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color paletteEver wonder what psychology goes into choosing a color scheme for a logo or overall look for a brand? Here’s a link to a short but remarkably detailed discussion on that very subject. Good stuff, well packaged, and worth knowing.

Of course, there are also plenty of examples of how completely ignoring convention and doing something totally different, totally original works, too. One of my favorites is how racing legend Dale Earnhardt decided to go with a black race car for his brand’s signature look. “Experts” and “studies” said a black car was a bad idea simply because it wouldn’t stand out on the dark asphalt tracks. A flat black car wouldn’t “pop” on television, they argued, and the arguments were indeed logical and supported with research. Instincts had served Earnhardt well behind the wheel and in the boardroom, so he held firmly to the notion of having a black car. The rest is part of NASCAR lore. The black car and the number 3 remain signatures of the Dale Earnhardt legacy over a decade after his death.

We want to be looking for resources from every source, being careful to never blindly adopt anybody’s theories or ideas, but to instead consider EVERYTHING and see how we might adapt what we think could work for our specific situation. Don’t ADOPT, ADAPT!

“The winner ain’t the one with the fastest car, its the one who refuses to lose” – Dale Earnhardt


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According to Warren Littlefield, former president of NBC TV and the author of Top of the Rock, the show that followed the antics of six twenty-somethings as they navigated the waters of post-college life was originally called “Six of One” rather than name that is now enshrined in television history and pop culture, which is “Friends.”

Remember how great Thursday nights used to be? Admit it, you’re humming the theme song right now!

Test audiences were told the name of the show was to be “Six of One,” and when they seemed to collectively say “Huh?” or  “Six of what?” or “How may of which, now?” the powers that be quickly moved to change the name. Wisely, they took a simpler-is-better approach by asking themselves what the show was about, which was  six friends looking out for one another, growing together, laughing and crying together, etc. While indeed the show was about “Six all looking out for one,” it was ultimately about the friendships that held them all together, and even more ultimately it was about these six friends, so with a shrug they decided to call it “Friends.”

The moral(s) of the story?

1. Don’t be afraid to change ANYTHING as it relates to your brand, as long as the customer is involved in the decision.
2. “Simpler is better” when it comes to branding, messaging, strategy, and just about anything else of importance.

Take your pick!

And if you want a guaranteed bet you’ll be singing the theme song the rest of the day, click below…

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J.C. Penney has had a couple of dismal years that follow several lackluster years. The dismal years are due to some strategic rearranging that just didn’t work. So, to their credit, they are admitting with a shrug and a sort-of apology that what they tried didn’t work, cost them customers, and that they’d like the chance to have those customers back. And they promise to listen this time. If they actually do follow through on this promise with their best efforts, I’ll certainly be impressed and will be quick to give them the accolades they deserve.

When you get right down to it, just being an attentive listener and being willing to actually DO what the customer suggests is the simplest, and best, marketing strategy there is, assuming the business can show a profit, too.  Providing all kinds of value and making a profit for doing so is what the free market it all about. Of course, intense competition is also what the free market is all about, and I’m concerned that J.C. Penney may have its work cut out for it on that front.

Blockbuster tried to play the “Oopsie” card a few years ago after customers took issue with how their ad campaign’s claims of “No more late fees…” turned out to not be so true, and look where they are now. On the other hand, Coca-Cola very promptly said, “Hey, we blew it…” when New Coke flopped. Coke listened to the customers and responded expeditiously by bringing the classic Coke flavor back.

As always, the customer has the answer to J.C. Penney’s future, because, in marketing, the customer IS the answer, after all!


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