Defensive Strategy

The Royal Wedding and Branding

1 May 2011  

The marriage of Kate and William was a joyous event but also an incredible bit of brand building. It all looked effortless and natural, but of course it wasn’t. I am quite confident the entire affair was carefully constructed with an eye on the brand. The organizers deserve an enormous amount of credit; it is hard […]

Defensive Strategy

The Harry & David Bankruptcy

28 Mar 2011  

Today legendary fruit seller Harry & David filed for Chapter 11 bankruptcy protection. There are two very important branding lessons in this story. 1.  Savvy marketing can create enormous value. Harry & David does something remarkable: the company gets people to spend $30 for a few pears. A box of 7 to 12 pears currently runs […]

Defensive Strategy

United’s Temporary Branding

14 Mar 2011  

I’ve spent quite a bit of time in airports over the past couple weeks; I was teaching a course in Germany so I made four trips across the pond. As a result I’ve had a chance to get a good look at United’s new brand design. My prediction: it won’t last long. Airlines need good […]

Defensive Strategy

Galliano’s Branding Lessons

2 Mar 2011  

This week luxury brand Christian Dior fired star designer John Galliano for making anti-Semitic comments. The incident provides some important lessons about managing a brand in today’s fast moving media world. Lesson 1: It is very easy to damage a brand. An apparently drunk Mr. Galliano said some highly inappropriate things while out one evening. The […]

Defensive Strategy

Wal-Mart’s Branding Challenge

22 Feb 2011  

Today Wal-Mart announced that its U.S. division is continuing to slump. For the seventh consecutive quarter, same store sales declined. This of course is not good news. There are many factors behind the move, but I suspect one of the primary issues driving the decline is Wal-Mart’s growing focus on private label products. Wal-Mart grew with […]

Defensive Strategy

Ford Gets it Right

27 Jan 2011  

Every once in a while you see a piece of advertising that just works. The commercial grabs your attention and delivers a message. It all looks easy. Ford’s new truck campaign is a great example of this. The spots do everything a piece of advertising needs to do. First, the campaign has enormous breakthrough; the […]

Defensive Strategy

Stretching the Prius Brand

10 Jan 2011  

Toyota announced today that it was launching a family of cars under the Prius brand name.  The company will add a new larger hybrid, the Prius v (a mini-SUV) and the very small Prius-C.  Toyota will also add the Prius PHV, a plug-in variety. You can read about the full line here: Is this a good idea?  […]

Defensive Strategy

Clorox Stumbles with Burt’s Bees

3 Jan 2011  

Clorox released second quarter earnings guidance today and the results were not good.  Clorox also announced that it was taking a goodwill impairment charge of about $250 million due to the Burt’s Bees acquisition. The Clorox press release quoted CFO Dan Heinrich stating, “The Burt’s Bees business remains a very solid contributor to Clorox’s results, with […]

Defensive Strategy

UBS: Attire and Branding

17 Dec 2010  

The Wall Street Journal reported this week that financial giant UBS is out with a new dress code for its Swiss employees.  You can read the article here: The UBS code is rather impressive; it is 44 pages long and includes lots of advice on dress and person hygiene.  It document reviews how to […]

Defensive Strategy

The Latest Brand to Bungle a Crisis: Notre Dame

24 Nov 2010  

We’ve all learned a lot about brands and crisis management in recent months.  First, even the best brands can run into major issues.  Toyota, one of the world’s most admired companies, took a huge hit as stories surfaced about potential safety and quality issues earlier this year.  BP and J&J have taken hits, too. Second, […]

Defensive Strategy

Should Stores Open on Thanksgiving?

23 Nov 2010  

More and more stores are opening on Thanksgiving Day.  For many years almost every retailer closed on the holiday.  Then a few started opening on Thanksgiving.  This year the trend is clearly accelerating:  Sears, Kmart, Gap, Walmart and Old Navy all will be opening at least some of their stores. Is this a good idea? Personally, I […]

Defensive Strategy

Sears Continues to Slide

19 Nov 2010  

This week Sears Holdings released quarterly results. The latest numbers suggest that the company hasn’t managed to slow the declines at Sears. Overall results for Sears Holdings were poor, with revenue for the quarter ending October 30 down 5% from $10.2 billion in 2009 to $9.7 billion this year. The company lost -$215 million this […]