Posts Tagged 'brand metaphors'

Marketing Hall of Fame® Final Selection Committee – or – Name That Famous Marketer

I’m delighted to announce the final selection committee of the Marketing Hall of Fame®.

But first a message from our sponsors!  Many thanks to Columbia Business School, JWT and Greenbook for your support of the Marketing Hall of Fame®

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Well, actually I’ll just quote from the press release.

This year’s stellar selection committee consisted of David W. Almy, CEO, Marketing Research Association (MRA); Gayle Fuguitt, CEO, Advertising Research Foundation (ARF); Nancy Hill, CEO, 4As; Bob Liodice, CEO, Association of National Advertisers (ANA);Kendall Nash, president, Qualitative Research Consultants Association; Bruce Nelson, former vice chair, Omnicom, and Earl Taylor, CMO, Marketing Science Institute.  The selection committee was coordinated by Don Sexton, NYAMA president-elect and professor of marketing, Columbia University.

“This year’s nominees represented an extraordinarily impressive cross-section of influential marketers, and the finalists were all well-renowned for their outstanding contributors to the field,” said Randall Ringer, NYAMA president and CEO, Verse Group LLC.  “We looked to the collective wisdom of our selection committee, who had the very difficult challenge of picking only three inductees from such an remarkable group.  The contributions of this year’s three inductees are shaping the ways we practice marketing today and inspiring the marketers of the future.  The Marketing Hall of Fame is all about celebrating brilliance, and we are thrilled to celebrate these brilliant individuals.”

Hold the date! May 28th!

The inductees will each speak for 20 minutes about the future of marketing — which they are creating right now!

Be sure to sign up for the May 28th event. This is the best of the best giving marketing’s version of the Nobel Prize Speech.

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Thunderbolts, Lightning, Mini Display? Hello, Apple, Anyone Home?

Apple has gone too cute with their nomenclature for connectors, cables and adapters.  Generally Apple has a good grasp of metaphor based naming systems: Apple, Macintosh, MacBook. Or: Safari, Leopard, Mountain Lion.

Today their metaphorical grasp is slipping.  Gone are common sense and intuition.  Welcome to the storm clouds in Apple’s product nomenclature!

The other day I went into the neighborhood Apple store looking for an adapter to connect our new Airbook to our somewhat older monitor with its VGA ports.  Earlier that day I had checked it out online, knew that I needed a Thunderbolt to VGA adapter.  So I scanned the nearly identical packages of adapters, saw what I needed and made it home in no time at all.  So far, so good.

Then I tried to connect the adapter to the computer.  Wouldn’t fit.  I went back to the package and saw Apple’s mistake — the faint gray lettering said  Lightning to VGA, not Thunderbolt to VGA.   That’s annoying, naming two different adapters with synonyms.  Thunderbolts are lightning. In fact, the icon for Thunderbolt is…lightning!   It’s a rookie mistake.  Block that Metaphor!

So I went back to the store to exchange Lightning for Thunderbolt.  Instead, I came across the puzzle below.  I was looking for the one on the left, Thunderbolt to VGA.  All I could find was the one on the right, Mini DisplayPort to VGA.  What, exactly, is different between these two ports?  Certainly the names are different.  The icons are different.  But somehow…

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Yes, you are right, the shapes of the two ports are identical.

It’s not an optical illusion.  You wouldn’t know it if you didn’t ask, but the Thunderbolt port is identical to the Mini DisplayPort.  You cannot buy a Thunderbolt to VGA adapter because it is called Mini DisplayPort to VGA adapter.  The Apple store employee explained this can only be discovered by close reading  of the small mouse-size type in faint gray on the side of the box.

So here is what I learned about their mixed metaphors:

Thunderbolts are lightning in the real world.  In Apple World Thunderbolts are not Lightning… even though the Thunderbolt icon is…Lightning.

