• About John

    Formerlife: CEO of Jacobs Suchard (Nabob, Kraft), Strategy/Branding Consultant. Afterlife: Fortune & Forbes Contributor, Wannabe Novelist.

    The 10 Best Brand Names Ever

    by  • January 8, 2012 • Branding, Marketing, Strategy

    With the approach of every new year comes the rankings by major periodicals on a variety of measures from most valuable global brands to the most innovative companies. My ranking of the “Best Brand Names”  is not constrained by time. If fact, every quantitative measurement has been removed from my assessment. I have purposely ignored a brand’s reputation, its place within the market, even its package design. Fundamentally, the judgment criterion for the “10 Best Brand Names Ever” is one of clearing the slate and imagining the brand at inception, before advertising, promotion and packaging. That is the brand name acid test.

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    The Leadership Love-in

    by  • January 2, 2012 • Human Resources, Leadership, Life, Strategy

    I’ve read scads of books, blogs and journals on leadership. Everything I read has been said before – maybe in a different way and usually with different supportive examples; yet, I can’t seem to stay away from the subject. Apparently, neither can others. Leadership books, blogs, and tweets continue to command an impressive share of human interest as expressed by various readership analytics.

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    A Manifesto’s Unbridled Power

    by  • December 26, 2011 • Branding, Human Resources, Leadership, Life, Marketing, Strategy

    Manifestos ignite people into action. The greatest manifestos, such as The Ten Commandments and The Declaration of Independence are so emotionally charged that their catalytic influence can endure for centuries. As recently as fifty years ago, an emotional speech delivered from the steps of the Lincoln Memorial established a clear and convincing purpose for American Civil Rights. Today, Martin Luther King’s I Have a Dream is arguably the most inspiring manifesto of the last century.

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    The Paradox of Two Guitar Companies

    by  • December 21, 2011 • Branding, Leadership, Marketing, Strategy

    '69-Tele_smallThey are global, they are successful and they have become the quintessential icons of pop music. Since the birth of rock ‘n roll sixty years ago, the esteemed products of Fender Musical Instruments and the Gibson Guitar Corporation continue to dominate a market enthralled by rock music and rock personalities. From wannabe pickers to professionals, Gibson and Fender are as close to transcendental as a brand can be.

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    Lateral Mind Games

    by  • December 19, 2011 • Human Resources, Life, Uncategorized

    I was cleaning out some files the other day and came across a brain twister. I suspect the puzzle came from the Edward de Bono lateral thinking seminar I attended some 30 years ago. It must have made an impact on me because not only did I save it, I also used it as a warm-up exercise at a couple of out-of-the box, new product brainstorm sessions. The best way to approach any brain twister is to free the mind and allow it to function “laterally” rather than vertically or logically. And by the way, the more people devoted to the task, the faster the solution. What does that tell you?

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    Turnarounds and the Big Play

    by  • December 11, 2011 • Branding, Leadership, Marketing, Strategy

    chartbusterI’ve been in business a long time. If you don’t believe me, just look at my profile picture – that was taken a couple of years ago, (okay, maybe I’m being a bit generous on that timeline). My point is this: I’ve had my share of corporate turnarounds. Believe me, there’s nothing that can match the turnaround experience in teaching or seasoning a young manager. My most daunting resurrection was my first one – that of the Canadian unit of Jacobs Suchard, at the time called Nabob Foods.

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    Gretzky, Gates, Zuckerberg: Can they see the Unseen?

    by  • December 4, 2011 • Leadership, Life

    It takes a knack to see the unseen. Some call it a sense, a gift from God bestowed upon the chosen few. We’ve witnessed this sense in our greatest athletes. Wayne Gretzky had a knack of skating where he knew the puck would be or passing behind his back where he knew a teammate would be. Larry Bird moved a split second before an opponent’s ball toss to make the steal. Joe Montana calculated the movements of everyone on the football field. Each superstar athlete saw the play before it happened.

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    Is This the Flag of Riches to Rags?

    by  • November 27, 2011 • Leadership, Life

    State of AmericaI’m a Canadian on assignment in California. Last Thursday I had the pleasure of joining a group of 12 for American Thanksgiving. Thanksgiving is a much bigger deal down here than it is above the 49th parallel. The days around the holiday are the most travelled of the year. Families and friends come together to give thanks. Strangers wish you a Happy Thanksgiving. Americans believe no one should be alone on Thanksgiving. I’m certain that’s the reason my wife and I scored that dinner invitation.

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    What Ever Happened to the Pepsi Generation?

    by  • November 20, 2011 • Branding, Leadership, Marketing, Strategy

    NATM_512x288The concept of a Pepsi advertising campaign designed to capture America’s youth had its roots in the 1960’s. But it wasn’t until the 1980’s that “The Choice of a New Generation” struck 14-24 year olds like a social tsunami. Michael Jackson, the theme to “Billie Jean” and a phenomenal blend of marketing and entertainment drove the Pepsi brand to the pinnacle of contemporary culture. Coca-Cola was so taken aback by the success that they made a colossal error in judgment. They abandoned their century-old recipe and launched “New Coke”. The result was disastrous. It looked like Pepsi had won the Cola War. But they had won only a battle.

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