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.


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


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.


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!


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

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

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

Dave Murray

Your Brand is Your Freedom!

Seriously, your brand is your freedom!

Yes, I’m completely exploiting this time of year. Yes, I’m totally shameless. And yes, I believe every word in this post.

We love doing what we do, in part, because it gives gutsy business owners and entrepreneurs a shot at better lives – side note: we say “a shot” because, after we help create the brand and advise them, it’s up to the entrepreneurs / business owners to follow through – Of course, what they do with that shot is entirely up to them. Maybe they’d simply retire to Fiji. Maybe they’d just like to relax and take more time for their friends and family. Or, maybe they’re like me, and would love to be able to take everybody on a spontaneous party trip to Italy. And maybe get on a gondola. Because I like typing “gondola.”

Of course, to do any of that, you need to be able to free up some time. And you can’t do that if you’re constantly the technician in the trenches, hoping for that next check to show up so you can pay rent, simply because you neglected your brand.

If you’ve been reading my blog posts for a while, you know the huge importance we place on branding and brand strategy. It really is more important than your product or service. And I promise you, I wouldn’t be doing this if I didn’t know, with 100% certainty, that it would drastically improve your life. It is the single, most important thing you can do for your business. Did I lay that on thick enough for ya? I hope so, because it’s the truth.

That typed, branding and brand strategy alone aren’t going to free you up for that African safari you’ve always wanted to take.

Do these three things to create your freedom!

Branding and Brand Strategy: this creates a consistent message and look that your clients and potential clients can get behind – because it’s always stuck in their brains!

Implementing Systems and Processes: I know, I know, that sounds horrendously lame. If, however, you want your business to scale to unimaginable heights, you need to set it up so other people can make it grow without your direct involvement. Your brand is your most important asset, but systems and processes make that asset work for you.

Public Relations, Marketing, and Advertising: if you want to haul ass on your road to freedom, you need to invest some time and money into getting your business out there! Get someone to interview you, set up speaking engagements, hire people who know about marketing and advertising, do the stuff that most “small” business owners and entrepreneurs won’t do because they think it’s a waste of money. Trust me, when your brand is set in stone, and your systems and processes are in place, no matter what your product or service is, you are in the marketing business!

We’ve used this quote before, but it bears repeating, ““Because the purpose of business is to create a customer, the business enterprise has two–and only two–basic functions: marketing and innovation. Marketing and innovation produce results; all the rest are costs. Marketing is the distinguishing, unique function of the business.” That quote comes from Peter Drucker, the granddad of business consulting. And it’s impossible to overstate its importance.

And now, for the conclusion you’ve been waiting for!

Gutsy entrepreneurs and business owners of the world, in order to create ultimate freedom, you must have a set brand, some set systems and processes, and a killer p.r. / marketing / advertising machine.

Of course, before you can implement any systems and processes, or get to marketing, you need to have your brand in place.

And that’s why I say your brand is your freedom.

If you have any questions about what branding and brand strategy can do for you, click Services. Other questions might be answered in our FAQ. And if that still doesn’t cut it, send us an email by clicking Contact.

I hope all of you in the United States had a fantastic Fourth of July. And to the rest of the world, I hope you did something extra gutsy on your seemingly normal Saturday.

As always, stay gutsy gang!


The Tingley Advantage – The Importance of Processes
Forbes – Jack Trout on Marketing

Dave Murray

Branding is a Team Sport

Hey, if people can call golf a sport, then I can call branding the same thing.

Oh man, I’m gonna get letters…

<h2>What’s your greatest fear?</h2>

Aside from drowning, burning to death, and being attacked by rabid spider monkeys, I have an odd fear I fight every day: boredom. Yes, I legitimately fear boredom, and have no idea why. I can’t think of a time when I went nuts from sitting on my ass for a week straight, or was forced to watch old Walker: Texas Ranger reruns for hours on end. I just know being bored scares the crap outta me.

While I don’t know why I fear boredom, I do know what I do to keep it at bay:

Say ridiculous things like, “I’m King Dave of Ann Arbor.”
Do ridiculous things – just because I can.

Those things all alleviate my boredom through sheer entertainment value. I have fun with all of them. And, like many things that are a blast, it’s always more fun to do them with other people. For the purposes of this post, let’s focus on “compete.” If you work with us, after all, you’ll get a front row seat to the other two.

Ladies and gentlemen, branding’s a team sport. In team sports, like any other sport, you have winners and you have losers. And, just like any other sport, successful branding is all in the preparation.


<h2>Know thy self, know thy enemy…</h2>

That’s right, I just went from Yogi Berra to Sun Tzu! The full quote is, “Know thy self, know thy enemy. A thousand battles, a thousand victories.” I brought up Sun Tzu to lead in to this part of the show – err, blog post: the competitive analysis part!

Like coaches study film of the opposing team to prepare for game day, so too must the branders study their clients’ competitors. Coaches and branders study the competition to determine their strengths, weaknesses, and personalities – and then use that information to exploit said competition.

<h2>So, how is branding a team sport?</h2>

After analyzing the competition, the branders – coaches – teach the clients – players – about executing the game plan. The clients can now articulate their whys, their focuses and their differentiators. The branders then use the analysis to come up with logos, slogans, layouts, and everything else the clients need to play in their chosen category with surgical precision! The branders and the clients build a perfect relationship, where neither is more important than the other, where they continually build up to be a dominant force, striving all the while to form the best possible team.

Ladies and gentlemen, the best team wins. And in the game of branding, the other teams may as well not even try.

Check out our Services page if you’re wondering what all we can do for your gutsy business, and click Contact if you want to form your own team!

Thanks for reading my zany metaphor, and as always…

Stay gutsy!