Sunday, March 27, 2011

"A Brand That Gets It And Makes Me Smile"

I am the first to admit that many of times I read the Atlanta Business Chronicle, I think about how many great business prospects are out there for BRANDVenture.

“Prospects” being defined as the business leadership that needs strategic advice on how to bring brands to life and stop employing the same old strategy time after time that doesn’t work in 2011 forward.

This past week, I actually read an article about an Atlanta landmark brand and the launch of its new advertising campaign. It was nice to be able to say, “damn that brand gets it.”

What is the brand doing that makes me smile?

First of all, the brand line is great. It is driven by the brand’s EIP (Emotional Ignition Point) and taps into the heart and aspiration of its customer base.

The line is simple. It does not self-promote any of the mechanical and internal elements of the delivery of the brand experience.

The line is NOT a variation of one of their competitors like Home Depot’s line “More Saving. More Doing.” and Target’s line “Expect More. Pay Less”… oh yes, and Wal-Mart’s line “Save Money. Live Better.”

Second, the article doesn’t say anything about whom the brand identifies as its customer base, but I know that the advertiser uses the same system that I do to identify audience groups.

I would put some money on the betting table that it isn’t a simple “Adults 35-54” and furthermore, that the brand understands that more than one audience group represents opportunity.

The media-driven broad target groupings are way out-dated versus the niche-marketing rifle targeting approach accessible to marketers today.

Third, the Atlanta brand took charge of the media mavens.

Specifically, the media cited in the article reflects very directly the lifestyle of the brand’s audience groups and not the media avenues that the Media Mavens (and the Media Reps) claim deliver the “highest levels of reach and ratings.”

The media mix that the Atlanta brand is employing is comprised of top lifestyle cable networks like HGTV, Bravo, The Food Network and Travel Channel.

They are also running advertising on ESPN and MLB Network. Male viewers, especially those found within their top lifestyle target groups, are big sports fans.

Fourth, the magazine mix is a true lifestyle portrait of their audience groups.

Not only is the Atlanta landmark brand advertising in conventional publications reflective of its product line – business publications like Forbes, Business Week and Fortune, but it is also using magazines reflective of the target group lifestyles…Vanity Fair, Men’s Journal, Food & Wine and The New Yorker.

Oh… and the magazine mix reflects very directly on a core target base as well as opportunity development segments like Millennial generation techies, managers and entrepreneurs with Fast Company Magazine as well as successful African-American business leadership with Black Enterprise.

I have met the senior VP of marketing who is quoted in the article.

I can tell you that he and his personality is not the tight suit and ties found in other Atlanta business boardrooms.

This brand gets it.

They understand fully that the market has changed.

That reach and frequency and mass marketing is dead and the brands that ascribe to it, are dying quickly too.

Trust me, there are many times when I work with top leadership of top brands and Lord help us their ad agencies and media buying groups, that claim the strategy platforms I develop are heretical.

And there are some very leading-edge management and agency teams that I work with that take a deep breath and take the risk of adopting a new marketing paradigm.

Then smile as their brand shares grow!

The Atlanta brand that makes me smile is Delta Airlines.

Their new brandline is “Keep Climbing.”

Their recently hired new ad agency is Wieden-Kennedy… the same agency that crafted NIKE’s brand campaign, Just Do It.

Need I say any more?

Friday, March 18, 2011

The Value Of A Brand Logo

I am addicted to Coke.

Coke ZERO to be specific. I consume about six cans a day.

I applaud Coke for getting Coke ZERO distribution in fast food restaurants and C-store fountainheads.

Coke ZERO is great because it is slightly less carbonated than Diet Coke, which means I can chug it down quicker.

Today the 2010 soft-drink sales gains hit the news nets and newspapers.

Diet Coke just surpassed Pepsi for the #2 spot in the US…Coke already owns the #1 slot.

PEPSI fell 4.8 percent.

4.8 percent is a BIG drop.

The article in the AJC goes on to say… “one analyst fears morale implications for PepsiCo.”

Now I am not a financial analyst, but I do listen to people talk about all sorts of things across the US, online and in the blog-louge world and there’s been a lot of commentary about the Pepsi logo change.

Here’s the commentary from a 10/20/2008 blog post on BRAND NEW about the new Pepsi logo rollout…

“YUK. These logos make me want to cry.”

“It’s not subtle, it’s silly and stupid”

“Boring and pointless”

“Oh damn. I really hate the new Pepsi brand”

“Someone F up BIG time.”

Okay. Wonder if any of the folks at PepsiCo were listening?

Someone told me a few weeks ago that it is all about the Millennials and GenXers taking over as the new corporate CMOs and Brand VPs.

Changing brand identities and logos seems to be the new marketing buzz.

Last week, Starbucks premiered their new logo where they took the girl out of the ring and dropped the Starbucks Coffee Company copy text.

