Archive for the ‘Branding’ Category

GAP Goes Back To Basics

Monday, November 21, 2011

To be honest, I thought that GAP had faded into history.  But as this AMA video states, GAP Storefrontthe company plans to close quite a few stores in the United States to try and reverse a trend of falling revenue and has hired its first global CMO to get its brand back on track.

Maybe they will have better luck strategically with a CMO on staff guiding their image and products.  You may recall the debacle they experienced when GAP tried to implement a new logo back in 2010 and ultimately caved after 1 week of consumer backlash.


Opportunity missed to reinforce brand

Wednesday, July 21, 2010

Most companies work hard to create and build their brand. Countless hours are put into naming, positioning, colors, design, typefaces, scripts, education, promotions and more.

It was on a family vacation this summer when I happened to make my way to a Fuddruckers restaurant near Des Moines, IA. We stopped into Fuddruckers because we knew they made a great hamburger, had comfortable seating and was kid-friendly (in menu and seating). We didn’t have a lot of time to visit a restaurant with table service, but we also wanted more than your typical fast-food joint. Fuddruckers fit the bill perfectly. No table service, but restaurant-style seating, great atmosphere with engaging decorating and TVs, kids activity menus and of course, really great hamburgers — made-to-order.

All of our expectations were met during our visit. However, on our way out of the restaurant is where the company missed the opportunity to reinforce their brand.

As we left, it was raining heavily. I was making a final purchase of some cookies to go and was talking with the sales associate ringing up my purchase. As we both looked outside at the drenching rain, jokingly, I asked if they had valet parking service. I wasn’t too excited to get soaking wet with 2 more hours of driving to our next destination. The sales associate replied, “Oh no, we are just a glorified McDonald’s.”

As I ran out the door to get into my urban-assault-vehicle (minivan to most people) to pick up the family at the door, I felt cheated. I had just spent almost $50 for really good burgers for my family of six. With that comment, I was left with the thought I over-paid for the meal and experience that I could have gotten at a fast food restaurant.

While the comment didn’t change my perception of the restaurant–I would eat there again for the same reasons outlined above–the company failed in communicating their customer value to their employees.

To protect your brand, you need to make sure everyone is aware of the value you provide your customers. This is most important with those employees that have contact with customers. If your employees are not espousing your brand attributes, then they are detracting from all the efforts your marketing is trying to create. Get your employees on board and they will help to be your brand evangelists.

What would I have thought about Fuddruckers had that sales associate said, “No we don’t have valet service, but I could go bring your vehicle up to the door for you if you’d like.” Or, “No but we should have valet service, especially on days like today.” Now either of those replies would have made an impression on me, reinforcing their brand as the World’s Greatest Hamburgers…even if it was an offer I probably would not have accepted.

Take every opportunity to exceed your customer’s expectations and you will build upon your brand.

When a nickname becomes the name

Thursday, August 20, 2009

So you’ve been in business for quite some time now and you’ve got an avid fan base of customers. So much so that you’ve been given a nickname. It is very endearing to be given a nickname from a group that you associate with. You have become more than just a friend to this group. You are in their inner circle of trusted friends. You are now affectionately known and referred to by this nickname.

But, when does the nickname become your identity that it takes over you name. When you meet someone who knows you but you do not know them and they refer to you by your nickname, only then does your nickname become your name. Only then can you begin to consider a name change. Only then can you introduce yourself to others by your nickname.

Recently, two companies moved to be known by their nickname – The Shack and The Hut. Legally, neither company changed their corporate name. And Pizza Hut has since backed off from implementing the name change.  Radio Shack, a.k.a. The Shack, however, prefers to be referred to by their nickname now.

The Shack

The Shack

When a company succumbs to a name change given by their most loyal customers, they are forcing their coolness onto their entire customer base. I have shopped at both companies, but neither company has endeared me enough to give them a nickname. To me they will be known as Radio Shack and Pizza Hut.

The Hut

The Hut

The better solution, for which I think Pizza Hut learned, is to endear yourself to the close group of friends that gave you the nickname in the first place.  Give them a special place in your business just for them. These are your brand ambassadors.These are the customers that will move your other customers into your inner circle. Continue to give them the reasons to promote your nickname.

Besides, nicknames only really mean something to your inner circle of friends. Noone outside your inner circle will understand the meaning.  The nickname won’t stand for anything. You will have to earn the trust all over again that you made with your given name.

Radio Shack thinks they can make the transition with their tagline: Our friends call us The Shack. Change your name to The Shack and you lose me as a customer. You are no longer in my top-of-mind. I guess I’m not your friend.

PetSmart “gets” CRM and builds brand loyalty

Tuesday, July 28, 2009


PetSmart is a company that understands its customers and gives the tools and training to its employees to make an impact where it counts–with the customer.

We had been taking our shih-tzu dog, Lizzy, to PetSmart for grooming every 3 to 4 months consistently for several years. We have been rather pleased with their service, price and convenience and have seen no reason to change.

Last night we noticed that a couple of her nails did not get clipped during her last grooming visit at PetSmart and have curled under so far that they were now embedded into her paw. Painful for the dog I’m sure. So, we called our local PetSmart to find out if they had services to take care of this and to inquire about how or why a nail would not be clipped. The employee’s response on the phone shocked us. In fact, I wish more stores and businesses would shock us more.

They were empathetic, offered us reassurance and took ownership of the problem.

At the beginning of the call, the PetSmart employee had not yet established who we were. We were just another customer calling with a question or problem. After a quick explanation, the employee said if we had paid for a grooming with nail clipping then they would take care of the problem and pay for any antibiotics that may be necessary. They even have a veterinarian on site which reassured us further. The employee then asked our name and looked up our information. Sure enough, we had paid for the service and the nail clipping. They would take care of the nail issue and also offered us a free grooming session for the inconvenience.

At this point, we were pretty happy with the way PetSmart was handling the issue. They were empathetic, offered us reassurance and took ownership of the problem. PetSmart had all of our customer data in their CRM system. They knew the date of our last grooming, the details of the purchase and our past purchase history.

But having the data is not the shocking part that I referred to earlier. It was that PetSmart entrusted the front line employee with access to the data so that they can resolve the issue right then and there. There was no need to pass us off to someone else, call us back, make us come in for a consultation, or make us speak to a manager above them. No, it all occurred with the person we explained our situation to in the first place.

  • Because the employee knew their service they took ownership of the service problem.
  • Because the employee had access to the customer data, they were able to confirm the purchase over the phone without us proving the purchase in person.
  • Because the employee was empowered to resolve the issue right then, we were reassured and satisfied with the resolution.

But it didn’t stop there. There was more “shock” in store for us. Remember, PetSmart offered a free grooming session for our inconvenience. Well, we mentioned that we were not really satisfied with the last couple of groomings. We understood that we could always have the grooming touched up, but the hassle to bring her back was not worth the time. You see, were were not dissatisfied with the grooming, but we were not fully satisfied either.

Again, PetSmart went back to the data and looked up who had groomed Lizzy more consistently in the past and assured us Lizzy would be scheduled with that employee in the future. Now we felt PetSmart really wanted our business.

PetSmart had the CRM tools in place and with access for the right employees to truly impact their customer relationship. PetSmart gets CRM. PetSmart made the customer feel like a king and for that, they made an immediate impact on building their brand loyalty with this customer.

Are there other companies you have dealt with that have shocked you?

I had certain expectations when I called PetSmart. And they overwhelmingly exceeded them.

Kodak Shutters KODACHROME Film

Tuesday, June 23, 2009


Yesterday, Kodak announced that is was ending production on the KODACHROME Color film after 74 years to the dismay, I am sure, of many professional and amateur photographers. Some may even say Kodak is making a mistake.

Too many times,  products are canceled without regard to its customers, dealers, fan base, shareholders or employees. Without succession plans for ending a products life or replacing them with new or better options, customers can be left confused and unsure of the company’s new direction.

But what Kodak has done right in its decision to end KODACHROME is to celebrate the iconic product on its way out. Several things appear that make me think Kodak has done its planning to make sure this product’s end-of-life is just as successful as the previous 74 years.

  1. Kodak made sure that the one and only lab in the world that can still process the film has agreed to offer processing through 2010. It won’t leave customers high and dry with unprocessed film.
  2. Kodak has created a gallery of iconic images to celebrate the film’s storied history at
  3. Kodak will donate the last rolls of film to George Eastman House International Museum of Photography and Film in Rochester, which houses the world’s largest collection of cameras and related artifacts. This reinforces a sense of nostalgia and firmly supplants Kodak as a pioneer in film technology.
  4. Kodak is allowing Steve McCurry to shoot one of those last rolls and the images will be donated to Eastman House. McCurry is the photographer whose picture of a young Afghan girl on the cover of National Geographic in 1985 captured the hearts of millions around the world.
  5. Kodak offers information on its next-generation of products for its customers to consider. Companies evolve and so do their products. Kodak is planning for the future by showing its new products while celebrating its history of its previous product.

Just think of all the products that will be shelved this year. Some will be replaced by newer models. Others will vanish along with their companies. And some may just need to go. A lot of these products won’t have had the foresight like Kodak to plan their succession. Will their customers adopt the newer product or go elsewhere? Will their customers feel shunned or hurt?

Kodak made the correct decision–and that was to plan for KODACHROME’s end-of-life with an understanding of its customers. For this, I feel, Kodak will be rewarded. You can read more about Kodak at their blog A Thousand Words.