Archive for the ‘branding’ Category



Uniqlo: A Lesson on Brand, Retail and Business Strategy

This past weekend I happened upon Uniqlo on 5th Avenue in Manhattan. I must confess, I didn’t know anything about the brand, but after shopping in its brand new 90,000 square foot flagship store, I have become a fan. I’m enthusiastic not because I like their clothing, which I do, but because in a time where retailers are struggling to “make it,” Uniqlo seems to have figured out what we want. The best way I can explain the brand is by saying that Uniqlo is for clothing what Ikea is for furniture, but with better quality stuff. Uniqlo started in Japan and was once a men’s clothing store. Now it’s making a play as a global brand. Here’s what I think these guys have gotten right from a branding, marketing and business model. They design and produce their own clothing line. They are not competing with everyone else for the…

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Launching a Max Lucado Best Selling Book

Every Christian has a story of redemption to tell. One would be hard-pressed to find a better story-teller than author Max Lucado. Max has been a best-selling author for over two and a half decades. I remember reading my first Lucado book during my graduate school days. Chances are that if you’re a Christian, you have read some of Max’s books. I was thrilled as my company, The A Group, was chosen by Zondervan Publishers to lead in the efforts of getting Max’s latest release to the public. Our team under the leadership of Tami Heim, created a comprehensive marketing campaign that includes cover design, art direction, all traditional media, PR, social media and even a media-rich website with its own mobile app option for iPhone. Our intent is not only to market a great book, but to allow its important message to live beyond the written pages and to…

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Thoughts on The Southern Baptist Convention Name Change

The Southern Baptist Convention is considering a name change. “SBC president Bryant Wright has appointed a task force to explore the poss of a name change of the Southern Baptist Convention,” read the tweet from Thom Rainer, President and CEO of LifeWay. That’s the kind of news that gets a branding professional all fired up.  It’s not hard to reason that not all Baptists are southerners and therefore the current name no longer reflects the true nature of the organization. While I’m not part of the SBC decision-making process or involved with this project, I hope the task force considers these branding laws as they explore a new name. A new name does not mean you have a new brand. New packaging without changing the product or experience only goes so far. Churches that changed their names in the mid 90’s to appear more community friendly but failed to change…

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Do You Have a Brand or Just a Brand Document?

A brand strategy exercise is a great tool, a map, a guide to make sure your product, message and promise are aligned and working together. A brand strategy helps you define and know your story, your language, your customer. However, it is a means and not an end. The plan must be executed in order for the strategy to have any value whatsoever. But without an internal brand champion, a brand strategy is seldom is implemented. At The A Group we do a lot of Brand exercises. These are usually a full day of distilling brand identity, promise, positioning and creating strategic next steps. Even though I’m usually exhausted by the end of them, I love these sessions because they help to define, guide and focus an entire brand, marketing and sometimes even a business plan. But a plan is just a map. Without implementation it does as much good…

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Building Your Personal Brand

‘You don’t have a brand. You are a brand.’ Those were words came out during a conversation with a client recently and have stuck with me for a while. If you’re not sure what I mean about brand, I defined it here. Corporate brands aside, each one of us are crafting every day what are brands are what it stands for and all the other dynamics that go with the intangibles of who we are. Brands are created by impressions that, over time, create a picture of who we are in the mind of our audience, no matter who they are. Everything we do, say, wear, drive, matters. Our personal brand is not only the professional head shot on a blog or social media profile, but the total effect of everything we put out there. The implications are huge. Our words matter. Language defines us more than most anything else.…

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Positioning Your Church

Positioning is becoming a hot issue with growing churches. While most of the private sector has always struggled with positioning their business in the minds of consumers, churches have not given it much thought until recently. With the proliferation of interdenominational, community, or fellowship-type of churches, positioning a church clearly in their mind of the community has become a very complicated task for church leaders. Just the other day I overhead the following conversation: “Where are you going to church these days?” “Hope Community Church.” “Oh, isn’t that a Baptist church that has dropped ‘Baptist’ from its name?” “I don’t think so-people raise their hands during worship.” “It’s a charismatic church, then!” “No, I don’t think so, either. I think we’re somewhere between a Baptist and Pentecostal church.” Well, Hope Community Church is suffering from poor positioning. I’m sure the leadership of the church purposely chose a name that would…

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Church Branding or Marketing? What’s the Difference?

If “marketing” was the church’s buzzword for the ‘90s, “branding” is definitely the new, upstart concept when it comes to communications these days. So what makes the new millennium’s branding better than last century’s marketing strategy? A lot, if we understand the differences between them. Branding and marketing both aim at communicating a product, an institution, even a person to a particular audience. This whole process happens solely in the mind. In this case, perception is reality—for good or bad. Most of what marketing does is build a brand—create a favorable reality in the minds of our target audience. A marketing campaign’s effectiveness is measured in months, but a brand’s strength is calculated in years, even decades. Each marketing effort should help define, position, and strengthen the brand. Recently, the Old Spice campaign featuring Isaiah Mustafa has sold a lot of deodorant to men who want to be more Isaiah…

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You Don’t Need a Logo. You Need a Plan

The conversation starts with familiar words: “I’m starting a new business. I need a logo and a brand identity.” That’s an exciting place to be. Creating your brand early in your business is crucial to establish your place in the mind of the consumer; however, I have seen a lot of entrepreneurs spend more time tweaking their logo than working on their most important task: their business plan. I’m a marketing guy. And I think every organization should have the best brand representation possible starting with their logo, brand statement and identity item. However, before you pick colors, shapes, paper and all that shines and sparkles (and I love that process), make sure you think about: Your target audience. Do you really have a firm grasp on your ideal customer? Only after you do, you’re able to create an identity that speaks to your core audience. Even if you’re a…

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You Are Now a Global Brand. Yes, You.

I was in Sao Paulo, Brazil at the lobby of a hotel waiting with my client to meet our Brazilian hosts whom I did not know. One of the men looked up from his cell phone and startled me by saying, “Aren’t you Maurilio? I follow you on Twitter.” The same scenario happened a few weeks later in Singapore as I attended TWR’s Asia partners’ meeting. Since then I have heard from people in New Zealand, Europe, Africa and other parts of the world who read my posts. I have come to grips with the fact that I’m a global brand. While that might  sound pretentious and grandiose, I think it’s true of anyone who has an online presence. We all know the internet doesn’t stop at the end of town, ( I had one client who wanted to launch his website in Tennessee first, however), but I’m not sure…

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The Future of Advertising

First the news, then the music industry, now advertising: the digital revolution is bringing down Madison Avenue like no other force has in the history of the Ad Agency. Some estimate that over 160,000 people have lost their jobs in the advertising industry in the past 2 years. I don’t think that’s the recession’s fault. Not completely anyway. The slow down in the economy just accelerated the demise of the old  advertising agency model, but the new ad world looks vastly different than the bloated budgets of the 30-second spot and national media buys. Here’s what I see happening: National spots will fade into individually customized pitch. Interestingly, I sent out a tweet this past weekend that showed my displeasure with the Audi/Jaguar/Porsche dealership in Nashville: A few hours later, I heard from a dealership. It wasn’t from the Audi/Jaguar/Porsche but from the local Cadillac twitter account, Crestgroup: I’m quite…

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