Articles by Manon F. Herzog
Haute couture brands recently have been in the headlines for promoting an unhealthy body image, mourning the loss of one of fashion's brightest stars and, in general, dealing with a full-blown identity crisis. Meanwhile, an increasing number of mainstream brands have turned their attention explicitly to the end consumer: she now plays a central role in how we view and buy fashion. This reinvention and democratization of fashion has its origin in the mainstream, unlike most trends, which work their way in from the fringe. Moreover, it's a global phenomenon with brands from Japan to Germany embracing the everyday woman's new role.
Migros is Switzerland's largest supermarket chain and one of the 500 largest companies in the world. Known as the big M because of its iconic orange logo, the company employs more than 84,000 people and has recently posted sales of more than $20 billion. Turning 85 years old in 2010, Migros' unique history, business savvy and far-reaching vision make it a noteworthy case study for brands in and outside the category. Migros has been ahead of its time from its inception, and is a prime example of how a company can diligently build brand capital through innovation, social responsibility, thoughtful portfolio strategy and a careful management of brand voice.
Microsoft ranks #4 on the Davis Brand Capital 25, besting twelfth-place rival Apple. Despite taking some hits in a year-long advertising tit-for-tat with Mac, Microsoft joins fellow technology brands IBM (#1), HP (#3) and Cisco Systems (#5) at the top of this year's list. The Davis Brand Capital 25 is the only annual list to evaluate brand as an amalgam of intangibles, including brand value, competitive performance, innovation strength, company culture and social impact. Microsoft's top-five ranking is a reflection of the company's successful management of its brand capital across a diverse portfolio of technology products and services.
For more than a year now, I've admired an unusual vegetable garden in a middle-class St. Louis neighborhood. The owners, Chinese immigrants, have carefully designed the space to house lettuces, tomatoes, cucumbers, berries and all varieties of climbing and flowering foliage. What's unusual is that it's all in the front yard -- a space the other neighbors reserve for traditional landscaping. Compared to the austere evergreens around it, the garden is a beautiful, bountiful, dynamic space that transforms year round. And it reflects the reinterpretations and reappropriations of space I see springing up in the post-digital marketplace.
Usually, the city of Venice is partially flooded by water a number of times every year, courtesy of its slowly sinking foundation. However, these days the city called "La Serenissima," or most serene, is facing a different kind of flood -- one it is much less prepared to stem.
Pepsi is exhibiting some fresh bruises after recent media coverage of the company’s brain drain under Massimo d'Amore. When one considers Arnell’s leaked logo study and the lashing from the trades (and 20% freefall) over Tropicana’s repackaging, it’s hard to argue freshening up its brands netted PepsiCo any positives. Yet despite a flood of negative attention (much of it deserved), the most interesting aspects of the work have received the least attention. I may take my own lumps for this one, but I think the Pepsi brand has made some smart choices in its updated approach to communicating “refreshing.”
Last week, while Amazon was rewarding Zappos for their exceptional customer-centric culture, Buzzmachine’s Jeff Jarvis raged against the Cablevision machine. He lamented long wait times for repairs, unrealistic service windows and aggressive, uncaring service representatives. I add to his account my own recent experiences with some of the largest U.S. corporations, not in an attempt to trump Jeff, but to showcase how pervasive the problem with customer service has become. While some bright spots certainly exist (Zappos and Twitter’s ComcastCares to name two), the consistently negative experiences reported by consumers (anecdotally through social media and quantitatively through survey results) suggest that in today’s service economy, even our largest companies are failing the consumer, and ultimately, America.
Following the fireworks and barbecue of U.S. Independence Day, the Swiss prepare to celebrate their 718th birthday on August 1. In the spirit of global, cross-cultural understanding, here are some of the indispensable props, or in brand speak, the system of meaning without which August 1 just wouldn’t be the same.
According to the dictionary, “confluence” describes the flowing together of two or more rivers -- for example, where the smaller Missouri joins the roaring Mississippi. There is a similar confluence of strategy forming between the for-profit and non-profit sectors. And considering the reputational challenges damming many for-profit revenue streams, the non-profit sector may prove its contributions to the union to be more Mississippi than Missouri.
A recent trip to the recycling market in Bamako, the capital of Mali, was one of the most amazing experiences I’ve had in a long time...visually, olfactorily, but most of all acoustically, as the market announces itself long before one actually sees it. The cacophony of sounds comes courtesy of hundreds of blacksmiths hammering, scraping, melting and polishing every bit of material they retrieve from carefully dismantled car bodies and other branded materials.