Further proof of conspiracy: Hello Kitty Bra Shop

Even Coke, McDonald's and Disney haven't taken over the world like this.

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It should come as no surprise since the world is already graced with theHello Kitty AK-47, the Hello Kitty Rectal Thermometer or the Hello Kitty Lawnmower, and pretty much anything else an obsessed mind can conjure. Cute tissues, though.

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Chew the right thing

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At Christian's behest, here's a find for our readers who check in regarding the marketing of organic foods:

The Ethicurean

This blog is devoted to "tasty things that are also sustainable, organic, local, and/or ethical."

Yum!

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Niche obsessions

We're all shoe-obsessed. That's not news -- but here's something that is: the abject, near-worship of a specific category of shoe. BayAreaKicks shows how it's done with mouthwatering photos and intense analysis of each new entry in the product category they euphemistically call "sneakers."

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These are no ordinary tennies. Wild colors, exotic leathers, celeb signatures, extreme design. Don't worry, BayAreaKicks won't generally wander into that pseudo-scientific speak of performance technology; rather, they're all about the look.

And we like it.

BayAreaKicks: Sneaker News

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Battle of the natural brands

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Christian and I have been watching this story closely. Here's an excerpt from "Trader Joe's -- the Forgotten Supermarket Giant" via Brand Autopsy. Full text after the jump.

There's been much hullabaloo surrounding the FTC blocking the proposed merger between Whole Foods and Wild Oats. The FTC believes this merger will concentrate too much of the country's natural/organic supermarkets in the hands of one retailer. And because of this, consumer choice will be reduced, leading to higher consumers prices for natural/organic foods.

In the lawsuit filed last week, the FTC contends, "Consumers have benefited directly from the price and quality competition between Whole Foods and Wild Oats. If this acquisition occurs, those [price/quality competitive benefits] will be lost."

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Obviously, Priceline is Shat-tastic

Shatner talking smack about Expedia's roaming gnome, via adfreak


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Hey! Pee Wee Herman Nikes

pee-wee-herman-dunks-3.jpg One of the items in the Fallen Heroes line, these mid dunks feature the colorway of Pee Wee's trademark gray suit and red bowtie. Don't check the insoles unless you have a sense of humor. Edgy. Questions & comments 0

Lifesize NASCAR or truly jumbo shrimp?

Whatta way to decorate. After all, they are BIG, HIGH DEF and SAFE FOR WALLS, so what's not to like?

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Fathead.com

This is not to be confused with fatheads.com but on the other hand, I do wish this life-size wall sticker concept could be used with the Fatheads Grilled Shrimp Salad. Yeah, now I'm in.

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The study of brand marks really is logos

You thought it was inspired by a coffee cup ring? Heavens, no. This is a serious matter.

Logo Design History - Famous Logos A

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But what about the toast?

Yep, I just knew Apple would come up with the ultimate all-in-one gadget!

via Conan: iPhone Commercial

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Curious Americana

Wow, the oldest existing trademark still in use in the US today: can you name it?

The answer is revealed at the following link.

Oldest American Trademark

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At last, a gift we can use

John Dodds promises us all a great holiday gift: evaluation criteria for brand ideas. Best of all, we can make it together!

Dodds discusses why creative branding approaches are rare, and how separating the heroes from the goats lacks a tested system or method. Weigh in with your thoughts at Adliterate: Adliterate: Why are brand ideas so rare?

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Little businesses build a big world

I love these amazing women who built a little something out of nothing. If necessity isn't the Mother of Invention, then just Sheer Will to Thrive! is:

MichelleP Cosmetics and Skincare Questions & comments 0

MySpace. Not even once.

My daughter Jess came up with the line I'm using as this entry's title. (ASIDE/BRAG: I thank God every day that she's not old enough to drive yet, because we have so much fun together on the daily commute. Her topics of conversation range from "When a bad haircut means goodbye" to "Already on Round Two, and it's only 8th Grade." And yes, you sick, twisted freaks, I'll get her to write for this blog a little more often, since clearly she's more interesting than I.)

