Happily Ever After Online?

September 26, 2013 — Eliza Sadler

Routine: It’s a sweet spot for brand penetration, with some brands striving to fit into consumers’ daily schedules (Facebook), and others wanting to disrupt it (like Red Bull). However, for those who are part of a couple, it’s a scary word. It can mean a rut, pending breakup, or just uncertainty about the future, and it’s something to avoid at all costs. After all, newlyweds live by their prenuptial advice: Despite being married, never stop dating. So, the pressure is on.

Slowly but surely, brands have begun to answer this call, beginning with the inception of LivingSocial and Groupon. While not specifically targeted to people in relationships, they’ve become a couple’s best friend, offering promotions that aim to get couples away from their computers and TV screens and focused on each other in creative ways. As a result, it seems the culture has shifted, and brands are speaking more directly and frankly to couples and their respective needs.

This shift is especially evident in the online dating world. At one time, dating websites were only skewed toward singles, with differing tastes and/or interests, as highlighted in my last article. Now, though, dating sites are popping up and speaking to committed […]

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The Branding of Music Festivals

August 26, 2013 — Joshua Books

Music is being consumed in a variety of ways in 2013. From set streams to podcasts and everything in between, technological advancements allow users to have unlimited access to their favorite artists in most, if not all settings. The occasions in which these collections of sonic rhythms are listened to are endless, but live performance still remains the optimal experience.

A few weeks ago, I attended the Jay Z and Justin Timberlake “Legends of the Summer Tour” at Fenway Park, which sported an incredible and seamless collaboration of two totally different sounds. I wondered why more artists of different genres don’t tour together. In the context of today’s music festivals, I realized they actually do.

As festival season comes to a close this Labor Day, I decided to analyze the branding strategies and consumers behind a few that I experienced this summer, and a couple that I regretfully missed. With rumors swirling that EDC NY 2014 is moving locations to the campgrounds of Winston Farm in Woodstock (1994 location), these festival productions are starting to come full circle. What is EDC NY you ask? Read on! What: A mashup  of food, drinks and music, including 85 grub makers, 75 brews, […]

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Nailed it!

August 5, 2013 — Sandra Creamer

It’s really hard for consumers to remember most product names, but when companies get it right, it can really help their product gain traction. The companies that launched the brands Swiffer, Snuggie and Fitbit all did it remarkably well.

It’s especially difficult in cosmetics, where there can be multiple launches a year in face, eye, lip and nail. When I worked in marketing for a cosmetics brand, I learned that consumers only remember the basics, like colors and shapes. For Maybelline, the iconic Great Lash was memorable because of its contrasting colors of pink and green. But names? They are hard to retain, especially with so many shades to choose from.

Most brands shy away from lengthier names, but they lose the richness and storytelling. The truth is, consumers often remember product or variant names when they touch and engage them. So how does a company solve the problem of ownable names? By enlisting brand, culture and people in the foundation of the name development.

OPI and L’Oreal are great examples of brands that have and continue to develop brand connections with consumers through unique names. OPI set the bar and others have followed. It must have been a big risk […]

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The Branding of Camp


July 25, 2013 — Rachel Kash

Hollywood has gone crazy for camp—camp TV shows, that is. A few weeks ago, two camp-centric shows premiered: the scripted Camp, a dramedy on NBC, and Summer Camp, a reality show featured on USA. In the latter, a group of twentysomethings return to their favorite place on earth to compete for big bucks. Think of it as Survivor with cabins.

It’s a goofy premise, but I was instantly hooked. I consider the summer camp of my youth to be my favorite place on earth. I went to camp for ten straight summers, from ages 7 to 16. And while my camp was filled mostly with upper middle class suburban kids who didn’t know nitty-gritty wilderness survival from Kumbaya, it was still a heck of a lot more rugged and bare bones than sleepaway camps today, they with their air- conditioned bunks, constant email communication with parents and Color War breakouts featuring celebrities like Rihanna and Jay Z.

Not surprisingly, because of their hefty price tags (upwards of $10,000 for seven weeks), camps, like universities, are becoming increasingly specialized. There are thousands of different camps out there, with offerings to suit every kind of overscheduled, helicopter-parented, gluten-free, aspiring blogger/basketball player/performance artist. […]

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What Color is Coffee?

July 3, 2013 — David Weinberger

Designing a compelling coffee program or retail coffee experience, you need to take into account the entire consumer journey. Everything from need state (Hmmm, I’m getting tired, maybe I should go somewhere to get some coffee) to decision making (Hmmm, where should I go?) to consuming (Hey, this is good coffee) and connecting (I like those folks at Irving Farms). Depending on how you analyze the journey, there could be dozens of touchpoints along the way that each need to be carefully planned. To illustrate this, let’s look at one of them.

We’ll focus on something simple. The cup. A coffee cup can be an important tool and appears at a few points along a consumer journey map. Seeing someone with a cup on the street. Seeing the cups stacked in the store. Holding the cup and drinking the coffee, which may even involve reading the cup.

Does a cup design affect the consumer’s coffee experience? Of course it does. A coffee cup is an interesting thing. It’s a package but you don’t buy it while it’s on the shelf. It doesn’t need to compete on shelf with other coffee cups. It’s a purchase reinforcement. It’s like when you buy […]

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Stars, Stripes and Cannolis

July 3, 2013 — Lucila Tessi

We’re celebrating a birthday this week. That’s right, it’s the anniversary of the good ol’ US of A’s independence. It’s a celebratory time when Americans get together and share a strong national ethos of patriotism. It’s a time for questions like, hot dogs or hamburgers, where to see the fireworks and whether or not to take Friday off from work.

