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Showing posts from 2007

Experiential marketing/branding and the newfound power of Gen X

In an article called “Enjoy the experience turn on, tune in--and pay attention,” (December 3, 2007), Brandweek talks about the trend toward experiential marketing—“essentially, a sophisticated term for getting into public spaces and letting the consumer interact with your product personally.” Apparently giving consumers a live experience with the brand is proving to be a successful way of reaching people. Here are some examples of companies and what they’re doing to give customers a branded experience:* Panasonic is parking tractor trailers labeled “Panasonic. Living in high definition.” outside Best Buy and other retailers. The trailers have had a makeover designed to look like “a guy’s dream living room,” complete with all the Panasonic electronics it can hold. Sales of Panasonic HDTVs are up an average of 30% at every retailer that’s had the truck parked outside; Panasonic has set aside one-third of its 2008 marketing budget for experiential initiatives.* The Wii videogame has been…

“Curator Culture” and Branding

In a recent article on his blog, Steven Addis, the CEO of the CEO of Addis Creson, a Berkeley, CA based branding firm, postulates that we have shifted into a “curator culture.” Like museum curators, the new consumer has “unlimited resources to research products, review them for others, and expose the disingenuous….the ability to transmit on a mass scale…. with credibility corporations have all but squandered.”This idea is not new, although the terminology may be unique. It is similar to the premise of Brand Hijack and Creating Customer Evangelists and my own writing on the subject of customer co-creation and brands. And earlier than that, in 2001 and before, brand futurist Marian Salzman was talking about the “prosumer,” or “empowered consumer,” noting that customers had seized the reins from marketers and were increasingly demanding—and getting—their way. What is unique about the curator culture concept? The role of brands, which has shifted. As consumers enjoy a higher-level status…

What to do? Seniors have brand hijacked the Wii

In a previous post, I talk about the issue of whether brand creators should "let go of the brand entirely and let consumers appropriate, define, and sell it in their own ways," as Wipperfurth argues in Brand Hijack.

I conclude that "marketers have a responsibility to establish a meaning for the brand in advance of presenting it to the consumer. The consumer may appropriate the brand in different ways, may reshape and refine and rework its ultimate meaning, but the essence of the brand is, or should always be, in the hands of the marketer."

Now we have a situation where older people are appropriating the Wii game console for their own use, as The Washington Post reports: "On the retirement community scene, bingo is looking a little like last year's thing, as video games have recently grabbed a spot as the hot new activity. More specifically, retirees are enthusiastically taking to games on the Wii, which has been under-supplied and over-demanded at retail sto…

Brand positioning vs. brand stories: it’s really both, not one or the other

A new paper by the Verse Group claims that brand positioning is dead, and in its place comes brand storytelling. Brand positioning, as Verse notes in this release on the subject, is the “theory that a brand should own one idea in a person’s mind.” Brand storytelling, in contrast, relies on a “complex interplay of emotions, experience, and sensations” to get the message across. What’s this all about to begin with? Verse is responding to an Advertising Research Foundation report, based on three years of research, which found that storytelling-type TV advertisements are more effective than positioning-based TV advertisements at engaging the viewer. According to an article in Brandweek (October 29, 2007), the ARF findings were clear. A total of 33 ads in 12 categories were analyzed by 14 “leading emotion and physiological research firms.” The study found, for example, that “Bud's iconic ‘Whassup’ (campaign) registered more powerfully with consumers than Miller Lite low-carb ads that e…

Global "tribes" and branding

The Wall Street Journal (December 10) has a story about marketers closing in on global "tribes" who are united more by demographics than by nationality. The article gives the example of baby boomers, a transnational "tribe" that may well need hearing devices as they get older. Phonak Group is targeting boomers, who dread aging, by calling the device a "personal communication assistant." Multilingual advertisements all feature the same type of image--"youthful-looking customers who lead interesting lives." The CEO of Phonak says that baby boomers "all have a similar psychology--if we take away the stigma and show them a product that is high-tech and hip and easily improves the quality of their lives" they will buy it.

