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The latest news on Branding from Business Insider

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    Chick Fil A

    When Chick-fil-A president Dan Cathy made statements saying that gay marriage is "inviting God's judgment on our nation," people instantly began a movement against the fast food chain.

    There were boycotts, politicians making statements, protests outside the restaurants and more. Soon, it had escalated into a national controversy, with vehement support from both sides. 

    But, in the end, it seems to have paid off for the chicken chain, reports Bruce Horovitz at USA Today.

    According to a study by research firm Sandelman & Associates:

    • Consumer use was up 2.2 percent in Q3 compared to the year prior
    • Market share up 0.6 percent
    • Total ad awareness up 6.5 percent
    "There was a lot of talk that this would hurt Chick-fil-A, but it actually helped the brand," Jeff Davis, president of Sandelman, tells USA Today.

    PR pros and pundits had widely panned Chick-fil-A's response to the controversy initially. Some are still befuddled by what happened.

    DON'T MISS: Meet S. Truett Cathy, The 91-Year-Old Billionaire Behind Chick-fil-A >

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    Rob Candelino

    Brands know they've succeeded once consumers begin to sell the product themselves — in the way that Apple products have become status symbols.

    But it's not easy to turn consumers into advocates. Usually, it involves taking some bold risks to create an aura of authenticity surrounding the brand.

    To provide some advice for entrepreneurs looking to create an inspiring product, we spoke with Rob Candelino, vice president of brand building for Unilever Skincare. He played a major role in Dove's popular "Real Beauty" campaign, which completely changed the company's image. 

    Below is a slightly-edited transcript of our conversation:

    Most brands would like to inspire. What is your definition of an inspiring brand?

    A product is a transactional thing; it’s an item that serves a purpose in your life. A brand can be that same item but with an emotional engagement. And I think often times, what makes brands exceptional, what makes brands inspiring is that that emotional engagement is so deep, is so profound, and so relevant to that individual who is interacting with that brand, it transcends the functional purpose it serves.

    How do you connect emotionally with your consumers?

    I don’t think you can do what we’ve done in beauty related self-esteem issues unless you have a tremendous relationship on which to build. So we took what was a really good strong relationship and made it even stronger because we were advocating to the very issues that mothers and girls are wrestling with in living rooms around the country and around the world.

    For startups on a budget, is it worth investing in expensive marketing talent?

    The point is you have to be contextually relevant. Where you send your money, make sure you get a commensurate impact for the investment you’re making. If you’re spending $50,000 on a local program that is reaching however many dozens of women and girls, that needs to be as powerful per interaction as that ad you do in Times Square or at the Super Bowl.

    How do you integrate a social cause into your brand?

    I’ll come back to my point about contextual relevance. I see a lot of brands in all industries recognizing the importance of having a very overt social relevance in addition to their commercial presence. Where we think brands sometimes get it wrong is when that social objective does not sync up to who they are as a business. That’s why when we do things for Dove, if we partner for an event it has to be consistent and authentic to the values that we ascribe to as a brand and our commitment to building positive self esteem for women and girls. If its not, we want no part of it.

    How do you know if your campaign has resonated?

    When you put six women in their underwear on a billboard in Times Square and challenge conventional norms of beauty imagery, you know instantaneously. That work originally was so groundbreaking and so profoundly inspiring to women, that we knew right away. Women would call us. Women would come up to us. It was immediate.

    What are the potential pitfalls of promoting an inspiring brand? What can go wrong?

    There’s a tremendous amount that could go wrong. I think if you think of the risk my predecessors took: "We’re going to spend a few million bucks to do a Super Bowl ad and we’re not going to talk about product. We’re going to talk about a philosophy and a philosophy that takes on the very industry that we are a part of." Think of how risky that was, how groundbreaking that was. But that context which everyone understood, is exactly what lent more credibility and power to the message itself. We were conscious of that and it was a deliberate choice. 

    NOW READ: Three Words You Should Remember When Designing Your Brand

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    urban hurricane sandy brand fail

    As Hurricane Sandy hit a death toll of 74 and initially left 8 million without power, many Americans are criticizing brands that chose to use the storm as a marketing ploy and capitalize in the wake of destruction.

    Click here to see the biggest offenders>

    Retailers ranging from the usual suspects (American Apparel and Urban Outfitters) to more sensitive brands (Gap and Jonathan Adler) blasted out emails and tweets full of hurricane puns and special, limited time Sandy Sales.

    Be it good marketing or insensitive exploitation, the press and social media-sphere critiqued the trend. Some brands apologized, others didn't.

    It's reminiscent of when Kenneth Cole compared the Arab Spring to its spring sale, tweeting "Millions are in uproar in #Cairo. Rumor is they heard our new spring collection is now available online."

    Furthermore, flash sale sites like Groupon and Living Social are shilling deals for resorts, restaurants, and more that were damaged in the storm and currently out of commission. Although Living Social's director of communication Marie Griffin told Ad Age"What we have done in light of the storm is we have been in touch with our different hotel partners, and for those that have been affected we've pulled them off the site for now."

    People were outraged when American Apparel emailed customers about a Hurricane Sandy 20 percent off sale. Online shoppers were prompted to type "SANDYSALE" in the online checkout. The company didn't apologize.

    Gap was also criticized for this Tweet sent Monday, which also asked customers to check in on its Foursquare: “Frankenstorm Apocalypse — Hurricane Sandy.”

    Gap kind of apologized by erasing the offending Tweet and offering this explanation:

    See the rest of the story at Business Insider

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    Marie Antoinette’s advice to the poor was “let them eat cake.”

    Oprah Winfrey’s response to world recession has been to release her own line of organic food.

    According to Forbes, America’s Ancien Queen has filed for trade marking“Oprah’s Organics”, “Oprah’s Harvest” and “Oprah’s farm.” Oprah’s products include salad dressing, frozen vegetables, massage oils, skin care products and hair sprays – a little bit of luxury for her millions of devoted followers.

    Although, for now, they’ll only be available to acolytes living in Hawaii. The rest of the country will have to eat and wash their hair with things that don’t have a famous person’s name randomly stamped on them.

