Articles on this Page
- 06/19/13--08:48: _Lots Of Huge Brands...
- 06/24/13--06:24: _Why Kraft's Sexy Ad...
- 07/10/13--13:17: _The Most-Connected ...
- 07/26/13--13:12: _INSTANT MBA: Your B...
- 08/05/13--07:25: _7 Keys To Creating ...
- 08/16/13--12:19: _Google Crossed The ...
- 09/03/13--09:46: _This Logo Change Ca...
- 09/04/13--22:30: _Will The Microsoft-...
- 09/05/13--08:25: _The Internet Hates ...
- 09/06/13--09:55: _What Nokia's Collap...
- 09/18/13--06:42: _For National Cheese...
- 10/04/13--09:03: _Why Burger King's '...
- 10/17/13--08:05: _The 15 Most Desirab...
- 10/17/13--10:05: _Miley Cyrus And Jus...
- 10/18/13--14:34: _What's In A Name? S...
- 10/22/13--06:08: _Military Family Fur...
- 10/24/13--18:34: _After Decades Of Sh...
- 10/30/13--11:10: _13 Small 'Natural' ...
- 11/02/13--19:48: _11 Strange And Clev...
- 11/22/13--09:35: _How 15 Famous Compa...
- 06/24/13--06:24: Why Kraft's Sexy Ad For Italian Dressing Totally Backfired
- Reptilian Brain. Sexual desire is built into the reptilian brain. Because people’s thoughts come from inside their own heads, they extrapolate their feelings to situations that do not apply.
- Heard repeatedly. Similar to many other misconceptions, people repeatedly hear that sex sells. As a result, they conclude that it must be correct. All you have to do is “Google” the words “sex sells.” You can see the repetition.
- Gets attention. Whether it sells a product or not, many agree that sex will attract attention. The problem is that not all the attention is positive. One Million Moms and many other conservative groups have already organized a boycott of Kraft.
- Taboo. In many cultures where sex is taboo, it generates even more attention. Google Trends reported statistics on this.
- Used a lot in advertising. Because a lot of well-known companies use sex in advertising, many assume it must sell or advertisers wouldn’t use it. Many Super Bowl commercials reinforced this idea. If the assumers reviewed the data, however, they would not make these assumptions.
- It does sell products related to sex. Sex is effective at selling products related to sex. This is similar to the notion I raised in my post about celebrities. They are effective at selling products when they are considered expert users. If not expert users, they are less effective.
- Some are offended. Gratuitous sex in advertising has caused a growing chorus of people (especially women) to be repulsed. Jack in the Box has a long history of running commercials with sexual overtones. A commercial for breakfast croissants has even been dubbed the Jack in the BoxViagra commercial. Here is what mom and blogger Christie Haskell said in her Café mom blog post, "... the latest ad has me confused and slightly disturbed -- and I'm not the only one. The blogs are abuzz with befuddlement and laughter over the recent one for breakfast croissants." Similarly, the Marry Bacon commercial has people scratching their heads because of the sexual overtones at the end of the spot.
- Gimmick. Many believe using sex to sell a product that is unrelated to sex is a gimmick that cheapens both the image of the company and the product.
- Distracts attention from product shortcomings. Others believe that the product must not have enough capabilities for the company to employ sex rather than product features and benefits to sell the product.
- People forget the product. Those that are attracted to the ad for reasons unrelated to the product benefits tend to remember what attracted them rather than the product.
- Attract attention.
- Get people talking about the brand.
- Generate media coverage.
- Make more brand impressions – good and bad.
- 07/26/13--13:12: INSTANT MBA: Your Brand Needs To Be Constantly Evolving
- 08/05/13--07:25: 7 Keys To Creating A Killer Brand
- 08/16/13--12:19: Google Crossed The Creepy Line, And It Owes Everyone An Apology
- Admit the problem. We do data mining to give results relevant to users.
- Apologize. We are sorry we did not make it clear how we use the information.
- Limit the scope (or put the allegations in perspective). We are not interested in private information users do not want to share.
- Propose a solution so it will not happen again. We will employ a credible 3rd-party organization to examine what we are doing and validate that we are not violating user privacy.
- Don’t publicize the rumor.
- Promote the opposite of what the rumor says.
- Provide proof to support the promotion of the opposite.
- 09/03/13--09:46: This Logo Change Caused Tropicana Sales To Plunge
- 09/04/13--22:30: Will The Microsoft-Nokia Deal Cause Both To Swim Or Drown Faster?
- 09/05/13--08:25: The Internet Hates Yahoo's New Logo
- 09/06/13--09:55: What Nokia's Collapse Teaches Us About Brand Building
- 10/17/13--08:05: The 15 Most Desirable Employers In The World
- 10/17/13--10:05: Miley Cyrus And Justin Bieber Are Both Marketing Geniuses
- 10/18/13--14:34: What's In A Name? Successful Entrepreneurs Share Branding Secrets
- 11/02/13--19:48: 11 Strange And Clever Works Of Brand Graffiti Using Famous Products
- 11/22/13--09:35: How 15 Famous Companies Got Their Quirky Names
The black trailer blended in perfectly among the food trucks on Austin's East 6th Street, but instead of hawking kimchi tacos to the masses gathered for 2013's SXSW interactive, film, and music festivals, it was supplying free tattoos.
The benefactor behind this handout? Reebok.
Just sign a release, choose any image, and—oh, yeah—agree to have video of your session used to promote sneakers online.
Forty-five people—from college students in matching sunglasses to bearded musicians—eagerly accepted.
Once a mark of rebellion, tattoos are fast becoming one of corporate America's favorite branding tools. This spring, Red Bull and the British e-tailer ASOS also set up pop-up tattoo parlors (at Miami Music Week and SXSW, respectively), and Sailor Jerry rum hosted a SXSW party where attendees were offered free tattoos of anchors and other brand-related designs.
Last year, HBO gave away Game of Thrones tats, and this August free tattoos will be offered at a VIP Lollapalooza event hosted by Chicago's Hard Rock Hotel. For today's marketers, tattoos are just another gimmick—a sort of permanent promotional T-shirt. "Who needs a food truck at your party when you can do a tattoo truck?" says Bruce Starr, a partner at BMF Media, the agency behind the Hard Rock and ASOS events.