Other examples are teenagers "who socialize on the Internet and like the same music and fashions" and "working women trying to juggle careers and families."

The idea from a brand perspective is to "f…

The Army's misguided "influencer" campaign

Today's Wall Street Journal (November 29, 2007) has an article about how the Army is now promising new recruits up to $40,000 in seed money toward the purchase of a home or the starting of a business.

The goal, says the article, is not so much to reach recruits as their parents. It quotes the program's "architect," Lt. Col. Jeff Sterling: "If you want to get a soldier, you have to go through mom, and moms want to know what kind of future their children will have when they leave the Army. This is meant to answer that question in a tangible, concrete way."

As the Journal notes, the new program "is the latest sign of the military's growing use of marketing and other recruitment strategies from American corporations." In particular, the idea of targeting "influencers" rather than the audience themselves is a forward-thinking approach.

The problem, I think, with the Army's new campaign is that it misreads what influences the influencers.…

Should you really "lose control" of your brand to brand effectively?

Elsewhere, I have argued that brands are in effect co-created between producers and consumers. Now Brandweek (November 26, 2007) features an article called "Lose Control: It's Good for Your Brand," in which the author argues that brands are not at all created by producers but entirely owned by consumers.

"In my world...campaigns....exist at eye level with the consumer, seeing in real time how he interacts with products, services and the core brand itself....the days when you were able to exercise 360° control over your brand communications have ended....when the brand lets go a little, consumers start to open up a lot."

The author argues that the tools of the "average citizen"--"Digital cameras, cell phones, blogs, social networks, Web videos, urban interventions, word-of-mouth and more"--are becoming ever more important in communicating about brands.

The idea is to stop overtly marketing to your target audiences, and "allow consumers to b…

Small company rebranding - just a logo?

In an article titled "Extreme Makeover," the Wall Street Journal (November 26 2007) talks about the trend toward small companies pursuing rebranding. Increased competition and lower costs are the drivers of this trend.

The problem is that the Journal talks about rebranding exclusively in design terms. (Or the problem is, small companies think about branding exclusively in design terms.) For example, it cites the offerings of Powerful Impact in Great Neck, N.Y.--which are provided in tiers. The lowest tier is logo, business card, stationery; the highest tier includes a Web site and product packaging. Nowhere does it talk about brand assessment, strategy or internal branding, all key critical elements of any rebranding.

The danger of this kind of approach to branding--of looking at it purely as a design exercise--is that it minimizes the strategic and people elements of branding. Without thinking through what the positioning should be, who the audience is, what the distributio…

Strong brand, weak market: Rolodex

The Wall Street Journal has an article about executives clinging to their old fashioned Rolodexes. (Rolodex is the top brand in rotary card files and everybody refers to them by that name, demonstrating the brand's strength.) It's a way of showing social status apparently. Despite the loyalty of some users, sales of rotary card files appear to be trending down. The question is, can Rolodex continue to be a strong brand even when demand for the product is declining? I think so. The issue is what brand characteristics make Rolodex stand out and how Sanford (the company that owns Rolodex) can leverage those.I would suggest that those charcteristics are tangibility and visibility.Sanford could go back to manufacturing the monster size Rolodexes in strong materials like titanium steel. It could make accessories for the Rolodex. And it could even make a custom business card business to go along with the Rolodexes.Just because technology has advanced, doesn't mean there aren'…

Burger King's descent into commoditization

Burger King, in a desperate move to increase market share, is planning to test a $1 double cheeseburger to compete with McDonald's, reports the Wall Street Journal.

It is interesting because McDonald's has managed to maintain their brand even though they offer deeply discounted items. Yet Burger King is damaging its brand by going the commodity route.

I remember when BK used the "broiled, not fried" strategy to great success. Why do they not make a move to distinguish themselves as a brand? Why stoop to price wars?

