BrandlandUSA: Since 2006, America's news authority on legacy brands and classic brands.

BrandlandUSA colors in the title include representations of Pan Am blue, Coke red, McDonald's yellow, Ford blue, IBM Big Blue, KFC, UPS, Deere, Starbucks, Campbell's Soup red, Baskin Robbins purple, Hertz yellow

What To Do Before You Discontinue a Brand

April 11th, 2017 · No Comments

By Garland Pollard

Many companies, large and small, are faced with the idea that a brand name might die off, might have died off or be struggling. Macy’s killed off great brands like Marshall Field’s, Burdine’s, A&S, May Company, Foley’s and the like. They lost massive market share, and did not have to. Their company has tanked, and the ill will they created in city after city has caused them misery. Thankfully, many who created the situation are gone.

Eventually, entrepreneur Ellia Kassoff of the California Company Strategic Marks, filed for the trademarks, and actually won a lawsuit against Macy’s in February of last year, as he kept rights to brands that included May Co., Robinson’s, Bullock’s and I. Magnin. In addition, he won the rights to former Boston department store Jordan Marsh, East Coast brand Bamberger’s and Houston department store Foley’s. Macy’s won other brands back, but so far has done little to take advantage of their equity, a year later. Pitiful.

Going Forward

What do you do when you have an extra brand. You know that the brand still has value. But how? Does it have value as a store brand? As a licensed brand? As a Christmas novelty brand? How can it still hold its value, when its stores are all Macy’s? Do you write the value of the brand down and move on?

The key is to understand first what was, and then see if there are DIFFERENT avenues to preserve the brand equity.

Before you consign your brand to the dustbin of brand history, look at these simple steps that might allow you to not only extract value out of your brand, but to give your company a competitive advantage.

  1. Do some research. Find out all the history of the brand, how it was founded, how it changed, what things remain that are worth saving. That doesn’t mean just researching clippings. It means talking to retired staffers, who know why things worked, and why things didn’t. Find out all you can; the reason why the brand is failing might be totally obvious. For instance, before Woolworth was killed off, did the F.W. Woolworth lunch counters have a future as a spin off or as a licensed brand? This process is not about finding out just about what went wrong, but what works. Get in touch with your local historical society. They know more than you think.
  2. Post your assets and intellectual property. Look up all media and advertising relating to the brand. Are there places where the brand has appeared in the media, in movies, in commercials, or in company photographs? Make sure ALL of that content goes into the web universe, with links to your current company site, and the URL. This will at least make sure the whole brand story is told.
  3. Give it away. If the brand is inexpensive, why not give a few versions away? Or at least make some T-shirts out of the best version of the logo, and give them out to staff, vendors and distributors of the brand. Giving always works, and a T-shirt is one of the best forms of advertising. You might even be able to sell a few.
  4. Look for fans. Are there people on eBay who buy versions of your product? Are there fan clubs, collectors, hipsters and oldsters who like the brand and have stuck by it? For instance, General Motors could keep its Olds brand alive by owning the fan clubs, parts stores and other pieces of the company that still have value. This may not be much money, but it can preserve the rights to the trademark.
  5. End all advertising. For the moment. Sometimes, the whole infrastructure of advertising and marketing is expensive and time consuming, and if a brand is failing, it isn’t working. So stop, to start over. Remember, there are many products that are not advertised in traditional media. Old brands like Tab diet cola have niche markets, and are not advertised as much as they were. When you figure out what went wrong and where you want to go, you can go back to a new campaign. For brands that are already dead, don’t assume you need to do much of advertising. If the equity is there, you won’t need as much as a new brand. The key is to actually begin producing the product again in small batches.
  6. Don’t redo the logo. The obvious temptation for an old, failing brand is to change the logo and do something fresh. Now, there is nothing wrong with that per se. But you don’t want to do it out of fear. You’ll want to redo a logo based on the facts. Before you switch a logo, you need to find out why the CURRENT state of the product is not working. A new logo won’t fix an ailing brand. In the case of a brand that is already COMPLETELY dead, look at all the different versions of the logo to see which is best.
  7. Fix legal ends. First rule of trademarks is use it or lose it! Make sure all the legal stuff is nailed down, so you can, in good faith, hold onto your rights to the brand. Do you own the URL? Are all patents in place? Are all issues of trade dress, sub-brands and trademarks sorted out? Is the trademark owned by a fully owned but independent licensing LLC so it can be valued as a line item on your main company balance sheet? Can you preserve the integrity of the brand name by using your old brand as a subsidiary corporation that could be sold, or spun off?
  8. Consider licensing and internal store brands. Consider contacting a brand licensing firm. These companies (and we can recommend a few) can see if there are other opportunities for your brand name outside of your company. This sort of thing is not just for Disney merchandise. It might mean that there is a brand extension on a related product. Perhaps your local restaurant is closing, but you have some good recipes and a dressing that you can license to a local grocer? Think about ways the brand can be relevant, even if it changes.
  9. Sell commemorative and specialty products. Many brands only appear intermittently. For instance, many consumer products companies come out with specialty Christmas products. This even works for retailing. So if your coffee brand isn’t selling much, but sells a few at Christmas, why not issue a special commemorative version? Candy and food manufacturers are good at this.
  10. Pray. We are totally serious about this one. Whatever your religious affilation, very often pride, greed and all those other sins get in the way of a good decision. Perhaps you’ve made some mistakes with the brand. It first might seem easier to kill it off, as those embarrasing screw ups can be blamed on “customers” and “changing times.” Brutal honesty will get you in the right place so that you can figure out the truth of what went wrong. Come clean, and you can correct it.

