In December 2012, after its second bankruptcy filing, brought on mostly by labor issues and a mounting pension fund of $944.2 million, consumers clamored to get their hands on a Twinkie for the very last time. That spongy Twinkie’s sweetness has been around since 1930 and it’s a pop-culture icon. As the rock star of junk foods, it weighs in at 150 calories, 4.5 grams of fat, 20 milligrams of cholesterol, and 18 grams of sugar. And, for Hostess, it’s paying off…again.
The Twinkie brand, in particular, is proving to be golden by helping Hostess pay back some of its debts with an agreement reached last month. Private equity firms Apollo Global Management and Metropoulos & Co. have agreed to pay $410 million to purchase the Twinkie brand, along with Ho Hos, Ding Dongs, Donettes snack cakes and some other assets. What is really interesting here is that the majority of the $410 million is being invested in intangible value…the brand names and the familiar childhood memories they conjure up.
And, this is not uncommon. Buyers have made multi-million-dollar bets on brand that can continue to resonate with consumers even after the parent company has liquidated. In 2009, a consortium of buyers paid $88 million for the Polaroid brand name and Barnes & Noble spent $13.9 million to buy the rights to the Borders name.
In 2010, the Pabst Blue Ribbon brand sold for $250 million to one of the same companies involved in the Hostess deal. They have a successful track record of turning around injured or abandoned brands. And, while the “PBR” brand took on a life of its own with hipsters, Metropoulos recognized its rising value in the mid 2000’s. As for Twinkies, the challenge will be to appeal to a new generation of junk food junkies while retaining its beloved fan base.
What’s the lesson here? The next time your CFO wants to know why your company needs to invest in “its brand image,” (a.k.a. keeping your brand in front of customers) the answer is: to strengthen the balance sheet. Now, that’s golden.
If you have never stayed at a B Hotel, you should give it a try. These folks have figured out how to make you smile at nearly every turn. B does a great job of living its promise: ‘…we invite you to revel in self-expression hospitality, allowing you to tailor your experience how you desire it to be.’
From a design standpoint, the B Hotel brand is really clean, creative and interesting. White is the base color for everything and color plays off from there.
Your first impression when driving up to the property is full of curiosity. The architecture is curved. Planters are perfectly grouped together, and in the evening, the lighting is full of mood and dancing colors. The lobby is small, but full of character with a white wall of wavy texture illuminated by an ever-changing spectrum of color.
As we stood in line waiting to board flight 157, to Philadelphia, an obtrusively placed sign directed “First Class and Preferred Members” to the left. A message next to it read “general boarding,” which directed the rest of us to the right. The US Airways logo sat proudly at the top of the sign.
I stood there thinking, what’s the difference between these two lines? Nothing. They lead to exactly the same place: the jetway to the airplane, which is not delineated by class or preferred status.
Over the years, I have encountered a surprising number of companies that struggle with the idea of being focused with their sales and marketing efforts. Although they know who their most profitable customer segment is, they go after a much broader base. And even when they are clear about their brand promise, they dilute the storyline. Why does this happen?
Typically, it’s a “more the merrier” mentality leading the charge. If you can appeal to more people, you’ll reap more rewards. Unfortunately, the result of this approach splinters marketing investments, strains manpower, weakens the brand and bears less fruit. Continue reading.
Let’s face it; politics is about marketing. It’s about creating and selling an image–a brand– that motivates people to get behind a candidate. Who do you think has the better 2012 presidential brand?
For Barack Obama’s 2008 presidential campaign, a team of designers with no previous political experience created the freshest, most recognized political brand logo of all time. In fact, they created the first actual presidential logo. It is a good, clean, strong design, and it is a complete departure from the dated, meaningless political graphics of the past. You know them: typographic solutions with some graphic suggestion of stars and stripes. (Not logos.) Continue reading.
Recently, Microsoft revealed to the world what would be its fourth logo in the company’s almost 30-year existence. The logo has been received with more negative criticism than positive, the majority of the which calls out a lack of dynamics. Our feeling is that, while not the most exciting corporate moniker, it truly does a good job of tying back to the look and feel Microsoft has been growing with it’s Xbox Live, Windows 7 and soon to be released, Windows 8 properties. The four squares clearly represent Microsoft’s “live tiles” functionality, and could bring the mark to life in various mediums.
Let us also not forget that Microsoft has and always will be geeky. It will probably never be the cool kid, Apple has that space under control. Microsoft also has to think about it’s B2B clients, which make up a large part of it’s revenue. A logo update that speaks more to youth and consumers could play subconsciously on the business powerhouse that Microsoft has always been in the B2B market.
And let’s be honest, anything is a welcome update from it’s predecessor which made it’s debut in the late 1980′s.
As a child, your mother and father probably taught you to be careful about choosing your words. After all, words can be hurtful…a good rule to live by. But words can also be really powerful.
Take brand names for example. The name is the foundation of a successful brand. Choosing the right one can make it or break it. A good name conveys the personality of the company, service or product. It should be relevant, memorable and evoke emotion. And, it sets the expectation for the entire brand experience your company, service or product delivers. Done right, everything clicks and fits together brilliantly. Done wrong, it’s another story.
When I first heard about the Revel Resort project in Atlantic City, NJ, it was being heralded as “Atlantic City’s future.” I thought, wow, Revel!?! That could actually work. My mind immediately began generating a stream of synonyms like thesaurus.com: enjoy, indulge, joyfulness, luxuriate, play, relish, savor, take comfort, et al. The prospect of “Revel-ing” in A.C. was exciting, so the next logical step was to plan a girls’ weekend. Done. Continue reading.
As I was stopped at a traffic signal on 16th Street, in Philadelphia, a few weeks ago, I noticed an illuminated KPMG logo on the side of a building. Four solid rectangles with an italic letter overlapping each in an uncomfortable way. It got me thinking about this category, and the brands within it.
KPMG along with Deloitte, Ernst & Young, and PricewaterhouseCoopers (a.k.a the Big Four) represent serious global business. In 2011, they realized a combined annual revenue of $103.6 billion. Yes billion. Yet their brands are not conveying the same story. Continue reading.
Flip through the newspaper almost any day of the week and you will find a consistent presence of ads promoting various repair, heating, cooling, and roofing companies. What strikes me about these ads is their similarities…in design, message, brand and sizable media investment. I often wonder how an entire category can get things so wrong. Continue reading.
It isn’t breaking news that being in retail is an ever-changing, highly competitive business. Throughout the Great Recession, rock-bottom pricing dominated advertising at every turn. Retailers were practically giving merchandise away; promotions became increasingly more aggressive; and the image of many brands suffered as a result. Continue reading.