As always, it has to do with the pressures of Wall Street, which leads firms to focus on short-term profits rather than long-term growth strategies.

If I were in charge at BK, I would go back to the drawing board...perhaps offer "gourmet" burgers at regular price. Value for the money, but without destroying the brand.

Branding as war

In the classic book Marketing Warfare (1986), Jack Trout and Al Ries make the point that marketing is no longer just about serving customer needs better, because everyone is already doing that. Rather, marketing is about fighting the competition.

Key point:"To be successful today, a company must become competitor-oriented. It must look for weak points in the positions of its competitors and then launch marketing attacks against those weak points."

Also: "The true nature of marketing today involves the conflict between corporations, not the satisfying of human needs and wants."

Key principles of marketing warfare:
The best defensive strategy is the courage to attack yourself, but only the market leader should consider playing defense.Always block strong competitive moves.Find a weakness in the leader's strength and attack at that point.Launch the attack on as narrow a front as possible.These principles apply equally to branding as marketing, although we may not norm…

Branding leaders

In "Building a Leadership Brand" (Harvard Business Review, July-August 2007), Dave Ulrich and Norm Smallwood say that companies should in effect brand their leadership styles. For example:
GE, which is known for “turning imaginative ideas into leading products and services,” is also known for having the type of manager who is “a strong conceptualist as well as a decisive thinker.”Johnson & Johnson, which states that “our first responsibility is to the doctors, nurses and patients, to mothers and fathers and all others who use our products and services,” has the type of manager who is “known for being socially responsible….committed to building consumer trust, to product quality, and to safety.”The authors state that “building a strong leadership brand requires that companies follow five principles.”Do the basics of leadership development well: “First, they have to do the basics of leadership—like setting strategy and grooming talent—well.” Be customer-focused: “Second, th…

Why do people love to hate the Department of Homeland Security? 7 reasons and 10 brand "cures"

The Department of Homeland Security does a critical job protecting the United States. Why then if you look it up on the Internet, do you find what can only be described as an outpouring of contempt? Some examples:Milcom Monitoring Post: "I said this when Congress shoved this insanity known as the Department of Homeland Security down the American taxpayers throats--"This will be one of the biggest waste of time, money, energy, manpower and skin in US Government history."Kerfuffles: "If Americans were truly serious, they would elect a 100% brand new United States Congress and a new President who would drive a bulldozer through...the Department of Homeland Security (D.H.S.). "Suzatlarge: "Our fine bureaucrats in the Department of Homeland Security [sic] would rather watch our country’s buildings burn down than let a single questionable person sneak across the border. On a firetruck. With flashing lights and sirens. Responding to a fire call. I wish I were ma…

The end of Starbucks, part II

In a previous post, I said that the Starbucks brand should be killed and resurrected because it is veering toward commoditization, as CEO Howard Schultz himself admitted in a widely leaked memo. Now the Wall Street Journal (weekend edition, Nov. 17-18) reports in "TV Campaign is Culture Shift for Starbucks" that the company is turning to national TV ads in the wake of slower sales. This goes against the brand wisdom espoused ten years ago by Schultz, as the Journal reports: Schultz wrote that "By its very nature, national advertising fuels fears about ubiquity."

The central problem facing the Starbucks brand is that it seeks to be everywhere and an out-of-the-way "third place" at the same time. This cannot be. Either the company embraces a niche strategy, or it tries to be everything to everyone, diluting its brand identity. Despite its protestations to the contrary, it is going the latter route. There should not be a Starbucks on every corner; they should…

Kellogg’s “silent” branding: smart or cynical?

The Economic Times (India), in “When not to use the parent brand,” (16 November 2007) discusses Kellogg’s decision to minimize its connection with a new U.K. brand called FruitaBu.
FruitaBu is a healthy snack brand “comprising apple crisps and dried fruit.” The product is aimed at people who want to comply with the Department of Health recommendation to eat more fruit, and to get that fruit in a quick, convenient way. (The Department of Health “five-a-day” logo is displayed on the product packaging.)