    An article in Sunday’s New York Times suggests that Oprah’s obsessive branding of anything and everything (in a dystopic future, warzones will be dotted with “Oprah’s Landmines”) is actually a sign of panic. Although Ms Winfrey remains insanely wealthy, the power of her brand has diminished since she quit her talk show 18 months ago. Her attempt to turn Rosie O’Donnell into a likeable primetime anchor proved as short-sighted as, well, trying to turn Rosie O’Donnell into a likeable primetime anchor – leading to declining ratings for her OWN network (for a sense of what it’s like to watch the soporifically therapeutic OWN, dip a big cushion in perfume and get a friend to smother you with it until dead). But nothing could top her humiliation after she was invited to the White House and … made to enter through security like everyone else. Oh, the humanity.

    Adding insult to injury, the New York Times has filed a report that is about as sarcastic as one can be without simply becoming the New York Post. Christine Haughney writes that Oprah has tried to recreate the glory days of her chat show with appearances before live audiences, photographed kindly by her magazine. As always, her performances blend intimacy, crass displays of wealth and a total lack of self awareness that recalls Mae West at her most overweight. I quote:

    She stepped onstage to speak to 5,000 attendees at the magazine’s annual conference, a New Age slumber party of sorts for women held at the convention center here last month. When Ms. Winfrey confidently strode out dressed in a sea foam green V-neck dress and a pair of perilously tall ruby red stilettos, the audience collectively leapt to its feet and shrieked at the sight of her.

    “I love you, Oprah,” some women shouted, while other fans brushed away tears. “I love you back,” she responded in her signature commanding voice. “It’s no small thing to get the dough to come here.”

    It’s no small thing to get the dough to come here. Evidently in the strange world of Oprah, love is measured in how much someone’s willing to pay to meet someone else. Next time your girl asks you how much you love her, say, “Well, the cab fare wasn’t cheap…”

    Ms Winfrey always looks good, but the Times detects signs of pressure – a point that it emphasises in its bluntly factual way by quoting her age.

    Ms. Winfrey, 58, has shown some signs of strain. She arrived at the conference with faint shadows under her eyes and announced to her best friend, Gayle King, and the audience simultaneously that she had a breast cancer scare the week before. (It was ultimately a false alarm.) When Ms. King grew visibly upset, one woman chided Ms. Winfrey for not telling her friend ahead of time and ordered her to apologize to Ms. King — all before an audience. Ms. Winfrey also did not hide her dissatisfaction with the criticism she had faced. She told the audience, “the press tried to cut me off at the knees” in its coverage of OWN, and bristled at questions about the challenges her magazine confronted.

    The problem isn’t just a hostile press – it’s that the Oprah brand in general is showing its age. The median age or a reader of her "O" magazine is 49 (Vogue is 35.6). Ms Winfrey insists that she’s trying to reach out to people “in their 30s or perhaps their 20s, to be able to reach people when they are looking to fulfill their destiny.” But the problem is that the content of O appeals more to people who are done fulfilling their destiny and now just want to die with dignity. According to the Times: “Recent articles discussed how tea helps lower blood pressure and offered advice on how to talk to a doctor about medical history.”

    It’s wrong to write Oprah off: failure for her would be considered success for most others. Yes, her magazine readership fell by 22 per cent when her show ended, but that’s better than the 25 per cent fall that was predicted and the publication remains hugely popular. Better still, her OWN network is dragging itself up in the ratings, largely helped by big name interviews between Oprah and her famous friends. In the latest one, Justin Bieber tells her about his love for Selena Gomez. It’s hardly Frost/Nixon, but it'll sure help bring down the median age of the viewers.

    The bigger problem is that the Oprah brand belongs to a different, gentler era. In her time, workouts and weight loss milkshakes were all it took to draw an audience. Today’s generation wants to talk more frankly about sex, while lifestyle politics has a more radical edge. Oprah might have helped put Obama in the White House, but his epoch has left her far behind. In the world that Honey Boo Boo made, freak is the real chic.

    Read all Tim Stanley's Telegraph Blog posts here

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    black friday teens shopping

    It started with Black Friday, the day after Thanksgiving.

    It spread to Super Saturday—the Saturday before Christmas and Cyber Monday—the Monday after Thanksgiving. Now two more have been added.

    To retailers, the branding of holiday shopping days is one of the few tools they’ve found to be effective in combatting reduced sales in a sluggish economy. As a result, retailers continue to expand the number of branded Holiday shopping days.

    Two years ago, American Express created Small Business Saturday to encourage consumers to patronize their smaller non-chain stores. This year retailers invented Gray Thursday to get shoppers into the stores right after their Thanksgiving dinners.

    While this sparked protests from employees of the big chain stores and their families, the long lines and the sounds of busy cash registers seem to have quashed the protests.

    Where will it end?

    In 2012, because Thanksgiving comes earlier than usual, there are already two extra shopping days. Because of this and the addition of Gray Thursday and Small Business Saturday, retailers are expecting a better than usual holiday shopping season. As long as shoppers are excited and stores are making money, perhaps there is no end in sight to the expansion of branded holiday shopping days. Should there be? Marketers would say that the customers should decide.

    Exciting results so far

    While some react negatively to all the “hype” and commercialization, it is hard to argue with the results. According to a consumer holiday tracking survey by The International Council of Shopping Centers and Goldman Sachs, it is estimated that 17% of consumers, or up to 41 million people, decided to shop on Gray Thursday. When the figures are tabulated for the entire Thanksgiving weekend, the National Retail Federation believes 147 million Americans will bump up holiday sales by 4.1% over last year.

    Last year was a resounding success

    In 2011, Black Friday sales were $52.4 billion– up 16.4% from 2010. Cyber Monday sales were up a whopping 33% over 2010. Stores that extended their hours over the branded holiday shopping days of Thanksgiving weekend increased sales by 22%. Retailers that did not, saw an 8% decline in sales.

    To understand why branded shopping days help to boost holiday sales, it helps to understand their origins.

    Gray Thursday

    Big box stores, such as Walmart and Target started the idea of opening early on Thanksgiving to grab shoppers before their competitors do on Black Friday. Since it was before the traditional opening of Black Friday sales at midnight, the media branded this early opening as Gray Thursday. Once these big box stores announced sales starting right after Thanksgiving dinner, their competitors felt compelled to follow so they would not lose business to their rivals.