Ahem. So back to the subject of today's post: MySpace. In the category of time-wasters, this one has no equal, except possibly Second Life which doesn't really count since you have to be insane enough to shell out actual dollars to play there. MySpace's endless parade of videos of stupid pet tricks and human folly (many high-graded from YouTube but many more the original creations of real-life-deprived computer geeks like me) plus the prurient joys of being able to spy on your teenage kids or connect with others who share your excessively obscure interests (harajuku trends, ultramarathoning while reciting the rosary, rare manga italian charms, obsession with the VictoriaBot, etc.) make this the world's town square.

MySpace is fun and stupid. What's not to like?

Well, for one thing, the stodgy e-holes who've decided this is the place to go viral with their latest marketing campaign. I'm not talking about film or music, since MySpace is practically built on the word-of-mouth that fires them. I'm not talking about the cool small businesses who share their loveliness (like Caribou Collectibles of Maine) and inspire me as a fellow business owner.

I mean those Internet ponzi-scheme dorks who desperately latch on to anything in the hopes it will make them an easy buck (didn't we already see all of you at the launch of every other Internet innovation?). Not any better are the "train" folks who use fake electronic means to rack up a big Friends list (SomethingOrOther 2.0, etc.). Or, I guess, whatever floats your boat.

Aside from those d-bags, it's a great global community. It's addictive, and you've been warned. MySpace. Not even once. Questions & comments 0

Disaster brands

Maybe there's no such thing as bad PR. But can you reflect for a moment on whether there's such a thing as bad publicity in branding? Talk radio personality and new CNN edginess factor Glenn Beck made the point a couple of days ago that there are certain brands linked forever in our collective consciousness with disasters. On the news that would-be terrorists planned to employ a sports drink that's supposedly the Brit equivalent of Gatorade, Glenn recalls these other brands whose marketing departments likely suffered a simultaneous sphincter clench when the bad news hit:
Tylenol
Ford Bronco
Ryder Truck
Name the associated disasters, and see if you can think of a few others.
For more, see Welcome to the Glenn Beck Program
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Brilliant!

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Beer could be the answer. via Vestal Design Blog: ? Blog Archive ? Heineken Beer Bottle Bricks

Heineken Beer Bottle Bricks

Along the lines of our Book Bar, this 1950s design for stackable beer bottles was the brainchild of Alfred Heineken, of beer fame.

As the story goes, Heineken was strolling along by the sea in Jamaica, and was shocked at the number of beer bottles littering the beach. He was also concerned with the lack of cheap building materials, and at the resulting living conditions for the poor. Putting two and two together, he envisioned a "World Bottle" which would be imported for drinking but kept for construction.

A 10' x 10' shack would take approximately 1000 bottles to build, but the Jamaican tourist industry would likely supply plenty. In addition, glass (and air) are good insulators, though the humid and hot Jamaican climate may not require insulation per se. A unique feature was that the short bottle neck would fit into a depression in the bottom of each bottle. Ultimately though, the idea was either (according to different accounts) voted down by the Heineken board, or vetoed by the bottle companies and the customers. Not much information is available on the World Bottle today, but there have been other attempts to make interlocking "bottle bricks", even of plastic.

Link to an article on Heineken (the man, not the beer) at the BBC website.

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We all have our reasons

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Here's mine.

The rest of America loves it too, evidently. via TMZ.com:

World's Biggest Sporting Event?? Huge in the US, Too.

It appears that Americans have been watching soccer just like the rest of the world, and that World Cup fever has reached heights unknown thus far, at least where TV ratings are concerned. On the eve of the tournament's final between Italy and France, ratings for the games have increased more than 76 percent over the last World Cup, in Korea and Japan.The Germany-Italy semi-final last Tuesday attracted 2.3 million viewers on ESPN, making it the best-rated non-US cup game ever on ESPN.

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World's greatest branding event continues

Viva futbol!

Sure, I'm a patriot, but I love it that there's a sport where the US gets a spanking from the Czech Republic. Love it that Ghana is a subject of discussion at our dinner table. Love it that our house guest this week from Zagreb, Croatia could weigh in with her perspective on World Cup teams and history. And totally digging it that the world atlas is getting more-than-usual wear this month.

