Archives For March 2013

Ben and Jerry’s was founded by Ben Cohen and Jerry Greenfield in an old gas station in Burlington, Vermont in 1978. Today, Ben and Jerry’s is the leading super premium all-natural ice cream in the country. It grew from one small shop into a global brand. Ben and Jerry’s was purchased by Unilever in  2001. Ben and Jerry’s Ice Cream is known for their rich taste and eclectic variety of flavors and names, including “Cherry Garcia”, “Chocolate Therapy” and “Chubby Hubby”. The brand has a fun-loving outgoing personality. Its eye-catching packaging does a great job communicating the personality of the brand.

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Since its beginning, the brand has stuck to its beliefs and principles of giving back to society. For years, the company has used ice cream flavors like “Berry Volunteer” to promote good deeds and to encourage employees to volunteer to give back to the community. The company contributes 7.5% of annual pre-tax profit to fund community oriented projects. Ben and Jerry’s worked with sustainable, Fair Trade Certified and organic suppliers, paid premium prices to dairy farmers from Vermont who did not give their cows growth hormones; and created business opportunities for depressed areas and disadvantaged people.

Ben & Jerry’s is founded on and dedicated to a sustainable corporate concept of linked prosperity. Their mission consists of 3 interrelated parts:

Social Mission: To operate the Company in a way that actively recognizes the central role that business plays in society by initiating innovative ways to improve the quality of life locally, nationally and internationally.

Product Mission: To make, distribute and sell the finest quality all natural ice cream and euphoric concoctions with a continued commitment to incorporating wholesome, natural ingredients and promoting business practices that respect the Earth and the Environment.

Economic Mission: To operate the Company on a sustainable financial basis of profitable growth, increasing value for our stakeholders and expanding opportunities for development and career growth for our employees.

In 2012, after pioneering the socially responsible business movement, Ben & Jerry’s became the first wholly-owned subsidiary to gain B Corp Certification. B Corps are a new type of corporation which uses the power of business solve social and environmental problems.

Ben and Jerry’s is a great story and model of a profitable company that markets a great product, has built a successful global brand, and has had a positive impact on society.

Free Cone Day is on April 9th. This tradition started in 1979 when Ben and Jerry celebrated their first year of business. They wanted to thank everyone in the best way they know how: with free ice cream.

What is your favorite flavor of Ben and Jerry’s Ice Cream?

 

This is an update to a post from January 2013 that I published when Jim Boeheim passed Bobby Knight and moved into second place on the all time win list for college basketball coaches with his 903rd win. Last night Syracuse defeated Indiana 61-50 to earn a chance on Saturday to move on to the Final Four. In my opinion, this was one of the best coached games of Boeheim’s career. His quiet leadership style and innovative tactics were on display last night. His team responded and played as an unselfish unit for forty minutes. He utilized Syracuse’s size advantage and zone defense to confuse number one-seeded Indiana. This win had to be especially sweet for Jim Boeheim because he was haunted for years by the 1987 National Championship Game defeat by one point at the hands of Indiana.

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Jim Boeheim is synonymous with Syracuse Basketball and the BIG EAST conference. During his 37 years, Coach Boeheim has built Syracuse into one of the most successful college basketball programs in the country. Syracuse Basketball is one of the most strongest college sports brands. The loyal fan base is responsible for large crowds at “The Dome” and an “orange wave” of supporters in Madison Square Garden during the BIG EAST tournament.

The formation of the BIG EAST conference during the 1979-80 season helped put Syracuse into the national sports spotlight. The BIG EAST tournament in March each year was a must see event. The best college basketball in the country was played in the BIG EAST. High profile players and intensely competitive coaches like John Thompson, Lou Carnesecca and Jim Calhoun made the BIG EAST fun. The rivalries were great. There was nothing like a Syracuse-Georgetown or a Syracuse-Connecticut game at the Garden. The BIG EAST made an emotional connection with college basketball fans. I will never forget my first BIG EAST game at the Garden. For Jim Boeheim and the other pioneers of BIG EAST basketball it was about living a passion, the competition, camaraderie with other coaches and being part of something unique that was bigger than any individual. Isn’t that what we are looking for in or careers?

