The special day of remembrance and reflection was truly known as Armistice Day in the US until, as an example of the wisdom of Congress, the name was changed to Veterans Day in 1954.
Remembrance Day hurts
The young men of 19 tender years of age that were slaughtered in that war were to be remembered forever. The red poppy became a symbol of the dead in Flanders Fields. Here are the first two verses of the poem that made the red poppy synonymous with the Great War.
“In Flanders fields the poppies blow
Between the crosses, row on row,
That mark our place; and in the sky
The larks, still bravely singing, fly
Scarce heard amid the guns below.
We are the Dead. Short days ago
We lived, felt dawn, saw sunset glow,
Loved and were loved, and now we lie
In Flanders fields.”
Below is a video featuring LAST POST. A bugle call tied to Remembrance Day.
This past summer my wife and I visited memorials, cemeteries and battlefields in France and Belgium.
At the battle of the Somme, fought between 1 July and 18 November 1916, more than one million men were wounded or killed, making it one of the bloodiest battles in human history. It is that sacrifice that gave birth to Remembrance Day.
What was lost.
As Americans, we were spared most of the carnage of that war. We entered the last year of the War and, while are casualties were terrible, they paled compared to the massacre of Europe, the British and French Empires.
Perhaps that is why the date is still honored in Canada with its original meaning. Newfoundland, part of the Commonwealth of Nations but not yet (in 1916) part of Canada, had 100% casualties at the Somme.
Every young man from that small province was lost. An entire generation was lost and honored on Remembrance Day.
Visit Ypres, the Somme, or Vimy Ridge and those young men who died so young 150 years ago live again. The land is still twisted and scarred.
The dead still lie inches beneath the soil and in perfectly manicured graveyards. Over 1,000 of them. I visited too many to count.
Do we lose something important in our history lesson by calling Remembrance Day (Armistice Day)? Is it Veterans Day? I think we do. We lose the main idea of the day— to reflect on the great losses and promise never again. It is the promise part we miss.
Remembrance Day equals Veterans Day was last modified: November 11th, 2016 by Tom Dougherty
Cree LED lightbulbs. An Example of surrendering initiative.
For Stealing Share, Cree LED lightbulbs is in our backyard. I follow the company because it is great to see a local company innovate and win.
I remember a few short years ago, Cree was the darling of Wall Street. Charles Swoboda, Cree CEO and President, seemed to be interviewed and featured everywhere.
2012 was a heady time for Cree. In 2013, Cree LED lightbulbs were King of the Hill.
Innovating its way to the top of the class and the news promoting LED bulbs as an eco-friendly and promising technology turned the incandescent bulb market on its head.
LED bulbs have low heat, low comparative wattage, long life and more energy efficiency than the florescent bulbs that heretofore dominated the eco section of the market.
Cost and quality of light were the only downsides to LED bulbs. Often as not, they had a white-blue brightness that lacked the warmth of the incandescent bulbs that take history all the way back to Edison.
LED lightbulbs have become mainstream
The holiday lighting market transitioned from incandescent mini bulbs to the eerie, almost alien looking, LED strings of holiday lights just a few Christmas seasons ago.
They caught on despite the cost because of a longer lifetime and the ability to connect so many strings together that Clark Griswold would have lit the entire city without an electrical drain.
The transition to LED Christmas lights is almost complete. It is hard to find the old style mini lights today. The price is still steep, but it is more manageable.
You would think this is all good news for Cree LED lightbulbs. First movers have an advantage and the market now embraces LED lighting.
Just look at the displays at the big box do-it-yourself stores. The LED bulbs are featured more than the rest.
Cree LED lightbulbs have a retailer problem
One huge problem stands in the way of Cree however. Its bulbs are NOT featured at retailers. They are lost among the crowded competitive LED offerings.
I quote Mr. Wonderful from Shark Tank as if he was speaking to the engineers who pushed the envelope for Cree LED lightbulbs. “What’s to stop one of the big guys from waking up and crushing you like the cockroach you are?”
It is a fair question to ask in 2013. Today, with the current marketing, you can ask if it is too late?