    Black Friday

    The term, “Black Friday” can be traced to Philadelphia in the 1960’s. Traffic was so bad the day after Thanksgiving that police were asked to work 12-hour shifts. Since they were not happy about this, they labeled the day Black Friday. As time went on, the name evolved outside of Philadelphia to the date when many retailers saw their bottom lines go from loses (red ink) to profits (black ink).

    Small Business Saturday

    In 2010, to plant its image in the minds of holiday shoppers, American Express branded the Saturday of Thanksgiving weekend as Small Business Saturday. Its aim was to create a nationwide movement in support of local stores so they could compete with the big box chains. It worked. It is estimated that 100 million shoppers patronized small stores on that day.

    Cyber Monday

    Cyber Monday is a term coined in 2005 in a press release with the following headline “Cyber Monday Quickly Becoming One of the Biggest Online Shopping Days of the Year.” Based on their research, Rate noticed that online sales increased significantly on the Monday after Thanksgiving.

    Super Saturday

    Being the last shopping day before Christmas, Super Saturday is the day that last minute shoppers flood retailers. Along with Black Friday and Cyber Monday, it has become one of the three biggest holiday shopping days. It attracts procrastinators that are too busy or lazy to do their shopping earlier as well as those looking for discounts from retailers that want to clear their shelves of holiday merchandise.

    What does the branding of these days do for retailers?

    By branding these five shopping days, retail marketers give them an identity that serves as a short cut into the brains of prospective buyers. As shoppers hear about these branded days, they begin to think of them as special events and opportunities to receive discounts and deals they are unlikely to get on other days. Branding these days also provides opportunities for retailers to offer discounts, open earlier, close later, and create lines. Yes, that’s right – lines.

    How do lines help marketing?

    If you ask most people about lines, they will say they do not like standing in them. However, lines attract people. They immediately communicate that what is at the end of the line is desirable and worth the wait. Great restaurants and movies have lines. Those that are not so good don’t.

    Many shoppers are attracted by the “wisdom of the crowd” that lines represent. By not allowing pre-orders, Apple deliberately orchestrated lines for the iPad2 because they did not want a re-occurrence of no lines at Verizon stores when the VerizoniPhone was introduced. The lack of lines became a news story that gave Apple and the Verizon iPhone negative publicity. Lines also attract “innovators” – people that love to spread the word about how they camped out overnight to be early in line to shop at a store for a particular product. It is part of their identity to tell others about this. As they do, they become initiators of positive word-of-mouth pyramids that promote the store and products to a much larger audience for free.

    Look for the branding of more days

    Because of the success of Gray Thursday, Black Friday, Cyber Monday and Super Saturday, stay tuned for more branded days that can drive shoppers to stores online and off. After all, Tuesday, Wednesday, and Sunday are still available.

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    Pepsi Homepage

    Though it started out as a news site, then syndicated content for publishers, the future of New York startup NewsCred, according to its CEO, will be in selling articles and content to the world's biggest brands.

    Current clients include Pepsi, Johnson & Johnson, and Orange Telecom. 

    But what on earth are giant companies doing paying for journalism?  

    For corporate brands, there's a very visible return, says NewsCred CEO Shafqat Islam:

    "...our service is being used to generate leads, to educate customers, to educate employees, and to drive people down the sales funnel, so there's really a tangible ROI. Take Zurich Insurance, they're a perfect example. They use our content on specific risk and insurance topics to educate their customers, that's number one. Number two is to provide thought leadership, a customer will read content that's useful for their business, then hopefully pick up the phone and call the Zurich financial advisor who's listed.

    They also push content through email marketing channels. If they can be useful and provide a valuable, authentic service to their customers, which is why they like licensing content from The Economist or Bloomberg, they found that the engagement and open rates for emails are significantly higher. That's how corporate brands are using it, and I feel like that's a very sustainable long-term play for us. It's not a fad even though, when it comes to content marketing, there's been an explosion of interest. For corporate brands, this is here to stay because it really generates positive business results."

    The consumer side is entirely different, Islam says: 

    "On the consumer side, for Pepsi, they're not trying to sell products, they're not trying to sell services, they're using it more as a way to talk to their customers and have something to say now that they've engaged this audience, whether it's on their website, on Twitter, or on other social media.

    Pepsi has these huge fan bases that are now having a direct dialog with them, and we just help them figure out what to say. For the Pepsi home page, instead of a corporate page, they decided they wanted to talk to their customers about pop culture. That's something that Pepsi's stood for, for a long time, so they licensed content from us that's entertainment related; pop culture, music and movie-related and we helped them scale their content efforts because they're not a newsroom, that's not their expertise. We provide them with the content and the technology to power that home page."

    In both cases, there's real value. Having a homepage that's full of interesting articles, draws customers in, and creates exactly the kind of conversation they want is extremely useful to consumer brands. 

    For corporate brands, the return is even easier to see. According to Islam, corporate clients are seeing 30 to 40 percent open rates for their email marketing campaigns in certain channels, which he says is "unheard of for these kind of corporate B2B campaigns."

    By being a one-stop shop for the content, providing the technology to use it, helping craft strategy, and dealing with all of the legal and licensing issues, the company hopes to make this decision very easy.

    That's paying dividends. At first, NewsCred constantly had to make the case to brands about what they could do with content. Now, companies are coming to them. 

    Syndication is going to be cheaper, faster, more flexible, and easier to scale than creating content in house. That's what companies look for when they spend marketing dollars. Because it comes from prominent third parties, it has an impartiality and credibility that's very difficult to imitate.

    The content's already there and there's a lot of it. What businesses do with it is limited only by their imagination and strategic vision. 

    Islam's biggest regret? That they didn't start pursuing brands sooner.  

    NOW READ: The Brilliant Pivot That Turned NewsCred Into One Of Silicon Alley's Hottest Startups

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    Fast food menu items come and go, but only a select few develop a cult-like fan base.

    Some have disappeared from the fast food world, leaving raging fans pleading with the companies to one day resurrect their beloved foods. Others strive on — either as limited-time offerings or permanent menu stalwarts.

