Category Archives: Branding
How confident are you in your brand? Likely not as confident as the NFL, which seems convinced that fans, players and broadcasters will quickly forget the replacement referee crisis as soon as an agreement is reached…whenever that may be. The league seems to be in no rush to cut a deal to end the “crisis.” That’s confident; but is it smart?
After Monday night’s most controversial call of the strike to date, the Twittersphere united fans and players in disgust. Angry fans reportedly left more than 70,000 voicemails for the NFL League Office in a single night. Even President Obama and Governor Romney were united in a shared position on at least this one issue: the strike needs to be settled quickly and experienced refs brought back on the field.
The league’s credibility in managing through the strike is also under fire. Countless commentators have expressed concerns that not only will season records be marred, but that players may be hurt as a result of blown plays. And in a particularly amusing revelation, we learned this week that the one of the replacement refs was fired from the LFL. That’s the “Lingerie Football League” you know. And he was FIRED.
But, ticket sales are good and TV ratings are up. So the only down side to the strike for the NFL, it appears, are the licks to its reputation. That’s apparently one price the league is happily willing to pay.
Most organizations are not in a position to be so cavalier about their reputation. Realizing reputational harm can threaten the stability or economic health of an organization, smart organizational leaders take steps to minimize negative media coverage, limit the negative impact among stakeholders, and help retain or rebuild credibility and trust.
But in the eyes of the NFL, I guess, it’s only a game; and its leadership seems to believe it holds the winning hand. What do you think? Is the risk they’re taking a good business decision?
Earlier this month the Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services started considering a name change for one of the healthcare reform law’s most important consumer-facing provisions: health insurance exchanges.
As I read the story in Kaiser Health News about the possible rebranding, I found myself nodding along with the premise: Health insurance exchanges are intended to be consumer-friendly online marketplaces where individuals and small businesses can compare and purchase health insurance — but the word “exchange” doesn’t clearly convey that message. In fact, in almost every news story I’ve read about exchanges, the word “marketplace” is used as a synonym to help readers understand the concept.
According to Kaiser Health News, CMS Office of Communications Director Julie Bataille, CMS is not recommending the use of the word exchange in enrollment materials, based on focus group results in seven major cities that showed the word is confusing to consumers. She told Kaiser Health News that the word can have a number of different meanings to consumers, including “the idea that they may have to swap something.”
In Utah, officials are considering changing the name of its already-operating exchange because they think the name “carries negative connotations” and doesn’t resonate with consumers. “We want to make sure that the exchange is resonating as a market-based solution,” Patty Connor, director of the Utah Health Exchange advisory board, told The Salt Lake Tribune.
Neither Utah officials or CMS officials have said what new moniker they would like to adopt, just that it needs to be a more consumer-friendly title. I agree that a new name may be in order – but I’m not sure that the word marketplace gets the job done, either. As a University of Georgia professor told Kaiser Health News, the word marketplace may encourage the idea that the lowest price policy is the best one, which doesn’t hold true in the health insurance arena.
What do you think? Is “health insurance exchange” a confusing name? Should CMS drop it in favor of a clearer term? If so – what name would you propose? Let us know in the comments section.
I recently had the good fortune to experience a magical few days in Disney World. Though I spent most of my time enjoying the parks as my six-year old did, I could not help but notice how thoughtfully and thoroughly the Disney Company does its job. If ever there was an enduring – perhaps, indestructible – brand, it’s Disney.
That kind of success and endurance does not occur by accident. The culture of Disney was clearly set in stone (or castle rock) by its founders and has been protected and carefully enhanced ever since. I’m certainly not the first to be struck by Disney’s operating style and culture – countless business books have been written about the company over the years. But below are one small business person’s takeaways from a five-day immersion in the Disney experience.
