Tuesday, May 12, 2015

Republicans—Great brands don't just say no

The season of bombardment has begun! – I mean the political bombs fizzling in our inboxes. 
I just got an email from Paul Ryan, Republican from Wisconsin and former VP candidate with Romney.

Ryan wants me to take a survey – to make my voice heard. What sort of Republican brand image is created by his email? You tell me…

First, Ryan opens with “As a dedicated and loyal conservative, I want to hear from you.” Now, I can’t be sure, but I’m guessing that the “dedicated and loyal conservative” was meant to refer to me, the recipient, not the “I” of the sender. So right away the syntax is poor.

More important is a second problem. Ryan writes, “Your input will help us stay focused on real, serious proposals to:
·      Reduce the deficit
·      Lower tax rates
·      Spark private-sector job creation
·      Stop Obama’s reckless executive overreach”

Now, if this is a true attempt to get my views, you’d think Ryan would ask me what serious proposals we should focus on, rather than tell me.

Finally, notice the nature of his “serious proposals.” Reduce… Lower… Spark… and Stop – three policy blockages, one positive promotion.

Help me say no.
To get anywhere in 2016, Ryan and Co. will have to learn the obvious lesson of Reagan – that is, to be positive… to offer plans that enlarge, encourage and enhance, not reduce, lower and stop.

It’s hard to inspire people with tiresome calls to say no. Republicans – in order to build a vibrant brand for this century – will have to get in the habit of saying yes.


Wednesday, April 8, 2015

World's Worst Logo

This post is dedicated to all the struggling designers out there... all of you whose elegant logo designs have been picked to death by amateurs, corrupted by committees and then distorted and launched by marketers who would have a hard time matching their own shoes with the right shade of polish.

My gift to you, design professionals, is this.. seen yesterday in Manhattan on the 1-Train heading downtown... I give you the World's Worst Logo...

Note the several different types... and sizes... and colors... and... what the heck is this?  Like the animal below, this comical thing was surely designed by a (large) committee.

So if anyone ever criticizes your work, just show 'em this logo. And if they then accuse you of being ridiculous, just show 'em this camel. Now that's ridiculous.


Friday, April 3, 2015

Ha ha — Fooled by SAHALE Snacks

You're in an airport. You're hungry but only have a few minutes before boarding.

You go to the news stand for a snack — something healthy. Candy, no. Chips, never. Nuts? okay but not bathed in oil. So... Hey, look at this... Hmmm... "California Almonds." That sounds healthy. Let's face it, Mississippi almonds might be deep-fried.

You study the package. Tasteful design. "Sea salt" = healthy, right? And how about this "Snack Better" slogan... This "SAHALE" company is obviously looking out for my arteries.

You flip over the package for the "ingredients."
"Whole California almonds dry-roasted to perfection, finished with a touch of natural sea salt." — "natural sea salt" — okay, I'm buying!

I'm on the plane now with my SAHALE Snacks of California Almonds. We're taxiing before take-off and I look closely at the package. Hey... What's this? "See Ingredients Under Flap"...???

I look under the flap along the side and... in smaller up-and-down letters I read... hey!...
"INGREDIENTS: California almonds, sunflower oil, sea salt."

WTF! ... I've been had. These babies are bathed in oil... and the "Ingredients" description in bigger letters was actually a "See Ingredients" notice. Bastards!

Then I get it. Ha ha SAHALE Snacks! — Great joke! ... I was fooled.
The date of my flight: April 1.


Saturday, March 28, 2015

Sic transit gloria mundi

Thanks to Overboard, created and drawn by Chip Dunham.

Brandsinger's favorite comic strip.

Friday, March 20, 2015

Starbucks "Race Together" program

This morning I walked into Starbucks wondering what to expect. Everyone's talking about the new "Race Together" program that their CEO recently unveiled. Would an espresso maker ask me what I thought of racism? I prepared my answer: I'm against it! Or better is to be more emphatic: "If I see racism I expose it!"

Actually, this question was not my concern. When I walked into Starbucks I believed a barista might challenge me — voice pitched indignantly high — on whether I've seriously contemplated the privileges of being white.

As it turned out, the transaction was normal. When the barista handed me the little white cup, the only black lettering on it was my name. Looking around the shop, it was clear that no occupants of Starbucks — no customers, no servers — were eager to shatter the 8:15 a.m. calm by broadcasting their views on race in America.

Some people believe that the line between commerce and politics is inviolable. (Companies operate solely to make money, customers have a right to opt out of politics, etc.) Others believe that corporations have a moral obligation to take a progressive stand on social issues (protect the environment, boycott evil suppliers, etc.).

I'm with a third group: those who believe that we have no choice whether to take a stand or not: Human beings and companies have an impact on social and political issues by their everyday interactions on this planet. They might as well think about the issues and take an explicit political or moral stand when appropriate.

You might ask me, What the heck does "take a stand when appropriate" mean? It means that Starbucks baristas should challenge customers' views on race when appropriate — i.e. never.


Friday, March 6, 2015

Poetry in motion

The NASA probe "Dawn" just entered the gravity field of the dwarf planet Ceres… 3 billion miles away from earth. It's now sending back photos and other data for our contemplation.

What kind of human mind can even conceive of and accomplish such a feat?

In a Wall Street Journal article I found a clue to what kind of mind:

In his Dawn Blog, Marc Rayman, Dawn's chief engineer and mission director at NASA's Jet Propulsion Laboratory wrote: "This beautifully choreographed celestial dance is now a pas de deux."

— “a beautifully choreographed celestial dance”! — and that man is “Chief Engineer.”

I’d add that he’s also a poet.


Friday, January 30, 2015

Dr. Oz — Brand gone bad

This modern tale reminds me of an old German movie I saw in college about a fussy, goatee-d professor-type — the proverbial "old fool" — who falls in love with a sexy show-girl — the classic, cold-blooded seductress — leading to his disgrace and doom.

In one scene, the show-girl literally twirls the old fool around her finger by his neck-tie — and he's loving it.

In the modern version, the part of the old fool is played by Dr. Mehmet Oz — the charismatic heart surgeon and vice-chairman of surgery at Columbia University College of Physicians and Surgeons. Dr. Oz has a sharp outfit, good career and solid reputation. He can use his own hands to save human life.

Ah, but Dr. Oz — like the old fool in the German movie — stumbles into a den of temptation. His eyes fall on the irresistible show-girl — and predictably, he reacts like this: 
Dr. Mehmet Oz at the moment of temptation
The audience shudders! No, Dr. Oz, danger, danger! Don't go there. Don't fall for her! ... even though she looks like this:
In this tale — as in the original movie — the old fool falls in love and plummets inevitably to his disgrace and doom. The audience is shaken... but knows that this disaster was avoidable.

Here is the final scene:

What a tragedy! Such a promising career! All thrown away by the natural human weakness for erotic German cabaret singers in stockings with their legs arranged to reveal just enough carnal charm to drive even a distinguished heart surgeon to act like an insane old fool.

Ach! or whatever they say over there. Merde! ... um... Saab! ...
But of course, it wasn't because of a cabaret singer at all. This waste of a perfectly good reputation was all for money.