Why The Return of “Geoffrey the Giraffe” Demonstrates the Power of Brand Marketing

A recent conversation with a business executive reminded me that, for many non-marketers, there’s often vagueness or even confusion about the term “branding” and its application.

I suspect it’s connected to a fuzziness about what marketing is/does in general and the use and power of brands, branding and brand management in particular. That’s unfortunate because excellent marketing and effective brand management can be cornerstones for strong customer relationships and sustainable long-term business success.

Take last week’s announcement that Kroger is mounting a major 2018 holiday season push to sell specially branded toys via the launch of Geoffrey’s Toy Box across a multi-banner network of nearly 600 supermarkets.  The branded store-within-a-store is a reconstituted marketing and brand concept created from Toys “R” Us intellectual property. More on this in a moment.

Credit: Geoffrey LLC.


First, as a general principle, when it comes to your products and services, it’s an excellent idea to brand them. Doing so creates a distinct identity and perception with your customer that can generate sales, establish differentiation and produce loyal, repeat business. Lack of a brand name may put you into an unknown, generic box with everyone else. Continue reading

Why Every Marketer Dreams of a Wiffle Ball Type Customer Connection

WIFFLE®, the beloved and iconic American brand of white plastic ball and yellow bat, celebrates its 65th birthday this year.

While you can buy other baseball-size, plastic balls, there is no comparison when it comes to the combination of Wiffle’s performance and emotional attachment. These two factors make the 65-year sales run an excellent marketing and brand management achievement. The National Toy Hall of Fame agrees. They inducted the ball last year.

Photo Credit: Harvey Chimoff.

Continue reading

Brand Management Dilemma: Grow, But Don’t Kill the Core

I think, in retrospect, we may have tried too hard to attract new guests. That left some of our fans shaking their heads, asking ‘What happened to Applebee’s?’

Patrick Lenow (VP Communications and Public Affairs, DineEquity – August 10, 2017)


That’s an eye-opening, unusually direct assessment. There’s even more blunt analysis from Applebee’s president.

First, let’s set the stage with some framing thoughts on brand management.

A Quick Primer – What To Do and Not Do

It’s a constant dilemma and challenge: how to expand the appeal of brand x and/or position it for growth without alienating existing customers and destroying the core business.

Depending on the type of product or service, many actions can be implemented, such as: product upgrades, promoting secondary usage, launching new products, stimulating growth of the overall category, expanding distribution channels, developing brand refresh/renovation tactics, or even complete repositioning.

JCPenney failed.

Domino’s seems to have had success.

Hardees/Carl’s Jr. is trying to reboot their image and brand positioning.

Effective brand management requires smart discipline. To borrow from Ringo Starr, it don’t come easy.

► Building brands is a process, which requires steady, disciplined hands at the helm. It can take time and money. Unfortunately, steady discipline, time and money can be in short supply in CEO suites and boardrooms where results are measured short-term in weeks and quarters. Plus, marketing teams themselves can fall victim to a lack of steady discipline on occasion. Continue reading

Gatorade’s High-Tech, Sweat-Reading Vending Machine Delivers Brand Positioning

For the Gatorade marketing team, the old adage “never let them see you sweat” does not apply.

Quite the opposite.

Credit: Gatorade.

Credit: Gatorade.

The Gatorade brand is all about sweat and countering its effects on the body. For the past three years, Gatorade has activated marketing around the “sweat it to get it” idea.

Now, Gatorade’s team in India has evolved the idea with a high-tech vending machine that dispenses free bottles of Gatorade to workout warriors. It’s technology powered marketing that delivers positioning and product benefits in a fun, content-friendly activity that’s well-suited for social media and mobile Internet sharing. Continue reading

When Strategy and Tactics Don’t Mesh, You Get Ruth’s Chris Steak for -50%

On Saturday afternoon, the management team of Ruth’s Chris Steak House in Ann Arbor, MI had a bad case of indigestion.

That’s because they faced a week of giving 50% discounts on every check.

Read on for the explanation and marketing analysis, but first the headline.

This is why you need Marketing Discipline. Strategy first, then tactics.

this-is-how-its-not-done


The Promotion

Ruth’s Chris Steak House (Ann Arbor, MI) decided to implement a sports marketing promotion tied to the local University of Michigan football team.

Beginning with Saturday’s game and running for the rest of the season, the upscale eatery would offer percentage discounts equivalent to the Wolverines’ margin of victory. For example, a 17-point win would mean a 17% discount.

The “Score Big” promo would be in effect, after the game, Sunday through Thursday. Continue reading