Six of the Best: Xmas edition ~ Brand Mix

Saturday, November 15, 2008

Six of the Best: Xmas edition

This edition is late, I know. Walmart's been playing Xmas music since the beginning of November (Here's my post on that.) and, when I was in NYC this week, I saw that the decorations are already up there too. In a few years time, we'll be able to start celebrating Xmas right after July 4th. Meanwhile, here are the brand stories of the week:

1) How Google supposes who has the flu: SmartMobs
Google's Flu Trends uses search results to estimate how much flu is circulating in various regions of the United States. Right now the most of the states on the East Coast have moderate activity, everywhere else is low. Jonathan Salem Baskin also takes up this story and speculates on what else may be possible.

2) It's the category, stupid: Ries' Pieces
Laura Ries thinks that: "A leader brand should own a category not just a word...Getting your brand to be the first in the mind and the leader of a category that matters to consumers should always be your goal." This may work for brands in stable categories like Kleenex but it's dangerous for companies like Kodak if they get associated with a technology that can become obsolete. Perhaps unavoidable, but its close association with film has effectively cut off its ability to reinvent itself.

3) Geek Pop Star: New York
New York Magazine interviews Malcolm Gladwell about his new book, Outliers. Lots of interesting stuff about the author as well as the book including such nuggets as: “The magic number for true expertise is 10,000 hours of practice" and a list (right at the very end) of alternative theories for how successful people got to where they are including: "Youth Hockey Players: Kids born in the early months of a year are put in the same league as kids born later in the year, a slight edge in physical maturity that gets compounded over the years into a decisive advantage in skill."

4) free is a four letter word: brand as business bytes
"Free shipping is a marketing tactic along the lines of 99¢ value menus or coffee shop punch cards." Denise Lee Yohn says that free shipping is a dangerous tactic that's difficult to stop once started because consumers will expect and feel entitled to it. Which is true. But, on the other hand, if your competitors are doing it and online shoppers can go and buy the same thing from a store down the road, it's a strategy that may be difficult to avoid.

5) McDonald’s enlists help from its Quarter Pounder brand: brand strategy
An interesting development/experiment by McDonald’s in Japan. It's launching standalone stores that do not feature the fast food giant’s famous golden arches and only offer a two-item menu (Quarter Pounder with/without cheese).

6) The ten most irritating phrases? Marginal Revolution
Tyler Cowan's list: 1 - At the end of the day, 2 - Fairly unique, 3 - I personally, 4 - At this moment in time, 5 - With all due respect, 6 - Absolutely, 7 - It's a nightmare, 8 - Shouldn't of,
9 - 24/7, 10 - It's not rocket science. I'm sure that everyone has their own "favorites." How about: "It is what it is?"

See you next week for more stories from the world of brand strategy.

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