Archive for the ‘brand’ category

Mondelez? Gesundheit!!

March 24th, 2012

If you had “Mondelez” in the office pool for the new name of Kraft Foods’ global snacking company, you’re a winner!

As reported in an article in the New York Times, “the name is a combination of ‘monde,’ the Latin word for ‘world,’ and ‘delez,’ a made-up word meant to suggest ‘delicious.’ Hence, ‘delicious world.’”  Good to know!

According to Kraft’s chief marketing officer, “It’s quite a job for a single word to capture everything about what we want the new global snacks company to stand for.”  So…you went with a word that captures absolutely nothing about what your company stands for?  Actually, you didn’t go with a word; you went with “Mondelez,” which requires an instruction manual to explain how it’s pronounced and what it means.  She goes on,  “I’m thrilled with the name Mondelez International. It’s interesting, unique and captures a big idea.”  Well, you have to give her credit for hewing to the company line.

What I want to know is how much they paid for this name?  Some people have speculated it might have been in the range of $50,000 to $100,000.  If that’s true, then I’d say they overpaid by…oh… $50,000 to $100,000.

As any marketer worth her or his salt well knows, a brand name is one of a business’s most important assets. Most business managers inherit a brand name and have to make the best of it.  But when you have the luxury of starting from scratch and creating your own brand name, there’s no excuse for going with one that’s hard to pronounce and has to have its meaning explained. In fact, I wouldn’t be surprised if the person selecting this name wasn’t a professional marketer.

Now that I think about it, I’d like to know the name of the agency that came up with “Mondelez.”  Whatever it is, I’m guessing it’s hard to pronounce and completely devoid of any obvious meaning.

On the other hand, I named my company “14th Floor Solutions,” so what the hell do I know?

Google’s Actions Betray Its Users and Its Brand

February 17th, 2012

“Google Inc. and other advertising companies have been bypassing the privacy settings of millions of people using Apple Inc.’s Web browser on their iPhones and computers—tracking the Web-browsing habits of people who intended for that kind of monitoring to be blocked.”

If you read that opening sentence from this Wall Street Journal article and had never heard of Google Inc. before, what would your impression of the company be?  Probably that it must be a sleazy, unethical, untrustworthy company with which you you never want to do business.

It’s been said that your brand isn’t defined by what you say but what you do.  If that’s true–and I think it is–then Google’s actions have put a significant dent in its brand equity.

This isn’t the first time Google has compromised its users’ privacy, and Facebook and others have been guilty of similar violations.  Perhaps the phenomenal success experienced by Google and Facebook has left their leaders feeling that they are someone immune from the ethical standards by which the rest of us play.  And, for the most part, their users do seem to have looked the other way rather taking these companies to task for their behavior.  I have to believe, however, that  sooner or later these serious ethical lapses are going to take a serious toll on the loyalty of their users and hence on the sky-high stock prices that Google and others command.

One of the many things Google does well is to creatively modify their logo to celebrate holidays and other special occasions.  I suggest that until they regain their ethical bearings, they modify their iconic “I feel lucky” tag to read “I feel violated.”

Ping Quietly Scores an Ace

January 29th, 2011

It’s always impressive when a company performs a sincere act of generosity, particularly when they don’t call attention to it.  And it’s better yet when, despite the lack of self-promotion, consumers somehow find out about the generous deed.

I recently received an email about a wonderful program in which Ping provides a full set of golf clubs to military veterans who participate in the Wounded Warrior Project.  As this article explains, Ping modifies their clubs so they can be used by these heroes regardless of whatever appendages they might be missing.

Now emails like the one I received are making their way to golfers everywhere, making them aware of Ping’s admirable actions and suggesting that it might be nice to reward Ping by making them the brand of choice when it’s time to buy a new driver or set of irons.

My only hesitation in giving Ping high marks for a powerful public relations coup is that it suggests this was a conscious–and exceptionally clever–attempt to build their brand equity rather than a sincere and selfless effort to thank these veterans who have given so much for their country.

Ultimately, I decided that whether Ping is being exceedingly clever or exceedingly generous, they are more than deserving of a rave review.

Better Branding Makes Humor Work Harder

July 30th, 2010

Don’t you love those amusing E*Trade TV commercials featuring the old-school , fat-cat stockbroker who keeps losing clients to his high-tech, low-priced online competitor?  Me too.

There’s only one problem:  these ads are for Scottrade, not E*Trade.

As commercials go, these ads are well-above-average from an entertainment standpoint, but only average from a branding standpoint.  While they mention the brand name two or three times throughout each spot, they don’t do anything to really STAMP the Scottrade brand into your memory. As a result, what could have been a great campaign is merely good.

I would have liked to see these ads leverage–rather than just mention–the brand name.

For example, they could have our hapless stockbroker (nicely played by Brad Norman) changing his name to “Scott” in an attempt to stem the flight of his clients to Scottrade.  Or they could all incorporate a phrase like “Great Scott!”, or somehow play up the reputation “Scots” have for thriftiness (which would reinforce Scottrade’s low-price strategy).  They could even have our stockbroker wear a kilt.

Hokey?  Perhaps.  But I’m pretty sure that these or similar ideas could significantly increase the number of people who remember the brand that’s providing them these entertaining ads.

My advice for Scottrade: maintain your position in humor, but invest in better branding.

Massage Envy Not a Name to Be Envied

March 22nd, 2010

massage envy homepromogiftcard

I’ve recently been hearing a lot of radio ads for Massage Envy, which I believe is the first national chain of massage clinics. I know very little about the company other than two things: they have a clean, neatly designed website, and I don’t like their brand name.