    We've compiled a bunch of menu items that have developed true cult followings.

    KFC's Double Down

    KFC originally promoted the Double Down in an April Fools press release, but the sandwich received such a positive response that the chain decided to leave the item on the menu.

    Consisting of two thick slabs of bacon, two slices of cheese, and the Colonel's Sauce all sandwiched between two deep fried chicken breasts, KFC's Double Down is considered to be "so meaty, there's no room for a bun!" 

    It's also considered to be one of the nation's most unhealthy sandwiches.  But popular demand in America and abroad have kept this 540-calorie menu item alive.

    Starbucks Pumpkin Spice Latte

    It's practically a national holiday for Pumpkin Spice Latte lovers when Starbucks releases its fall drink menu each September. 

    However, this year there was so much demand for the sweet treat that Starbucks ran out of latte making supplies and declared a "pumpkin emergency," much to the dismay of its loyal customers. 

    In attempts to get their pumpkin and caffeine fix, some thirsty fans resorted to making homemade pumpkin spice lattes until Starbucks was able to avert the crisis.

    Sonic's Cherry Limeade

    Two whole limes go into Sonic's Cherry Limeade which is, perhaps, one of the reasons why this sweet beverage has been so successful. 

    But fans also gush over the tiny ice pellets, which have a slushier quality than regular ice chips, and the Styrofoam cup, which is said to keep in the chill.

    Still not convinced? You can always try one at half price everyday from 2 P.M. to 4 P.M. during Sonic's Happy Hour.

    See the rest of the story at Business Insider

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    car buying scams advice dealers used new

    If you need to sell someone a bogus product guaranteed to ramp up their career, lawyers are probably your best audience.

    Above The Law columnist Brian Tannebaum has spent weeks decrying the changing values of lawyers who are now more focused on creating a successful "brand" than on performing for their clients.

    This focus on self-promotion emerged in the face of intense economic pressure following the recession.

    In this week's rant, Tannebaum lets slip that due to that pressure, lawyers are the biggest suckers of them all when it comes to falling for too-good-to-be-true campaigns that promise wealth and fame if you only sign up for the online marketing scheme du jour.

    "This is from the horse’s mouth, a marketer told me once that there are no easier clients to obtain than lawyers — they don’t ask questions," Tannebaum revealed in Monday's column for ATL (emphasis ours).

    More from Tannebaum's column:

    In fact, last week there was a webinar for lawyers about how to make oodles of money. It was hosted by a former practicing lawyer whose efforts to make money teaching lawyers how to make money have resulted in bankruptcy and financial disaster.

    Dozens signed up.

    Because of this, I’m considering a webinar on how to be tall and Catholic, just to see the numbers of registered lawyers.

    Shame on our profession.

    It is a little concerning that the people we trust to wade through fraudulent claims and keep us protected from online schemers are such easy prey.

    But, given the pressure put on lawyers to immediately make it big once they leave school, we can almost understand their desperation.

    DON'T MISS: Outspoken Dean Is Making His Students Sick By Defending Law School >

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    breaking bad exploding car scene

    The three best networks on television are, in no particular order: FX, HBO, and AMC.

    Both have had a remarkable run of great series, although FX kind of muddied their waters with Russell Brand and Charlie Sheen, while HBO is determined to be the home to quality dramas and dramedies, even if they are sometimes dull (Enlightened) or, arguably, overwrought (Newsroom).

    AMC, on the other hand, had a sterling track record with Mad Men, Breaking Bad and The Walking Dead. Then they gave us Rubicon, which was not terribly well received, but at least it was very AMC-like (and beloved by four people), The Killing (what should’ve been great show if it hadn’t been mismanaged by Veena Sud), and Hell on Wheels, another show befitting the AMC brand but that not everyone has gotten into.

    However, AMC is now officially tanking the brand, going from great and potentially-great dramas to reality crap. Kevin Smith’s Comic Book Men was just the beginning, followed by The Pitch, a decent enough reality show if you’re into the advertising industry. But pairing Small Town Security with Breaking Bad was like pairing a beautiful steak dinner with a bowl full of upchuck for dessert.

    Unfortunately, it’s not getting better, as AMC veers further and further from the shows that put them on the map.

    Indeed, while AMC is developing two potentially promising dramas— one about George Washington and spies during the Revolutionary War, and another about the computer industry in the 1980s—it’s also filling up on reality fare. In addition to renewing Comic Book Men and Small Town Security (GUH!), AMC is also launching Freakshow, a reality show that will follow a family behind a Venice Beach boardwalk freakshow attraction (sounds like a TLC program) and Immortalized, a reality competition series about taxidermists (sounds like a History Channel show).

    Add to that another reality competition, Owner’s Manual, which will pit two people against each other in a competition to see if it’s better to build with or without an owner’s manual, which sounds like another History channel show.

    At least, AMC has seen fit to separate its drama from its reality programming, keeping the dramas on Sundays, and now launching all these reality shows in a Thursday night block. However, I think their brand would be much better off sticking exclusively to dramas. These reality shows will do little but dilute the once pristine reputation of the network.

    (Source: THR)

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    When you work as a brand builder, one has to admire what the cigarette industry has been able to accomplish.

    Whether right or wrong, they’ve created some of the most iconic brands in the world—with help from some great creative agencies, of course. So, with that in mind, why is the branding and advertising for the next big thing in this industry—electronic cigarettes—so awful?

    I’m not a smoker, but I know plenty and understand the accompanying habits and rituals. A few months ago, I was out with a friend who’s a heavy chain smoker, and he pulled out an electronic cigarette and started puffing away. The slick little device was intriguing because it seemed like a very simple and elegant solution.

    Soon after, I started hearing and seeing more about these products. Blu Cigs is definitely the most sophisticated of the E-cig brands, with advertising featuring Stephen Dorff, an attractive young actor who was a smoker for over twenty years. In one television spot, shot in black and white, Stephen evokes James Dean (at the beach, for some reason) and talks about how he’s just as cool using his Blu. The campaign centers on the tagline “Rise from the Ashes.” (I’ll save my critique of this creative for later.)

    blu cig e cigarette ad

    blu cig e cigarette ad

    My curiosity was definitely piqued, so I decided to investigate how other brands in this seemingly competitive landscape are presenting themselves.

