CoreBrand Blog Archive
CoreBrand Blog Archive
A week ago Sunday was the New York City Marathon and having run a single half-marathon myself, I couldn’t image the mental endurance and physical stamina three of my friends would have to endure to survive a run double my highest or 26.2 miles on an extremely windy and chilly morning.
In Halloween season there are plenty of things to frighten and delight. But nothing can be more fear-inducing to today’s parents than the power Disney can wield over our young children. The Frozen phenomenon from this past year has barely let up, as evidenced by a new drinking game, that dared you to take a drink every time an Elsa trick or treated at your house. And with updates to their parks, the 2012 acquisition of Lucasfilm and the Star Wars franchise, and the steady flywheel of the harem of past princesses, Disney is a bigger force than ever before. Although as a parent, I may feel powerless to - and sometimes frightened of the forces of Disney in my household - as a brander, I tip my witch’s hat to the company for managing their brand with a magical touch.
For the record, I’m not a big drinker. I’d be happy with … well, content with an Arnold Palmer or Coke Zero. But in the past couple of weeks I've found myself sitting at a bar not once but twice, trying to decide what to order. Usually, there’s nothing I love more than saddling up to the bar for a good cocktail or a glass of wine, appetizers and some good conversation. I love trying new drinks. I’m even willing to go as far as a jalapeño infused gin with black pepper foam and a splash of bitters and ginger. OK, I don’t know what bitters are or if pepper can be foamed, but I’m up for anything.
It’s been an amazing year for both Marvel and DC. Both have hit 75-year milestones this year. While Marvel as a company hit 75 this year, DC’s most well known cowled detective also turned 75.
Two low-cost airlines launched new identities within a day of each other. Who did it right?
There’s a growing vocal phenomena affecting the actual voices of company spokespeople and even employees. And it doesn’t sound pretty.
I am nearly two months out from a 4-day hike up the Inca trail of Machu Picchu in Peru. The elevation will be 10,000+ feet, nearly double that of Denver, and it will be the beginning of the rainy season. Taking these factors into account, I have been researching hiking and camping gear like my life depends on it. Because it will.
Earlier this month, media outlets were aflutter with news of Southwest Airlines’ brand refresh. Focusing more strongly on the human centered aspects of their brand, Southwest has applied a new coat of paint to their aircraft and much more. A new tagline, logo, signage, kiosks, aircraft visual design and advertising campaign has brought the pioneer of low-cost, egalitarian flights back into the headlines. But there is one thing that I am happy to see they haven’t changed: the politeness and enthusiasm of their employees.
I’m a sports fan. But ten years ago, my sports fandom didn’t reach to college football. Having gone to a small, private liberal arts university, football games weren’t an integral part of our student experience.
The NBA has been getting a lot of attention recently, what with the whole LeBron return to Cleveland thing, and the controversy over the LA Clippers ownership fight. Amid all this NBA media coverage, it’s easy to forget that there was a time, less than 50 years ago, when the NBA, as a professional sports enterprise, had trouble drawing much attention at all, even in the cities where they actually played (see Buffalo Braves). As the 1960s came to a close, the NBA was struggling to compete not only with football and baseball for public and media attention, they were also being challenged for fans, players, and millions of dollars by the upstart American Basketball Association (ABA)!
One of the major barriers to better cooperation between marketing and finance departments is they speak different languages. The Marketing Accountability Standards Board (MASB) has just launched an open-source, curated library of advertising and marketing terms. It is a broad effort of marketing and finance academics, industry associations and practitioners from business as well as the consulting world to codify the language of business.
As artistic as I profess to be, I’ve never understood the reasoning behind merging color with scents. Why we need a colored ink stick to smell like grapes confuses me to this day, which may be why the latest offering from Duck Tape confuses me in the exact same way. Just like the scented markers, I’m curious as to the reasoning behind scented Duck Tape and why a brand needs to stretch out into another of the five senses.
Although my friends and colleagues probably think of me as a talkative person, listening is one of my favorite activities. I am immensely curious about everyone’s human experience, and I even considered training to become a therapist at one point. Instead, I headed into branding which I like to think of as talk therapy and art therapy for business.
Back-to-school as it relates to college students and purchasing dorm room necessities is top of mind for me right now as I am in the thick of it and fully expect to be for the next six years or so. Last week was back-to-school for our son who is attending a large state school in Pennsylvania. And I have to tip my hat to such retailers as Bed, Bath and Beyond and Target when it comes to purchasing dorm room/apartment basics. I know that there are also many other retailers in the back-to-school mix, but my personal experiences are with these two in particular.
In reading the Wall Street Journal’s recent article “Floating an Idea: Would P&G Sell Ivory Soap?” my immediate reaction was, “how could P&G even consider such a thing?” After all, Ivory is so iconic and is the one brand in P&G’s entire brand portfolio that established the well-known consumer brands marketer —Procter & Gamble. Over 135 years ago, James Gamble and Harley Procter, sons of each of P&G’s founders, respectively invented and named the pioneering soap that floats. Ivory is the one brand that single-handedly has helped to make P&G the marketing genius it is today. P&G’s marketing principles have been taught around the globe, both internally and externally. They are the envy of many corporations and are included in every business school’s tool chest as impressionable case studies.
During my recent visit to Nashville, Tennessee, somewhere between listening to a mash-up of artists perform at the Grand Ole Opry and a visit to the Johnny Cash Museum, along a tour of the legendary Ryman Auditorium, the Carnegie Hall of the south or the “Mother Church of Country Music,” I learned that the phrase “Music City” was first used by a WSM-AM radio announcer in 1950, and it stuck. Essentially, a brand was created in that moment.
I’m going to go out on a limb and say that the person who developed the ALS “Ice Bucket Challenge” viral campaign deserves a raise. In a two week time period, awareness has increased exponentially and more than $4 million in donations have been raised. That is nearly a $3 million dollar increase over the same time period last year. I call that an indisputable success. I also call it exactly what a viral campaign is intended to do.
For many of my adult years, I was a news junky. But of late, I’ve given up on watching most news broadcasts or even regularly reading any one newspaper or online outlet. I crave news, but find only opinions. Slanted, biased, predictable, premeditated opinions – or anything you could ever want to know about the Kardashians. I fear the news has lost its way. And its brand.
Several weeks ago, I saw a surprising TV ad from Overstock.com, the web-based mass merchant. Rather than their usual offer of off-priced jewelry, clothes and furnishings, Overstock was hyping its free pet adoption service.
Years ago, as part of an employee engagement project for Caterpillar, the global equipment manufacturer, I came upon an engineer assembling a diesel engine the size of a large conference table.
So far this year, I’ve engaged with a half-dozen conventions, spanning multiple sizes, styles, and worthwhile-ness. It occurs to me that despite how varied they all are in overall experience, there exist brand values spanning all successful conventions.
Recently, we were discussing a research program for a client that would provide prescriptive insights on what levers could be manipulated to enhance brand perceptions. While tossing around various brand image metrics we might want to include, I was reminded of an experience I had early in my career working with a large consumer-packaging brand.
Brand guidelines are a critical tool in brand management. They are the culmination of many months of brand creation work and the distillation of your brand. They embody and explain who you are and also provide easy-to-follow directions on how to handle the brand. They are both strategic and practical and are the map to ensuring brand integrity and consistency.
If you belong to social media like Facebook, you’ve probably been noticing a lot of Click Bait lately. Click Bait (also known as Link Bait) are intentionally hyperbolic headlines intended to drive up clicks to an article or landing page. While it sounds innocuous – I mean, who doesn’t want their content to garner clicks? That is what marketing is, after all! – it has turned fairly insidious. Headlines that are exaggerated, vague, and withholding dominate, begging you to click not necessarily because you are interested in the topic but because you want to solve the mystery of the headline. Every day I see a headline posted that contains a variation of “You won’t believe what happened next!”
Shopping for eyeglasses was never fun and always expensive. I’d get a pair and wear them 3-4 years, way beyond the prescription update deadline. Then, suitably blind again, I’d finally give in and go to my local mall store and spend an excruciating hour with someone who distractedly presented frames from behind the counter, based on my squinty pointing, as if they were precious jewels to behold. An apt analogy, because the prices of these things were astronomical. In the end, I felt pressured and ripped off.
Do you have a favorite number? Mine is 27. My birthday is July 27th. I guess I could have chosen the number 7 since I have several in my birthdate, but it seemed too common as a favorite number. I like the non-mainstream, so have always just felt a stronger affinity to 27. To the point where when I see the number places – say on a digital clock or a road sign - I feel a kinship with that place or moment. Like it’s talking to me, personally.
The RadioShack of my childhood (well represented in the 2014 Super Bowl commercial) was what I expected to see when I stopped in last weekend – instead, I found a hip, bright and spacious store staffed with two of the most helpful, informed and positive employees I have ever met. I was stunned.
“Dungeons and Dragons: Satan’s Game...” or so the classic intro to the Dead Alewives parody goes, is thankfully no longer the primary image the general public imagines when D&D comes into a conversation. Now, it’s evolved to: “That weird dice game that keeps coming out with new rules.” With D&D 5e rolling out this year, I can only imagine the fuss and bother brand aficionados will raise with a whole new revision of rules to follow, minutiae to utilize, and release schedules to keep track of.
I’ve been a New Yorker for 21 years. I think I was a New Yorker before I ever technically lived on the island. I live and breathe the energy, the convenience, the culture, the opportunity, the pace, the everything–even the occasional rat.
The final leg of the Triple Crown will be run this Saturday, June 7. If California Chrome wins the Belmont Stakes, he will be the first horse since Affirmed in 1978 to become a Triple Crown winner, joining an elite membership of only 11 horses. While the declining sport of Thoroughbred horse racing can still attract the sponsorship of well-known brands with large advertising budgets, such as Yum! Brands, NBC Sports, and Pepsi, it really only gets media and spectator attention for five short weeks each spring during the Triple Crown.
May is probably my favorite month of the year because of the profusion of purple blossoms lining many streets here in Santa Monica. The jacaranda trees are in full bloom and create cascading canopies of color that delight me every time I’m lucky enough to be on a street where the jacarandas dominate the landscape. I think of this time of year as “purple season.”
Several months ago, I noticed a typeface change in the Domino’s Pizza logo. Yes, I admit I’ve had a few slices from the pizza chain, but the reason I noticed the change was because I never understood the previous logotype: Futura Condensed Extra Bold. Futura Condensed was likely chosen because it needed to fit within a small blue rectangle as part of the Domino’s symbol.
In March, CoreBrand launched its 2014 Top 100 Most Powerful Brands report. For a corporate brand to appear on this ranking, it must achieve both high Familiarity (awareness), and high Favorability (quality of perception). Generally accepted market research, well-known facts, and history indicate that the more your target audience is aware of you, there is an increased likelihood they will make a connection and want to do business with you. The first fundamental step in building a powerful brand, therefore, is developing a deep sense of understanding within your target audiences.
If you’re not in the construction trade and haven’t seen branding for workwear from Duluth Trading company, you’re missing one of the best examples of dead-on customer brand voice out there.
I cannot say that I was surprised when I recently read that JC Penney is slated to close 33 stores this year. This seems like the natural next step for a company that held a 2011 logo competition to decide the fate of its brand.
On May 8th, Radio City Music Hall in New York City will host one of the most important events on the American professional sports calendar; the 2014 National Football League Draft of college football players. A multi-day, multi media extravaganza, and the culmination of months of intense discussion, analysis and speculation, the NFL Draft will generate millions of dollars in advertising and merchandising revenue for the NFL and their partners.
Last week we heard a story on NPR that discussed the need to rebrand marijuana now that it was increasingly becoming legalized (http://ow.ly/wnao9). As brand practitioners, marijuana and brand are not two words you often hear used in the same sentence. And so the story sparked our interest.