About to kill off a brand? Don’t. Instead, E-mail us now.

→ No CommentsTags: Commentary

Colgate Boosts Classics, Keeps Mennen Brand

April 8th, 2017 · 1 Comment

By Garland Pollard

NEW YORK – Colgate Palmolive is taking a smart path with some of its older brands, namely Speed Stick and Irish Spring. In recent weeks the company has updated advertising for the products, and included them in coupon supplements mailed with the Wall Street Journal and other publications.

Colgate can ill afford for these gems of brands to decline; in every category major brands are fighting competition, yet in health and beauty consumer products, branding is one area where products can be differentiated, and not duplicated. For instance, Amazon can sell its own diapers and batteries, and we will change brands on price. But a product with a smell and a history is VERY difficult to steal market share away from if the product is consistent and thoughtfully distributed. Thus, American men are well used to the smell of Speed Stick and Irish Spring, and if they like it, they will “stick”  with it, whether purchased at grocery, Amazon, CVS or Walmart.

Speed Stick is one of the best brands of mens deodorant; it has a legacy from Colgate’s purchase of Mennen, the 19th century men’s products company. Colgate still quite wisely uses the Mennen name, as it still carries brand equity, particularly in the Northeast. Many millions still know the “by Mennen” advertising notes, almost as familiar as the three-note NBC chimes. Hundreds of thousands know the Mennen Arena in Morristown, N.J. Mennen, as far as I can see, only appears on Speed Stick and Skin Bracer Products, though it may be on other brands that I do not know. The current Speed Stick packaging has “by Mennen” at the bottom of the package in tiny type.

Future Plans for Mennen

What is the future of Mennen? Colgate would do well to look at the older products that were associated with Mennen. Certainly the revival of Gold Bond powder could be a lesson, as Mennen was well known for its men’s powder. Other specialty products might be useful, for instance shaving cream and face lotions might go after the millennial and younger crowd. Targeting free giveaways to the growing network of traditional barber shops might be an excellent combination for the brand.

Unfortunately, Colgate  has not done well by Cashmere Bouquet. It is odd that a brand like Cashmere Bouquet, which was the Burt’s Bees of its time, is so maligned and ignored, and if it is found, it is sold as a discount brand. Colgate would do well to look at brands like Keihl’s and Burt’s Bees, and devise a way to reinvigorate Cashmere Bouquet along those lines. Emphasize the 1872, look at the original formula for the brand, research original packaging, and take the product back to its essence.


→ 1 CommentTags: Health and Beauty

Finding Noxzema Shave Cream, Changed But Still Good

April 8th, 2017 · 2 Comments

By Garland Pollard

BALTIMORE – There were no big parades in Baltimore in 2014, when Unilever’s brand Noxzema celebrated its centennial. It was hardly noticed there, though there were ads for Noxzema cream in magazines and supplements across the nation.

Three  years later, the brand is still around, and the spin-off shave cream is still selling at many grocery stores and drugstores, though the presence of the shave brand is much smaller and there is no advertising to speak of. The main Noxzema brand went from Procter & Gamble to Alberto Culver to now Unilever. Sadly, there is no use for the shave cream at the main Noxzema website; when you put the term “shave” into the search, nothing comes up.

That is a missed opportunity.

