Let’s Cut the Millennial Crap

Millennials Technology

Well, it happened again.

Earlier this week, in a seemingly unrelated conversation, a stranger found a chance to take a swipe at Millennials, and went for it!  According to this person, Millennials not only “don’t take direction well,” they often “don’t even want to show up to work at all.”

Huh.  I’m a crusty old Gen-Xer myself.  But I’ve worked with, and even hired, a number of Millennials.  And I don’t have any proof that their work ethic or character is any worse than that of (say) my college graduating class. Continue reading “Let’s Cut the Millennial Crap”

Is Southwest Airlines Still a Great Brand?

Southwest Airlines Flight 1380 Engine

The last few weeks have been bad for Southwest Airlines.

So bad, in fact, that it’s fair to ask: Is Southwest still a great brand?  Let’s discuss the cases for and against.

The Case For: Southwest IS a Great Brand

There was a time, not so long ago, when I would use Southwest in my keynotes and seminars as a clear example of a great brand.

I would start by asking the audience to join me as I painted a picture of Major Airline Advertising.  This was easy to do, since Major Airline Advertising is both familiar and largely interchangeable.  It might go something like this: Continue reading “Is Southwest Airlines Still a Great Brand?”

The Best Brands Use Feedback Loops Both Ways

Feedback Loops Matthew Fenton Chicago Brand Strategy

Regular readers of this blog know that I’m an advocate of feedback loops.

There are dozens of ways that you can (and should) use feedback loops to better understand your consumers.  These include advisory panels, ethnography, surveys and so on.

But too often, we brand leaders forget that we’re an active part of these feedback loops.  We need to send signals as well as receive them.  And we can build stronger bonds by signaling the right things to the people we serve. Continue reading “The Best Brands Use Feedback Loops Both Ways”

“This Is a Skyscraper,” and Other Lies We Tell Ourselves

There’s a terrific scene in the movie “Big,” in which Paul, the rival of Tom Hanks’ Josh, shares his silver-bullet idea for the upcoming year.

In the spirit of toys that transform, it’s a robot that turns into a… building.

Matthew Fenton Chicago Brand Strategy
“This is a skyscraper!” – the incomparable John Heard

“I don’t get it,” Josh famously says.  “There’s a million robots that turn into something.  This is a building that turns into a robot.  What’s fun about playing with a building?  That’s not any fun!”

“This is a skyscraper!” Paul insists. Continue reading ““This Is a Skyscraper,” and Other Lies We Tell Ourselves”

Why Is Brand Awareness Such a Weak Objective?

Brand Awareness Martin Shkreli

At some point in the history of marketing and sales, the “purchase funnel” was created.

At the top of every funnel is the first step – awareness.  We then proceed down the funnel to consideration, evaluation and purchase (though the exact steps vary from model to model).

Brand Awareness Purchase Funnel
One of several versions of the “purchase funnel.”

And so some marketers began to believe that brand awareness was a reasonable objective of their efforts.  How can we stuff consumers into our imaginary funnel if we don’t start with awareness? Continue reading “Why Is Brand Awareness Such a Weak Objective?”

Be Selective (To Do More With Less)

Be selective to do more with less

Be selective.

This is not a suggestion or an empty mantra.  It’s one of the very few brand-building imperatives I’ll propose to you.

As a leader of a challenger brand, you’re starting from behind, and with fewer resources than your competitors.  And limited resources must be focused if they are to have maximum impact.

Here are five important ways you can be selective: Continue reading “Be Selective (To Do More With Less)”

Heinz Just Approved Ads From “Mad Men,” and That’s a Good Thing

Heinz Mad Men Fries Ad

In this case, advertising imitates art.

AdWeek reports that Heinz has approved ads that were originally presented on the TV series Mad Men.

In season 6 of that show, set in 1968, Don Draper pitches a series of print ads to Heinz execs.  The ads are novel in that they don’t show ketchup at all – only foods that are wanting it.  As Don tells the Heinz execs, “The greatest thing you have working for you… is the imagination of the consumer.” Continue reading “Heinz Just Approved Ads From “Mad Men,” and That’s a Good Thing”