Thunderbolts and Mini DisplayPorts are different in the real world.  In Apple World they are identical but given two different names.

iCloud. U lightning. They Thunderbolt. She Mini DisplayPort. We all confused by this nomenclature.

And I’m left wondering what ever happened to FireWire?

 

 

 

Today’s Branding Quote from Robert Frost

“Unless you are educated in metaphor, you are not safe to be let loose in the world.”  Robert Frost

A couple of days ago I was sitting in on a poetry class at the Kelly Writers House down at the University of Pennsylvania when this line from Frost popped into my mind.  Professor Al Filreis invited me to sit in on this class, the undergrad version of a course he’s teaching online to 35,000 people.

Yes, that’s right, 35,000 people are taking the same online poetry course taught by the same wonderful professor, going through close readings of modern poetry.

You could make a very compelling case that Mitt Romney lost the presidential election because of his carelessness with metaphors.  Among the memorable ones are“Binders full of women” and “47% of people…believe they are victims…” And he wasn’t helped by his spokesperson, Fehrnstrom who famously said of Romney’s ability to change positions:  “It’s almost like an Etch A Sketch. You can kind of shake it up and restart all over again.” 

So what does this have to do with marketing?  Remember a couple of years ago when Tropicana dropped it’s packaging metaphor of a straw in an orange?  The beautiful picture of OJ pouring into a glass was beautiful and vacuous.  People couldn’t find their Tropicana anymore.  In my house the comment was, “Why did you buy this instead of the regular OJ?”  It was an expensive headache for Pepsico, all because someone was not well educated in metaphor.

Almost single-handedly Al is going to educate us in metaphor for our own safety and for that of others around us.  Let’s join in to support Al and Kelly Writers House.

 

 

 

Happy Birthday 2 U-2

Not many companies have the staying power, the strong internal culture, to make it to the century mark.  Lockheed Martin is one of the few who do, who continue to be relevant to us today.  At Verse Group we are very proud to be helping Lockheed Martin tell their story of accelerating tomorrow.

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So this is also the year of big milestones for Oreos, Zurich Insurance, Citibank and Chevy.  What is most important about any branding program is making it relevant to us, the people who are going to be seeing the ads, going to the facebook pages and buying the products.  Okay, maybe we aren’t all in the market for an F-35.  But certainly Oreos!

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Oreos make their centennial relevant.

Citi and Zurich have missed the mark, they are rather more self-congratulatory than relevant.

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Cognitive Dissonance

In fact, Citibank’s advertising even features a shot of the Space Shuttle lifting off.   That really is something NASA accomplished with Lockheed Martin and a number of other vital corporations.  And you’ll see that Lockheed Martin’s centennial tells the story of our past century and how they’ve helped to accelerate the pace of innovation.  (note: updated with fixed links!)

 

 

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Tracking Studies — Are They On Track?

In the past few months I’ve been looking over a number of different tracking studies across a wide range of categories and brands.  As I was looking through these I was struck by their absolute similarity.  The questions were nearly identical.  The attributes being measured were nearly identical.  The scales and everything else were nearly identical.

How could that be?  Aren’t there category dynamics at play?

A tremendous amount of research resources are being devoted to “awareness”  top of mind, unaided, aided and otherwise.  In some of these studies it becomes clear that total awareness is nearly universal for all of the major players.  In fact,  awareness is not a critical measure for most brands — and therefore not necessary in most tracking studies.  To the extent that awareness might be an issue, the traditional ways of measuring it are inadequate for what we know about the way our memories work.

Currently tracking study awareness measures almost all rely on “recall”.  “When I say such-and-such a category, what is the first brand name that comes to mind…”  In reality people come across brands visually, seeing them in context.  I go to the shelf to buy pasta and there I see the name on the package with the logo and distinctive colors.  I “recognize” the brand and feel very familiar with it.

But the tracking study forces me to artificially remember the name without a real context.  It forces me into “recall” (do I remember it when prompted with nothing but a category cue?) when it really should be measuring “recognition” (do I recognize it when I see it?)