Syracuse Basketball will continue to thrive with its move to the ACC and likely will benefit from increased exposure. THE BIG EAST as we have known it for the past 34 years will no longer exist. This a tale of two sport brands headed in very different directions. The money that is earned from playing in a football conference will help Syracuse but nothing will replace the passion of Jim Boeheim and the BIG EAST.

I had the honor of playing golf in the Jim Boeheim golf classic in 2008. I had five minutes one on one with Jim. He was a humble regular guy. He talked with great pride about the 2003 National Championship Team. Jim’s passion is Syracuse Basketball. His purpose was first to develop young men, then to win the BIG EAST championship and them take his team to the Final Four.  Jim Boeheim and his wife Juli are very involved in supporting charitable causes in Central New York.

Boeheim and Syracuse survived a tough 2011-12 with the Bernie Fine case and Fab Melo’s suspension. He has often been criticized over the years for being gruff, for teams that couldn’t win the big game or for teams that couldn’t shoot free throws. For 37 years Jim Boeheim and Syracuse Basketball has been a work of art.

Will Syracuse Basketball continue to thrive without the BIG EAST conference and after Jim Boeheim retires?

 

In a December post, I expressed concern that the Yankees under the leadership of Hank and Hal Steinbrenner did not understand the importance of the franchise as a Global Sports Brand committed to winning. This is an update to that post. Over the past three months, the Yankees situation has gone from bad to worse. They have experienced a rash of injuries to aging stars, free agents have departed, questionable players have been signed and Mariano Rivera, one of their true icons announced his retirement. The Yankees growth as a sport brand is tied to their ability to continually engage their demanding fan base with a winning team. The baseball landscape has changed in the post steroid era and the Steinbrenner Brothers and Brian Cashman have been slow to respond the changing model.

The Yankees did get some good news yesterday. For the sixteenth straight year, the Yankees are baseball’s most valuable team and brand, worth $2.3 billion according to Forbes. An article last year on forbes.com also named the New York Yankees as the most valuable sports team brand in the world. However, I believe that their brand value is at risk because the new leadership team does not understand the essence of the brand.

This brand equity was built on a single-minded focus on winning. The brand’s core purpose has been to win the World Championship every year. Anything less was viewed as a failure. With 27 World Series Championships, the Yankees are the most successful professional sports franchise in history. Under George Steinbrenner’s leadership, the Yankees aggressively pursued championships and built a powerful brand. He spent whatever it took to put a winning team on the field and business and sports success followed. The Yankees global fan base has become accustomed to winning while generating huge revenues for the brand.

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However under the leadership of Hank and Hal Steinbrenner, the Yankees new fiscally responsible approach to business is putting the brand equity that their father built at risk. Their core purpose has shifted from winning world championships to running the team as a business first. While improving the short-term bottom line, they risk long-term revenue growth and brand equity by fielding a good enough team. They are expecting that their long time loyal fans will accept this approach. It has been suggested to me that the Steinbrenner brothers plan to sell the team in the near future. If this is their approach, I hope they do. If George Steinbrenner were alive today the actions of the team’s leadership would not be tolerated.

I am a long time Yankees fan who has great memories and stories from watching games at old and new Yankees Stadium. I have witnessed two World Championship Games live, countless Yankees-Red Sox battles and Aaron Boone’s famous home run. 2012 was the first year in memory that I did not attend a Yankee game at the stadium. I felt the 2012 team was flawed, built to be competitive, but not win a championship. Unlike previous years, I am not excited for the baseball season to start on Monday. I fear a return to the mediocrity of the late 80’s.

This off-season the Yankees have sat back and watched the Blue Jays, Giants, Angels, Pirates and Red Sox all invest to improve their brands and teams. This has been hard to watch. The Yankees have been outbid for players they would have never lost in the past. A team with a great history of catchers that includes names like Dickey, Berra, Howard, Munson and Posada is going to battle with Francisco Cervelli and Chris Stewart as their catchers. The San Francisco Giants have passed the Yankees and become the model franchise in Major League Baseball winning two world championships in the past three years.

What do you think of the New York Yankees short and long-term prospects for winning a championship?

