at the intersection of brands, media and culture

Posts Tagged ‘Brands’

Marketers Should Not Go To Confession

In Brands, communications, Consumers, marketing on February 22, 2008 at 11:39 am

IMG00061
Originally uploaded by distillerymedia

What is the deal with this rampant brand and marketing transparency? It’s starting to feel like bamboo shoots under my fingernails and I don’t like it.

Today’s example comes from the otherwise just fine folks at Thomas’ English Muffins. Hearty Nooks…Tasty Crannies, that’s all I ask for in an English Muffin. Curious about the ellipses but no matter. What really gets me going is the new phrase “now with NO high fructose corn syrup.”

What are you trying to accomplish here Thomas? (I hope you don’t mind if I call you Thomas.) I can think of only one rationale for this language and that would be if you wanted press as a changer of food health. But you don’t. I think you just wanted to say “NO high fructose corn syrup,” right? That’s the point, that other people use high fructose corn syrup and you don’t. So why did you have to run around like a saved man after an exorcism and tell the world that you used to use high fructose corn syrup? All it does is make me regret eating you in the first place.

Consistency is Consistently Boring

In Branding, Brands, marketing, strategy on January 21, 2008 at 3:04 pm


Haircut at Rudy’s

Originally uploaded by |E|E|

Too many experience brands seem to submit to the idea of matching luggage. They believe that the environments have to look the same, that the products have to be the same and that everything right down to the “have a nice day” has to be the same. If things vary then they will either lose control of their brands or the customer will suddenly get confused, lose their capacity and stumble into walls. “But…I thought I was in Starbucks and now I’m so confused…”

Perhaps this is why I love new chains like Rudy’s barbershop that have popped up on the West Coast, (soon on it’s way to you New Yorkers) where each shop has it’s own identity, personality and flair. There are of course consistencies, but the most important one is that you are going to have a great experience. You will discover something new and that before you are out of the chair you will enter into their brand culture.

When Product Accessories Become the Product

In Branding, Brands, Consumers, innovation, market research, marketing, strategy, trends on January 21, 2008 at 1:11 pm

What happens when that cool new thing that you got suddenly becomes the cool new thing that everyone has? Trend Setters (god I hate that term) either move on to the next new thing or  redouble their efforts to bring personal ownership to their products. Creating an accessory culture around new products may prove to be a way to keep these early users engaged.

Steve Portigal has an interesting post on Crocs culture and the emergence of charms in Japan and the UK (see picture above). Apple has also inspired a ton of secondary markets for its products from the useful iPod Skins to the scary-but-true Taser/iPod holster that was displayed at CES.

My personal favorite are the iColour modifiers which allow you to take that boring old glowing Apple logo and modify it to your own liking, gaining the ire of your IT dept. at the same time.

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Advertising: Are you Looking at Me?

In advertising, Branding, Brands, communications on January 10, 2008 at 1:50 pm

The good folks over at wired magazine just released their best vintage technology advertisements. I was particularly struck by this one for XBox 360 which was apparently only released online. It is a surprise that a commercial showing people running around pretending to shoot people in a train station might not have been the best idea at the end of the day.

But my question is, did that commercial eventually become this Nike commercial?

John Kerry is still Living Strong

In Branding, Brands, communications, Consumers, marketing, trends on January 10, 2008 at 10:36 am

live strong
Originally uploaded by Spicy-Shots

John Kerry came out and endorsed Obama today, effectively Swift Boating his campaign by reminding everyone just how bad of a campaigner Kerry was.

But as a marketer I was more struck by this (copyrighted) picture that accompanied him on several sites.

John Kerry is still wearing his Live Strong bracelet and frankly, I don’t know how I feel about it. This is what happens when causes create products that become trendy.

Most folks I know removed their bracelets long ago as the trend died and hygiene reasserted itself into their minds. That and the fact that yellow really doesn’t go with most outfits. But I’m reminded by the picture that some people are keeping on. My question is: what does it signify now?

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Brand Storytelling, Magical Value and The Magna Carta

In advertising, Brands, communications, Consumers, marketing, strategy, trends on January 8, 2008 at 10:20 am

The New York Times ran a piece in its Sunday Magazine about the sale of a copy of the Magna Carta just before Christmas to the Carlyle group. As it pointed out, it’s fascinating to see anyone paying $21.3 million for a piece of information in a day and age where it could be more easily and legibly accessed through our computers. The price is clearly not about information but rather about a piece of history. A piece of history that becomes more valuable through the fact that we all believe it to be valuable.

“It’s a kind of illusion. We can call it magical value as opposed to meaningful value. It’s like the value acquired by one baseball when Bobby Thomson batted it out of the Polo Grounds. A physical object becomes desirable, precious, almost holy, by common consensus, on account of a history — a story — that is attached to it. (If it turns out you’ve got the wrong baseball, the value vanishes just as magically.)”

This same illusive influence affects brands and products on a daily basis. A brand’s value rises and falls with consumer sentiment. If Sienna Miller wears your jeans and is photographed in InStyle, your brand’s valuation goes up. Your product becomes inherently more stylish, popular and coveted by InStyle’s readers. They may not realize or care that she was paid to wear them; nor does it probably matter much to the score of retailers that are suddenly calling because they want to carry your product. It doesn’t even always matter that the product look good on your consumer, if bebe and Juicy sales are any indication. Your brand suddenly has caché and consumers can have a piece of it stamped on their butts for everyone to see.

Arguments can be made here for any number of heroic brands. What of ipod? Rolex? Burberry? It’s true that owners of all of these brands have a ready, rational response for their purchase which somewhere along the way includes the word quality, but it doesn’t mean that any of them can define quality. And it also doesn’t account for the incredible business that exists down the street selling fake Rolex watches and Burberry purses. It comes down to a collective perception of value rather than the real (in this case, monetary) value.

Organic baby clothing taps into the idea that a good parent wouldn’t clothe their child with pesticides. Victoria’s Secret taps into our imaginary fantasy life. Does Victoria’s Secret have any more real value than Gap Body? It does, because Gap Body makes clothing and Victoria’s Secret makes fantasy. When these stories become circulated we start to see a collective story emerge that consumers tap into and use as repositories for their own hopes, dreams, ambitions and securities creating magical value.

In an age where the unique selling proposition is more elusive, investing and creating magical value can help provide differentiation in a cluttered marketplace.