• Is This the Flag of Riches to Rags?

    by  • November 27, 2011

    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

    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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    Homeless, Not Helpless: Entrepreneurship in Unlikely Places

    by  • November 13, 2011


    Until I visited the Santa Barbara Pier, I’d never thought of a homeless person as entrepreneurial. Few do. Some would say they don’t have an enterprising bone in their bodies; if they did, they wouldn’t be on the street. I understand why people come to this conclusion; when they see homeless people, they see them sedentary—lingering on street corners, slouched on park benches, sleeping under blankets in alleys or crouched against buildings with empty cups in outstretched hands.

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    This Bud’s Not for Me

    by  • November 7, 2011

    Recently I bought a case of Budweiser with the new can design. Because I had a few of the old cans in the refrigerator I conducted a side-by-side comparison through the eye of a marketer. The comparison raised a couple of brand trivia questions. How many brand icons and slogans appeared on the old can? How many of those do you think have been removed?

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    The Essence of Strategy (Part 2)

    by  • October 30, 2011

    ThisWayLast week’s blog post bemoaned the lack of strategic discipline in today’s world of business. I posed three simple strategic questions that on the surface appear easy to answer.

    1. What business are you in?
    2. What will you sell?
    3. To whom will you sell?

    You’d think executives from the same organization would offer the same responses. More often than not, their answers can be as different as night and day. Why?

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    The Essence of Strategy (Part 1)

    by  • October 23, 2011

    I’ve always loved strategy. Maybe it’s because I grew up playing chess; maybe it’s because I can be stubborn. Luckily, good strategists are also stubborn. They have to be, because in today’s “light-speed” business world, most of their business colleagues are anything but strategic.

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    The CEO as Chief Brand Custodian

    by  • October 17, 2011

    BransonNever in the history of marketing has there been so much talk about branding. The conversation in the 2011 branding world is well beyond product and service brand discussion by marketers and ad agencies. Branding has proliferated big time – we now have personal brands, country brands, political brands, cause-related brands, even cultural brands. The ramification is clutter, the enemy of brand messaging. So, wouldn’t you expect a heck of a lot more company attention to commercial brands? Wouldn’t you expect greater care in stewarding brand identity, personality, positioning, single-mindedness, and strategic consistency? Wouldn’t you expect more innovation?

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    The Hard-Knock Valuation of Brand Equity Growth

    by  • October 11, 2011

    There’s not a Brand Manager that doesn’t want to build brand equity. Marketers, who work for the likes of P&G or Unilever, periodically check brand awareness and brand attributes to measure progress. For example, if 35% of folks thought Hogwash Detergent was “best at getting clothes white” in 2010, that number needs to go up in 2012 to prove an improvement in brand equity. Simple enough? Not so fast. Consider this exchange between Hogwash Detergent’s CEO and the Brand Manager I’ll call Janet.

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    Corporate Leaders: What Will Be Your Epitaph?

    by  • October 3, 2011

    epitaph71To those of you who are CEOs, I suggest you take a break from your busy schedule to contemplate your leadership epitaph. As sure as the sun rises and falls, every CEO’s tenure atop an organization will come to an end. How you will be remembered is not the issue. The real question is: how will you judge your performance when the CEO afterlife arrives. Will your epitaph resemble that of Jack Bighead or Andy Goodfellow?

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    Business Proverbs and BS

    by  • September 26, 2011

    When I searched online for content on business proverb lies and mistruths I was amazed by the digital library’s breadth and depth. The myths apply to business in general, as well as specific industries, start-ups and the new economy. And while proverbs come and go, some are perennials – the most recurring being those that have been around for so long they’re engrained as truth – no one thinks to question them.

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