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Preview: Making Sense: e-Digest of Brand Thinking

Making Sense: e-Digest of Brand Thinking

The good, the bad and the ugly -- a critical look at brand communications today.

Updated: 2018-03-06T20:38:40.011-05:00




Redefining the role of crop circles in consumer culture


First there were crops, then crop circles, and now, crop-advertising. What is crop-advertising? Check out these examples on TrendHunter Magazine. And you thought urinal advertising was an innovative medium…

Will the real BP please stand up.


We talk a lot about brand personality. But can a brand have a split personality? Take the case of BP. They’ve embraced “green” more strongly and outwardly than virtually any other oil giant. Their logo is green, their stations are green, even their annual report is green.As BP’s Web site explains: “A new breed of energy company demanded a new breed of identity. The Helios, our logo, was inspired

Looking for a new brand experience? This one comes to you.


Trader Joe’s, an upbeat gourmet grocery store chain, recently moved into the Atlanta market. Soon afterwards, a copy of the winter 2007 edition of Trader Joe's Fearless Flyer hit my mailbox. It’s a twenty-four page booklet the size of a comic book, printed on newsprint (or else some type of tan vellum) with lots of old-fashioned stock illustrations (none of which are of the food). It’s dripping

Mr. Clean finds his feminine side


“Well, the funniest woman I ever seenWas the great-granddaughter of Mr. Clean.”-Bob DylanIt’s great when a brand comes out of hibernation and finds there’s plenty of new ground to cover. For years (since 1958, in fact), Mr. Clean® was Mr. Muscle. He handled tough jobs like those dreaded black heal marks and greasy, grimy stovetops. But in the last few years, he’s started to extend himself with

AT&T to Cingular: Hit the road “Jack”


I live in Atlanta, the home of Cingular, and I was at BBDO Atlanta, Cingular’s advertising agency, when the brand was born, so I have soft spot in my heart for “Jack,” the Cingular logo. Even so, I’m not sure how I feel about AT&T dissolving the Cingular brand. In the beginning I was against it, if for no other reason than it washed a few billion dollars of brand equity down the drain. But when

A Ford by any other name is still a Ford


What do you call a Ford Five Hundred that doesn’t sell? A Taurus. Or at least, that’s what the folks at Ford intend to do. They are renaming the Ford Five Hundred, the full-sized sedan that replaced the Taurus in 2005, the Taurus—all in an effort to revive sales.The logic behind this move? Here’s what Mark Fields, Ford's President of The Americas, had to say at the recent Chicago Auto Show: “

Add a little chaos to your brand strategy


Here’s a link to a post from Dino Demopoulos in chroma that I found interesting. It’s entitled “Dynamics of Viral Marketing.” Here’s how it begins >“My personal experience with music/DJs/underground culture, which is largely driven by word of mouth, has made me skeptical of any model that simplifies the process by which new ideas spread. I have repeatedly found that the process of finding stuff

What color is your carton?


Close your eyes and picture a Tiffany and Co. gift box. Now picture a gift box from, let’s say, Zales Jewelers. Unless you just bought something there, you probably can’t recall what the Zales box looks like. That’s the power of color. Too bad so few companies take advantage of it.Here’s one that is, however: CB2. They’re a division of Crate and Barrel, only they skew younger and hipper.

Taking care of business gets a helping hand


Office Depot, the $15 billion, global office products company, launched a new broadcast campaign centered around a “Helping Hand.” Literally. The spots feature a forearm and hand that protrude from an Office Depot box and guide shoppers around the store. I was all set to write about it, but the folks at American Copywriter beat me to it with their post "Office Depot casts Thing to battle Easy

Seeing red -- a problem of brand convergence


I think it started with Target, or at least, that’s when I first noticed it: the color red. It was a subtle clue that you were watching a Target spot. It was effective. So much so, that virtually every department store has added a red element to its brand identity. Some department stores have also adopted the quirky look and personality of Target’s broadcast spots in their own advertising. The

Crayola is coloring outside the lines


Fast Company ran a short piece in their October 2006 issue entitled "When Brand Extensions Go Bad". They showed three new brand extensions, which according to Brandweek, “least fit the brand’s core values.” Two examples: the Harley-Davidson cake-decorating kit and the EVERLAST Fragrance and grooming line.The marketing brains that thought those up could take a lesson from Crayola®.In fact,

Are smart hotel brands headed for the toilet? Could be.


Forget the dingy floor and food-stained countertops. According to Susan Stellin in the October issue of Fast Company, Marriott Residence Inn is betting on a new upscale kitchen—complete with granite countertops, stainless steel appliances, glass and stained wood—to keep you coming back. And staying longer. This is on top of Residence Inn’s self-described “new sleep experience,” which already

Jimi Hendricks on branding: “Are you experienced?”


