Brand Architecture

An organization’s brand architecture matters. It organizes the relationship between main and sub-brands and determines the perception and reputation of each product and service provided. Let’s take Audi, Bugatti, Porsche and Lamborghini. There is no doubt these brands stand for high quality and luxury, but how would you feel if the Volkswagen Group, the owner of these brands, would offer these cars under their Volkswagen or SEAT brand? The cars wouldn’t change a bit, but the initial perception hearing Volkswagen 911 Turbo S instead of Porsche 911 Turbo S would loose its glamour.

Vice versa, loyal Volkswagen customers, fans of a brand dedicated to be accessible to all people (Volk = nation; Wagen = vehicle; Volkswagen = vehicle for the people/nation), would be confused seeing $25,000 cars standing next to $260,000 cars in Volkswagen showrooms across the US. Volkswagen has actually attempted to establish a luxury sedan under the Volkswagen brand in 2002 introducing the Volkswagen Phaeton, a $70,000-$85,000 vehicle that kept the distinct Volkswagen resemblance. Sales fell beyond short of expectations and production stopped in early 2016.


Surprisingly, even an international corporation like the Volkswagen Group violated these basic brand architecture rule of thumbs:

A successful brand architecture…

  • Is adaptable and flexible
  • Is simple and consists of no more than two/three levels of hierarchy
  • Has a strong dominant brand
  • Creates distinctive sub-brands whose audiences do not overlap (see Volkswagen)
  • Is based on sophisticated knowledge of the market and market segments

There is not a one-model-fits all approach when it comes to brand architecture. Every entity needs a distinct strategy taking into account the product/service provided, their target audiences, but also legal restrictions, especially when it comes to financial services.

We are celebrating our 15th Anniversary!

How time flies: Media Link is celebrating its 15th anniversary and we couldn’t be happier! We would like to take a moment and reflect on how everything started:

In 2001, Natalie Linville-Mass decided that she could better serve her this area by operating her own advertising agency. This was the birth of Gendron Advertising. Gendron Advertising started with a handful of clients, many of which are still with us today. Operating from Davenport, IA, Natalie quickly acquired additional clients from a variety of industries. This steady growth allowed her to hire a professional team of consultants to support further expansion of the business.

In 2006 Gendron Advertising became Media Link, Inc. and Natalie and her team relocated to a larger space in Rock Island, IL. Media Link’s specialty has always been media buying and placement; however, it diversified its operations by developing 3 additional pillars of growth over time.

Media Link became a premier outlet for Public Relations in the Quad Cities. We are writing news releases for regional to national organizations, coach people for interviews with the press and make sure your voice is heard.

Media Link also started to work with government agencies by becoming an 8(a) SDB, WOSB, WBE, IL BEP, and IL/IA DOT DBE certified business. These certifications allowed our team to receive local, state, and federal contracts. Whether you work for a state agency or a public college, we can help you out!

Media Link has additionally embraced the digital world by adding a fourth pillar: digital marketing. The team is taking care of clients’ social media accounts and buy all sorts of digital products/services, including, but not limited to, Google, Bing, Facebook, Instagram, Twitter, LinkedIn, Hulu, and Pandora. Media Link has proven its excellence by becoming an officially certified Google Partner earlier this year.

2011 was a turning point in Media Link’s operations. Having managed successful multi-media TV, broadcast, radio, print, outdoor, and digital campaigns, Natalie realized that most media buying software around the Country is not able to sufficiently calculate the best media mix for clients. This marked the birth of Media Link Software™, a trademarked and copyrighted media buying software developed by Natalie and her team of programmers. Media Link Software™ gave Media Link’s first and original pillar of success, media buying, and an additional edge.  We have been told we are the only agency in the nation to develop its own software. Media Link Software™ is now used by agencies nationwide and has made us a source of advice for media buyers across the globe.

Media Link has seen many faces come and go over the last 15 years, especially due to our successful internship program with which we are educating the next generation of marketing professionals. We thank our past employees and interns for their contributions, and we thank our clients for their loyalty and trust!

Google Partner Program

Media Link, Inc. is a proud Google Partner, but what exactly does this mean?

