Publication: Fortune

Look Out, Gwyneth: Ellen DeGeneres Launches a Lifestyle Brand

June 30, 2015

The talk show host’s new site,, sells clothing, housewares and accessories marked by DeGeneres’ distinctive style.

Ellen DeGeneres is already a comedian, author, talk show host, and producer. Now she can add lifestyle brand maven to the list.

DeGeneres launched her new e-commerce site,, on Tuesday. Pronounced “Ed,” the brand covers everything from clothing and accessories to barware and throw pillows.

Though it was previously reported that the site would carry luxe items like $2,000 cashmere sweaters, DeGeneres appears to be sticking with more reasonably priced goods, at least for now. Items on the site range from $8 pins to a $365 cake plate. Apparel starts at $34.50 for a crewneck t-shirt and goes up to $245 for tailored jackets.

ED joins a flood of celebrity lifestyle brands already on the market, including Gwyneth Paltrow’s Goop, Jessica Alba’s The Honest Co. and Blake Lively’s Preserve. Reese Witherspoon joined the mix last month, launching Draper James. Within a few hours, Witherspoon’s site had sold out of a $325 shoulder bag and a $225 dress.

Of course, DeGeneres says that ED will offer something unique. In an interview with Refinery29, she talked about the particulars of her own “sort of […]

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Lyft’s new creative director: Trim the pink mustache or leave it alone?

August 6, 2014

As it seeks to tweak its image, Lyft announced its hire of Jesse McMillin, a former Virgin America employee.

Ride-hailing service Lyft is bringing in top talent with its recent hire of Jesse McMillin, the former creative director at Virgin American who had helped to transform that company’s image.

Lyft announced the hire in a blog post on July 29, giving McMillin a platform to introduce himself and his mission for the company. “It’s not every day that all of the ingredients for an amazing brand perfectly align and create a space where the potential and opportunity is entirely limitless,” he wrote. “To be a part of shaping the path for where such an exciting brand will go is not only a special opportunity, it’s the chance of a lifetime.”

During his tenure at Virgin America, McMillin was responsible for projects including a new in-flight safety video that drew praise for its entertainment value. In fact, the video went viral, and was viewed nearly 10 million times on YouTube.

As he attempts to make his mark on Lyft, especially as it tries to grow amid legal problems and a rocky start to service in New York City, McMillin has bold […]

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Branding gone wrong: When bad logos strike back

July 22, 2014

Vacation rental service Airbnb unveiled a new logo last week that generated a wave of criticism for its design. Some likened it to a triangular paperclip or, even more crudely, to certain female anatomy. But the company still stands by the logo, which it calls Bélo and says represents belonging. “It’s a symbol for people who want to welcome into their home new experiences, new cultures, and new conversations,” Airbnb said on its blog. Well, maybe if you squint.

As to be expected, branding experts aren’t exactly thrilled by the design. Their verdict: Why futz with something that seemed to work just fine.

“My issue is that the original logo was pretty good to begin with,” said Rick Barrack, chief creative officer at CBX, a brand agency.

Airbnb’s prior logo – the company’s name in light blue lettering – was simple and something that more start-ups should do, he said. It communicated the brand and stuck in the mind of its users. Despite backlash, Barrack said that Airbnb should now stay the course. “The outrage will go away very quickly,” he predicted.

Against the backdrop of Airbnb’s logo Fortune is exploring other examples of corporate branding that – […]

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Why pizza, tacos, and Pop-Tarts have gone ‘crazy’

April 8, 2013

Food companies are launching campaigns for products they call crazy. Instead of grossing out consumers, it’s creating a nation of ‘loco-vores.’

At a certain point, we mature past eating food on a dare. If someone describes something by using the phrase, “That’s crazy,” you generally wouldn’t put it in your mouth. But some food companies are making money hand over fist on products that they freely admit you have to be kind of nuts to eat. Why does this work?

First, let’s take a look at the masters. Yum Brands (YUM), which owns KFC, Taco Bell, and Pizza Hut, has nailed this formula. On April 3 the company introduced its “Crazy Cheesy Crust” Pizza, which it deemed “an explosion.” In Pizza Hut’s own language from the press release:

“The mere name of the pizza is quite fitting. It’s Crazy — featuring 16 dough pockets at its outer edge — Cheesy — each pocket is filled with a blend of five Italian cheeses — and Crust(y) — the element of a pizza that Pizza Hut has a rich tradition of revolutionizing all around the world.”

Yum, it would seem, is bilingual in “Crazy.” During its fourth-quarter earnings call on February 5, […]

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