Via the NY Times, the update on the world's most-watched spectacle.
World Cup %u201906 - FINAL: Trinidad & Tobago 0 - Sweden 0

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"The brands you love love soccer"

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World Cup is the world's biggest branding event, says American Copywriter, and I say it's about time someone in the US acknowleged it.

And yes, of course it's hard to imagine anyone better than Brazil, but I'm rooting for the Netherlands because my husband lived there as a kid and because they're looking awesome. (On the other hand, to the Germans, perhaps nothing would be more horrific than a World Cup win by Holland, as evidenced by this viral video. )

Meanwhile, the branding story, via American Copywriter:

Not Just For Soccer Moms

World Cup 2006 is just a few short days away and not only am I getting ready for the world's biggest sporting event, I'm getting ready for the world's biggest branding event.

That's right. Bigger than the World Series. Bigger than the Olympics. Bigger than Super Bowl. (Bigger thatn all of them, in fact, byt a long shot.)

According to a story in Business Week "A cumulative 28 billion fans watched the 2002 World Cup 2002 in Korea and Japan, and FIFA officials expect 32 billion cumulative viewers to tune in to the upcoming month-long tournament."

So what does this mean? It means that the biggest brands in the world are lining up to kick and be kicked by socce er ... football fans. of course Adidas ($200) and Nike ($100) are shelling out big bucks to promote themselves during the beautiful game's big tournament, but so are damn near every other brand you've heard of.

MasterCard, Anheuser-Busch, Google, Yahoo, Gillette, McDonald's. They're ALL there. And what would a World Cup game be without the Real Thing? Yep. Coke is behind the speckled ball, too. (No longer is the soccer ball speckled either. Adidas has the official WC ball. Wonder how much that ran them? (Hey, watch for the CU that is sure to be on every goal kick. They did it last time to make sure the viewers got a clean, close up look at that ball.)

And how 'bout this one, T-Mobile? As "Official Mobile Sponsor" they are rolling out new phones and World Cup-specific services. They're plan is to beam video highlights directly to enabled phones around an hour after each match.

So, face it haters: The brands you love love soccer. At least for a few glorious weeks this summer.

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Microsoft's Birthday Greetings to Apple

In a move almost as sweet as the Tiger Woods - Phil Mickelson reversal-of-rivalry civility at the Masters, here's Microsoft's shout out to Apple.

Rock On, Apple.

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I'm a Pepper, you're a Pepper out $5 Mil

Maybe they won't see the light of day, but certainly they'll bask for a while in that eerie middle-of-the-night glow of ad geeks viewing these online:

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Mash-up TV spots killed by Dr Pepper:
Music-heavy commercials cost $5 million to produce

CHICAGO (AdAge.com) -- Cadbury Schweppes spent $5 million producing a Dr Pepper TV campaign that now won't see the light of day.

The marketer has quietly canned an elaborate "mash-up" campaign from famed director Kinka Usher that mixes music from Kiss, Will Smith, EMP and Cyndi Lauper, and ordered up new creative to be produced before the crucial Memorial Day kickoff to soft-drink season. The company attributed the switch to a new strategy.

'Different strategies'

"From last year into this year we had some different strategies that changed," a spokesman said. Now, Y&R, San Francisco, is moving forward on a new campaign concept.

The shelved spots were from the WPP Group agency's New York office, which hired music licensing firm Thwak, New York, to mix tunes together to accompany morphing visuals. The effort's aim was to play up the notion that Dr Pepper has 23 flavors that make up its unique taste and used the tagline "There's more to it." One executive close to the marketer said Cadbury had spent up to $5 million in production costs for the effort, much of it in securing rights for the music. Thwak, Usher Films and Y&R all referred calls to Cadbury.