FruitaBu brand manager Paul Humphries says that Kellogg decided not to put its logo on the packaging (the Kellogg name is on the back of the box in small print) because the Kellogg brand is associated with “cereal and cereal-based snacks” and “we thought that if we put Kellogg on FruitaBu, people would assume it was a cereal product.”

Branding experts disagree on whether Kellogg’s move is smart or cynical. Interbrand chairman Rita Clifton says: “Kellogg has terrific brand equity, but what ma…

Branding the homeless—a pathetic display of the dark side of branding

The Wall Street Journal, in “In West L.A., A Homeless Man Inspires New Brand” talks about “the newest sensation at the center of Hollywood’s fashion scene”…56-year-old, homeless, John Wesley Jermyn.

The entrepreneurs who are milking Jermyn’s name for profit have already created a MySpace page for him, which “doubles as an ad for the clothing brand and their nightclub-promotion venture, which is also named ‘The Crazy Robertson.’” According to the Journal, these twentysomethings spent “months” getting close to Jermyn to get his approval; got his buy-in on design decisions; and also had a photographer take pictures of him for publicity purposes.

(Jermyn makes just 5% of “net profit” from clothing sales.)

The brand-builders are riding a trend of “increased fascination with homelessness,” says the Journal. The paper mentions the popularity of “Bumfights,” or videotaped street fights between homeless people; as well as “Filthy Rich and Homeless,” a British TV series showing real-life millionai…

Aligning your personal brand with an employer brand

In "Employers Study Applicants' Personalities," the Associated Press reports on a new trend in hiring: keeping jerks out.
“Despite a labor shortage in many sectors, some employers are pickier than ever about whom they hire. Businesses….are stepping up efforts to weed out people who might have the right credentials but the wrong personality.”Or to put it in brand terms, aligning job candidates’ personal brand with the employer brand.Says Tim Sanders, former leadership coach at Yahoo Inc. and author of The Likeability Factor: " If you have a bunch of jerks, your brand is going to be a jerk.”Job interviews at Rackspace, for example, are all-day events, so that interviewers can wear away “fake pleasantness” and get at the applicants’ real personality. CEO Lanham Napier says, "We'd rather miss a good one than hire a bad one."What can you do to make sure your personal brand is aligned with a potential employer?Study your own personal brand. Develop a short li…

Terrorism, anti-Semitism damage Israel’s brand: What can be done?

Carnegie Mellon’s student newspaper, The Tartan reports (November 12) on a brand talk given to students by Ido Aharoni, Israel’s assistant foreign minister and brand team manager. In his talk, Aharoni said that Israel’s brand could be improved. “Israel’s brand image does not serve its interests right now; I believe we can do much better.”

Israel’s Foreign Ministry has been trying for several years to re-brand Israel in terms of more positive qualities than “solely in terms of war and religion,” and in particular is trying to move Israel’s brand out of its association with the Israel-Palestine conflict. However, until the Palestinians “curb terrorism,” said Aharoni, the process for Israel of growing beyond the association with the Israel-Palestine conflict cannot start.

A survey released last year, in November 2006, and reported on in Israel Today supports Aharoni’s contention that Israel’s brand is damaged. The National Brands Index, conducted together by nation-branding consultant Simo…

New Facebook strategy - an Orwellian brand nightmare

OK, so I think I get it - Facebook is
Launching company brand pages where people can sign up as fans and have that information fed out to their contacts
Launching a service where people who shop at certain third party vendors can have that shopping information fed back as advertising to their contactsLaunching a marketing research service that serves up all the collective information about brands and those who prefer/use them
Facebook CEO Zuckerberg thinks that this is the wave of the future...a form of trusted referrals from friends to friends. But let me tell you, this is the beginning of a nightmare for Facebook from which they will never wake up. Somebody once said that no money can be made on the Internet, and they were right from the standpoint of the Internet user -- people don't want to be spammed with ads online. Having ads shoved at you from your dozens of "contacts" is not going to do anything to make Facebook more valuable or the companies advertising more popul…

Should brand consultants serve as policy advisers?