The Cree advertising is top shelf. Well-produced spots featuring Lance Redick (you might remember Lance as the very deliberate Lieutenant Cedric Daniels from the HBO series The Wire). The problem is that the advertising campaign is fixing the wrong problem.
Watch the above advertisement and ask yourself what the advertising is intending to accomplish? The commercial obviously intends to laud the category transition Cree led. It informs the customer that the Cree LED lightbulbs were on the forefront of this movement.
They want us to know— borrowing from the copy, that the humble LED turns the lighting category on its head and that they (Cree) – told us so a while ago.
Nice clean TV spot. It might even work if being first in the category mattered a jot to the shopper today.
Cree LED lightbulbs need a new rebrand strategy
Stealing Share would not have created this strategy. It is an inside-out view of the market. Looking outside-in is the foundation of most of our business. Companies look at their own stories, decide what they feel is important about their own brands and then force fit that idea into the marketing and advertising.
The current campaign only helps build the category. It sells the viability of LED lightbulbs. Anyone who has studied advertising communications knows that, in communications that builds the category, the advantage ALWAYS goes to the market leader. Sadly, for Cree, it is not the market leader. Not anymore.
The retail space is full of competitors to Cree LED lightbulbs
Look below at the offerings in LED bulbs from Home Depot and Lowes. Cree LED lightbulbs is an afterthought. Giants in the industry like GE, Sylvania, and Phillips dominate the shelves. These behemoths not only control the shelf space, they also control the price point.
As a consumer decides to choose an LED bulb as a viable replacement item, does Cree believe the customer will have second thoughts about trusting any of the BIG BOY brands? Is there any chance that these name brands are seen as an inferior product? Do consumers care who brought the first viable LED bulb to the market?
The entire Cree LED lightbulbs advertising campaign has only one hope. You must feel so guilty about your preference that you want to switch to Cree.
The campaign asks you to reward the brand that first brought you the LED idea.
Even if the retailer has a smaller selection of Cree products and they might be a few pennies more expensive. Even though the original idea was expensive and the light was blueish.
Any brand named Edison would be an instant winner if that train of thought was correct. There is heritage for you. I’m not claiming to be the smartest guy in the room (research corrects that failing). I don’t know yet what the highest emotional intensity in the category is. I am not sure what incites a shopper to change and prefer the Cree LED lightbulbs.
But I know that the answer is knowable. The entire Stealing Share process aims to discover that trigger and position the brand to own that value. It is HOW you steal market share.
Real lessons here for us all
The lesson here is to not let your engineers dictate marketing and brand strategy. Don’t drink your own Kool-Aid. Don’t take an inside-out view of the market (navel gazing) and never leave the strategic brand point of view to the advertising agency (no matter how talented).
Even if they are good at what they do (and I believe Baldwin& is very good) agencies create advertisements and they don’t create robust brand strategy.
This market is mature and yet is growing at a blazing pace
The sheer power of the competitive set and the gravitational pull of lower pricing outweighs first mover advantage.
An upstart and innovative company is not a place for this strategy. The Cree brand is now outmanned and outgunned.
Today, Cree LED lightbulbs need a message that overcomes those barriers.
Cree. Light a better way (is NOT the answer).
As a symbol of all that is wrong, the theme is clever in its double entendre and FEELS like an advertising theme-line. As such, it lacks powerful meaning and authority.
Cleverness always seems contrived and cliché.
Powerful brand themes are often a bit awkward because they strike the prospect as important and direct. They are about the customer, not the product. They seem authentic, not clever.
Maybe one of the most powerful brand themes of all time is great advice for Cree. Think different.
Cree LED lightbulbs have lost brand power was last modified: November 8th, 2016 by Tom Dougherty
Malls are empty, traffic is down 5.8% from last year nationwide. Consumers spend their money on experiences (hold that thought), such as dining or travel rather than shopping. And too many retailers count on bountiful holiday sales to save their year.
What the retail industry truly needs is clear: Department store rebranding— a complete rethinking of the model.
It is worse and more desperate for major department stores. They will become extinct. This is especially the case for the legacy department stores. In a nutshell this is the entire argument for department store rebranding. Change now or die.
Amazon in particular and the web in general is the new normal for shoppers, dominating the retail industry. Amazon dominates by being an online portal for items ranging from electronics to toys to apparel. You would be hard pressed to find anyone who has not purchased through the online giant.