Fifteen years ago, big brands rarely even let inked models appear in their print ads. The first wave of commercialization was the "skinvertising" of the early 2000s, when dot-coms paid people to inscribe their logos onto various body parts. Today it's subtler, with tattoos used to curry favor with consumers for whom body art is as familiar as fair-trade coffee.
It's hardly the first time companies have co-opted a subculture to sell stuff (remember OK Soda, Coca-Cola's grunge beverage?), a move that often heralds the end of a trend's relevance. It's hard to stick it to the Man when you're letting the Man (literally) brand you. Could the rise of tattoo-as-marketing-tool mean the end of tattoo-as-hipness-signifier?
So far, the danger of impending lameness doesn't seem to faze marketers. After all, people remember the stories behind their tattoos. Taylor Gregory, a 26-year-old craft-beer distributor from Houston, took advantage of Reebok's SXSW promotion to get Texas inked on his chest.
For the shoe brand, it may be a smart investment.
"I'm making clear to everyone that Reebok footed the bill," Gregory says. "I'm also more interested in the company. I hadn't thought about Reebok in, like, 10 years."
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Unfortunately, the product being advertised is barely noticeable at about one o’clock just east of his triceps. Why didn’t they put it you know where? At least there it would get more brand attention.
It might even provide ideas for Halloween costumes at nudist colonies or animal-house-style frat parties to further promote the brand.
The more important question is, or should be, will this ad effectively sell the product? To give myself some wiggle room, I should probably say it is unlikely. However, I’ll stick my neck out, and say no. For me, coming up with the answer is the easy part. The harder part is defending it since many believe “sex sells” is a universal truth. In fact, at the end of his article in the Washington Post, Michael Winter claims, “As always, sex does indeed sell.”
Why do so many believe this?
There are lots of reasons why people believe that sex sells. Here are some of the more common ones:
When is sex not effective in selling products?
For the many products that are not related to sex, using sex to sell them does not work. It can even backfire. A University of Wisconsin study shows that audiences view ads 10% less favorably if they use sex to sell un-sexy products.
This study agrees with the data David Ogilvy accumulated over his long and storied career in advertising. In his book Ogilvy on Advertising, he says that sex sells only if it is relevant to the subject being sold. Advertising Professor Jef I. Richards from the University of Texas says, “Sex sells, but only if you're selling sex.”
What are some of the reasons it is not effective?
There are many reasons sex does not sell when the product is unrelated. A few are listed below.
What using gratuitous sex does do for an advertiser
With the advent of social media, many advertisers believe their ad is successful if it creates a viral buzz that gets a lot of people talking about their brand. More often than not, sex does this in advertising. It will typically…
If you want to sell more product and make more money
As independent research shows, sex sells only when the product being sold is related to sex. Otherwise, companies should invest their money in communicating the unique benefits of their products in their advertising. Organizations should develop marketing information systems to accurately measure what advertising elements trigger sales.
That is the only way to know for sure what works and what doesn’t. While a lot of people are talking about Kraft Zesty Italian dressing as a result of its controversial ad, people are not going to run to the store and buy the product because a near-naked model is the spokesperson for the brand. They might try it, but they will only continue to buy it if they prefer the taste over similarly-priced competitors.
Steven Burda is better at LinkedIn than anyone in the world.
The 32-year-old Ukrainian-American is the most-connected and recommended on the professional network, boasting more than 50,000 direct connections and 3,000+ recommendations.
Although the exact benefits of his network are nebulous, Burda sees great potential.
The short summary at the top of his long profile boasts: "I'm Steven Burda & I move mountains. The Most Connected Person on Linkedin. One day I'll take over the world. Nothing's impossible for me."
With a background in finance, IT, and accounting, Burda has worked for temporary contracts companies like Boeing and Lockheed Martin, though he is currently self-employed as a social media consultant.
Some of his work is paid, though most of it is free, Burda told Business Insider, adding that prospective clients would "not be able to afford me."
"I haven’t got going with my business yet. I have enough money to keep me going day to day," Burda said. "I’m not struggling, financially speaking, because I have wealthy relatives ... but eventually, I would envision myself starting a big consulting company, hire some of the most connected people that I know, and pretty much run with it."
For now, his greatest accomplishment is getting those connections.
Burda reached number one despite facing restrictions on his ability to connect with people. Per LinkedIn's guidelines, users are allotted 3,000 lifetime connection requests, but as soon as you begin to request connections with people who say they don't know you, your profile abilities become constrained.
Lately he says he has been prevented from inviting or accepting new people.
“LinkedIn pretends that they’re the playground, but if they’re taking away the swing, if they’re taking away the slide, and if they’re taking away the sandbox, they’re not really the playground," Burda says. "They might see me as a potential threat in their revenue model. I’m a huge monster they’ve unleashed ... not in a threatening way."
Known as LinkedIn Open Networkers, or LIONs, users like Burda accept almost all connection requests and freely introduce strangers — going against the ordered network that LinkedIn was designed to be.
Burda recommends everyone get on LinkedIn — and feel free to ask him for help.
"If you’re a barber or car technician or painter, you can [increase] the visibility of your business or service, the credibility of your business or service, and finally, that leads to profitability," Burda says. "A lot of talented people out there are good at what they do, but they don’t know where to start. That’s where I come in as a social media consultant; I help out people."
Today's advice comes from Jon Steinberg, COO of BuzzFeed, via LinkedIn:
"There is conventional wisdom that brands are something to be protected and that the safest thing to do with a brand is nothing. This wisdom holds that brands are like porcelain vases, delicate and if protected capable of maintaining their value over decades if not centuries. This is no longer the case."
Steinberg says that Apple is a prime example of how active branding has sustained a company's growth over decades — despite early setbacks. And while companies today have attempted to mimic Apple's iconic marketing strategies, Steinberg says that branding teams are making the mistake of not recognizing cultural changes that come with new media outlets. Companies just don't understand that if you don't speak for your brand, someone else will.
