Posts Tagged 'advertising'

Branding tools people use vs. branding tools that are useful

I thought this was rather fascinating.  We did a simple cross-tab of marketers who use a variety of branding tools on one axis and how useful they thought the tool was on the other.

Rather revealing.

Seems that many marketers are using tools that they don’t find to be particularly useful.  At least that is the read from Frank and from my team members.  It aligns with all of the other signals that we are getting from marketers — they want breakthrough branding methods that are designed for today’s world.

I just keep going back to the book Chaotics by Kotler and Caslione — where they make a very clear point that we can’t go back to marketing-as-usual because that world doesn’t exist anymore.  I’d actually quote the book but I’m in Frankfurt at the moment with a very limited library of  Wallace Shawn essays.  He’s a marvelous playwright and a very funny actor.  His more serious work is the play “Aunt Dan and Lemon” and his acting has included everything from Woody Allen movies to being Jon Stewart’s therapist on The Daily show.

But I digress.  Back to the business of branding.

The chart below is from our study of 130 CMOs and marketing decision makers that was fielded in January.  You can get a more detailed copy of the study in earlier posts.  And we are putting this together with the 2009 data for a more in-depth look at the state of marketing as we move into this brave new decade.

So how do you think branding should be reinvented?

CMOs on branding tools: Use vs. Useful

Creating the Qwest brand – or – riding that light

The acquisition of Qwest by CenturyTel (aka CenturyLink) brought back some more memories of creating the Qwest brand back in 1997.

In a stack of old files under my desk — files that I’ve been meaning to throw out for years and years —  I still have some of our old Bright Sun presentations from April and May 1997.  After hearing of the acquisition I looked through and found them.  Not the finished, final, polished versions but my original handwritten drafts. Kind of neat to dig them up and see what parts worked and what fell by the wayside.  “Absolute Data Integrity” was a great idea that was eventually dropped when the USPTO refused it trademark protection.  MCFN (Macro Capacity Fiber network) was a bit clunky.

The Qwest branding was inspired by Albert Einstein, of all people.  It’s what happens when your branding agency is full of overeducated, overly curious and overly creative people.  During a brainstorming session someone bedazzled us with a retelling of Einstein’s Gedankenexperiment.  You know, that whole thing about moving at the speed of light, relativity, Lorentz transformations, etc.  Here’s the back cover of the first annual report, which credits Albert Einstein with the brand inspiration.  On the second and third pages of the pdf are some of the original print ads using some rather famous Edgerton stop action photography.

Launching Qwest brand in 1997

Somewhere I even have an original Qwest cap and hand towel.  Below, for extra trivia points, is the placeholder logo for Qwest.  Once we “saw the light” then it was an easy path to the actual Qwest logo.  Without a strong metaphor the visual identity might have ended up looking like an over-inflated “Q”

The placeholder

The placeholder

Are Happy Days here again?

The big spenders are back!

The sheer number of P&G products sold – volume — grew 7 percent over the recession-plagued 2009 quarter, the strongest year-to-year growth in 18 quarters, the company said. Management credited a stream of new products and beefed-up advertising and promotions. “Volume growth was strong as we accelerated our pace of innovation and increased marketing support,” said CEO Bob McDonald.

I’ll hedge and say, “perhaps.”  Or, “some.”

Our research among CMOs shows that fewer feel themselves under strict executive scrutiny and pressure than a year ago.  It is down from 89% in 2009 to…80% this year.  So compared to last year, this is good.  But in absolute terms we probably all think differently.

Here’s my simplistic analogy.  Our economy was a car going 100 mph.  Come 2008 and we hit the brakes hard.  Too hard, going from 100 mph down to 0 mph.  This year the engine is revving up and we are now cruising along at 50 mph.  It feels fast, very fast, compared to last year.  But it is still 50 mph.

Great event with John Caslione, co-author of Chaotics

This evening it was a great pleasure to have John Caslione discuss the Chaotics theory of management and marketing.  We were quite fortunate to arrange the event, since John lives in Frankfurt, Milan and Chicago.

I find two things quite remarkable about the presentation and about Chaotics as a whole.  First of all, this is a fundamentally new theory of how to manage and market an organization.  Sure, there are pieces of it that have been played out here or there but nobody has put together a serious playbook of how to manage in a world of on-going disruptions — or turbulence as John and Phil put it.  The second is that here we find Philip Kotler, a seminal figure in modern marketing — n fact THE seminal figure of American marketing — coming right out and saying that the old methods of marketing will decrease in effectiveness.

So Bravo John and thank  you for an interesting, timely and at time provocative view on how to re-think and improve marketing!

Clients not turning to agencies for Integrated Marcoms

More evidence that the advertising industry continues to need reinvention.  On many key measures CMOs are finding their needs are not being met by their agencies.

Some of those measures from our CMO study this year:

Only 12% of corporate marketers say they are looking for a single agency to handle all of their needs.

Only 14% are confident that they are getting the best work out of their agencies.