Back in the 1970s and 1980s, Noxzema shave was considered a premium brand, so much so that a college friend at William and Mary thought me a bit posh for using it. It was made famous by the nordic model Gunilla Knutson, in that “take it all off” ad that was a sensation across the U.S. By the late 1980s, there were multiple versions including a blue colored medicated  version and a green version that contains aloe. Currently, the white can is the hardest to find. [Read more →]

→ 2 CommentsTags: Health and Beauty

On the Shelves: Duncan Hines, Harvester Hats and Good News No Longer

April 5th, 2017 · No Comments

By Garland Pollard

Ever since Pinnacle Brands purchased Duncan Hines, they have shown that a tired old brand that seems to be tired can quite easily be revived if you pay attention to it. This week, Walmart has been displaying new products from the Duncan Hines brand, including a small “Perfect Size” cake and a Perfect Size for 1 cake in a cup. Both are excellent ideas for odd-sized families, including single parent households, retired folk and fussy kids.

Duncan Hines was first a gourmet, and later his brand of cakes became a bestseller for Proctor & Gamble. However, P&G got out of most of the foods business (they once owned Sunny Delight, Pringles and Folgers), and Duncan Hines went to Pinnacle Foods, which has done interesting things with many vintage brands including Vlasic, Log Cabin and Birds Eye. They have become the General Foods of our time, and are doing a great job.

Rural American Delights

If some think that the U.S. is over branded, and way too slick, please consider the case of Alabama King Brand Fine Ground Enriched White Stone Ground Corn Meal. What a thrill to encounter this brand, with its simple straight forward packaging and low-key appeal. It would be retro hip except there is absolutely nothing hip about it. Except that it is hip without trying to be hip. The old Spy magazine of the 1980s talked about consumer items that were “Unwittingly Hip” and perhaps Alabama King could be considered as such except there is nothing hip about corn meal in a white bag.

Meanwhile, on another shelf, we see the full viability of the International Harvester brand in this Case IH Agriculture cap. First, we would much rather see Case as a brand and IH as a brand, rather than together. But it still is good to have both of them around. Sadly, when International Harvester went bankrupt, the pieces sort of frittered away, with Cub Cadet spinning off, the noble International Harvester Scout dying, Navistar trucks being created and farm equipment continuing on.

International Harvester and Cyrus McCormick were the pioneers of mechanized farms; we are glad to see the initials still around on a cap at Walmart. Dang I should have bought it while it was in front of me.

Not Good News

There is something odd about Gillette. For the last 15 years, it coasted on the goodwill created by the original early 1980s Sensor razor and the stylish “Best a Man Can Get” campaign, sung by the world’s best-ever jinglemaster Jake Holmes, that came out in the late 1980s. The company learned a trick back then; that it could spend lots on a new version of a razor, and sell it to men at a very high price. The problem was that there was only so sharp you can make a blade, and only so many ways you can drag a blade across a face. Plus, once you get more than two blades the shaver gets so fat its hard to use. And you have to start jacking up prices to crazy levels to pay for it all.

Most recently, they have taken to switching their brands around. For instance, since the early 1980s the Good News razors, pictured above, were the blue disposables. The are actually a good product. But now, they have been renamed Sensor 2, which were the razors sold with two blades and a disposable head. Very confusing. Please stop.

This morning, the Wall Street Journal announced that they would have to cut their razor prices by 20 percent. People are not fooled by the five blade misery and rolling balls of these odd contraptions that they would have us buy to do something like shave. Gillette: Please simplify this mess, or Bic and Dollar Shave will win.

Meanwhile, we came across this Laura Ashley Lint Removal Sheet. We are not sure why this product was created in the first place, or why the people of Laura Ashley would license their name for such a thing. What a waste of a good brand. The only good thing you can say about it is they are actually using the brand on products, which does have some value in keeping the brand alive as a placeholder.

That’s all for now. Meanwhile, have a nice view of the first Best a Man Can Get. Ahh the 1980s.

→ No CommentsTags: Advertising

Not Bright: Met Life Dumps Legacy for Recycled Cable Identity

April 4th, 2017 · No Comments

By Garland Pollard

NEW YORK – Part of the whole point of branding is to teach that as a company, you want to get to the eternal, the brand that never changes, the brand that customers trust and suppliers fight to sell to, the brand you never need to advertise because it is so well-known and trusted that it sells itself.

One of those brands is Metropolitan Life. Through its history, Metropolitan Life has been a beacon of stability in millions of families’ lives, what advertising called a “Light that Never Fails.”

So it was with great surprise that I picked up The Wall Street Journal and saw that Metropolitan Life would, well, no longer be Metropolitan Life. It would instead spin off its life insurance, its reason for being, into a new company named after my local cable company, which was called Brighthouse, and now is called something else that I cannot remember.

