Reset Branding + Design


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June 17th, 2013
Segmentation for Dummies: Why Abercrombie & Fitch Is Right and Public Opinion Is Wrong

• Item: The Sports Authority retail chain only caters to those interested in indoor and outdoor activities. Those who wish to merely sit on the couch and watch TV while they snack are deliberately being excluded.

• Item: Whole Foods grocery stores do not stock Coca-Cola, Oreo Cookies or numerous other consumer favorites! Why are its shoppers being forced to buy only food that is healthy to eat?

• Item: Abercrombie & Fitch refuses to sell products that fit oversized women is ridiculous – as is the controversy over remarks made by Mike Jeffries, A&F’s CEO, way, way back in 2006; “That’s why we hire good-looking people in our stores. Because good-looking people attract other good-looking people, and we want to market to cool, good-looking people. We don’t market to anyone other than that.”

Unfortunately, many are demanding that A&F must, in fact, market to everyone – resulting in Mr. Jeffries having to apologize while lawyers decide on how many lawsuits could be filed against him and his company, teens lead protests at his stores and A&F is suddenly accused of being pro-bullying.

What does this say about the future of branding and more importantly, innovation?
Please check out the rest of this post on

January 7th, 2013
Co-Branding: Why Even Sinatra Sang Its Praises

Were there any entertainment brands bigger than that of the late, great Frank Sinatra? For over half a century, he put out an incredible number of classic albums and songs (as well as appearing in numerous blockbuster movies) and became known as the greatest pop singer of the 20th Century according to some experts.

However, he achieved his greatest commercial success not on his own – but when he teamed up with some of the leading music stars of the 1990’s in his “Duets” album – the only Sinatra album to earn the designation of Triple Platinum.

This is a prime example of the concept of “co-branding” – when one brand unites with others to hopefully expand its consumer power and earning potential. In this case, Sinatra’s “brand” combined with everyone’s from Barbra Streisand to Bono to take it to heights even Ol’ Blue Eyes had never reached prior to this.

In an ever-more crowded marketplace, the opportunities co-branding offers for further market penetration are attracting more and more companies. That’s why, for example, James Bond in his latest film drinks Heineken beer instead of his traditional vodka martini – because the beer manufacturer thought it was worth paying the producers $45 million to brand their brew with Bond’s.

But you don’t need to go to the movies to experience co-branding in action. Just a stroll through a typical supermarket will quickly uncover multiple everyday examples, such as Lay’s Potato Chips with KC Masterpiece barbeque sauce taste, Hershey candy in Breyer’s ice cream, and even a Kellogg’s Cinnabon breakfast cereal. Co-branding can even make for very strange, but successful, bedfellows – for two decades, the Ford Motor Company teamed up with casual clothing company Eddie Bauer to create a series of SUVs branded with Bauer.

There are actually two ways to co-brand: either you can partner up with a brand owned by another concern, or, if you own multiple brands, you can co-brand within your organization (for example, Proctor & Gamble sells its Downy fabric softener scented with its Febreze Fresh Air aroma). In either case, the logos of both brands will generally be prominently featured in co-branding packaging and marketing. You can find more co-branding examples at Trendwatching’s compilation column of what they call “Branded Brands.”

Dan Beem, the president of Cold Stone Creamery, the ice cream parlor chain, has utilized co-branding heavily in his stores, using Oreo, Jell-O and Jelly Belly products in-store – as well as co-branding actual Cold Stone locations with Tim Horton and Rocky Mountain Chocolate Factory stores. He’s a strong believer in the concept because, as he told Forbes magazine, “Co-branding can be an effective strategy to survive down times and even grow. It can create new revenue streams, increase momentum and raise brand awareness as well as reduce costs”. Inc. Magazine makes a similar point: “If done well, these partnerships are innovative because they are new, unexpected, and they achieve brand objectives.”

