Will the Martha Stewart Brand Endure a Guilty Verdict?

Originally published in the Austin Business Journal, March 8, 2004.

“In light of Martha Stewart’s guilty verdicts, what can a company do to protect its branding and reputation?”

Martha Stewart is a case history from which few companies can draw direct parallels, as only a handful of brands are built so completely upon the personal reputation, expertise and personality of a single individual. But there is a lesson in this for all marketers:

Tarnished brands are resilient, IF the quality of the product is pleasing to consumers. Product satisfaction will gloss over a variety of brand ills.

My personal prediction is that the Martha Stewart brand will survive. Why? Because of the reservoir of goodwill built up over the years by a marketer that has been smart about providing products that fit the tastes and expectations of customers.


Lighting the brand fire within.

Originally published in Austin Business District Magazine in Sept./Oct. 2005

Dear Brand Guru, I run a small Austin business and my marketing director says we need to work on our market positioning. How much is this going to cost me?

I will be arriving at your office with a small front-end loader. I prefer my fee in un-marked bills, packed in cellophane bundles of $5,000 each. Trust me, it’s worth every penny.

Hey, I’m not Michael Dell!

As my son says, “No duh.” Michael has buildings full of brand managers, you don’t. In fact, all of my clients are not Michael Dell. Most are just ordinary folks who sell services, or bend sheet metal for a living.

Bend sheet metal?

Manufacture stuff, primarily stuff that’s not sexy. I could make real money branding sports drinks that sweat out of your body in gushing rainbows, but I like living in Austin so here we are.

Continue reading Lighting the brand fire within.

When your brand gets too personal

Originally published in Austin Business District Magazine in Nov./Dec. 2005

Dear Brand Guru, I just read the book “Ten Radical Brands that Will Blow Your Mind While Lowering Your Cholesterol,” and I’m a bit confused.

Sorry, I wasn’t paying attention. I’ve been practicing my “concerned and caring” expression. Are you asking me a question?

All these high-flying brand stories. They seem too big and complex to have application in my business.

Let me guess. Harley-Davidson, Dell, Coke, Google, Starbucks, tell me when to stop.

Continue reading When your brand gets too personal