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Showing posts from October, 2007

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…

Martha Stewart stock due for a rise

As MarketWatch noted Sept. 27, Martha Stewart is back, and she’s better than ever. “‘Brand Martha,’ says the site, is not only untarnished but on a major roll.” How do we know? As MarketWatch notes: Her magazines are “bursting with ad pages”Her “partnerships with major retailers are expanding”—like Macy’s, which is debuting 2,000 products in the first season that her collection is at the storesFormer President Bill Clinton appeared as a guest on her daily TV showShe signed a deal with 1-800-Flowers.comShe opened her first co-branded residential community with KB HomeShe has agreements with Fine Living TV and the DIY cable networkShe will soon be selling a line of food at CostcoClarkson Potter/Publishers has announced a new 10 book, five year deal with the companyShe has also signed a deal with E&J Gallo Winery to sell “Martha Stewart Vintage” wine (Wikipedia)
The financials are fantastic, notes MarketWatch:Revenue at Martha Stewart Living Omnimedia was up 7% in the last quarterAd r…

Don’t write off Wal-Mart Yet

A recent Wall Street Journal article, “Wal-Mart era wanes amid big shifts in retail,” (October 3) makes a grand statement that “The Wal-Mart era, the retailer’s time of overwhelming business and social influence in America, is drawing to a close.”The author cites a number of reasons for Wal-Mart’s supposed decline:
Rival retailers offer “greater convenience” Rival retailers offer “more selection” Rival retailers offer “higher quality” Rival retailers offer “better service” Wal-Mart’s image is “down-market”Wal-Mart’s image is “politically incorrect” The Internet “has changed shoppers’ preferences and eroded the commanding influence Wal-Mart had over its suppliers.”Don’t you believe it. Wal-Mart’s brand is all about saving consumers money, and the company delivers on that promise: A study showed it saved shoppers $263 billion in 2004and even though that study is disputed, there is no question that the bottom line savings are there.As long as Wal-Mart stays true to its brand, it w…

What is the Republican brand now about?

In an article titled: “GOP is losing grip on core business vote,” (10/2/07) The Wall Street Journal suggests that “Republican” is no longer equated with “business.” The paper writes: “New evidence suggests a potentially historic shift in the Republican Party's identity -- what strategists call its ‘brand.’”

A September Wall Street Journal/NBC News poll taken in September 2007 shows that 37% of professionals and managers call themselves Republican or Republican-leaning—versus 44% just three years ago.

The article states that key reasons for “drifting away from the party” include:
1. The war in Iraq
2. The increase in federal debt
3. Disaffiliation with the Republican conservative social agenda

Other reasons mentioned include:
4. A desire for help with healthcare costs
5. Desire for more activity on global warming

John Canning Jr., chairman and CEO of Madison Dearborn Partners (a private equity firm) is quoted as saying: “The Republican Party left me.”

What is the Republican party of today no…

Branding in China: Where Buick and Clarins have messed up and KFC and Omega stand out

BusinessWeek’s 9/25/07 edition has an article by Shaun Rein, founder and managing director of the China Market Research Group, called “The Key to Successful Branding in China.” The article makes a set of important points about branding in the Chinese market:
If the Chinese are not brand-loyal, it is because they have many more choices than they did in the past. But perhaps more importantly, multinational companies have failed to target consumers effectively, leading to brand fickleness. Brand-fickleness has nothing to do with culture. Chinese consumers have shown that they are faithful to brands “that suit their needs.”Chinese consumers are loyal both to homegrown and international brands—like Yum Brands’ KFC and Omega, which “controls 70% of the luxury men’s watch market.”Companies need to do more than “define their brand position” and “understand and relate to their consumer base.” They must also reach out to China’s younger generation, which has both money to spend and savvy about h…