Full article at AdAge.com (register free to view): See the mash-up TV spots killed by Dr Pepper

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If Microsoft redesigned iPod packaging

So dead-on you'll wonder if indeed this evil hasn't actually come to pass. Turn up the sound for this one (especially if, like me, you love Pee Wee). Brilliant! Via SnarkHunting:

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And I thought typos were bad

Via The Consumerist: Shoppers Bite Back, something worse than the fake-text placeholders sometimes inadvertently left in a layout all the way to the printer.

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Walgreens Pharmacy Mocks Customers

Just over two weeks after a woman sued Walgreens for labeling her a PSYCHO, two more patients are suing for slanderous remarks attached to their prescription sheets.

Elizabeth Noah, a Palms Beach grammie, began to cry after reading the Drug Utilization Review (DUR) stapled to her bag of anxiety meds.

It said, WATCH CONTROLS SHE SEEMS SHADY.

Erin Cutler, 30, mother of three, sued after seeing her Walgreens DUR labeled her a "bitch."

"The purpose of the notes field is to help our patients by entering information related to customer service preferences or insurance," said Caroline Hively, a Walgreens spokesperson. "Personal or uncomplimentary comments about a patient is a totally inappropriate."

To date, Walgreens has not apologized to any of the patients, the Sun-Sentinel reports.

"This is the pharmacy that America trusts, that's their slogan. The trust is gone. It shrunk me down and took away some of the work I've put into [managing] my illness," said Cutler.

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What took NY mag so long?

Dr. Evil calls it a Belgian Dip... the rest of us noticed a long time ago. Sheesh.

Average Joe - Dunkin' Donuts is Brewing a Coffee Class War with Starbucks

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Anti-publicity: the low or non-existent profile

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Ever had one of those days where you just want to disappear? So do corporations. A little sleight-of-brand is all it takes to dodge the unwanted spotlight. From Brand Perspectives and Bob Ponce, a few thoughts on achieving invisibility (which, of all the superpowers, is the one I desire most, even more than flight or the ability to scale skyscrapers like a beetle):

What's in a name? Some companies just don't want you to know.

Full article after the jump.

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Commodity gifts miss the point

A lot of something from John Kuraoka:

"What I think is significant, from an advertising and branding perspective, is that this trend also seems to point to a rise in commodity gifting. Rather than searching high and low (or making) that perfect gift for each person, consumerism has evolved to the point where consumption itself is the gift. No wasting time knitting sweaters in each person's favorite colors; instead, just pick up an iPod, or a Bratz toy, or an X-Box game. These are commodity gifts, and one's organizational ability is demonstrated by how little one pays for each name-brand item."

Also from Kuraoka:

"Here's a relevant story. Once Upon A Time (for that's how fairy tales begin), a woman volunteered to teach on a poor South Pacific island. She made many friends among the people. When it was time for her to return home, a little boy brought her a farewell gift: a beautiful and unusual sea shell. She was intrigued, and asked the boy where he got it. He told her that that type of shell could be found only on a remote stretch of beach on the far side of the island. The woman's eyes widened as she pondered the long trek the boy made to bring her the shell. "That's a walk of many miles," she said. "It must have taken you all day."

"Yes," the boy said. "Long walk part of gift."

Ad Blog: news and views from freelance advertising copywriter John Kuraoka

Sez your sappy hostess of the Strong Copy blog and the maven of Faith River: Even as the bratty and spoiled person that I am, I absolutely agree. There's no substitute for the Long Walk. My wedding ring is centered around an outstanding emerald -- emeralds being even more valuable than diamonds -- but the real treasure is that my husband went to the mine in Brazil and chose this stone, and brought it back to be set amid 20 diamonds in a special custom ring for me. Not only is it gorgeous, but it's sweeter and more meaningful than a mall ring because the Long Walk is forever a part of it, and a part of the gift my husband gave me. [An aside/disclaimer: Don't write to me in defense of your Samuel's ring -- I know that's just as valid to you... just saying, I love the trek and the creativity that went with mine.]

'Tis the season for the drive-thru or easy way out, but consider: My mom hand-made pillowcases for my daughters and stepdaughters, hand-crocheted a poncho for my dear Ave and made all of us socks and scarves. Wrapped and sent them. Made the Walk.