These benefits are backed up by academic research. Consider these findings from a co-branding study performed by Judith H. Washburn at Bowling Green University:

  • Both brands benefit from a co-branding venture. Even when a higher-end brand associates itself with a lower-end brand, both realize positive results – there is no evidence of any negative perceptions in the vast majority of cases.
  • Co-branding provides greater benefit to low-equity brands when teamed with high equity brands. While both brands may benefit, the less-powerful brand usually realizes more gains. The exception may be with a dominant brand (say, a Coca-Cola or Microsoft) that has difficulty creating new and viable brand extensions; Co-Branding creates the opportunity to enter new markets and create new revenue streams.
  • Co-branding should be used to further exploit a product performance advantage.

In other words, the co-branding venture should reflect the main selling point of each brand. For example, Intel branded itself with various PC companies and successfully promoted itself as being responsible for a computer’s superior performance. Similarly, in the Breyer’s/Hershey ice cream co-branding, Hershey can obviously take credit for the chocolate chips in the ice cream (while Breyer’s gains advantage by featuring a popular brand of chocolate).

Wondering whether co-branding is right for you? Steve McKee, writing in Bloomberg Businessweek, suggests three criteria companies should use when considering co-branding projects:

“First, they will co-brand only with companies that share complementary values. Second, they will co-brand only with products that (as they do) hold best-in-class status. Third, they will co-brand only in situations where they can retain full review and approval rights on all elements of communications. That narrows the company’s co-branding possibilities, but it also reduces its risk.”

Co-branding clearly offers more upside than downside. So think about creating some brand duets of your own – you might find, as Sinatra used to sing, “The Best is Yet to Come.”


You can read more about this blog at Fast Company:

September 11th, 2012
Short Term Branding Mistakes

We all know the consequences that a serious short-term mistake can have for the rest of our lives. That’s why we try to avoid making them. Something like a drunk-driving arrest or getting caught doing a less-than-honest business deal will obviously impact people’s perceptions of who they thought we were in a negative way.

It’s no different for a brand. Brands go to considerable expense and effort to establish a certain identity in the public’s mind. And then, in one fell swoop, that same brand can make one move that completely disrupts that brand–and eventually even destroy it.

For example, remember Packard, the luxury car maker? You’re excused if you don’t, since they went out of business in 1957. But, in the 1930’s, they were the leader in quality cars, not Cadillac. Panicked by the Great Depression, however, they put out a cheaper model to increase sales. They ended up, in the process, surrendering their luxury brand position and were perceived as just another car. Cadillac took the crown and Packard was left in the wrecking yard.

Then there’s Netflix, a huge DVD-delivery success story that helped bury Blockbuster. It was perceived as an incredible, and very affordable, service provider, especially when it began bundling online video streaming with its DVD rentals, an extra service its customers enjoyed at one low monthly price. Cut to July 12, 2011 when the company suddenly split the streaming and the DVD rentals into separately priced services, and saddled its customers with a 60% price hike, if they wanted everything they were already getting. The backlash was severe–so severe that they lost 800,000 subscribers. Even though they reversed course and began bundling the services again, their stock price is still down 70 percent year over year as of this writing.

Here are a few tips to keep in mind when considering a big branding move:

Don’t Break Your Brand Promise
A couple of years ago, Starbucks introduced an instant coffee line to beef up profits during the economic downturn–and “instantly” diluted its brand perception. Obviously, taste is compromised with such a product and Starbucks has always positioned itself as the “quality” coffee alternative (to justify its higher pricing). Time will tell what damage this kind of move will make to their image. Similarly, BMW introduced the BMW 1 series to attract younger buyers. But the cars look cheap and are missing the traditional luxurious amenities that define the BMW brand. Could BMW become the next Packard?