I’m sorry, but since “massage” and “envy” are two words that don’t go together naturally, I can only assume that the brand name is a play on the phrase “penis envy.” If that’s the case, it’s a pretty tasteless play on words, and if it isn’t the case, it might as well be since that’s the association most people will probably come up with. (Unless, of course, I’m the only one, in which case I should probably be surfing for therapists rather than typing a blog post.)

I love brand names that are distinctive, and I have to admit that Massage Envy gets decent marks on that count. But that’s not enough. A brand name needs to evoke the kind of imagery you want people to associate with your brand. Based on the fairly professional look of Massage Envy’s website, I would have to guess that the imagery suggested by their brand name is not the way they want to position their company.

Selecting a brand name is like selecting a name for one of your children; you’re going to have to live with your decision for a long time, and life can be a lot easier–or harder–depending on what name you choose.

If you’re told that you’re about to interview a job candidate named “Jethro”, you’re likely to develop certain expectations and assumptions about him. Those expectations and assumptions my ultimately prove to be inaccurate, but they will nonetheless form an obstacle this candidate will need to–and might not be able to–overcome. In this age of increasing clutter and decreasing attention spans, new brands simply can’t afford to pose such obstacles to prospective new customers.

So…Is Massage Envy an ill-advised play on words–or is it just me?

Why Xfinity Is Anything But Comcastic

February 20th, 2010

It was recently announced that the company formerly known as “Comcast” will now be known as “Xfinity.” The ostensible rationale is that since the Comcast brand is associated with cable television, it is cannot effectively represent the expanded services the company is now starting to offer. Interestingly, company spokesmen also acknowledged that the company’s less-than-stellar reputation for customer service had reduced the consumer equity of the Comcast brand.

Okay, I understand the predicament they find themselves in, but I don’t think they have a smart solution. First of all, it doesn’t matter what they call the company if they don’t fix their problems with customer service. Assuming that they do fix those problems, it’s not clear to me that a name change makes sense. I have to believe it will cost tens of millions of dollars more to create awareness of the new brand than it would to tell the story that Comcast has dramatically improved its service. (Note: I wouldn’t say that if the Comcast name were an object of scorn or considered to be the universal symbol for bad service, but I don’t believe that to be the case. Rather, I suspect that most consumers would be willing to change their image of Comcast as long as the company gives them a legitimate reason to do so.)

Moreover, I don’t like the name “Xfinity.” It looks like a typo and sounds like a typo. There’s simply nothing interesting or clever about the name. Two similar but better choices right off the top of my head are “Nfinity” (which sounds like “infinity”) and “Dfinity” (which sounds like “divinity” and is a play on high definition).

To make matters even more confusing, the parent company is still going to retain the name Comcast, so the name they can’t wait to get rid of has been exhumed even before it gets buried.

What’s ironic about all of this is that I’ve always been a fan of their use of the phrase “It’s Comcastic!” To create an adjective that they could own was a brilliant stroke of marketing, and now the value of that trademark will soon be absolutely zero.

I just hope we’re not soon going to be subjected to ads exclaiming, “It’s Xfinitive!”

Close, But No “Aha!”

October 3rd, 2009

Have you seen the TV ads from “the proud sponsor of the ‘aha’ moment”?  If you have, do you know whose ads they are? I’m guessing you don’t. 

I’ll end the suspense: the advertiser is Mutual of Omaha. Unfortunately, their advertising represents a bad execution of a good strategy. I’m a big fan of marketing communications–logos, taglines, ad designs, etc.–that are “ownable”, meaning that they can be uniquely tied to your brand.  This concept has the potential to be that, as “aha” composes the last two syllables in “Omaha”.  However, the ads don’t make this clear; I had to see the ad at least a dozen times before I figured it out…and I’m someone who can’t watch, see or hear an ad without proactively looking for clever wordplays.

In fairness to Mutual of Omaha, when they display their logo at the very end of the commercial, the “aha” part of “Omaha” is highlighted. But it’s much too subtle and much too late.  These ads should make it crystal clear from the very beginning that “aha” comes from the word “Omaha” by using a powering and interesting visual device, such as first showing the word “aha” and then adding “Mutual of Om” in front of it. Whatever the device, they should repeat it again at the end of the commercial. It also would help to have a verbal device, such as a line like “Bring your ‘aha’ to Omaha,” or “We put the ‘aha’ in ‘Omaha’.”

Such devices can sometimes be a little hokey, but isnt’ it better to be hokey and get noticed than to be so subtle that your audience doesn’t get it?

Happy, Yeah! Effective, No!

September 15th, 2009

I’ve never been a fan of commercials that don’t say the name of the brand being advertised out loud. More often than not, these ads are developed by people who would rather be making movies or TV shows and want to minimize the commercial aspects of their wondrous creations. My feeling is, if you’re ashamed to be doing advertising, you shouldn’t be doing advertising.

To have a prayer of being successful with an ad that doesn’t mention the brand, you had better have very high-impact audio and video. The latest campaign from Howard Johnson has neither. The video consists of Mr. Bill-like animation, which evokes–to me, at least–notions of a cheap flea-and-cockroach-infested hotel room. And the audio consists largely of an unappealing song whose sole lyrics are, “Happy…yeah!” I’d probably heard this annoying commercial at least a dozen times over the past several weeks without having a clue as to what was being advertised. It was so bad I finally decided to pay attention just so I could see which advertiser was tormenting me.

I’m pretty sure this campaign isn’t going to make Howard Johnson’s target audience, or its shareholders, very happy.