In his e-seminar, "Experiential Branding," Professor Bernd H. Schmitt of Columbia University argues that it's not enough for marketers to promote the features and benefits of their brands. “With so many products of similar purpose and quality on the market,” he says, “managers need to provide customers with desirable (brand) experiences.”That’s only partly right. He should have said “customer

Not every tag line is a weak sister. Here are three worth noting.


Question: If a tagline is supposed to deliver your brand promise in a compelling and memorable way, why do so many fall short of the mark? Don’t answer that. Instead, study these three examples from Rogaine, Ziebart, Saturn. They are tag lines that increase sales. Of course, that’s assuming there is a correlation between tag lines and sales. Even if there isn’t, I like the way these three

Branding by brainwashing


Repeat after me:HeadOn—apply directly to the forehead!HeadOn—apply directly to the forehead!HeadOn—apply directly to the forehead!Ah, the HeadOn TV spot. Annoying? You bet—but that’s what makes it so cunning. HeadOn is a homeopathic remedy for headache pain made by Miralus Healthcare. According to Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia, Miralus focus-group tested a number of potential commercials for

The war of the beds – Part II


Two more contenders have joined the hospitality industry's ongoing bedding war: Residence Inn (owned by Marriott) and Hampton Inn (owned by Hilton). Both are advertising a more comfortable and relaxing bed for weary business travelers.No doubt, each company hopes to differentiate and add value to their brand through the unique bed experience it offers. But judging from these two ads in the 2006

When tag lines collide—branding in home improvement


(I apologize for the long interval between posts. I was overwhelmed with projects the last few weeks.)As I see it, a brand promise is just that—a promise. It’s the customer experience that determines whether or not it’s true. Unfortunately, many companies subscribe to the “say it and they will believe it” variety of branding. Take, Home Depot for example, the third largest retailer in the world.

A tag line with a sense of humor...


Can a pun be used as a tag line? You bet, just ask the folks at Gold Bond Products, makers of Gold Bond® Foot Powder and Gold Bond® Foot Cream. Like the good old Moon Pie people, Gold Bond hails from Chattanooga, Tennessee, where it’s still 1940 in some places, at least consumer-products wise. (Take a look at Gold Bond’s packaging.)From the Gold Bond Web site: “Since 1908, Gold Bond® has been

Send a message to Madison Avenue — vote for your favorite icon and tag line


Last year, it was Juan Valdez and GEICO Gecko who strolled down the Madison Avenue Advertising Walk of Fame, along with two tag lines: “imagination at work,” and “When you care enough to send the very best.” This year, who knows? It could be Smokey Bear or maybe Fruit of the Loom Guys. The point is—you get to decide. Cast your vote for your favorite brand icon and tag line in the 2006 Advertising

Now on TV – a wiener that talks to itself


I just saw Hebrew National's latest TV spot. It’s one more example of a company talking to itself. The spot shows the good parts of the cow that go into kosher dogs vs. the “bad” parts that go into non-kosher dogs. But it stops short of telling you why that is important. It just assumes you know. And that’s where it goes off target.The spot speaks less to newbies and more to those who already eat

Tag line of the month (June 2006): CRAVENDALE®


CRAVENDALE® is a dairy company in the UK. Launched in 1998, it went to market with a unique (and hilarious) tag line:Milk so good, the cows want it backTheir Web site is truly entertaining. It's a comical call to action, imploring milk drinkers to join a grassroots movement of milk-loving activists - passionate believers in the taste of CRAVENDALE®. Their mission: to protect the supply and

New Lego CEO -- Being nice isn't enough


I love straight talk, especially when it comes out of the mouth of a CEO. In the June issue of Fortune Magazine, there is an article on the rebuilding of Lego. (Yes, another Lego story) This time it’s about their new CEO, Jorgen Vig Knudstrop. He’s made the company profitable again. He’s also rocked Lego’s culture like an earthquake. He replaced the old mission statement, “nurturing the child,”

CEO bites dog.


(This isn’t branding, but it’s interesting.) Performance counts, as all of those CEOs who elect to earn a $1 in salary will tell you. But here comes a new twist. W. Alan McCollough, departing CEO of Circuit City, says he will forfeit long-term compensation worth about $6.9 million. Part of that includes a grant of 400,000 stock options (worth approximately $3.6 million). The stock options will be

This logo is a croc. (sorry, I couldn't control myself)


In the early 1960’s, my friends and I hung out a lot at the Flamingo Park tennis courts in Miami Beach (where I grew up). We kids were only allowed to play on the concrete courts; they saved the clay courts for the privileged few who had the right shoes—and the right shirt. In this case, it was a white polo shirt with a green embroidered crocodile appliquéd on it. A Lacoste tennis shirt.René