Category Archives: Branding


ie_iconIt’s official – the new JC Penney brand is: “We’re Just As Confused As You Are!” – Interesting move. Not sure that Macy’s is quaking in their boots just yet.

It has appeared over the last couple of years that the folks at Penney were concerned that there were no recent case studies on how to screw up a brand so they have worked diligently to provide fresh material. Most recently, after firing Ron Johnson their “saviour” CEO, they hired back the previous CEO that Johnson replaced. (Really it’s a choice only between just these two guys? No one else with talent out there? #Bush-or-Kerry?)

A fortnight ago they released an apology ad. Oh golly…what underground bunker are these chaps working from? And now just two weeks later they pull that ad from all sources and have started running a “thank you for coming back” ad. I couldn’t make this stuff up! Really, in two weeks we all came back? Wow.

For Penney they have two choices: the Target route which Johnson was trying to put them on but takes patience, an ability to bleed profusely in the short-to-mid-term and a better branding/advertising/sales strategy.

Or just be like Macy’s. Macy’s is a profit machine. What they are doing is not rocket science. Plus the Macy’s strategy is not unassailable. Going the “constant sales” route bonds customers to the deals not the brand which makes them vulnerable. Unlike Target, no one thinks of themselves as a “Macy’s gal”. But veering (lumbering) from one huge strategic commitment to another is confusing to customers, morale sucking to employees and evaporative to profits. I hear a sound in the distance like a giant toilet flushing…

BE SOMEONE. CHOOSE WELL. STICK TO IT. Or start writing copy for your next apology ad. And start looking at resumes for your next CEO. Hey, I hear Ron Johnson is available.

Simon Dixon, Idea Engineering, CEO

See who’s getting BrandAid from Idea Engineering!


I’m pleased to take a moment away from marketing observations to announce the awardees of our “BrandAid” (West Coast) pro-bono initiative. BrandAid is an initiative that we created (in partnership with the Santa Barbara Foundation) to award branding and communications packages to two nonprofits in 2013. We received 32 applications and there were two that we found most compelling, who best articulated the help they were looking for and the results they hoped to achieve.

Our winners are:

1. Legal Aid Foundation of Santa Barbara County
2. Santa Barbara Partners in Education

Both of these organizations provide invaluable services to their community.  We are looking forward to helping both of them achieve even greater success in the future!  — And I’d like to take this moment to encourage everyone to consider in what way they can lend their expertise to assist a nonprofit in achieving greater results.

Simon Dixon

Simon Dixon, Idea Engineering, CEO