Skimming through the fluff posts on my Facebook feed over the weekend, I saw an ad from Timbuk2 about recycling old bags to receive a 30% discount on a new bag. Now, my two messenger bags are 12 and 6 years old respectively, and they’ve survived spills, drops, scrapes, and fluids involved with two colleges, daily commuting on public transport, work and comic/anime conventions, and a half-dozen mission trips across four countries. To put it succinctly, they’ve been to hell and back. And yet, thinking about the offer I said, "I'm not giving up my bags. They still have several more years of use to them."
With the current trends toward healthier eating, and casual dining serving healthier foods, speed eating isn’t as desirable as it once might have seemed.
If you were to ask one of our clients “what are some of CoreBrand’s defining characteristics?” I would venture to guess that aside from saying CoreBrand is populated by very nice and scary smart people (IMHO), they would also mention BrandPower, a proprietary database that measures the impact brand has on business, as being at the heart of what we do. But what they may not know is how multi-dimensional our research capabilities are, meaning that it encompasses all kinds of methodological approaches and data sourcing, including primary and secondary research methods to help develop a 360 degree view of our clients' current and potential branding landscape.
CoreBrand recently released its Top 100 Most Powerful Brands Reportour proprietary research that provides a market-view evaluation of brand strength across a range of industries and business categories. One of the more interesting aspects of the annual report, aside from the overall ranking of brand strength among leading, publicly traded Fortune 1000 companies, is being able to see what brands have been winners, and what brands have been losers over the past year in terms of their brand strength improving or declining.
After having dived into the murky lagoon that is audiobook recording, I’m fascinated in how voice actors and actresses are truly brands within themselves. Some are more widely known than others. A few are one-hit wonders. Others are so versatile you wouldn’t even realize just how many pieces of media they’re in.
We know intuitively that brand’s create impressions in the minds of key stakeholder audiences, but can we make clear objective comparisons between brands? The answer is yes! CoreBrand is once again releasing its listing of the 100 most powerful corporate brands in the U.S. This is possible because CoreBrand maintains the largest corporate brand database in existence consisting of data tracked for nearly a quarter of a century.
This month two recent college grads recently put together a fake 60-second ad for Tesla called “Modern Spaceship” that captured the attention of the brand’s CEO, Elon Musk. Musk tweeted “Just discovered a great Tesla ad made by 2 recent college grads. I love it!” The spot was produced for $1,500 by the pair, who have started their own production company, Everdream Pictures.
Have you ever just read about a new idea, realized how simple and smart it is – and wish you had been the one to come up with it? Well I have. Several times. The most recent being last weekend when I read an article in The New York Times entitled, “A Store with Media in Mind.”
When I was ten years old, I wasn’t certain of much. I knew I wanted to wear goggles like James Worthy, I was positive “The Flight of the Navigator” was the high-point of American cinema and that I never, ever wanted to live on Baltic Ave (and don’t you dare bring up Metropolitan). These two purple Monopoly properties were the very embodiment of skid row. Who cares if you have 3 hotels—not one wants to stay there. Give me Park Place any day. Or Marvin Gardens with their alluring, well, gardens. If Baltic Ave was a brand it was for the dingy dollar store or cheap shoe place. Today, it's the Transformers who inhabit Baltic. They live very happily next to Nerf.
Semantically, there are differences between nerds, geeks, otakus, fans, anoraks, boffins, and various other cultural terms for people who appreciate specific activities, media, technology, and/or entertainment. Culturally, most people identify as only one of the above options. As conceptual brands, the above each have their own identities, positions, and communication styles. So which one do you fall under?
What makes a brand authentic? Is it its history? Its originality? Its uniqueness?
Brand authenticity can make or break a brand’s best efforts to market itself if consumers detect even a whiff of fakery. But just how authentic does a brand have to be for customers to believe in the company?
The Big Ass Fan Company. What do they make? If you guessed big fans, you’d be right. This corporate name may not be my personal favorite brand expression, but hey, they made me do some research and learn more about the company.
The LEGO movie has been tops at the box office for two weeks in a row, bringing in more than $140M, and I’m betting that strong word of mouth will make it #1 again this coming weekend. This is no surprise given the movie’s positive reviews and its appeal to the general population. This movie really has something for everyone and can be enjoyed by children and parents of all ages – for entirely different reasons.
On the evening of December 27th 1964, I was but a young boy growing up in the suburbs of Cleveland Ohio, and as I drifted off to sleep that night, clad in my Davey Crockett PJ’s, I had dreams of football glory dancing in my head. You see, my beloved Cleveland Browns, in one of the most stunning upsets in the annals of professional sports, had just defeated the mighty Baltimore Colts and their legendary QB Johnny Unitas in the NFL Championship Game.
As of this week, I’m in my 8th month of the adventure in building a brand voice. By day, my working for a well known strategic branding firm has taught me the logical steps involved in crafting and managing a brand voice. By night however, I run my own podcast network, where I’ve taken some pretty non-logical routes to find the right voice for whom we’re talking to. So, for those who don’t necessarily have insider knowledge as to how brand voices are conveyed out into the world, here’s three balancing acts I’ve encountered in the voice-building process.
I am not often moved enough by a petition to go online and register to cast a vote. Recently, however, I caught sight of a friend’s Facebook posting where an infant was strapped into an ApptivityTM Seat, its face just inches from the screen of an Apple iPad. I immediately went to the Campaign for a Commercial-Free Childhood site, registered and signed the petition against the Fisher-Price and Apple ApptivityTM Seat licensing agreement. I didn’t stop there, though! I also wrote a letter expressing my disappointment in my beloved brand’s decision to turn the next generation’s minds to mush.
In just about the last year, I got married. I inherited two great children. I sold my studio apartment in favor of a more family-suited two-bedroom apartment. I donated bags and bags of clothing to declutter before we moved – and a couch too. I taught an online marketing course in addition to my full-time job. I bought 35 Christmas gifts and donated 10 of them to a family I’ve never met. That in a nutshell, is the story of my year.
A story last week caught my eye because it's an unusual story. Harry's, the 10-month old start-up razor start-up, just made a $100 million purchase. The company just bought Feintechnik, a factory in Germany that has been making razors for 93 years. Harry's isn't a household name yet, but it's seen early success and is positioning itself to be a real challenger to Gillette and Schick.
Let me first confess that I put myself in the “average” sports fan category versus the extreme sports fan who knows a lot more than me about all sports, players and stats. I do enjoy watching baseball, football and hockey on television mostly to bond with my son and to foster camaraderie with friends.
There were two unfortunate incidents involving aircraft recently: A small plane did an emergency landing on an expressway in the Bronx and a business jet crashed at the Aspen airport. My husband is a private pilot; immediately after both announcements, texts began flowing into my phone from well meaning contacts double-checking that he was okay and wasn’t involved in either incident.
There are no job titles or managers, making everyone responsible.
What is the world's best toy?
Not everyone interprets brands the same way. Brands are about the experiences created around them. Holiday brands are a perfect example of experience diversity.
To me, one of the better television ad campaigns in recent memory is DirecTV’s “Get Rid of Cable”, which shows cable customers doing something out of frustration with their cable provider, which then snowballs into a life-altering event. Clever and funny, the ads effectively diminish all cable brands without being specific, relying on the strong likelihood that, at some point, most cable customers have had a frustrating experience with their cable service.
Earlier this week I was listening to an interview on NPR with the “new” American Airlines CEO, Doug Parker. As expected Mr. Parker talked about fares and fees and assured his audience that the merger wouldn’t have an effect on prices, blah, blah, blah. Of course I was dying to hear him say something about the redesign of American earlier this year, what may or may not change with the merger, the decision to go with “American” as a name versus “U.S. Airways” …something! Finally, the host, Audie Cornish, said: “I have a branding question.”
Now is the time for people to start overloading on holiday-themed blog posts (with a generous side-order of hot cocoa and gingerbread). Now is the time to find that perfect gift (for this year anyway) for each person on the shopping list. Now is the time to enjoy all the Chrismahanakwanzaka cheer and traditions. Well, that is if you’re not an apathetic Grinchy McScrooge holiday avoider.
Mom jeans or minivan? Breast feed or bottle feed? Work in the home, outside of the home or both? Let your child cry it out or use a no-tears sleep training approach? Daycare or nanny? At what age do you begin to potty train? What’s the best stroller?
Good naming strategy is an art and a science. Simply throwing up names onto a wall and asking the leadership team to vote is not a method that usually ends with an acceptable name.
It's a classic case of "do what I say, not what I do." When the toy-manufacturer used a Beastie Boys song without permission and then responded with a lawsuit, they caused a huge disconnect in their brand. Actions sometimes speak louder than your communications or culture, and this engineering-minded firm needs to build a pretty big bridge to get out of this brand crisis.
Let me first start by saying that I am by no means new to Starbucks. Admittedly, Starbucks is not my preferred coffee company, but I will visit it occasionally when it is either the most convenient or the “only game in town” for my daily dose of caffeine.
If sports teams are businesses with players as the employees, who defines the brand?
As Director, Brand Intelligence at CoreBrand, my focus when it comes to brands and brand strategy centers on finding the empirical evidence behind a brand, and what drives behaviors around that brand. Nothing excites me like doing quantitative research to reveal the underlying dimensions that influence, motivate or drive a successful brand or brand strategy.
If you were a fan of NBC's Must See TV in the 90’s, then you certainly remember the show Will & Grace, a groundbreaking sit-com set in NYC with four of the greatest characters to ever hit the tube: Grace Adler, a neurotic designer who struggled with life and relationships in hilarious ways; Will Truman, Grace’s former boyfriend, a prissy, narcissistic lawyer; Karen Walker, a wealthy, boozing, degenerate who was Grace’s assistant and a constant thorn in her side; and finally Jack McFarland, a neighbor and a flamboyantly gay, completely self-absorbed actor and performer wannabe.
As a writer and speaker, I live and breathe words, both figuratively and literally. Engaging others with words is what I love to do. To accomplish effective communication, I need proper tools of the trade. I need writing implements, hardware and software, and the training to properly construct the most relevant word combinations, which are all dependent on my target audience.
I, like many others of my generation, were heavily influenced by the 1969 film Easy Rider, which tracked the journey of two counterculture bikers traveling from Los Angeles to New Orleans in search of America. With a terrific soundtrack, including the biker anthem Born to be Wild, the film influenced a generation of future ‘bikers’, including yours truly.
I am writing this blog from 36,009 feet - or so says the seatback in front of me. I am flying across the country to an exciting client meeting where my colleagues and I will begin planning for the launch of their new brand. Almost every time we come to this point in the process, we refer the team back to what we call the “rainbow chart” - our simple explanation of how the not so simple concept of brand works.
I recently came across a web banner ad for chicken coops from Williams-Sonoma and was left a bit puzzled. I hadn't been searching online for chicken coops and I've never actually purchased anything from the prominent kitchenware brand. These chicken coops and other gardening supplies are technically sold under Williams-Sonoma's new spinoff gardening 'Agrarian' sub brand, but as you can see in the ad below, the "Williams-Sonoma" name is directly tied to a photo of chicken coops. Even on the Williams-Sonoma site, where the coops are sold, the Agrarian sub brand, represented by a subtle gray wordmark, is easily overlooked.
On Halloween morning 2013 legions of young Red Sox fans awoke to once again convince their parents to take them to the Red Sox victory parade. This is normal. The Red Sox get to the World Series all the time. And when they get there they win.
