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Atlanta, Georgia USA
branding guru, consultant, bestselling author, speaker, media personality
Recent Activity
Starbucks, like most companies these days, is obsessed with buzz. Not the kind you get from a double-espresso but the kind you find online with tweets, hashtags and likes. It used to be that the major media outlets controlled the conversation. Today, consumers via social media have the power to start, join or change the conversation. The media covers the buzz instead of creating it. As a result, companies are trying harder than ever to encourage consumers to start conversations online with hashtag campaigns. Continue reading
Posted Mar 19, 2015 at Ries' Pieces
We saw fewer special effects, sexy girls and kicks to the crotch this year. And the few that took that route fell flat. What did score big is what always scores big. Ads from brands that own strong positions in the mind, that dominate categories and that hammer us with a familiar theme and visual in a new and entertaining way. Budweiser, Snickers, Doritos and Always scored big. Continue reading
Posted Feb 2, 2015 at Ries' Pieces
The Weed Wars are coming. As the legalization of marijuana continues to move forward, we will see hundreds of homegrown brands turn into a handful of big brands and eventually a couple of dominant brands. It happened with cars; it happened with beer; it happened with computers; it happened with energy drinks. It will happen with marijuana. Continue reading
Posted Nov 19, 2014 at Ries' Pieces
What kills most marketing programs is “change.” When you keep changing your slogans, you confuse consumers and after a while they don’t attention to what you are trying to say. Over the years, Burger King has had a lot of slogans. Remember “Where is Herb?” Burger King spent over $40 million trying to find him. They never did! Continue reading
Posted May 21, 2014 at Ries' Pieces
Unless you were a Seattle fan, the 2014 Super Bowl wasn’t a super game to watch. The puppy bowl was more competitive. So that left a lot of pressure on the commercials to deliver some much needed excitement and entertainment. A few spots delivered but most were not very memorable. One thing that continues to make the difference between failure and success is the use of a consistent visual hammer. Continue reading
Posted Feb 3, 2014 at Ries' Pieces
Find out what the top things you need to do to make your brand the best it can be in 2014. Continue reading
Posted Dec 19, 2013 at Ries' Pieces
Motorola invented the category of cellphones. Nokia brought cellphones to the masses. BlackBerry invented the keyboard phone for email. Samsung brought better designs. iPhone invented the touchscreen internet device. What is really striking about iPhone compared to other cellphone brands is the consistency in their design and simplicity of the naming. Each phone has the same look and each new model focused on one or two major improvements sure to generate lots of buzz. Continue reading
Posted Sep 19, 2013 at Ries' Pieces
Yahoo took a memorable, unique logo and after 30 days and 30 designs ended up with a rather average, boring, uninspired one. Marissa Mayer was clearly trying to make her mark on the company by changing the logo and giving it her own personal touch. And while Yahoo succeeded in getting a lot of attention and PR. The 30 days of logos created a media frenzy for the big reveal. Yahoo’s redesign ultimately failed in my opinion because the big reveal wasn’t very exciting. (Reminded me of the Segway launch!) Continue reading
Posted Sep 6, 2013 at Ries' Pieces
The brand with a generic name YouSendIt but a nice visual hammer (paper airplane) is now Hightail. A better brand name, but it sadly lacks a visual hammer. When picking a new name, what the visual will be is too... Continue reading
Posted Jul 17, 2013 at Ries' Pieces
If the Super Bowl is about beer, chips and boobs, then this weekend’s Oscars ceremony is all about diet soda, yogurt and hunks. Continue reading
Posted Feb 21, 2013 at Ries' Pieces
When it comes to Super Bowl ads you can always count on seeing several things: Celebrities, special effects, babies, animals, sexy girls and dudes getting hit in crotch. This year I expect nothing to be much different. But even in this social media obsessed world, success still comes down to producing a Super Bowl ad that is engaging, relevant, on message. And if it has a Visual Hammer too? Touchdown! Continue reading
Posted Feb 1, 2013 at Ries' Pieces
When you combine a focus, name, verbal nail and visual hammer, you can build a brand that cuts through the mind and goes straight to the heart. Wounded Warrior Project does just that. Continue reading
Posted Jan 24, 2013 at Ries' Pieces
I appoligize for not posting as often to this blog as I should. I have been writing it for almost 10 years now. And during that time I've published three books and given birth to two boys. It's been an... Continue reading
Posted Jan 24, 2013 at Ries' Pieces