But while I was pondering these important questions along with the rest of the nation, something interesting on TV caught my eye. Between all those insanely annoying 4th of July discount mattress spots, the Fiat commercial got me to rewind, watch again and really think about what I had just seen.

Let me quickly remind you that Fiat was reintroduced back into the U.S. in 2010. They adopted  the course of using celebrities as a shortcut to popularity, showing us people like Jennifer Lopez, Pitbull and even Charlie Sheen (which was either a genius or half-witted decision). And while it’s evident that they’re trying to capture the attention of Millennials, with those spokespeople, they’re clearly struggling to find their image and what they stand for.

Fiat’s latest, very strategically timed commercial, portrays Paul Revere galloping through town exclaiming to the […]

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Chic Boutique

June 20, 2013 — Joshua Books

After stepping outside of a Lower East Side restaurant one Sunday afternoon, I was struck by a New York moment. It was not my first, nor even my fiftieth, but this brief moment in time struck a chord and composed a beautiful symphony of discovery.

The rain felt like water balloons and my umbrella was nonexistent. As I scrambled to hail a cab on Orchard, a bright sign with a two-word logo lockup caught my eye. Reed Space, one of the world’s most innovative boutiques, became my safe haven that day.

As an enthusiast for this lifestyle brand, I am intrigued by the consumer experience Staple Design, the brand’s originator, has curated at retail. Reed Space is owned and operated by the agency’s founder Jeff Ng, who has expanded the company to three divisions since its inception in 1997: a creative agency, a clothing collection and a commercial store in NYC and Japan. This equation has positioned Staple as one of the more influential and trendsetting brands today.

After stepping inside of their retail space for the first time, I found myself enthralled by the very items that Staple Design is NOT widely known for: art, gadgets and accessories. The […]

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Innovation hurts, donut?

June 14, 2013 — Rachel Bernard

Well, it’s over. The most wonderful faux-holiday of the year, National Donut Day, has come to a delicious close. Now that the powdered sugar has settled, let’s take a moment to loosen our belts and reflect on the biggest triumph of this faux-holiday season, the cronut. Part donut, part croissant, all kinds of crazy delicious, the cronut not only stirred all of NYC into a gluttonous frenzy, it also stirred up quite a bit of controversy. May we present to you the cautionary tale of the cronut, with two valuable lessons brands should know when it comes to defending trademarks and intellectual property? Lesson 1: Being first to market is a blessing and a curse There’s a lot of debate on who was first to market with the cronut. Most media outlets covering Cronut Watch 2013 attribute the innovation to Dominique Ansel, a humble bakery in Greenwich Village. However, Najat Kaanache, chef at Private Social restaurant in Dallas, Texas, has recently taken to twitter to stake her claim as the true inventor of the cronut. While that social media debate rages, there’s the emergence of the knock-off versions calling themselves doissants, crowbars, or even fauxnuts, all trying to prove that […]

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James Bond and the Power of Imagery

June 3, 2013 — Cindy Lord

I love James Bond movies. All of them. Even the bad ones (think anything with Denise Richards or Tanya Roberts). And I have now done something either completely horrible—or fantastic and empowering—by introducing my tween daughters to Bond. We have been trolling the catalog together on Friday nights.

And so it was to my horror that I found myself completely unable to name a whole swath of Bond films, despite the fact that I have probably seen each and every one of them five times or more.

There were the films that jumped to mind quickly: •    Goldfinger •    Octopussy •    Moonraker (yes, I know, horrible) •    Diamonds are Forever •    Casino Royale •    Even On Her Majesty’s Secret Service (you know, the one with the Bond actor no one can ever remember – it’s George Lazenby, BTW)

And then there were the films I just couldn’t call up, although I had the vague recollection that they each had the words Live, Die or Tomorrow somewhere in the title. I even struggled with the recent Daniel Craig offering, Quantum of Solace. I mean, seriously, if you’re going to go there, why not just call it Spooky Action at a Distance?


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Two DO’s and a DON’T for Updating an Iconic Brand

May 28, 2013 — Sandra Creamer

Much like Duane Reade, one of the more defining NYC stores is Ricky’s NYC, the self-described “edgy, ultra-hip ‘beauty shop’ specializing in unique fashion accessories, cosmetics and beauty supplies.” After announcing an expansion in WWD in late 2011, however, updated stores are few and far between.

In the event Mr. Ricky Kenig, the eponymous founder and creative director, is reconsidering, I’d like to make a suggestion or two from a brand strategy perspective:

DO acknowledge what defines the brand from a positioning standpoint.

Ricky’s NYC is mainly about beauty care that is a quirky, fun, rainbow of colors and a little risqué. When thinking about modernizing this brand, it’s extremely important to keep in mind what represents its true heart and soul. The original Ricky’s is the retail version of a John Waters movie (like Hairspray) meets the East Village’s (now) vintage retail punk scene from the late 80s.

This combination is what makes Ricky’s different and special compared to Sephora or MAC, especially if consumers are outside of NYC or have never experienced the brand, and need to “get” right away what makes Ricky’s special and unique.

Which brings me to the next stage: Once you’ve clearly […]

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