Belk Department Stores Advertising

Belk Department Stores — Modern. Southern. Style.

Belk Department Stores LogoThis brand theme(s) is supposed to get you (are you listening shoppers?) to skip other retail stores and online shops and to spend your time and money at Belk department stores. Wait a second while I gag.

I guess the marketers at Belk believe that three mediocre ideas are better than a single great one. This is a perfect example of a ship with no rudder.

Belk Department Stores
The obligatory shot of women in gowns catching footballs

It really pisses me off that Belk went through a supposed rebranding a few years back.

Like most of the rebranding garbage out there, Belk ended up with a new logo and color palette and not much more (smells like politics to me).

Navel gazing has never helped anyone and it has not surly not helped Belk either.

Great branding has a clear and emotionaly important single idea. Obviously, Belk could not decide what that was so it settled for three ideas.

Here is what Belk Department Stores has to say about themselves:

Belk, Inc., a private department store company based in Charlotte, N.C., is the home of Modern. Southern. Style. with 293 Belk stores located in 16 Southern states and a growing digital presence.

Belk Department Stores are owned by Sycamore partnersBelk is a portfolio company of Sycamore Partners (So much for Southern Roots. Last I checked, Sycamore Partners are in NYC), a private equity firm based in New York. Belk and www.belk.com offer a wide assortment of national brands and private label fashion apparel, shoes and accessories for the entire family along with top name cosmetics, a wedding registry and a large selection of quality merchandise for the home.

Belk offers many ways to connect via digital and social media, including Facebook, Pinterest, Twitter, Instagram, YouTube and Google Plus, …”

Do I live in a imaginary world?

Belk Department Stores
Where fashion meets football. Good God. These writers actually got paid.

I live in the South (as I remember, North Carolina is south of the Mason-Dixon line).

The problem with Belk is not its origins or its Southern focus.

The problem is that it IS a department store.

Go back 30 years and that’s like being LIFE or LOOK Magazine.

Department Stores are generalist ships drowning in a sea of specialty boats.

The problem with Belk department stores is not that they are in the South or that their offerings are so yesterday or out of style (which the brand drivel passes off as a reason to choose).

The Belk department stores REAL problem

The problem is that all department stores are generalists (see Macys here). That means they do nothing exceptionally well but instead do everything just OKAY.

They need to remember that the enemy of great is not bad. The enemy of great is GOOD.

Belk Department StoresSo, what does a generalist do to save the sinking ship? I KNOW… advertise heavily on generalist media like TV!

This is nothing new, but it is so stupid that I have trouble even talking about it. But wait. It gets worse.

Belk actually advertises heavily on the ESPN SEC Network during football games. That’s because it is the main venue of all Southern women and the well heeled Southern guys.

Because, as guys, we all care and influence where our ladies shop. We all demand that our wives and girlfriends visit Belk because of the SEC connection.

Oh wait, I just remembered why I think it is such a stupid idea to me here in North Carolina.

We are an ACC state. Shit.

My Bad.

Oh, by the way… here is a REAL rebranding idea for department stores.

The US brand. What is the United States of America?

The US brand is under siege. Is anyone else worried about the future of the US?

The US BrandI 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.

The US BrandMy 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?The US brand

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.

Yiannopoulos and Twitter: Where do you stand?

Twitter is in a difficult spot. It has permanently removed Milo Yiannopoulos, the tech editor of Breitbart, after he sent numerous tweets were inflammatory and, frankly, racist, targeting SNL and Ghostbusters star Leslie Jones.

Yiannopoulos
Is the Twitter ouster of Yiannopoulos an affront to free speech?

Yiannopoulos had been temporarily removed from Twitter in the past for abusive tweets and the social media giant decided that calling Jones in the movie “a black character worthy of a minstrel show” was too much.

One of the issues here is free speech. Yiannopoulos, who is a self-proclaimed gay conservative, claims he is being made a scapegoat for the hundreds, maybe millions, of offensive tweets sent out each day.

He could be right and I admit it’s a difficult issue to parse. But I don’t think this is totally a free speech issue. It’s also a brand one. All companies must respond to change and what their target audience wants. That doesn’t mean you flip your brand over and over but that you have a brand that is sensitive to market forces that impact your target audience.

Twitter’s response to Yiannopoulos: Enough is enough.

Twitter is my go-to social media platform. (You can find me at @BrandGenius.) And I admit that most of my news is gathered there. (Well, that and NPR.) I follow reporters, other strategists like me, and many news outlets.

I have also been aware of the Wild West nature of tweeting. I see responses to tweets that are extremely offensive, rude and outright ignorant. To defend free speech means you have to take the good with the bad, right?

But I’ve also sensed a rising disgust among many users over those kinds of tweets. People are coming to the defense of the original tweet (the non-offensive one) and expressing their repugnance to the comments. In a way, by deleting Yiannopoulos, Twitter is responding to its audience. It may sound like censorship but I think it’s more of the equivalent of making sure the adult gift shops are not located in your neighborhood. Yiannopoulos can go to other social media platforms, but civility will remain here.

