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Can Promotional Gimmicks Save Kraft Heinz? Larry Light Says No In His Latest Forbes Piece

Read why the new CEO has his work cut out for him and promotional gimmicks simply won’t cut the mustard in Larry Light’s latest piece in Forbes. Read it here.

Larry Light in Forbes: “Instagram And WhatsApp Will Not Be Able To Fix Facebook’s Image”

Facebook can’t rely on Instagram and WhatsApp to fix it’s image problem. Read why in Larry Light’s latest piece in Forbes. Click here.

Larry Light asks “Is This Your Grandfather’s Harley-Davidson?” in Forbes

Has Harley-Davidson met its Oldsmobile moment? The venerable motorcycle brand faces the deleterious consequences of demography. On the one hand, Harley continues to be reliant on the defining mood, spirit and discretionary spending of Baby Boomers (think Marlon Brando’s outlaw motorcycle 1953 film, The Wild Ones, Jack Nicholson and Dennis Hopper in the 1969 film Easy Rider, and the hauntingly sad Rolling Stones Altamont concert). Today, many Baby Boomers are aging out of the motorcycle lifestyle.

Is This Your Grandfather’s Harley-Davidson? Forbes.com

Read the rest of Larry Light’s piece now! Click here.

The Mass Middle of the Market is Muddling its Way Into the Future

The village of Tupper Lake, NY, in the Adirondack Park has a population hovering just under 6000. In the short summer season tourists and second-home owners boost that number. Recently, there has been a seasonal gentrification with the opening of two craft breweries, but it is basically a struggling place to live. Tupper Lake is a small town 130 miles southeast of Montreal, Quebec, and 89 miles south of Cornwall, Ontario. In Tupper Lake, there is a Dollar General, a Save-A-Lot, a Family Dollar, and a Day Wholesale.

Read the rest of Larry Light’s latest LinkedIn piece here.

Read Larry Light’s Latest Forbes Piece “I’m Ford And I’m Proud”

From the piece: “Ford Motors Company is under a microscope these days. James Hackett, CEO, is continually being scrutinized. Wall Street finds his Ford vision and strategy inscrutable. So, in order to make itself clear, last October Ford introduced a new campaign. The message is “Built Ford Proud”. It is a self-praise message highlighting Ford’s 115-year history of commitment to building great vehicles and communicates Ford’s ambition to lead in the future through smart vehicles for a smart world.”

Read the rest here: I’m Ford And I’m Proud

Larry Light Explains “Why Avis And Enterprise Are Beating Car Dealerships To The Future” In Forbes

“Both Enterprise and Avis have created options that address a more flexible, adaptable, variable approach to transportation.” says Arcature CEO Larry Light. Read the rest in his Forbes piece “Why Avis And Enterprise Are Beating Car Dealerships To The Future“.

Larry Light Points Out “Why Your Favorite Healthy Snack May Not Be Healthy?” In Forbes

As the FDA is nearly about to address food and beverage labeling this coming summer, how brands can use the term “healthy” may be redefined. Read Larry’s latest Forbes piece to learn Why Your Favorite Healthy Snack May Not Be Healthy?

Larry Light Discusses The Boeing 737 Max Brand in Forbes

In his latest Forbes piece, Larry light asks the question “Can the Boeing 737 Max brand reputation be repaired?”.

Read his thoughts here: Can The Boeing 737 Max Brand Reputation Be Repaired?

NEW RULE FOR BRAND ORGANIZATIONS

The phrase “Be a runway, not a control tower” popped up a few of years ago in a Singapore newspaper. The phrase is a great way to put a frequent brand organization occurrence: the resistance to change.

For brands to be successful in the ongoing challenge to remain contemporary, the idea is not to oppose change but to drive it.  Change happens all the time. Today it is almost impossible to keep aware of everything that changes around your brand. The digital advertising business has to deal with technologies, devices, and apps that change so much faster than people adopt and adapt.

Yet, opposition to change happens. Employees may fear how change will alter their jobs. They may think that what has been the current methods of operation should continue to be the standard operating procedure. Or, they are very happy and complacent and see no need to change.

Change initiatives usually come with a detailed program, an HR course, a set of slides, a video, a script, an app, a dictionary, a metric (or series of metrics), out of-office seminars, and in many cases a slew of young, junior consultants who take up a lot of office space. For many brands with change in leadership there is also a change initiative: new person, new ideas.

A brand’s culture sometimes can be the control tower keeping everyone on course, and focusing on avoiding any and all risk. Brands flourish in supportive organizational cultures. If the organization is risk averse or closed to change, it creates an inflexible and relevancy-resistant environment.