In a November 6 interview with the Council on Foreign Relations, Simon Anholt, who coined the term “nation-branding,” says advertising is an “utterly futile” way to change perceptions of a country and instead argues that countries should change the way they operate first.

The traditional way of marketing a country is way off, says Anholt, with tourism boards, investment-promotion agencies, government public diplomacy agencies, etc. giving out different messages. “It’s not very surprising that most countries end up with very fragmented, out of date, confusing, unhelpful images,” he says. “So I suppose the primary principle I tried to introduce here with the original idea of nation branding is that if all of those stakeholders work together and try to agree on some kind of common long-term strategy for the country and its role in the world, they’re far more likely to be able to influence the way it’s perceived.”

Anholt does not do advertising. Rather he serves as a kind of policy adviser …

Brand Lessons from RAND’s “Enlisting Madison Avenue”

In a fascinating 2007 study, “Enlisting Madison Avenue,” RAND analyzed (pp. 57-129) how the United States military could better influence indigenous populations in Iraq, Afghanistan, etc. I thought readers of this blog might find it interesting to read some of the key ideas from that report and how they could be applied to any environment. (This is a sort of circling back from business, to government, to all settings.) Know your target audience through segmentation and targeting. This means using research to identify key stakeholders (by demographic [age/gender/income/occupation], psychographic [social class, lifestyle, personality], geographic location, behaviors) and crafting communication strategies that are relevant to each.Apply business positioning strategies. This means coming up with a core message—a message to emphasize—not emphasizing everything. Start with opinions or concepts held by the customer and work those into messages that come from you. Understand key branding conc…

Brand momentum strategies released, but methodology for brand value determination still unclear

Landor Associates and Stern Stewart's BrandEconomics unit released on November 1 the results of its third Breakaway Brands Study. The study analyzes brands that "exhibited sustained, quantifiable growth over a three-year period, delivering brand-driven value to the bottom line between 2003-2006." It includes about 2,500 brands from Young & Rubicam's BrandAsset® Valuator database. (Some brands, like Yahoo!, are excluded from this database, says Fortune (11/12/07), and they include "nonprofits and media firms with their own distribution channel -- whatever that means.)

Top Brands

Nevertheless, the top 10 momentum brands, ranked in descending order by value gained over the three year period, include:

1. General Electric
2. iPod
3. Microsoft
4. Blackberry
5. Samsung
6. Costco
7. T.J. Maxx
8. Barnes & Noble
9. Propel
10. Stonyfield Farm

Key Findings

Three key findings from the study, says Landor, include:

1. It is important to engage customers through branded experiences. &…

Branding and the pharmaceutical industry

Pharmaceutical Executive (November 1) has an article called “Step it up: Branding Roundtable” that talks about branding in the pharmaceutical industry.
I'm not sure what benefit branding ultimately is to the pharmaceutical industry, since generics are required by the Food and Drug Administration to be every bit as good as brands and are widely available.
I guess the scam is for the pharmaceutical industry to convince people that branded drugs are somehow better than generics...which is absolutely not the case.
To that end, here are some quotable quotes: The fundamentals of branding: “If somebody is not willing to pay a little bit more for your brand, you did not have a brand in the first place.”--Jeff Conklin, VP, marketing practices and innovation, Wyeth Being customer-centric: “Branding is going to be driven by the complexity of consumers rather than the complexity of brands.”--ConklinBranding as an experience: “A brand has to create an experience, a situation where people see a re…

Brands are people too - 5 lessons

The October 2007 issue of Fast Company has an interview with Alex Bogusky, the chief creative officer of Crispin Porter + Bogusky, an ad agency well known for its campaigns for Volkswagen and Burger King. Bogusky contributes an important element to the discussion about brands -- talking about personifying it and making it real. Asked how you make a brand famous, he responds: "You start to think about the brand as a person and do some things to personify it a little bit."