Exceed expectations. Disney prides itself on over delivering and delighting customers. If an employee (who the Disney company refers to as a “cast member”) learns you are visiting the parks for the first time, you will be given a “First Time” button. And if you wear that button, you are likely to receive not only kind words and warm greetings, but extra scoops of ice cream on your cone or free stickers as you wait in line for a ride. When my husband commented on how much he enjoyed the raspberry sorbet in Cinderella’s castle, our server appeared with an extra serving in a to-go cup (which served as a great distraction from the bill he was signing at that moment). Are your employees encouraged to look for ways to exceed customer expectations? Is your leadership setting the example to do so?
Make it personal. Cast members say “Welcome home,” every time a guest walks into a hotel. While it may feel a bit saccharine or presumptuous to the curmudgeonly visitor, by the third or fourth reference, you really start to believe it – and you do feel at home. Who wouldn’t want to live in the most magical place on earth?
Own every mistake. If something goes wrong with a food order or during a ride, cast members are quick to acknowledge the problem, apologize for the inconvenience and offer some small reparation, such as a fast pass (to skip lines on a ride) or a Mickey trinket. The folks at Disney know that large crowds + hot weather + bad service = recipe for disaster. Cast members cannot control the weather and they welcome the crowds, so they do everything in their power to ensure that your experience is pleasant and your irritations are minimized. Is your company quick to acknowledge customer concerns and address them? Are your employees empowered to do so?
Protect the brand (and propagate it wildly). Disney is famous for fighting to preserve and protect its greatest asset – the Disney brand and everything it encompasses. You don’t find the Disney mark stretched out or misrepresented in weird colors and crazy fonts. And by and large, toys, apparel and even cultural experiences (think “Lion King” or “Beauty and the Beast”) are high quality products that are well marketed across all types of consumer goods. I happen to be a Perry the Platypus fan – you wouldn’t believe how much Perry paraphernalia is available! Are you cross selling your services and leveraging your business investments creatively?
I know. I sound like a crazed mom who had a little too much Disney cool aid on spring break. That may be true – my family had a wondrous vacation and I’m grateful. But as we rode the monorail one night after a parade in the Magic Kingdom, I pulled out my iPhone to look at the historical performance of Disney stock (NYSE:DIS) against the Dow and decided these folks know a thing or two about how to run a business over time.
Have you adopted any Disney principles in your small or large business?
There are several “opportunities” on the domain name front that are important for brand managers and trademark owners to consider, particularly for global consumer brands. To understand these opportunities, it’s necessary to unleash an entire new litany of acronyms, so brace yourself and here we go…
First, you have to know that a TLD is a top-level domain, or the suffix to the right of the dot in your URL. So for http://lovell.com, .com is the TLD.
A brand TLD is a new creation, and the application window for a brand TLD or “dot brand” closes on March 29. As the name suggests, this will give brand owners the opportunity to purchase a TLD specific to their brand, such as .coke or .pepsi; and it will probably be only the major players like those examples that apply due to the hefty $185,000 application fee. For those brands that can afford the investment, proponents say brand TLDs will improve SEO (search engine optimization) results, and PC World magazine calls the availability of Brand TLDs one of the top five changes facing the Internet in 2012.
Applications are also currently being accepted for gTLDs, or generic TLDs, such as .bank or .pizza. Along with the equally steep $185,000 application fee plus ongoing registry operation costs, gTLDs come with substantial responsibility. Applying for a gTLD is applying to run the registry business for that name, just as Verisign is currently responsible for .com TLDs.
Also currently up for grabs are names in a new category of sponsored TLDs, known as sTLDs. Familiar examples of sTLDs are .edu, reserved exclusively for U.S. post-secondary education establishments, and .gov, reserved for U.S. government sites at the federal, state and local levels. The new sTLD is .xxx, known as dot triple-X. As you might expect, a dot triple-X will indicate a pornographic site. Sponsored by the IFFOR (International Foundation for Online Responsibility), registering as a dot triple-X is voluntary for providers of explicit content. Proponents say the dot triple-X sTLD will make it easier for parents and employers to block this entire category of websites. While it’s unclear how many providers of pornography are applying for their new sTLD, many colleges and businesses are busy snatching them up at the cost of $100 per year to proactively prevent others from doing so.