To join the Google Partners program, companies and their staff must demonstrate specific skills and capacities:

– Pass Google AdWords tests and get certified

– Meet AdWords minimum spend requirements

– Prove agency and client revenue growth

– Sustain and grow client base


Benefits of being a Google Partner are:

– Access to Google’s events and trainings

– Access to Google’s industry research, product updates

– Access to Google Partners Community

– Access to Google’s promotional offers for clients

– Being able to signal expertise and experience in using Google AdWords products

– Participating in more efficient matchmaking as organizations’ AdWords specializations are public and can be accessed by anybody looking for services


Certified Google Partners get permission to exhibit the official Google Partners badge on their website and collateral. We at Media Link are working hard on staying up to date with trends, participating in training sessions, and managing our campaign as cost-effective as possible. Being a Google Partners means our strong performance in managing Google Search, Google Display, and YouTube ads is officially recognized by corporate Google. We maintain this status by adjusting bids, targeting, and keywords several times a week if necessary. This guarantees your money is well spent at any time!

Please call us at 309-786-5142 if you have any questions about the Google Partner program.

Catching media at the right time — Our Tri-Layered Approach

Here at Media Link, Inc. we take pride in the wide range of assets we offer our clients within our agency. These include, but are not limited to; communications, marketing, and public relations. This allows us to expand our services to include media outreach for our clients.

Our Senior Marketing Consultant, Ronna Walker-Johnson stated, “As a Media Coordinator, we have a process to ensure we catch the media at the right time, can pitch the right angle we need to make, as well as writing and disseminating the news release to the targeted area.”  This tri-layered approach utilizes a combination of news releases and/or e-blasts, followed by a series of direct phone calls, as well as strategic online research to additionally confirm media coverage.

This approach allows our clients to receive a significant amount of media exposure, strategically targeting prime media contacts with interest within our client’s career.  Walker-Johnson adds, “We have successfully secured a number of high profile appearances for our clients, giving them exposure to both the general public, as well as significant venues within their fields.”

Our clientele vary in the careers and occupations they possess. This serves as an opportunity to expand our strategic planning, in order to cater to the needs of our clients.  Daniel Stratman, an Illinois singer and songwriter, says, “Having just released my latest CD, “Real Life,” I chose Media Link right here in Rock Island to help promote my latest effort.  Working with Ronna Walker-Johnson, she initiated a marketing strategy and we began seeing results almost immediately.  I appreciate her years of marketing experience and the enthusiasm she possesses in working with me on my current project.”

Dan Haughey, a Teaching-Artist from the Quad Cities, says, “Media Link has more than doubled the networking capabilities and results for “danact3” through your support, guiding my business to state-of-the-art strategies and tools, yet always keeping me in control of my small business marketing decisions.”

Media Link, Inc. has a proven track record of being a strong partner for our clients and truly enjoy our part in assisting with their continued growth.


An Intern’s Perspective

I was referred to Media Link’s internship program by a teammate of mine who went through the same program. Although he gave me an idea of how his experience was at Media Link, I didn’t know what to expect.

I have been blown away by the amount of learning and growing I have experienced with my time here. I eased in slowly, because I was shy and didn’t want to ask too many questions; however, the support I received from the staff and my supervisors made everything easier. I could not have asked for a better work environment and colleagues for an internship experience.

I was tasked with researching ways to import affidavits into Media Link Software™ and most of the work I have done here has been in spreadsheets. Media Link Software™ has been the biggest aspect of my experience here. I learned how to do invoicing and importing avails into the software. I have also learned office etiquette and proper communication among coworkers, and most of all I have grown as a person through this experience.

They have given me every opportunity to succeed here and also in life after my internship. Not only have I learned valuable new skills and techniques to help me in my professional career, but they have taken me to Chamber of Commerce events and allowed me to see how to properly network myself. My summer with Media Link is coming to a close, but I will never forget this great opportunity and learning experience.




The internet made it possible to establish a rich net of connections all across the globe. According to the six degrees of separation, we only need a couple of people who know someone who know someone to be linked to any person on this globe.

Being linked to someone doesn’t mean you truly are connected, however. Networking on an eye-to-eye basis simply cannot be substituted. Most frequently mentioned benefits of traditional networking include:

  1. Generation of Referrals & Advice: you might be looking for a new financial adviser or mobile phone carrier – rest assured: the person standing next to you has something to say about the topic.
  1. Industry News: we are all doing our best to stay informed reading newspapers and trade publications, but talking to a person who is experiencing the news on a daily basis in invaluable.
  1. Community: networking events connect you to your area’s community and creates a strong feeling of belonging. It makes you a part of a greater good and allows you to work for a better tomorrow for everybody in the community.
  1. Raising Your Profile: many networking events provide educational components. Be part of an expert panel or have a presentation about what made you successful. Be inspirational. Become relevant.
  1. Friendship: networking is business, but it can be so much more. You meet people who went to the same college, whose kids go to the same school, or who have the same exotic hobby. A simple conversation can truly connect you to a person.