Maybe its because I am a Boomer, but I don’t like it.

The Starbucks CMO says it is designed to broaden their brand as it expands into other product lines.

Okay. But whatever happened to the core brand platform of the “Third Place?”

(Maybe that is before the MBAs took over and taught the folks at Starbucks all about the USP and Benefit Statement)

GAP tried out a new logo that their new CMO insisted was very needed to bring the brand into the more current times.

About three months after the announcement, GAP got smart and re-launched the classic brand that got GAP where GAP is at today.

Wal-Mart changed their logo to get more competitive with target and in that case, it seems to have helped.

The jury is still out about the Holiday Inn logo change.

I am sitting here scripting this on a MacBook Pro and the Apple logo on the other side hasn’t changed. Apple’s apple has been around for a while.

Some analysts say that NIKE’s corporate value is about 80% linked to the value of the swish…and that hasn’t changed since it was launched.

Okay…back to the Coke story and the challenge that Pepsi is loosing right now…

While I love my Coke ZERO, I would put $50 on the Vegas tables that a large reason why Pepsi sales are on the decline is about an identity change that was just plain stupid.

Sure Coke has changed their brand logos, but the changes have been minor updates.

I remember as a kid growing up that my mom hardly ever gave me any critical commentary about what I put on to wear to school… and while my dad was rather tolerant, he would sometimes advise me to go back to my room and pick out an outfit that was much more aligned with the event I was heading out to attend.

I would put another $50 on the Vegas tables that the CMO from Pepsi and the CMO from Starbucks were classic ADHD and their fathers seldom voiced any concern about what they wore heading out of the house.

Maybe if they want to keep their jobs, they will turn more of a listening ear to their bottomlines and Wall Street.

Okay. Hand me another Coke ZERO!

Monday, March 7, 2011

Generation Generosity And The Impact Of R.A.K.

I got most of my dinner tonight at Whole Foods.

And believe it or not, I got a great bottle of Italian white wine for $3.99. I also grabbed a super bouquet of flowers for $4.99.

Whole Foods has gotten Whole Smarter and is quickly changing their image to something beyond Whole Paycheck.

I also contributed a dollar tonight to feeding the hungry in Africa.

Turns out that some kids from Kenya crafted the package the wine got bagged in tonight. That bag is a collectible piece of art.

And with my dollar, Whole Foods chipped in with 50% matching funds.

That bottle of wine is very relaxing tonight. I worked hard on a set of three clients…all working on getting consumers to donate some cold hard cash to their direct and sponsored programs and causes.

Some of the market buzz factories are beginning to make note of the emergence of Generation G… G as in Generosity and not G as in Greed.

Generation G skews younger... but there are also many conventional older audience groups signing up to belong every day.

Those marketing buzz factories are also highlighting the R.A.K. as what ignites Generation G to give even more and fuels their interest in ongoing support.

You know R.A.K. It was a feature this Christmas as choral groups came to malls from New York to Main Street breaking into the Alleluia chorus.

R.A.K. is short for Random Acts of Kindness.

Members of Generation G have been left cold by old-school business priorities and formalities. They Facebook and Twitter their friends and seek similar connections with other persona in their offline, everyday life.

And that includes non-profit causes, organizations and brands.

People want and expect interactions to be genuine, interactive and enjoyable.

The age-old direct mailers asking for the annual donation are about as out of date as picking up a phone and calling a person’s landline in hopes that they too call a friend to rally behind your call.

Gone are the days of guilt. Gone are the days of social recognition with a name on a plaque or invite.

The explosion in both the volume and reach of the new paradigm of “connections” creates huge opportunities for brands that create interesting, meaningful, funny, uplifting moments that people love to share.

R.A.K. can now touch thousands, if not tens of thousands of people, rather than just the original recipient.

When done well, R.A.K. will bring unexpected glee to consumers and truly enhance a brand's and their cause's reputation.

A few tips:

Be genuine. Any non-committed act will be unmasked in today's transparent marketplace. And the backlash won’t be random.

Be real. R.A.K. from 'human' brands are welcomed because they are just that, acts of kindness, rather than purely self-serving corporate marketing stunts.

Make it shareable.
Give someone a reason to share their experience with their friends and family… even better if they have something to share, whether it be an extra ticket, or an online video.

Breed evangelists. Encourage consumers to engage in their own R.A.K. And then (publicly) reward them for it

Remember who is being emotional stroked.
This isn’t about you or your brand, it’s about the recipient.

Look at what Whole Foods got me to do tonight.

Not only did I give a dollar tonight, but I scripted a whole Blog-logue about what the Whole Foods brand did.

I will be posting this online and then sending it to my network of friends on Facebook.

And I will probably donate another dollar the next time I shop at Whole Foods.

Their brand gets it.

There’s a whole lot more that need to wake up to where the marketplace is in 2011.