Department stores. What’s next?
So what are retailers to do? More specifically, what are department stores to do? There are all sorts of tactics they can employ to stem the plunge of market share. But they will fail.
Department store rebranding from the ground-up is a needed strategic decision and not just a tactical one. Without this complete overhaul of department store rebranding initiatives and the total repositioning this means the vaunted old brands are finished. And finished soon.
We’ve dissected many retailers, including a report written for the Retail Customer Experience which encourages retailers to merge their in-store and online personalities.
We’ve also said “stop trying to be everything to everybody”. But tactical changes won’t save department stores. They need strategic change. They must redefine the value proposition for the target shoppers and convince them that their brands are relevant.
Department store rebranding restores relevancy.
One way you recapture relevancy in a market — and even succeed — is rebranding. Department store rebranding pulls them out of the ditch because, done properly, they are meaningful to target audiences. And the store is more important than simply restating product or category benefits.
Without that preference, no tactic or strategy can ensure the brands future success. If you are a department store, rebranding is the only way you can survive.
Rethinking is more than just rebranding department stores and their messages.
Rebranding department stores is more than just a new name, logo and tag line. It is fundamental change— real changes in operations and structure. Changes implemented to magnify and support the new brand strategy.
Even traditional rebranding does not go far enough. Retailers must rethink everything.
The market, especially those large department stores like Macy’s, Belk’s, JC Penney, Harrods, Bergdorf Goodman, Lord & Taylor, Bloomingdale’s, Sears, Debenhams, Meijer, Von Maur, Boscov’s, The Bon-Ton, and the like, are sliding into irrelevancy and, in many ways, are already irrelevant to the new shopper.
Shoppers vote with their dollars. And the department stores feel like they have passed their own time limit on this earth.
Probably right. Department stores: Be something different than what you are today. That’s how you survive. The ongoing sales promotions and specials that you rely on don’t do the trick. Black Friday won’t save you.
Their stores are overcrowded with product, there are no sight-lines, crowded shelves does not say variety rather it creates a feeling of being hurried. As a result shopping for apparel is boring at best and harried at its worst.
Department store rebranding for experience.
Remember, earlier on when we spoke about consumers spending money on experiences? Shopping in department stores is mundane and it does not get the pulse rising. Part of department store rebranding is to revitalize the experience and make it deeply personal.
It’s especially problematic for women. There is more selection and yet more difficulty in finding clothes that both fit and are appealing.
Men walk into a store, know their inseam, waist, arm and neck sizes and, voila, there is a suit. As a result, men are free to purchase based on the look, style, price and brand. They find what is available in their size and they buy it. Minor alterations are acceptable and easy to accomplish. Many times, off the rack is a real phenomenon.
Women shop on size and department, which varies by store and by brand. Go into a Macy’s, for instance, and find a size 4 that’s a size 2 at another department store. It’s even worse than that. Shoppers shop in that same Macy’s, find a size 2 that fits and another size 2 that doesn’t.
That variation in experience is confusing and…dull. Women look at overcrowded and jammed racks in poorly set up departments. And all this to find a garment that appeals to them aesthetically.
As a result they are forced to search the jammed racks for that design or style in their size – even though they know that label size is no guarantee of proper fitting. This means they try on everything and sort through all sorts of retail disappointment. This is not an experience. It is a nightmare.
That’s not shopping, either. It does not translate into purchases. That’s solving the Pythagorean theorem.
An example of rethinking everything at department stores.
Large department stores must rethink everything, from their brand to their operations to really rebrand effectively. Rethink the in-store experience. Attract more women shoppers. REAL preference is job number one.
Ladies apparel is a $225 billion business; so preference, not just dropping in, is immensely profitable and increases relevancy in a dying industry. It is optimal to make the department store the destination. And not just for Christmas.
Is the solution transitioning to on-line?
That still raises important business facts. Department stores own large amounts of real estate. They have expensive long-term leases. What does it do to profitability if the great department store chains are forced to retreat and rely on web sales only?
Can they survive that sort of apocalypse? There is another answer. There has to be.
