brand idea

    America, the Budweiser.

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    So the Federal Trade Commission can squash the proposed merger of Staples and Office Depot, whose collective asses are being kicked in by Amazon (over the last two years the two office supplies companies have been forced to close nearly 600 stores), but they say it’s okay for Anheuser Busch InBev to rename Budweiser beer “America” for the summer???

    Budweiser America

    I love America and I love Budweiser, but this idea crosses the branding line for me. Not that I oppose it – let’s see what happens… what the hell. I just think it’s a bit sketchy and too commercializing. It’s also too easy. Also, for those of us who stop and take their hats off whenever we hear the Star Spangled Banner, it may be off-putting and have a negative effect.

    America is not a brand. And that’s the point. For the FTC or whomever to allowed this promotion to happen it’s a rookie mistake. Even for a young 240 year old.

    Peace.                                                                            

     

     

    John Hegarty and the Levi Strauss Brand.

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    While watching a video yesterday on Sir John Hegarty, one of the guiding lights of advertising over the last 50 years, I was made to realize how BBH (Bartle, Bogle, Hegarty) was fundamental to the brand building of Levi Strauss & Co.  As a huge fan and consumer of Levi’s jeans and also of their advertising, oddly, I have never studied the brand strategy up close. Yesterday in the movie, John offered up the brand idea: Toughness. And he’s so right. Even as I sit in a pair now with a hole in the nether area, I completely understand this position. Toughness.

    Admittedly, a good deal of advertising has hit the market, especially in the U.S. that has been off-idea. In fact, when stone washed jeans and tight-fitting jeans came to market, to expand the market, it become harder to support toughness. Stone washing made jeans less tough. Form-fitting jeans for women, reduced the toughness needed in the jeans and its appeal to younger women.

    The rivets that made Levy’s tough, the mega-durable stitching, and the hearty denim fabric, all contributed to the main claim. But cowboys in stretchy jeans don’t really fit the brand. Or do they? Toughness is expected of Levi’s.  Even when the models are dancing in the club. Toughness is as toughness does. We evolve, brands evolve,

    Starts with a good product. Build it with a good brand strategy. Then, as Hegarty might say, it’s time for the magic.

    Peace.

     

    A brand builder.

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    There’s a neat article in the NYT about cable TV channel FX. John Landgraf, president and general manager of FX Network, is given a good deal of credit for the channel’s recent success. This guy is building a brand. He has a strategy and over time is implementing it. It is his brand strategy that guided the decision to greenlight shows like Justified and Sons of Anarchy.  It is this brand strategy that helps his people cast shows stars, name show characters and create program titles.

    The brand strategy is what is providing consumers with the ability to articulate what the channel stands for. There is a vision here and it’s a vision in rarified air when it comes to TV. This is Steve Jobs stuff. Mr. Landgraf (land grab?) is not allowing focus groups plumbed from American Demographics magazine to decide his programming, he is using data smartly, but allowing his gut and (brand) vision to help consumers toward what’s next in programming.

    FX has an idea. Brands need an idea.  Without, they are water lapping the shore. Peace!  

    One objectionable word.

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    One thing that seems to be a norm for my consulting business is what happens when I present the brand strategy.  (A brand plan is made up of one strategy statement and three support planks.)  Almost always there is one word in the strategy that makes the client uncomfortable.  Until recently whenever I remark about this phenomenon to clients, I feel a little defensive about it – almost apologetically so. Not anymore. I’ve grown up.  The objectionable word is usually the strength of the brand plan. The ballast (which is long for another word).

    This “one objectionable word” notion echos things I’ve heard creative people say to clients about advertising.  “If it makes you feel a little uncomfortable, it is good creative.  It will be noticed and remembered” they say. 

    The discomfort clients’ feel is because a good brand plan is not easy. It’s work. Born of the category, target consumers and the company DNA (sorry about the markobabble, but is is a good work sometimes), a brand plan is only a beginning.

    Clients that want to slide into a brand plan with great ease and a sense of constant well-being are not ready to work. To innovate. To sweat the wins and losses. Those who are ready are prepared to live the strategy, to toil and feed it. To create life around the brand.  If your brand is a name, color palette and the ad agency’s new campaign, your brand is not alive. It’s not pulsing.  You don’t have a brand, you have a product. Peace.