Bogusky notes that "personifying a brand" helps the creative process because "It allows you to think about the story of the brand and the narrative of the brand in more of a long-term way."

Bogusky also notes that it is important for brand narratives to evolve: "Madonna is a genius in branding....Madonna was always able to evolve to keep people interested. Brands need to be that way too. They can't lose the essence of what they represent but they've got to continue to surprise …

Buzz-based brand building

In "Brands Infiltrate Social Circles to Create Buzz," Adweek talks about recent efforts being made by brands to facilitate buzz about themselves. The idea is to get people talking "without incurring backlash."

The attempt to generate buzz, says the article, is supported by research showing that consumers believe their friends rather than marketing messages.

A recent example of the new buzz-based brand building: At TV Guide's "suggestion," "agents" whose job it is to "give feedback and talk up products to others" hosted 10,000 TV Guide parties across America before it launched its $20 million (estimated) ad campaign to "reintroduce its 54-year-old brand as a multiplatform provider and celebrator of TV culture, rather than a weekly listing of shows." The agents were honest about their affiliation.

Marketers need to be careful about using social media, says the article. Burson-Marsteller, the PR firm, recently found in a study …

Searching for brand answers

The results of a new study, published in “Online Search Can Be Powerful for CPG Branding,” (MediaPost.com) show that online search can help build consumer packaged goods brands.

Here are the notable findings of the survey (a difference of ten percentage points is usually considered significant):
Nearly half (47%) of the 93.7 million unique site visitors to food product sites were generated by search. Search was responsible for 60% of baby product sites' total unique visitors, 27% of personal care visitors, and 23% of household product visitors.Searchers were somewhat, but not terribly much, more motivated by wanting product information or help than non-searchers (73% vs. 58%). Searchers were also more motivated by wanting help with a purchase decision than non-searchers (64% vs. 44%). (It appears that there is some overlap between these two motivations in the "help" area, but this is not explained by the article.)Non-searchers were more likely than searchers to visit sites…

Branding and the coming recession

As the housing market goes, so goes the economy...and things aren't looking good. As BloggingStocks.com notes,
A whopping 65% of Americans now believe that a recession is coming in the next year and 51% believe the economy is doing poorly, according to a Bloomberg/Los Angeles Times survey. Wall Street executives predicted a 37% chance of a recession, according to a Financial Services Forum survey released last week by the Financial Services Forum.Which kinds of brands will survive the down economy? Not clear, but The Charlotte Observer has some advice about building any brand to survive in a downturn--essentially "going beyond the basics" to "delight your customers," not "just meet their expectations." Even when people don't have money to spend, they have money to spend, and they will spend on brands that offer superior service and a delightful experience.

For brand managers, the question arises, Do you stop spending on the brand in a recession or g…

Nike gets away from its brand with "influencers" campaign

Today's Wall Street Journal has an article, "Running Underground: To Sharpen Nike's Edge, CEO Taps 'Influencers,'" about Nike's new emphasis on popular culture to shape its brand. As is usual when a brand gets ruined, the CEO, Mark Parker, is answering to Wall Street--he has promised a 50% increase in revenue by 2011--and therefore needs to turn to "fickle, style-conscious consumers" rather than the performance oriented athletes around which the company has built its brand.The article says Nike "hasn't lost its traditional focus on pure sports"--it is acquiring British soccer brand Umbro PLC--but needs to "broaden and deepen its appeal--even among non-athletic types."The CEO says things like "How do you keep an edge, a crispness, a relevance?"As a result, Nike has worked with characters like Los Angeles tattoo artist "Mister Cartoon," who has designed six lines of limited edition shoes for the company.…

Can McDonald's get its workers to rhapsodize about its quality?

According to a story in PRWeek, McDonald's is looking for internal brand ambassadors to spread the word about McDonalds' "quality message." The internal campaign complements an external one aimed at "real life moms" who "would push that quality message to their peers and others."