Continue Brand Consistency
Apple is well known for the quality of its product line. But, in 2010, Apple released the iPhone 4, and immediately users began having difficulties with the trendy device. Because of an engineering design problem, calls were being dropped because of how the antenna was implanted in the device. This was a major gaffe for a company that was widely worshiped for how awesome its products worked. And Apple wasn’t done there. Instead of apologizing or offering a free fix, they told customers to either hold the phone differently or purchase an accessory to repair the problem! Quality control is essential to a company like Apple; because their products cost a little more, their customers expect a little more.

Control What’s Beyond Your Control
Sometimes a huge short-term negative event happens that’s beyond the control of the company behind the brand. What can be controlled, however, is the response to that event. Thirty years ago, the Tylenol pain reliever brand faced a very serious threat–a product people trusted was tampered with and seven people died as a result of poisoning. Obviously, this wasn’t Tylenol’s fault, but it took a long-term view and incurred losses of $100 million by stopping production and advertising, clearing the shelves of existing product, and making sure the public was informed of the danger. Johnson & Johnson’s CEO James Burke is credited with saving the product’s brand with his fast and wide-ranging reaction.

Netflix, in contrast, was slow to respond to criticism of its price hike–and customers were quick to revolt.

Beware of Advertising that Antagonizes
Sometimes “creative” campaigns can create big branding problems. Groupon, for example, ran a 2011 Super bowl campaign featuring celebrities discussing important causes and then shifting into a rave for a Groupon deal. What was supposed to be satirical came off as cold and uncaring. Groupon was forced to pull the ads and apologize.

There’s nothing wrong wit¬h a brand making a big sudden move that’s perceived as a game-changer – as long as it’s a move that’s strategic, innovative and builds on brand perception, instead of diminishing or downgrading it. Although Apple may make a minor mistake here and there, it’s difficult to override the incredible impact of introducing revolutionary products like the iPod, the iPhone and the iPad. But it’s just as difficult to undo the damage of Netflix’s rapid price restructuring that inflicted an overnight 60% price hike on customers. Yes, short-term profits are important, but a long-term brand vision that connects with consumers is more crucial.

This blog was featured on Fast Company. Check it out here!

April 24th, 2012
Gillette Fusion and the Power of Evolving Expectations

Gillette Pro Fusion and the Power of Evolving Expectations

In today’s fast-evolving marketplace, a substantial market share and strong brand awareness aren’t enough. The explosion of social media and mobile technology means that, among other things, trends, preferences, and expectations are evolving more rapidly than ever. In order to ensure the long-term health of your brand, it’s essential that you keep a watchful eye on emerging trends. The idea is not to act hastily but to intelligently analyze the risk ratios.

Gillette’s Pro Fusion sub-brand is a shining example of this concept. For decades, Gillette has been a dominant force in the safety razor & personal care category. In recent years, as the male personal grooming category has exploded, Gillette capitalized on the trend by launching Pro Fusion as a well-constructed sub-brand. Gillette’s existing brand awareness, combined with their early embrace of a developing trend, has positioned them to cash in as the male grooming category grows.

It’s your job, as a business owner, to identify trends in your market—and then move decisively. Below are three trends that we expect to have a significant impact on consumers across the board:

1) Brand Engagement. Because of Social Media, brands connect with consumers on completely different levels than traditional advertising ever has. Facebook, Twitter and YouTube are global phenomenons that have impacted the way a brand engages its audience and has effectively reduced the size of the world. The brands that understand how to develop programs that connect with consumers at multiple touch points will be the most successful. Today’s customer expects brand engagement—will you deliver?

2) Eco-Consciousness. Consumers, now more than ever, are aware of the environment and are demanding products that are sustainable and environmentally friendly. This is more than a passing interest—this is a global shift in the way consumers perceive your brand and its impact on the environment. Is your brand perceived as eco-friendly?

3) The Value Proposition. Consumers are spending cautiously and searching for real value in their purchases. But what is “real value?” Consumers are looking for differentiation and brand experience. Consumers are armed with more information than ever before and the brands that do not offer real value will be left by the wayside. How is your brand differentiated from the competition? Why should a consumer choose your brand instead of any other?