"I would argue that in this day and age, with the speed that brands rise and fall, playing it safe and saying nothing, is actually the riskiest thing a brand can do. If an iconic brand was to sit on the sidelines, how long before the decay would overtake it? We are in a world of increasing speed and competition. The notion that 'we should be careful and not do anything to hurt the brand' is almost as dangerous as carelessness with the brand."
Want your business advice featured in Instant MBA? Submit your tips to email@example.com. Be sure to include your name, your job title, and a photo of yourself in your email.
What do Urban Outfitters, Oracle, The Home Depot, Warby Parker, Hulu, Apple and 1-800-Flowers share in common? Well, not much. Except that they’re all killer brands.
My focus in life is entrepreneurship. And whether you’re launching a B2B startup or a new consumer play, a tech startup or more prosaic old-line business, few things build company value faster and more reliably than an effective brand.
How do you do that? Here are seven keys to creating a killer brand:
1. Focus on a single brand
A startup, no matter how well-funded, will always feel short of resources. So the business should focus all its branding energy and resources on building up a single brand – the name of the company – and not try to create separate brand identities for the company and for each of its products. Multiple brands will diffuse your energy and resources, and confuse customers.
Single-brand focus is highly effective whether you’re a consumer or B2B business.
In the consumer space, think Polo shirts, shoes, home décor, dresses, bed and bath, etc. – it’s all Polo, with little energy wasted on sub-branding. In another realm, folks just say they got an iPad, not that they bought an iPad 2, Wi-Fi + 3G, 16GB.
For examples of good B2B brands, think how IT products are marketed. If a CIO is asked which database her company uses, she’s likely to reply simply “SQL Server” rather than “Microsoft SQL Server 2012 Enterprise Edition”…. or simply “Oracle,” rather than “Oracle Database 11g Release 2”… Similarly, the same CIO asked what types of servers her shop uses might respond simply “HP” (rather than “HP ProLiant DL320e Gen8 v2 Servers”), or just “Dell” (rather than “Dell PowerEdge M520 Blade Servers”).
2. Snag the URL
As you’re considering alternative names, make sure you can snag the URL (domain name). So as you’re brainstorming names, bring up a registration engine such as GoDaddy.com or Register.com and, as you think of names, check to see if the URL is available.
3. Keep it simple
Ideally, the name should be short and memorable. So if I’m launching a gaming company, BongoBaby would probably be preferable to Jim’s International Game Enterprises, Inc. Make the name hard to misspell and hard to mispronounce. I know those are double negatives, but the point is that you want people to be able to find you in a search engine, and to easily refer you to their friends.
4. Choose one: descriptive, evocative, or whimsical
Next, you have a fundamental choice with three basic paths. The first path is to select a name that’s descriptive of what you do – think WebMD, The Home Depot, 1-800-flowers, or Urban Outfitters. The second path is to choose a name that says nothing about what you do, but is evocative. Oracle is a great abstract-but-evocative brand name, evoking wisdom and an ability to predict the future. Another is Warby Parker, the online purveyor of eye glasses that intentionally chose a name evocative of old-line, preppy Eastern retailers (rather than a descriptive tag akin to LensCrafters). The third path is to select a memorable, unique nonsense word. Nice examples of such whimsical brand names include Hulu, Zynga and Tapjoy.
5. Avoid branding by committee or focus group
It’s good to be inclusive and seek opinions and ideas. But if you form a committee and put everything to a vote, you’re likely to end up with a least-common-denominator brand that’s bland, uninspired, and may look more like a hybrid camel-elephant than the thoroughbred you’d hoped for.
6. Apply your brand consistently
You can do everything else right, and screw it up here. Consistency of usage and application of the brand is paramount. A company should have a consistent look-and-feel and consistent language and stick to them. For example, do you want to be referred to as Urban Outfitters or as UO? Do you wish to be known as “a pioneer in cleantech,” or “an innovator in green energy”?
7. Protect your brand
Trademark the company name, logo, and tagline. File with the US PTO for registered trademark status. In your online (and any printed) materials, be sure to display clear copyright notices.
Jim Price is a serial entrepreneur and Adjunct Lecturer of Entrepreneurial Studies at the Zell Lurie Institute at The University of Michigan Ross School of Business.
In response to a class action suit, Google lawyers argued in court that Gmail users, or anyone that sends emails to Gmail users, should not expect privacy. According to Consumer Watchdog, “Google is either lying to the court or to the public” because it has repeatedly said that it respects users’ privacy.
Previously Google’s Chairman and former CEO, Eric Schmidt, has said Google’s policy was to “to get right up to the creepy line and not cross it.”
Many believe with this latest revelation, Google has admitted crossing the creepy line. This has tarnished its image. Before it can repair the damage, it needs to assess the landscape and define the issues that need fixing.
How the information is used
According to the suit, Google regularly opens up, reads, and mines the content in emails to serve up ads it considers relevant to the parties involved. If this is done anonymously, perhaps one could argue “no harm, no foul.” What is “creepy,” however, is that Google employees could access this private information. If they do, it is impossible to know what they might do with it.
The issue is trust
Even if the public largely trusts Google, the Company has over 30,000 employees, and it is impossible to trust all of them – especially if they represent a cross-section of those that work in Silicon Valley. More than a few of us in the skeptical public are likely to believe that such as large barrel is bound to have a few not-so-perfect apples.
Moreover, this is not the only incident to erode trust in the Company. Google is already under pressure from watchdog groups for allowing the NSA to have direct access to user information via its Prism program. And Google has come under fire many times over privacy issues in the recent and distant past.
Don’t be evil.
Google’s informal motto is “Don’t be evil.” The problem with this is that it puts a target on Google’s back. If any information comes to light that the marketplace interprets as evil, the bond of trust that exists between Google and its target audience is likely to erode – tarnishing Google’s once “unblemished” image.
As a result, there is a certain sense of inevitability that the goody two-shoes brand identity Google created at its inception will take a hit from time to time. The recent court revelation is just the latest incident that more than a few believe is evil.
