Category Archives: brand strategy

Speaking of Kanye…Introducing Big Baller Brand

Via your classmate Sinisa:

Big Baller Brand (BBB) is a new brand trying to penetrate a competitive apparel market dominated by Nike, Adidas and Under Armour. The brand is inspired by the 3 Ball brothers: Lonzo, LiAngelo and LaMelo Ball. Lonzo the most notable brother and oldest at the age of 19 finished his freshmen year at UCLA and has entered the 2017 NBA Draft.

The sports world is forever changed? This might be a bit far-fetched…. I watched some of Lonzo games during his freshman year and he’s definitely good, but will he be a superstar like Michael Jordan, Kobe Bryant or LeBron James? These guys changed the sports world and the game of basketball with their play and even clothing lines, but is Lonzo there yet?

He’s not the consensus #1 projected draft pick, he didn’t take his team to the into the Final 4 of the 2017 NCAA Division 1 March Madness Basketball Tournament, he hasn’t even played a minute in the NBA or scored a point professionally… but his shoe has changed the sports world forever? I guess when you look at the $495 price tag of the ZO2 Prime, it has changed the sports world. There hasn’t even been a pair of Air Jordan’s priced this high in years, making the BBB the most expensive basketball shoes in the market.

When Nike, Adidas and Under Armour all pass on signing Lonzo to an endorsement deal and don’t want anything to do with the BBB prototype shoe what do you do…. You compare your shoe to a Rolls Royce and jack up the price since like a Rolls Royce not everyone has the disposable income to buy a ZO2. “If you can’t afford the ZO2’s you’re NOT a BIG BALLER”

Big Baller Brand has received a lot of buzz on social media, however the over 51,000 likes and re-tweets translated into only 500 pairs of shoes sold in the first week. The brand is looking more like an overpriced version of the Starbury shoe…



Oh Say, Kanye See….









Via your classmate Vincent:

When you hear “brand,” you often think of a corporate brand image. With Pepsi and United Airlines recently making headlines with brand blunders, is it time corporations take some inspiration from individuals who have been able to make negative press a positive thing? A recent article on ( essentially praises Kanye West for his ability to draw attention to himself – arguing that any PR is good PR. Anyone who has watched his interviews might conclude that he is borderline sociopathic; but is he really? He might just have an absolutely perfect understanding of what it means to attract attention and garner more buzz for his upcoming business ventures and music production.
His famed wife, Kim Kardashian, knows how to do the same. Sure, she’s had a tape or two (not that I’ve seen them) and tons of controversial imagery released to the public over the years but what remains true is people want to know what she’s up to. This can’t be any better for her brand. I think one thing to note about all these individuals is their ability to stand out, and remain consistent and true to their brand: Kanye West will always be Kanye and Kim will be Kim.
Is it an individual’s values that we are attracted to, or more so the fact that they are who they are and the public almost rewards them for their unique characteristics? See Donald Trump for further supporting evidence. In the article, president and CEO of a global marketing agency JWT says “it’s a matter of being able to find and activate those consumers to see who you are,” and “that doesn’t necessarily take a lot of money. It does take a lot of effort”. Is this something that corporate giants can take home and learn from? Are those millions of dollars in ad-campaigns going to the right place or has the internet completely changed the way a business should develop and maintain it’s brand?

For automotive brands, tires aren’t the only thing requiring alignment.

via your classmate Mayusanth:

When you hear the word “Lamborghini,” you may think of a brand known to build fast, exotic, luxury cars. The Italian car maker has always differentiated itself with its sleek design and performance, as illustrated by the Hurcan, Aventador and Gallardo models.  Recently, however, the company announced that it will be entering a new market with a Hybrid SUV with a 4.0 twin turbo V8 producing over 600 hp.

This is surprising given that the target demographic for SUVs might be family-oriented individuals who might take their kids to hockey practice or a soccer game. For me, ‘SUV’ and ‘sports car’ do not go in the same sentence. Producing a 4.0 Twin turbo V8 SUV, is like injecting Redbull into a 5 year child. There is no need for that much power! Besides, it’s illegal to go upwards of 120km/h on most North American roads. Possibly most importantly, customers probably do not buy the “Lamborghini brand” for sustainability, but for style and performance.

Therefore, a hybrid version of a Lamborghini might damage its overall brand equity and brand loyalty. Customers love Lamborghini’s brand elements: the roar of the engine, the speed and the luxury. With A sustainable hybrid powertrain, you cannot get the same feel and experience. Furthermore, Lamborghini competes in the super luxury sport cars market with low volume and high exclusivity. By introducing a Hybrid SUV, the brand seems to be deviating from a successful business model into a high volume market. As a result, I believe this will tarnish their existing brand perception and customer loyalty.

According to the article below, Lamborghini’s CEO believes that this SUV model will double overall sales without compromising the existing brand. I have to disagree; I believe customers will see this as a “profit generation” strategy and will call their bluff by ignoring the new vehicle. One thing is very clear to me: Lamborghini is desperate and looking for new avenues for growth. However, I would argue that spinning off a hybrid SUV from an established luxury brand isn’t sporty, it’s stupid.

Note to Samsung: Don’t Screw This Up

Galaxy Note 7

Via your classmate Shashin:

In August 2016, Samsung introduced the newest addition to its popular Note Phone series: The Note 7. Boasting moderate improvements from the last Note Series, the Note 7 came with a wide range of features and an extensive battery capacity. The tech world rejoiced, for a while.