About a year ago LinkedIn launched a new feature: Endorsements. Anyone in your 1st degree circle can click a single button to endorse your stated skills (or add a few of their own liking). As they rack up, you end up with a bar chart of sorts that is supposed to indicate your strongest talents. Users are prompted to leave Endorsements pretty much every time they log in – and also every time someone endorses them. Depending on your settings, you will receive a congratulatory email or notification for every one received.
Few countries in the world live their brand better than France. How have they managed it for millennium?
Knowing that I was next on the schedule for writing a blog, I was wracking my brain trying to identify a topic of interest. And then there it was on my desk staring right at me —“Macy’s to open on Thanksgiving for the first time.”
Since the rise of social media, brands are consistently told it is imperative to have an “open dialogue” and “join the conversation”. But what happens when that conversation gets out of control and poses more danger to than good?
As I walked the aisles of my local Shop Rite over the weekend, a thought popped into my head. Grocery shopping used to be a no-brainer. Now, it’s become a political statement.
I'm more or less indifferent when it came to which department store I shop at. Sometimes it depended on which store carries the item I want, sometimes it's simply about the price, and sometimes it just depends on where I found parking.
“The sequel to my favorite game ever isn’t as good as the previous one! Publisher X has failed me and should be burned at the stake!” There are dozens of variations to the vocal gamer’s whining about their favorite series as the brand evolves over time. But what about the less vocal gamers, like myself, who are brand loyalists regardless of the changes and childish chatter?
I admit it. I watch some awful television shows. Real Housewives? Sign me up. Breaking Amish? I certainly was. Interior Therapy? Send Jeff Lewis on over to my house.
Chipotle Mexican Grill has released a new ad to promote a free iOS game in the form of a short film entitled "The Scarecrow."
Al Jazeera America launched on August 20th with much buzz and promotion, but with a very little audience. So what’s the problem? Why isn’t this brand engaging with more consumers?
I have a confession to make: I’ve been cheating on my toothpaste brand.
Local brands are gaining steam as large companies look to balance a global view with regional relevance. Which companies do you think are doing local best?
A new Fairway Market store opened very close to our office in Chelsea. I've enjoyed Fairway Market stores in the Upper East Side and Upper West Side, but have never had one close to work or my apartment. Needless to say, after months of eager anticipation I was a little excited about the store opening.
Every brand owner wants their product to stand out from the competition, something that is becoming more challenging in categories crowded with products—lost in a sea of sameness. This is especially true of technology in general and with smartphones specifically. And no matter how many bells and whistles smartphone companies add to the phone and/or to your phone plan, one of the biggest questions asked is, “does it come in different colors?”
Let me preface this discussion by saying, “I am not a car person.” Four wheels, safe and able to get me where I need to go is really all I ask from any automobile.
I recently got back from a weeklong vacation in Northern Italy on Lago Maggiore. We rented a house in a small town somewhat out of the way of the normal tourist pathways. Not speaking a word of Italian (besides the requisite few needed to order gelato), I was thankful to have my native-Italian mother-in-law with us to help handle the details. More than any other European trip I’ve ever taken, I was able to sit back, relax, and observe. The experience really underscored for me the importance of tone and manner – so much is conveyed by how you say something, not just the content of your words.
After spending 22 hours, across three days, standing behind a table and repeating the same pitches and talking points more times than I could count, I noticed that one-off transactions were great but it was the five minute conversations with passers-by that were more valuable. Those long-term relationship-building interactions are invaluable when you’re still building your brand, as I’ve been learning this year.
I became hooked on FX with the premiere of “Sons of Anarchy” in 2008. Sons of Anarchy, or SAMCRO to viewers of the show, is about an infamous outlaw motorcycle club hell-bent on protecting their sheltered little town, literally named Charming, from commercial developers and drug dealers. What girl doesn’t love a bad boy?
Ask anyone from Ohio who’s no longer living in the state about Skyline Chili and a wistful nostalgia seems to bring a smile to their face as they remember a steaming plate of spaghetti topped with uniquely spiced chili, beans, onions and a mound of grated cheese.
This is not your daddy’s Texas bowl of red.
Back in college I worked at a women’s fashion store in NYC that had a unique concept: front and center when you walked in was a comfy couch and some chairs, a TV, a table full of magazines, pretzels, coffee… and wine. The thought was, when women shop with their boyfriends or husbands, they would be more likely to stay longer and spend more money with the men happily occupied watching CNN or ESPN (if, in fact, those channels existed back in 1982…). It was a win-win: the women shopped longer and the men were happy, catching a few innings of the game AND earning additional brownie points for “shopping” with their girlfriends or wives.
The next Facebook/YouTube/Twitter/Etc. for [Insert target market here] websites and apps have been appearing at an exponential rate lately. All these clone-like services beg the question: just how do you differentiate a brand that is commoditizing social media?
Apple, Nike and Starbucks. These strong brands achieve high affinity among their customers and are revered by marketers. They are commonly classified as lifestyle brands and we can point to their legions of fans – that consider these brands integral to their lives – as proof.
While there has been a lot of hype about the Citibike NYC bike-sharing program, especially around its many false starts, the program has been up and running and in full gear as of June 2, 2013. As is typical with anything new that represents change or is out of our comfort zone, one half of New Yorkers were in favor the program and the other half found every reason under the sun why it would be bad for NYC.
There are times when the flag is displayed at half-staff eliciting a reaction where we would wonder, if we had not already heard the news, which prominent official had passed away? Who is ultimately responsible for managing the American flag and what it truly represents?
We've all heard about personal branding in business, but in your personal life, opportunities to brand yourself abound as well. How do you express your brand in your free time?
I recently took a trip to Alaska. During our two-week stay we experimented with a wide variety of transportation options. Every segment of the trip had staff go out of their way to ensure our comfort and satisfaction. There was one glaring exception: The airlines and airports.
Having recently attended my son’s high school graduation and witnessing 269 diplomas being awarded, I couldn’t help but allow my professional career to invade my personal life even during this momentous occasion.
A well-managed message and identity can be muddled when a brand redefines, reimages, or otherwise recreates itself. Retaining brand equity through brand evolutions is a challenge.
Successful project management equals a happy client. A happy client equals business longevity and everyone lives happily ever after. This is very simple concept that at first glance is as tranquil as enjoying a fairy tale. But fairy tales are in the realm of fiction, and it takes hard work to keep everyone blissful.
It’s one thing for a revered brand–be it a company, organization, or person–to have a fall from grace, and lose favorability and respect amongst its constituents. It’s quite another when that brand falls so low that it becomes the poster child or metaphor for failure itself.
In May, we released the next report in our BrandPower Series, focused on examining the attributes that comprise Favorability. For the sake of keeping the report a manageable length, we cut out one further layer of analysis that we’d now like to share with you: understanding how Perception of Management varies within the Top 100. What we found was fascinating.
After my first load of clothes dried, I heard music coming from the laundry room. When did household appliances become jukeboxes?
Brand experiences are subtle but ingrained into bookstores. Floor layouts, and lighting, customer engagement and even the checkout process are opportunities to build an engaging atmosphere between the store and the consumer. Some like to beat customers over the head with branded experiences, while others take a more balanced approach.
Inevitably, we brand strategy folks always ask our clients one key question: “You’re at a cocktail party, how would you describe what your company does?” Ironically, when I’m at a cocktail party (which is almost never) the same question results in one of two scenarios.
This date will always be known for one thing.
In the world of fast fashion, your employees can make all the difference.
Let’s take a look at two major consumer brands that approach a large-scale ad campaign differently: one that is becoming unwieldy and unsustainable, and another that never loses its core message.
With its over 3,000 employees at the Grande Luxxe resort in Nuevo Vallarta, Mexico, the parent Grupo Vidanta brand is delivered with flawless consistency. How do they do it?
We've covered NASCAR and the NFL, but with Opening Day just around the corner, there's only one sports brand that matters for the next half-year: Major League Baseball.
Ok. My turn. Hut Hut Hut. Three words that are in the American psyche. Here are another three: Super Bowl Sunday.
I have what some consider to be a “dirty little secret,” a “guilty pleasure” if you will. Do you know the significance of the phrase “Boogity, boogity, boogity?” How about the true significance and power of the number 3? If you do, then you’re familiar with one of the greatest branded sports in America.
Often times I find that “cool” brands are viewed with skepticism in the business-to-business arena. Buyers instinctually feel “cool” brands may be lacking substance, that they’re all form and no function, and that potentially, the cool factor may be covering up for some operational, service or product deficiency. I couldn’t disagree more.
When a recent lawsuit alleged Anheuser-Busch InBev has been watering down its best-selling brands of Budweiser, Michelob and others, effectively lowering the alcohol content, a little bit of that trust might have been spilled on the bar.
As branders, we preach that a company's brand is communicated through its corporate culture and, for some businesses, that the people themselves are the brand. So, do a person's "optional" "niceties" (grammar included) affect your perception of them? Of the company or brand they represent?
You do not have to be the next biggest, baddest, coolest thing out there to have a strong brand that produces results. Sometimes it’s hip to be square.
American Airlines recently unveiled a new logo that’s part of a multi-year effort to “re-brand” the airline, according to aa.com. Nice work, AA: You’ve put a shiny coat of lipstick on the proverbial pig and succeeded in giving “branding” a bad rap all at the same time.
Research in Motion becomes its hero brand, BlackBerry.
I can envision it now as the next reality show. The problem — it is reality in Florida. The solution: The 2013 Python Challenge. But is a hunt enough to get the job done? And how can such a niche audience be reached and utilized?
Good brands are built on a promise that the brand will consistently live up to certain expectations. In the midst of a severe crisis, the Lance Armstrong brand must re-establish its emotional connection with supporters.
The current market is saturated with portable systems, home consoles, PC game aggregators, phone and tablet games and various combinations thereof. How do companies find a way to enter such a diverse and competitive market? With the Consumer Electronics Show (CES) running this week, I’m betting this will be the time to find out.
Corporate brands can learn a lot from teen pop icon Justin Bieber who has built a brand that his audience can identify with, nurture relationships through and engage with as a form of self-expression.
Several major brands redesigned their logos for 2012. Here's a sampling. Whether refresh, rebirth, change in direction or — in one case — change of city, new logos introduced or prominently featured in 2012 ranged from subtle evolution to bold overhaul.
Sometimes having a brand that repels is a good thing. Or so we told a prospective client at a new business pitch recently. Following cries of vehement objection, we attempted to explain ourselves. A brand, repel? Isn’t it supposed to do exactly the opposite?
As we look back on 2012 through the lens of branding, there are a number of notable stories you can point to. Kodak and Twinkies teeter on the brink of extinction. Facebook struggles though its IPO yet retains a commanding place in the media landscape. Apple becomes the world’s most valuable company in history. Here at CoreBrand, we’ve asked our team of bloggers to take their own view on one brand story particularly notable or memorable for them. What is your most compelling brand story of the year?
Every Thanksgiving, one brand stands above all: Macy’s.
Call it a brand positioning, a brand promise, brand essence or brand idea. Whatever term your branding consultant uses, the Big Idea is ultimately what a client is buying. But how do they know if it’s the right idea? How can they be sure that their employees, leaders and customers will fall in love with it?
The quality of a relationship is often determined not by how one behaves in the best of times but rather by what happens during the worst of times. The anticipation and aftermath of Hurricane Sandy has clarified all kinds of relationships: personal, professional and commercial.
How does Best Buy evolve from its roots as the “best in the world at selling consumer electronics to millions of people” to an organization that meets the needs of today’s consumers and differentiates itself from today’s retailers?
“Humble bundles” have been fascinating to watch over time. The act of allowing consumers to valuate your products and set their own prices puts a lot of trust on the consumers and a lot of pressure on the product makers. This concept works for indie and small publisher companies, but how can the concepts translate to larger and more mainstream companies?
To commemorate its milestone of reaching one billion users, Facebook has released its first ad.