Why?  As the say in Fiddler on the Roof…TRADITION!

Because that’s the way tracking studies have always done it.  Looking back, we can trace the use of verbal recall as an adaption to the limitations of phone interviews.  Now they tracking are primarily conducted online, but the old questions are being retained.  The technology makes it possible to use more accurate measures.  Force of habit sometimes blinds us to these opportunities.

Measuring recognition is more representative of the real world in most categories (not all).  Because it consumes less research time, it is possible for companies to add in other measures that can be of great value.

 

Lost In Translation

Last night I had a dream about global branding.  It came to me, like a scene from a play or a movie.  As soon as I woke up, I wrote it down so I could remember it.  Here is what I remember:

[Scene:  Conference room of a major multinational corporation.  Five people seated around the oval table.  3 of them are from the client marketing team.  2 are from their ad agency.]

Marketer 1: “This slogan is brilliant.  I love it!  We’ll use it on all of our advertising, around the world.  It’s not the coffee that keeps you up at night, it’s the bunk.”*

Marketer 2: “Nobody in my country will understand it.  We need to translate it.  Even though our brand is global, our brand is locally relevant.  It says that in our mission statement.  So we need to speak in the local languages.”

Agency 1:  “The line will lose all meaning if we translate it.  It’s a great line, iconic.  It will make you famous.”

Agency 2:  “Look at the Apple advertising.  Nokia.  Philips.  They use English taglines everywhere.  Everyone understands English, it’s the universal language of movies, music and advertising.”

Marketer 2: “Nobody will understand it.  It will make us seem like a distant, arrogant, global corporation who is only interested in selling more, more, more.”

Marketer 1: “It loses all brilliance in translation.  Why can’t we do this in English?”

Agency 1:  “Yes, yes, that’s the only solution.”

Agency 2:  “This is a breakthrough line.  Everyone will be saying it, in every language.  It will have great word-of-mouth momentum.  We can hire models to whisper it in art galleries in all of the major cities from Madrid to Moscow.”

Marketer 2: “We have to translate it.  It is a fact.  You can disagree with the fact but that doesn’t change it.”

Agency 1: “You are killing the whole idea.  You are squeezing the creativity out of it.”

Marketer 1:  “You are both right.  The line is brilliant.  But we do need to have it in the local languages.  Why can’t we do that?”

Agency 2: “Everyone in Europe speaks English.  How about we keep it in English there but translate in China and Latin America?  That solves the problem.”

Marketer 2: “Are we translating the actual words or are we translating the meaning?”

Agency 2: “We’ll have our local offices create new lines for each country.  That way it will be completely relevant.”

Marketer 1: “So we won’t have a single global tagline?  How can we be a global brand without a global tagline?”

Marketer 3: “Okay, I know what can we do!  We’ll make it universal — we’ll use Esperanto!”

[blackout]

Context is King!

What does the color red symbolize?  In many Asian cultures it is a powerful color, very positive.  In many Western cultures it has negative connotations.

The word collaboration is positive in the US — working together.  In France it is a highly charged word, since it has shadings of collaborating in WWII.

As companies stretch to become global brands they have to wrestle with the problem of being lost in translation.  Words are not universal.  Their meaning shifts.  They cannot be nailed down to simple plain meaning.  Somewhere along the line irony begins to slip in.   In fact, the meaning of words shift in the same country over time.   They go from current to camp faster than you can say phat.

Brand Context is King!

Here’s an example:  In the 1990s Samsung had a tagline, “Simply Samsung” which consumers understood to mean the products were simplistic, basic, not very advanced.  In the 2000s Philips has a tagline, “Sense and Simplicity” which is understood to mean taking complex things and making them easy, everyday and wonderful.

* Yes, this is the slogan that won a big contest in the old movie “Christmas in July.”  Great movie that hinges on who comes up with the best slogan for a big coffee company.


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