This is sad, as Metropolitan Life was once one of the great things of capitalist America.

The American Skyscraper, Cultural Histories by Roberta Moudry tells a bit about the self view of Metropolitan Life through much of the 20th century as it relates to the famous 1909 Metropolitan Life building. Met Life, as it has come to be abbreviated, was all about providing security in families lives. Granted, this idea was a sort of marketing construct, but it was a good marketing construct, a construct that was implemented and followed through on by hundreds of thousands of agents and clerks. [Read more →]

→ No CommentsTags: Financial Services

Burmese Brand Sofaer Shows New Way to Revive Defunct Legacy

April 3rd, 2017 · No Comments

By Garland Pollard

Yangon, Myanmar – In every city, there are dozens of historic local brands that once defined a city, but have disappeared. The challenge is that often they were retail brands named after people or families, and a revival is, seemingly, a bit challenging. The store goes, the city changes, and an identity and ecosystem is lost.

This situation was made even worse in Yangon, Myanmar, the city formerly known as Rangoon, Burma. Back in the 1980s, the country was even closed to foreigners for a bit, and every manner of capitalism and former colonial style shut down and obliterated. This was the opposite of Singapore, where Lee Kuan Yew ably negotiated independence with Britain without destroying the history of the British that were there. This recipe, of not destroying the past, has served him well. [Read more →]

→ No CommentsTags: Tourism

Help Us Escape These Sub-Optum S.S. Brands

March 23rd, 2017 · No Comments

By Garland Pollard

As a social service agency or company or government mandated service, the only brand you need is really your business name, and a decent level of service. Of course  you need something written on letterhead, and an address, but your “brand” is really about how you deal with people. And so it is that in areas where we trust little, like “healthcare” or “wellness” or “public/private partnerships” the brand names keep changing, and they keep inventing new ones. You don’t even have to excel at it; no one expects that. Instead,  you just need to be nice and helpful.

Today, I saw a new crazy brand, the Optum brand of, get this, worker’s compensation pharma benefits. In a mailing of a worker’s comp pharmacy card, we saw, inserted in an envelope, that the materials were provided by Optum, which was the new name for Helios. I guess that’s good news! But even better news was that the retail pharmacy brand Tmsys had not changed! Thank goodness because I would have gone to my non-existent Yellow pages to look for a Tmesys pharmacy …..

Tmsys has not changed! What a happy thing to hear! But so so sad for poor Helios that its brand would be dumped in favor of Optum. It is hardly fair to Helios that they were dumped in favor of Optum!

Was Helios sounding too much like a solar energy company, or a sex-drenched Mediterranean beach resort? We’ll never know. Helios never saw it coming. [Read more →]

→ No CommentsTags: News

Boise Paper Not Interesting Without the Cascade Tree

March 22nd, 2017 · No Comments

By Garland Pollard

Perhaps one of the better paper brands was Boise Cascade. It, according to the Boise website, became a craft paper brand in 1958 in Wallula, Washington.

Over the years, the brand grew, with plants across the country. It was tied together, with all sorts of other lumber businesses, into a great big Boise Cascade company that was all about forests, sustainability and wholesome paper. The company also went into the business of RVs, cruises and homebuilding.

But in 2008, they sold out to an investment firm, and today is just focused on “safe, sustainable manufacturing and meeting customer needs.” [Read more →]

→ No CommentsTags: Brand History

On the Shelves: Izod Leashes and Laura Ashley Dogpens. Really.

March 21st, 2017 · No Comments

By Garland Pollard

Our occasional ventures into oddlots, dollar stores and the like deliver quite special brand extensions and brand licensing. Our tops for today (and we admit we spotted this over Christmas at a Tuesday Morning) were an Izod branded leash and tennis ball set, and a Laura Ashley dog pen.

Sorry Alligator

Obviously, Izod was the sad sister of the “Izod Lacoste” shirt of the 1980s. At a certain point, everyone called Lacoste shirts Izods. And then the licensing agreement went bye bye and Izod had to live on its own without an alligator. Things went OK (well Kohl’s instead of Saks) until recently, when some licensing kidder thought it might “extend” the brand by getting some cash to add it to a dog fun set. Do people with dogs care about a fashion brand ball set? Does the name Izod mean enough to get you to buy the leash and ball set?

The reality? Most WASP preps who might have had an Izod shirt, and would have been predisposed to buy something Izod branded, would have found an old leash purchased at the Walmart, and used some dirty old slobber covered tennis balls leftover from the club.

