Damaged Brand?


Last Thursday while I was walking through the terminal shopping mall in Heathrow airport changing flights, I was reminded how Burberry, Britain’s largest luxury label in sales, lost their cue.  They are now on damage control thanks to foolishly sending out the wrong signals.

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Back in September I posted Forever Relevant – Brand Stamps 4/27/10 detailing how the core essence (a.k.a. DNA) of a brand is all about its code (what the brand stands for) and cue (the sensory signals communicated over time to consumers).  As it relates to cue, what was Burberry thinking when it announced over the summer they burned tens of millions of dollars’ worth of unsold goods?  Burberry’s rationale: They wanted to maintain their “brand value” to safeguard unwanted items from being stolen or sold at a significant discount, thus negatively impacting the high-end price tags they command at retail.  No surprise, politicians and environmental activists stepped forward to criticize the brand, as well as its younger consumers for being irresponsible.  Immediately the company announced plans to overhaul their practices of destroying unsold merchandise, as well as rebrand its image including its policy regarding sustainable supply chain. 

Burberry, damaged brand?  Will they be able to recover their cue?

Forever Relevant – Brand Stamps (4/27/10)


“No one builds a legacy by standing still.”  Tagline to Rimowa’s new marketing movement featuring Roger Federer.  Comes on the heels of Roger trading his Nike deal for a ten-year contract with Uniqlo.  Made me realized Roger Federer, tennis legend and his team have strategically evolved into brand Federer.

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I would like to share some words of wisdom with all the tech savvy, non-classically trained social media marketing experts out there, specifically as it relates to branding. The message: “Be like a postage stamp – stick to one thing until you get there”   – Margaret Carty

Marketers are utilizing social media tools to reach their customers enabling them to sustain and build their brand’s reputation. Thanks to the Internet, their ability to reach more consumers globally has increased radically. However, with everyone competing against direct or indirect competitors for consumers’ attention, it is now more important than ever to carefully fine tune your social media strategy. For starters, remember you cannot be all things to all people. Revisit the core essence of your brand, better known as your brand’s DNA, a topic I first addressed in my blog Luxury Brands Rock Asia.

The DNA of a strong brand is all about two significant components. A perfect example is Cirque du Soleil:

Code – What does the brand stand for? What is its core promise? Cirque du Soleil is a theatrical circus, absence of animals, but continuous live music and performers, rather than stage hands changing props.

Cue – The sensory signals that capture the attention of consumers. Consequently, credibility is developed over time, thanks to authentic, consistent performance – 19 shows in 40 plus countries on every continent except Antarctica, spanning 26 years.

Somewhere in the branding process, marketers lose their patience/focus. Brand Ego sets in, brand refreshment ensues. Marketers begin deviating from their brand’s core promise. Remember New Coke? I provided a classic case study back in 2009 with Airwalk.

Social media now provides new platforms to refresh brands. A marketer’s dream! I just would caution all the tech savvy social media experts to remain consistent with their brand’s DNA. Cirque du Soleil has taken that approach by developing a YouTube video of their upcoming 2011 Michael Jackson show which they post on Facebook and Twitter. They also use these tools to talk to their tribe, better known as Cirque Club. Over twenty five years they have stuck with their core promise of reinventing the circus – theatrical street performance without the animals.

Brand stamps! Stick to one thing until you get there.



Rhythm: movement, fluctuation, or variation marked by the regular recurrence or natural flow of related elements (e.g., the rhythms of country life).

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“Rhythm is essential to life.”     

                               – Ashley Bryan (American writer and illustrator of children’s books)

Have you discovered your rhythm?

A Hostage Tale


Earlier this summer, I learned about Radical Technologies, a book written by Adam Greenfield detailing how technology is transforming our world.  One of Adam’s hypotheses is we are unwittingly handing over vast amounts of information to powerful tech companies.  Are we becoming algorithm hostages?

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Recently I received an email from a friend in France who explained he had been negligent in keeping in touch because he went on holiday with his two sons to Corsica.  He wanted me to befriend him on Facebook so I could view pictures of his boys with whom I play when in France.  I befriended him, but had to hit the translate button.  In the right hand margin up popped an advertisement for Gregory Porter’s new CD.

