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The Masters golf tournament began about 84 years ago. Before Tiger. Before titanium drivers. Before World War II. It has become the most famous golf tournament extant. The brand management of The Masters has been impeccable, with the exception of the diversity issues surrounding membership in the Augusta National Golf Club.  I’m told candy bars have to be packaged in green wrapper in case one accidently blows into the view of TV cameras. All wires are buried underground. Jim Nance. As much as the technology changes, as much as people change, The Masters remains the same: a venerable sports institution.

Consumer products Pilsner Urguell, Coca-Cola, and Tide Detergent have stood the test of time as brands – all through great brand management. It is yet to be seen, however, if tech companies will learn how to last. Bell Labs, perhaps the first (American) tech company, is still around but seems, to me at least, on its last legs. Bell Labs began as AT&T, then went to Lucent, which was bought by Alcatel and is now owned by Nokia. Not great brand management.

If Facebook wants to me more than Netscape and MySpace, it needs to put in play a long-term brand strategy.  People can’t live without Facebook. Now.  Brand strategy is important for service companies and tech companies. Facebook needs to step up.

 

Peace.

 

 

 

 

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I often wonder if the targets for my business truly understand what I do. Those targets, CMOs, directors of marketing and small and mid-size business owners, read “brand consultancy” and get the consultant part, but may not truly understand the depth of the word brand. Brand today is both a noun and a verb.  

Many think brand is a mark or logo. Something that, through design, helps consumers with product identity. The whole branded cattle history thing. For people who view brands this way a brand consultancy is all logo, name, style guide and, perhaps, tagline. When AT&T spun off Lucent in the 90s, the whole process, exquisitely implemented by the way, cost millions. A year later, the company had a new name, logo, building signs, stock symbol and ad campaign. But not a brand strategy. (Peter Kim’s “$14B tech startup” aside.)

The reality is, especially in today service economy, a brand is a living breathing thing. My definition of brand strategy as “an organizing principle for Product, Experience and Messaging.” Most of my targets understand this definition better. In fact, they are more apt to acknowledge needing and organizing principle that they are a brand strategy.  

So moving forward my mission it to educate my targets as to this new definition. It will be a long road but one I expect will redistribute marketing wealth in my direction. Onward.

Peace.

 

 

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Keshin…To Go.

Eric Keshin was groomed to take over McCann-Erickson.  A rising star at the company for years, he was one of John Dooner’s chosen ones. Eric ran the AT&T Business business while in his twenties and the agency powers knew enough to step out of his way. He was a quite a force of nature.

Eric built his career being decisive — never wavering when asked a question. He loved McCann…bled “Truth Well Told” blue.  And the haters who never worked there or worked in the creative dept. and could find a way to criticize a child’s finger painting, well, they will have their say. Go ahead, snark away– but McCann rocked the ad world for a number of years and Eric Keshole (as I affectionately used to call him on the softball field) was the orchestra’s key instrument.

“He’s big, he’s blue…”

I was an account manager under Eric on AT&T and Lucent. He hired me. He fired me. Both deserved. But I left McCann a much better ad guy and marketer — one who knew how to analyze business problems, when to conduct research, how to read consumers and truly listen to the market.  I also learned how to question authority and clients. And I learned to love my brands… at McCann.

If this seems almost obituary-like, it’s not. Eric will land somewhere. Just as Jim Heekin did. And when he lands it will be with a thud. A thud of money. Eric has changed markets with his decisions. Eric is no problem solver – anyone can do that. He’s an opportunity creator. I know it killed him to leave McCann. As his power waned, so waned IPG’s stock. He’s no Frenchman and though WPP would be smart to grab him, smart money is on Miles Nadal and MDC Partners.  And the gloves will be off. Peace! Or not.

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Motorola has always been a perplexing brand. Like Lucent and AT&T before it, Motorola has operated for decades in the telecommunications hardware business. Makers of big network phone switches, tiny alphanumeric pagers and cell phones, Moto became most famous for its “gotta have” Razr phone. 

 

Moto with frequent highs and lows in all of its hardware businesses has for some reason not been able to consistently fire on all cylinders. Just when they’ve had a strong run, they go soft. And the Street blames management. Carl Icahn has an answer, and it’s a good one. Split off the mobile devices company (read cell phones) and create two separate businesses.   

 

Though Nokia and Apple will be strong competitors of the handset business, and I’m sure there’s a Chinese company on the horizon, Moto has the people, pride and market power to go back on top. With renewed focus and leadership we may all be speaking into Moto phones in a year or two. (And please don’t listen to any branding companies and change the name of the business. Fight the urge.)  

 
 

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