 Repackaged Revlon

Dollar Tree has an amusing way to sell Revlon nail polish. You package up surplus Revlon nail polish and then put it inside a separate package that indicates that it is not actually a Revlon product, but it is a repackaged Revlon product.

The back has a clear indication that the Fort Lauderdale company that did the repackaging has nothing to do with Revlon. But it is legit Revlon for a buck.

The late Charles Revson would not be amused.

Lite Hat at Target

At Target, the less filling Lite beer seems to be a hip logo for caps. Finally, cheap lager is back again. The Target display, however, did not have any other logos with it; the meaning is perhaps lost if there is no irony. It was just there with other caps, pulling its own weight as a brand, not attracting too much attention. But perhaps it is better than Pabst, which is now slightly un-hip because it was too hip, and only hip if drunk un-ironically.

So is Lite hip, or not? Thank goodness they kept the Philip Morris era logo.


Laura Ashley Dog Playpen

Not sure how you go from Princess Di-era must have fashion and lifestyle brand to licensing your brand to Pet Playpens but we are sure it has nothing to do with a creative team that has sayso.

Laura Ashley truly was one of the great fashion brands; even today, it could do another Lilly Pulitzer, and pull itself out of oblivion by some smart repositioning of its old patterns and looks. It’s a brand that’s ripe for revival.

However, to do that you have to hire a women’s fashion designer with good taste, and a brand policeman that actually plays bad-cop to the money pinchers. Would anyone buy a playpen because its Laura Ashley? Would anyone in a Tuesday Morning value the historic Victorian values of Laura Ashley.

That’s enough nonsense for today.



→ No CommentsTags: News

On the Shelves: From Ivory to Cigarette Machines to Krispy Kreme Candles

March 13th, 2017 · No Comments

By Garland Pollard

In the last few weeks I have been making some brand-related observations while out in the mad world of brands. Here are some of the good and bad, and in between. It’s a new feature here called On the Shelves, a sort of Hodgepodge Lodge of brand notes.

Quarters for Cigs. Lots of Quarters! Today, I saw a cigarette machine here in Florida. They are still around, but only in supervised bars. Last one I remember seeing was in the now bulldozed Monkey Room restaurant at the tennis resort The Colony. The machine’s a real throwback, though the constant consolidation in the tobacco industry has made for less and less options. Basically, these days it’s Winston, Newport, Camel, Marlboro and Parliament. Frankly, if we are still going to have cigarettes around, lets have a few interesting brands, eh? Benson & Hedges? Merit? Vantage? All my favorite brands from sneaking off and smoking during high school are gone. Ah, for a yellow pack of Merits!

Retro Games Section: Target now has a whole section of retro games, each done in a classic style with a traditional look. Payday, Chutes & Ladders, Clue and the like are all available in their original version. Interesting, this is a way to get margins back in games, as they are around $19 each, rather than the cheap $10 level that many games are now sold at.

Silly Doughnuts: We happened upon this vile Raspberry filled candle in the bargain basket at Dollar Tree, and immediately realized that it was in its right spot! One of those evidences of  brands gone wild, or brand licensing gone too crazy. Obviously, it did not work. Who can stop these brand licensing people? I think that it is nastier than the Newport cigarettes in the cigarette machine above, and probably a few more nasty chemicals than the cigarettes.









Lenten Filet-O-Fish: This time of year is Lent, which made us go out and see, after never having eaten one before, what the taste of a Filet-o-Fish is like. Actually, it was pretty good, though you may not want to eat it with the cheese. You really don’t need the cheese. The graphics on the package are pretty good, don’t you think? Problem is it takes like 10 minutes for them to make one, hardly fast food.









Field at Target! Sadly, for those folks who miss Marshall Field & Co., their corporate spin off, Target, is still selling Fieldcrest linens. Fieldcrest, was, of course, the original Marshall Field brand of towels and linens, but it grew so popular that it was sold to other department stores. It’s a bit like Craftsman and Eight o’Clock,which have outlasted their original stores, respectively Sears Roebuck and Co., and Great Atlantic & Pacific Tea Co. Here the price is almost $80, a premium linen.

Ivory Redux: A few months ago, we came across the original styled Ivory soap. We almost did not recognize it because of its antique nature, and non-relationship to the 1970s version of Ivory. The bar is also bigger. This is a good exercise for companies to do every once in a while as it helps to educate consumers. Still, there has been NO national advertising for Ivory in recent decades, and that’s a shame, cause its pure soap and it works well, without oil. I think it was at Dollar Tree, however, which is never a good sign for a national brand.









That’s all for now.

→ No CommentsTags: Soap · Tobacco