As a business owner, you must constantly have your finger on the pulse of your market, so to speak. Your ability to respond to trends will determine the future of your brand—and the long-term success of your business.

View on Fast Company

April 24th, 2012
Reset Branding wins big at Las Vegas POPAI awards!

Reset Branding Inc. Wins Big at Las Vegas POPAI Awards

Reset Branding Inc wins Silver and Bronze at Las Vegas POPAI awards for Outstanding Retail Merchandising Programs

Toronto branding firm Reset Branding is pleased to announce their recent acceptance of both Silver and Bronze awards from POPAI, the Global Association for Marketing at Retail for their outstanding work on the Otrivin brand.

“We’re ecstatic to be honored with such prestigious awards,” said John Miziolek, Founder and Brand Strategist at Toronto branding company Reset Branding. “Our goal is to Maximize Brand Value for our clients and this is a great example of one way in which we do this.”

POPAI’s mission is to advance the evolution of marketing at retail as a strategic advertising medium integrated into the global marketing mix. A large component of the award-winning program was retail displays. Using a combination of unique materials including plastic and paperboard, Toronto branding firm Reset Branding developed a series of high impact Otrivin Saline displays that stood out amongst the clutter of typical store environments.

“We are extremely excited about the POPAI awards. Everyone on the team worked very hard to make this retail program the best it could be”, said Paul Pajuoloma, Packaging Display Associate, Novartis Consumer Health Canada. “Reset Branding did an amazing job bringing the Otrivin brand to life in the store environment. Their expert work led to significant increases in consumer activations. They are truly an amazing organization.”

Reset Branding’s award-winning programs can be seen in major Canadian retailers such as Shopper’s Drug Mart, Walmart, Loblaws and Rexall.

“These awards demonstrate our level of expertise in Shopper Marketing,” said John Miziolek. “for us it’s all about consumer activations at the point of purchase.”

About Reset Branding

Reset Branding is an innovative Strategic Branding and Design firm with offices in Toronto, New York and Chicago. The company focuses on Maximizing Brand Value for its clients. For more information visit or follow @resetbranding on Twitter.

April 24th, 2012
In collaboration with 3M, Reset Branding launches FutureLook

Reset Branding Launches Visual Tool that Maximizes Impact of Design

Reset Branding’s new image scanning tool, Futurelook, applies vision science to predict – within seconds – which elements of visual content will get noticed

In collaboration with 3M Canada, Toronto branding firm Reset Branding is pleased to introduce Futurelook, the next generation of strategic brand development. Futurelook is built on 3M’s decades of scientific research on how consumers and shoppers react to various visuals, and Reset Branding’s experience and innovative approach to brand development. Futurelook marries vision science with cutting edge technology to help brand owners and marketers test the visual impact of their content and increase the probability that viewers will notice the most important elements of a design.

“We’re proud to be the first branding firm in Canada to work with 3M on this,” said John Miziolek, Founder and Brand Strategist at Toronto branding company Reset Branding. “The ability to accurately predict the first 3 to 5 seconds of visual impact is critical in maximizing branding, marketing and advertising messages.”

Using 3M-powered software, Futurelook analyzes every element of visual content and identifies where the human eye is most likely to look in the first three to five seconds. Scientific algorithms process important visual cues, such as colour, edges, faces, shapes and contrast. Results reveal exactly which design elements are most likely to be viewed first, and those which will not get noticed.

“We’re very excited to be working with a top level branding firm like Reset Branding,” said Stephanie Neskas, Business Manager 3M Canada Commercial Graphics Division. “Their company is truly amazing and their approach to branding is innovative. We are proud to be part that approach.

Futurelook can be used to assess the visual impact of many different forms of visual communication and creative content including, but not limited to, packaging, in-store signage, direct mail, billboards, and websites.