Finally, only 5% rate their advertising agencies as “excellent” overall.   Another 50% say “good” and 33% say “fair”.

CMOs need to rebuild their brands in 2010

Here it is, the trends reports on CMO attitudes about branding, advertising and marketing!


The impact of the economic crisis on brands: talk on 3/24

Next Wednesday, 3/24, Ed Lebar is going to share new research from the BAV.  This will give us insight into how the economic “dip” has effected the images of brands — and how some brands managed to stay ahead despite the economy.
The Impact of the Economic Crisis on Brands: Some Winning Strategies”

As part of its “New Thinker” series of events, the NYAMA will present a  program focused on the application of innovative brand research strategies to create winning marketing programs during recessionary times. The date of the event is March 24th at 6:00 p.m. And will take place at The Tai Group, 150 West 30th Street, 14th Floor, in New York.

Ed Lebar, CEO and Anne Rivers, SVP Director of Brand Strategy at BrandAsset Consulting will be presenting and taking questions. Ed Lebar is co-author of the best-selling business book, The Brand Bubble.

Mr. Lebar will present new research from the BrandAsset® Valuator study (BAV), a proprietary model of measuring brands based on brand strength and brand stature.

The student discount price is $25.

Register for this event at <> .

Toyota: When, not if

How could this happen to Toyota?  How could a company with such a great reputation for quality have a quality problem leading to the recall of millions of cars?

Now that the shock has worn off, we can have some perspective.  Toyota has had a great run.  Far longer than most companies before they hit a rough spot.  But inevitably something will happen to, or at, any company.  Every company eventually faces something that creates a disruption.  What is striking in this case is that the problem goes right to the heart of what Toyota built their reputation on — quality.

The question is really one of “when” not “if”.

The disruption can come from any place — a scandal, a product defect, a shift in consumer’s preferences, a new technology, a natural disaster.

How the company responds to a crisis is far more telling of character than the fact that it got into a crisis in the first place.  This is the real moment of truth.

Keep in mind that speed of response if a relative measure.  If Toyota rushes too quickly and doesn’t get it right, that will cause collateral damage to their reputation.  If they respond far too slowly, it will also create damage.

Toyota is better served in the long run by discovering the full extent of problems — knowing that they are now under a microscope — and solve them in a timely way.  Congressional investigations, leaked powerpoint reports…there are many things that will suddenly be given closer scrutiny.  Rushing to a solution and declaring that all is well in this the best of all worlds…that’s just a gamble.

Don’t forget that Ford and VW had so major recalls.  And Audi faced their own sticking accelerator problem that was first reported on CBS’ 60 minutes during prime time.  BusinessWeek keeps a tally on these things.

BusinessWeek on Total Recall

The sociology of Facebook

There’s been a complaint lately in my household.  Facebook has gone ahead with yet another ‘improvement’.   It is now “simplified” which seems to be an acknowledgement that the last “improvement” was not such a great improvement.  At the same time, it is just as rigid and impossible to individualize as the previous versions.

There is an interesting article about Facebook in the current issue of the NYRB.  You can link to it here.  The writer, Charles Johnson, discusses many aspects of Facebook and its success — including the elitist beginnings at Harvard that still give the site a certain cache.

In Facebook he sees a company that can begin to take on Google in the online advertising world, assuming that the Facebook Connect feature is widely adopted.

Facebook Connect, if it becomes widely used across the Internet, would enable Facebook to sell ads not just on its own pages but elsewhere as well. Google makes its largest profits through “search advertising,” where a query for “insurance” will result in ads for companies such as Geico or Allstate. But Google has never been as successful at “display advertising,” the name for the ads that show up beside everything online—from party photos to news stories—where it’s not clear what, if anything, users want to buy. Facebook, with much more precise information about its members, will likely be able to sell far more effective display advertising than Google. Whether members will be disturbed by this expansion of targeted ads—a person who lists her religion as “Jewish” may see Jewish-themed advertising not just in Commentary magazine but on every Web site she visits—and whether ever more targeted advertising will turn members off the site—does listing a love for the Marquis de Sade mean you want ads for leather?—remains to be seen.

Is this the advertisers dream, the civil libertarian’s nightmare or both — or neither?  The more fundamental question is what happens when the economics fail?  Facebook is marginally profitable.  Twitter is not profitable at all.

In the World of Facebook – The New York Review of Books

Wm Shakespeare on branding

The roots of Narrative Branding go back to the rich theatrical tradition of Elizabethan England.  I quote one example from Shakespeare’s famous play, “Branding, As You Like It”

All the market’s a stage,
And all the brands and sub-brands merely players;
They have their exits and their entrances;
And one brand in its time plays many parts…

Not sound familiar?  There was a conspiracy a few hundred years ago when several English professors “edited” the play and eliminated all references to branding.

By the way, the cosmetics company Avon had a long term sponsorship deal with Shakespeare.  That is why he was known as “The Bard of Avon”…

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