Dave Murray

Google, Chucks, and Mickey D’s. BOOM!!!

Google, Chucks, and Mickey D’s. BOOM!!!

Being sick is no joke.

I’ve been wanting to write this one ever since I read Converse changed the ever-awesome, dare I say “iconic,” Chuck Taylors. And then Google went all Alphabet on us. And, of course, McDonald’s is always good for a few laughs.

But I’m just now able to write about all that. Because being sick is no joke.

With that typed, let’s get to it!

Is the Chuck Taylor All Star II a Good Branding Move?

Yes and no. Converse / Nike came really close to nailing it. They just didn’t quite pull it off.

In The 22 Immutable Laws of Branding*, Al and Laura Ries write about why expanding a brand is a bad idea for long-term growth, citing Chevrolet, American Express, and Levi Strauss as examples. Spoiler alert: all of them lost market share as they expanded their brands to include more products.

Some of my all-time favorite ads are the Volkswagen print ads from the ’60s. And I was instantly reminded of one of them when I read about the Chuck IIs

Mayniax Branding - Don't ever change, 1960s Volkswagen Beetle

To me, that ad is the epitome of perfect branding through advertising. The body remains the same, while the interior is altered as needed. The Beetle is widely regarded as one of the best branded cars in history, and that kind of approach is why. And it’s really close to what Converse, after 98 years, did with the Chuck Taylor All Star II.

Mayniax Branding digs our Chuck Taylors

Like the Beetle pic, all they really did, aside from slight color differences, is keep the body the same and altered the interior for more comfort. That was a great move! That typed, here’s what I think they did wrong, along with what they could’ve done right:

Wrong: the name is classic line extension. Right: call it Chuck Taylor All Star – hear me out.
Wrong: They kept the original Chuck Taylor All Star. Right: Retire it. Make it a collectible.
Wrong: the “body” isn’t consistent, color-wise. Right: Color it the same as the original.

Line extension adds confusion, dilutes the brand, and ends up costing market share. So my approach would be to either retire the original Chucks and make the new one’s body look just like them, or keep the original Chucks, and get rid of the new ones.

It was really close, though, and much better than a lot of companies do. I’ll definitely be keeping an eye on this one!

Seriously, McDonald’s. What the Crap?

I actually feel bad for Mickey D’s. I’ve never seen a huge corporation work so hard to get everything right, just to get everything so terribly wrong, especially from a brand strategy point-of-view.

“Hey guys, let’s expand the menu to a mammoth size and then wonder why things get made incorrectly!”
“Let’s kill the exclusivity with breakfast by selling it all day, and cut into sales of the higher margin hamburgers!”
“Seriously, guys, I’ve got it! Let’s give Ronald McDonald a red coat. That’ll solve everything!”

Those were fun to type.

If I, or any other brand strategist worth a damn, were able to talk to the clowns – see what I did there? – in charge of McDonald’s, I’d suggest the following:

Take it back to its original menu, while also keeping the Big Mac and Happy Meal. And the Filet-O-Fish during Lent.

mayniax-branding-mcdonalds-menu

This would drastically cut down on costs since they wouldn’t have to source chicken, salad stuff, yogurt, and whatever else McDonald’s sells that isn’t burgers and fries – because burgers and fries is what McDonald’s is. It would also mostly solve the problem of incorrectly prepared food because the menu would be so much easier to learn.

Al Ries, a hugely respected man in the marketing world, thinks In-N-Out Burger, with it’s insanely limited menu – like I’m suggesting McDonald’s go back to – could out-do McDonald’s, saying, “If In-N-Out Burger were a national chain with a national reputation, its average unit would probably outsell McDonald’s average unit.”

Use some of the saved money to buy higher-quality ingredients. Let’s face it, people are trying to be healthier. And they’re wise to the “nutritional facts” of the fast food industry. McDonald’s is still the leader in the fast food category, so they can get better ingredients for less money. Advertise those better ingredients, and the more health-conscious among us may give Mickey D’s another shot. And even better, they may not get so ticked when Ronald McDonald shows up during Nicktoons commercial breaks.

