A few winners:
General Motors-Comeback brand of the year
A leader in the brand loser column just a year ago, GM has made impressive strides in rebuilding a brand that seemed destined for the scrap yard. Having cleared out the junk-in-the-trunk nameplates of Pontiac, Saturn, Hummer and Saab that had slowed the company for years, a smaller, more efficient GM is pushing interesting new models like the Chevy Cruze, Camaro, and Volt, beefed up its warranties, and has begun paying back much of the money it received as part of the government bailout. Their recent stock offering was greeted with open arms by investors. But perhaps the most savvy brand move they made was the “Thank You” TV spot that debuted on Thanksgiving in which they expressed their gratitude to “us,” presumably the American taxpayers, for the helping them get back on their feet. Aw, shucks, what’s $40-50 billion between friends?
Pandora bracelets-hook me up
Pandora has breathed new life into the jewelry category of charm bracelets, with a stylish marketing campaign and by allowing broad leeway for participating jewelers to create unique charms relevant to their local markets. Now, husbands and boyfriends all around the country are learning all about the Pandora brand in preparation for Christmas. The company has been around since the 80’s but in October went public with an IPO worth $2.1 billion. And early investors saw an immediate 25% jump in the value of their Pandora stock. Charming!
Fidelity Investments–responding to the investor’s emotions
Fidelity’s “Turn Here” campaign is a perfect reaction to investor distrust that has continued to smolder since the collapse of the financial system in 2008. Fidelity escaped the direct culpability that many large investment firms did not, and their relatively conservative investing image continues to serves them well. But the Turn Here campaign, which shows a computer-generated graphic line leading from the investor to a comfortable retirement, is a great visual device that addresses the core need that so many Baby Boomers are feeling right now: How do I invest safely yet effectively for my future? Fidelity manages to show a concept that appears to be a simple solution. Compare that with the somewhat creepy campaign being run by Charles Schwab, where video of investors is converted to a form of illustration as they talk about their frustrations with brokers. The campaign is designed to appeal to the self-guided investor, but the comic book video technique has me wondering if a super villain is lurking nearby.
An Apple a day…
Critics continue to predict that Apple will slow down, and the king of cool ideas keeps proving them wrong. New products, higher sales revenue and a soaring stock value prove that it’s possible to sell high-tech, premium-priced technology in a down economy. If there’s one thing Steve Jobs knows, it’s that innovation can be irresistible.
A few losers
Beyond Petroleum? Not anymore. They created the biggest oil spill in our country’s history. Their CEO fumbled the response repeatedly and ended up working in Russia. Since then, they’ve begun the long slow road back to restoring their image. The idea of positioning themselves as a “green” energy producer is now just as tainted as our Gulf beaches. We’ll let you know when you get beyond that, BP. If you ever do.
Toyota-still paying the price
The world’s largest carmaker is still feeling the sting from their quality control problems. New documents are suggesting they knew about unintended acceleration for a long time and ignored it. Sales continue to falter compared to the competition. Perhaps the greatest indignity is that Ford and Chevy are both openly comparing the Focus and the Cruze to the Toyota Corolla in their commercials. How very Seventies of them.
The near-miss department-an incredibility Gap
Gap inexplicably plunked a bizarrely different logo on their web site and waited for our reaction. It was swift. It was negative. And it resulted in a lightning fast “Nevermind” from Gap’s management. The new logo came and went in four days, and while I doubt there was any lasting damage to the brand, it did become Exhibit A for how not to introduce a new logo.
The I-just-don’t-get-it department
University of Maryland University College. It’s a university. It’s a college. It’s also a university? Wait…huh? Even the acronym, UMUC, is phonetically, um, undesirable. Isn’t there a department of redundancy department out there somewhere that could study this?