Branding firms work hard to make sure that a client’s brand achieves its goals and differs from competitors. But branding firms must also practice what they preach and actively manage their own verbal and visual messaging. This was the impetus for CoreBrand taking a close look at our own brand earlier this year.
A magazine ad for a popular parenting book promotes reader comments, warts and all — and suggests a new trend in advertising.
Brand is often thought of as a cost center but advocates prefer to think of it as an investment. When properly formulated and executed, a brand not only helps build awareness and favorability that benefits sales, it also helps streamline operational and communication processes. A strong brand increases corporate efficiency and accelerates the sales process.
Lego is celebrating its 80th birthday with an animated short film to tell its brand story. In addition to some interesting tidbits, the film illustrates that Lego isn't just another toy company.
A motto, slogan or tagline needs to be short, sweet and memorable. But does it need punctuation? Are taglines like “Rethink possible.” or “Save money. Live better.” more effective than taglines like “Don’t be evil” or “Impossible is nothing”? How much of a difference does a period make?
Every hotel has a sign somewhere in every room asking guests to do their part in conservation by reusing a towel. You save the planet, the hotel saves a little cash: It's a win-win. All for a good cause, right?
The Catskills region in upstate New York is poised for a rebrand. How does a famed historical destination build a brand that evolves its rich heritage into a contemporary profile?
Research In Motion has certainly proven how immobility or the lack of the ability to remain innovative and relevant amongst core and potentially new users can be detrimental to your brand’s on-going success. RIM has no doubt proven that even if your brand has claimed a leadership position at one point in time, retaining this leadership position requires a lot of on-going attention, hard work and dedication to ensuring that your brand is the best it can be.
For the first time in recent history there were no initial public offerings that came to market in the month of June, which is traditionally one of more active IPO months during the year. Are companies just waiting for the stars to align in the marketplace? Or, is there something more at play?
What marketing sees an investment, finance often sees as an expense. Here are five concepts that can help senior management rethink the bottom line value of marketing.
If you brand insurance for a living, you get to see insurance companies from the inside out. Sometimes it isn’t pretty.
Dollar Shave Club is a classic challenger brand that seeks to disrupt the marketplace, and it’s utilizing the elements of its brand as much as possible to help it do just that.
Mad Men has brought the inner workings of advertising and marketing back into the news, yet I have found inspiration for brand building elsewhere in the television landscape: The Brady Bunch.
Recently, I found myself in Las Vegas, a bastion of branding and consumerism. Not how most describe Las Vegas, you say? While many are gambling, laying poolside, going to shows and participating in unnamed debauchery, we brand geeks find Vegas to be a case study in branding do’s and don’ts.
There has been heightened talk over the past week about a pending merger between American Airlines (AMR Corp) and US Airways (US Airways Group Inc). Currently, American and US Airways rank as the 3rd and 5th largest airlines in the world, respectively, and a merger between the two would create the largest global airline. On the surface, one would assume that this is surely a win win for both airlines.
I can’t remember the last commercial that I liked as much as Nike’s current “I Would Run to You” spot for its Nike Free line of running shoes. I want to watch it. Again and again. I want to run to you. And not just the thirty-second version. I want all two and a half minutes of you.
The road to home entertainment nirvana has long been the Bermuda Triangle of the technology world. It is a promise we’ve heard before: the simple, seamless home entertainment experience. Enter Ikea, the world’s largest furniture retailer. Yes, Ikea.
Ellen Sluder, Director of Business Development, guest-posts on the Duets Blog. She talks about how branding tips translate to parental life.
In his 2005-released song “27 Jennifers” Mike Doughty sings, “I went to school with 27 Jennifers, 16 Jenns, 10 Jennies.” The prevalence of a popular name made it difficult to differentiate one girl from another until the singer meets “the one” that stands out. Naming in the branding world is facing a similar crisis of finding available names for companies and products.
A rumor is spreading that Amazon may open a boutique retail store in their hometown of Seattle later this year, just in time for the next holiday season.
Branding has the power to change organizations. Great brands offer a blueprint, a beacon, a horizon for goals, behaviors and attitudes. Great brands unite organizations and drive a passion for success. We say all of this as brand consultants. Making this happen is something that never ceases to be an exciting and rewarding experience.
In a time when brands manage their employees to build positive engagements with their customers, it’s amazing how far simple recognition for their efforts can go...
DC Comics has announced a new identity and logo architecture that looks to be rolling out in spring. The teaser images being posted all over the Internet show potential. Will DC’s new positioning measure up to their new image? I certainly hope so.
How will the recent Costa Concordia cruise ship disaster off the coast of Italy impact Carnival Corporation's corporate brand?
Certain social issues polarize companies. The Stop Online Piracy Act (SOPA) has caused an online blackout of several protesting websites, self-censoring their logos, homepages, and offerings. Is it an effective stance for companies to take on the issue? Yes.
As evidenced by world famous brands or kids names, brands and names become the logical extension of strategic thinking. A CEO’s vision for the company, its products and its services will color his/her choices for a company name and how that brand best reflects that vision. What you are really trying to do is tell the world how to experience you and how to think about you.
Do customers make a brand good or does a good brand make for good customers? One brand that has been gaining more visibility as it grows financially and geographically is Trader Joe’s. And it’s starting to show up as one of those beloved brands.
Louis C.K. is a painfully funny and insightful comedian. He is also a single individual making direct connections across a distributed fan base in a way that is perfectly aligned with who he is and what he is all about.
With Black Friday and Cyber Monday, some retailers are being pushed to the limits as they try to meet overwhelming customer demand while still delivering on their brand promise.
Is borrowing the familiarity and favorability from a trusted company, in an entirely different industry, a good corporate branding strategy?
Coke’s holiday ads tend to break out of the holiday clutter in a very refreshing way. But has Coca-Cola stretched this a little too far when trying to stay true to the overall theme of this year’s holiday promotion?
I often wonder what our Brand Power Rankings would look like if we were measuring celebrities and their personalities.
Two researchers at the University of Oxford found in a behavioral study that consumers, when properly rewarded, often make better decisions when they have less concrete information.
As crazy as it sounds, the Columbia University Marching Band was banned from the final football game of the season for taunting its team.
Deception and cover up as a brand management strategy isn’t recommended for the long-term health of a corporation’s reputation.
A good reputation must never be taken for granted. Periodic self-examination and independent third party research among key constituencies are ways to make sure that unseen problems are exposed, evaluated, and acted upon.
Recently, The Gap announced that it would be closing 21% of its stores in the United States by 2013. What has happened to this corporation that once set the standard of aspiration for other retailers?
Communication is the key to a healthy relationship. While most apply this to their personal lives, it is equally applicable to brands and their clients.
The debit card as a substitute for cash movement is about to hit bump in the road. The biggest banks in the nation will soon begin to charge a monthly fee to folks who shop via debit card.
Thank you, Steve Jobs.
How long will Bank of America be temporarily unavailable before their corporate brand is affected?
What will the true impact of the Netflix/Qwikster split be for these brands once the transition is complete? That's what I've been wondering following the announcement.
Traditional advertising techniques just don't cut it in this social media centric age. And yet, sometimes, revamping an old technique can be just what you need to build a new brand platform.
I previously commented to Netflix's lack of communicating when it came to the pricing and service changes they made. I signed off with the sentence: "If they ever go purely digital, I sincerely hope they explain their reasoning better than they have for this service split."
On August 8, 2011 I lay awake at 01:00 GMT anxious to hear how Asian markets would respond to Standard and Poor’s historic downgrading the credit worthiness of the United States of America. Beyond my personal concerns, my professional interest turned to the McGraw-Hill brand, the corporate owner of Standard and Poor’s. How would these events affect them? Is their brand immune to short-term factors and a public crisis? Can their brand be measured, even in this volatile and unprecedented market? In a word, yes.
The recent events in Greece, Portugal, Spain and the US (i.e., the debt circus) force all of us in the brand world to ponder if and how one can go about managing a country’s brand and brand reputation. Is it possible at all?
For those who still take comfort in the tactile sense of picking up and then reading a book, the demise of Borders was yet another affront. More proof positive that businesses that don’t keep pace with societal change are destined to obsolescence. But what about the Borders brand, its value and its promise, its loyal users, employees and stockholders? Does the brand have any value, even when it has physically disappeared?
Along with several million people out there, I recently received an email from Netflix stating that their services would be splitting between the DVDs and the streaming options, which drastically affects their pricing structure. The blunt email let me know of my choice between an approximate 60% price increase for the same level of service, or an approximate 15% price decrease if I choose either DVDs or streaming. No explanation as to why they're initiating this change or what the advantages will be, depending on my choices.
A few people thought I was being a little hard on Nationwide’s pitchman Dale Earnhardt Jr. when I picked on him for his regional pronunciation of “insurance” a while back.
MySpace, the site that arguably invented social media, was sold yesterday for a paltry $35 million. Since News Corp bought it in 2005, the site has lost a whopping 94% of its value.
In an open letter to McDonald’s CEO James A. Skinner, 550 health professional and organizations asked McDonald’s to stop making Happy Meals® and to retire Ronald McDonald. Many of the letter signers believe the clown entices children to eat McDonald’s food that is high in saturated fats.
As the PlayStation Network (PSN) returns from its offline status, Sony consumers can breathe a sigh of collective relief. The dark night has finally ended, and a new dawn of Internet gaming can commence. But how has Sony fared during those long three weeks of media attention and consumer ridicule?
Aflac, Inc. averted what could have been a major public relations nightmare when they fired comedian Gilbert Gottfried, the longtime voice of the Aflac Duck, for the incredibly insensitive remarks he tweeted immediately after Japan’s earthquake and tsunami.
The city of Altoona, PA will become "POM Wonderful Presents: The Greatest Movie Ever Sold," after being offered $25,000 for the naming rights for 60 days by the filmmaker Morgan Spurlock.
Since their inception, American unions have stood for workers rights and fair treatment. They have built their collective brand around American craftsmanship and quality brilliantly executed by The Made in the USA. Even if you were never in a union, your great-grandfather probably was and you understood the struggles symbolized in the logo.
For two days this week a host of major brands and marketing agencies and technology companies gathered in a hotel in San Francisco to talk and tweet about social media. And about McWinning.
On Monday, Obama officially entered the 2012 presidential race. Being the incumbent, he dropped his campaign tagline “Change we can believe in.” He can’t claim to be a Washington outsider anymore and many, from both sides of the political spectrum, question if he’s living up to his brand promise. From a marketing perspective, how will Obama continue to evolve his branding to remain credible and relevant? The new 2012 presidential logo is a good start.
It’s official. Ken and Barbie are a couple again. Though it seems Ken has had some “work” done. His face looks completely different — more like a recently graduated collegiate football player than a distinguished 50-year old. And he’s a newly-minted movie star, having scored a leading role in last year’s Toy Story 3.
Last week, Columbia Business School’s Center on Global Brand Leadership hosted the Brite ’11 Conference. The two-day event focused on using new technologies and new methods of integration in marketing and branding.
The twitterati were all abuzz last week when Chrysler’s social marketing agency dropped the F-bomb on a Chrysler Twitter account. But why the schoolmarm reaction? Detroit ain’t Disneyworld.
Borders is biting the proverbial dust, filing for Chapter (no pun intended) 11. It’s only a matter of time before all their stores turn off their lights one last time. How has one of my favorite companies managed to fall apart at the seams?
I'll admit it: I watch American Idol. In fact, I DVR Idol. Like, who doesn't, right? But can a brand that grew up with such strong personalities as Simon and Paula survive a(nother) changing of the guard?
I’m as much of a fan of Dale Earnhardt Jr. as the next man. But I always got a giggle when I'd hear him on TV pitching Nationwide EN-surance. Until now.
