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Archive for the ‘Branding’ Category

We are…an American b(r)and (sing along)

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.

Nike ID: Touch to colour

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.

Your brand makes me sick.

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?

Brand rejuvenation, without even trying

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.

A branded look at the pirate problem

In Branding, communications, strategy on November 20, 2008 at 7:00 am


“The pirates are coming,” we’ve been told by most of the mainstream news media. And while piracy is a growing problem off the coast of Somalia and they are certainly wrecking havoc within the shipping industry, my sense is that most of us don’t really care. Darfur, yes we care, pirates not yet. And the reason why is that they are actually kind of cool aren’t they?

Culturally, we’ve had a love affair with pirates for decades and they permeate our culture from Long John Silver’s and Jack Sparrow to the Discovery Channel and Disney. Pirates are typically made out to be the better men. Craftier, smoother, living out our dream for adventure, pirates have been positioned as heroes of the high sea. They change the tide and the people they take advantage of tend to be bumbling sailors or British colonials, which as Americans, we don’t really mind. They still pillage, sure, but not so much raping anymore, that wouldn’t make it into a Disney movie.

So the question now is what will it take for the media to breakthrough and make us care about piracy. The answer is that it will probably take a repositioning of the pirates overall. Personally, I might take the easy route and just go ahead and start calling them “raiders”. Sure we have Raiders of the Lost Ark but we also have corporate raiders and the Oakland Raiders and few people feel that those two professions are up to any good.

Viagra simplifies its positioning

In advertising, Branding, Brands, communications, Consumers, marketing, strategy, trends on November 11, 2008 at 3:39 pm

Since Cialis entered into the market a few years back, Viagra has been searching for a new positioning. As Cialis started to talk about the mood using their “when the time is right” emotional language, Viagra started pushing masculinity and trotting out older celebrities to reinforce its credibility. As Cialis started being more about the relationship, Viagra became more about the man.

In the last month they seem to have tweaked their positioning again, this time more clearly marketing themselves as a solution to the mid-life crisis. While this positioning has always been available to them they seem to have avoided it in the past as either being too trite or narrowly defining. Indeed, in looking at the executions they seem to be rather obvious in taking the the traditional trappings of the midlife crisis and putting them in Viagra wrapper. The television spot that best sums up their new positioning is the recent execution when the guys shows up on a motorcycle to surprise his wife, although it is equally apparent in this spot when he gets the garage band back together.

Free Advice: Repositioning Obama

In Branding, Brands, communications, marketing, strategy on August 4, 2008 at 1:16 pm

I’m starting up a new section of the blog here called Free Advice in which I will give advice to brands who haven’t asked for it. First up, Mr. Barack Obama.

It should be noted that I love what you are doing to date. Strong consistent positioning around HOPE supported by “Yes we can” making it feel achievable and believable. Short, simple, to the point and looks great on posters and t-shirts.

But it’s time to realize that these themes aren’t yours alone. We’ve wanted to BELIEVE and HOPE, since well before Bill Clinton came from a little place called Hope, ARK. We’ve also wanted to CHANGE Washington ever since Washington needed changing, which was pretty early on. You embody these themes making them ring out as resonate and true and yet they aren’t absolute positionings. They remain relative to the other candidates faced in the primary. In order to win the general election I think we are going to need a bit more information and you are going to need a positioning to coalesce that around.

Keep HOPE as a messaging pillar but adjust your overall positioning to “Leadership for a Changing World.” You support this by continuing to create a leadership agenda, domestically and reasserting America’s leadership in the broader world.

It also continues to create a distinction between yourself and Mr. McCain while subtly reminding folks that he continues to mention countries that have been non-existent for a decade, can’t use a computer and wants to pursue many of the same strategies that got us to where we are.

Someone Needs a Packaging Update…

In Branding, Design, Packaging, Uncategorized on July 7, 2008 at 9:53 am


Originally uploaded by distillerymedia

…as seen today at Duane Reade. Remember when VO5 was a cool, upscale product? After seeing this packaging I don’t either…

Invesco Just Won the Election Lottery

In Branding, Brands, Consumers, marketing, strategy, Uncategorized on July 7, 2008 at 8:47 am

invesco field at mile high

Originally uploaded by pbo31

With Barak Obama and the Democratic National Committee selecting Invesco Field as the host of the Democratic National Convention, Invesco just hit the jackpot. Granted, they might not want to be seen as political, but they’re certain to be mentioned thousands of times over the next couple months and featured prominently in the actual coverage of the event earning them a windfall of free publicity.

The loser, of course, is the Pepsi Center which was all game to get the coverage themselves. It’s a shame that Pepsi moved away from the “Taste of a New Generation” since it would have seemed so appropriate.

article here: