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Events, Local business, Media, Newsroom, OCB Commentary, social media

Intersections Discussion Explores the Vikings Challenges and Opportunities in Brand Marketing


Did you know that during the NFL season the average football fan spends 12 hours a week interacting with NFL brands? That goes beyond just watching a game on Sunday, said Minnesota Vikings CMO Steve LaCroix at the Intersections in Brand Marketing event at the Opus College of Business last night. LaCroix was joined by associate professor of marketing John Sailors, Ph.D., for a wide ranging discussion of the marketing challenges and opportunities of the Minnesota Vikings.

A crowd of more than 100 students, faculty and guests attended the discussion and contributed questions to the discussion. Continue Reading

Newsroom, OCB Commentary, UST MBC

Which Comes First, the Culture or the Brand?

by Thom Villing

In the consumer marketplace, there are any number of truly iconic brands. But when you put aside brands like Coke and Walmart that are ubiquitous mostly because of their heritage or size, some of the most powerful brands have attained their status because of the culture that exists within and around the brand. Southwest Airlines, Nordstrom, Zappos and Apple come to mind. While the image of these brands may differ substantially, the commonality of these companies is in how the culture is woven into the very fabric of the organization – whether it’s Nordstrom’s “anything for the customer” mindset or Apple’s unwavering commitment to making technology cool.

That, of course, begs the classic chicken and egg question. What comes first, the culture or the brand? I am reminded of a book I read some time ago by Al Ries and Jack Trout, those two guys who originally gave us “Positioning: The Battle for Your Mind.” One of the sequels was a book called “Bottom-up Marketing” and the essential premise was thatsome of the successful marketing strategies in history weren’t really strategies at all. They were tactics, but tactics so powerful that they became the cornerstone for success. The authors cited examples like Domino’s delivery guarantee and Vick’s NyQuil as examples of tactical ideas that led to strategically unintended (but happy) consequences.

Continue Reading

Newsroom, OCB Commentary

Abusing a strategic asset – Kirkland Signature of Costco

This post is by Evening UST MBA student Vitaly Demin, a strategy consultant at Eames Management Group.

abusing[1]I knew that the Kirkland Signature brand was being stretched beyond possible but I never really thought how bad it was till recently. I was at a Costco store the other day and I bought a $20 Robert Mondavi cabernet. As I was checking out, I asked their wine person if it was good and he said yes. Then he added that I should also try a Kirkland cabernet which is priced a little higher, at $30, but is really good. I said – a Kirkland wine at $30? He said – Yes, and please don’t be confused by the name… and that’s what got me thinking. There are certain things that you just can’t do to a brand.

Kirkland Signature is being positioned as a superior brand and it’s a great strategy and I’m sure it works for Costco but you still cannot stick it on everything. Moreover, the more high-end a brand is, the easier it is to destroy it by stretching it. Most executives don’t believe in this but it always happens. There’s always a short run for a brand that keeps it going while it’s being milked but eventually it’ll get damaged to the point of no recovery. Costco did a great job on building this house brand and it’s an extremely valuable strategic asset but if they keep managing it like this, may be 2-3 more years and it’ll start losing its brand equity because people will no longer take it seriously. It’s ok to have this brand on groceries or batteries but it’s not ok to stick it on a bottle of wine, especially an expensive one (leave alone shirts and some other product categories).

Think about it this way. Continue Reading

Local business, Media, Newsroom

There’s a reason we pick what we pick.

The Star Tribune had a great article earlier this month digging in to why we, as consumers, make the choices we do—particularly as it comes to local businesses. “Our decisions about everything from beer to briefs say something about us.”

Reporters Kristin Tillotson and Bill Ward asked several local advertising experts what our choices reveal about our personalities, motivations and quirks. “We also asked them to leave the black-box marketing theories and quantified data on the shelf, to just shoot from the hip. They gave us an earful, we skimmed the cream, and now we pass it on to you, the consumer.”

Here’s just one response: Continue Reading

biztube, leadership, Newsroom, OCB Commentary, social media

BizTube: Know the Marketplace

All I Needed to Know about Business I Learned from YouTube

Let’s say you are a large Japanese car company. You know you have the superior product. Your worldwide reputation for quality and longevity are unmatched. Your mileage is better than your competitors. You focused on what the market wanted, investing early into “green(er)” technology in cars. Because sales are high, your employees’ morale is excellent. You don’t have to battle labor unions so your profits are greater than your competitor. You are the larger, stealthier older brother monkey who has slowly snuck up on the smaller monkey.

The poor little American car company is sitting on the edge of the pond, surveying the bleak outlook. Sales are down and negotiating thousands of severance packages is time-consuming and expensive, and your finances are a mess.

Late in the first decade of the 21st century, this was the automobile marketplace. Here is where the analogy to today’s video ends, however. Due to a couple of costly recalls for Toyota and some restructuring and rallying from GM, the opportunity to shove the smaller monkey into the pond passed, and GM maintained its status of having the highest annual automobile sales worldwide for over three quarters of a century.

All of this amounts to a simple fact. When you’re in a competitive business situation, be attuned to the marketplace. There might come a time when with one small push, you can become the industry leader. Or if you’re on the edge, be aware. Change your course by cutting costs, extending brands and lines. Don’t sit still.

(We’ll not discuss the mama monkey and how she could represent the government bailout.)  Know your marketplace or you might get wet!