A seemingly ridiculous lawsuit was all over the radio this morning. Ford is suing Ferrari for naming its new Formula One racecar the F-150, the same name as Ford’s flagship line of pickup trucks.
“Insurance is sold, it’s not bought,” the old adage goes. That seems even truer today with the spate of insurance TV advertising dominated by an ever wider growing cast of sales spokespeople representing different property and casualty insurance companies.
It's no secret that I'm a big fan of Disneyland. When I was a child my family would visit the park at least once a year, and to this day I still get butterflies every time I see the Matterhorn from the I-5 freeway.
A take on what stood out, both good and bad, from last night’s Super Bowl commercials, with an old-fashioned twist: no DVR, no computer.
The recent fuss over Starbucks’ logo change has brought up an emotional and seemingly contentious design topic: the nameless logo.
Conventional wisdom tells us that the average fast food consumer would be unfazed by claims that Taco Bell’s beef is actually “taco meat filling”. Taco Bell’s brand has never been based on quality ingredients, it’s al about cheap, fast and filling.
The new NBCUniversal identity seems to breed uncertainty.
It’s not even February and we’ve already survived three “named” storms in 2011. What’s next?
I got two emails from LinkedIn the other day. The first invited me, as an expert, to participate in a research study about my field. But wait a second, LinkedIn doing a research study?
The new Starbucks logo, which drops the company name is a bad idea.
Another logo change, another media frenzy. But the new Starbucks logo is just one part of their identity system.
While the US is stuck in an economic rut due to years of overspending and a government that keeps piling on more debt, Canada has been improving its image and appeal to business.
In a city where the bars never close, you can catch a movie at four AM, and tourists flock from around the world, I’m wondering why the tree at Rockefeller Center keeps such short hours.
Brought to life in 1977, GM’s Goodwrench Service program will be no more as of February 2011. I sure am gonna miss that Goodwrench guy. He was good people.
A lot of people, apparently.
Let’s say you were responsible for the biggest bankruptcy in the history of the United States and that you had to rely on the American people to bail you out. To thank the public for that bailout, you decide to run a brand new corporate advertising campaign on national television on Thanksgiving Day.
There’s been a lot of discussion for a long time about less than healthy foods making claims about their healthful and good-for-you attributes. (Trix is part of a balanced breakfast!) But who ever thought that someone with a really, truly healthy product would go in the other direction?
The Art Institute of Chicago is home to masters such as Picasso and Manet. But in the design and architecture section, I was surprised to find a framed copy of the brand guidelines for Obama’s 2008 presidential campaign logo.
On Monday, October 4th, the Gap surprised everyone with a new logo “evolution” in an effort to be more contemporary and make the Gap more relevant to the next generation of customers. By now, we all know how it turned out. But had it truly been an evolution, I think the story might have ended in a different way.
To help aid the rescue efforts of the Chilean miners, Oakley sent authorities in Chile about 35 pairs of its high end Radar model UV-blocking sunglasses. Some report that the glasses go retail for as high as $450 per pair. That’s a donation of up to $15,750… not counting shipping.
I couldn’t even begin to count the number of technology, manufacturing and service companies that have described their ideal branding scenario as "kind of like Intel Inside." Now Intel will move forward in the consumer electronics space in a much less conspicuous fashion than they historically had in the PC space — i.e. without use of the "Intel Inside" badge.
A recent Bloomberg article struck me as a stark example of the value — and power — a global brand can wield.
I was very surprised to see in a recent survey that Goldman Sachs was ranked number one for being the best firm to work at within the banking industry. The survey conducted by Vault.com took into account prestige among bankers outside the firm and the firm’s quality of life among employees. Similar results were found in an earlier survey conducted by Glassdoors.com.
It is the battle of the specialist vs. the generalist, the purpose-built vs. the purposeful, the solo virtuoso vs. New York Philharmonic. A new commercial for the Kindle takes a direct shot at the iPad, focusing on e-book performance and price. In a world where your phone is your camera is your music player is your datebook is your gaming device is your GPS, can the superior book reading experience of a Kindle overcome the amazing versatility of the iPad? Staying focused on a singular superior experience is the Kindle’s only possible formula for success.
At first I didn’t know why what Derek Jeter did bothered me so much. Derek Jeter says he doesn’t understand why fans are so bothered by his actions. Now it’s clear that the problem is about another trusted brand gone wrong.
In the branding world, with online and software brands in particular, the expanded roster of not-yet-ready-for-primetime products is often introduced to the market under cover of “Labs” or “Beta” designation. Intended in part to abdicate the brand from responsibility, a Labs or Beta label is kind of like saying: “Let the buyer beware.”
Should BP be communicate, or be silent? Or, is $5 million a week a small amount to reassure the American public of BP’s intent to stay to course and do the right thing? Rep. Kathy Castor, D-Florida, claims that BP has spent more on “polishing the corporate image” than on helping the impacted states to recover from the disaster.
Recently, I received a piece of mail with an urgent message on the front of the envelope: “Janice, why haven’t we heard from you?” As I read the return address, I was perplexed, and then angry. “Well”, I thought, “Perhaps because I am not yet a doddering, retired, senior citizen”…and promptly tossed the envelope in the recycle bin.
I don’t think that there’s anyone (my age) who hasn’t at some point in their career dragged out the conversation starter about how the modern branding industry grew out of the Old West practice of branding cattle with a hot iron bearing a distinctive mark. Everyone kind of got it, and everyone felt better about this honest, traditional American work we were all keeping alive.
Perhaps I am drinking my own Kool-Aid a bit too much, but I continue to be amazed at the disconnect I often see between "the brand" and "the business" with corporate clients.
Gone are the days of Kmart being your one stop shop for all household goods now, Kmart can be your one stop shop for well, everything…
Add another thing to think about in managing a global brand: Beware folks hi-jacking your brand name through Google AdSense.
Yesterday, a JetBlue flight attendant lost it at JFK.
After a brouhaha with a passenger, Steven Slater, a 20-year veteran of the airline industry, cursed out the non-compliant flyer over the P.A., grabbed a beer, popped the emergency chute, slid to the tarmac and raced to his home in Queens.
I have been flying for over fifty years. A lot has changed from my first flight on a noisy DC-7 traveling from Los Angeles to Denver to my longest flight in the flat bed of business class on a 747-800 from Hong Kong to New York. Innovation in aircraft design has advanced many times over the years. Technology has improved inside planes as well. I have seen in-flight entertainment go from a piano bar in the first 747 upper deck, to telephones and video games in seat backs, movies on demand in armrests, live TV with 25 channels, and now WI-FI.
Commuting to and from CoreBrand’s LA office, I think about a lot of things. Mostly about how we really need to get an office closer to my home. But I also get to spend a fair amount of time staring at backends. Of cars.
Kleenex. Xerox. Jeep. When a trademark enters the vernacular as a generic term, a business may embark on a questionable strategy to recapture ownership of the mark. Case in point: Jacuzzi.
In the 1980 movie, Caddyshack, Ty Webb (Chevy Chase) gave advice for improving at golf: Forget everything else and “Be the ball.” This week, actor Ashton Kutcher applied the concept to branding.
An underrated phenomenon is lurking on the periphery of online consciousness — online brand aggregation. The trend of integrating social media accounts, email accounts, RSS feeds, blogs, news sites, and whatever other interests you happen to have, all into one convenient package.
If this is a bid to generate some media and viral buzz, it is brilliant. What better way to remind the world that Chevy is woven into the fabric of Americana than by banning the nickname and inspiring a campaign to bring it back? But, if GM is truly on the warpath to strike Chevy from the vernacular, well that’s plain folly. And a bad move for a brand that continues to struggle with relevance.
Jim Gregory, CEO and Andrew Bogucki, Executive Creative Director make their respective cases for the new Seattle’s Best Coffee logo. Grab your preferred cup of caffeine and read on to see who takes which side of the debate.
The Hartford, the venerable and trusted financial services company, turned 200 years old last week. Happy birthday!
The past few years have seen significant consolidation in the health care industry in the US. Driven in large part by the changing dynamics of the marketplace, hospitals are merging and regional health systems are emerging — raising some intriguing issues about the role that brands play in our national health care system.
As with previous brand launches, the iPad enters a market that has already existed, but is being raised to a completely new level. There are new controversies, criticisms, and an increased sense of competition. Mainly due to the iPad effectively summing up what a tablet PC should be: light, quick and easy to use.
Logorama is a strange 16 minute film that won an Oscar in the short film category last night. I’m not sure of the entertainment value of the film for those outside the corporate identity business, but speaking for myself it is quite entertaining to look for client logos in the whirlwind of identities.
When Naomi Klein wrote her book No Logo ten years ago, I refused to waste my time making a comment because it was so void of value for the reader that it would die a natural death. I believed the minor sensation it created was mostly on college campuses and in the offices of a few business executives.
After US Airways ditched flight 1549 and the 155 people onboard into the Hudson River in January 2009, how is it possible that the airline’s Brand Power turned upward?
Tiger Woods’ recent domestic issue/car accident brings to the fore, once again, the risks associated with celebrity endorsement. Tiger is an über-brand, the face of a whole bunch of brands – Nike, Buick, Tag Heuer, Accenture, Gatorade, Gillette, etc. – not to mention the PGA itself. Out clauses are standard fare for brands in celebrity relationships – so if the situation continues to metastasize, the brands may well have the option to cut their losses and move on.
When looking to create a new corporate identity or product brand name sometimes it makes sense to look at the recently departed brands instead of cranking up the naming machine. Brand equity has a half-life that survives long after a brand or company expires or is merged into extinction. That brand equity can still be brought back to life if the brand’s reputation is unscathed and the concept fits with your business strategy.
jetBlue shakes it up once again. The airline business – an industry filled with impenetrable pricing schemes, a continuous stream of bankruptcy filings and scores of fees for previously complimentary services – has long shown signs that the incumbent business model is a relic of another time. Consumers (and ever-tightening business customers) demand transparency. The airline industry is anything but. Perhaps, that is, until today. In what is currently a limited time promotion, jetBlue is offering customers “All-You-Can-Jet” for travel beginning next month.
USIS came to CoreBrand in late 2008 as a company made up of three industry leaders. Yet as powerful as each of these components was on its own, the leadership team at USIS knew that the big opportunity hinged on bringing these companies together under a common vision and a common promise. They needed a rich and compelling new brand to help align their businesses today while serving as a beacon to drive the growth of tomorrow. And, with our help, that is exactly what they have. Say hello to Altegrity!
I have to say, “I don't get it.” My first visit to Bing left me a little confused. Ready to satisfy my curiosity about all of the Bing hype, I arrived on the homepage for the first time this past weekend to see an image of Miami. “Hmmm?” I thought. I moused around on some of the hotspots and nothing was that compelling, so I hit refresh to see if I’d get something new. Miami. Miami. Miami. Each time I hit refresh it was the same.
Talk about drinking your own Kool-Aid. Delta Airlines announced this week that their newly revamped Sky Magazine ("a dynamic new lifestyle publication") will now be available at bookstores and newsstands nationwide for $3.99. Hmm. OK, so the seemingly always struggling airline has decided that their path to salvation lies in an investment into the magazine publishing business, which itself has been struggling mightily due to rising printing/distribution costs, changing readership habits and a weak advertising market. There's a sound move. What's next? Maybe they can still get into the video rental business.
All of a sudden, Twitter is everywhere. And it seems everyone (brands and consumers alike) is trying to figure out how to use it. In the business world, anecdotes run the gamut from the cautionary to curious to game-changing.
