These kinds of signs — that appear to single out Rollerblade brand in-line skate loyalists — are all over the place. This one happens to be in the parking garage I use in downtown Minneapolis.

To understand why the Rollerblade brand may find itself in this perilous position, read on, here.

For some additional reading on the related question of verbing brands

I’m not talking about brands that say one thing and do another. I’m not talking about brands that don’t live up to their promise. I’m literally talking about brands with two faces. One face may be confident, complicated, technical, professional, and/or formal. Let’s call him, Stephen. The other face might be friendly, simple, approachable, engaging, and/or informal

Apparently, if you own one of the diminishing number of retail shops that specializes in tobacco products, it doesn’t really matter if you have a brand or a distinctive name, or not. Tell them what you sell, tell them you’re open for business, and they will come, I guess.

This image got me thinking about how often this marketing strategy — if

by David Mitchel, Vice President of Marketing at Norton Mitchel Marketing

Branding is an intricate and complicated process. Every aspect of the marketing mix must be handled with care. Brand managers watch their brands in the same manner that most parents care for a newborn child. However, there is an element of marketing communications that brand management teams are unable to directly control: pop culture references about the brands in what appear to be non product placement contexts. These pop culture references can come from both old and new media. They are often found in music, and frequently occur in the hip hop genre. In recent years, brands have been prominent parts of popular YouTube videos. As social media evolves, it has the potential to present new threats for brands. With regard to pop culture references, it is a challenging minefield that brands must negotiate carefully in order to prevent them from detracting from marketing strategy.

In 2003, hip hop artist 50 Cent became a huge sensation with the album “Get Rich or Die Tryin’”. One of the many hit songs from that album was “In Da Club”. Near the beginning of the song, the lyric “we gon’ sip Bacardi like it’s your birthday” appears. This is not the only time that the Bacardi brand has been mentioned in song lyrics, but it is certainly one of the more prominent references. In its advertising over the years, Bacardi has crafted an image of being a fun brand, as their ads often feature a party scene. This may have inspired 50 Cent to write the lyric in the way that he did. In the late 1990s and early 2000s, Bacardi featured a “Bacardi By Night” print advertising campaign. These ads clearly targeted individuals with serious jobs and emphasized that Bacardi was a part of their work-life balance.   Additionally, Bacardi has also used their long standing and rich history as a selling proposition in advertising. Bacardi’s association with fun and partying may have attracted the hip hop element, as extravagant partying is a common theme of hip hop imagery. However, this association is tenuous at best and does not appear to be widely perceived. Bacardi has strongly withstood unsolicited pop culture references and its well refined marketing communication messages have helped to ensure that they remain the world’s largest spirits brand.Continue Reading Branding in Pop Culture: How Brands Avoid Negative Associations

   

Dear Coke:

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

There is a time and a place for the use of double negatives. The Rolling Stones made the double negative "I Can’t Get No" lyrics famous in the legendary hit Satisfaction (#2 on Rolling Stone Magazine’s List of the Top Songs of All Time). Pink Floyd made the double negative lyrical phrase "We Don’t Need No" famous in the song Another Brick in The Wall, Part 2. With respect to song titles, what about Diana Ross’ recording of the double negative Ain’t No Mountain High Enough?

Despite these widely popular uses, we are all taught (at an early age, my children have confirmed) not to use no double negatives, never, ever, as they are grammatically incorrect, inappropriate, and most likely to be avoided at all cost in writing and speech. Indeed, to fix the double negative problem, we also are taught that a double negative should be removed and resolve to a single positive. So, we’re told that a double negative carries the same meaning as a single positive.

Does that mean Mick Jagger and Keith Richards really meant to say, "I Can Get Satisfaction"? What about the "We Don’t Need No" lyrics? Did Roger Waters really intend to communicate that "We Need Both Education and Thought Control? Did Diana Ross really mean, "There is a Mountain High Enough"? Maybe, but I don’t think so. Those "positive" versions of the double negative lyrics create entirely different meanings, in my opinion, and if used, they would have put us into a collective slumber.

So, clearly, there is a creative role for double negatives in music, but how about in branding?

My question was inspired driving into work a couple of weeks ago, as I was passed by a Sara Lee delivery truck prominently displaying a double negative tag line ("Nobody Doesn’t Like Sara Lee"), confirming that the guardians of the Sara Lee brand continue to believe there is a time and place for the use of double negatives in branding.

In fact, Sara Lee owns several federal trademark registrations for the "Nobody Doesn’t Like Sara Lee" tag line covering a wide range of food items, including "rolls, pies, cakes, cheesecake, muffins, ice cream," "flavored mustards, sauces and mayonaises," "cheese," "bread, bagels and buns," "bakery goods," "processed meats," and "frozen prepared meat lasagna entrees."

Perhaps not surprisingly, I couldn’t find any other trademark on the entire USPTO database that included both of the terms "nobody" and "doesn’t." Given how unique and inherently awkward the phrase is, one might wonder whether substituting any term or other brand name for Sara Lee might avoid a likelihood of confusion with the original.Continue Reading Double Negatives in Branding: Nobody Doesn’t = Everybody Does?