We at Media Link embrace networking for the sake of creating better business, for a stronger community and for creating friendship. Whether it’s the Network @ Noon, Executives Club, Morning Network, PR Network Events, SBA & WBDC events or others please feel free to approach us and introduce yourself if you see anyone of us. We’d love to talk to you!


Top 9 Benefits of Business Networking

The Political Window

I know it feels like the general election is just around the corner, but did you know the Political Window in our area doesn’t officially start until September?  With all of these political and issue orientated ads already hitting the airwaves, businesses in our area will continue to see higher than normal pricing in many of their advertising venues through the end of this year.

Just to put this in perspective… in 2012, more than 6 billion dollars was spent on American political campaigns. In 2016, we’re looking at 4.4 billion dollars just going to television advertising and this certainly hasn’t been a normal primary season, so this campaign season promises to break a lot of advertising records.

So, what does this mean for your advertising?  No doubt it will be tougher to get into television, although there are many areas in television where the pricing is what it’s always been.  Although, keep in mind the programs you pick need to fit who you’re trying to attract to your business.  There are also a number of other advertising options.  Traditionally, we have found that political windows are a time when we see our clients experiment with other media they haven’t been used to using for their campaigns.

This time around, we’re seeing many advertisers place greater emphasis on digital and not just Facebook or Google.  They’re looking at other digital advertising platforms and social media platforms they haven’t delved into in the past.  This article speaks to what’s happening nationally;

Whatever your strategy to get through these next six months, please be open to change.  I’ve learned that when you embrace change, you grow.  This is especially true with this field.  All of our media continues to go through a metamorphosis and knowing how these changes can help you will only help your bottom line.

Perspective of an International Intern

When I first left Austria for the Quad Cities to intern with Media Link, I did not expect to become a member of the community so quickly. From the first day on, I had the feeling that I was a full member of the Media Link family.

Over the past five months, I learned more about the field of marketing than I could have ever expected from an internship. Although a little scary at first, I enjoyed handling my own big projects to work on. Everyone at Media Link pushed me to advance my knowledge, and with every project, I grew. I still remember my third day of work, when Natalie and Ronna asked me to accompany them to a marketing analysis with a new client. I was quite nervous and I have to admit, I was a little “scared”. I asked myself: “What if I do or say something wrong?” In the past five months, everyone at Media Link has helped me to grow into a young marketing professional and now I feel confident and I enjoy working with new clients. I feel, being given the opportunity to get hands-on-experience in different fields of marketing is what makes Media Link an outstanding company for internships.

Media Link’s team has always made sure I get to know the QC community. I was invited to join Media Link’s team at charity and networking events. By doing so, I was introduced to different community groups and local professionals, and I went to my first trivia event. Even though I had trouble coming up with answers about American TV shows, I truly enjoyed raising funds for local Non-Profits together with my co-workers. I was amazed by the strong bond among Media Link’s team members. The people working for Media Link are not simply co-workers, they are all friends, and I am truly grateful for being welcomed with open arms to this amazing crew.

Natalie’s commitment to the community and her political engagement has always amazed me. Sometimes I feel Natalie’s day has 48 hours because a “normal” person would not fit everything she does into 24. She has showed me what a single person can achieve as long as you put your heart into it. Over the past months, she has always made sure to take the time to give me professional as well as personal advice and support. I am sure I am not the only one who says that Natalie is a role model and a great mentor.

When asked about the best part of my internship, I always have trouble deciding between two things. The first part I love is that the Media Link team is like a family and that I was welcomed as a full member right from the beginning. The second part is that I get hands-on-experience in different areas from: invoicing, to social media, prospecting, to PR. The trust I was given to work on these projects has always made me feel appreciated. Having a supervisor like Ronna, who pushes me to constantly advance my knowledge, is what makes my internship experience special. Ronna pushes her interns to improve their skills to perfection and takes every opportunity to introduce her interns to new areas of marketing. Over the past five months she has not only been an exceptional supervisor, but she has also become a great friend.

I am grateful for the opportunities I have been given at Media Link. Going back to Austria, I am sure I have learned more than some of my classmates who have interned at large corporations. I would refer Media Link as a place to do an internship to anyone who is eager to learn, and who is not afraid to step outside his or her comfort zone. The hard work pays off and I can guarantee that interning for Media Link will be a huge step in your career path.

Meet the people behind Media Link Inc.

Media Link is a full-service advertising agency, but we are more than that. Media Link’s team members have their hearts in the right place to ensure client satisfaction, and our passion goes far beyond the field of marketing. Media Link takes pride in the fact that its team members are passionate about giving back to the community in a variety of different ways.

