Six of the Best: Branding edition ~ Brand Mix

Saturday, August 14, 2010

Six of the Best: Branding edition

It was a great story for a while. Steven Slater, the Jet Blue flight attendant, had had enough with a rude passenger. Before the plane reached the gate, he pulled the lever, leaving the plane (and his job) via the emergency chute. Unfortunately, as the week wore on, this archetypal story kept getting spoiled by new facts and allegations. So, time to move on. Here's what people were saying about brands and branding this week:

1) Brand theories: Marketing Geek
Michael Fassnacht has set out on a quest to find out the newest thinking of how to build brands. He's already come up with some initial thoughts. 1) The growing importance of design as an important element in branding (Apple, Method). 2) Renewed interest in archetypes--anyone planning to model their brand after Mr. Slater? and 3) Attempts to bring in some science to understand the purpose and impact of brands. We're all over the place right now with no dominant theory. That makes it fun, right?

2) What Marketers Can Learn from Ford: Mark Ritson
Ford has done much better than either GM or Chrysler over the past few years. Mark Ritson credits CEO Alan Mulally with much of the success. In Mark's opinion, the key factor was the divestiture of all the non-Ford brands in the portfolio (Jaguar, Land Rover, Aston Martin and, now, Volvo). All great brands but not helping Ford since they were stopping the company focus on its core business. Mulally has gone further. Ford's new models such as the 2011 Fiesta will be the same in all markets with very limited regional variation. The brand management lesson: "Before you start managing brands, consider cutting most of them. Too many of the companies I work with have too many brands. But unfortunately most of the marketers that manage them are too attached - or too short sighted - to see the advantages of removing brands from the portfolio and focusing on only the very best."

3) Brand Naming: The Advantage of Two: Al Ries
Also on Branding Strategy Insider, Al Ries has an interesting post about nicknames triggered by General Motors telling its employees not to use the "Chevy" name anymore and only refer to the brand as "Chevrolet." What is the right approach with nicknames? How far should companies go to embrace them? Some companies have gone so far as to substitute them for their original names (e.g. FedEx, KFC). Others have tried to force nicknames onto their customers (The Shack for Radio Shack). I agree with Al--most often the best strategy is to have a dual approach--keep your formal name but allow your casual nickname to flourish as well.

4) Bake your brand into the product: the brandgymblog
David Taylor talks about "Baked In", by John Winsor and Alex Bogusky. The concept of "Baked in" lines up with David's own perspective that: "Great brands are all about the product 'sausage'." Winsor and Bogusky also think that the future of business will be about "systems" vs. simple products or services. Things like Nespresso, a great product but also a delivery system, an online retailer and a members club. David goes on to list his favorite baked-in brands, a list which includes the Flip video camera and the Naoto Fukasawa-designed banana juice pack.

5) Digital ideas, platforms and eco-systems: creativity_unbound
Edward Boches was also thinking about eco-systems this week--in the context of the continuing battles between advertising agencies and digital agencies about who is doing the more valuable work. Which is better? A great campaign like the one for Old Spice or a great app like Garmin Connect? The fact is it's not an either/or. Campaigns create buzz and awareness, the apps can provide functionality and integrate into people’s lives. Edward thinks that the future will be about the brand’s overall digital ecosystem: "Figuring out how to get advertising, platforms, social media, conversation strategy and a brand’s existing community of customers to reinforce each other in a way that generates awareness, allows prospects to enter a relationship on their own terms (whether they want to learn, connect, join, transact, share or simply watch) and then holds onto them, ideally turning them into advocates."Just what branding is supposed to do.

6) The visual transformation of Bill Gates the presenter: Presentation Zen

Here's the before and after of Bill Gates' presentation slides. The first one, hideous, was used when he launched Windows Live in 2005, the second one, attractive, coming from a presentation this year. Pretty dramatic difference. Garr Reynolds takes a fascinating look at Bill Gates' presentation transformation, not just the visuals but also his overall presentation style. It's gotten much, much better.

That's it! Back soon with more stories from the world of brand strategy. More thoughts and comments also available on Twitter (@martinjbishop).

1 comment:

Caitlin - BrandBucket said...

Great post. I loved that brand strategy insider read on "chevy" "gm" etc. its one of my favorite blogs. Nice read.

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