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~ Bloomberg · Branding ~

For three years between 2020 and 2023 I was the branding and advertising columnist for Bloomberg Opinion.


Below is a compendium of brand and brand-adjacent pieces:

From Tropicana and Gap to the Royal Mail, bad rebrands can die an ugly death. But smart companies don’t let armchair critics cow them into brand-damaging stasis.

Don’t Let Your Rebrand Become Internet Roadkill

27 June 2023

Instead of constantly talking about his contrarian vision, he needs to test its market value by putting his mouth where his money is.

Musk Should End Twitter’s Misery and Bring on Brand ‘X’

7 June 2023

A potential giant-killer is about to enter the ever-shifting landscape of product recommendation.

Will AI Topple Michelin, Consumer Reports and the Oscars?

16 May 2023

One of the world’s biggest beer brands just set a new low in corporate courage.

Bud Light & Trans Rights

15 April 2023

From taxes and air travel to health care, some companies thrive where government fails to deliver, ripping off consumers and defending broken systems that fatten their bottom lines.

It’s Tax Season! Here Come the ‘Leech Brands’

6 April 2023

The iconic soft-drink maker has introduced a bold new makeover… so why is it apologizing?

Pepsi's (Un)apologetic Rebrand

30 March 2023

Any new New York logo was bound to ruffle feathers, but riffing on Milton Glaser's creation? Fuhgeddaboudit.

The Big Apple's Rebrand Is an Iconic Failure

22 March 2023

If you thought humans deserved at least seven hours free from marketing’s grasp, think again. How a new breed of brands is selling sleep to the exhausted.

Brandzzz Want a Piece of Your Dreamland

19 February 2023

By swapping golden-age advertising humor for “brandter” — bantz, LoLz and trash talk — companies risk alienating the consumers they hope to attract.

Class-Clown Brands Are Trying to LoLz Us to Death

22 January 2023

Brands have aspired to stand-up comedy for more than 200 years. But advertising may have reached a mic-drop moment.

Is the Golden Era of Humor in Advertising Over?

24 December 2022

From bacon-scented dental floss and KFC firelogs to Hummer perfume and aroma-enhanced VR porn companies are doubling down on the sweet smell of excess.

Why Brands Are Reeking Havoc on Our Noses

4 December 2022

In an age of technoscience rationality, brands are relying ever more heavily on the attractive power of animals.

Brands Are Discovering Their Animal Spirits

13 November 2022

“Dr. No” is a simple movie shot on a poverty-stricken budget, starring a relative unknown, based on the sixth book in a series and released 60 years ago to a mixed critical response.

So … how did it create one of the most valuable and venerated brand franchises in history?

Branding 101 from 007 — and ‘Dr. No’

9 October 2022

What Queen Elizabeth II’s death tells us about the future branding of “The Firm.”

Brand Britannia and the Marmite Monarchy

16 September 2022

From sneakers and supermarkets to pop stars and politicians, billion-dollar brands are subverting professional polish to claim a fake authenticity.

Vernacular Branding Scores Big by Aiming Low

27 August 2022

Hardened doors, bulletproof backpacks, classroom panic rooms — how companies are filling the school safety void of gun control.

The Free Market Responds to America’s School Shootings

31 July 2022

Alcohol brands are thinking outside the bottle to fuel and gratify a new drinking culture.

Is There Anything That Gen Z Won't Drink?

3 July 2022

What Golf 6.0 tells us about branding, fandom, aspiration and belonging.

Golf 6.0 — Millennials Are Saving Golf by Rebranding It

24 May 2022

Your robo-advisor won’t see you now.

Branding Wealth Management for the Averagely Affluent

24 April 2022

Putin’s pro-war “Z” is just the latest example of the agitprop branding of our alphabet.

From Ukraine to Auschwitz, a Single Letter Can Damn or Defy

27 March 2022

Is the metaverse a truly novel terra nova — or just the latest way for companies to pervade every click and pixel of your online presence under the guise of gamified immersion?

Of Course Our Brand Has a … Metaverse Strategy?

20 February 2022

Brand partnerships used to be sparing, targeted — special, even. But as subcultures flourish, no new collaboration is too zany.

From Target to Supreme, Branding's Latest Obsession Is Collaboration

23 January 2022

From Cheez-It onesies to Burger King’s designer silk shirts, big brands are counting on the jesting irony of festive merchandise to generate free advertising, marketing and publicity.

