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This year saw brands use digital to complement their traditional advertising more than ever. See why Levi’s, Dos Equis, and others stood above the rest.

by John Furgurson

Simon Edwards, Brand Manager at 3M, recently started a lively online discussion around this question: “What are the common attributes of iconic brands?

He opened it up on Brand 3.0 — a Linkedin Group that includes 4,363 branding consultants, practitioners, creative directors, gurus and wannabes. It was an intelligent, worthwhile discussion that hit all the hot buttons of the branding world.

But we were preaching to the choir.

So in an effort to reach a few business people who aren’t completely “inside the bottle,”  I’d like to cover the high points of the discussion and add a few examples…

•  “An iconic brand plays a valued role in a consumer’s life. It delivers a feeling that the consumer just can’t get from any other brand. That feeling may be security, safety, familiarity, excitement, satisfaction, indulgence or many others.” – Andy Wright

Here’s an example: I’m a loyal Audi owner. Over the holiday weekend I had to drive the Q7 two and half hours on a narrow, icy, highway that’s sketchy even on a clear, summer night.  I felt all those things… security, safety, familiarity, excitement, satisfaction, indulgence.  The trip wasn’t exactly fun, but it reinforced all my beliefs about the brand. It played a vital role in that little part of my life.

I couldn’t have felt safer in any other vehicle, short of a semi truck.

“The 5 criteria of iconic brands are:  relevancy, competitiveness, authenticity, clarity of promise, consistency of communication. The hard work is the proactive management of the brand (including product development) to ensure the five criteria are delivered.” – Ed Burghard

I particularly like Ed’s point here about proactive, ongoing brand management.

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By Chelsie Markel, Art Director

Great designs don’t just appear out of thin air. You can’t wave a magic wand, stir in some Photoshop hocus pocus and voilà – a killer brochure or ad campaign appears. Yet sometimes that’s what designers are expected to do. Create something extraordinary out of nothing.

In this unsteady economy, there’s a need to work more efficiently, cut back costs and shorten turnaround time. Often, some very important steps in the design process are ignored, and we jump right to design production – skipping the thinking, the rationale, the big idea. Unfortunately, that can be a costly decision. You could end up with a design that looks great visually but doesn’t connect with your target audience. A piece that misses the mark with messaging and doesn’t evoke action.  And your investment goes right down the drain.You wouldn’t go to a builder and say, “I’d like you to build my dream house. Here is the paint, the fabric and furniture. When I come back in a few weeks, I expect to be able to move in.” Sounds absurd, right? In reality, you have to first talk with the builder to choose a floor plan and structural details that meet your needs before you’d ever consider the cosmetic, finishing touches. The foundation, walls and roof of a house are essential. All of which needs to be in place before interior design can begin.

CONTINUE Stop. Think. Design..

Is Home Depot Selling The Farm?.

You know business is tough when you have to sell off parts of your parking lot to make your revenue numbers.  However, news out of Atlanta this week suggests that’s exactly what home improvement giant, The Home Depot intends to do. Saddled with too much asphalt and too few customers, the one-time retail juggernaut is seeking buyers in retail and food service to set up shop on its tarmac – of which it owns approximately 89 percent.

According to Home Depot’s Vice President of Real Estate Mike LeFerle, the company has identified unused portions of parking lots at hundreds of its stores in the U.S. and Canada. They will be looking to sell to complementary businesses that target a similar customer base. Parcels are said to be approximately half an acre or more.