Two points of view
In an effort to understand Google’s point of view, the search giant’s objective is to provide a better user experience and to make more money for its shareholders (as of this writing, the stock price is in the mid-$800s per share). There is nothing wrong with that. And it gives us many free services that we rely upon every day including search, Gmail, and maps.
The problem is that Google is telling one thing to the Court and another to the public. That only fuels suspicions about Google’s intentions. The fact that it has so much information on so many of us, we are already concerned how it might use that information. Google seems to be taking a rather arrogant, “big brother” posture. It is asking the public to give it a blank check to do what it wants because Google knows what’s better for us than we do.
Not the first time
This latest flap is not the first time the marketplace has sensed “evil-doings” at Google, and you can be sure it will not be the last. Over the years, there have been a series of missteps that have knocked Google off its perch as the world’s most valuable brand - a position it held for four consecutive years according to brand valuator Millward Brown. Marketers view this as a tangible measure of the erosion of Google’s image — especially when compared with competitors Apple and Facebook whose brand valuations have jumped higher over the same period.
Many think the first big evil deed was when Google introduced the Android mobile phone platform long after Eric Schmidt, Google’s then CEO, had been sitting on Apple’s Board as the iPhone was developed and announced. Not surprisingly, the look and feel of Android was very similar to the iPhone. Steve Jobs called this outright theft and vowed to spend all of Apple’s resources in court to right this wrong.
Then, in 2011, came revelations thatGoogle was close to settling allegations that it made hundreds of millions of dollars by accepting ads from illegal online pharmacies.
More recently, Twitter, Facebook, and MySpace have accused Google of unfairly promoting search results of Google-owned properties, such as Google+, ahead of them. Many believe that search should be neutral and that organic search results should be ranked as they occur naturally. The concern is that the integration of Google’s 60 services under one privacy banner will just make search results even more skewed in Google’s favor.
Repairing the image damage
Now that a growing chorus of users and regulators believe that Google is violating its own “Don’t Be Evil” mantra, what should Google do to mitigate the situation and even turn this negative into a positive?
1. Create a better marketing information system. Google needs to put in place a better marketing information system that collects data on complaints and problems in real time so they can be neutralized or fixed while still a “spark” and before they turn into a “conflagration.” The huge backlash to the latest announcement indicates that they either don't have an adequate feedback system, or they are ignoring the signals.
2. Use crisis management tools to turn negatives into positives. Google needs to employ proven crisis management procedures to protect its image. For accusations that are true, the company should follow the fact procedure.
For allegations that are not true, the search giant should employ the rumor procedure.
3. Stop promoting Google products over others in organic search results. When users employ Google to search for something, they should be able to trust that the results are naturally generated. Up until the recent changes, that is the way it largely worked (with the exception of paid links that are clearly indicated). Now, if users sign in via their Gmail accounts, results will be “tainted” with Google+ results.
4. Remove the target from its back. While the “don’t be evil” mantra has been in the public consciousness since Google went public, perhaps Google should consider modifying it so that it does not motivate naysayers from finding evil in Google’s every move.
5. Create a “Don’t be Evil” fund. If they decide to keep this mantra, perhaps they should fund a “don’t be evil” award, on par with the Nobel prize, where they recognize and reward people for doing good things. Similar to Mark Zukerberg’s donation to Newark schools and his pledge to give most of his wealth to charity, this would have a positive effect on their image and support their branding.
6. Remind people of the heroic stands Google has taken. The public tends to easily forget the good things that a company does. Therefore, Google might remind people of the positive stands it has taken, such as its move to stop censoring search results in China or its refusal to provide the Justice Department with data on what people search for on the Web.
7. Move back across the “creepy” line
Eric Schmidt, Google lawyers, and employees do not get to decide what is creepy and what is not. Using its marketing information system (discussed in point 1), Google needs to (1) monitor what its customers think is creepy, (2) move back across the line, and employ the fact procedure outlined in point 2 above.
Any company the size of Google is going to have both fans and detractors. That is not the issue. Google needs to be concerned with its loyal base of advertisers and users (including so many of us) that like and use its products every day. We are the ones that should be able to trust Google to the extent that we believe the company will not use, or share, our information for doing evil. It is incumbent upon Google to convince us with undeniable proof it wants our business and loyalty.
People rarely consciously look at logos. Their shopping habits were formed years ago, and don't change, especially for essentials. But when packaging suddenly changes in a big way, they definitely notice. When Tropicana tried to change things up, customers revolted, and they lost a fifth of their sales in a matter of weeks.
Bloomberg's Market Makers brought on Olson Chief Creative Officer Dennis Ryan, a veteran of campaigns for Target and Budweiser, to discuss Yahoo's logo strategy. He reminded viewers of Tropicana's efforts to modernize its classic straw-in-orange packaging.
"About five years ago [Tropicana] went to this very clean but kind of cold-looking logo, and their sales dropped 20% in one month. Some pundits said they weren't recognizable," Ryan said. "Tropicana has something like eight feet in the refrigerated section. People recognized it. They didn't trust [the new logo]."
Here's the offending logo, alongside the one that preceded it:
People don't like change. And when a logo or packaging for a favorite product changes, it creates trust issues. The package has changed and they wonder if what's inside has, too. The generic logo made people expect a generic product.
It's one of the reasons Yahoo has chosen to ease people in and experiment rather than up and change things without some preparation.
According to TechCrunch, when Steve Ballmer said he would step down as CEO, Microsoft stock went up $18 billion.
When Microsoft said it was acquiring Nokia’s handset business along with other assets for $7.2 billion, its stock gave back $16.6 billion. This seems to be a no-confidence vote for both Ballmer and the Nokia deal. Is the stock market right or is it wrong about the potential synergy of the deal?
Nokia had a big fall
At its peak in 2007, Nokia had a market capitalization of $250 billion. That was before the iPhone and Android platform phones took the lions-share of the smartphone market away from RIM’s Blackberry and Nokia’s disappointing smartphone line-up. Before the Microsoft deal was announced, Nokia’s stock price was trading somewhere between $3 and $4 per share – giving it a market value between 2 and 3% of its 2007 value. While there are many reasons for Nokia’s sharp decline, experienced marketers believe Nokia had a great fall because it was a product-driven company dominated by engineers that missed the marketplace signals.