The basic idea I’m pushing is for McDonald’s to re-focus their brand. On the verge of bankruptcy, LEGO decided to re-focus their brand, and are now the number one toy company in the world.

McDonald’s has so many employees, and I’d hate to see it go under and have all those people lose their jobs because of poor brand strategy.

Especially Ronald McDonald! Because clowns aren’t creepy at all, right? Right!?!

Mayniax Branding Ronald McDonald

THANK YOU, GOOGLE!!!

A lot of you don’t know this, because Google affects everything I do on the interwebz, so I try not to bust them too badly. But man, off-line, I let ’em have it, saying things like, “Google’s gonna be over in the next 10 years,” and “If they don’t detach Google+ from YouTube, I’m gonna kick a puppy!”

Sidenote: Whenever I say things like “I’m gonna kick a puppy,” I feel I should clarify and let you know I’m not actually gonna kick a puppy. Nor have I ever kicked a puppy. A hamster on the other hand…KIDDING!!!

Anyway, back to Google.

A few days ago, Google announced it was forming an umbrella company called Alphabet. And there was much rejoicing from yours truly. I was honestly excited for Google! Here’s why: Google means search. When’s the last time you said you were gonna “surf the web”? None of us have had to say that in years! Do you know why? Because now we just “Google it.” Again, Google is search. When your brand becomes a verb, you’ve done well.

Since then, however – just like we talked about earlier with brand expansion – Google has put its name on everything: Google+, Google Glass, Google Maps, Google Earth, Google X, and even a Google car! And all that does is water down the brand, making it stand less and less for search, and more and more for – well – everything under the sun. And that’s never a good branding strategy.

With Alphabet, they can fix that. Google, as a stand-alone brand, could go back to being just search. YouTube could operate autonomously under Alphabet, as could Droid. Everything Google previously had to have under its own umbrella, can now fit snugly under Alphabet, without watering down the Google name. Now, that’s not how the current structure is set up. The fact they made this move, however, tells me they’re finally thinking about it strategically, and I’m honestly geeked about that.

mayniax-branding-google-alphabet-chart

Oh, and they did end up separating Google+ from YouTube.

I hope you guys had as much fun reading that as I did writing it! I enjoyed writing it so much, I may need to check into a funny farm, tomorrow, just for a check-up.

If you want to know more about us, visit our – well – About page! And if you have any branding questions, whether you’re in the Ann Arbor / Ypsilanti area or not, feel free to click contact and ask. We don’t bite. Especially over the internet! Because that would be impossible.

I’ll talk atcha next time, and as always…

Stay gutsy, gang!

*I’m not selling, nor being paid to sell this book. I just really dig it!

References:

Chuck Taylors
The Today Show – Converse Unveils Chuck Taylor II
Huffington Post – Chuck Taylor Redesign

Volkswagen Beetle
Edmunds – The 100 Greatest Cars of All-time
Investopedia – Best-selling Cars
Wikipedia – List of Best-selling Automobiles

McDonald’s
Ad Age – In the Marketing World, One Plus One Equals Three-Fourths
CNN Money – McDonalds Earnings Sales Down

Google
CNN Money – Meet Google Alphabet – Google’s new parent company
YouTube Blog – Google+ No Longer Has to be Linked to YouTube

Dave Murray

Some Objective Branding Benefits!

Some Objective Branding Benefits

I strongly believe branding is the most important thing you can do for your business. I do, however, realize that my saying that can seem disingenuous. Because, you know, I do the whole branding thing. It’s okay. I get it. I can be pretty skeptical, myself.

Anyway, to write on the benefits of branding, I figured I’d turn to that great search engine in Mountain View, California: Google.

I made this as objective as I could, so every author of every article was researched in an attempt to keep out anyone who makes most of their money by branding. Though I’ll be adding some comments and quips along the way. Because “Hey…it’s me.” -Han Solo

And now, it’s time to try my first Google search. For this post, at least:

“What are the benefits of branding?”