My mom-in-law once again (as she does every year) chose and beautifully wrapped several dozen little presents for Jon, me and all the (5) girls. Even if Grandma & Grandpa C were joshing us on some of them, the huge box of pretty packages they sent made our home infinitely more festive. You know what's amazing? the C's are very generous with Xmas $ for all 5 of the girls _and_ they made sure we got the Long Walk from them, too.

What did I give my loved ones this year? A week-long, sun-soaked vacation far from the frozen tundra that is Montana. Granted, my extended family might view a week with me as punishment rather than present, but the point is, at least I didn't get them a trinket from Pier One. As my in-laws always say: "PLEASE don't give us anything that has to rest on a horizontal surface!"

Experiences, on the other hand, rest only in the memory and the heart, and I figure that's a vast enough landscape to store endless amounts of both experiential kitsch and genuine this-is-me moments.

Brand message: What can a business do to add that value? Thing One: do something outstanding, and remember it's not always about the money. Thing Two: make sure your customers know it.

I still say it comes down to communication and service on an interpersonal level. That can happen face to face, via carefully crafted written words (email or print) or at the blog level. Yes, blogs make that touch because there's an immediate opportunity for discourse. Give 'em WALK, and you've got a loyal customer.

Merry Christmas, y'all, and this season... notice all those who make the walk for you.


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Cash flows to online advertising

Glad to see Madison Avenue getting over the print / broadcast / traditional obsession and pushing the green this way. Brief story plus many links to related advertising articles at the link below. Source: MarketingVOX

Google: Advertisers Allocating Real Money to Online ? MarketingVOX

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Gimme shelter

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Our latest client is that stylish and erudite house of real estate finery, the Montana affiliate of Christie's Great Estates. The previous month or so of work over here at Faith River Communications will contribute to the area's coolest and most-educated web site devoted to luxury Montana real estate: this outfit is staffed by some impressive folks who truly "get" the upscale client. We've got the articulate and compelling modelly Zuzana, we've got Dartmouth, we've got a former international financier, we've got the native Montana element, and my friends, I have to tell you, it doesn't get any better than this.

If you click in today, you can watch the web site evolve from its current state to the new (coming soon) version devised by Eric Hathaway, Cary Silberman (my man! in the design biz) and yours truly: Christie's Great Estates Exclusive Montana Affiliate

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Dunkin' Donuts v. Starbucks

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Me, if I had to pick, I would be a solidly Dunkin' Donuts kinda gal. Maybe goes back to my childhood in the Milwaukee area, where a trip to the Dunkin' Donuts after my orthodontist appointment was one of those things that made the whole ordeal worth it (and here I mean life, not the ortho). I don't need no stinkin' Starbucks to tell me I've made it now -- and yes, there is a Starbucks in the Barnes & Noble store here in Blowsman. So this holiday season when I'm jonesing for a peppermint mocha, I'll stop in at the locally devised Rocky Mountain Roaster, of which there are now 4 in Bozeman (sadly, there are no DD's in Montana at the moment, though my sources say there once were).

It's not just class wars, but anti-pretender backlash, yer roots and one's sense of irony that, in my opinion, figure prominently in this war -- much the same as the recent surge in popularity of Pabst Blue Ribbon in a world of chi-chi microbrewpubs.

Which side are you on? After the jump, the whole story from New York mag:

Average Joe - Dunkin' Donuts is Brewing a Coffee Class War with Starbucks

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Sort of on-topic, by way of consumer behavior

Perhaps because of my penchant for all things Sanrio (the weirder, the better), I found this page on the PhotoMann site to be fascinating. Anyone remember that Vend-A-Goat thing, one that was spotted in Communication Arts a while ago? This is like the real-life version, including gems like the Rhinoceros Beetle vending machine. rhinox.jpg
More at the link here:

PhotoMann Travel Photgraphy - Images of Japanese Vending Machines

Source: Boing Boing

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The Smackdown Learning Model

Thanks to Sierra, Bates and Freeman on their savvy blog Creating Passionate Users for this good read.