Product-driven companies believe that all you have to do is make a better mousetrap
Instead of listening to the marketplace and hiring people with sufficient marketing expertise to properly brand and communicate the benefits of their products, product-driven companies focus on making better mousetraps. Nokia made great mousetraps, but the market showed a preference for mousetraps from competitors that also know how to market them. To win, you have to focus on the users of the mousetraps and give them want they want, what they think they want, or what you can convince them to think they want. It is telling that Nokia has been in business since 1865, but hired its first CMO in January of 2011. And, by mid-June of 2012, Jerri DeVard (the CMO that was hired) was given her walking papers.
Microsoft has not exactly set the world on fire
Since Steve Ballmer took the helm in January of 2000, Microsoft’s stock price has been stuck in neutral– bouncing between the mid-$20's to low $30's per share. Those with major stakes in Microsoft have been calling for his ouster for quite some time. The marketplace has not seen anything really new from Microsoft in a long time. While some like the Surface – Microsoft’s entry into the tablet market – sales have been more than disappointing.
Why buying Nokia’s handset business makes some sense
To compete with Apple and Google, many believe that Microsoft has to get in the smartphone hardware business. It already has a partnership with Nokia and a close relationship with their CEO, Stephen Elop, who was formerly an executive with Microsoft and will be coming back as part of the proposed deal. The question is how will other users of the Windows Phone platform view this deal? Similar to the problem Google has convincing Android platform phone makers that its acquisition of Motorola does not put them at a disadvantage, Microsoft has the same hurdle with hardware customers such as HTC and Samsung.
As the drop in Microsoft stock indicates, many question if this deal will be good for Microsoft. Bloomberg quotes telecommunications consultant, Paul Budde, as saying, “The question is whether combining two weak companies will get you a strong new competitor – it’s doubtful. Both Nokia and Microsoft really missed the boat in terms of smartphones, and it is extremely difficult to claw your way back from that.” That was my initial reaction too. Nokia is drowning in a sea of red ink, and while Microsoft has a lot of money in banks offshore from its cash cow products, many are concerned that it cannot afford another acquisition that falls below expectations– especially if the PC business on which Microsoft has depended continues to decline.
Swim or drown quicker
Whatever happens is anyone’s guess. If Microsoft plays its cards right and properly markets its new phone business without alienating its other customers, it could be a platform contender – especially if it able to create some serious synergy with its Skype acquisition. Of course, it is an uphill battle since Apple and Android platform phones have 90% of the smartphone market. For this deal to work, Microsoft (with significant parts of Nokia attached) is going to have to swim hard and fast upstream. If it is unable to turn things around quickly, the Nokia “rescue” attempt is likely to cause both companies to drown quicker.
After spending a month teasing the Internet with possible redesigns, Yahoo unveiled its new logo at midnight and it is ... mostly the same. The letters are less jumbled, and Yahoo darkened its purple branding. It also kept the trademark exclamation point, as it said it would all along.
The new logo has widely been viewed as a let-down on the Internet, which has spent the past month hoping the teaser designs Yahoo released (one-a-day for the past month) were merely a set-up for a more exciting swerve on day 30.
Matti Leshem, founder and CEO of the marketing strategy agency Protagonist, said Yahoo missed an opportunity to create a logo reflecting the "aspirational" quality of the company under Marissa Mayer.
Leshem said instead of the incremental change it ultimately made, Yahoo should have unveiled a logo that showed off the company's recent commitment to high-quality user experience and more substantial news and entertainment products.
Since Mayer took over in July 2012, Yahoo has acquired more than 20 companies and redesigned some of its most popular news verticals.
"The new Yahoo logo has nothing going for it," Leshem told Business Insider. "Brand is meaning, and one's brand is represented by the logo. The opportunity for Yahoo to completely reinvent themselves and show the aspirational consumer the new Yahoo's potential has been sorely missed."
But while the logo change itself perhaps leaves something to be desired, the staggered, 30-day rollout was successful both in getting people to talk about Yahoo and in preparing consumers for the change to come.
Connie Birdsall, creative director of brand strategy firm Lippincott, said that while the design community may find the end-product disappointing, the 30-day lead-in was successful in promoting the company's change of direction and giving lapsed users a reason to visit the site every day.
Birdsall commended Yahoo for being consistent with its message and continuing the incremental change Mayer has been working toward since taking the helm.
"Do I think it's the most interesting design of the century?" Birdsall asked. "No, but it's definitely a more grown-up Yahoo."
"I think that day after day, we saw purple logos with not a lot of design happening, and we thought that maybe, on day 30, there would be this big 'Whoa! Super-change!'" Birdsall said. "But I think that the new logo was more about building the idea of change in to the psyche of people who use the site."
Though Birdsall and Leshem disagreed over whether the logo rollout would ultimately improve Yahoo's brand, both said the change was unlikely to harm the company.
Though companies like Gap and Tropicana have experienced disastrous logo changes in recent years, the two brand experts we spoke to said Yahoo would not experience a similar catastrophe because it has clearly communicated why it made the change and because it's not a physical product consumers need to locate in stores.
"The worst-case scenario is that people get mad for a day and write vitriolic letters," Leshem said. "I can't see people not liking the logo and then not using the site."
Now that we've asked the experts, what do you think?
This week Nokia collapsed into the arms of Microsoft, selling its critical handset division to the software giant.
Nokia’s decline was stunning. The stock traded at over $40 per share in 2007. It now trades at about $5. It once had a market share of over 30%. It now has less than 4%.
This is partly a story about technology and defensive strategy; Nokia failed to respond effectively to changing technology and competitive attacks.
It is also a story about branding.
Nokia tried to play in all segments of the market. The company sold cheap, basic cellular phones and advanced high-end smart phones under the same brand. This approach worked well for a while. Eventually, however, the Nokia name lost meaning. What does the Nokia brand stand for? What does the brand mean? It isn’t clear.
In a competitive market, brands have to stand for something. Being a nice brand that people like isn’t enough.
Many technology companies fall into the same trap; they use the same brand to serve everyone. This is one reason these firms tend to come and go. Technology changes over time. Brands endure. Firms that rely on technology alone often struggle to hold customers over time.