In California, there are very few icons that both halves of the state can embrace - especially when it comes to fast food. When In-N-Out Burger made its way up the coast, Northern Californians like me rejoiced (and Southern Californians became just a little more smug). Even Taco Bell, which first opened here in the Golden State, has a special place in our ... stomachs. And then there's Jack, the beloved icon and figurehead (pun intended) of Jack in the Box.
Over the next few months the Sci-Fi Channel will be rebranding itself. After expanding their lineup to include supernatural, paranormal, fantasy, and wrestling; their image evolved accordingly with the “What if?” tagline. Altering their name to SyFy however, with the tagline of “Imagine Greater,” feels a bit short of the mark fans of the station have set.
Tropicana announced this week that they are killing a repackaging effort that was brought to market with some fanfare just a few weeks ago. The problem was a pretty simple one: bad design.
How can a company maintain a healthy, diverse brand portfolio, when the consumer base is spending less and less? The Big Three automakers have been facing this dilemma for a while now, as the economic climate and consumer shift to smaller cars have battered the automotive industry. That product brand diversity is now a weight, dragging them down. And no amount of government handouts will lighten the load.
Samsung has tapped into the brand strategy of aesthetics leading functionality in one of their product lines. In this case, laser printers. The key – function must be an immediate 2nd to the form, otherwise quality is sacrificed and the product becomes a glorified paperweight. Samsung’s move to incorporate form and function as a key component of their brand is reflective of their shift in corporate strategy from “fast follower” to “leader”.
Polaroid is best known for their large, blocky cameras that would spit out a square photograph that would develop before your very eyes. Everyone had his or her tricks to speed up the development: blow on it, shake it quickly, etc. The venerable Polaroid brand was in a class of photography all their own. Up until now, Polaroid had never adequately responded to the digital boom, which took away the novelty of instant viewing. But now, the Polaroid PoGo camera is poised to bring the Polaroid brand back into peoples lives.
HSBC’s print ads are easily identifiable – a solid red border, a repeated image, and a strong one-liner that embodies their brand. HSBC’s ad campaign utilizes several strong and effective tactics to gain attention. A majority of the ads involve a single image, copied three times, with a different value printed over each copy of the image. HSBC’s tagline gives the impression HSBC understands different people and locations have different values. Promoting themselves as “The world’s local bank,” HSBC gives the feeling of having the insight on local values, combined with the strength and reliability of a global infrastructure.
Hotels, restaurants, office buildings – they all utilize traditional cleaning agents that are costly to make, costly to dispose of, yet essential to maintaining a safe and healthy work or living area. A small Massachusetts startup offers an alternative, a patented electrolysis device. If utilized properly, it could bring dozens of companies, if not whole industries, further into the “green” era of corporate environmentalism while dramatically changing the marketing landscape of the cleaning and disinfectant industry.
Burger King is currently rolling out a new ad campaign. Part traditional marketing technique, part unique Burger King twist. This particular ad campaign is using the traditional taste test, utilizing “Whopper Virgins”: people and communities unfamiliar with a hamburger, let alone the global burger brand.
Traditional funding methods within the financial industry have become less reliable, or dried up altogether. Companies like Goldman Sachs are redefining who they are and what they do. Goldman Sachs just recently evolved into a bank holding company. Now they are continuing their evolution by contemplating the creation of an online banking operation.
Google, in its comparatively short history, has managed to rewrite several chapters of the corporate rulebook. Their Brand Power rank, a CoreBrand tracking statistic, has been rising steadily ever since we started tracking them. The biggest challenge facing Google today, is ironically, themselves. Their R&D practices, which have made them so successful, are now one of the main reasons the company is facing troubles in the economic downturn.
America’s corporate image has become tarnished over the years. A handful of companies are seeking to bring some of that shine back to our national brand. The Business Ethics Leadership Alliance (BELA) is a new initiative, which hopes to create ethical credentials that companies can obtain and utilize to rebuild global trust in American companies.
Snapple has always taken their brand seriously, even through lighthearted advertising campaigns. Recently Snapple has made efforts to better exemplify their motto “made from the best stuff on earth” and improve their recipe’s quality.
The largest global bottled water industry is having a hard time battling the image of bottled water being environmentally wasteful. As the green wave continues to roll against every industry in an attempt to curb excess waste and non-recyclable materials, bottled water, along with other bottled drinks are challenged to prove that their products are environmentally conscious. To break away from a negative brand image, Nestlé is shifting consumers’ attention to water’s health benefits compared to sugar-laden sodas.
Corporations are having trouble justifying the expense of reserving a 30 second commercial spot during the Super Bowl. This scenario is nothing new, but the economic backdrop has changed significantly since even last year’s Super Bowl. With countless corporations reporting losses over multiple quarters, they are cutting back on spending in every department they can afford to do so. Several of the brands that are regularly represented in the half time show are wavering this year, as money gets tighter and tighter.
Several companies are eyeing the Internet Corporation for Assigned Names and Numbers (ICANN), as it proposes to roll out several dozen new website suffixes, to join the 21 already in use. Some of the suggested suffixes have great potential for brand building, like .bank and .hotel. Others could be incredibly hazardous if utilized by the wrong people, like .verizon.
Whole Foods, known for their natural and organic groceries has been switching their multiple financial and marketing tactics amid the current economic downturn in the hopes of maintaining some of their upward momentum. From cutting back store openings to a shifting of their brand image.
Even with the rumors of the new administration considering yet another stimulus package to help increase consumer spending, it will take more than a Christmas bonus from the government to get consumers to open up their wallets this holiday season. Consumers are focusing on the “biggest bang for your buck” concept this holiday season; the retail industry is in a tight position of supplying the consumer’s demands, while also turning a profit.
Panasonic, having just switched their corporate name from Matsushita, is now setting its eyes on taking Sanyo under its wings. Both electronics brands have a strong brand image in the global market, albeit for slightly different products. This combination, if implemented strategically would place Panasonic on the same pedestal as Hitachi, in terms of size.
As sales are down and production costs are up, automotive makers are being hit hard in this current economy. General Motors and Chrysler are still in merger discussions, strategizing funding options for the potential combination.
Pepsi has always been an iconic brand, with an iconic logo. Every few decades, the logo is redesigned, to better portray the company as the industry evolves. A few mockup of a proposed new logo redesign have been published in AdAge and online blogs, and the Internet is awash with consumer feedback. A lot of it negative and derogatory.
McDonald’s is in a position to effectively dominate that middle ground between fast-food coffee economy and premium coffee quality. It is just a matter of effectively convincing consumers that McDonald’s’ “beverage specialists” are a viable option to go to for that morning cup of caffeine.
Goldman Sachs has reported of plans to cut 10% of their current workforce, further adding to the list of job losses on Wall Street. According to CoreBrand’s syndicated tracking data, their brand power has been chipped away by the failing financial industry over the past several quarters. Considering the constant shifting of power within the industry as failing brands go bankrupt, get seized, or get acquired by competitors, it can only be guessed as to whether this move by Goldman Sachs will be sufficient enough, or merely a short-term plug for a leaking ship.
Will companies like Bank of America, be able to adequately integrate the brands it has acquired? Having the financial strength of Bank America will assure shareholders and investors. But it is the brand reputation that consumers recognize. The image of a strong and solid bank is needed now more than ever in these troubled times.
Another stimulus package has been proposed, this time endorsed by federal chairman Bob Bernanke. It is doubtful at best to imagine that this will be the fix-all to the current financial woes that have shaken the financial industry to its very foundations. Especially considering the damage has spread across multiple other industries, from retail to personal care products, as the credit markets struggle to unfreeze.
As the credit markets finally show encouraging signs of thawing on Monday, the Dow Jones surged 4.7%, only to fall the rest of the week with a small rally at the end of the week. Most analysts cautioned that the light at the end of the tunnel is further away than it may appear, and would look to be correct. Analysts will argue time frames of months to quarters in regards to when the financial situation will solidify and start a dependable upwards trend again. What does this financial roller coaster mean for corporate brands? What can leadership and employees do, brand-wise, to ensure that their companies weather the storm?
There has been a great deal of interest over the past decade or so in “audio branding”. A short-scale of notes or a “jingle,” as it’s been called since the dawn of advertising, can be a powerful tool to help create an imprint of a brand in a consumer’s mind. Audio brands such as NBC’s venerable three bell-tones or Intel’s four-pulse signoff are as recognizable as their logos.
Although it has prided itself as a company iconically known for its software, Microsoft made little visible effort to improve its product recognition during a new ad campaign. Apple Inc., Microsoft’s main competitor in the eyes of consumers, has been polishing its image of being trendy, stylish, and modern. Microsoft’s new ad campaign, on the other hand, has provided little to stimulate consumer imagination. If anything, the latest Microsoft ad has hurt its brand image even more than Apple’s “Mac vs. PC” ads.
Online auctioneer Ebay , known more for its bargain prices and bidding wars then social entrepreneurship, has partnered with fair-trade start-up World of Good Inc to launch a new “green marketplace” WorldofGood.com . This new online store will feature brands and products that provide consumers with an opportunity to support sustainable practices as well as a variety of important causes.
Schlitz Beer, a brand once known for making Milwaukee famous, has been dormant since the early 1980s. However, if a brand establishes a solid foundation on quality and reliability of services and products, consumers may remain loyal even after dry spells. This is proving to be true for Schlitz Beer, which is making a steady comeback with the help of the current brand owner, Pabst Brewing Company.
As companies and brands grow in size, market share, and audience, the following question is always a possibility: Is our brand image still relevant, or have we evolved to the point of needing a brand revision? The Catch-22 of evolving a brand image out of the interest of the company and its investors can threaten the consumer loyalty. For example, would changing the Sci-Fi Channel brand better embody its “What if?” theme, or would it merely dilute the Sci-Fi Channel brand and result in audience defection?
The classic story of the tortoise and the hare is an iconic children’s fable with a solid business moral. In today’s world, the parable of “slow and steady wins the race” is rarely exemplified. In fact, it closely resembles a frantic game of Monopoly – buy now or pay rent to someone else.
With global stock markets officially in bear territory and the mortgage crisis continuing to roil world economies, it would be easy to say that there’s no good news on the business pages. Look again.
As Windows XP is reaching the last months of its marketing life, after several extensions due to consumer demand, is it finally time for Windows Vista to shine? Speculation says, unlikely. Windows Vista, despite its various upgrades and improvements over its XP predecessor, has been underwhelming in the market. Consumers still “downgrade” new computers to Windows XP, from Vista. What image does that give to a product, when the predecessor is in more demand?
The media’s ever increasing negative coverage of China is stamping the entire country with a tainted “Made in China” brand image. This sullied impression, which now includes the repression of Tibet, is in danger of shrouding the upcoming Olympics. As local politics, environmental concerns, and product quality quickly diminish the glow of the country’s positive spotlight, corporate sponsors for the Olympics are filled with alarm as they see their own images damaged by association with the Chinese government’s misguided strategies.
As Take-Two Interactive rolls out one of the most eagerly anticipated video games of the year, “Grand Theft Auto IV”, the company’s stock price has danced around $26, a share range that EA had previously offered as a bid towards its rival company. This attempted amalgamation has been EA’s crack at regaining dominance in the interactive entertainment industry after the merger of Blizzard and Activision created a commercial giant that effectively dethroned EA as video game king.
Advanced Micro Devices (AMD), known for its Opteron microprocessors, is extending its brand into the computer market. Targeting small and medium sized businesses, AMD is attempting to revitalize lost market share from rival Intel. After six consecutive quarters of losing market share to this formidable competitor, AMD needs to recognize the urgency to revitalize its brand.
T-Mobile, Deutsche Telekom’s U.S. wireless division, is demanding that popular technology news blog Engadget Mobile stop using the color magenta in its logo. Exclusive use of magenta? That’s absurd.
