Your Brand Is Not as Great as You Think It Is (And What to Do About That)

Brand Perceptions Cartoon
(Reading Time: 4 minutes)

Here’s a statistic that I wouldn’t believe had I not measured it myself: 100% of my friends are excellent drivers.

I’m serious. You can ask them. Better yet, ask your friends for their assessments of their own driving skills. You’ll probably record a similar number.

I can find you a bunch of statistics like this.

In one survey of university faculty, over 90% rated themselves “above average” in terms of teaching ability. That’s right – 90% of these professors placed themselves in the top 50%. Continue reading “Your Brand Is Not as Great as You Think It Is (And What to Do About That)”

Dirty Marketing Tricks

(Reading Time: 3 minutes)

Three weeks ago, I received an email from a local business publication I subscribe to. The subject line read:

“Action Required on Account No. ###”

The body of the email included the following copy (all caps theirs):

“Your print and digital access will expire if you don’t ACT NOW!”

“Don’t let your subscription end! RENEW IMMEDIATELY!”

Screen Shot 2014-09-05 at 2.32.59 PM
Part of the offensive email.

Continue reading “Dirty Marketing Tricks”

Four Brand Lessons from Lululemon

(Reading Time: 3 minutes)

On Monday, Lululemon cut its revenue and earnings guidance sharply. This sent its shares tumbling more than 15%, to a two-year low.

This is the outcome of a pretty awful 2013 for Lulu, which included a product recall and comments from founder and chairman Chip Wilson that were, shall we say, a bit insensitive. (In December, Mr. Wilson announced that he was stepping down as chairman in June of this year.)

Lulu’s struggles offer us all an opportunity to brush up on some key brand lessons. From where I sit, the four most important lessons are these:

Continue reading “Four Brand Lessons from Lululemon”

Personal Trainers, Walmart and Differentiation

Walmart Target Logos Differentiation
(Reading Time: 3 minutes)

At the gym I frequent, there’s a personal trainer I don’t think very highly of.  Let’s call him Duff.

My issue with Duff is that he doesn’t push his clients to work out very hard.  In fact, I’ve never seen one sweat.  Instead, it’s more like Social Hour. Sometimes, Duff and his client are chatting it up during an exercise, which suggests a pretty low level of exertion.  I wish his clients would stop wasting their time and money, and I want Duff to do better training on their behalf.

On a seemingly unrelated note, yesterday I visited a Walmart in Chicago’s west suburbs.  At this store, merchandising took a back seat to other priorities; “cluttered” is a fair term to use.

Continue reading “Personal Trainers, Walmart and Differentiation”

Brand Definition: A Concept the Entire Company Can Use

Brand Definition What Is a Brand
(Reading Time: 4 minutes)

Last week, I debunked the notion that a brand is a promise. Anyone can make a promise.  If you really want to build a brand, you’ll have to work harder than that.  So what’s a better brand definition?

My definition of a brand – your brand – is as follows:

Your brand is your total experience, as perceived by those you seek to motivate.

Every word in this brand definition is selected carefully.  A few key words have heightened importance and further implications:

Continue reading “Brand Definition: A Concept the Entire Company Can Use”

How Should Domino’s Respond?

(Reading Time: 2 minutes)

That Branding Thing reader Sean Grace asked a great question in the “comments” section of my previous post. He wrote:

“Matthew, what kinds of things do you think Domino’s can do in the near future to begin to win back the trust of customers? What would work in your opinion?”

I won’t claim to be a PR expert, but I’ll offer a few ideas. Continue reading “How Should Domino’s Respond?”

Brand Benefits – Beyond the Functional

Three Kinds of Brand Benefits
(Reading Time: 4 minutes)

The scene would be surreal if it weren’t so familiar.

A man sits before a table. He is in the desert, though he is oblivious to this fact; he sits in air-conditioned comfort in a building designed to evoke the city of Venice, Italy. Above him is a chandelier the size of a compact car. A vodka tonic is in his left hand; it was given to him, free of charge, by a leggy blonde in a revealing outfit. Continue reading “Brand Benefits – Beyond the Functional”

Three Kinds of Brand Consistency

(Reading Time: 4 minutes)

Meet Stan. Stan works over in accounting. He is, you might say, a little buttoned-up. His shirts are so well-starched that they deflect bullets. On Casual Friday, he lets loose by wearing jeans – with crisply ironed pleats. He has a picture of Rush Limbaugh in his office, which is so immaculate it makes his co-workers anxious. And a hair out of place? Not on Stan’s head.

But one Monday morning, Stan arrives looking like he missed the bus to Bonnaroo. He’s wearing baggy hemp clothing, his hair resembles a bird’s nest, and he hasn’t seen the working end of his razor in days. Barack has replaced Rush in the frame on his desk. Continue reading “Three Kinds of Brand Consistency”