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
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.
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!?!
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.
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!
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