Archive for the 'brand management' Category

Trade Pub Dealernews Brand Revived

Dealernews Back On Stands?

Dealernews

In what can only be described as a Christmas miracle, perhaps the single most momentous event since Lazarus emerged intact, comes news of the acquisition of defunct trade pub label Dealernews by a midwest consortium, DN 2.0, headed up by Columbus, OH Harley-Davidson franchisee Bob Althoff.

“What we are doing is unprecedented in the powersports industry.”

“What we are doing is unprecedented in the powersports industry,” says the owner of three OEM dealerships. The plan for DN 2.0 is apparently to restore what was lost during the mid-2000’s heyday by recalling editorial staff and management from the brand inherited by UBM in 2015 when they purchased Advanstar and which was then abruptly shuttered.

The revived brand will ostensibly be guided by an advisory board made up from a number of well-known powersports single and multi-line dealer heads, industry consultants, and communications veterans. Will it make a difference? The field of national powersports trade publications has shrunk from five to two over the last decade as social media channels have proliferated and advertising options have multiplied. For many, that constitutes a trend.

The B2B pub’s successes, and ultimately failure(s), tracked the once dominant trade show giant DealerExpo, which went down for the last time in 2014, leaving the field open for the American International Motorcycle Exposition, itself now headed ironically to Columbus for one lap in 2017 before finally dropping anchor in Las Vegas.

Assets include the Dealernews trademark, brand, website, email and registration lists, and newsletters.

amazon’s split personality

For Brands, Cure May Be Worse Than Disease

Cycle-World-Amazon-2016-11-30-at-11.31.28-AM.png

Read It Free Helps Subscription Rates How?

As I grow increasingly comfortable with online shopping as an alternative to chasing hard to find items in brick and mortar storefronts, rationalizing clik to add to shopping cart becomes easier and easier as the cost of shipping tumbles. Then came Amazon Prime.

Amazon Prime is by all indications a very effective loss leader in the effort to tether consumers to mega-site Amazon for all their internet purchases. Patterned after the big box membership warehouse experience, Prime, for a modest annual fee, delivers not only free 2-day shipping on most items, but includes a bunch of other perks as well.

The price is right – for as long as it can last.

The included music feed is perfectly acceptable, eliminating having to subscribe to Pandora, Spotify, or Radio for a premium listening experience. Ditto access to online t.v. content, books, and a number of other features that save time and/or money.

I just discovered that a number of familiar, favorite, and free periodicals are available as well, viewable online or as downloaded Kindle content. Which is how I came across Cycle World, Bonnier’s flagship pub in their motorcycle group stable of powersports publications, as a free read on Amazon.

I’m not sure how the business model for offering up your vanguard bike magazine for free reading moves the bottom line needle. It’s not an option you’d expect to find in a typical subscription pitch; “12 Whole Issues For One Year’s Worth of Reading Only Zero Dollars and Zero Cents!”

Since consolidating the spectrum of motorcycle pubs several years ago by purchasing those niche assets from Hearst first, then Source Interlink, the overall health of print continues to circle the drain, excepting a few standouts like Garden & Gun. The price is right – for as long as it can last.

ubm shuts down dealernews

ubm-advanstar-2015-12-18-at-9.02.51-AM.png

Five Decades of Dealernews Now History

In a stunning announcement that dropped December 16, Jim Savas, VP/GM of automotive at media conglomerate UBM Advanstar, announced the immediate end of Dealernews as of December 23, 2015.

After initially making the case for a robust online presence, well supported by more than respectable metrics, Mr. Savas then set January 1, 2016, as the cessation of Dealernews in print, on the web, and across all digital channels.

As of December 18, there was no mention on either Twitter or Facebook of the decision to shut down what many in the powersports industry considered the Gray Lady of motorcycle aftermarket B2B publishing. Continue reading ‘ubm shuts down dealernews’

how logo design affects brand

Aligning Your Look With Your Mission

When it com133es to promoting a business, nothing is more critical than the brand logotype. Getting it right goes a long, long way towards making an impression on a distracted public that sees thousands of visuals on a daily basis.

To be successful, a corporate mark requires design integrity, repetition in the marketplace, and a connection to the goods or services it represents. Whether abstract or literal, the Nikes, Apples, and Coca-Colas of the business world rely on a recognizable visual that connotes quality and trust.

Emoticon, Meet Emoji

Looking at the before and after (above left) of IHOP’s haircut and a shave, it’s difficult to imagine how the approval process resulted in what struck one reviewer as a “sinister” smile beneath the word mark.

It’s arguably more legible, but only slightly, and that’s about where it starts and ends.

The IHOP acronym, in case some may have forgotten, stands for International House of Pancakes. But that’s not what I see when I try to decipher the new and improved visual. Emoticon, meet emoji.