Your Ugly Christmas Sweater Is Branding’s Latest Weapon

22 December 2021

Instant grocery delivery is a sector on steroids. But how can brands stand out in a super-saturated market?

Branding Quick Delivery and the Billion-Dollar Dark Stores

6 December 2021

From Nike and Apple to Target and MasterCard, today’s wordless silhouette brands are tapping into a wider trend of universal symbolic communication.

Does Your Brand Speak ‘Brandsperanto’?

31 October 2021

Avoiding catastrophe was the bar for Facebook’s rebranding, and Mark Zuckerberg cleared it.

Meta’s Mediocrity Is the Message

29 October 2021

Given the scope of their ambitions and our dependence on them, behemoth brands should be treated, and held to account, for what they really are: commercial superpowers.

Brands are Becoming Nation States

3 October 2021

Can the increasingly sophisticated gimmicks of “brandlonging” turn fickle consumers into faithful members?

Brand-Longing — Brands Want You to Go Steady, Not Play the Field

5 September 2021

When displacement hits, are you a mouse or a mule?

What to Do When Haters Come Gunning for Your Brand

22 July 2021

What happens when the hatrers come for your brand?

Your Brand Has Never Been Easier to Destroy

13 July 2021

A guide to fostering more fruitful collaborations between corporate canines and creative cats.

So You Want to Work With Creative People?

13 June 2021

Why audio has become the latest front in branding’s battle for your attention.

Brands Are Coming for Your Ears

16 May 2021

What every company can learn from the humor and humanization of hidden gems.

Easter Eggs — Does Your Favorite Brand Have a Hidden Message?

18 April 2021

A small vanguard of companies are harnessing transparency

From Absolut to Volkswagen, Blending Is the New Branding

4 April 2021

From Burger King and Toyota to Intel and Warner Brothers, major brands are discarding detail and depth. Why now, and what’s the rush?

Debranding Is the New Branding

7 March 2021

In his 1974 spy classic, “Tinker Tailor Soldier Spy,” John le Carré wrote: “Haydon also took it for granted that secret services were the only real measure of a nation’s political health, the only real expression of its subconscious.” What, then, are we to make of agencies like the CIA rebranding?

Tinker Tailor Soldier...Brand?

14 February 2021

While blands seduce millennials with an ever-receding mirage of self-actualization, adorkables double down on Gen Z’s internal conflict between self-consciousness and self-promotion.

Generation Z, You’re Adorkable

24 January 2021

The tattered catalog of Trump brand flops, scandals and failures is almost comically absurd: Trump Steaks, Trump Vodka, Trump Mortgage, Trump University, Trump Ice, Trump Model Management, Trump Vitamins, Trump Shuttle, Trump: The Game … to name but a few. Now to this list comes “Trump: The Presidency” — a four-year farrago of graft and malice that ended, all too predictably, in insurrection, impeachment and ignominy.

Farewell to the Trump Administration's Favorite Brands

20 January 2021

The power of user indulgence lies in its recognition of our whims, weaknesses and inherent contradictions. Indulgent design allows products and services to dovetail with life as it is actually lived which, in turn, enables brands to form genuine and lasting customer connections.

User Indulgence Is the New User Interface

3 January 2021

“So-called invisibility against submarine attack is not only impossible, but dangerous, and consequently if a vessel can be seen at all, it does not matter how visible she is, providing her course remains a matter of question for the attacker.”

Don’t Let ‘Dazzle’ Brands Deceive You

29 November 2020

Nostalgia aside, the improbable longevity of “Keep Calm and Carry On” owes much to the poster’s messaging clarity and design elegance — two attributes glaringly absent from the current government’s Covid-19 communications.

Britain’s Covid Response Is Graphic Confusion

11 November 2020

The deadliest pandemic of the digital age has supercharged the rise of the dashboard, and illuminated the promise and peril of “dashboard thinking.”

Covid-19 Has Made Us All Dashboard Junkies

30 October 2020

What makes a brand a bland is duality: claiming simultaneously to be unique in product, groundbreaking in purpose, and singular in delivery, while slavishly obeying an identikit formula of business model, look and feel, and tone of voice.

Welcome to Your Bland New World

7 September 2020

The response of some of the world’s biggest brands to the shocking killing of George Floyd suggests that the corporate social media crisis playbook has yet to be written.

Brands Just Faced a Big Test on Instagram. Here’s How They Did.

22 June 2020

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