Sunday, June 27, 2010
Thursday, June 24, 2010
Sunday, June 13, 2010
Over the years, what once was an attractive mid-priced car conceived during the Depression (top) became a less and less relevant piece of bland metal marketed to people with a closet full of green slacks (below).
Writing about the demise of US car brands has become a thriving cottage industry. As Oldsmobiles and Pontiacs are tossed from product shelves like musty sweaters, commentators offer nostalgia ("I rode in one on my first date.") or scolding ("It's about time GM killed that brand.") or macro-economic platitudes ("The global auto industry has too much capacity.").
But let's face it, reading about branding is pretty dreary anyway. I like the people at Brandweek and have written for them from time to time. But geez, the weekly palaver about product strategy is less interesting than articles on back pain. Who doesn't respect David Aaker, that prolific examiner of every dimension of brand strategy? Yet who wouldn't rather wait for laundry to dry than wade through one of his treatises?
Okay, time for one beautiful article on the Mercury brand just laid to rest. If you want to understand the essence of branding – the central idea behind our precious jargon – start with this little essay from the New York Times: http://www.nytimes.com/2010/06/13/opinion/13dudley.html
This is – in our world of brand commentary – an absolute gem. It captures the essence of successful branding: Giving others an opportunity to express themselves.
Wednesday, June 9, 2010
You may have seen photos of accused killer Joran Van der Sloot escorted by Chilean cops. The first thing I noticed – as a mammal attuned to instincts of fight or flight – is how young and swaggery is the Dutch captive in the company of his pudgy, bureaucratic-looking captors. Now what image of Chilean authority does this project?
The Chilean cops are supposed to be strutting around so the world can admire their policing skills. Instead, they look like out-of-shape clerks who forgot their all-weather gear when joining their young boss on a camping trip.
Obviously Brandsinger was not the only one who took notice. Someone in Peru with a brand manager’s eye saw these pictures and thought, “Que passa! Those Chilean cops look like they moonlight as shoe salesmen.” The Peruvian guy wants his country to make a better impression on the world stage... so he makes a call.
A few hours later, when the Peruvians show up to take custody of Joran, it is clear that the prisoner is in the hands of two guys who are always up for a good clubbing.
Look at these cold-blooded crime-fighters. Now Joran appears to be the cowed captive he is. This picture says: You don’t want to screw around with Peruvian national power. Chilean brand managers take note.
Of course, no one orchestrates the intended impression of state power like the NYPD and the FBI. Here’s how we did it stateside when a hapless Somali pirate fell into our clutches.
If the invincible power of the state is what you want to project, this is good branding.