HOW Design recently interviewed Siegel+Gale, a New York based branding agency known for their standout work, on the recent spate of chain restaurant logo overhauls. For anyone who follows corporate design, the candid remarks by the agency’s designers are for the most part an indictment of the perils of lackluster graphics.

A couple of things stand out in this collection of shareholder dependent corporate eateries. First, it’s more than okay to overhaul the corporate brand on an as needed basis. Nothing says stay away like an aged, dated, and most importantly irrelevant logotype. Second, once having decided on a freshening, make sure you’re just not slipping sideways.

Design updates should – probably – include references to historical looks that over time successfully represented a company to its public. But don’t let fear of letting go put up unnecessary barriers to a truly fresh, inspired interpretation that acknowledges the past while extending the future. Bon appétit!

when it snows it pours

pinellas-cty-tourism.png

Selfie Marketing Pitch Popular

Florida’s Pinellas County is the most densely populated county in the state. It’s also the smallest, but that has never affected its ability to draw tourists from around the globe, intent on visiting world-class beaches from Caladisi Island State Park on the northern end to Fort Desoto County Park guarding the entrance to Tampa Bay.

With gas prices at their lowest level in years, an economy that’s on the rebound for the first time in years, and a brutal winter that continues to lash the northeast, convincing northerners to turn their wanderlust into momentum and head south isn’t a heavy lift.

Will Winter Ever End?

Nonetheless, Pinellas County’s marketing arm, Visit St. Pete-Clearwater, came up with a rock solid bit of creative when they launched a campaign centered around a family of nomadic snowmen who began showing up in slush and dirty snow blanketed New York and Chicago.

The edgy “WinterBlows” campaign plants irresistible (and guaranteed to have lines forming for selfies) faux snowmen on the sidewalks displaying sandwich boards headlined “Sunshine or bust!” and the WinterBlows.com URL.

Is it working? I’d have to say yes, considering how congested the main two-lane north-south beach artery, Gulf Boulevard, has become in recent days. There’s nothing that can match a smart, well executed, marketing solution.

online newsroom publicity perks

typewriter-72px.jpg

Small businesses can benefit from creating a unique online newsroom.

Invest In Online Assets For Longterm Dividends

As whats left of print media transitions into a hybrid that blends traditional content with digital distribution, private industry is likewise developing answers for inventing new channels of promotion and publicity. Read about how Coca-Cola is a leader in setting up and stocking unique content for both consumer and b2b consumption.

The need for effective strategies is best seen in the use of Search Engine Optimization (SEO) and Search Engine Marketing (SEM) as essential marketing disciplines. Both focus on the power of search to direct audiences inbound to content, and those same procedures are being successfully refined and funneled in the establishment of online newsrooms.

Online News: Not The Same As Google News

Online newsrooms are a physical location unrelated to Google News’ rich snippet metatag aimed at specific categories and reserved for branded publications. Yet the preparation of materials for the online newsroom should include some of the same workflow that’s utilized in a Google News approach to pull marketing.

Online newsrooms are also a total departure from the commonly used and outdated drop down menu method of accessing company news and resources, which requires multiple steps before even reaching a starting point and focuses solely on archiving content, not repurposing.

Biggest Difference? An Adventure, Not An Archive

The contemporary onliine newsroom is designed as a visual destination separate from the main website. It’s a unique container offering an assortment of video, audio, text, visuals, and ready-to-wear social content – all delivered in an easy to use User Experience (UX) layout that puts a premium on interesting and engaging presentation to serve various forms of content that might otherwise go unnoticed.

Online Newsroom – Think Investment, Not Expense

Today’s news resource – and that includes all that PR brings to the mix – must deliver solid content quickly and easily to a wide audience with unique needs. Design, creative, IT, and marketing all have a part to play in the successful implentation of a modern online newsroom.

Design your online newsroom to make maximum use of visual breadcrumbs and cues to guide editors, researchers, writers, and curators in finding not just what they’re looking for, but what they need to accurately inform their audience about XYZ Company. Need help? Lets explore a solution custom tailered to fit your needs.

critic questions future of electric bikes

 

Zero's 2013 S model

(above) 2013 Zero S from Zero Motorcycles

despite eco-promise of evs, shortcomings still outweigh strengths

An article in last week’s New York Times, while leaving the door slightly ajar for the channel’s future, makes a reasoned case against a present marketplace that features electric motorcycles humming around the urban landscape in silent flocks of environmental uber responsibility. (See earlier post on Mercedes Benz plans for a 2014 market entry.)