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Making sense of the wikiverse: feed branding hits the big time

FusionBrand: Is Feed Branding The Next Wave?

In the fall of 2004, GM used a podcast to help introduce its 2005 vehicle line-up. Microsoft soon followed suit, and now dozens of companies are using podcasts as part of their branding mix.

Such podcasts represent the first wave of an emerging trend called feed branding, which also includes RSS feeds, ring tones and digital radio. Podcasts are "radio" programs or other broadcasts uploaded to Apple's iPod and other MP3 players. Subscription-based RSS feeds relay updated content from news sites or blogs. About 10-15% of such feeds now carry advertising, but that percentage will increase rapidly. Ringtones are customizable sounds on mobile phones. And digital radio uses satellites to transmit content-specific ads or even images to accompany DJs or songs.

Podcasting is the proverbial Next Big Thing, thanks to the 12 million iPods Apple has sold. Podcasts can be easily created with the GarageBand software that comes with every Mac, which means that they are often as niche as a blog. But more sophisticated companies are developing broadcast-quality programs on specialized topics, while others are sponsoring programs with wide appeal, much like the soap opera sponsorships during radio's heyday and the earliest days of TV. A few even have advertising, comparable to 30-second radio commercials, usually at the beginning and end of the podcast.

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"This is Broken" customer disservice showcase

I came across this blog when I followed an irresistible link from Boing Boing to a site with real-life grammar cops photos. I know, I know, I'm a sucker for that stuff. OK, so this blog is a project that's meant to make businesses more aware of how they might be annoying or disappointing their customers, and gives insight about how they might fix it. This is important to branding, because as we've said before, branding is the entire experience of the company and product/service plus all communications about it, whether company-authorized or on-the-street. Don't worry, it's mostly not about grammar.

This Is Broken

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Branding the homeless?

This piece from the Rocky Mountain News gives the details of an effort by the city of Denver to change the image of the homeless. The hiring of a marketing / political consultant to handle this task seems at first glance to be odd. However, the point presumably isn't to polish image in the usual political sense. It's supposed to increase awareness of the real face of homelessness. Emphasizing the growing numbers of women, children and families among the homeless is meant to ultimately create more support for needed services in the city. Hope they're right.

We'll keep an eye on this story as it unfolds, and post followup reports on how the $60,000 plan is working. Kinda reminds me of that Michael Savage thing about "Bums Not Bums, Say Bums." But we'll see.

Rocky Mountain News: Business

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Positioning out, wiki in

The Death of "Positioning" & The Birth of Brand Wikification

"Positioning" is dead, and McDonald's has just put up the tombstone. But what is really interesting for branding is what is taking its place.

The signs of "positioning's" demise are everywhere. The number of branding failures, many based on "positioning," exceeds 90%, according to the consultancies Ernst & Young and McKinsey & Co. McDonald's, the premier mass market branding giant, announced that it has abandoned positioning. Says Larry Light, McDonald's chief global marketing officer: "Identifying one brand position, communicating it in a repetitive manner is old-fashioned, out of date, out of touch." Even more bluntly, Light highlights "the end of brand positioning as we know it," calling it "marketing suicide." Even a top executive at advertising giant Leo Burnett is willing to stand before his CEO peers and admit, "the old ways of marketing are not working any more."

The best epitaph for the death of positioning was written in the April 2 issue of the Economist. The cover story, entitled "Power at Last," illustrated how consumers now buy based on research and personal value, not how on companies seek to "position" their products. "I am constantly amazed at the confidence level and sophistication of the average consumer," says Mike George, Dell's chief marketing officer.

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How blogs build customer loyalty and more

In an increasingly cluttered marketing and advertising world, it makes sense that customer relationships are being built under the traditional radar -- through blogs. Here's a bit from Jeneane Sessum about a Wall Street Journal article on this approach.

Content Factor Weblog: The WSJ on SMBs and Blogging

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GE has finally flipped: supermodel coalminers

General Electric has been building something called ecomagination, an effort to show how green-savvy energy and their company can be. This coal power ad is hideously over the top, particularly if you know anything about coalmining and its songs of misery. "Sixteen Tons" is not a fun little commercial jingle.

Here's Slate's scathing review: Coal Miners Hotter

And if you must, here's where you can see the commercial (scroll down when you get to this page):
General Electric : Our Company : Television Advertising

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Are you like me? Do you hate new Gap concept name?

Retailer Gap Inc., an entity that really oughta know better, misses the mark completely with the name of their "35-and-over" women's store, in my humble opinion. Not only is the Forth & Towne name fakey, stilted and way too old-lady sounding, but that silly ampersand doesn't disguise their newly minted monogram: F.A.T. Nice going, airheads.

Here's Business Week magazine's more objective explanation of the new chain concept:

Gap Inc. names new store concept

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Basic but invaluable marketing maxims

This is the list of fabulous marketing truths that I hope I communicate effectively to my clients and writing-alliance colleagues. You'll also enjoy the other entries on Seth's blog if you're a marketer, business owner, ad agency type or creative.

Seth's Blog: What Every Good Marketer Knows

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Addicted to ads

Some people say you can tell everything about someone by what's in their iPod. I think you can tell everything about people by what ads they love or hate, which is why I like blogs dedicated to critique or analysis of advertising.

Spots & Stains

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What about your brand?

Many of us in the advertising and marketing industry fall prey to that old adage about the cobbler's kids going barefoot. Even if you are an expert about everyone else's life, are you making time for your own brand, promotions and business-building? Here's some good info to apply to your own biz, as well as that of your clients.

smallbusinessbranding blog - small business marketing: Components of a Successful Small Business Brand

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Eeek! Brand is everywhere

Great thoughts from William Safire of the New York Times on the overuse, misuse and abuse of the word "brand."

Source: New York Times article, Brand by William Safire

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Brand goes beyond the buy

Branding is about everything that influences feelings, impressions and beliefs about a brand. The words we write help shape what people know about the enormous universe of products and companies around them, and often copywriters focus on the pre-purchase phase of branding only. Read this excerpt from Proven Ways to Get New Customers for understand the good point that branding continues far beyond the buying decision, and acts more like a life cycle including the sum of all the experiences someone has with a brand. As writers, we might keep this in mind when crafting messages.

Article source: Harry Joiner

The article begins with this old joke: "A guy dies and goes to heaven. At the Pearly Gates, Saint Peter says: 'Although you qualify for heaven, I'll give you the option of staying here or going to hell. I'll even let you spend a day in each place before you decide." So the dead man spends the first day in heaven, which is quiet and relaxed. On Day Two, one of Satan's sales reps shows the guy around hell - where everyone's partying like it's 1999.

"On the third day the dead guy informs Saint Peter: 'As much as I always wanted to go to heaven, the folks in hell really know how to have a great time. I'd rather spend eternity there.'

"Immediately, Satan's sales rep reappears and escorts the guy to hell, where he's shackled to a stone wall. 'Here's your new home!' the man is told. 'But wait! You can't do this!" the guy yells. "I was here just yesterday, and everyone was having a wonderful time. What's going on?'

"Satan's sales rep says: 'Yesterday you were a prospect ...

Today you're a customer!"

Read more: Using SWOT as a Sales Technique

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Words really do build brands

My graphic design counterparts have joked for years that no one actually reads copy, and it's really just another graphic element anyway. Fortunately, this article from the Guardian Unltd. / the Observer backs me up 100% in my view that words, more than ever, matter in the building of brands, loyalty and purchasing behavior.

Read the label, love the product

:: Words brand as strongly as visuals, says John Simmons

Sunday March 13, 2005
The Observer

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Camper brand builds on the basics

What do shoes and hotels have in common, and how can one brand justify such seemingly disparate pursuits? Spanish shoe maker Camper busts out with a conceptual branding scheme that, after all, makes sense -- and keeps with their color-outside-the-lines approach.

Source: influx insights

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Are we hard-wired for brand preference?