Environment, Ethics, Newsroom, OCB Commentary

Changing the World, One Pair of Jeans at a Time

Back-to-school season is upon us and although it’s an exciting time, it’s not so easy on the wallet.  Back-to-school means shopping for a whole new wardrobe and school supplies for your children.  In spirit of the back-to-school season, Cotton has been promoting their From Blue to Green® program.  cotton blue to green

The From Blue to Green  program encourages individuals to donate their old denim.  All jeans collected will then be converted into UltraTouch Denim Insulation to be used in the building of multiple residential homes for those in need.  The insulation is composed of 85% recycled cotton fibers, is environmentally safe, and provides exceptional thermal performance.  In addition to these benefits, UltraTouch contains an active mold/mildew inhibitor and provides 30% better sound absorption than traditional fiberglass insulation.

According to Cotton’s website “the From Blue to Green denim drive served as a grassroots student-run campaign to educate college coeds about the natural, renewable and recyclable attributes of denim.  In its first year, the Cotton. From Blue to Green. denim drive doubled initial collection estimates — a total of 14,566 pieces of denim were collected nationwide. College students across the U.S. rallied their campuses and surrounding communities for donations.”  Cotton’s efforts and the efforts of the student-run campaign translate today into housing for over 500 Hurricane Katrina survivors.

The Cotton. From Blue to Green. denim drive provides individuals with a number of different ways to get involved, from Corporate Responsibility Initiatives, mail-in programs, retail programs, to their long-standing college and university programs.  So, let’s rummage through our closets and “change the world one pair of jeans at a time!”

Entrepreneurship, leadership, Local business, Newsroom

The tornado that created an iconic brand

Weather phenomena such as tornadoes don’t often come up in business school discussions about strategy and branding.  But a tornado that hit Roseville 30 years ago this week indirectly led to the rise of one of the Twin Cities’ most prominent companies.

company logos from 1966 and 1983

company logos from 1966 and 1983

The tornado that hit the Har-Mar Mall on June 14, 1981, killed one person and injured dozens of others.  It caused severe damage to a store called Sound of Music, which sold stereos and other household electronics.  As reported in the Minneapolis-St. Paul Business Journal, the merchandise that could be salvaged from the wreckage was put on sale and promoted as a “Best Buy.”

Two years later, owner Richard Schulze changed the name of his company to Best Buy, and it has become one of the largest consumer electronics companies in the United States.  A decade ago, Schulze donated $50 million to the University of St. Thomas to create the Schulze School of Entrepreneurship.   Part of the Opus College of Business, the Schulze School of Entrepreneurship building opened on the downtown Minneapolis campus in 2005, providing classrooms, faculty offices, reception areas, and space for start-ups to begin their business operations.

Entrepreneurship, Local business, Newsroom

Before the Bundt pan: A short history of Nordic Ware

Jennifer and Dorothy Dalquist

Jennifer and Dorothy Dalquist

As discussed in a previous post, being the baker I am, I’m a huge fan of the Bundt pan.  When I heard about a talk being given by Dorothy and Jennifer Dalquist of Nordic Ware, I jumped at the chance to take part.  On Wednesday, April 27,  the American Swedish Institute presented “Before the Bundt: A History of Nordic Ware’s Scandinavian Heritage.”  Dorothy Dalquist, co-founder of Nordic Ware, and her granddaughter Jennifer Dalquist, brand manager of Nordic Ware, discussed the history of the company and specifically the æbleskiver pan. Continue Reading

Environment, Local business, Newsroom

Going green: Purchasing a Prius

Winchester and his Prius

Winchester and his Prius

About a month ago, my husband and I joined the one million US owners of the Toyota Prius.  We had been talking about getting a fuel efficient, hybrid vehicle for quite some time.  After much debate, my husband finally caved and traded in his G37 Sports Coupe to “bring harmony between man, nature and machine.”  This is our “going green” story…

The pressure was on.  If we wanted to get our hands on a Toyota Prius we needed to act fast!  Economists at car-research firms, like, speculated that “the best-selling hybrid in America, the Toyota Prius, could soon be out of stock.”

The earthquake and tsunami that have caused over 10,000 deaths, swept away whole towns and plunged Japan into a nuclear crisis will have an impact on U.S. car buyers.  After visiting multiple dealerships and only finding a few Priuses in the Twin Cities area, we knew we were running out of time.  Now was the time to buy.  Continue Reading

Local business, Media, Newsroom, Student Life

The signature St. Thomas look

This post is republished from The Bulletin.

Much of the Anderson Student Center [on St. Thomas’ St. Paul Campus] is encased in plastic these days. But peel back the plastic and you might be surprised at what you find. More than 30 masons and laborers are busy transforming the building’s generic exterior into one that is distinctly St. Thomas.

Watch the video to get an inside look at what it takes to create the signature St. Thomas look.

Whether you’re driving down Cretin Avenue in St. Paul or strolling along Harmon Place in Minneapolis, you know immediately when you’ve entered the vicinity of St. Thomas’ campus. The golden tone of Kasota stone – paired with the buildings’ Collegiate Gothic architectural style – create a signature look that is undeniable. It’s what sets a St. Thomas building apart from others in the neighborhood.

It’s no coincidence that many of the buildings on campus have taken on the signature look. Kasota stone, which comes from quarries near Mankato, appeared on campus for the first time when Aquinas Hall was completed in 1931. Continue Reading