Some registry periods include a sunrise period in which the owner of a trademark can block their trademark from being used by others. The sunrise period for dot triple-X domains has already closed, but trademark owners as well as anyone else can still register. This serves as a good reminder, however, that you must own the trademark registration for a trademark you may seek to protect in future sunrise periods. If you don’t already own your trademark registration, this may certainly be an investment in your brand worth considering.
I’m sure I’ve barely scratched the surface of the TLD morass, but my head hurts from the new acronyms I’ve already absorbed. What’s your take on all this? Share your thoughts or teach me a new acronym!
Photo credit: http://bit.ly/GU1gtX
It was just a few months ago that Gap made an attempt to change its logo. The reaction was unfavorable, to say the least. So, why has the world’s leading coffee maker decided to change its iconic mark? There are several reasons. First, Starbucks plans to triple its Asian locations, and studies show that rounded logos are more accepted in interdependent and collectivist cultures. Second, they are quickly approaching their 40th anniversary and those milestones often come with change. Lastly, in order to stay profitable the company must diversify and add more product lines beyond just coffee…did I hear Girl Scout cookies? Can you imagine the delight of sipping a cup of joe while munching on a Thin Mint?
Consumers like me may be excited about the new products, but what about a new logo? In 1992 Starbucks adopted the mark we all know, and now we can recognize the green circle a mile away. Starbucks is even going beyond a modified design and will drop its name from the logo. It worked for Nike, but can it work for a coffee shop chain?
The CEO does a compelling job of explaining the company’s rationale using corporate video storytelling (one of the social media predictions for 2011) to help us coffee drinkers/addicts/loyal followers understand the reasons for the change.
Is this the right decision for Starbucks? Will this affect their brand? Let me know what you think?
Say It Quick and Be Concise
A wise person once said you should be able to describe your business or “what you do” in 30 seconds or less (aka “an elevator speech”). Aside from not boring people with tedious trade jargon, another reason to keep it simple is to help you make a sale. Clear and concise descriptions are just easier to understand and offer a better chance at having someone remember you when they need your product or service in the future.
Developing an elevator speech to market your business takes a little work, but it’s critical. I know. As an account executive for a marketing firm, it can be challenging to remember both the Lovell Communications value proposition (elevator speech) as well as that of the 10 or more clients I work on. But it makes all the difference in establishing and supporting your brand.
Here are a few things to consider when developing your elevator pitch:
- Be empathic – know how to make your pitch be relevant to your listener. An elevator speech is about making sure the receiver understands the company … not the deliverer.
- Be short and concise – strive for that 30 second mark.
- Be prepared – anyone who can explain their company meaningfully in two minutes or less …has practiced. They’ve thought it through, written it down, committed it to memory and then rehearsed and delivered it enough to make it feel unique and personal to every new listener.
- Be memorable-if your main message is that your company is low cost and high efficiency, your message is likely to get lost in a sea of similars. Know what sets you apart from the pack and see if you can work it into your statement.
- Be passionate – if an elevator speech is written or delivered with flaccid style, that’s how it will be received.
If you don’t have your own elevator speech, I challenge you to make that a priority. The next time someone asks what you do or what you sell, they will be more engaged while listening to your well thought out answer.
Here are some interesting links to check out:
I feel like I just shot myself in the foot.
I raved about the abs and the wit displayed by Isaiah Mustafa in the Old Spice advertising campaign and look what happened. He is now so popular that he is leaving Old Spice for cleaner, more fragrant pastures. Mustafa has signed on to appear on the NBC comedy Chuck and may even get his own series on the network.
Now that Mustafa is on his way out, Old Spice has selected Baltimore Ravens player Ray Lewis as the new Old Spice man. I’m sad to say that my infatuation with the Old Spice campaign is officially waning.
