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It stopped my multi-touch gesturing fingers in their trackpad tracks. One of those rare occasions when social media pushes your pause button and makes you think. A tweet caught my eye long enough for me to physically write it down on a piece of honest-to-goodness, gen-u-ine paper (well, a sticky note counts). @hunterwalk tweeted, “Your brand is not your logo, name or tagline. It’s the promise you make to your community.”  Read the rest of this entry »

I had the privilege of attending a recent client event in Charlotte that reminded me of the importance of corporate social responsibility and serving broader industry needs in branding and reputation management. Read the rest of this entry »

One of the first things that attracted me to the marketing and advertising profession was a ketchup bottle. Sound weird? It’s true—before picking a major and packing up for college, I was walking through a grocery store and some Heinz ketchup labels caught my eye.

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Our family just returned from a 2-week trip of a number of national parks, including Yellowstone, Grand Tetons, Mt. Rushmore, and Rocky Mountain National Park. Except for a couple of nights at the way-cool Old Faithful Inn in Yellowstone, most of our lodging was in Holiday Inn Express and Hampton Inn hotels. Why? Well, for me it’s pretty simple: Read the rest of this entry »

We all know that a brand is much more than a logo. But I had an experience recently that left me wishing a major global technology company had actually thought about branding INSIDE the box. Our marketing agency had upgraded some computers, and I was part of the team that helped with the rollout. We purchased from the 2 largest computer manufacturers in the world. And when I opened the boxes from Brand A — no names here, to protect the innocent and/or guilty — I was greeted with the following:

  • Carefully trimmed and perfectly fitting dense foam protection
  • A fitted white fabric wrap with adhesive dots, covering the hardware
  • A slim, elegant box for the accessories
  • Each accessory in a fitted fabric sleeve
  • A slim box for software DVDs
  • A brief, nicely designed intro manual on high-quality paper
  • A beautiful startup movie as the hardware was powered up

However, when I opened the boxes from Brand B, I had to struggle with:

  • Ill-fitting, coarse foam that was falling apart and sticking via static to anything and everything
  • Badly folded corrugated cardboard that wasn’t engineered properly to hold anything in it
  • A collection of unmatched disks in paper sleeves sliding around the box
  • Crinkly, loose plastic bags sealed with packing tape
  • Fingerprints on the hardware
  • Ugly giant stickers with bitmapped serial numbers stuck to all of the contents
  • A flimsy manual in ill-fitting shrink wrap
  • Accessories in industrial plastic baggies
  • An ugly bitmapped screen as the computer powered up
  • A typo in the 2nd screen I was asked to read
  • A warning that “Your screen could be blank for one minute”

The kicker? Depending on configuration, the price on these 2 machines could have been within $50 of one another! It wasn’t as though I had purchased a bargain product and a luxury product.

It all came down to how the company valued their brand, and how they valued their user experience with that brand. Which brand carried their brand promise through INSIDE the box? Brand A, of course. Which one failed miserably, and left me expecting to have trouble with the experience (which I did)? Brand B. Of course.

Does your brand stop at your logo? Or your brand positioning? Or your marketing materials? Or does it carry through the entire experience that your customer has with your product or service? Even INSIDE the box?

A few weeks ago I got to spend a half-day at the nearby BMW Performance Driving School, racing a number of their very cool cars for an afternoon. Thanks to my friend Kamran Popkin, I saw firsthand how the BMW brand permeates the entire experience, and came away with a few branding lessons – as well as a track victory, some cool promo items, and an enormous grin.
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a collection of old crayons we found, c. 1970s?

My youngest son is an aspiring artist and a bit of a pack rat. (I guess the apple doesn’t fall far from the tree.) This convergence of traits, coupled with the every-fall-we-need-to-buy-a-new-box-of-crayons-‘cuz-they’re-only-29-cents syndrome, had led to a huge pile of Crayola crayons in the corner of his room, underneath his easel.
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motorola droidYou’ve probably heard that Motorola, Verizon and Google have introduced the Droid phone. By all accounts, it’s a very strong smartphone, with great integration with other Google products (e.g., Gmail, Google contacts, etc.). (Here’s a 16-minute podcast review by local technology expert Phil Yanov.) But the advertising? Well, it’s been all over the map.
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transformers movie posterOn Saturday, four Transformers came to my door. Of course, they were between the ages of 5 and 10, and it was Halloween, but still. They were there. My oldest son has watched the first movie so many times he knows the dialogue, and he rushed out to pick up the latest movie on DVD the day it came out. And has watched it half a dozen times since then. (I even caught my wife engrossed in the special features the other night.) This is a 25-year-old franchise – how in the world are they dragging 9 and 16 year olds into their web? Simple. Marketing.

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saturn_logoIt was a sad day when GM announced last week that it was finally pulling the plug on Saturn. When the brand was launched, the company was carefully planned and its marketing orchestrated to create something dramatically different – and it worked (back in the early 90s, at least). What did Saturn do? And is there any way to apply those lessons to b-to-b companies? Here are 4 key steps Saturn took:
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