How to jeopardize your brand for $5.98

The US bank Washington Mutual positions itself as an informal, friendly and fun bank. But Shel Holtz’ experience with the bank when he needs to send some cash to his son, who is in the army, is neither friendly nor fun. He concludes his story by saying that “The Stanley Cup Playoffs will be held in hell before anyone in our family has anything to do with WaMu again.”

When the gap between rhetoric and reality becomes too big, today’s consumers spell it out on their blogs or on social networks, which may seriously hurt a brand. Companies, are you listening?

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It’s tough to sell a paper that bashes your brand

lidl Today’s Aftonbladet had one of those frontpages that PR professionals have nightmares about: “Rotten garbage transported with [supermarket chain] Lidl’s fresh food”. And since I happened to visit my local Lidl store today, for about the third time ever, I had to check if they had the paper on display or if it was sold out (as in “thrown in the dumpster”). But there it was, right next to the check-out, screaming out its unfriendly message. Probably not an ideal situation for the poor cashier, but it earned Lidl a tiny bit of kudos in my eyes.

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The brand “Björn Borg” sold for 18 MUSD

Swedish tennis legend Björn Borg has sold the rights to his name for 124 million kronor (18 MUSD) to Worldwide Brand Management. WBM has previously had the license to the brand and paid royalties to the Dutch company Fabulous Licensing, which has connections to the Borg family. WBM now own all the rights to the brand Björn Borg and will also pay an addition fee for ten years of about 1.5 – 2% of the sales price of the products, although a minimum of 7.8 million kronor (1.1 MUSD) per year. The company is planning to change name to Björn Borg AB.

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Wikipedia in top ten Google results for Sweden’s top brands

If you have an idea for a blog post, don’t sit on it for a month because if it’s a good idea, some other blogger will post before you do. A month ago I planned to do a similar study that Steve Rubel did regarding the largest advertisers and how high Wikipedia entries rank in the Google search results. I did the search but I just haven’t come around to publish it.

So instead I suggest that you have a look at Richard Gatarski’s very thorough investigation and report (in Swedish) that he published yesterday. He has done a good job and checked the 60 largest advertisers in Sweden and on average, Wikipedia entries came up before the company website. The average Google rank for Wikipedia articles was 9, which means they are in the important top ten results. For Coca-Cola, Hennes & Mauritz och Biersdorf, Wikipedia articles are as high as #1.

My results pointed in the same direction. I checked Sweden’s ten largest advertisers during Jan-June 2006 and 6 out of 10 are in the top ten results [search performed on Sept 17].

Unilever 7
Telia 14
KF 8
Ica 8
Volkswagen 16 (Volkswagen Beetle 14)
Volvo 7
Cosmetique France – (L’Oréal 7)
Viasat 14 (Viasat Sport 10)
Föreningssparbanken 11
Tre 28

[Found via Mymarkup.]

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The world’s most powerful brands

Marketing research organisation Millward Brown Optimor launches a new global brand ranking of the world’s most powerful brands and thereby beats Interbrand’s classic brand league table by a couple of months. Millward is owned by WPP, while Interbrand are belong to arch-rival, Interpublic.

Top ten according to Millward are ($m):

1. Microsoft – 62,039
2. GE – 55,834
3. Coca-Cola – 41,406
4. China Mobile – 39,168
5. Marlboro – 38,510
6. Wal-Mart – 37,567
7. Google – 37,445
8. IBM – 36,084
9. Citibank – 31,028
10. Toyota – 30,201

Four out of ten are not on Interbrand’s Best Global Brands for 2005 ($m):

1 Coca-Cola 67,525
2 Microsoft 59,941
3 IBM 53,376
4 GE 46,996
5 Intel 35,588
6 Nokia 26,452
7 Disney 26,441
8 McDonald’s 26,014
9 Toyota 24,837
10 Marlboro 21,189

10 new rules of branding

Chief Marketer lists the 10 new rules of branding.

1) Brands that influence culture sell more; culture is the new catalyst for growth.
2) A brand with no point of view has no point; full-flavor branding is in, vanilla is out.
3) Today’s consumer is leading from the front; this is the smartest generation to have ever walked the planet.
4) Customize wherever and whenever you can; customization is tomorrow’s killer whale.
5) Forget the transaction, just give me an experience; the mandate is simple: Wow them every day, every way.
6) Deliver clarity at point of purchase; be obsessive about presentation.
7) You are only as good as your weakest link; do you know where you’re vulnerable?
8) Social responsibility is no longer an option; what’s your cause, what’s your contribution?
9) Pulse, pace, and passion really make a difference; had your heartbeat checked recently?
10) Innovation is the new boardroom favorite.

Hat tip to PR Machine.