You need to build a brand that people care about. These are the brands that are unique and have meaning.
This week I am over in Europe teaching a corporate seminar. I get back just in time to take part in a panel discussion on teaching best practices at Kellogg before heading to New York for another program.
The next session of Kellogg on Branding starts on September 29. This is a great program if you are new to brand management or if you want to refresh your skills. We have some terrific faculty in this session including Carter Cast, Greg Carpenter, Lisa Fortini-Campbell and Don Schultz. You can sign up here: http://www.kellogg.northwestern.edu/execed/programs/brand.aspx
There's nothing mysterious about the world's two most famous burgers. But in honor of National Cheeseburger Day, we're taking a closer look at what sets Burger King's Whopper and McDonald's Big Mac apart.
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 fourth most valuable brand in the world by Millward Brown, while Burger King didn't make the top 100.
Alaina McConnell contributed to this story.
On Wednesday, Burger King announced on Facebook and Twitter that it is changing its name to Fries King in a "rebrand" that pretty much everyone knows is nothing more than a short-term marketing stunt.
The "rebrand" has been met with a collective eye-roll from savvy consumers who remember Pizza Hut's 2008 "name change" to Pasta Hut, and confusion from those who think the 60-year-old chain is actually changing its name.
So Burger King is now called Fries King? Wth. Why would they change their name??— Maryam. (@Maarryaaam) October 4, 2013
But while the campaign, from advertising agency Mother New York, is drawing a mostly negative response from the public, people are at least talking about Burger King and its new "satisfries," which the company says have 30% fewer calories than their old french fries.
According to the social analytics firm Topsy, Twitter mentions of Burger King almost tripled Wednesday when it announced its "name change" and published photos of its Fries King design replacing its old logo at one of its locations.
Matti Leshem, founder and CEO of the marketing strategy agency Protagonist, said the promotion was "silly," but could help Burger King in the long run if the new fries actually deliver on being better tasting and more healthy than what Burger King's competitors are offering.
"They're trying to raise awareness for their new less-fat fries, so they've probably been able to do that," Leshem said. "I think it serves a purpose, but it's certainly not the most brilliant promotion I've ever seen."
Erich Joachimsthaler, CEO and founder of the strategy consulting firm Vivaldi Partners Group, was less measured in his critique.
Joachimsthaler said that Burger King was making a mistake by targeting Millennials on social media instead of its traditional consumer base of families and children, and that the company failed to think about how the "Fries King" promotion fit until its overall narrative as a brand.
To him, "Fries King" is an example of a company doing creative work for the sake of doing something creative, without thinking about how it will lead to increased sales.
"Burger King looks like a brand that is circling around trying to find its place in the business with consumers," Joachimsthaler said. "They are in Advertising La-La Land. It's not about creativity awards, it's not about social media campaigns, it's really about making a promise to consumers."
What Burger King does from here is anybody's guess, but at the very least, they certainly have people talking.
Having a strong "talent brand" makes it easier for companies to attract and retain the brightest minds in the industry.
What companies do it the best?
LinkedIn analyzed billions of interactions on its platform to identify 100 companies with the highest brand engagements. These are also companies that employees want to work for the most.
"A company’s talent is its greatest strength, but hiring top talent isn’t easy," Dan Shapero, vice president of LinkedIn Talent Solutions and Insights, told Business Insider. "That's why talent brand is so important — the stronger the talent brand, the easier it is to hire and retain the best and brightest."
On LinkedIn's ranking of in-demand employers, the top industries are retail, oil, and technology. This year's list includes more employers located outside the U.S. (42%) compared to last year (32%). It also features a range of company sizes, with Spotify (2,066) and Tesla Motors (2,719) representing the smallest companies based on number of employees and IBM (400,599) and HP (247,676) representing the largest.
The following are LinkedIn's top 15 companies:
Headquarters: Mountain View, Calif.
Headquarters: Cupertino, Calif.
Headquarters: London, U.K.
4. Procter & Gamble
Headquarters: Cincinnati, Ohio
Headquarters: Redmond, Wash.
Headquarters: Palo Alto, Calif.
Headquarters: Seattle, Wash.
Headquarters: Purchase, N.Y.
Headquarters: The Hague, Netherlands
10. McKinsey & Company
Headquarters: New York, N.Y.
11. Nestlé S.A.
Headquarters: Vevey, Switzerland
12. Johnson & Johnson
Headquarters: New Brunswick, N.J.
Headquarters: London, U.K.
Headquarters: Fairfield, Conn.
Headquarters: Beaverton, Ore.
Miley Cyrus and Justin Bieber were both “cute” teenage performers that appealed to a wide audience of tweens and their parents.
Parents saw them as great role models for their kids since they both looked squeaky clean and appeared to espouse the family values so many parents want their kids to follow.
With some luck and help from entertainment industry powers, Miley and Justin quickly grew into teen stars that made a lot of money.
Miley Cyrus is estimated to have a net worth between $120 and $150 million whereas Justin Bieber’s net worth is pegged at around $130 million.
Miley Cyrus took the reins from Hillary Duff
Benefitting from the Disney marketing machine, Cyrus was Disney TV character Hannah Montana, a regular singer on the Disney channel, a concert performer that recorded albums, and the namesake of the a clothing line launched by Disney in 2007.
She filled the shoes of Hillary Duff, who portrayed the role of Lizzie McGuire and graduated from the Disney “School of Synergy” as did Britney Spears and many others child stars that came before dating back to the Mickey Mouse Club of the 1950’s.
Similar to her predecessors, as Miley moved past her tween years, so did her fans. What worked for the Hannah Montana crowd is not going to work for 20 somethings. The target audience, or lock, has has changed so Miley needed to come up with a new edgier image, or key, to remain relevant.
Just Bieber the first YouTube sensation
Scooter Braun, discovered Justin Bieber on YouTube and introduced him to Usher. The two of them brought Justin to Island Def Jam records. This catapulted Bieber into the limelight and put him on the track to stardom.