Oddly enough, this one turned up primarily articles from branding companies, so they’re mostly no good. I did, after all, say I wanted to keep this as objective as possible.

There was one article that caught my eye, though: What Are the Advantages of Branding to Consumers and Producers? by Saritha Pujari.

It’s not even really an article. It’s just a couple of lists detailing exactly what the title implies. And, more importantly, it’s objective.

I agree with 7/8 of the list. The part I don’t agree with, “the quality of branded product undoubtedly is better,” is because of brands like Budweiser. Tell me you prefer Budweiser to Dragon’s Milk, and we may not be able to be friends anymore. Now, had the author said, “the quality of branded product undoubtedly is more consistent,” we would’ve been in agreeance.

That typed, because I’m not happy with just one objective result, let’s try a different Google search:

“Why is branding important?”

Now we’re talking!

The article Understanding Branding Importance in Marketing Your Business, by Michael Cohn, has one misfire, at least to us, when he makes the argument that branding and positioning aren’t the same thing. “…you can position yourself at different times in different markets as different things.” That’s how you please shareholders, not how you build a killer brand. A strong, gutsy brand is one product / service for one target market. And because of this, we feel strongly that brand strategy and positioning are, indeed, the same thing.

That’s not, however, to take away from the rest of his article. In fact the rest of it’s gold! He talks about benefits such as being remembered, gaining customer loyalty, becoming well-known, and the fact that customers pay for image. It’s really a great read! My favorite part comes near the end of the article, where he’s discussing promoting your brand and displaying stability. “Changing your brand, and all that’s involved with it, including colors, slogans, logos, and tag lines, doesn’t support an image of reliability and longevity.”

You have no idea how crazy this drives me when a major company makes inexplicable changes for the sake of, well, change. Although it does fill me with confidence that we can help someone overthrow said company.

And now, for my final Google search. For this post, at least:

“Why is branding important to consumers?”

I chose that search for two reasons:
1. Every entrepreneur wants to bring in more consumers.
2. Because mighty Google suggested it.

The Power of Aligning Consumers with Your Brand, by John H. Fleming, Dan Witters, and Amy Adkins, makes its argument through Gallup research. As the title suggests, the authors talk a lot about “brand alignment.” Here’s a paragraph from the article:

“Creating brand alignment is powerful and meaningful in a way that traditional methods of attracting and retaining customers — like marketing and advertising — are not. Gallup research reveals that when consumers are aligned with a brand, they give it twice as much share of wallet as those who are not aligned with that same brand. It can be difficult for consumers to fully trust in a brand and align themselves with it, but when they do, they reward it generously.”

We always promote authenticity, because without it, no one will trust you or your brand. And the above paragraph shows that’s something everyone needs to understand. Because everyone loves “twice as much share of wallet.” Too many brands fail because the entrepreneur tries to be something he or she isn’t. Which, of course, is why I cry myself to sleep at night.

Speaking of trust, the article concludes by saying, “A brand is more than a logo or tagline. Though advertising and marketing initiatives are important, they must be in line with how an organization actually delivers its products and services. Even the most creative and innovative brand strategy is bound to fail if the company cannot execute on it. Brand alignment builds trust – and trust is a necessary precursor to any company’s long-term success.”

I’m sensing a pattern, here. That pattern is that the major benefit of a brand is trust. And, as we read earlier, trust equals “twice as much share of wallet.” And far be it for me to throw down with that particular benefit.

Holy crap! Dave’s almost done typing!

Now that you understand some major benefits of branding, you should probably start making it happen for yourself. If you’re in the Ann Arbor / Ypsilanti, Michigan area, contact us to set up a time to chat. If you’re not, find someone in your area who specializes in branding, and get a hold of them. Seriously, it’s time for you to get branded and kick some ass!

And then maybe have a Dragon’s Milk to celebrate.

Stay gutsy, gang!