USP? R.I.P.

The Unique Selling Proposition (USP) concept is pleasingly simple to grasp. It’s a lot like horoscope reading, as it seems to offer semi-magical power to make friends and influence customers. Too bad it’s an illusion.

The perceptual map is obsolete: branding in 3-D

The Perceptual Map, perennial favorite of MBA classes everywhere, is obsolete. In fact, it never was a completely satisfactory way to sum up brand perceptions. Branding is a three-dimensional problem. That insight led us to invent the Killian Branding Box™ to quantify and visualize a brand’s position vs. competitors in a 3-D space with three significant axes: Brand strength (visibility …

Marketing’s Three Big Delusions

Delusion #1. Your audience will sit still. Sermons ain’t what they used to be. Many a 19th Century novelist would button up a story by marching all of the characters into church, where the preacher would deliver the moralistic uplift the author wanted these misbegotten souls to hear. The audience for your brand story today, by extreme contrast, won’t gather …

Problopportunities

As we slip into December, will you set 2011 budgets by “adjusting” numbers from 2010? Take a little from this bucket, add a little to that bucket? That’s never the optimal strategy for marketing/branding/advertising, but this year especially it’s unwise. First of all, 2010 was not a “normal” year any way you measure it. A steep recession and a sputtering-but-real …

Who are the Black Eyed Peas? As a brand, that is.

Excerpted from the Chicago Tribune today (August 12, 2010) So, Bob Killian, CEO of Chicago-based Killian Branding, what do you think? “They are absolutely a brand! They have built themselves into this post-racial, non-threatening entity. And they have done it in a way that doesn’t seem artificial. It looks authentic. It doesn’t hurt that they are talented, but they are …

Stupid spam tricks…

Got a spam email today vainly trying to alarm us into buying some SEO service. When we considered the first two sentences, though, we were almost tempted to write back to the robot, addressed to Dear Dumbass. The email began: “Greetings, I found your website www.killianbranding.com ranked 4 for Advertising agency Chicago. If you are not on the first page …

Wake me up when September … begins?

Conventional wisdom tells us that “nobody makes serious business decisions in August,” so wait until Labor Day to approach CEOs with matters that matter. Horsefeathers. Maybe that’s true in France, where the whole nation goes on vacation, but any American CEO who goes passive for an entire month just isn’t serious enough about the company’s competitive opportunities. In a time …

A Foolish Consistency

“A foolish consistency is the hobgoblin of little minds,” said Emerson, long before GM management decreed that “Chevrolet” should not be “Chevy” in advertising for the sake of (wait for it) brand consistency. Yeah, why would you want millions of consumers to give your product an affectionate nickname?

How to Rename a Company

It’s a joy to name companies, but renaming can be a minefield. Even if the existing company name has utterly failed, there will be timid people who believe nothing should change. There are also fears, sometimes legitimate, of losing brand equity/visibility/reputation/whatever if the transition is badly handled. Yes, branding can be tricky, but fortune favors the brave. Suit up. Will …