web watch

Google Sets a New Bar with Redesign

Posted by Shirley Brady on November 29, 2011 06:31 PM

Google revealed the next stage of its cross-product redesign today, with a video and blog post that commented:

Six months ago we started rolling out a new look and feel for Search, News, Maps, Translate, Gmail and a bunch of other products. Our goal was to create a beautifully simple and intuitive user experience across Google. We’re now ready for the next stage of our redesign—a new Google bar that will enable you to navigate quickly between our services, as well as share the right stuff with the right people easily on Google+.

Instead of the horizontal black bar at the top of the page, you’ll now find links to your services in a new drop-down Google menu nested under the Google logo. We’ll show you a list of links and you can access additional services by hovering over the “More” link at the bottom of the list. Click on what you want, and you’re off.

brand strategy

Toyota and Sony Grapple With Japan Production Issues

Posted by Dale Buss on November 29, 2011 05:01 PM

As the yen continues to hold on to its strength, iconic Japanese brands like Toyota and Sony are having to make increasingly difficult decisions about retaining domestic production in Japan. At this point, it looks like the world's biggest automaker and its most enduring consumer-electronics brand are coming to somewhat different conclusions.

Toyota President Akio Toyoda has surprised many close observers over the last few days by conceding that his company may have to end up skewing future production much more toward other countries and away from Japan because of the persistent imbalance of the yen against the weaker dollar and other currencies.

In fact, he told the Wall Street Journal that Toyota may actually end up exporting Corolla subcompact sedans that it is beginning to build at its just-opened plant in Mississippi, in addition to supplying the North American market from there.Continue reading...

search and destroy

Google Maps the Great Indoors

Posted by Shirley Brady on November 29, 2011 01:29 PM

In a move that was bound to happen, Google is taking Google Maps indoors — at least for those with Android phones.

As its blog post today describes, "Take Google Maps on your Android phone to select airports, malls, and retail stores to get floor layouts and accurate location readings. Figure out how to get to departments, airport gates, and even restrooms all from the palm of your hand. To learn more, Start here."

Check out its airport mapping abilities below.Continue reading...

search and destroy

Google Searches Its Past and Reveals Its Future

Posted by Shirley Brady on November 28, 2011 05:34 PM

Google today released a follow-up to its August video on how it's improving search with a new six-minute video called "The Evolution of Search." Google Fellow Ben Gomes explains in a blog post and video that "we wanted to share with you a short history of the evolution of search, highlighting some of the most important milestones from the past decade—and a taste of what's coming next."

So what is next? "Our goal is to get you to the answer you're looking for faster and faster, creating a nearly seamless connection between your questions and the information you seek. For those of you looking to deepen your understanding of how search has evolved, this video highlights some important trends like universal results, quick answers and the future of search. For more information, go to Google.com/insidesearch."

sporting brands

Life’s a Party with Nike Sparq Glasses

Posted by Mark J. Miller on November 24, 2011 03:09 PM

Want to feel like you’re in a nightclub all day long? You may want to reach into your wallet and shell out $300 for the Nike SPARQ Vapor Strobe Eyewear, a set of glasses that actually crate a strobelike effect on the eyes and are made for athletes to train with. The idea behind the high-performance specs, according to a release from the company, is that the variable speed of the strobe helps the athlete’s eyes adjust quicker to different situations.

“By blocking or disrupting vision using a strobe or flicker effect that can be varied in speed, an athlete can develop quicker reaction times and motor skills,” the release reads. “The strobe effect improves reaction time by switching between clear and blocked vision, which trains the brain to anticipate what‘s coming when the eyes are blocked. “ If you can throw a ball accurately with all this going on in your eyes, imagine how much easier it’ll be when it’s just a few 300-pound guys trying to take you down.Continue reading...

cola wars

Hold Onto Your Straws! Here Comes Pepsi NEXT

Posted by Mark J. Miller on November 18, 2011 05:02 PM

Don’t know if you’ve heard, but America is — er, how to say this nicely? — fat. The terms “overweight” and “obese” have been beaten into consumer consciousness so much that soda companies, long the target of ire of the health-conscious, have been trying to find a lower-calorie option that consumers across the girth of a nation can enjoy.

PepsiCo claims to have the answer. Since July, it has been testing out a low-sugar, mid-calorie soda, Pepsi NEXT, in Wisconsin and Iowa and the consumer response "exceeded … expectations," according to AP. Now, the company plans to start selling its newest brand nationally early next spring, AP reports. 

With 60% fewer calories than regular Pepsi, Pepsi NEXT weighs in at 40 calories per 8-oz serving and 60 calories per 12-oz serving. Pepsi-Cola North America described the beverage as a health-conscious alternative in its press release announcing the July test: 

"Pepsi NEXT was created for consumers who seek the rich taste of full-calorie cola but have decreased their consumption in order to reduce the sugar in their diet. While sugar-reduction is a priority for this segment, they have not adopted the flavor profile of a zero calorie cola. Pepsi NEXT delivers in the sweet-spot for these consumers with its real cola flavor and 60 percent less sugar."

"As part of our continued commitment to innovate our carbonated soft-drinks portfolio, we developed Pepsi NEXT, a great tasting, full-flavor cola with 60 percent less sugar," said Massimo d'Amore, CEO, PepsiCo Beverages America. "In thorough consumer research, Pepsi NEXT resonated very well with consumers who are seeking a new, reduced sugar alternative to their loved cola."

The word from Beverage Digest is that the company will sell NEXT, which competes with Coke Zero, in a few different sizes and plans to eventually sell it outside of the U.S., but a PepsiCo spokesperson wouldn’t confirm either of those statements.Continue reading...

brand collaborators

Nike ‘Back to the Future’ Shoes Raise $9.4 Million for Michael J. Fox Foundation

Posted by Mark J. Miller on November 15, 2011 04:04 PM

When 1985’s Back to the Future blew the doors off of the box office (eventually pulling in $303.87 billion), two sequels were automatically set into motion and released in 1989 and 1990. And somewhere in there, someone got fully turned onto the joy of product placement. 

Back to the Future II was particularly chockfull of brand names, including Pepsi, Texaco, Mattel, Pizza Hut, Black and Decker, The Weather Channel, 7-Eleven, and AT&T, among others. But fans salivated most over the special shoe that Nike designer Tinker Hatfield created for the film, the Nike MAG shoe, with its glowing LED panel and an electroluminescent “Nike” for Michael J. Fox to wear as the film’s hero, Marty McFly.

Sneaker aficionados had been begging the company for years to release the same shoe to the mainstream. So in a highly-publicized eBay auction in September, Nike made only 1,500 to auction off on eBay to raise cash for Michael J. Fox’s Foundation for Parkinson’s Research. The result was $4.7 million from consumers, which a matching initiative doubled to $9.4 million.Continue reading...

doing good

John Deere Brings Can Do Spirit to Facebook Cause Marketing

Posted by Sheila Shayon on November 15, 2011 03:01 PM

John Deere, best known for its agricultural machinery and iconic slogan, "Nothing Runs Like a Deere," has just leaped like a deer into social media with the “Can Do” Project.

The brand is constructing a combine out of cans, using upwards of 300,000 cans of food and replicating a full-sized S-690 Combine, the world’s most powerful combine that can harvest over 350 acres of grain a day.

The cans are being collected via a Facebook drive with support from Hy-Vee Food Stores, and the completed sculpture will be 60 feet wide, 80 feet long and 16 feet tall weighing about 170 tons and exhibited at the John Deere Pavilion in downtown Moline, Illinois.Continue reading...

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