Every time I leave the annual FUSE conference (2013, 2014, 2015, 2016, 2017) — appropriately dubbed The Event for Design & Brand Strategists, I return home infused with extra creative energy, and this year in New York City was no exception, so please brace yourselves dear readers.
We’ve written quite a bit over the years about the Spectrum of Distinctiveness for trademarks, and the all-important difference between suggestive marks and merely descriptive ones, with only the former being allowed immediate rights based on first use.
—Aaron Keller, Capsule
How do you feel when you’re being a bit indulgent? Guilty, perhaps. Sometimes it’s just something small, something you can enjoy without too much of an afterthought. The whipped cream atop your favorite coffee house (low fat) drink might be one of those treats. It is for me.
But recently I’ve noticed …
I’m mostly wearing my consumer hat today, having just returned from a youth baseball tournament in Phoenix this past weekend, where we stayed at the six month new Drury Inn & Suites shown above. As you may recall, and if so, you will have noticed the irony because, last September I riffed about the Drury name and asked whether a name change might be in order, to avoid the inevitably negative dreary name associations.
In case you’re wondering, I didn’t set out to test my previously stated opinions about the name and whether it actually represented the brand well, but as it clearly was meant to be, and as it clearly was meant outside of my control, the team we traveled with selected this hotel, so I anxiously awaited the trip and then paid close attention to whether my perceptions about the name would match the actual brand experience.
I’ll have to say, I was pleasantly surprised by all three Ps: The property, the people, and the price. It was almost as though someone had read my previous post, from about six months ago, and purposefully set out to distance the name from the actual brand experience (after all, you can’t even read the brand name in the website photo can you?), building a beautiful and non-dreary hotel property with real curb-appeal and attractive interior ammenities, staffing it with amazingly cheery, caring and genuine employees, all at a very reasonable price point. More likely, my prior post simply was based on incomplete information. Oh, and this is not a paid endorsement, and I did pay full price for the room, or I’d have to tell you, as we learned from Steven Weinberg’s analysis of the new FTC guidelines applicable to bloggers. Anyway, this got me thinking about judging books, and even brands, by their covers.
We’re all taught at an early age, not to judge a book by its cover, but we do. I suspect that most of us also judge a brand by its cover too. Cover of a brand?
I love you. You are an incredible product. You are the Babe Ruth of soft drinks, the proprietor of the word “cola,” and most of all, the brand of all brands. Your brand is not just bulletproof; it’s indestructible—even from self-inflicted damage.
Interbrand, the global branding giant, recently valued you at …
Every Sunday I go through the circulars in the paper looking for new products. I usually spend a lot of time with the ads from the national drug store chains (Walgreens, CVS, and Rite Aid). Recently, I observed that each chain seems to have a radically different philosophy on store brand naming. And while this observation isn’t earth shattering, it exposes the marketing strategies (or lack thereof) of each chain.
For example, check out the allergy section. The big brand names like Benadryl®, Claritin® and Zyrtec® all have store brand/private label competition. Walgreens naming protocol for its store brand is pretty straightforward and seems to be designed to help a consumer find the Walgreens knockoff of the branded product. You can buy Wal-dryl, Wal-itin, and Wal-zyr, and the packaging is color coded to make it easier. This is a very consistent strategy that is designed to make life easier for the consumer and also designed to build the “Wal-“ prefix as a brand.
At CVS, you have to be a well-informed consumer or a doctor to get it right because CVS attempts to align symptoms with branding. For example, the CVS version of Benadryl is called Allergy, while the CVS version of Claritin is called Non-Drowsy Allergy Relief (non-drowsy being a key benefit of the active ingredient in Claritin), and the Zyrtec knockoff product is called Indoor/Outdoor Allergy Relief (Zyrtec is the only brand with indoor/outdoor allergy claims).
Hopefully you enjoy riddles. It is late Sunday afternoon, 4:30 pm to be exact. Too early for valet parking at Fogo de Chao, a wonderful Brazilian steakhouse, so you drive two blocks and enter a parking lot with the following sign:
You had a very nice dinner and now you’re ready to leave the parking lot at 6:15 pm. Based on the above sign (and contract, by the way), how much do you owe the parking attendant? Instead of humming the Jeopardy thinking music theme song, might I suggest you consider humming the 1970 Five Man Electrical Band tune “Signs” during your calculation. And for any ’70s challenged folk, I’ll prime the pump for you: “Sign, sign, everywhere a sign, blocking out the scenery, breaking my mind, do this, don’t do that, can’t you read the sign?”