If the Amazon model IS the future then bankruptcy and chapter 11 is the interim step to treading water and waiting for the merciful euthanasia. Any numbskull can suggest the move to on-line sales.
The problem is it won’t work with the current structures. Department stores desperately need an answer that lets them protect the brick and mortar investments that revitalizes shoppers today and in the future.
Success leaves clues. Shoe department retailing.
So back to the problem of finding the right fit. That is not a problem when shoppers shop for shoes or handbags. Consumers easily see what’s offered without the clutter, find the style they like in the right size and are off with it.
Shoe sizes are universal. The shopping experience is positive. Shoes are displayed on roomy racks and displays and the shopper scans all the shoes (including style, color and form) and then the shoe salesperson bring the shopper the shoes in their size.
Funny how simple it is. How civilized the experience, despite being in the morass of other crowded and jammed departments of clothing.
Why can’t women’s apparel be like that? Department stores rebranding is possible building on that successful model.
Rebranding requires retailers to rethink their stores operations and how technology is utilized. Sadly, the highest level of technology in retail today is a copy of Amazon’s model. Order online and pick up.
But apparel is a different animal, especially in women’s apparel. The sizing of women’s garments is useless. A standard that unifies sizing everywhere sounds like the big answer. Is it?
Yes, absolutely. The sheer amount of returns because clothing does not fit is an issue for Amazon too. There is no regulatory agency to govern sizing so that changes takes real effort from the industry.
Use digital tailoring software. Make the experience personal.
Instead, we recommend retailers of women’s apparel adopt the sizing structure that works in the shoe department model. That is, just use measurements. Display style samples and have sizes in the back warehouse.
Even that is unmanageable because women, unlike men, don’t share a basic shape.
However, the playing field changes as shoppers provide a profile of their exact measurements. Can high-end apparel stores digitally measure the consumer and privately store those measurements in a private file? Of course they can.
Is it then possible to alter custom fit clothes to their specifications? Yes, but that is not the best model. Executing that on a mass scale so a Macy’s or Dillard’s use it is a challenge.
Department stores can afford to automate it. Do it digitally.
As a customer visits your store for the first time, direct them to a private dressing room and digitally scan their measurements. Their exact measurements are stored in their personal and branded app.
As customers shop in the newly designed departments with newly redefined department titles based upon lifestyle rather than the traditional Juniors, Petite etc., departments. Shoppers can look at every offering, all displayed in a size 4. They now shop by cut, fabric, color, brand and style. Not size because only one size needs to be on display (just like the shoe department model we discussed earlier).
The convenience of their smart phone is utilized, They scan the code of the item of interest and the app stores the choice. The store is no longer jammed with every offering in every size. The result? The branded experience of shopping is civilized.
The racks are not crowded and the styles themselves are highlighted. The retailers use their merchandising skills to highlight offering. Suddenly, there are sight lines in the department store and an opportunity for the retailer to practice their skill at displaying wares and merchandising.
How it benefits you.
Here’s how this complete department store rebranding works. Simplify the offerings on the store floor much like high-end retailers. Customers actually see the garments in lengthy and leisurely glance. Consumers develop a digital profile on their measurements that is part of the retailers database. Because you know them and they now know you, a relationship is established.
When they return to the department store, consumers open the app to say they are in the store and what, in general, they are looking for.
If the garments are bar coded by actual measurements, then a warehouse employee gathers those garments in real time from the back warehouse (remember the shoe model) that actually fit that customer.
When shopping is done, the shopper tells the app and are assigned a dressing room. The promise is that, in 10 minutes, everything they scanned will be in their dressing room and in their size.
Better yet, customers could use the app to say they are coming to the store and to get their personal rack ready and pre-placed in a dressing room.
Think about this. If implemented, it creates a preference for the department store brand (which reflects the change in the retail experience) and a database is established to enable more effective buys from designers and better PERSONALIZED service (read how affinity programs fail here). The customer chooses if they want the clothing in the dressing room or if they require human assistance.
The newly branded department store experience.
The new experience reconfigures the department store experience and decreases the display space and increases the warehousing. It requires an investment in logistics and warehouse systems.
But the new department store is now an adventure in experience and we know that customers covet that. The department store rebranding process combined with new thinking provides new preference.