The first brand element people noticed was Bieber’s mop-top silky blond hair and boyish smile. It became his signature, and it worked really well with his target audience – tweens and parents who preferred their kids emulate the wholesome, innocent-looking Bieber over the other choices in the pop world.
Of course, Bieber was not as innocent as he appeared. He was clever beyond his years and studied the careers of other pop idols, such as Elvis, the Beatles, and Michael Jackson. From the beginning, he displayed a surprising degree of sophistication. When a hacker from Turkey broke into his Twitter account and made his followers go to zero, Justin tweeted:
“So I woke up here in LA and Twitter has been hacked. Turns out I am no longer popular. He then added… “Hackers, I send a warning … u have now p***** off over 2 million teenage girls. They are more dangerous than Navy Seals.”
As a result of his success, Justin has attracted fans from all over the world. At last count, he has nearly 46 million followers on Twitter, and his fans even have their own branded name – the Beliebers. Similar to Miley, as he approaches 20 and his loyal fans grow with him, he needs a new image to fit his changing audience.
Could it be good to be bad?
Justin is sporting more and more tattoos and is often caught exhibiting “bad behavior” in public – especially when the cameras are turned on. One day he is caught urinating in a restaurant kitchen, and the next he and his bodyguards are shown smashing equipment and fighting with people in a nightclub.
While this might help to transform his image from “cute and nice” to edgy, he is in danger of losing some of the support he has traditionally received from the public. In May, he was booed at the Billboard Music Awards, and Jon Bon Jovi slammed him for showing up late to concerts.
Meanwhile, Miley Cyrus (sporting her own tattoos) has caused quite a stir with her twerking performance at the VMA Awards and her naked ride on a wrecking ball in her Wrecking Ball video, which has over 231 million page views on YouTube.
While some parents from her Hannah Montana days are outraged, she has gotten a lot of attention, is selling lots of records, and laughing all the way to the bank. Like it or not, her audience is older and they seem to want what she is giving them.
Part of a deliberate rebranding plan
Let’s face it… neither of them can ever go back to being cute 15 and 16 year olds again. The best they can do is go after an older, edgier audience and keep their PR machines going.
Their behavior, while criticized by more than a few, is part of a deliberate market plan to shatter their goody two shoes images and create new ones that fit the desires of their changing audiences. They need new keys for evolving locks, and that is what they are creating.
If you judge them by the numbers — followers on social media, brisk record sales, and sold out tours, their rebranding plans are working really well.
Martha Stewart the brand is bigger than Martha Stewart the person. Her name evokes cooking, crafting, and home decorating, as well as TV shows, magazines, and houseware lines.
Stewart is an inspiration to entrepreneurs everywhere, and at a recent panel organized by the lifestyle guru, the question on small business owners' minds was simple: Can our names become rockstar brands like Martha's, too?
Successful entrepreneurs debated the relative merits and drawbacks of building a brand around the founder's name as part of Martha Stewart American Made, an event designed to celebrate the country's local and artisan businesses. Those weighing in included Julie Rice, founder and CEO of indoor cycling company SoulCycle; Joe Rospars, CEO of digital consulting firm Blue State Digital and Pres. Obama's principal digital strategist for each of his presidential campaigns; and Richard Christiansen, founder and creative director of Chandelier Creative, a branding and advertising company.
When it comes to naming your business, the panelists agreed that a brand named after a person can be much harder to scale. That person can't be in 10 places at once, much less travel the globe to meet clients and promote the brand while also running its vital operations.
For that reason, Rice said SoulCycle deliberately steered its brand away from a single person. "Early on we knew that if we were going to take an exercise business and scale it, people couldn't be attached to one [cycling] teacher; they needed to be attached to the concept of the business," she said. "So we set out in the beginning to create a fictional gal who was SoulCycle and make people attached to her."
That's not to say that naming a brand for a person can't work — the massive success of Stewart and others like her shows that it obviously can. It just makes the scaling process trickier. What's more, building your brand around a personality can be a big risk. After all, people are fickle. What if the founders have a falling out, or the namesake wants to sell the business and move on to a new project?
It's also important to remember that there's always room to tweak and revamp your brand after the initial naming. Some companies decide to change the name later on, if it isn't working. Beer, wings, and sports bar powerhouse Buffalo Wild Wings, for example, has changed its name multiple times since its inception — from Buffalo Wild Wings & Weck, to BW-3, to its current name — and is now a national brand.
Christiansen, whose clients include Target, Macy's, and Barbie, said a good practice for keeping your brand intact as you scale is to check whether you can say in four words what it stands for. Then, he said, brands shouldn't feel pressured to change too often — he dislikes when a brand updates every four years. Still, he added, there is value in occasional "refreshments" and tweaks that keep the brand suited to the times.
The recent removal of two 7,000 pound Spongebob Squarepants headstones from a cemetery has a family grief stricken.
On Valentine's Day of this year, Kimberly Walker, a 28-year-old U.S. Army sergeant, was found dead in a Colorado Springs hotel room, allegedly by her soldier boyfriend’s hand.
Along with purchasing plots for the whole family, Deborah Walker, Kimberly’s mother, paid $26,000 for two Spongebob headstones, one in an Army uniform for Kimberly, and one in a sailor uniform for her twin sister, who's currently serving in the U.S. Navy.
Walker signed a contract for the six plots and placement of the two headstones.
Though it seems like an employee at Spring Grove Cemetery in Cincinnati didn't have a firm grasp on the Spring Grove brand, because within 24 hours, the company removed the two headstones.
Their statement was:
"Although the family chose a design with the guidance of a Spring Grove employee, unfortunately the monuments did not fit within the Spring Grove cemetary guidelines. We are working with the Walker family and are committed to a design a solution at our expense."
Military death gratuities pay out approximately $100,000, but it's unclear if the Walker's used these funds to pay for the headstones.
Here's the full news report from WLWT:
Bacon has reigned supreme over the cured meats this past decade. Oscar Meyer has taken notice, and now they are unashamedly marketing it in all its fatty, high-calorie glory.