“Since scanning can also be done through mobile devices, the opportunities within retail environments are powerful,” said John Miziolek. “We will use Futurelook to validate design direction and to command the attention of the shopper in both on-line and in-store environments.”

April 24th, 2012
How Dove Reinvented its Brand for Men

Dove Men+ Care and The Power of Brand Innovation

Dove has positioned themselves as a leader in the women’s cosmetic industry. They’ve created substantial brand awareness both in the United States and around the world.

But could they sell their products to men? Of course not…right? Everything about their brand— from their name, to their logo, to their color palette—is created with women in mind.

Pursuing men, on the other hand, would be disastrous… or so conventional wisdom tells us.

However, that didn’t Dove from doing exactly that. In 2010, they launched a new line of grooming products, Dove Men+Care , specifically targeting men.

To their credit, Dove understood that their existing brand would be a non-starter for men. So they innovated—so far, they’ve been successful. Below are three lessons you can learn from their success:

1)     “Disruptive” innovation is the most powerful form of innovation. Dove shook up the market for male grooming products. They also stepped outside of the paradigm they had constructed for themselves as a women’s brand. They generated headlines and caused consumers to do a double-take. How can you disrupt the market for your products and services?

2)     Pay close attention to your market—because timing is everything. Dove was well aware of the evolution of the male customer. The market for men’s products had been (and still is) rapidly expanding—and the idea of a product designed to “take care” of men was much more accepted than it would have been 20 years ago. How is your market changing?

3)     Think outside the box. Particularly brilliant was Dove’s creation of their well-packaged shower scrub. (See video below.) Not only does it have practical application, but the masculine color palette and package design maximizes its appeal to their target customers. What can you do to make your brand even more appealing to your market?

Now, it’s important to understand that for every successful brand extension, there are many more that fail. Dove Men+Care played their cards just right—and there’s plenty you can learn from their success. Don’t be afraid to disrupt your market when the time is right!

To learn more, take just a moment to watch the video I’ve created on the subject:

View on Fast Company

January 13th, 2012
Reset Branding featured in USA Today

Branding Expert John Miziolek Featured in USA Today and Other Major Media Outlets

John Miziolek, up and coming branding star, was recently featured in USA Today as well as major online media outlets, including Yahoo!Finance, Morningstar, CNBC, MarketWatch and many others.

Toronto, ON – January 9, 2012 – John Miziolek, Co-Founder and President of Reset Branding, was recently featured in USA Today with other leading experts from across the world as a “Trendsetter In The New Economy.” A feature story about John Miziolek was also seen on the online homes of major publications such as Yahoo! Finance, CNBC, The Boston Globe, The Miami Herald, Morningstar, Los Angeles Daily News, MarketWatch, and New York Daily News, among many others.

As seen in the USA Today feature:

John Miziolek has been trendsetting his way across the branding industry by building powerful brands and increasing sales. Known for challenging traditional industry norms, he is a tireless contributor to the design industry and the advancement of the practice of design. His innovative methods and strategic acumen set him apart from his competitors. If you’re looking to build, extend or revitalize your brand, look no further than this trendsetter.

Miziolek is one of the premiere strategic branding professionals who are making waves in the cutthroat world of design agencies. He specializes in brand strategy, consumer insights and name generation. His experience in building and revitalizing brands spans every category of consumer packaged goods and corporate development. As one of the co-founders of Reset Branding, Miziolek has turned the traditional design firm model upside down to create an innovative agency that reaches out to clients all over the world.

With offices in Toronto, New York and Chicago, Reset Branding specializes in strategy for both consumer and business-to-business brands. Miziolek is also a celebrated contributor to the design industry and a mogul in the media as a regular contributor on History Television’s show “What’s in a Name?” and has done interviews for CBC Radio and Global News.

To read the full feature story about John Miziolek, as seen on CNBC, Morningstar, CBS MoneyWatch, The Houston Chronicle, Dallas Morning News and others, please visit