The McDonald's campaign is called the "McDonald's Brand Advocate (MBA) program." Its purpose, one assumes, is to get Mcdonald's employees and owner/operators to also push the quality message.

The manager of U.S. Communications at McDonald's "says the program will help its employees more effectively communicate specific messages about the McDonald’s story in their day-to-day work and personal lives."

Basically, the watchword is quality.
Heather Oldani, director US communications at McDonald’s, told PR Week that "the quality message is being taken so seriously" that McDonald's has formed a cross-functional team to address it -- …

Flexible logos and the Face of the Brand

The New York Timesreports on a trend: "adaptable logos." These are logos that are capable of holding or being meshed with other content. Examples are:
the logo of the 2012 Summer Olympics in London, which is flexible enough to allow Olympic sponsors to put their own "brand symbols or colors" into it, "in effect creating logos within the logo of the Games."The New Museum of Contemporary Art in Manhattan, which is using an adaptable logo to proclaim that it has a new address. This adaptable logo thing is a big deal, says the Times, because "companies [normally] employ armies of people to make sure the color, shape and placement of a logo never vary."
Well, with too much control, people become distanced from the brand--it's cold.
The idea of an adaptable logo is not new. The Times points out that Google "has long been playing with its basic logo." So has Target.
What the Times does not mention is that for a number of years at The Brand Co…

Branding Belfast - an interesting situation

The Belfast Telegraph reports on Belfast's new branding initiative. A couple of interesting things here:

1. The dilemma over how Belfast should be branded - as a generic tourist attraction (the fantasy) or as a more complex site of political conflict (the reality)? Which will make the most money? "Much as we would like to put the Troubles well behind us, it has to be accepted that they are Belfast's top selling point in any campaign. People have heard about us, all over the world, because of our historic quarrels - and the queues for open-top bus tours of the Falls and Shankill are proof of their curiosity value."

2. The problem over accommodating local feelings as a new image is crafted: "With so much about the past that is still in dispute, the marketing team will have to be sensitive to local feelings, as they portray Belfast to the world. To most people, the fact that it is both British and Irish is a plus point, but getting this across without treading on too…

Ann Coulter's "Jew perfected" comment -- branding or theology?

According to this CBS News report, Donny Deutsch told AdWeek: “Candidly, I had her on not to talk about politics but to talk about her brand strategy. Whether you like her or not, her strategy is to be extreme and that's a way to make money. But because it's her, it drifted into politics."

Coulter was a guest on Deutsch’s show The Big Idea, where he asked her to “give her version of a better America.” As CBS News reports, she said that “it would look like New York City during the 2004 Republican National Convention.” (quoting CBS News here, not Coulter)

Deutsch asked Coulter to explain and she said “People were happy. They're Christian. They're tolerant. They defend America ..."

Deutsch interrupted Coulter to say: "Christian ... so we should be Christian? It would be better if we were all Christian?"

Coulter replied “Yes” twice.

According to the news report, Coulter tried to “shift the conversation,” but Deutsch repeatedly brought it back to her comments…

Talbots to review brand positioning--hopefully they will go MORE classic, not less

The Boston Globe has an article today about Talbots (the clothing brand, remember them?) hiring a consultant to "sharpen its brand" to appeal to women over 35. VP of investor relations at Talbots Julie Lorigan admits that "we haven't gotten it right yet...we're not offering the customer exactly what she needs -- and we need to do that." The article quotes Todd D. Slater, managing director of retail and consumer equity research at Lazard Capital Markets, saying that "the baby boomer customer has been less interested in the traditional look for quite some time." Slater thinks Talbots should be "a little more forward. A little more in step with current fashion." That comment is idiotic. Talbots is doing badly because its current "classic" designs stink, not because it should abandon classic design.
When I think of Talbot's great years, I think of preppy clothing for grown-ups. Rich color, rich texture, rich design. Now go take a…