The essential “secret” of a Krispy Kreme doughnut is to eat it hot. It is formed from dough extruded by air pressure to form a perfect doughnut shape. Technically, there isn’t such a thing as a doughnut hole at Krispy Kreme. For over 75 years, Krispy Kreme has been known for its melt-in-your-mouth original glazed doughnuts and a memorable store experience. When Krispy Kreme doughnuts are hot, there is no other donut like it. The joy of eating one hot is hard to over-estimate. They are famous for their “hot light” which signaled to customers that a fresh batch was coming out. An appealing piece of the in-store experience is that consumers could watch the automated making of donuts. This experience was mesmerizing for many. My first experience with Krispy Kreme was in Wilmington, Delaware and I was captivated by the live doughnut making. Soon there were Krispy Kreme stores popping up everywhere. President Bill Clinton had them delivered to the White House and Krispy Kreme Doughnuts were showing up on TV shows such as “Rosie O’Donnell”, “Friends” and “Sex in the City”.

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Krispy Kreme is a brand with strong Southern roots. It is a brand that was built by word of mouth. It was founded in Winston-Salem, North Carolina by Vernon Rudolph who had bought the recipe from a New Orleans chef. The original business model was a bakery on the edge of town with trucks delivering doughnuts to local grocery stores and convenience chains. It was a great business model.

So, what happened? The brand expanded too fast. There was an overabundance of belief in the franchise model. The company tried to be a manufacturing site in a retail setting. That required 5,000 square foot spaces to make the doughnuts in a place where people were wandering in for breakfast. The economics of the retail model didn’t work. Stores opened with much fanfare but you needed to sell a lot of doughnuts to pay the rent. A trend to healthier living and intense competition from Dunkin’ Donuts and Starbucks took a toll. More than 240 stores closed between 2004 and 2009. An accounting scandal also hurt the company.

Krispy Kreme, however, is beginning to stage a comeback. The brand still has a loyal cult like following. The brand is now focused on its mission “To touch and enhance lives through the joy that is Krispy Kreme”. Krispy Kreme believes that its best marketing tools are its friendly employees. Krispy Kreme has 4.6 million fans on Facebook. Another element of their marketing is to integrate the stores into the community through its commitment to cause marketing. In the past 55 years it has helped to raise funds by donating doughnuts to local events.

Krispy Kreme has returned to profitability and has begun to open a few new stores. Let’s hope that this expansion stays true to the brand. It is a great product and experience.

Have you tried a Krispy Kreme Doughnut?

 

In her book, “Passion Brands,” Kate Newlin describes a passion brand as a brand you form such a personal attachment to that it becomes an indelible aspect of your identity even when no one is looking. Hershey Kisses is one of the brands that she references in her book. Hershey Kisses has built a strong emotional connection with chocolate lovers. With Easter six days away, it is a good time to talk about chocolate brands.

Hershey’s Kisses milk chocolates were introduced in 1907. The candy got its name from the machine that made them, which made kissing sounds and appeared to “kiss” the conveyor belt onto which the chocolate was dispensed. Hershey Kisses has been an American icon for over 100 years. It is one of the most loved brands in the country. The brand is a symbol of love and affection: a wonderful way to connect with loved ones, both family and friends, great to share and always appreciated. It has a truly unique shape, taste, and texture that delivers a one of a kind chocolate experience. The foil wrapping adds to its uniqueness and makes you feel like you are receiving a gift. It is a special treat that can be eaten everyday. It is a perfect gift and it tastes good.

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Growing up, Hershey Kisses were always my favorite chocolate and even today it is my mother’s favorite chocolate treat.

Over the years, Hershey has introduced a number of new varieties including almonds, special dark, hugs, caramel, cookies n cream, and air delight. You can also send Hershey Kisses with a personalized message. Hershey Kisses has produced great advertising to promote the brand.

 

Hershey offers the ability to order personalized kisses for a loved one or friend. This is another way Hershey Kisses enables connections.
 
What is your favorite brand of chocolate?