    One of the top brands is South Beach Smoke. Their image literally reflects the name—with sexy hipsters dressed to impress and enjoying some vapor at a club. (I’m assuming it’s one that’s very hard to get into if you’re an average-looking guy.)

    south beach smoke e cigarette

    Ever Smoke takes a different approach and caters to the masses—so whether you’re the girl-next-door type or the hotshot douchebag type, this product is for you. Optima Cigs created an image that looks more like something developed in the back of a Berlin underground techno club. I guess they smoke these on the Star Trek Enterprise.

    eversmoke e cigarette ad

    And then there’s Green Smoke, the obvious way to play up the non-sexy side of smoking. The list goes on but you get the idea. Each of these brands is trying to find the right way to present themselves to smokers. And all of them are failing.

    Let’s look at the market. According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, 20% of adults smoke. That’s roughly 46 million people. The cigarette industry spends billions in advertising. Smoking costs the healthcare system in the U.S. approximately $190 billion a year. Second hand smoke costs more than $10 billion. So obviously there’s huge potential here—and we’re just talking U.S. numbers.

    I’ve never worked on a tobacco account, but it’s obvious to my non-tobacco influenced brain that changing the mindset of this immense and diverse audience will be a massive undertaking. We’re basically talking about every type of person on the planet. I can’t help it, but the brand builder in me loves the thought of this challenge.

    And for makers of these products, the revenue opportunity is enormous. Which means more money for creative agencies. Sure, Big Tobacco owns many of the E-cig brands—and you can’t have one without the other—but at least it’s a change in the right direction.

    This leads me back to my critique of the creative from Blu Cigs and others. The life of a smoker is very different today than it was in the 50s—when smoking was ubiquitous and more widely accepted. Blu Cigs and others are forgetting this fact. None of these brands look or sound authentic, let alone reflect real life. It’s a weird mix of brand and style influences—from bad infomercials to liquor to energy drinks—plus it’s a huge missed opportunity. Where are the real gut-wrenching messages, like “I’m doing this for my kids.”

    Where’s the candid imagery of real people who are looking me straight in the eyes while telling me their story? Perhaps it’s okay to not make everything so sexy and aspirational all the time. Maybe Blu Cigs missed the mark by using their celebrity spokesperson as a celebrity. If they had humanized him, made him relatable, then it would have made more sense. Just put him in front of the camera and have him talk, unscripted. He smoked for twenty years and now he’s using your product. That’s compelling enough.

    Regardless, all of these brands are missing an opportunity to communicate a healthier lifestyle. Even if they’re saying it, it’s done passively or put into the wrong context. The product is innovative. The marketing, not so much.

    I believe the first brand to get this right will have a huge advantage. And, hopefully, they won’t be using a tagline as cliché as “Rising from the Ashes.”

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    Ford is in the news today for its efforts to reposition and rebuild its Lincoln Brand. One thing is clear: the company knows how to get attention. The story is everywhere. Ford staged a big media event at Lincoln Center in New York yesterday and CEO Alan Mulally is giving interviews to the big media outlets.

    Does this all make sense?

    Put another way, should Ford really be devoting billions (and a Super Bowl spot) to the fading Lincoln brand, a mark with some negative associations that makes up just 3% of Ford’s sales?

    Ford has done a rather impressive job of narrowing its brand portfolio in recent years. The company killed off the Mercury brand and sold off Range Rover and Jaguar and others. At this point, Ford has just two main brands: Ford and Mercury.

    One thing is very clear: without a significant investment, Lincoln will fail. Sales are falling and, more important, the brand is losing relevance. The trend is not positive.

    To understand the Lincoln move, it is important to consider a more fundamental question. Could Ford just be Ford? Why not focus all the efforts on the core brand?

    The problem with narrowing to one brand is that this will limit what Ford can do. A brand can’t be all things to all people. Ford certainly isn’t a luxury brand. I suspect people don’t often debate between getting a Ford or a BMW. If Ford narrows to just one brand, the company gives up on high-end autos. This might be the best answer but it certainly isn’t a popular answer for employees, the CEO or the board.

    Once Ford decides it has to play in high-end autos, the Lincoln decision is easy. Launching a new brand is incredibly expensive. Why launch a new brand when you already have a brand with a long history and broad awareness?

    Rebuilding Lincoln will not be easy. Step one is getting people to notice the brand again. As Jim Farley, head of Ford marketing noted, “The most important thing is for people to be aware that there is a transition going on. We have to shake them up.”

    Step two is giving people a reason to buy a Lincoln. What is this brand, anyway? Why would I buy it? It isn’t enough to have a good, jazzy car. The brand has to stand for something specific.

    Ford has about two years to get Lincoln moving in the right direction. Let’s hope they have a clear positioning to build on.

    This post originally appeared at Building Strong Brands

    NOW READ: Ford's Bold New Social Media Strategy Has Inherent Risks

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    tesco fresh & easy

    Last week British grocery giant Tesco threw in the towel and announced that it would stop investing in its U.S. business. The company will either close or sell its nearly two hundred store “Fresh & Easy” chain.

    This isn’t surprising news; the U.S. business had apparently been struggling for years. Since its opening in 2007, Tesco has lost more than £850 million on the business and results apparently were not improving quickly.

    There are three important learning points here.

    First, it is incredibly difficult to enter an established category where people have little motivation to learn. Grocery stores are fine. People aren’t looking for another one. If the concept isn’t dramatically different, like Whole Foods or Trader Joe’s, then people won’t change. Tesco tried to enter the US by creating lovely stores that were modestly different. This just won’t work. It is amazing they tried at all.

    Second, when the numbers don’t work people eventually give up. Companies launch new products to build profits. When it is clear that the new venture won’t generate good returns, they stop investing. When evaluating competitors, it is useful to keep this in mind; if you want someone to stop attacking you, just convince them they won’t make any money and they will stop.

    Third, defensive strategy really works. Analysts are blaming Tesco’s failure on the company and the economy. But I am quite confident US retailers did everything they could to make Tesco’s life difficult. That would have been a very smart strategy; Tesco was a huge long-term threat to US retailers. Tesco’s failure was very good news for Kroger and Walmart.

