Monday, August 25, 2008

There's A Lot We Can Learn From The Political Conventions!

I just got done watching NBC Nightly News. Of course all the news was about the DNC 2008 Presidential Convention in Denver.

I have encouraged the BrandVenture Team to watch the DNC this week and the GOP next week. It is interesting to watch and listen as each party works to build its presidential candidate “brand.”

We would love to hear back from others on this Blog what insights they glean about our consumer marketplace and headset.

Politics is an interesting topic.

My friends always tell me not to bring up the topic of Politics. They say I find too much humor in the politics of America.

My Grandmother told me to find fun in everything, otherwise you would cry!

One of our 2008 Trendcasts is titled “The Persona of Politics.”

Here are some interesting facts that we cite in relationship to American Politics:
• It’s the first time since 1825 when the two party system emerged in the US that we have two consecutive two-term presidents preceding the election…Clinton eight years and Bush eight years
• Al Gore, from Tennessee, came within 538 popular votes in Florida of becoming president without winning a single Southern electoral vote
• In 2000, for the first time ever, a Republican won the White House while losing the North
• In neither 1992 nor 1996 did Clinton win 50% of the popular vote
• Independents represent the largest affiliate political party in the US…38.6% compared to 32.4% Democrats and 27.7% Republicans

In tonight's broadcast NBC made a big to do about the DNC’s strategic need to align McCain with Bush. They talk about Bush posting the lowest approval rating of any President in history.

I am looking forward to watching Fox News next week when they share the fact that congress is currently posting not only the lowest approval rating of any congress in history, but a rating less than half of Bush's rating.

Consumers today really don't trust politicians.

In our Trendcast 2008, we also cite the impending political showdown between the Millennium Generation and the Boomer Generation. They are nearly the same size.

Obama got the nomination n large part due to his popularity among those 18+ and 20-something Millenniums. The majority of Obama’s vote was from Millenniums. The majority of Hilary’s vote was from Boomers.

Birds of a feather flock together? There is an age difference between Hilary and Obama.’s headline this morning was all about Obama not really getting much of a surge out of his vice presidential selection of a true classic Washington Boomer.

Will be interesting to watch…Millenniums are known for their ADHD brand loyalty.

This week will truly be entertaining. Next week will be like Star Wars II.

Maybe the biggest learning out of all of this is a need to revive the old competitive comparisons.

Yeah… Visa did a wimpy version of competitive claims with its “the only card accepted at the 2008 Olympics” ads...but if Visa was really playing the strategy modeled after the DNC and GOP it would have outright gone after American Express.

Like "Visa is here at the Olympics and does anybody see Tiger or Ellen?" If they really played their politics right, Visa could even go on to say that both Tiger and Ellen each has a record of not liking Chinese food and that’s really why they did not get an invite to come to Beijing.

The political conventions are scripted from beginning to end. If you really want to glean insights into how Americans really think, get out the office and hit the streets.

Go to your nearest Starbucks and ask the others in line to describe the picture of America that is painted at each of the political conventions. Then ask them on a scale of 1-to-5 with 5 being very accurate and 1 being not accurate at all, how they would rate the picture painted compared to what they experience day-to-day in their own lives.

Come post what you find on the BrandVenture Blog-logue!

Over the next several weeks, we will be out talking with consumers about politics and share those thoughts with readers of our Blog.

If you are snowed under with work, then Email me with any questions you would love to ask!

Come, let’s journey!

Sunday, August 17, 2008

Take Time To Celebrate The Journey!

This week my father, H.W. “Mike” Kooyman turns 80 years old.

He was born in 1928 in Northeastern Ohio. He is the youngest of eight kids and he is the only one of the eight to be born in the United States.

My grandfather and grandmother immigrated to the US from Alkmaar – the cheese capital of Holland.

My father went to a one-room schoolhouse and is the only one of the eight kids to graduate High School.

He attended Case Western Reserve University and has a degree in political science from Ohio State University.

He started working right after WWII in Cleveland for a manufacturing company. Cleveland and manufacturing were booming then.

When he married my mother, it was controversial at the time. My mother was an Italian Catholic and my father was protestant. He did not convert, but the priest went on to marry them in the church.