Adweek published an interesting retrospective on Oscar Meyer bacon, noting that the low-fat craze days are over, and thus so are the almost oxymoronic "lean bacon" days. They pointed out that the brand's "Butcher Thick Cut" variety is sold in vacuum-sealed plastic without cardboard to showcase the fat marbling, a marketing move that would have been unthinkable in the '80s.
Bacon has been around for centuries, but its trendiness in the U.S. came from a convergence of the end of the fat-free craze and the rise of the Internet.
In the late 1980s, studies proclaimed that Americans desperately needed to remove fat from their diets. The food industry responded, as a PBS Frontline report from 2004 details, by substituting both vegetable fats and sugar for animal fats on a massive scale. The result were health foods that were not remotely healthy, like the now-infamous Snackwell brand of desserts and snacks. By the start of the new millennium, the low-fat craze had made Americans fatter than ever.
As fatty foods once again became acceptable and people began sharing recipes on the Internet in the mid-aughts, bacon emerged as a favorite ingredient. The LA Times guessed that it had something to do with the ease of cooking bacon (anyone could do it) with the novelty of finding new uses for it. A trend in locally-produced foods around this time also boosted the pork industry, with bacon leading the way.
The popularity of authentic slabs of bacon and the inherent masculinity of eating strips of fat inspired New York agency 360i to develop the "Say It With Bacon" ad campaign this past June, in time for Father's Day. Bacon fans could go to the campaign's website and buy stereotypical dad gifts, like cuff links and a money clip, paired with specially packed bacon. All the gifts sold out.
You can watch the ad, a satire of diamond commercials, below:
Burt's Bees is marketed as a homespun natural brand from Durham, N.C., and is proudly described as "Earth Friendly Natural Personal Care and Natural Skin Care for The Greater Good." Of course, the brand downplays that it was sold in 2007 for nearly $1 billion to mega-corporation Clorox.
Brands like Burt's Bees and ice cream-maker Ben & Jerry's attract a growing market of environmentally-conscious consumers. They rely on being marketed as local and natural, but many consumers have no clue that these brands now have mammoth multinational overlords.
Lots of the companies started as mom-and-pops, and though selling to a corporation may have been a hard decision, these small-business owners all sought ways to preserve their ideals as part of a large company. When customers accused Burt's Bees of selling out, then-CEO John Replogle said he personally responded to anyone who provided contact information.
Reporting by Kim Bhasin and Patricia Laya, with additional reporting by Alison Griswold.
Mars bought Seeds of Change for an undisclosed amount in 1997.
Seeds of Change was founded as an agriculture company specializing in rare and organically grown seeds back in 1989. After candy giant Mars bought the company in 1997, Seeds of Change was allowed to keep running mostly as it did before.
As part of its green-friendly mission, Seeds of Change operates a research farm near El Guique, N.M., along the river valley flood plain of the Rio Grande. Originally located by the Gila Wilderness in the southwestern part of the state, the company relocated after purchasing its new property in 1996.
General Mills bought Cascadian Farm for an undisclosed amount in 1999.
Cascadian Farm used to be famous for its cereals with "no added sugar." A few years ago, this label disappeared from its boxes.
A Cascadian Farm customer said her children noticed a funny new taste in their Purely O's. It turned out the cereal had tripled its sugar count from 1 gram to 3 grams in 2009.
The move was condemned by Cascadian Farm customers, who felt duped and complained the new cereal tasted "dreadful" and looked "disgusting." Some time later, the company posted a note on the back of Purely O's boxes saying it had returned to a recipe with just 1 gram of sugar.
Unilever acquired Ben & Jerry's for $326 million in 2000.
The ice cream-maker said Unilever was determined to nurture Ben & Jerry's commitment to community values, and would donate 7.5% of profits to a foundation.
However, in 2002 the company was accused of abusing its "All Natural" label by the Center for Science and Public Interest, and in 2005 Ben & Jerry's CEO Walt Freese admitted the company had grown soft on continuing its tradition of social consciousness.
See the rest of the story at Business Insider
Canadian artist Dorota Pankowska loves Nutella. She also thought there wasn't enough street art in Brampton, Ont. And so began a brilliant recent series.
"The first thing I came up with was to maybe express my love for Nutella by putting its logo around my city. The next idea to jump into my head was to create that logo out of Nutella itself," Dori wrote via email.
She followed this up with similar graffiti made of Cheez Whiz, Miracle Whip, and more.
"My logo choices were mostly based on the consistency of the product, the color of the product, product and the simplicity of the logo," she wrote.
On her creative art blog Dori the Giant, she entitled her month-long street art series, Pro Bono Promo.
"The name came from poking fun at the fact that this almost looks like free advertising for the companies with free samples included," she wrote.
The amount of product used for each piece depended not only on the logo size but how quickly Dori and her anonymous friend could put it on the wall without being noticed.
To complete this logo Dori says she used an entire regular sized jar of Nutella.
Her favorite piece in the series is the Cheez Whiz logo. A few days after Dori put up the logo she saw it lose its sunset orange color and become nearly translucent.
Sharpie markers were the easiest material to work with, but this logo took the longest to create due to the amount of filling in she had to do.
The Miracle Whip logo was rained on soon after it was put up, but Dori says it survived the rain.
"The Gillette one was great because it really grew overnight and looked hilarious," Dori said.
Hilroy, a Canadian school and office supply company, logo was made with paper and cardboard it was the fastest to create.
Dori says the Maxwell Coffee logo was the hardest brand logo to make but she loves the fun drippy coffee stain effect.
Dori was only caught once, as she detailed by email: "On the very last night of the project, my partner-in-crime wasn't able to help me, so I was on my own! I was creating the Heinz logo and someone came out of their car. I got pretty nervous and took out my phone to start fiddling with it, a minute later I hear, 'Dori?' I thought it was amusing that the only person that caught me was someone I knew."
Ever wonder where Starbucks got its name? How about Google or Yahoo?
It's not something we think about often, but the names of many major companies that now seem familiar are often made up, seemingly unrelated, and quite quirky. After all, why would you call a cell phone company BlackBerry? What does IKEA have to do with home goods and furniture?
We tracked down the etymologies of 15 of the world's biggest and most oddly named companies. You'll find that each of their names has a fascinating origin story.