Obama's “forward” slogan won him four more years in the White House did what most slogans do not. It cut both ways. It said something positive about his brand while also saying something negative about the competition. That’s tough to do. Obama set up the election as a choice between going forward with him or going backwards with Romney. Continue reading
Posted Nov 8, 2012 at Ries' Pieces
Frozen yogurt is a popular summertime treat and personal favorite of mine; it is also a category that has experienced tremendous growth with new brands branching out in all directions. Like a tree that branches out as it grows, categories grow and diverge over time. What was once one category ends up diverging into multiple categories. And many times the original leader fails to keep up. Here is my recap of the Fro-Yo wars. Continue reading
Posted Jul 18, 2012 at Ries' Pieces
Happy Birthday America! We are celebrating the Fourth of July holiday in the United States today! I'm also using today to kick-off my new Visual Hammer of the Week series. It should be no surprise that this week's selection for Visual Hammer of the week is the Flag of the United States of America. Continue reading
Posted Jul 4, 2012 at Ries' Pieces
Captcha boxes are annoying and customers hate them. But companies need them to stop the bad guys. Or do they? Could a branding and research opportunity replace captcha and still stop fraud? Continue reading
Posted Jun 5, 2012 at Ries' Pieces
A company makes a major mistake when it develops a verbal strategy without considering what visual hammer might help hammer that idea into consumers' minds. Continue reading
Posted May 10, 2012 at Ries' Pieces
In 1990, Audi hired my Dad to help them revive the brand in the U.S. after the 60 Minute segment that nearly destroyed the brand. I remember the case well and was curious about what his exact ideas for Audi were so I dug up a copy of his report. Al’s advice: "Don't try to fight a bad perception...... Continue reading
Posted Apr 18, 2012 at Ries' Pieces
My father's theory on positioning was revolutionary, but it had a weakness. Invariably, positioning strategy was expressed verbally. You looked for a verbal hole in the mind and then you filled that hole with your brand name. The best way into the mind is not with words. It’s with visuals. They can play a more important role in marketing than words because visuals hold emotional power that words alone do not. Emotion is the glue that sticks memories and brands into the mind. Continue reading
Posted Mar 12, 2012 at Ries' Pieces
While the gridiron battle between the New York Giants and the New England Patriots was close, the advertising battle on the tube was not. The Super Bowl battle for commercial success might better be described as a mixture of the old classics, the new stuff, the overly sexy and the over the top. Continue reading
Posted Feb 6, 2012 at Ries' Pieces
Tim Tebow is the hottest story in sports. While the Green Bay Packers are charging ahead with an undefeated record, everybody is talking about the Mile High Messiah and Tebowing. How did this happen? What can you learn from it? Continue reading
Posted Dec 16, 2011 at Ries' Pieces
Steve Jobs was a rebel who didn’t go about life or work in the normal way. He dropped out of college, was a fruitarian for a time and was often called an arrogant, obnoxious, weirdo. Being a rebel, however, wasn’t the secret of Steve Jobs. In our youth-obsessed culture, rebels are a dime a dozen. Steve Jobs was a technology genius. But being a technology nerd wasn’t Job’s secret either. Silicon Valley is filled with brilliant technology nerds. Steve Jobs was a design genius. He was obsessed with creating tools that were not just good but beautiful. But being a design genius wasn’t the secret of Steve Jobs either. The world has many great rebels, great technology geeks and great designers. What made Steve Jobs so unique was his supremely-gifted marketing ability. Continue reading
Posted Nov 9, 2011 at Ries' Pieces
Netflix owns movies-by-mail. They might make a lot of money today, but are not the future. Netflix has wisely bet on streaming as its future. And they have wisely made an aggressive move to be first in the mind in order to dominate the new streaming-video industry. But Netflix made a critical error by using the same name on its new streaming business as it does on its existing mail business. It might be logical to take a trusted and loved brand name and extend it from one business to the next. But it doesn’t make marketing sense. As time goes, each business will compete and clash with each other. What Netflix needed was a new brand name for streaming not mail. Continue reading
Posted Sep 20, 2011 at Ries' Pieces
In a down economy with consumers pinching every penny, you would think that sales at a retailer synonymous with "cheap" would be up, not down. Yet sales at Walmart have been down for two years in a row. So how does the world's largest retailer defend its position in the mind? Advertising. Massive advertising that reminds consumers in a memorable way what the Walmart brand stands for. Continue reading
Posted Aug 22, 2011 at Ries' Pieces