    This post originally appeared at Building Strong Brands

    DON'T MISS: Britain's Biggest Retailer Is Ready To Abandon Its US Expansion

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    Howard SchultzStarbucks CEO Howard Schultz spoke with Fast Company for its fantastic "Lessons For 2013" series, which highlights what businesspeople learned this year and their advice for the future.

    Schultz, who has built a global coffee empire around a gigantic consumer brand, shared his thoughts about what one of those brands must do to succeed in today's world.

    “Any consumer brand today — whether Starbucks or a product like Tide — it is incumbent upon the company to create relevancy in all aspects of your customers’ lives,” he told Fast Company.

    Schultz elaborated:

    “The price of admission is not good enough if your relevancy and market position is only where the product is sold. We said to ourselves that we have to be as relevant socially and digitally as we are when the customer is inside our four walls as when they’re outside — and we want to thread the equity of the brand and the Starbucks experience to multiple platforms — digital, social, mobile — that encompass all aspects of customers’ lives. This is a big thing we’ve learned for 2012, and I think companies that don’t understand it are going to left behind.”

    SEE ALSO: Step Inside The Building Where McDonald's Runs Its Global Empire >

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    Here’s the story of one the dumbest decisions I ever made as a marketer.

    I was managing sales & marketing for a software startup at the time.  We were part of a group that included a retail & wholesale computer store as well.

    The thing that set the retail store apart was that we made good quality custom PCs, which, at the time, was still fairly rare.

    One day my manager came to me and told me that we had a chance to start carrying the digital camera line (all 3 of them) from Panasonic.  

    We both thought that was a good idea – it would give people a cheap entry-point into the retail shop.  That was our excuse – really, I think we both just thought it was cool.

    So I started a long and expensive search for the perfect display stand.  After a great deal of research, I commissioned a local metalworker to make us a beautiful wrought iron stand, with spaces to hold 3 cameras. It was gorgeous.

    And utterly, completely, idiotic.

    I had forgotten one of the key lessons that I had learned earlier in my career – your brand is what you do.

    Did any of us know anything about cameras or photography? No.

    Was a line of cameras going to help us make better quality or more customized PCs? No.

    Does anyone go shopping for a camera and come home with a PC? No.

    We forgot to solve a real problem for people and to build our business model around that.  The cameras couldn’t help us. My beautiful, elaborate, idiotic display stand couldn’t help us.

    I thought of this today when my colleague Marta Indulska posted this on Facebook:

    Facebook Post

    She had searched for “UQ Business School” and the second paid ad is titled “UQ MBA”, and it links to the page for the MBA program at Southern Cross University.

    This is as dumb as my wrought iron display stand.

    Your brand is what you do.  So what does buying deceptive and misleading ad word links tell you about a brand?

    In the social era, the secrets to success are do awesome work and connect with people.

    People that search for something as specific as UQ MBA probably have a few reasons for doing so.  It could be because UQ is the university that is closest to them (probable).  Or it could be that they have heard that the UQ MBA is ranked as the best program outside of North America & Europe by The Economist (possible).  Or maybe they just want to take my innovation course as part of their MBA (highly unlikely).

    If you’re searching for UQ for any of those reasons, are you likely to be fooled when a paid link takes you to the SCU site?  It might if you were distracted – say, you were doing the search on your smartphone while you were driving.  But it’s not going to fool anyone paying much attention.

    So let’s say that you’re teaching in the SCU MBA program, or you’re a hard-working student in it, or an alum – what do you think about a marketing strategy that will pull in only those people so stupid that they fall for it?  What does that say about the brand that you’re trying so hard to build?  Fooling people isn’t doing awesome work.

    And if your first contact with someone is based on deception, you’re not connecting with people either.

    When you start doing dumb stuff like buying idiotic display stands or trying to steal ad words, you’ve forgotten that your brand is what you do.

    Like I said yesterday, you’d be a lot better off if you find a genuine problem, then build a business model around solving it.

    That’s the way to build a great brand.

    NOW READ: 20 Entrepreneurs Share The Best Business Advice They've Ever Received

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    coke pepsi

    Pretty much everyone has a preference between Coke and Pepsi, even though most people can't tell the difference.

    So what is the difference?

    "Pepsi is sweeter than Coke, so right away it had a big advantage in a sip test. Pepsi is also characterized by a citrusy flavor burst, unlike the more raisiny-vanilla taste of Coke. But that burst tends to dissipate over the course of an entire can, and that is another reason Coke suffered by comparison. Pepsi, in short, is a drink built to shine in a sip test," writes Malcolm Gladwell in Blink, explaining why Pepsi tends to win the Pepsi Challenge.

    Turning to nutritional content, Pepsi has slightly more sugar, calories, and caffeine. Coke has slightly more sodium.

    There are also mysterious differences in the natural flavors included in each drink.  

    Despite these differences, most people can't tell the difference, according to a study by Samuel McClure and Read Montague: "Coke and Pepsi are special in that, while they have very similar chemical composition, people maintain strong behavioral preferences for one over the other. We initially measured these behavioral preferences objectively, by administering double-blind taste tests. We found that subjects split equally in their preferences for Coke and Pepsi in the absence of brand information."

    What really matters is branding, and Coke's brand is more valuable. That's why Coke is winning the Cola Wars.

    In 2011, Coke brand held 17 percent of the US soda market, followed by Diet Coke at 9.6 percent and Pepsi at 9.2 percent, according to Beverage Digest. Meanwhile Diet Pepsi languishes at 4.9 percent after a dearth of ad spending.

    DON'T MISS: The REAL Differences Between Coke And Pepsi People

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    nike air jordan 28 sneakers

    Citi has has identified the 27 "World Champions" of the consumer discretionary sector.

    The team of analysts led by Greg Badishkanian believes that these companies have "significant and enduring business models over the long term.”

    Citi's analysts also have favorable ratings on all of these stocks.

    Here's Badishkanian's screening criteria:

    • Market cap exceeds $3 billion;
    • Minimum of top 3 in market share in a third of the company’s businesses; and
    • Significant revenue streams from outside its domestic market.