President Natalie Linville-Mass gives back to the community as a board member of The ARC of the Quad Cities Area to advance the rights of people with intellectual and developmental disabilities. On top of that, Natalie has developed and runs, a Women’s Executive Group aiming at advancing female executives in the Quad Cities Area. In 2012, she was awarded the Iowa Governor’s Volunteer Award for her long-standing service to Big Brothers, Big Sisters. Advancing young professionals is Natalie’s passion and she does so through Media Link’s internship program. With this program she supports young adults in getting hands-on-experience that will prepare them for their future profession. Additionally, President Natalie Linville-Mass has volunteered as a guest speaker for various universities and colleges such as Augustana College, Blackhawk College, University of Iowa, and Western Illinois University, to name only a few.

Senior Marketing Consultant, Ronna Walker-Johnson also shares this passion of giving back to the community. She has been an active Board Member of the Public Relations Network of the Quad Cities, a volunteer-run organization that brings together local professionals for professional development and the exchange of ideas. In addition, she has been elected to the Board of Directors of the Bix Beiderbecke Memorial Society, an organization with the mission of perpetuating the music and memory of Leon “Bix” Beiderbecke. “I have always felt it is important to be an active participant within my community, and being involved with areas that complement my career and personal passions make staying involved easy.” Ronna enjoys supporting our community’s children and does so through volunteering at the Bettendorf Police Explorer Youth Program, as well as leading her daughter’s Daisy Troop. She states: “I especially hold opportunities to make a positive difference in our local youth close to my heart, as these young people are the future of our community.”

Adrian Wille, Marketing Consultant, joined Media Link in early 2015 from Germany, and his passion for giving back to the community made him the perfect addition to the Media Link family. Representing his German heritage, Adrian is a Board Member of the German American Heritage Center in Davenport, in addition to being Vice President and Board Member at the Palomares Social Justice Center in Moline. Furthermore, Adrian serves on the Young Professionals of the Quad Cities’ Professional Development Committee and is an active member of the American-Scandinavian Association at Augustana College and the NAACP. He additionally helps out at the Komen Quad Cities Race for the Cure. “I volunteer because it makes me feel like being part of the Quad Cities family,” says Adrian.

Supporting the community is part of Media Link’s identity. This is the reason why all of Media Link’s marketing assistants are engaged in community work. Ben Wildner only recently moved to the Quad Cities, but he already shares his passion for sports with community organizations. Mike Tortorelli, a Clinton resident, enjoys spending time with the Clinton Fire department to promote a new program, which ensures residents get free smoke detectors for their homes. In addition, he helps raise awareness for St. Baldricks, a childhood cancer charity, and last year he helped to establish a campaign that raised more than $400 for the River Bend Food Bank.

Jack Seaman is all about sports. He uses his passion to give back to the community in ways such as volunteering as a coach for the Young Gunz Wrestling Club. The newest addition, Elisabeth Kulmer, has a heart for animals and volunteers at local shelters in addition to a position at the World Fair Trade Organization of Asia, to promote Fair Trade around the globe.

Giving back to the community is simply what Media Link does. “If we all do what we can in our own way, we can make a big difference overall.  So, knowing we’re all in this together, I’m happy to help where I can.” We are proud of the fact that Media Link’s team is equally as passionate about the community as they are about their work.

Searching for Meaning – Corporate Social Responsibility

The times of “being in it for the money” are over. People are now looking for more than high salaries – people are looking for meaning in what they do. The term describing this movement is corporate social responsibility, often referred to as CSR. Many large corporations such as Wal-Mart and Walt Disney have implemented a CSR campaign. However, not only large firms, but also small businesses have identified this to be an important staple in their day-to-day operations. Corporate Social Responsibility reaches from reusing and recycling materials, to caring about excluded groups of the population, to energy saving activities.

These methods are ever more important when looking for new employees or retaining staff. This is especially important in a time in which 86 million millennials make up the largest population group in the U.S. and provide a large labor force. These young people strongly tie their personal values to their career and bring innovative ideas to a business. This is supported by the fact that seven out of ten young adults consider themselves to be social activists and state CSR to be a major factor when choosing among employers.

At the same time these young adults are consumers and are looking to do business with companies that share their passion for social causes. Consumers increasingly want to be seen as good citizens, and this desire is reflected by their buying behavior. According to Landor Associates, 77% of surveyed consumers note it to be important for companies to be socially responsible. In the digital age we are living in, customers have more information and often share this information with fellow consumers. This may be a threat to companies engaging in unethical business activities, but an opportunity for businesses having CSR fully incorporated into their business concept. Corporate Social Responsibility is what defines a business and what makes it rise above competitors.

Why Companies Can No Longer Afford to Ignore Their Social Responsibilities