Love is everything.

4 04 2010

The other day I was sitting on a patio at a local coffee joint and watching people walk by (in a totally non-creepy way!). It was the first day of spring in Toronto, love seemed to be in the air (this won’t get any cheesier I promise) and I couldn’t help but wonder what made relationships tick.  At that very instant, I was struck by a profile on This was the profile of “Love is Everything“. I was amazed at how many friends Frank (the dude behind the profile) had – over 14,000! As I spent some time going through his page on Tribe I realized some critical things –

a. Frank figured out what his brand stands for, but he didn’t stop at that. Most importantly, he found a way to translate his brand promise into a cause worth pursuing.

b. Frank is truly authentic! He solely focuses on advancing his message through posts that add value to the community. He does this by giving his community content that furthers the cause.

c. Frank isn’t obsessed with himself. In fact, he hardly talks about himself on his profile.

In today’s digital economy, companies absolutely need to engage and involve their customer communities if they want to regain their business. Unfortunately, just having a great brand and brand promise is not sufficient.

A few days ago, John Bell blogged on the “Utility Brief”. I’d like to leave you with a quote from his article. Hopefully you’ll ponder over this post and share your thoughts.

“Today, consumers want their brands to deliver more value through utility, entertainment or information (the latter two are really just forms of utility). They want high quality products and services but expect brands to go beyond that to keep them as customers or to at least earn their advocacy.”

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HULU, News Corp – You must’ve missed that class in brand management, eh?

31 03 2010

One of the first lessons I learnt in branding was that if you start selling a product at a certain price, you can always move to a price lower but never higher. Why is that you ask? Well, it’s a simple concept – consumers tend to develop a certain perception of quality for a product or service based on the price they paid for it. Once this perception is established in a consumer’s mind, it’s extremely difficult to change it for the better. Easy to change it for the worse though.

So what are the Marketing geniouses at Hulu and News Corp thinking? First, they offer their product for free and then, expect consumers (who’ve had free access all this while) to suddenly be willing to pay for the same content?! That’s absolutely absurd. I would understand if these companies were at least thinking of offering some premium content or add-ons for paying customers (you know… the “Freemium” model). That may possibly work, some day. For now though, I’m confident that this path that they’re choosing to take, will not lead to profitville.


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Focus Groups Suck!

21 02 2010

Source: Wall Street Journal via Good: Campbell's Soup redesigns a label using "neuromarketing" techniques.

Here’s Campbell’s new packaging…its apparently designed using biometrics.

Let me guess, this was tested through a focus group…maybe a bunch of them over a span of 2 to 8 weeks. While I’m not refuting any of the concepts or the science behind the design of this package, I do strongly feel that many marketing organizations don’t always get it.

If Campbell’s invests the same amount of money in reaching out to their consumers through online communities, they might actually see a much higher ROI and maybe even grab some new customers along the way.

Yes, it is about creating an emotional connection with consumers and yes, packaging is important. However, it’s important only to the extent that it properly conveys the brand’s position and is easily identifyable on the shelf. Beyond that, brand’s are just wasting their time and money.

Dove for men?

12 02 2010

I’m not someone who’s usually a fan of brand extensions. They invariably tend to dilute the built up brand equity of the parent brand. However, having said that, I do feel that the new mens line from Dove could actually be successful. Here are 2 simple reasons why:

1. Culturally it has become acceptable for men to take care of themselves. In fact, I wouldn’t be surprised if the guys at Dove were working with some numbers that showed quite a few men already using their products (no, I’m not one of them!)

2. In this particular case, dove seems to be very cleverly making positive use of their brand equity, telling men that they work hard and slog all their lives and hence deserve a little luxury for their skin. The ads are also pretty slick…hmm, maybe I need make a trip to the local grocery store!

Now we have to wait and see how the campaign and product actually fairs in the marketplace.

The Illusion of Brand Control: Not quite an illusion.

17 11 2009

Here’s a link to a great article by Andrew Mcafee from HBR Voices.

This article really got me excited, and I have a lot of things to say about it. Hopefully I can cram it all in here.

I completely agree with Andrew that content is no longer limited to that produced by a company. Consumers have found an easy way to express themselves through the means of social media. Hence, Andrew’s argument about it being an illusion to control  conversations about your brand holds good. While I don’t disagree with Andrew, I do think there are other ways to control brand conversations in the web 2.0 era. So I’m going to take a crack at explaining how one could actually not only control what people say about a brand but also influence it, in a positive way!

1. Understand your consumers’ subculture – their behaviour, identify key influencers and study them. Remember in school when you always looked up to the kid who was awesome at sports and always had the cutest girl in class as his girlfriend (I did!). Your brand needs to be him! (Apologies for a very male driven analogy…but school was hard!)

2. Once you’ve nailed down your brand’s essence, stay true to it….no matter what! When your consumers see you acting a certain way, using a certain vocabulary and behaving a certain way – they will choose to follow you, thereby becoming brand ambassadors.

3. Finally, be a brand asshole!

Think that your brand is the best in the world and that you know more about it than anyone else on this planet. This confidence will help ensure that only you (or your company’s key spokesperson) are taken seriously when it comes to news about the brand/product.

Think Steve Jobs (man, I was trying to avoid Apple’s example for once…but it always catches up to you!).

The day I realized that line extensions kill my position!

12 06 2009

I have just completed an MBA and the funny thing is that throughout the course I was made to believe that Line Extensions were actually a good thing in the marketing world – they made use of the built up brand equity of the parent brand, they were efficient (required less ad spend) and overall, just seemed to work fine. Well, fine until I was recommended a book called “positioning” by a colleague of mine. For those of you who haven’t had a chance to read this book, I strongly recommend it. It’s a classic! 


An example of a failed line extension

An example of a failed line extension


Success achieved after creating a new brand

Success achieved after creating a new brand

Positioning teaches us that line extensions typically lead to significant short-term gains that eventually wither away. Seldom do line extensions occupy the top position in a market without toppling/cannibalizing a brand’s previous position. A great example of the failure of line extensions is the “Alkaline” version of Eveready, which failed in the marketplace until the company finally realized the problem and created a new brand called “Energizer”. Basically, this book has opened my mind and I think it might do the same for you.

Bell takes over Virgin Mobile Canada!

9 05 2009

So, Bell just bought Virgin Mobile in Canada for $142 million! More importantly, Bell’s been given a lease on the Virgin brand name. Its funny because I just blogged a couple weeks ago about how much I admired the Virgin brand and the way it has been built and handled. This deal on the other hand has left me skeptical – Bell’s recent branding campaigns haven’t exactly been spiffy (remember the “er” campaign, or not!). So, the question is if Bell has the capacity to protect and grow the Virgin brand name and more importantly, if it has the creativity to be charming?