    The note very expressly states that subjective factors were instrumental in creating the list.

    The report also highlights Coach, Intertek, and Nissan as the “best of the best” in their sectors based on financial and qualitative analysis.


    Ticker: ADS

    Target Price: 76.00

    3-yr EPS Growth: +16.4 percent

    Sub-Sector: Textiles, Apparel and Luxury Goods

    'Why it's a Champion': Adidas holds 20 percent of global sportswear market share, and stands to benefit from sales growth and scale economies.

    Source: Citi Research

    Ticker: AMZN

    Target Price: $275.00

    3-yr EPS Growth: +2941.0 percent

    Sub-Sector: Internet & Catalog Retail

    'Why it's a Champion': Amazon is the leading online retailer in the U.S. and around the world,and remains well-positioned for continued market share gain and profit margin growth internationally.

    Source: Citi Research


    Ticker: BMW

    Target Price: 68.00

    3-yr EPS Growth: -2.6 percent

    Sub-Sector: Automobiles

    'Why it's a Champion': Globally, BMW is near the top of the luxury car industry, but faces risks to its growth in China.

    Source: Citi Research

    See the rest of the story at Business Insider

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    girls, employees, high five, Christmas, friends, volunteering, toy driveSometimes, employees get mixed messages about how they're expected to behave toward customers. For example, a resort that heavily promotes itself as family-friendly charges guests $3.00 for drink refills. So when a three-year-old spills his lemonade, the waiter has a choice: Break the brand promise to be family-friendly -- or break the rule about charging for refills.

    Problems like these arise when there's a disconnect between a company's brand promise -- what it says it stands for -- and its service behaviors -- what employees actually do. Gallup has found that employees across a range of industries probably aren't prepared to embody or "behave" the brand promise.

    About four in 10 (41%) workers, for example, strongly agree with the statement "I know what my company stands for and what makes our brand(s) different from our competitors." And only about half of all employees know what's expected of them at work. This should worry business leaders because a well-defined brand promise gives customers a unique, compelling reason to use the brand; differentiates the business from its competitors; steers marketing efforts; is a major component of creating a service culture; and defines the company's services, products, and processes.

    If a rule prevents employees from embodying the brand promise or if employees don't know how to behave to deliver on it, the company breaks its brand promise. The consequences should motivate leaders to clearly articulate their brand promise, teach it to their staff, and show them how to behave it.

    Teach and reinforce brand behaviors

    "Behaving the brand" means the company will do whatever it takes to deliver on its brand promise. Every product and facility detail -- and every employee act -- must exemplify that promise, whether it's quality, fast service, customer care, or low prices. Employees must execute brand and service behaviors consistently, and frequent reminders help employees understand and internalize these behaviors.

    For instance, The Ritz-Carlton's brand promise is: "The Ritz-Carlton is a place where the genuine care and comfort of our guests is our highest mission. We pledge to provide the finest personal service and facilities for our guests who will always enjoy a warm, relaxed, yet refined ambiance. The Ritz-Carlton experience enlivens the senses, instills well-being, and fulfills even the unexpressed wishes and needs of our guests."

    To translate that promise into meaningful actions, The Ritz-Carlton doesn't make employees guess what to do. Instead, it tells them in its 12 Service Values, which include statements like these:

    • I build strong relationships and create Ritz-Carlton guests for life.
    • I am empowered to create unique, memorable and personal experiences for our guests.
    • I own and immediately resolve guest problems.
    • I am involved in the planning of the work that affects me.

    These Service Values are printed on cards, and every day, employees in locations worldwide discuss one of them at a team meeting. The team members talk about the Service Value, offer examples of how they have seen it behaved or have behaved it themselves, and strategize ways to operationalize the behavior even more. When the 12th Service Value is discussed, they go back to the first one. That way, everything The Ritz-Carlton stands for is thoroughly discussed and promoted.

    "We know that in order for our employees to deliver service excellence, they must understand their purpose within the organization," says Janet Crutchfield Souter, Ritz-Carlton senior director of quality. "Our Service Values communicate the expected outcomes to our Ladies and Gentlemen [Ritz-Carlton employees], while allowing them to rely on their training and expertise to determine the best approach to reach the outcome. Our employees are the brand."

    Align your culture to your brand

    Though The Ritz-Carlton's Service Values are spelled out clearly, individual employees' responses to specific guest problems aren't scripted. The Service Values give employees quite a bit of leeway for how they resolve guest problems and create experiences. That's because worker-customer interactions are infinitely variable, so no company can script every service behavior, though many try.

    And that's why getting employees to deliver on a brand promise is such a challenge. Some workers simply can't do it. If your company's brand promise is a warm and friendly atmosphere, you can't deliver that if your employees aren't warm and friendly. Selecting the right employees is essential to providing the right brand service. Hiring people who can't behave the brand will doom a service initiative.

    But even talented employees will stumble if your culture isn't aligned with your guiding principles. Everyone -- from senior leadership to front-line employees -- needs to know those principles and understand how they inform employee behavior. To evaluate how well your company's brand promise aligns with its brand or service behavior, ask:

    • What are the essential behaviors that reflect our brand promise? Have we identified them and shared them with our employees?
    • Do all new employees receive service behavior education as part of our onboarding process? Do senior leaders play a crucial role in communicating our service behaviors during employee orientation?
    • Do we conduct daily or weekly meetings to share brand behaviors and connect them to the brand promise? Could we use huddles, celebrate personal stories, or role-play to reinforce them?
    • Have we created an ongoing recognition program that reinforces the importance of executing each service behavior?
    • Do we include our service behaviors in our performance evaluations?

    Carnival Cruise Lines used a similar approach to develop its "Carnival Service Values" -- eight principles that are the foundation of the company's 34,000 team members' behavior. "When I joined [Carnival], the President and CEO told me we had to evolve a more experiential service culture because times had changed, and 'If you build it, they will come' was not a sustainable business model," says Kevin Richeson, vice president of shipboard human resources at Carnival.