Who is Gregory Porter?  An award-winning American jazz singer/songwriter who is extremely popular in Paris, France.  How do I know?  I was visiting my brother last month when he played a Gregory Porter CD.  I called my brother to ask him where he bought the CD.  Amazon.  What was the sequence of algorithm computer cues – my befriending someone who lives in France and the second that a consumer named Matorin (rare name) bought a Gregory Porter CD on Amazon.  Or did the algorithm pick up a third cue. My sister always sends my brother and me digital birthday gifts, so the cue knew we were brothers.  For the record, every time I use Google on my birthday, candles flare up.

In my last post I wrote about Walmart: AI Leader.  Consequently, I am a marketing geek who understands the power of consumer data.  Inadvertently, I am concerned we have become algorithm hostages of high-tech.

Walmart: AI Leader


As a result of competitive disruption (e.g., Amazon’s acquisition of Whole Foods plus their introduction of Amazon Go, a high-tech, convenient mini-market), grocery retailers can no longer adhere to their traditional marketing strategies.  Consequently, AI (Artificial Intelligence) solutions will help facilitate the transformation of the supermarket industry.

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Accenture, a leading global consulting firm, disclosed in their Technology Vision 2017 for Consumer Goods survey, seventy-eight percent of executives agree that AI will be a game changer.  Established AI solutions have already revolutionized how leading retailers have enhanced their engagement with customers to deliver superior service.  A market leader that is skating to where the puck is going to be is Walmart.

An American multinational retail corporation, Walmart has evolved into the largest grocer in the U.S. thanks to leveraging innovative technology to create the “seamless customer experience.”  For starters, they recently upgraded/redesigned their smartphone app to include a product search bar, barcode scanner, customer reviews and Walmart pay features.  Customers can now make “smart” shopping lists to price and check item availability in order to project the total cost of their shopping basket before they enter a Walmart store.  Store navigation maps also facilitate a more convenient shopping experience.  In addition, in select sections (e.g., pharmacy), Walmart implemented “Scan and Go” shopping so customers can bypass the regular queue for an accelerated shopping experience.  Another innovative addition in select stores has been their Pick-up-Towers; self-service kiosks.  Customers scan the barcodes from their online receipt and products will appear on a conveyor belt.  This past week, Walmart announced they will be testing an automated robot, “Alphabot” to assist their grocery fulfillment team.  Bottomline:  With their continual investment in technology to enhance their customers experiences, Walmart will be building a depository of data creating AI solutions to augment their consumer marketing as well as improve their overall operational performance.

On your mark, get set, go!  Experience the AI world of grocery shopping.



Half Time – 2018


As I gear up for the second half of 2018, this morning I reflected on what has happened YTD – family, business, world turbulence (a.k.a. geopolitics), technology, etc.  Candidly, I am trying to make sense of everything, thus reread a quote by Donald Rumsfeld to guide me on the road ahead.

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“There are known knowns.

There are things we know that we know.

There are known, unknowns.

That is to say, there are things we know we don’t know.

But there are also unknown unknowns.

There are things we don’t know we don’t know.” 

Conclusion: The second half of 2018 will be an unresolved mystery.



A sneakerheads review – people who collect, trade or covet sneakers as a hobby.  Resellers, capitalizing on the growing trend of these sneaker fanatics demanding limited edition, exclusive athletic footwear are still considered a small segment of total U.S. sneaker sales of $38 billion.  However, exorbitant sneaker prices continue to soar.

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The two leading sneaker resellers are Stadium Goods and GOAT/Flight Club.  They both understand that sneakerheads do not buy sneakers for utility, but a way to communicate personality – making a fashion statement.  Examples:

  • Louis Vuitton, originally priced at $190, currently selling for $2,750.
  • Pharrell Williams (musician) designed Adidas for $12,350.
  • Limited edition LeBron Nike shoes sell for an average of $6,000 a pair.

Exorbitant pricing or extortion, a fashion shakedown?

Are you a sneakerhead wannabe?