Think it’s not possible? Amazon can do it, and Amazon is the retailer that terrifies the rest of the industry. The online retail giant, who just announced plans to open brick and mortar stores, is threatening to take over the entire industry while its players stand still and watch.
Amazon transports product anywhere in the world overnight. Is a tight logistics system that creates in-store logistics providing results in 15 minutes impossible? Believe that and you are doomed.
The future in department store rebranding is in personalized automation.
All it takes is an automated, software system that makes it easy to find the right clothes at the right time from your warehouse space. It, therefore, allows the shopper to buy and shop based on taste, style and color, just like they do with shoes and handbags. It means sales improve because shoppers see the entire inventory.
Plus, in the spirit of discovery, the store adds a few surprises— a few alternatives for that shopper based upon the customer profile and design preference. All of this accomplished by an algorithm.
Department stores, don’t get caught up in — “That can’t be done.”
Change or die. That’s the simple truth. This is just one idea. The point is that department store retailers, whether they are in apparel or not— let go of age-old habits. Dead brands are full of leaders who once said, “That can’t be done.”
Department store retailers must do two things. 1) Consider a total rebrand because few retailers position the brands against the competition and as a result are not meaningful enough to target audiences. (Here’s how we rebrand for our clients.)
2) Rethink everything. Ask the right questions in brand research that goes beyond simple usage and attitudes. The current model is a rapidly dying one. And given the current trajectory, there will only be room for one of the major department stores.
There is a third strategy retailers can adopt (and many are). Do nothing and watch Amazon destroy your business. But, as in most things, victory belongs to the first mover.
Read more about the retail market and department stores here:
The US brand is under siege. Is anyone else worried about the future of the US?
I don’t mean in terms of which candidate you support in the upcoming election. There are sane people on both sides of that debate. I’m talking about the very fabric of what it means to be a citizen of the US brand. An American.
At our root, we claim to be a nation bound by a Constitution that dictates our civil behavior. Since the election of Washington until Lincoln, every election has been followed by a peaceful transition of power. It is what it means to be an American.
The one time that process failed was in 1860 and it resulted in a bloody war that ended in the complete defeat of those that opposed union. The debate for peaceful transition had been decided once and for all with an anything but peaceful five years of blood soaked division. I believe, despite all of the posturing today, that this election will also be a peaceful transition of power from the incumbent to the newly elected leadership.
The US brand has been under siege in the past
I don’t think I am alone in looking back upon the last decade with a bit of distain. Our national genius for compromise has been replaced by vitriol and obstruction. When FDR was first elected, humorist Will Rogers said, “Well, if he gets to the White House and it catches fire and burns to the ground, we will say at least he got something started.” Just like Will, I have become weary of partisan posturing and I want to get SOMETHING done.
My worry is not over the election itself, although the personal attacks are hard to hear. After all, one of these two candidates will be our next President. In many ways, I would love to hear what each candidate will do to help our country if they lose. My sincere hope is that either candidate will try their best when elected. That is the minimum I think we can expect. The rest is just politics.
What REALLY worries me about the US brand? A fear that, as a nation, we might be ungovernable in the future. A large percentage of those that are voting say they do not trust the information published from our government. They do not trust what they read in the news and they do not trust our elective process. I then wonder how they plan on making America Great Again or becoming Stronger Together?
If you don’t read the news, where are you getting your information? If you don’t believe anything the government says or publishes and don’t believe in the right of the majority to rule— well you don’t believe in our Constitution.
I can’t wait to read comments on this post. In the past, my worst fears have been realized in those comments. Aggressive and hateful bloggers post comments that prove my point. They did not read what I had to say.
Until we address the basic problem, which is IGNORANCE, we have a broken system with broken constituents. Just remember that the root of the word ignorant means to IGNORE.
The US brand. What is the United States of America? was last modified: October 25th, 2016 by Tom Dougherty
The Wells Fargo cross-selling scandal will affect more than just it and its customers. The scandal will affect the entire banking industry, which means banking leaders must be beware of simmering anger with banks and know what to do going forward.
There are already reports that other banks are being investigated by regulators. Stories have also emerged of employees at those banks saying the sales culture is just as intense there. That is, a culture that could produce the same over-reaching employees that worked at Wells Fargo.
