In Branding, Brands on February 4, 2009 at 8:44 am
Watching the first family it is clear that we have the start of a new American brand. We also have a family of endorsers who are able to give credence to other “American” brands and in doing so dictate the future of what that means to us all.
Michelle Obama has inspired a number of blogs that follow the designers that she selects and the way that she is bringing style back into the White House. By selecting up and coming designers as well as a couple of key selections of White+Black and J.Crew she is helping to democratize style in much the same way that Target did for much of the last ten years.
Radiance and Rosebud (the secret service names for Malia and Sasha) may well fan the flame of J.Crew’s stateside comeback under the helm of Mickey Drexler. Of course, if I was over at Gap Inc. or Ralph Lauren I would be screaming and shouting as they seem to have lost some of the American luster that was key to the success of both brands.
I do have some reservations about the choice of Pottery Barn for the First Residence, but…you can’t win them all and I suppose I would rather live in a Pottery Barn America than a Lazy Boy America. Thinking about it, it’s probably a better message to send although a little DWR around the edges wouldn’t hurt.
In advertising, Branding, Brands, denim, innovation on January 7, 2009 at 1:41 pm
Originally uploaded by distillerymedia
Shop windows always feel a bit like wasted space. Headless manequins in static poses as if frozen in fashion future. They neither say come in nor walk by but stand more simply as pronouncements of their anotomically incorrect selves. Now, window dressers have a difficult business for sure. A few like Simon Doonan are considered minor rock (sock) stars, but most are arrangers trying to simulantiously support the brand and its message while also driving traffic through the doors of the store.
That’s all to explain why I like these Nike windows. Not only do they support the idea of customization and uniqueness when everything is starting to look very safe and bland, but they actually encourage interaction. By touching the store window you can change the color combinations of the products, in effect test driving before you buy. I liked it online but I really love it as a window concept.
In Branding, Brands, marketing on January 5, 2009 at 5:56 am
Originally uploaded by distillerymedi
I woke up this morning feeling fine, then I took a shower. Now I have the chills and I feel weak. Could it be my new Fever sports body wash? I knew I should have purchased the “Plague” but I assumed it was pretty hard-core. Sort of like “maximum strength” vs. Fever’s more “just enough.” If it doesn’t kill you it makes you stronger but what if it just makes you sick?
In Branding, Brands, culture on December 12, 2008 at 3:02 am
Workers place the final “S” of the Wal-Mart Supercenter in Waveland, Mississippi
Originally uploaded by cabraham
Brand consultants love to present analogues of the hip, cool companies that have transformed their category. Target, Apple, BMW Mini, Prius, Dyson, Cirque du Soleil. It becomes sort of a circularly successful argument. Consultants want to work on cool brands, they convince their client that they could be a cool brand by pointing at other cool brands that they had worked on.
I remember having some conversations with Wal-Mart a few years ago. It was during the big Target surge and at least half of the room wanted to go into chase mode and start the style revolution from Bentonville. As the heads shook, there was some steep dissent from those who wanted to stick to the guns, noting that they were far more profitable than Target and that they owned a compelling proposition.
Today, it looks like Wal-Mart did the right thing. They stuck with their price centric positioning and only slightly moved toward a benefit orientation from “everyday low prices” to “save money, live better.” Yes, they also put in some wood paneled flooring and such, but as Wal-Mart has proven, if you own low-prices credibly you will always be in consideration. And increasingly in this economy, they are winning share of the wallet because price trumps cool.
No, they aren’t quite as hip and edgy as Target, but they continue to be far more profitable. Had they done what most marketing consultants would have recommended, they would likely be in a poorer situation today. It’s just a nice reminder that at the end of the day branding isn’t about making a brand hip and cool. It is about making it relevant and enduring. Right now Wal-Mart is looking pretty relevant.
In Branding, Brands, communications on December 9, 2008 at 7:55 am
Brandmerica is under a deluge from marketing radicals. It is true that there is perhaps no other sucessfully managed brand of its magnitude, but really America, is this the best we can do.
I’ve always been slightly irked at the fact that burning a flag is illegal but one can make it into a trucker hat, or a license plate holder, or a beer coozy. Now it seems that wet naps are fair game as well. Who sat in a meeting somewhere in the world and thought, “I bet we can sell more wet naps if we put a flag on em’.” “American’s don’t want to burn their flag but they will certainly step right up and rip it in half to get to a juicy moist toilette?”
I am hoping that Obama can clean up our rogue, tipsy, cowboy image around the world, but as they say, change starts at home. Can we stop putting the American flag on things that aren’t flags? I think it’s dilluting the logo.
In Brands, communications, Consumers, culture, marketing on December 8, 2008 at 6:03 am
Innnovation is typically focused on a few different paths. There are consumer needs, cultural trends, marketplace/technological opportunities, brand led innovation…and the often overlooked product difficency innovation.
There is an iPod development story that suggests that Steve Jobs is slightly hard of hearing. As a result, in his characteristic, idiosyncratic way, he demanded that the volume on the iPod be louder than on other MP3 players. Hence the ear blasting sound that you can now obtain.
Now most of us would probably just turn down the sound. But one company created this is a crafty little targeted product for hip, yet concerned mom and dads. LoudEnough are earphones for kids where you can set a maximum decible range for your little ones and keep their ears safe and sound. It’s a nice innovative product that solves a need (or creates one) while taking advantage of a product deficiency. The branding also nicely straddle the gap between communicating to mom/dad the purchaser, while still appealing to kids.
In Brands, communications, marketing, strategy on December 3, 2008 at 6:18 am
I loathe using Apple as an example for anything. Not because it is wrong to do so but it is just so damn obvious. Regardless, they have done a pretty good job of greening up their notebook line and then announcing it to the world in a manner that suggests they have always been green.
The environment has always been a sticky issue for the boys and girls from Cupertino. When I was at Sterling Brands we did a pro-bono project for Climate Counts. We were rather surprised that of all of the examined consumer electronic companies, Apple ranked the worst. There were also YouTube videos from folks like GreenPeace lambasting Apple for it’s environmental policy.
The new Apple campaign (here), is the advertising equivelent of a plea bargin deal where they pay the fine but don’t admit guilt, and that’s exactly the way that it should be. When a company updates it’s formulation or product line it shouldn’t feel as though it needs to shame itself for it’s past choices. It rather needs to present new and relevant reasons for purchase and if the environment or health or whathaveyou becomes part of the value equation then you talk about it. I’m still surprised how many brands, especially food stuffs, feel the need to say things like “now with no transfats!”, when a simple “no transfats” would do the trick.
In Brands, communications, Consumers, marketing, strategy on November 25, 2008 at 4:36 am
Will Work for Corporate Sponsorship
Originally uploaded by Morningstarphoto
MediaBistro got me thinking this morning when they announced that GM had jettisoned their relationship with Tiger Woods due to the economic climate. My question is, what is the value of these relationships/associations/sponsorships anyway?
I’m sure there are some computer models out there but looking at it from a brand pov I’m not sure I see the point. Three examples for debate.
GM cuts it’s ties with Tiger.
Did any of us believe that Tiger actually drove a GM?
Does anyone believe that it would have been his choice car if they didn’t pay him?
Did you have a more favorable view of GM since it parked itself next to Tiger Woods?
Joseph Abboud signs a 3-year deal to provide free suits to NBA coaches. (no signage or credit during broadcasts)
Does anyone pay attention to what NBA coaches wear, and if so, are coaches emulated?
How many times do you see a coach during a game looking cool, confident and collected, and not sweaty and pitted out?
If someone does pay attention, how are they supposed to know who makes the suit?
Sprint Halftime Report
What does Sprint have to do with halftime or football?
Do you have a different or reinforced perspective of Sprint after halftime?
In Brands, communications, marketing, strategy on November 24, 2008 at 6:58 am
There is a quote that comes to mind that goes something like, “character is who you are when no one is watching.” This seems apt to describe branding at times. There are many brands that put on a good show in communications, packaging, environments only to let consumers down when they least expect it. Some of us have had friends like this in our lives, but how many of those relationships continue to prosper after we’ve been let down?
Brand relationships are about delivering an experience through all of the brand’s touch points. I won’t even go so far as to say that it has to be a consistent experience because I think branding is changing. But it does have to be a unified experience.
I’ve posted the above picture of GHIRADELLI Hot Chocolate as an example of how not to sustain a brand. For those who don’t know, GHIRADELLI is a premium chocolate brand out of San Francisco. As such you would expect brand attributes such as refined, sophisticated, luxurious and crafted to be part of their story. Note, these aren’t differentiated characteristics but rather table-stakes in the premium category.
The external packaging represents these characteristics and helps to validate the price point which you are bound to pay on a supermarket shelf. Once you make the purchase though, you are confronted with a food service, mass market brand on the inside. Why GHIRADELLI decided to pay a design firm for the external packaging and didn’t throw the internal pouch into the brief is beyond me. Did they think that it wasn’t important or that no one would notice?
I would argue that the experience arch for this brand actually peaks when the pouch is torn open and the product is made. By that account the internal packaging is more important to the brand while the external packaging may still be more important to sales. But, to my earlier point, the brand’s character is defined when it doesn’t think anyone is looking. Or perhaps better stated, “a brand’s character is defined when it isn’t selling.”