Friday, October 19, 2012

Logos are meaningless

I'm tapping into the archives this Friday. I figure a posting a rerun every once in while can't hurt, based on how many people still watch Seinfeld and M*A*S*H.

Your logo doesn't mean anything until you make it mean something.

Nike's logo didn't mean athletic performance before Bo Jackson, Michael Jordan and others put the shoes on their feet and started appearing in their commercials.

Apple's logo didn't stand for intuitive computing until the products they put it on delivered on that promise.

BMW's badge didn't stand for the ultimate driving machine until the products underneath them proved themselves on the track and on the street.

Your logo only becomes meaningful through your products, your actions and your communications.

Don't worry too much about what your new logo means. Worry more about how you're going to make it meaningful.

Thursday, October 18, 2012

Is there life after Lance?

Say you're an incredibly popular non-profit that does incredibly important work. You've been highly rated by every oversight group. You have one of the most visible symbols in fundraising since the pink ribbon.

And then this happens.

What do you do?

Tell the truth even if your former leader won't.

Don't apologize for Mr. Armstrong. Don't make excuses for him. Thank him for starting the group, providing inspiration and then move on.

For LIVESTRONG to survive, the charity must focus not on Mr. Armstrong but on the donations they've been able to raise, the work they've done and the positive results from their efforts.

LIVESTRONG should shift the focus to the individuals who participate in the events and benefit from the research. Tell those stories in unique and compelling ways.

Right now they may be tempted to want to change everything, but they should stick with the color yellow and keep using the bracelets. Even though they're being bastardized now, they are powerful symbols should be retained. American consumers are quick to forget and forgive. They won't blame LIVESTRONG for Mr. Armstrong's indiscretion and mendacity.

Great brands find ways to outlive their founders. Unfortunately LIVESTRONG is being forced to do it long before they had ever planned.

Wednesday, October 17, 2012

Own home

I am constantly struck by how companies that are in search of broader markets and greater riches, not only forget their roots, but also neglect their base.

It happened to my favorite hometown beer, Stroh's.

It's been happening at Chevrolet for the past 15 years.

Remember Chevrolet?

See the USA in your Chevrolet
Baseball, Hot Dogs, Apple Pie and Chevrolet
The Heartbeat of America

They were the quintessential American brand.

But that title and equity has been slowly, methodically and brilliantly bled from it by Toyota.

Please tell me why Chevrolet is spending $500,000,000 sponsoring Manchester United and launched the Spark in South Korea, India and other countries back in 2009 before making it available in America a few months ago...

While a Toyota Tundra hauls the space shuttle through the streets of LA and secures a feature sponsorship on a new television show from Martha Stewart featuring American-made products.

I know that GM is a global auto maker and must market in other countries. But the core of the Chevrolet brand is its American-ness. That's a big part of what should make it special here and abroad.

If they cede this completely to Toyota, what does the brand stand for? What's at its archetypical core?

A strong brand can't save a bad product. But it can help an ever more competitive product gain traction and differentiate itself in the marketplace.

If Chevrolet doesn't fight for its brand in its home market, it will be a lot harder to sell cars in China and everywhere else.

Tuesday, October 16, 2012

Changing the Chanel

Apparently if you want to generate millions of views on youtube all you have to do is pay Brad Pitt seven million dollars, put him in front of a mottled background, shoot him in black and white with a light source that changes for no apparent reason and have him recite some middle-school quality free verse.

Just in case you missed it while lost in Mr. Pitt's oh so dreamy eyes, here's the copy:

It's not a journey. Every journey ends but we go on.
The world turns and we turn with it.
Plans disappear.
Dreams take over.
But wherever I go, there you are;
My luck, my fate, my fortune.
Chanel Number 5

Yes, I guess it is inevitable.

Why go to all the effort of creating interesting films that leave a lasting impression on your brand when you can hire a famous mimbo, shoot him on video in a couple of hours, go have lunch at Musso and Frank and still generate well over two million views and a tidal wave of PR in just a few days?

I get it. We're talking about scented liquid here, a product with no news. They had to manufacture it. Mission accomplished.

As a marketer, I stand and applaud. They've gotten the world to lift their heads up long enough to acknowledge that Chanel still exists for this holiday season.

As someone who has enjoyed the brand's willingness to hire artists like Jean-Pierre Jeunet, Baz Luhrmann, Ridley Scott and others to create interesting, beautiful, obtuse and memorable films, I'm a little sad.

Monday, October 15, 2012

Emotion by design

If you ignore the power of design in the development of your products and services, be prepared for people to ignore your products and services.

Design elevates what you are selling from a functional need to an emotional desire.

When something connects emotionally, it's hard to quit.