David Krantz, VP of Business Development at AT&T recently presented a new web browser called “AT&T Pogo”. The CoreBrand interactive group is already testing web solutions on a dozen or more web browsers for our clients to make sure our projects are up to brand and web standards. So, my first reaction: “Oh boy, just what we need, yet another web browser!” (With each of the leading browsers having its share of quirks and proprietary standards, it is already a challenge for web developers to create a consistent experience across platforms.) And my second reaction: What is AT&T up to? Is this an effort to continue to shake off its phone company heritage and more closely tie its brand to the promise of IP? Or are they, as they say, truly looking to create a better web experience for everybody?
Mention the brand Dow Chemical and the associations might conjure up some of the worst industrial nightmares against humanity: Napalm, Agent Orange, Dioxin. But branding and its avatar, advertising, can be the most transformative of communications, transmuting negative perceptions into shiny new visions of a corporation.
As of April 1st, JetBlue has begun charging an additional fee for seats with 4 more inches of legroom. For an airline that has always had a single class cabin, has prided itself on the use of the pronoun “we” and has leveraged its founder’s propensity to fly amongst customers, this is a bad idea.
It is interesting to see how some brand mascots fade into obscurity while others return decades later in triumph. This recurring phenomenon gives companies the encouragement to build and maintain brand mascots for both current and future generations. However, just as a favorable current or retired mascot can illuminate brand reputation, so can a flawed mascot tarnish brand respectability.
This could be the year. Coast to coast, from Camden Yards to Great American Ballpark to Safeco Field, the aura of possibility is palpable. This is our year!
Opening Day is on Sunday night! Or did it already happen in Japan? Or is it really on Monday? All of the above, kind of. And that’s where Major League Baseball has lost sight of some of its magic.
Common wisdom has it that joint ventures can’t last. Typically, they serve a purpose of business extension or expansion for a time – and, once fully established, are spun off or bought out by one of the partners. Fuji Xerox is an exception to this principle. The success of this 45-year-old company (75% owned by Fuji Film; 25% by Xerox Corporation) stands both as a testament to the staying power of a successful joint venture and as a warning to the staying power of a successful joint venture.
The Rocawear clothing brand recently released an interesting ad campaign focusing on strength through adversity, a theme that embodies not only the Rocawear brand but also the hip-hop music industry the brand promotes. This current campaign features notable people from the media who have faced great adversities yet persevered.
After a five-year battle against Toshiba, the Sony Corporation has won the high definition DVD format war. Through brand leveraging, its Blu-ray technology scored a victory over production studios and consumers alike. The previous video format war of the late ‘70s pitted Sony’s Betamax against JVC’s VHS. JVC was the conqueror at the end of that competition since the Betamax brand could not capture enough market shares to gain sufficient support.
Philip Morris International’s (PMI’s) move to become a standalone entity from Altria gives the tobacco giant a greatly improved ability to leverage its cigarette brands in developing countries where the number of smokers is increasing dramatically.
The world's best companies realize just how much of a business asset their brands can be. They understand that their brand personifies all their other efforts. And as we all know, Apple gets it. But let’s examine how this technology giant puts its brand first in every effort they undertake.
Nintendo managed to capture old and new fans with the unique aesthetic design and gimmick controller of the Nintendo Wii console. This is not enough. Unfortunately, for Nintendo the company has failed at one of the most important factors in brand management, supply management. Since the console’s release, Nintendo has underestimated consumer demand, which has given their competitors, Microsoft and Sony, time to tout their brand availability and superior graphics capabilities.
In December, there was a killing spree in a Nebraska mall where the murderer cast some light on his twisted behavior. His simple goal was to become "famous."
In a January 5 interview with Collin Levy for the Wall Street Journal, Virgin Group CEO Richard Branson was quite candid about one of his rare product failures, Virgin Cola.
In approximately one year’s time, analog signals for television broadcasting will be replaced with digital. All current television sets are produced to accommodate this change. Older television sets will need a converter box to receive the new digital signals. LG Electronics is at the forefront of the converter box initiative, being the first company to be certified by the National Telecommunications and Information Administration (NTIA).
The Super Bowl had all the usual great commercials, but my favorite one appeared just prior to the kick-off.
Everyone is familiar with the one-armed bandits of any casino. You put in a coin, pull the handle, and 9 times out of ten, you lose the coin. Slot machines manage to take in over a billion dollars a day in the U.S. alone. It is strange to think that such a successful money maker is in need of a significant face-lift.
Although many years from being added into the OED, TiVo has become synonymous with digital video recording from television. The TiVo brand has become the equivalent to the Xerox brand. Both define their industry. So why is it that such a familiar brand name has perpetually been in the red financially? The same reason Xerox has to fight for recognition as the definitive “Xerox copy” compared to competitors’ copying capabilities. Low-cost digital video recorders have been undercutting TiVo’s finances for years. That is due to change soon though, as TiVo partners with those that the company once endangered – advertisers.
Recently the video game companies Activision and Blizzard Entertainment merged; creating what might be the biggest publisher of online and console games in the world. Officially, it is Blizzard Entertainment’s parent company of Vivendi that has bought a controlling stake of Activision. Activision will remain a publicly traded company. Both Activision and Blizzard Entertainment have made statement explaining that the new company name Activision Blizzard will be a corporate brand name, while their products will keep their respective brand names.
Verizon Wireless has just announced that by the end of 2008, it will open up its network to any third-party wireless device that meets its minimum technical standards. Customers can buy any of these third-party devices, and Verizon will allow them to use it on their network in lieu of those offered at the Verizon store.
Build-A-Bear Workshop provides a unique brand experience for their diminutive customers (called “Guests”) in which they build their very own stuffed animal friend for life.
There is a whole multiverse of heroes, heroines, and arch-nemeses on the spinner rack in local comic and hobby stores. Marvel Comics is bringing all of their characters to the digital age by putting close to 3,000 titles online for digital viewing in Marvel Digital Comics Unlimited on their website. That includes the first 100 comic books of the Amazing Spider Man, Fantastic Four, and X-Men. Marvel plans to offer 20 more titles every week, until their entire collection of out-of-print comics are available to readers.
The recent growth in corporate social responsibility confirms that consumers worldwide are demanding more of the businesses that serve them. Companies are now expected to be more than just profit-earning entities but rather societal entities that promote certain ethical values. This creates a unique opportunity for companies to differentiate themselves and establish outlets for the public to align with their brand, thereby building consumer loyalty.
Christopher Columbus was wrong. Thomas Friedman is right: The world has officially become flat. In a 21st Century world empowered with socializing technologies and global communications, consumers have the ability to directly communicate with the world - sharing frustrations and exuberance over products and services - and even corporate elite. The big can act small; the small, big.
There are many different “brands” of novel out in the market. The newest brand of writing is known simply as “mobile novels.” I am not talking about reading Dostoevsky on your iPhone, what I am referring to is the growing trend of cell phone users who actually type up their own novels, using cell phones.
The Tampa Bay Devil Rays, a 10 years young Major League Baseball franchise, is dropping the “Devil” from their name. For a team that has never been very close to a winning season and has the second lowest home attendance in baseball (the other Florida team has the lowest), a name change (and a new logo and new colors) seems to be an odd off-season priority.
On September 26, 2007, guards from the Blackwater USA Company, hired to protect a US State Department convoy, fired a fusillade of shots that killed 17 people in Iraq and instantly brought the name Blackwater USA from the backwaters of general public knowledge to the forefront of public opinion, a public opinion that was not very good for the Blackwater USA name.
Just how many sports stars will implode in the media before the sports industry sustains permanent damage to its ability to leverage brands? With seemingly constant scandals in the sporting world in recent years, it has become evident that celebrity status makes some sports stars think they are above the law. From football players accused of dog fighting, to doped up bicyclists, to cheating referees, to a never ending supply of steroids in baseball, to illegal gun possession charges. Where will it end? And just what is the effect of all this on sports brands?
Chase Bank’s latest campaign is built around their faster ATMs – which, as per the ads, help you “gt $ fstr.” With a looming credit crisis spurred by sub-prime mortgages and variable rate credit cards amidst a culture of over-spending and exceedingly poor savings discipline, is a faster ATM the best promise one of the country’s largest banks can come up with? Slow ATMs? Really?
Look in the coffee room of any large corporation these days, and you're likely to find a vision statement framed on the wall. Like many of the management trends of the past three decades, creating a vision statement, along with a mission, vision and values credo has been an essential act of an organization's leadership. What a company's vision statement says, as well as how it says it, should reflect the care and thinking that went into envisioning it.
Because of their quality products, I have been a supporter of Hewlett-Packard printers and computers for many years now. I believe that affection will only be enhanced with the recent unveiling of a joint venture project between Hewlett-Packard and their new acquisition, Voodoo PC. The desktop gaming computer called the HP Blackbird 002 has the quality and dependability of a Hewlett-Packard, and the aesthetic and ergonomic design of a Voodoo PC. Several PC reviews have given high praise to this new release into the niche market of gaming PCs.
One might assume that General Motors should know everything that there is to know about introducing new brands, however, there are two recent brand introductions that clash, creating an interesting GM case study on the right and wrong way to market cars. The Pontiac Solstice and the Saturn Sky, although similar in body appearance at first glance, have been on opposite sides of the marketing spectrum. The Solstice, wooing consumers with flashy advertising, falls short on actual production, while the Saturn Sky, although more expensive, just keeps on rolling out of the factory and into peoples’ garages.
Employ+Ability Inc., a company based out of Massachusetts has taken an admirable approach to manufacturing their products. Employing fifty-five people in integrated manufacturing operation positions, thirty-six of those employees have developmental or physical disabilities. The motto, “Work is good” goes against the grain of what most people perceive factory line work to be. And yet the employees that staff this company are always eager to work, some have perfect attendance records for up to a decade of working with the company. Not many companies can boast that kind of loyalty.
When you think of fast food brands, McDonald’s, Burger King, or Wendy’s may spring to mind. Just like when you think of a sit-down restaurant brands, places like Outback Steak House, Ruby Tuesday, or the Olive Garden come to mind. In the past five years or so there has been a surge of an in-between market brand, a sort of sit-down fast-food restaurant. With the quality of well-prepared food, and the economical speed of fast-food chains, these new restaurants are filling a gap between a consumer’s need for speed, and yearning for more time.
It is one of the world’s most recognized symbols. It has become the de facto mark of disaster relief. It is almost universally associated with first aid. Yet this symbol is no mere generic icon signifying that help is on the way. The red cross symbol is owned by and registered to Johnson & Johnson, as it has been for over 100 years. And, for the American National Red Cross, this has suddenly become a problem – pitting one of the country’s most venerable corporations against one of its largest and most iconic non-profits.
Concern over dangerous and even deadly substances in products from outside the United States (especially those from China) continues to grow. Whether it is toy trains loaded with lead, tainted toothpaste or positively poisonous pet foods each new scare only makes consumers everywhere look with increasing disfavor on products from China because of their often questionable ingredients.
With the release of the iPhone, every mobile device company on the planet is in a frenzy looking to either develop something comparable or prove that they already have a comparable product in the market. Well, except one. The Jitterbug, marketed by Great Call, is the simplest, plainest cell phone on the market. It is not a camera or a music player. No texting or emailing or websurfing. It is just a phone. And the fact that it is not available from any of the major wireless carriers is a huge missed opportunity for all of them.
The birth of a global brand is always a momentous occasion. And we would be remiss if we failed to note the launch of Catalent Pharma Solutions earlier this week.
Ben & Jerry’s put themselves on the map with irreverent product naming 20 years ago when they introduced us to Cherry Garcia. But the naming style has hit a bump in the road as a more recent flavor has shed its own irreverent name in favor of a more descriptive one: Marsha Marsha Marshmallow is now…drum roll please…, S’mores (yawn).