Amazing discoveries await scientists using sophisticated brain imaging techniques. And it must be accurate, because it correctly identified Justin Timberlake as "uncool." Here's an excerpt from the article. Full text on LA Times site.


The Why of Buy
Source: LA Times
Reistration required, but it's free.

Psychologists and economists are using sophisticated brain scanners to tease apart the automatic judgments that dart below the surface of awareness.

They seek to understand the cellular sweetness of rewards and the biology of brand consciousness. In the process, they are gleaning hints as to how our synapses might be manipulated to boost sales, generate fads or even win votes for political candidates.

They have glimpsed how the brain assembles belief.

The why of buy is a trillion-dollar question.

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My ad peeps will know this one...

Do you know where this text comes from? 10 points and a virtual brand blessing to you if you can name it:

Today, we celebrate the first glorious anniversary of the Information Purification Directives. We have created, for the first time in all history, a garden of pure ideology. Where each worker may bloom secure from the pests of contradictory and confusing truths. Our Unification of Thoughts is more powerful a weapon than any fleet or army on earth. We are one people, with one will, one resolve, one cause. Our enemies shall talk themselves to death and we will bury them with their own confusion. We shall prevail!

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Just wait'll we get our brand on you

Source: Whisper

Hanes, the venerable underwear retailer, has decided to revive their classic brand positioning from the 1990s and put it back to work. The question is why did they ever ditch this strategy? As reported in the New York Times:

FOR those who have been waiting for Hanes to revive "Just wait'll we get our Hanes on you," the wait is over - kinda sorta.

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Benefit-Rich Headlines Build Your Web Business

Source: Copywriting.net

A strong, enticing headline is the single most important element of your Web marketing copy. It is the opening statement and first impression you make.

Because Web pages load from the top down, place your headline right at the top of the page so it can be read while the rest of the elements fall into place. If you have a lot of graphics that need to load, your headline should give your site visitors enough reason to wait.

Imagine your Web page is a blind date for every first-time visitor who comes to your site. Your headline MUST make the right first impression immediately, or new visitors will want nothing more than to click away just as fast as they can. After all, they don't yet know how wonderful you are!

Obviously your headline cannot be all things to all people (and you wouldn't want to date everyone either...), but it can and should speak directly to those people you most want to reach.

Your headline has a single task: to ARREST the attention of your target market.

If your target market is 'doctors', then use the word 'doctors' in your headline. There's a funny saying:

"Enough about you... let's hear about me."

That's your site visitor talking. These words tell you everything about how to craft your headline, and the more specific and targeted you make it, the better.

Your headline should serve as an ad for the rest of your Web copy, clearly delivering a 'distilled' version of what they are about to discover in the body of your text.

Did you know that only one out of five people get beyond the headline to read the rest of the Web page? It's true! So spend the time to make your headline work.

Here's how to find the right headline:

Tell your target audience the most important benefit you are offering them.

That's it.

State a powerful benefit in your headline that clearly enhances THEIR LIVES, using power words such as: 'Discover'; 'Announcing'; 'Breakthrough'; 'Facts'; 'New'; 'Now'; 'Yes'; 'Sale' - all words that are active, grab the attention of prospects, and promise them something. (The two words of most value to your customers are 'You', and 'Free'.)

Finally, keep in mind that your customer is never buying a product or service. They are actually buying a key benefit that makes their lives better.

Studies show the right headline can increase response to an offer exponentially, which is a good reason to test different headlines until you find your 'killer'. Once you've got it, it's the key to your success.

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Great brands make us bigger

Here's a little insight on brands from Small Business Branding

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New York City has applied for a trademark for phrase

New York City has applied for a trademark for the phrase "The world's second home."

Amazing how this bit of branding copy is already generating lots of press.

SECOND HOME: City seeks to trademark new slogans -- Would the "Big Apple" by any other name, still taste as sweet? New Yorkers may find out. The city has filed an application with the U.S. Patent and Trademark Office to trademark several new slogans describing the city, including "The World's Second Home," said Katherine Winningham, a senior city attorney specializing in trademark law.

Source: New York Daily News -- City seeks to trademark new slogans.

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