Within a few days, news of overheating and exploding batteries started coming to light. By mid-September, Samsung stopped selling the Note 7 and issued a voluntary recall of devices sold before Sept/15th. Samsung tried to identify the root cause and fix the devices before reselling them, but the problem persisted. By the end of the year, Samsung was forced to pull all Note 7 products from the market and reimbursed the customers in exchange for the devices.

A recent article in Harvard Business Review highlights Samsung’s recovery from this fiasco, and predicts that in the long-term, the brand will not only survive, but thrive. The author highlights 3 key insights into the Samsung brand:

  1. A large, loyal base of existing customers insulates the brand.
  2. Geographically identified brands bounce back quickly.
  3. The Note 7 crisis is limited to a single Samsung product and is self-contained.

The issue around the Note 7 batteries and Samsung’s reaction to it epitomizes why customer experience and brand management are critical to a company’s survival. Having a large base of customers helps to insulate a brand from rapid market loss. In Q2 of 2016, Samsung sold over 78M smartphones. Including all the products that Samsung sells, the company’s consumer base would be ~1B customers. During the recall period, customers chose to replace the defective devices with brand new Note 7 devices, further evidence that loyalty runs deep in Samsung’s base. Further, Samsung’s speedy response and ownership of the issue gave consumers additional confidence in the brand and helped them look past its transgression. Given a history of successful and popular product offerings, the loyal customer base will quickly put the Note 7 debacle behind them.

If this issue plagued a smaller brand without a large, loyal customer base, then then negative publicity would have decimated the company. In Samsung’s case, the culmination of having a loyal customer base and being proactive while dealing with the crisis will help ensure the brand will rebound in the long term.

Do you agree?

Miles to Go Before It Improves…

air miles

Via your classmate Victor:

Air Miles has been in the news because it attempted to implement a policy in which loyalty points would expire after a certain period of time. Rather that gaining acceptance and increasing redemption rates, Air Miles angered their membership base. Eventually LoyaltyOne, the company that owns and operates customer loyalty programs, decided to cancel the new policy that would place an expiration date on reward miles but only after there was much resistance from customers and regulators. Not only did LoyaltyOne receive complaints about the new policy, they received feedback about extremely long wait times for customer service and regulation had to be put in place to ban the expiry of points in Ontario.

In an attempt to rebuild their brand equity and establish credibility amongst their user base, Air Miles is attempting to develop new points of differentiation by improving its customer service and expanding its reward offerings to non-elite members. Despite their best efforts, it appears as though consumers’ perception of the Air Miles brand has been severely tarnished. A customer may now perceive this brand to be less trustworthy, manipulative and unreliable. Even in LoyaltyOne’s attempts to rectify their damaged brand image, there was still consumer disapproval. If a potential customer is deciding which loyalty program to register, it will be difficult for Air Miles to establish itself as a better choice compared to the competition.

The brand now has a reputation of not being responsive to customer needs and having inadequate customer service. This signals to consumers that Air Miles is not dedicated to their needs and if a situation arises requiring support, Air Miles may not be available or willing to help them. In the future, to improve the damaged Air Miles brand, LoyaltyOne should reposition itself in the minds of its customers by better understanding the impact of its actions prior to launching new changes to their policies and services. Rather than taking a reactive approach and responding only to negative consumer feedback, LoyaltyOne now needs to be proactive in understanding how it can add value to its offerings within the market while improving its brand’s perception.

Is there such a thing as “artisanal funding”?

Clorox Co.'s Soy Vay has teamed with Three Jerks Jerky on a Kickstarter campaign behind Veri Veri Teriyaki

Just when we thought we’d heard of large companies trying everything to launch brands that are be perceived as small, authentic, “craft” and (implicitly) independent (I’m looking at you, Caleb Cola), here’s a new wrinkle.

AdAge reports that Soy vay (a quirky brand of Jewish-Asian mash-up sauces and marinades) is raising money to fund a partnership with Southern-California Three Jerks on a new teriyaki-flavoured beef jerky on Kickstarter.

Sounds cool–and delicious–except for the fact that Soy Vay is owned by parent brand Clorox.

Should large CPG companies turn to Kickstarter? What happens when funders find out they’re funding Clorox, which, aside from providing a less-than-luscious association for beef jerky, can surely afford to launch its own products?

Adam Simons, head of the Emerging Brands Group at Clorox, said the move was, “less about we don’t have the cash. That was way low on the priority list.” The idea was to help foster a mindset of running as “entrepreneurial and scrappy, very much like the startup within the company.” For whom: consumers or employees?


Blackberry to stop manufacturing the Classic

Blackberry CEO Jon Chen announced that it will discontinue manufacture of the device that brought the company–then Research in Motion, or RIM–to fame and fortune.

While Chen resuscitated the device when he arrived in 2013, today’s announcement underscores how–and how much–the Blackberry brand is evolving to stay competitive in a rapidly changing marketplace.

While we might all agree that brands need to change with the times, there’s something to be said for the symbolism of a flagship product. Famously, when Coke tried to change its namesake to “New Coke” consumers reacted badly, forcing the company to bring back the original product as “Coke Classic,” a naming convention that brings us back to Blackberry.

Do you agree with CEO Chen’s decision to delist the Blackberry Classic? Or would you have kept it in limited production as a symbol of the company’s pioneering innovations?