I recently returned from a very interesting and vibrant city where one doesnít expect to find vibrancy ñ Kiev, Ukraine. To have a corporate branding conference in an economy where public companies are few and far between may seem unusual, but the capitalistic energy and enthusiasm for the subject was quite evident.
What if someone moved all the light switches in your house? Or changed around your car dashboard. Or your TV remote? Thereís probably about a five step process to fully adapt to the change: (1) confusion >> (2) disorientation >> (3) adjustment >> (4) acclimation >> (5) comfort ñ though muscle memory steps in every so often to remind you of what was. I am somewhere between steps 2 and 3 in Googleís redesign.
The promise of regime change seemed to glimmer a little brighter this week at The Home Depot.
Who can blame JetBlue for canceling flights before the first snowflakes fall when a big storm is expected. They got burned in the last winter storm fiasco so they are looking to be in front of this one. However, the mechanics of their cancellation proceedures still need some fine tuning before Iíll say that they have fixed the problem. Hereís how it went down for me this morning.
Itís a wiki world and the game has changed. Microsoft has landed in hot water for hiring a writer to ìcorrect inaccuraciesî around several open source related documents on Wikipedia. McDonaldís (among many others) has posted promotional images and messages under the guise of user-generated content. NBC developed a contest on YouTube for users to submit videos that ìcreate interest for potential viewers to watch ëThe Officeí.ì
Brand building for a professional services firm is always a difficult challenge. How do you build a brand when the brand goes home each night?
I’d rather fly jetBlue on a bad day than any other airline on their best day. OK, so thatís a slight exaggeration, but Iím a loyal fan of jetBlue and believe their recent system implosion as a result of the Valentineís Day ice storm is simply an anomaly.
Brand extension is about relevance and patience. Relevance is the most vital filter in new product consideration as it forces you to ask, ìdoes my brand fit?î Patience is that trait in which you can see a vision for the future of your brand while allowing for time to build towards that vision by expanding your relevance.
The wheels of industry usually move slowly. But in the case of customer experience management ó the science of building brand preference by meeting customer needs and exceeding expectations ó the speed has been break neck.
In the 90s, companies were tripping over themselves to move their businesses into the .com world with little regard for whether it made economic sense. From a branding perspective, companies even changed their names to show that they had caught the Internet wave. Remember the Dell.com brand change?
In development for over five years, Microsoft has finally completed its latest chapter in the Windows saga by giving the thumbs up to release Windows Vista to hardware vendors and software partners. As one of the longest software development cycles in the 20+ year history of Windows, Vista is one of the best products Microsoft ever released from its Redmond conveyor belt.
Unless they control their own distribution through owned and operated stores, consumer products companies are essentially at the mercy of retailers to support their brands and the purchase experience they aim to deliver to consumers. A growing trend in the US, building upon established success in Japan, brings a new wrinkle to the store-within-a-store approach. High-end vending machines offering consumer electronics retailing for upwards of $300 are cropping up in department stores, malls, airports and hotels, with Sony, Motorola and Apple leading the charge.
New movies in search of a hook always seem to have pedigree to fall back on. How often have we heard, ìÖfrom the director of XYZ, ì or ìÖfrom the people that brought youÖ?î
Iím a sucker for a great brand extension. When done right, a good brand extension feels so natural. ESPN has scored a number of big hits here ñ from ESPN The Magazine (media extension) to ESPN Zone (theme restaurant) to ESPN X-Games (sporting event).
Advertisers and politicians often opine that itís really a matter of perspective, but in the discipline of brand-building truth is singular and concrete. In a recent posting on Fast Company Now, Jim Gilmore writes about authenticity as the primary driver of brands. He basically says that a focus on building positive customer experiences is less important than the quest for authenticity.
A common concern among clients is how to take the work they have done with their brand and use it to rally and engage internal audiences. Unfortunately, more often than not this is an afterthought in the branding process. And a disconnect here can mean the difference between a brand message that truly resonates across all customer touch points and one that rings hollow.
I watched The U.S. Open Tennis Tournament with my twelve-year-old son, Zach, earlier this month. We love this great tournament! But, what struck us was a great commercial that featured the womenís tennis star, Maria Sharapova.
It may be the original certification mark. Turn over virtually any electronic device and youíll find some version of the UL logo someplace.† UL, Underwriters Laboratories, dates back to 1894 when it was founded, in part, to help manufacturers assure consumers about product safety (namely that the products wouldnít spontaneously ignite).
Intel did not invent ingredient branding, but they did take the strategy to a whole new level. (At this point I think theyíre a victim of their own success here, but thatís a blog for another day.)
Do you ever get the sense that companies are afraid to speak to their customers? How else to explain an almost knee-jerk impulse to send customers to poorly designed support Websites, or worse, into automated telephone menu hell?
Once the renegade darling of the UK mobile market, Orange (now owned by France Telecom) is the new master brand for all FT mobile, broadband and business services. Orange began in 1994 as an intelligent and streamlined mobile brand in response to the confusion and complexity in the UK wireless industry.
User generated advertising is all the rage. Trying to leverage the passions behind blogging, texting, MySpace-ing and YouTube-ing, marketers are buying into the notion that, hey, our customers can come up with some great ideas, too. For the right brands, this is a goldmine of building and feeding loyalty among your biggest fans. For the rest, it can be a disaster from the word go.
The last thing a small business owner looking to shave off some expenses on print cartridges or some new piece of hardware needs is to get bogged down in the purposefully convoluted process of product rebates.
Coming up with good team names is a lot harder than it used to be. It used to be that teams would suit up in a certain color and leave it at that. The fans would call the team by the name of the club that they were affiliated with, or by the name of the town for which they played.
Pontiac’s current TV ad campaign ends with a call to “Google Pontiac” – backing that up with a quick shot of the Google website while Pontiac is typed into the search box.
As AT&T was swallowed by SBC to become the new AT&T last year, my colleagues and I were all in agreement that maintaining the AT&T name was absolutely the right thing to do. The AT&T name has tremendous resident equity among consumer and business audiences alike. With an incomparably rich brand heritage and deep reservoirs of goodwill, the AT&T brand offered a unique opportunity for massive reinvention while recognizing some built-in efficiencies of huge brand awareness.
Weíve long known that ingredient branding had legs, now its got shoes.
I recently gave the keynote speech at the Gulf Cooperative Council (GCC) Branding Summit held at the seven-star hotel Burj Al Arab in Dubai. I travel quite frequently and I have never seen anything like Dubai, it’s a boomtown in every sense of the word. The economy is growing at an astounding 17% per year, twice as fast as China’s economy and four times faster than the US. I counted at least 75 construction cranes building major new structures – including what will be the world’s tallest building. Dubai is like Singapore or Hong Kong on steroids!
I've been writing a lot lately about customer experience enhancement. It is a subject about which I am passionate and a goal that my clients have asked me to help them achieve. The result of these initiatives proves that poor brand performance, whether isolated or systemic, can be reversed if an organization is committed long-term and willing to work hard.
Co-branding is about sharing equities; two partners each contributing some aspect of their brand (permissions, expertise, distribution, status, etc.) to create an offering that neither could develop as effectively on their own. Often, however, one partnerís brand does all the heavy lifting while the other just sits back and parasitically co-opts the otherís hard-earned brand equity. Case in point, L.L. Bean and The Weather Channel.
Most successful companies deliver clear, compelling value and make good on their promises. If you are not confidently among them, do not lose heart. Most organizations can get lost in the weeds when facing tough decisions. As brand stewards, we are uniquely positioned to help inform and color decision-making processes that impact the brand.
There’s a new Chipotle around the corner from our office. Since it opened about 2 months ago, lunchtime lines and crowds have been pretty impressive.
Let`s start with the catastrophes. If you`ve got a pulse, you`ve probably heard the stories about the numerous, always shocking, customer experiences from hell: the NJ couple who were labeled as îJew coupleî by restaurant staffers, the financial services company that addressed a US citizen as îPalestinian Bomber,î and the angry customer service reps who changed a telecom customer's name to îBitch Dog.î
I was recently comfortably seated in the sixth row of a JetBlue flight to San Jose when I noticed a familiar figure seated in the front row. Immediately after reaching cruising altitude, David Neeleman stood and introduced himself to the passengers as the CEO of JetBlue.
There is a fundamental branding issue with consumer-directed healthcare. First, the United States is branded as the leader of the free world, yet it is known as the country whose healthcare system cannot take care of its poor, huddled masses. We are starting from a deficit of goodwill.
A few months back, I wrote an article about the challenges of consumer-directed healthcare (CDHC). The gist of that piece was that giving responsibility for managing health services and choice to consumers was akin to replaying Reagan’s voodoo economics of the 1980s. No accountability to deliver the goods and little framework for managing the change.
Song Airlines, Delta’s low-cost carrier, did many things right. In trying to out-Jet Blue Jet Blue, Song often succeeded. But, in the end, they failed: Song will go away next spring – and the fleet will be modified and incorporated into Delta proper. At best, Delta will cherry-pick some “greatest hits” from the Song repertoire.
Volvo has obviously enjoyed tremendous success by positioning itself as the car that’s good for you. By putting safety in the foreground of everything they do, Volvo has carved out an identity in the car market that sacrifices the sexy for the pragmatic. They’ve tried to boost the appeal and performance aspects of the vehicles in recent years, yet leading-edge safety remains a foundation of the brand.
It is no coincidence that Jim Gregory's latest book is focused on the same subject as the ANA's recent Annual Conference. In fact, Jim has been writing about this "new approach" for quite some time now. Marketing accountability has finally achieved its rightful status as the top priority of marketers across the country and across the world.
First of all, I have to start off by saying that this years annual ANA conference was the best I have ever been to -- and I’ve been to a few. It was really a thrill for me that the two main themes were building successful brands and marketing accountability, because brand building has been CoreBrand's mission for the past 25+ years and marketing accountability has been our most valuable tool.
In a program rolling out now in New York and several other markets, B of A will reward customers for using their debit card in everyday transactions by rounding up to the nearest dollar and putting the difference into a savings account.
A lot of marketers these days think that they have to be as loud and flashy as possible in order to “break through the clutter,” which is only there in the first place because everyone is trying to be loud and flashy. Smart marketers recognize that when a product or brand is of a clearly superior quality, and has gained loyal supporters, the noise can be turned way down and focused creative communications can be most effective.
The leverage is shifting in the consumer products world -- away from products and manufacturers toward retailers and consumers. Traditional CPG brand-building activities have lost their utility for consumers, while retailers increasingly are making connections with them.
Rally sons of Notre Dame,
Sing her glory, and sound her fame
Raise her Gold and Blue
Brand licensing is often talked about as means to extend a brand into new categories, to grow a brandís footprint or create new revenue streams by leveraging equity in new markets. But licensing can be a tool to facilitate divestiture, too.
îI knew with the Cadillac name it would be halfway decent.î Thatís got to be music to a luxury brand managerís ear, huh?
When Microsoft announced last week that the name for the new release of Windows would be called Vista, my first thought was, îthat's a pretty good name.î My second thought was, îhow on earth is that name available?î
BP has teamed up with The Home Depot to promote the sale of solar panels for home electricity. BP has billed itself as the green gas company for a few years and this move to enter the retail space by partnering with a dominant player like The Home Depot is very compelling. But it is also a bit curious.
Success in brand licensing is about consistency of message. If the licensed product or service is not a natural leap for customers, it will be a tough sell. You`re looking for the îof courseî as in îof course Mr. Clean makes mops and spongesî or îof course Whirlpool makes air conditioners.î The closer you can get to the îof course,î the greater your chance at relevance, acceptance and success.