    Richeson believes that the eight values provide the foundation of the experiential culture Carnival needs. "[The eight values] allow each team member to be unique," Richeson says, "but they are the thread that connects each of us to one another and the company. They create a common language to express our shared values and ensure alignment and a sense of purpose." Among Carnival's eight values are:

    • Service Value #1: Warmly WELCOME our Guests and Team Members to our HOME, making them feel like part of the CARNIVAL FAMILY.
    • Service Value #5: ANTICIPATE their needs, RESPOND rapidly and OWN their issue until it is resolved.
    • Service Value #8: Include FUN in everything we do!

    Building a service culture takes more than a mission statement

    Some leaders may feel that their mission statement gives employees all the guidance they need to behave the brand. But most mission statements are vague on service behavior specifics, and few of them differentiate the company from its competitors. Furthermore, too many workers don't know their company's mission statement -- and if they do, they can't embody it in their behavior every day.

    So start with your mission statement, but take a careful, honest look at what your company can and will do for customers. Look at your marketing statements to understand what you're telling your customers about your brand. Then talk about those things companywide to help employees connect your brand promise with their service behaviors.

    Organizations that fail to define the right brand behaviors will fail to deliver on their brand promise. Companies need to establish and execute brand behaviors to drive financial and business impact. So managers should:

    • Create structures and mechanisms to consistently instill brand values in the organization's culture.
    • Discuss brand behaviors daily.
    • Be a role model, and demonstrate brand behaviors every day.
    • Recognize individuals who demonstrate brand behaviors.
    • Hold employees accountable for exhibiting brand behaviors.

    Companies that do this stand to gain customer and employee engagement, trust, and revenue. They can help employees know what's expected of them, and they can keep the promise they make to their customers every day.

    NOW READ: Focus On Customers' Wellbeing To Draw Them In, Despite A Rough Economy

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    big mac whopper

    There's nothing mysterious about the world's two most famous burgers.

    Burger King's Whopper, invented in 1957, is a quarter-pound flame-broiled burger plus fixings.

    McDonald's Big Mac, invented in 1967, is two 1.1-ounce patties separated by a third bun, plus cheese, fixings, and a special sauce that tastes like mayonnaise plus ketchup. The Big Mac also uses dehydrated onions instead of fresh.

    If McDonald's patrons want that extra meat, they can order a Quarter Pounder, which is basically a Whopper made on a standard grill.

    The Big Mac has 550 calories and 29 grams of fat while the Whopper has 630 calories and 35 grams of fat.

    Since there's no such thing as a blind taste tests between the two signature burgers, it's hard to say which the people like most. In 2008, Burger King set out to find "Whopper Virgins" in remote locations to compare the two burgers. Burger King claimed victory in this taste test but mainly just generated a ton of controversy for being "insulting and exploitative."

    As with Coke and Pepsi, preference between Big Mac and Whopper depends most on  branding and exposure.

    This is where the Big Mac has an advantage, and Burger King knows it.

    '"You're capitalizing on the tastes that have developed in the American palate ... [and] God knows how many Big Macs have sold," said Barry Schwartz, Burger King's former director of brand research, on the mid-nineties launch of a copy cat burger called the Big King (it was discontinued in most regions).

    McDonald's has 34,000 locations worldwide compared to 12,000 for Burger King.

    Earlier this year McDonald's was ranked the seventh most valuable brand in the world, by Interbrand, while Burger King didn't make the top 100.

    DON'T MISS: How To Make A Big Mac At Home >

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    dominos logo change

    Some of the biggest brands in the country ditched their old logos for new ones this year.

    Microsoft ditched its logo after 25 years, and Wendy's changed up its girl with the pigtails for the first time since 1983.

    But even though a company's logo is one of its most valuable, and certainly visible, marketing tools, we're willing to bet that you missed a few of the major changes.

    In August, Domino's logo ...

    Read more about the logo change here>

    ... lost the pizza part.

    Read more about the logo change here>

    In January JC Penney transformed into ...

    Read about the logo change here>

    See the rest of the story at Business Insider

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    Some brands are instantly recognizable by a single color. For example, the Tiffany blue box is universal (test your knowledge of trademarked colors by taking this pop quiz).

    The color a company uses to brand itself conveys how trustworthy they are to consumers, the quality of their products, and much more.

    We've put together a fun color guide based on findings by Karen Haller, a UK-based business color and branding expert who has consulted with a number of well-known brands including Dulux, Orange Mobile, and Logitech.

    Brands use red when they want to be seen as powerful, passionate companies.

    What it means: Red is the color of power and passion. Haller says it can also be linked to excitement, energy, and physical courage.

    Which brands use it: The Virgin Group is one of the biggest, most powerful brands in the world. Even when they were just starting out, Richard Branson was smart to use red to convey confidence and energy. Coca-Cola is another big brand that uses red in its lettering. Recently, French shoemaker Christian Louboutin SA won the right to trademark the brand’s distinctive red soles after suing Yves Saint Laurent.

    Source: Karen Haller Colour And Design Consultancy 

    Brands use green to show their youthfulness and love of Mother Earth.

    What it means:Green is the color of money and envy, but it also signifies the environment, Mother Earth, and universal love, Haller says. Green is attractive to youth and to those who enjoy life.

    Which brands use it: The green mermaid on the center of every Starbucks cup is intended to brand the coffee company as one that is young and Earth-friendly. Starbucks is proud of its responsibility to the environment and its fair trade coffee products. Garnier Fructis is another green-colored brand, whose shampoos and other hair and body products jump off the shelves.

    Source: Karen Haller Colour And Design Consultancy 

    Brands use blue to seem calm and logical.

    What it means: Blue represents “trust, integrity, and communication,” Haller says. However, the use of the wrong tone of blue “can make a brand appear cold, aloof and unapproachable.” Blue relates to the mind, so consumers associate it with logic and communication. It’s also serene, like the ocean, and calming to look at.

    Which brands use it: The major social media companies—Facebook, Twitter, LinkedIn—use blue as their primary brand colors. Haller points out that the lighter blue of Twitter also “expresses the fun side of social media, given the high amount of yellow undertone.” Tiffany & Co. is also immediately recognized by its trademark teal blue.

    Source: Karen Haller Colour And Design Consultancy

    See the rest of the story at Business Insider

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