talking business, I have one standing observation:

As more and more companies begin to realize how ineffective mass, blind advertising is, significant focus will shift to the identity, the voice and the social value of the organization itself.

And so welcome to The Rally Flag.

The name is both a symbol for true branding as well as a reference to my recent J-School days at Drake. Jill Van Wyke, who taught me among other things that the best work comes from the best research, handed the class a laminated card quoting John Steinbeck’s 1962 Nobel Prize acceptance speech:

…[T]he writer is delegated to declare and to celebrate man’s proven capacity for greatness of heart and spirit – for gallantry in defeat, for courage and love. In the endless war against weakness and despair, these are the bright rally flags of hope and of emulation.

It’s hard not to feel a tug of inspiration each time you hear that.

The best part is that Steinbeck isn’t just talking about writers. Anything with purpose needs a rally flag – or an anthem, or a manifesto – or perhaps a mission to change the world.


Professionally, I’m the Editor at GasPedal, a company that teaches word of mouth marketing to companies of all sizes. We also run the Social Media Business Council, a community for social media leaders at large companies.

Everything I publish represents my own personal opinions and do not reflect those of GasPedal, the SMBC, or any of our clients or strategic partners.