Converse is an iconic brand that revolutionized the sports shoe market. It has a rich history. Converse was synonymous with basketball in the mid 20th century, long before Nike was popular. They were worn by Dr.J, Bill Russell, Larry Bird and Magic Johnson. Michael Jordan wore them at North Carolina. Tennis stars Chris Evert and Jimmy Connors wore them at Wimbledon.  They have a history of innovative marketing and advertising. In 1991, they launched the “Grandma-Ma” campaign with Larry Johnson.

The brand also symbolizes a rebellious era of trend setters who began as basketball fans and transcended to Rock and Roll. It personifies a lifestyle of freedom and revolution for consumers who express their attitudes through clothing. Its shoes were also worn by cultural icons such as Elvis Presley, James Dean and 1970’s punk bands such as the Ramones as a symbol of defiance.

Converse was established in 1908 by Marguis Mills Converse in Boston. The company’s motto was to be independent enough not to follow every other company in every thing that they do. They started out making rubber soled boots that were good for winter wear. In 1915, the company began making tennis shoes. The company’s main turning point came in 1917, when the Converse All Star was introduced in 1917. In 1921, basketball player Chuck Taylor joined the company and made the All Stars famous.

As I was watching the NCAA Tournament, I started to think about Converse Chuck Taylor All Stars. When I first started playing basketball, Converse was the brand serious players wore. A new pair of high top Chuck Taylor All Stars was a must have every season. They were high quality basketball sneakers at a reasonable price. At their height, Converse controlled 80% of the athletic shoe market. Michael Jordan’s decision to sign with Nike in the 1980’s changed the course of the athletic shoe market. The brand fell behind Nike and Adidas in the battle to capture market share and credibility with young basketball players.


Converse was purchased by Nike in 2001. In recent years, the brand has seen an increase in popularity as a new generation of consumers discovers the brand. Today, Converse is a brand that inspires originality and is a catalyst for creativity. Converse continues to be embraced by optimistic rebels. The real appeal of Converse today is that they are retro and cool. Converse offers consumers the opportunity to design their own pair of Chuck Taylor All Stars.

Did you own a pair of Converse Chuck Taylor All Stars?

In the late 1990’s and early 2000’s, Toyota like other marketers was facing a challenge generating sales and brand acceptance among the Generation Y or Millennial segment of the population. Toyota sales have been traditionally strong among the baby boomer segment. This group had helped make Toyota the largest car manufacturer in the world. Toyota as a brand grew up with, the Baby Boomer generation. The average buyer age was growing older. Toyota recognized that the Generation Y segment represented a significant opportunity for long-term growth.

Toyota’s designed the Echo, the MR2 and the Celica to appeal to this market. This initiative fell short of expectations. Toyota, however, learned from this experience. They learned that to reach the Generation Y audience in a meaningful way that they would have to do more than package existing products through the existing channels with some hip advertising. Toyota realized that to attract the Millennial segment they needed to create a new car buying and ownership experience that was designed for this group. This would include a new approach to product, process, marketing and the dealer experience. Toyota understood that younger drivers wanted more than an affordable car, they wanted something to express their individuality and fit their lifestyle.

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Toyota created a new brand called Scion. The Scion name meant the descendant of a family and refers both to the brand and their owners. Scion’s mission statement is to satisfy a trend setting youthful buyer through distinctive products and an innovative, consumer driven process. Self expression is at the core of Scion’s Brand Identity. The Scion Brand was launched in 2002 with two models at the New York car show. Scion took a whole new approach to the purchase experience through the following innovations:

  • “Pure Pricing which means no haggling. The price printed on the sticker is the price you pay for the car. There are no discounts, no factory to dealer incentives, no bonus programs, no cash back, no customer and loyalty bucks. This has in effect taken buyer insecurity out of the purchase process.
  • An extensive selection of packages, accessories, aftermarket parts and add-ons to customize and personalize your car through the Optimize Scion program.
  • A distinct brand space at Toyota dealerships that designed to promoted the different ways you can customize your car.
  • Unique marketing programs like “Motivate” targeting young entrepreneurs in the creative arts community with chances to win a personal business, mentor, $10,000 and a Scion.
Scion now has the youngest demographic of any car brand in the United States. Going forward, it will interesting to see if Toyota, can continue to make this strategy work.

Have you driven a Scion?