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

A Brand is More Important than its Product!

To reiterate the title: a gutsy brand is more important than a great product!

I know, I know, “That can’t be right!” “You’re an idiot!” “I hope a pack of rabid spider monkeys attacks you while you sleep!” Okay, that last one was just mean. Read on, and hopefully we can come to an understanding. And you’ll end up preferring a pack of cuddly kittens attacks me while I sleep.

George Patton Mayniax Branding

Many businesses don’t stay open very long, though the numbers aren’t as bad as one would think. An article written by Ryan Jordan – VR Business Brokers – using data from the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics, shows that roughly one in two businesses survive the first five years. The top five reasons, according to Travis Thorpe – CEO of Boostability – are a failure to market online, failing to listen to their customers, failing to leverage future growth – where he talks about the importance of branding, of course – failing to adapt and grow when the market changes, and failing to track and measure your marketing efforts.

Notice two of those had to do with marketing. Gang, once your brand is established, you are in the marketing business! It can’t be overstated how important marketing to your brand is.

I’d like to add to Mr. Thorpe’s list: thinking differently. Look back at General Patton’s quote, then realize if you think your product is more important than your brand, you’re thinking just like everyone else. And everyone else isn’t cracking the Fortune 100. Or even the Fortune 5000.

Nowhere in that list, or in my quick little addition, is product ever mentioned.

Now, let’s take a look at some brands that are WAY better than their products!

Budweiser – A couple months ago, I spoke to a group of 150 people. To conclude my presentation, I had them raise their hands if they enjoy a nice, refreshing beer from time to time. As you can imagine, nearly everyone’s hands went up. Then I had them keep their hands up if they had a favorite beer. Everyone’s hands stayed up. And lastly, I had them keep their hands up if their favorite beer was Budweiser. Out of 150 people, one person kept his hands up. And I feel so sorry for that poor bastard.

But see, Budweiser is so ingrained into our minds – as any good brand should be – that even though it’s nowhere near most people’s favorite beer, they still dig it enough to keep it at number one in the U.S. Which really does make it the “King of Beers.”

The iPhone – Let’s not worry about Apple as a whole, right now. Let’s just talk about this crazy little piece of hardware. The iPhone and its operating system are, by many accounts, substantially behind Android, tech-wise. The iPhone and Galaxy are the top two phones out there, and they’ve both been first and second place the last few months. The Galaxy runs on Android, so if the product mattered, the Galaxy would be blowing away the iPhone, right? Well, yeah. The thing is, the product doesn’t matter. It’s all about the brand. And even though the iPhone’s behind the Galaxy, tech-wise, the brand is still strong enough to keep the race neck and neck.

By the way, since readers of my blog know brand expansion hurts one’s brand, I have a tip for Apple and Samsung: stop adding new numbers and letters at the end of your products. And especially stop making cheaper and more expensive versions. Make one version of your respective phones, and instead of calling it the Galaxy S6 and iPhone 6+, just call it the 2015 Galaxy, or the 2015 iPhone. I promise you, it’ll be so much better for your brands!

But I digress.

General Motors – GM is a corporation, and a sort-of-brand since car manufacturers know little about branding, that has so far admitted to killing 51 people due to a faulty ignition switch they knew about in 2001. And yet, General Motors still has the highest market share of all the automobile companies in the United States, and according to Bill Visnic – a contributor to Forbes – its global sales are actually up nearly two percent, this year.

So let’s re-cap the GM situation: they’ve so far admitted to being directly responsible for 51 deaths, due to a shoddy product, and their sales are up. The auto industry may not be great at branding, but GM’s corporate brand seems to be doing okay, anyway.

So, there are the three examples I went with for this one. There are a whole lot more out there, but hey, I have stuff to do!

And that stuff definitely isn’t drinking a Budweiser. And hopefully you’re thinking cuddly kittens instead of rabid spider monkeys.

If you have any questions about this post, or anything else you’ve found on our gutsy, somewhat maniacal site, feel free to give us a jingle, or shoot us an email at

And with that, I’ll close in my usual way with a good old-fashioned…

Stay gutsy, gang!


LinkedIn – What Are the Real Small Business Survival Rates?
Inc – The Top 5 Reasons Small Businesses Fail
USA Today – GM Victims’ Fund Closes with 51 Deaths – So Far
Wall Street Journal – GM’s US Market Share
Forbes – General Motors Global Sales Edge up 2 Percent, China Remains GM’s Largest Market