He went on to manage departments, offices, manufacturing plants, divisions, company acquisitions and whole corporations. He also served on the board of a couple global companies, headed up a few economic and commerce groups and helped to launch several non-profit organizations.

When he retired twelve years ago, he and my mother moved to a college town where they volunteer their time to support student athletes.

My Dad also took up landscaping, raising chickens, racing antique cars and being a grandfather.

Today, he remains more active and involved in things at a level that seems to outpace both my sister and me combined.

I talk to my father most every morning.

One of the things that I am always struck by is that he always answers the phone with a smile and positive outlook on the day.

He has taught me many things over the course of time, but his optimism is perhaps the greatest gift of all.

When you listen to the politicians and the press today, it sounds like we are in the midst of the downfall of America.

Sometimes clients can convey a negative outlook on life as well.

Over the course of the next several weeks, the BrandVenture team will be presenting a new overall branding campaign for a hospital, developing new media channeling strategy for an academic institution, revamping an adventure experience restaurant chain for national franchise launch, launching a new form of visual assessment technology and listening to consumers reaction to global “green-cause” rebranding positioning options of a multi-billion dollar corporation.

Cool companies and organizations doing cool stuff.

But this week…well I am going to be celebrating along with a myriad of friends, family, business associates and community supporters my Father’s achievements over 80 years of living life.

While destinations are always wonderful, we are fueled in life by the process of getting there. When we look back across time, it’s really the process that we remember most.

Happy Birthday Dad…and let's celebrate your wonderful Journey!

Monday, August 11, 2008

A Cool Time For Brand Refreshment!

We just had our first cool weekend here in the South since back in May.

This morning at my log cabin in North Georgia, my iPhone posted a temperature of 54 degrees. Since I can remember, seems that every August we have a cool-down that seems to refresh the air and revive the soul.

In some ways, this cool-down is very similar to what’s going on out there in our marketplace.

Consumer spending is down. Consumer savings are up.

For how long have we been told that Americans had stretched their credit card limits?

GenXers grew up thinking of their credit card as an extension of their checkbook. No joke. We did a set of focus groups for a financial group and GenXers talked about how much easier it was to use their credit card than carry around a checkbook.

The banks and credit lenders make it sound like we are in the depths of a frigid January blizzard. From Capital One to Visa to Citibank to American Experss…not only have they each promoted their credit cards, but made cash payment look plain stupid.

Oh well… Just like my father taught me…we are all accountable for our actions.

I actually believe that market cool-downs are good.

Just like waking up in that cool mountain air makes the body feel refreshed and revived…market cool-downs can do the same for a brand.

The 8/18/08 edition of Business Week features a story about Gap’s new design chief Patrick Robinson. Patrick is a leading GenXer at 41 years old.

Patrick is actually in the midst of more than a simple cool-down. As the article says, “sales remain anemic” at Gap, “an apparel chain that has grown too big and lost its way.”

Patrick is pushing Gap to reconnect with its roots and bring clarity back to its brand with a cohesive look and brand experience. Something that Gap strayed from when they moved with the industry in focusing instead on “fast fashion-rapid-fire mini-trends.”

Seems that Gap, under the direction of former Disney executive Paul Pressler, got addicted to doing focus groups and very rarely got out into the marketplace and the stores.

Isn’t funny how addicted to conventional focus groups the MBA-execs have gotten? Not that sitting behind the mirror with their martinis and shrimp cocktails is driving their passion to do them.

Patrick is also focusing efforts on a more defined 25-34 year old age group and is spending time out in the marketplace visiting with them and getting to know them.

I hope that Gap gives Patrick time to refocus the brand. In all likelihood, if they do, the Gap brand will be refreshed and revived.

Over the course of the past two weeks, BrandVenture has received calls from three firms that are using the cool-down time to refresh their brands with new thinking.

Frustrated by the economy, the marketing and management teams have finally decided to sit back, take a moment and get back in touch with the marketplace and their customers.

These cool-downs in the middle of August are a gift of refreshment.

Last night I actually turned off the air conditioning and opened up the windows. In addition to enjoying the nice cool breeze, I was intrigued by the sound of all the crickets, birds, frogs and turtles.

Same thing I hear from clients when we get out and talk with their customers.

Hey…refocus during this economic cool-down, call us and let’s journey!