Reporter Dexter Ford writes in the paper’s Automotive section about the challenges facing the nascent industry, not least of which is cost. Far cheaper conventional alternatives, eco-friendly and offering the same or better mileage per comperable fillup, are getting top billing as the major Asian motorcycle brands begin to flex their muscles in taking on not only high-end electrics but cheap, disposable Chinese scooters as well.

styling overhaul resets brand

Compounding the confusion over electric’s future is a same-day post on the NYT’s Wheels blog on Zero’s 2013 lineup just introduced at Intermöt. In what’s seen as a responsive reaction to marketplace concern, the Santa Cruz, CA, company is moving away from the mountain bike inspired initial design towards a more familiar traditional look courtesy of former Buell designer and now Zero’s chief technology officer Abe Askenazi.

Between the high performance Lightning, the gyro stablized LIT Motors C1, or the mainstream (for electrics) bikes from Zero and Brammo, interest isn’t going away. And neither is the significant cost differential, or the lingering comparisons to Segway’s marketing rationale.

Whether that same interest will translate into sustainable sales for complete bikes or morph into a niche industry of DIY builds sourced from frame makers, engine manufacturers, and battery suppliers might be the unanswered question.

make your mark – logo design basics

logo power depends on design integrity

Logos, logotypes, and trademarks have become integral to everyday life, from the pictograms used to order your lunch at Mickey Ds to finding your way to the next road trip gas stop.

This six-minute primer from the PBS Off Book series looks in on the history, tradition, and uses of a visual identity and establishes the argument for professional design versus the DIY approach that’s emerged as a result of desktop publishing empowerment.

Properly done, visual identities are a powerful marketing tool that work to fulfill an observers expectations. When that design is poorly developed, communication suffers.

m-b to sell smart ev scooter in 2014

mb’s smart ev scooter is set to sell

I take last week’s news of Daimler’s entry into the green scooter market come 2014 as more of a solidification of their alt transport low-zero emissions SMART brand than any sudden two-wheeled epiphany. Miniscule financial risk, max pr value, and a lot of genuine utilitarian functionality backed by diamond plated quality control, first class marketing, global distribution, and built-in market affinity even though Smart car sales haven’t exactly soared as first envisioned.

The news accompanied the announcement by Reuters of this summer’s Smart ForTwo four-wheeled ev launch.

How tough will it be to convince yacht sailing, pied-á-terre dwelling, polo pony riding ‘Benz owners to swipe their debit card and pick one up – I see a discreet POS gift card offering by the cashier’s window – on the way out of the dealership? Answer: not too. You’ll look in vain, by the bye, for these same folks at a local indie scooter store.

Not everyone’s convinced. This Automotive News critique after the initial 2010 announcement pans not just M-B, but the entire scooter riding universe. Oh well. For Daimler it’s almost all about reputation: expecting however many scooter sales to add significantly to the bottom line is hallucinatory. Much easier to boost profits selling Dyson cordless vacs as P&A. A rolling ev test bed, on the other hand, is not, and that’s scaleable.

For in-depth analysis of M-B’s 2-wheeled move, Martin Racing Performance’s blog goes on at length and in great detail on Daimler’s decision, with insider perspective on what it means for the nascent EV scooter/mc channel overall.

Magic 8 Ball: if this does work out, might the technology be licensed to existing badges? One might well imagine.

powersports pays price for poor pr

 

the slippery slope to silliness

Several years ago I put together an easy to follow guide that offers solutions for three of the most common errors made by DIY publicists. Since then I’ve noticed a significant increase in the number of powersports announcements distributed under the hi-jacked heading of FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE! So poorly constructed they’re cause to wonder if a Kazakhstan goat herder isn’t ghost writing for the crowd source marketplace, they neither inform nor promote. No offense to my herder friends.

There’s a phrase common enough to pr practitioners (hack) that’s either a label of shame or badge of some distinction, if only among peers. Without naming names – and, sadly, you probably don’t know who you are – I’m gobsmacked at what the aftermarket seems willing to accept under the guise of published, presumed to be positive, information about products, services, and events by the former.

This isn’t about the errant comma, occasional misplaced modifier, or missing apostrophe. I’m raising the alarm over the wholesale abandonment of fundamental principles of grammar, any notion of style, and the essentials of literacy. Who needs complete sentences when an odd lot assortment of disjointed words strung randomly together into incoherent phrases passes as sense.

“air quotes” run amok amid out of control malaprops

I’m usually not a hard-core stickler for AP style, but. The increasingly sloppy gibberish masquerading as product praise not only offends my professional eye, but to the point does serious damage to a manufacturer’s online reputation and in-store brand. Unless, that is, the brands footing the bill think LOL ridicule is a desirable goal.

And it’s permanent. Once published to the web, these unintentional examples of no-talent hilarity circle the internet forever, ghost ships of puff piece silliness showing up on Google search “doh!” in perpetuity.

If you can’t hire a pro – and by that I mean someone possessed of a) basic writing skills and, b) a fundamental understanding that English, not Farsi, is North America’s marketing lingua franca – please take advantage of my basic tips for improving reputation and readership.




%d bloggers like this: