Posts Tagged ‘Branding’

How About a Beer and a Burger? Sure! Beer and a Burger King? Really?!

OK this is a real whopper. I mean a real whopper with a capital W.

Unless you haven’t heard, Burger King is opening places they call the Whopper Bar: a place where you can get a beer and a burger. Looks like McDonalds has driven them to drink.

You heard me right. Evidently, “Have It Your Way” is back big time. I guess the folks at Burger King feel this radical differentiation strategy will position them to be the true purveyor’s of Happy Meals.

Whopper Bars will be open around the clock. They are slated for destination metros like South Beach where hipsters and touristas alike will be secure in the knowledge that they won’t go hungry.

Bud and Miller are both bellying up to the Whopper Bar. Seems like an exclusive co-branding strategy with Anheuser-Busch would have yielded a crisper concept: a Bud and a burger before bedtime!

Legal, operational and training issues aside, going from “Do you want fries with that?” to “Can I getcha a beer?” is risky business.

No matter how you slice it, BK is exposing their brand in a business that practically lives or dies on families and fries.

Sure, segments like “drivers ed” and “co-eds “may think it’s cool, but is this really worth it. Does any fast food company really want to involve their franchise (pun intended) in the heated discussion over alcohol and young adults?

Besides who are they really going after and what is the long term plan?

BTW: BK has had a Whopper Bar in California at Universal City, but there is no beer there. Huh? Nor is there any “on tap” for the foreseeable future. Really?!

Which also raises a key issue: how does this concept work after last call? A Whopper Bar with no bar.

Many course changes mark the history of positioning Burger King. Different management teams have labored under the yoke of their main competitor, a consistently superior fast food master.

Burger King almost seems to relish playing Avis’s “We Try Harder” to McDonalds, who plays the golden Hertz. Now that I think about, it’s the red team against the yellow team in both industry contests. (Sounds like a separate post to me. But I digress.)

So, we will wait and see if this can be well done or if it will be just a little too raw for the partners and their brands. Read the rest of this entry »


United Airlines: “It’s Time to Paint”

What does it cost to paint a plane? And what is the cost to the brand if you don’t?

Staring out at the tarmac as I hiked through SFO, I wondered for the umpteenth time, when is United going to unify (no pun intended) the look of its fleet. I felt a need to issue a citation for a major branding violation.

What are they waiting for? You are probably thinking, the last thing the airline can afford to do is paint their planes. I’m not buying that argument. That’s just like the people who cut advertising budgets in a recession.

Plus, for reasons too numerous to mention, it looks like the airline industry as a whole is going to be beleaguered for a long time to come.

The latest color scheme evocative of friendly skies of puffy clouds and blue horizons is good to go.

Way better than the awful gray fuselage that looks militaristic and anything but welcoming. And speaking of which, what is with the blue and black horizontal lines on the tail. Was that supposed to make the planes look like the ride would be smoother than the competition? Never got that.

Next time you are at the airport and you run out of things to read or your Blackberry needs re-charging, count the number of colors they used on those overly demure planes. They went over to the dark side and lost touch with years of red, white and orange.

To be even handed about this, United has shown patience and consistency when it comes to the sound of their brand. They deserve kudos for co-opting George Gershwin’s Rhapsody in Blue and sticking with it for so many years.

Also, I have made inquiries with some of my long time air freight clients in hopes of getting the hard numbers on what it costs to paint planes.

Finally, I must fess-up. I am approaching a million miles flown on United and wish them continued success. Having said that let’s finish where we began.

No paint job for the brand – cost effective? Yes.
Good branding? No.


When Does A Person Become A Brand?

Shortly before Thanksgiving, and well before Tiger’s bogeys, I started this post because I was kinda miffed at what I think is the overuse of the word “brand” when applied to people. It seems every time you look around the media and even “the man in the street” is wielding the concept of branding.

The straw that broke the camel’s back was my beloved Sunday New York Times where no less than two separate articles in the same issue declared that both Malcolm Gladwell and Megan Fox were brands. Being a best selling author/essayist or the current “It Girl” does not automatically give you status as a brand. Not to worry, the word is regularly bandied about in a way that is condescending, dismissive and pejorative.

If you’ve spent as much time as I have in the marketing trenches you know that creating and building a brand is not as easy as people think and tainting one is actually easier than running over a fire hydrant and crashing into a tree.

So what are the requisites? “A brand is a promise,” I once opined while sitting on a panel at USC. A tried and true test is the ability to successfully extend the name to other products and ventures. You may be famous. You may be a spokesperson. Being a celebrity is not enough. Nor are lucrative endorsements. Even being a super star does not a brand make.

I sat down and proceeded to make a list of people from all walks of life. I asked friends, family and colleagues to weigh-in. After further review, as they say, I decided on who was and who was not a brand. (Please post or email your votes.)

Unequivocally nominated to my short list were Oprah, Martha and Tiger, quintessential examples of a person as a brand. These three are so powerful they need only their first names. You knew exactly who and what I was talking about. The person and the brand.

As I was procrastinating – I mean researching this piece and building my list – okay sleeping off my Thanksgiving – the Woods family was up in the wee hours: Tiger debating the downside of night putting as the Mrs. was working on her nocturnal short game.

As we know, things have gone quickly from the need for some damage control on the dented front end of the Tiger Woods brand to a full blown sex scandal that brings a whole new meaning to body shop.

With all due respect to the Woods family, this piece is about branding. Brands live in the hearts and minds of people. The crucible of public opinion creates its own tiered value system where excess vanity is soon forgotten, insider trading is forgiven and even infidelity may find redemption. However, the continued revelations of the number and type of so-called “transgressions” are each blows to a formerly pristine brand.

Please remember what I said earlier – “a brand is a promise.” Beware the perils if you become more of a brand than a person. The rewards are great but so are the risks.

Gotta go. I have an overwhelming desire to make some Newman’s Own Popcorn and watch the news.