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Brands have stopped ‘disemvoweling’ themselves

Conceptual image of colourful falling letters, casting shadows on a white wall.
Conceptual image of colourful falling letters, casting shadows on a white wall.

From creating new words like “Kodak,” forcing words together like “Facebook,” or intentionally misspelling phrases like “Krispy Kreme,” companies have a long history of picking phonetically fabricated — and occasionally nonsensical — brand names. For the past two decades, one particularly popular business trend was for companies to drop vowels from their names; if you glanced at a list of tech firms circa the early 2000s, you might be forgiven for assuming the humble vowel was going extinct. Flickr, Grindr, and Tumblr all launched within a few years of each other, each one seemingly forgetting to bring the letter “e”…

Probably every brand is in favor of voting. And this election year, in particular, it seems like every brand needs to tell you so — cluttering your inbox and text…

Would Nike still be Nike if it had been named Dimension Six?

Editor’s Note: In this excerpt from his memoir Shoe Dog, the founder of Nike, Phil Knight, shares how Nike got its name and logo.

The year was 1971. My shoe company — at the time called Blue Ribbon — and Onitsuka, our longtime Japanese shoe supplier, were about to break up. I needed to find a replacement for Onitsuka.

I remembered a factory I’d heard about, in Guadalajara, the one where Adidas had manufactured shoes during the 1968 Olympics, allegedly to skirt Mexican tariffs. The shoes were good, as I recalled. …

No Mercy / No Malice

It’s time to rethink the strategy behind America’s primaries

If a brand is a function of promise (imagery) and performance (interaction), then the brand Iowa is largely a function of the promise. The Hawkeye state is one of the least visited states in the union, attracting fewer tourists than Nebraska or Kentucky. The promise/perception: the caucus and dead baseball players emerging from a cornfield. YTD, with this week’s debacle, the Iowa brand has suffered an erosion in equity greater than any geography other than the Wuhan region.

The Iowa primary is first for little other reason than it’s first, and has been since the disastrous 1968 Democratic Convention, where…

Five predictions on the ways brands will change the way they communicate with their customers

As a startup founder and entrepreneur turned marketer, I know there are hundreds of opinion articles and studies about the top predictions in marketing for 2020 flying around. Industry leaders like Gartner, WARC, or CMI set the tone for new trends that will emerge this year.

My own “predictions” may not be revolutionary, but they speak to my experiences and read on the industry. They’re informing how I think about putting communications strategies together for 2020, and maybe they’ll help you too.

Some of the most powerful brands create experiences that help the audience understand what the brand truly stands…

The head of a PR strategy firm teaches you how to combine messaging for your organization with your authentic personal style

I will never forget the first time I recognized the power of social media for professional use. It was back in 2007 and I had been robotically tweeting inspirational quotes, statistics, and calls to action back to our website. One day, I was present for a conversation with our chief operating officer during which he was complaining that other organizations got more share of media on our issue than we did. What he essentially wanted to know was: Why is leader X getting more interviews than we are?

Back at my desk, I started researching. I looked up each competing…

Faced with declining brand value, companies look to subscriptions to get unstuck

Coca-Cola just launched a new subscription box service called The Insiders Club that includes swag, surprises, and three new “test beverages” for $10 a month. The company joins several other mainstream food and drink brands, including Dairy Queen and Arby’s, who are experimenting with subscription box services aimed at hard-core fans.

It would be easy to dismiss Coke’s new subscription service as a trial experiment—a way to pick up some free market research, some free branding, and a little extra money. But I think something bigger is going on. I think the management team at Coke is worried that it’s…


From Marriott’s Bonvoy to Slack’s ‘swastika,’ the public has made it clear: Don’t dare change a logo on them

In January, Marriott International unveiled an exciting new rebrand that had been in the works since its acquisition of Starwood back in 2016. The hotel chain ordained its new loyalty program — a consolidation of Marriott Rewards, Ritz-Carlton Rewards, and Starwood Preferred Guest — “Bonvoy,” an invented word sprouting from the whimsical “bon voyage.” “Marriott Bonvoy marks an evolution in travel,” declared Marriott International’s Global Chief Commercial Officer Stephanie Linnartz on the company’s website, “because it represents more than a loyalty program.”

The timing for a brand rehab couldn’t have been better. Recently, the $39.56 billion hotel chain had found…

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