In one of his commercials, Lewis says “women want me, men want to be me and animals want to learn how to talk so they can hang out with me.”
Sorry about it, Ray, but saying it doesn’t make it so. I think most women will “want” Ray Lewis about as much as they “want” that giant bear chasing after him in the commercial.
The other Ray Lewis spot struck me as somewhat humorous until the giant raven he rides on through the solar system sprouts rocket propellers underneath his tail. Then Lewis explodes a planet with missiles? This commercial was obviously written with a different audience in mind.
Somehow, the creative minds behind the Old Spice campaign at Wieden + Kennedy lost their mojo with this latest installment because I think they have managed to alienate the one portion of their audience who actually puts these products in the cart—women.
Women liked Isaiah Mustafa as the Old Spice Man because of his attitude, humor and appearance. We didn’t even know who he was before Old Spice. And we didn’t care that he was a football player. As I have mentioned before, the previous ads were smart to appeal to women, because women make most of the purchasing decisions for their household.
These new ads seem to speak only to men, which could prove to be a problem for Old Spice. In fact, I may not be the only one who feels like I’ve shot myself in the foot. Old Spice should be bracing for the same shock just in case the Lewis commercials don’t turn out like the advertisers had hoped.
As you now know, I love the Old Spice branding campaign featuring Isaiah Mustafa, because all of the elements are funny, smart and speak effectively to its audience. But has the approach worked to increase sales? After all, it is product sales that keep Mr. Mustafa and his chiseled abs around to entertain us.
According to AdWeek and Brandweek, who reviewed data from market researchers Nielsen and SymphonyIRI, the Old Spice campaign has helped Procter & Gamble significantly increase sales of its “man-scented” body products.
Nielsen reports that sales of Old Spice Body Wash have increased by 11 percent within the last year. The speed at which overall product sales have risen since the campaign started in February is even more striking. According to Nielsen, sales increased by 55 percent within the last three months and really jumped by 107 percent within the last month.
Now that we know the campaign worked to increase sales, we can explore how it actually happened.
1. Effective advertising. Wieden + Kennedy is to be commended (and they have by earning several awards) for creating ads that communicate with the target audience with creative messaging. These ads made people laugh, so they told their friends and shared online links to the commercial. This helped consumers rethink the Old Spice brand.
2. Leveraging social media to the nth degree. Wieden + Kennedy didn’t just take their witty commercials and slap them on their website and YouTube, then declare victory. They compiled a team of experts in advertising, marketing, writing and social media to leverage Mustafa and his towel across social media in a way that communicated with the brand’s target audience. This team camped out in a studio for days responding via video to tweets, Facebook messages and YouTube comments from fans in real time and posting them for the public to see. In true “Old Spice Man” fashion, these videos were funny, ridiculous and entertaining. This kept the brand top of mind and raised awareness among the target audience.
3. Brand consistency. The Old Spice Man and his witty bravado are not relegated only to the TV screen. His face and style permeate the Old Spice website and product packaging, as well. This helps consumers connect what they have seen on TV with what they see on their computers and the shelves.
4. Time frame. Old Spice executed all of these steps within a perfect time frame. The commercials and social media endeavors weren’t hard and fast, but they weren’t drawn out either. This helped keep consumers engaged and interested.
5. Brand attachment. All of these elements led to people wanting more of the Old Spice man and his brand of humor. Reddit.com created a voicemail generator without involving Procter & Gamble at all. Now you can have the Old Spice man in your voicemail and help raise brand awareness on behalf of the company. While part of me thinks that Old Spice should have thought of this themselves, I also think that this involvement by an outside organization lends a certain amount of credibility to the brand’s popularity.
Hopefully, this won’t be the last of the Old Spice Man. I hope we see him in more commercials and social media interaction. I hope his burgeoning acting career does not take the Mustafa out of the Old Spice Man.
What do you hope to see next in the campaign?