Consumers have always had love-hate relationships with banks. To them, a bank is both important and irrelevant. Few enjoy going into a branch anymore, making branches into very expensive billboards. In fact, most people don’t even want to hear from their bank because any notice just means bad news. That’s what makes banking both low intensive and low involvement – except at that point of failure.
We’ve conducted proprietary research for banking clients and there is one constant throughout: At any given time, a customer has considered leaving that bank. It doesn’t matter the demographic involved. In fact, about 7% of the market is seriously thinking about changing their primary financial institution at any given time.
Therefore, will that percentage increase for Wells Fargo and will more people leave?
Probably not. The thought of switching feels too complex for many bank customers and, with the lack of differentiation among all banks, there is very little reason to switch.
How Wells Fargo affects all banks.
But here’s the thing. Rising distrust of the banking industry will rise and cross selling will be less accepted. This is akin to the financial crisis in 2008 because the general public blamed banks for that – and this can feel more personal.
If you think it’s difficult to reach those goals now, just hold tight through the rest of the year (and beyond).
So what are bank presidents to do? How do they keep high margins when faced with higher regulatory costs and low interest rates?
Consider this. Most customers do not switch because they don’t see any other bank as being much different. They see the banking industry as a whole, not a collection of its parts. It’s one big glob to them without any differentiating brands. The question asked is, “Will it be any different over there?”
During the recession, credit unions blew a perfect opportunity to steal market share from banks because anger was so high. Credit unions had the high ground but it only exploited it by using the same messaging about how they are not beholden to stakeholders.
That is not an emotional thought, just a logical one. It is hard for potential customers to see how no stockholders give them a personal advantage. Humans, by our very nature, generally only act when events directly affect us. The ones most likely to leave Wells Fargo, for instance, are the ones who were financially hurt by the scandal. Credit unions were just lumped into the banking industry as its little sibling. In the end, customers believed credit unions were also banks but with sign-up restrictions. So few of them joined up.
A similar situation is threatening to brew here, although not as severe but more pointed. The anger will result in weariness of banks doing any cross selling or accepting any new offer from a bank. (“They’re just going to screw me over!”) Want more customers to sign up for a credit card? Good luck.
Where the opportunity lies
But there is opportunity for the right bank (or credit union) to take advantage. Like in 2008, customers will see all banks in the Wells Fargo glow and will only prefer a new one that’s truly different and better.
The knee jerk reaction by most banks is to reassure customers (and, hopefully, new ones) that they have integrity and would never do that. Banks will say that there are safeguards in place to prevent any wrongdoing and that, we the banks, are always focused on you, the customer.
It won’t be believed or move the needle. No, instead a bank that takes ahold of the current opportunity must drop all the trite messaging that exists in the banking industry.
Now is the time to be truly different. A brand message that taps into the distrust and is truly emotional will win the day. Tone is key because banks never adopt an edgy tone that gets noticed.
In fact, tone can prompt the switch because the right one would align with the attitudes of the target audience. Telling them to switch because it’s time to take action would be a stronger message than what banks are promoting now.
To convince audiences to switch their primary financial institution is extremely hard. To get people to switch doing what they are doing now in any thing is nearly impossible.
But the door is ajar for the moment. The bank that steps in will become the leader.
What bank leaders can learn from Wells Fargo was last modified: September 23rd, 2016 by Tom Dougherty
Personal branding forms unbreakable bonds Personal Branding
Personal branding is the most overused and most misunderstood of all the branding jargon I come across in my job title (Brand Strategist).
Luckily I have never been asked to work on a personal brand in my professional career.
The whole ...
Rebranding Do’s and Don’ts for marketers Rebranding is an effort that shouldn’t be taken lightly. That’s why, when the decision to rebrand is made, it should be completed with honesty and no holding back.
Many don’t choose that route, however. Most rebranding is actually just a refreshing ...
Cree LED lightbulbs have lost brand power Cree LED lightbulbs. An Example of surrendering initiative.
For Stealing Share, Cree LED lightbulbs is in our backyard. I follow the company because it is great to see a local company innovate and win.
I remember a few short years ago, Cree was ...
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