Brands must stay relevant. This requires change. Continuing to do the same old things when the world is dynamic is a formula for failure. The biggest challenge that brands face is ensuring that brand teams are open to change, and that the organizational environment is conducive to change. In organizations undergoing change, for that change to be genuine and not superficial, cultural change initiatives must be consistently reinforced, widely communicated, supported from the top of the organization, and realistic for the organization’s current situation.

Brands are dynamic, active promises about what they will do for the customer. Brands do not do well where the control tower effect is in place. Brands need continuous renewal. Brand teams must be aware and alert to marketplace changes and anticipatory ideas for satisfying customer needs. With too much control tower, without the continuous renewal of innovation or renovation, a brand will stagnate. The business will stagnate. Enduring profitable growth requires building a continuous renewal cycle.

When there is a misalignment and conflict between the brand strategy and the brand culture, the culture prevails over the strategy. Culture always wins. Brands need supportive, flexible cultures. If the culture is inactive and risk averse, in other words, a control tower closed to change, the misalignment is serious.

Brands need the runway. But, this does not mean there are no brand boundaries. Every runway is a well-defined pathway. Skidding off the runway is no good. Taxiing outside the boundaries of the runway is dangerous. Staying within the lane but being able to have change take flight is in a brand’s best interests.

 

LEARN FROM THE MISTAKES OF OTHERS

Almost 30 years ago, Peter Senge, a systems scientist and lecturer at MIT’s business school, developed the concept of the learning organization. This idea became a big wave in organizational development and thinking. Basically, a learning organization is a company that enables the learning of its members while continuously transforming.

According to Mr. Senge and his peers, a learning organization develops because of the pressured business landscape and helps keep businesses competitive. Others, such as Harvard’s business theorist, Chris Argyris, saw learning as being keenly aware of what competitors are doing; recognizing and keeping abreast of changes and innovations in the marketplace; and, then responding with creative solutions.

When people think of learning, they often focus only on learning only from successes. Some marketers call this the “transfer of proven success.” Others refer to it as “copying with pride.” But, it is just as important to learn from mistakes. Learn from your own mistakes and learn from the mistakes of others. Learn from your close competitors’ mistakes.

Last winter, Automotive News, the auto trade press bible, reported that Lincoln would be changing its model names from letters to names. Owners and customers were confused as to which brand was which. Its brands were named MKS, MKZ, MKT, MKC, and so forth. The head of marketing, sales, and service said, “There’s a lot of challenge associated with the letters and putting those together.”

Luxury car brands tend to use letters or alphanumeric combinations.  The more mass-market vehicles tend to use names. So, for example, Toyota uses names while Lexus uses alphanumeric branding.

However, it was not just the letter names that put Lincoln in the hot seat. The vehicles were not differentiated enough to make the labels meaningful. Mercedes and BMW have highly differentiated models that are segmented by class (C-class, S- Class) for Mercedes, and series for BMW (3 series, 7 series).

Cadillac introduced a cavalcade of products. They have not learned from the mistakes of Lincoln. Cadillac had a model called ATS (a compact sedan), which was supposed to be the “BMW fighter.” It is being replaced by the CT5. Cadillac’s CTS will also be discontinued and replaced by a midsize sedan also under the CT5 nameplate. There will be the CT4, a small vehicle like a BMW 2 series. A CT6, also a sedan, will be differentiated by GM’s Super Cruise hands-free driving system. There will be the XTS, a large sedan. And, there will be the XT4, a compact cross-over, and a larger model the XT5, as well as a three-row crossover, the XT6. Is all this clear to you? The only named brand is the Escalade, which, by the way, is the only brand that actually makes money for Cadillac.

If you go on the Cadillac website, the coupes and sedans with the alphanumeric names and similar designs are just as confusing as the Lincoln models. The engines differentiate many Cadillac models. But, when parked in a lot, no one sees the engine; people see the vehicles. Striving to be a luxury brand is about more than labels and names. It is about meaningful differentiation. Mercedes, Audi, BMW, Lexus are successful not because of how they label their vehicles but by the relevant, differentiated experiences they promise and deliver.

It remains to be seen if the influx of new Cadillac models will raise the luxury image of the Cadillac brand. Unless the Cadillac models are clearly differentiated, Cadillac may find that the problem Lincoln had was not a Lincoln problem. It was a brand management problem. Learning from someone else’s mistake is far better than making the same mistake on your own.