I thought about this more when considering the potential ouster of Roger Ailes at FOX News after reports of numerous incidents of sexual misconduct. No matter your politics, you have to admit FOX News has been a brilliant construction that still leads cable news ratings (especially during the current Republican convention). Ailes has been the architect of that.

But FOX News has chosen not to stand by him. Maybe there are other factors involved in his ouster, but my gut tells me that FOX News (and the Murdochs, who own it) are responding to a change in the market. More and more of us are opposing sexual misconduct. To maintain its relevancy, FOX News has made a business decision.

That’s what Twitter has done here. It has basically made Yiannopoulos an example that states that courtesy should be the rule of the platform. Twitter said it permanently deleted Yiannopouls because he violated “rules prohibiting participating in or inciting targeted abuse of individuals.”

To me, that’s the Twitter brand remaining relevant.

Gannett wants to buy Tribune

The news that Gannett, owners of USA Today, is offering to buy Tribune Publishing should not come off as a surprise. Tribune, which owns the Los Angeles Times and the Chicago Tribune among other assets, had been clinging to life in the new digital world.

Gannett
Sadly, Tribune Publishing should take Gannett’s offer.

You don’t need me to tell you how difficult newspapers have found it staying relevant when instant news comes over our social media apps and fewer people actually have a subscription to a newspaper.

Newsrooms nationwide are smaller, with half the news staff or smaller than they had years ago. Reporters are generally younger because they are cheaper. We’ve seen newspapers shut down, consolidate with another media group or become online only. A newspaper that a colleague of mine once wrote for downsized so much that it rented out most of its building and moved the newsroom into the cafeteria. True story.

It’s the way of today’s world.

Gannett has survived while others have not.

Gannett has been one of the few that have survived, primarily on the back of USA Today. It has firmly established itself a position, as the newspaper that gives you national headlines (just like social media does) that targets those who are away from home. You can’t go to any hotel in America and not find a USA Today.

Tribune, meanwhile, has seen half of its value decline in the last nine months, while Gannett has gained 16% in value over that same time. (It also owns newspapers in Phoenix, Indianapolis and Cincinnati, among many others.) It has also been one of the few media giants to understand how to have a strong online presence. It has a brand.

What makes this offer so compelling is that Tribune stated it has no interest in discussing the offer. I can understand the reluctance. Before the newspaper crash hit, those who worked in the industry thought of Gannett as superficial in terms of reporting news. If it bought your paper, it meant that investigative reporting was a thing of the past. Editors and reporters scoffed at the Gannett model.

Sadly, that’s where we are when it comes to the media today, as I’ve stated before. There are very few places that truly dig into issues, and they tend to come from the e-magazine side or from a giant like The New York Times.

It’s a good and honorable battle Tribune is fighting but Gannett is counting on Tribune making the realization that it can only survive and be relevant if it adopts some of the Gannett strategies and tactics.

As disappointing as it may be to those old ink-stained reporters, Gannett is probably right.

Rolling Stone rape story a try at relevancy

The damning report from the Columbia Journalism School on the Rolling Stone rape story that outlined disgusting events on the University of Virginia campus is in one way no shock to me.

It’s not just that investigators found nothing to support the reports or even that Rolling Stone started to back away from the story after the allegations started falling apart.

No, the report is not shocking to me because Rolling Stone, while an important touchstone during my teen and young adult years, has recently had trouble being relevant in today’s media-saturated world. It was only natural that, with declining relevance, the editors jumped too eagerly on a hot-button subject.

Rolling Stone didn't complete its reporting.
Rolling Stone didn’t complete its reporting.

Rolling Stone used to be home to the best album reviews, scathing investigative pieces and unusual voices like Hunter S. Thompson. It was part of the cultural zeitgeist.

Today, the publication, by some reports, has fewer subscribers than either InStyle, Esquire and Good Housekeeping. (Admittedly, subscription numbers can be misleading when you account for Internet readership. But the point still stands.) It is about a relevant today as the eight-track tape.

I’m not suggesting that Rolling Stone intentionally slanted the story to make readers recoil at the actions described in the article. I actually think honest mistakes were made in an attempt to latch onto a story that promised to crack open the very real issue of campus rape.

Because how else can you explain the reporter not talking to the friends of “Jackie,” who said in later statements that they always thought Jackie was fabricating the story? Or even talk to the alleged rapists?

I think Rolling Stone and its editors were always on the lookout for a story that would tap into the cultural discussion, as they should be. When developing this story, I imagine there was a rush to recapture the edgy reporting it was long known for.

But in reclaiming a brand, the editors and the reporter failed to do their job properly. As the report itself said, Rolling Stone “did not do enough…to close the gaps in (the) reporting.”

It was, in a small way, an over-extension by the magazine to reach back and reclaim brand equity. It jumped too quickly.