HOW TO engage a global audience

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Social gatherings used to be limited only to people in a single physical location like a bar or conference.  Now social gatherings extend past the walls of one location to the online social sites where conversation around a single subject can be scaled up. “Tweetups” blur the lines between in-person and online participation. For businesses big and small, these global niche events — such as Mashable’s Social Media Day or St. Supéry's #Cabernet Day, can be a great way to target and connect with people around a single subject.

On September 2nd, St. Supéry winery used meetup.com to engage people around the world in a celebration of wine called #Cabernet day.  Over a 24 hour period, over a thousand online wine drinkers and people at 75 real life meetups all posted messages across social sites like Facebook, Twitter, Foursquare, Flickr, Gowalla and YouTube.

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Mobilizing a global audience online and offline can be organized by one or two people using these strategies:

Find a common passion- Commonality leads to community.  Find your community using search tools Twitter Search, Yahoo Upcoming, Facebook or Plancast.

Have one central RSVP page- Keep it simple by driving everyone to one single page.  One page is easier to measure metrics from and it’s easier to organize one single event, even with multiple locations.  Jazz the page up a bit by adding a Twitter stream of tweets featuring the hash tag. Popular RSVP sites for social events are:

Eventbrite.com – Eventbrite is a solid option for posting and tracking RSVP’s.  Organizers can customize their page with graphics, Google Analytics, custom headers, links to the organizer and export tools for attendees to export to their calendar and announce it on their social sites.

MogoTix.com – Deliver tickets to attendees on their phones.  MogoTix will text you an image of your ticket with a scanable QR code.

Establish a unique short hash tag- Hash tags are the thread that hold the online conversations together.  They’re also what make a global conversation possible.  Every tweet, Facebook post, location check in or blog post in any country can be tracked real time using Twitter Search, Tweetdeck, or Booshaka for Facebook.  No matter where people are located, they can send or search posts using the hash tag.

Add the hash tag to the tagalus.com directory and open a search column in Tweetdeck to track the tag.

Engage participants- Online conversations work well when they’re extensions of in-person interactions.  Facilitate satellite events in different cities.  For #Cabernet, meetup.com/anywhere was used to schedule in-person gatherings in cities around the globe.  In the meetup descriptions, attendees were prompted on what the bigger social media message was and which hashtag to use.  For global events, it’s a good idea to make it a full day so “attendees” in different time zones can plan accordingly.  Another great tool is Plancast.  Plancast.com has a similar feel as Twitter, but instead of tweets you post plans.  People can subscribe to your plans, and they can opt in.

Add a Twitter stream everyone can see- Duing the event, make the conversation visual.  No matter how loud it is in a venue or a tweetup, you can still see what people are saying.  Twitter streams are often projected onto a large screen to show the real time conversation.  Twitterfall.com displays tweets with a keyword (you define) in a constant stream similar to a water fall.  You can set more than one search term—each one will be color-coded.

Share the Love- If you want to witness the power of social media, give all sponsors, hosts and contributors visibility equally.  You create a community-driven event where everyone has a vested interest in the overall success.  Show the logos of contributors on the main (Eventbrite) page, so they in turn have a reason to promote the event to their community.  The more they promote the event, the more they’ll collectively drive a larger audience to the main event page.

Have additional tools for engaging a global audience?  Leave them in the comments below.

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The Future of Apps, Marketing & Wine

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48 hours ago Snooth released their new iPhone app for $4.99 on iTunes.  First impression is this app is a game changer.  Moreover, it represents where the future of apps are going in many consumer-facing industries.

The sexiest feature of Snooth's new app is the photo recognition of wine labels.  And really, this alone is what makes it a game changer.  Up until now, the hot feature in apps was QR codes, or or UPC code recognition found in RedLaser's app.  I've always thought QR codes were like visual spam.  Imagine a world (or retail environment) where a bunch of products all have QR codes within one space—it's visually distracting.  QR codes are the gateway drug to the REAL use of mobile technology: photo recognition.

Photo recognition isn't just limited to the wine industry.  Within months you're going to see photo recognition showing up in apps for other industries, from tires to fashion and everywhere in between.  Google Goggles was one of the first photo recognition tools where the user simply takes a photo of a product, and the phone goes to fetch any and all data related to the product.  What I like about the Snooth Pro app is Snooth solved the difficult problem of how to sort out all the various ways a product can be listed.  If you're looking for 2007 St. Supéry Sauvignon Blanc (discl: my employer), Snooth gives you a few choices to verify you've selected the correct vintage:

Snooth already has a rich database full of neatly organized wine data.  This app gets out of the way and lets the user quickly identify the wine they're drinking by using photo recognition in a painless way while at the same time making it possible for the user to tag a photo to match their database.  The true power of hand held devices lies in the ability for the user to quickly identify the product with minimal input, but get back a bunch of useful data from the "cloud".

Snooth took it a step further.  They built in another game changing feature that could be an app by itself.  In fact, the new grappos.com iPhone app does just that.  The 'wine finder' technology is also helpful as it lets the user see where they can find the identified wine around them.

Snooth has raised the bar with next generation technology, but it wouldn't be useful if there wasn't a balance of form and function.  Good design is still critical to a successful app.  Snooth not only adds new functionality, but they also have a history of clean design.  This Snooth Pro app is well thought out.  From a purely design perspective, the UX (user experience) is very pleasant and easy to navigate.  For $4.99 this app is a steal considering how much "new stuff" there is in it.

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Santa Claus, Loch Ness Monster and Social Media Experts

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Santa Claus with a little girl
Image via Wikipedia

A few weeks ago I was pitched (again) by a "social media guru" from San Francisco.  After meeting him through a friend of a friend, and about 17 emails I finally gave in and invited him to stop by the winery.  Seems like I'm getting pitched every week by another social media expert who has all the answers to our wine business needs.  I was hoping this guy would have something different to say, or at least I was hoping he would take the time to look at the wine industry for real, and not just the romanticized vision of it.

I see him roll up in his recently buffed pearl white Mercedes SUV and slicked back hair, and I knew right away what this guy was about.  In my mind, he represents what's wrong with the social media landscape right now.  So many businesses are realizing they want to "socialize" themselves, but they don't know how to do it.  Suddenly, out of the woodwork comes armies of "gurus" and "experts" with all the answers.  The wine industry is especially susceptible because wineries aren't especially tech-savvy.  It's easy to be confused by snake oil salesmen promising big numbers.

So I listen to the pitch about all the powerful social media ROI his team can produce, and I wait until the end.  I asked the guy what he knew about our winery.  "Nothing," he replied.  I asked him who he thought were the wineries who were succeeding with social media.  "There's a winery in Illinois called Lynfred Winery, but no one around here," he said.  I thanked him for his time and sent him on his way.  He failed to do any research about me as a potential client, and he failed to look at the wine/social landscape.  I think they call that due diligence.  I had looked into his online efforts before he arrived, and discovered he didn't even have a Twitter handle, nor a Facebook page.  Basically, he and his team go into blog comments on behalf of clients and essentially spam the hell out of wine blogs.

It seems many wineries may have similar experiences, which is probably causing confusion.  In my job as the Director of Social Media for St. Supéry, I live and breathe this stuff every day, and I feel like we're just now starting to understand it.  Through a lot of trial and error we've had some successes and some things that didn't work.  After a year and two months in my role, I am just now starting to feel like I'm getting enough experience to no longer be called a beginner.  Maybe intermediate...maybe. . .

Some people say you have to do something at least 10,000 times before you can be considered an expert in anything.

. . For wineries trying to make sense out of who to trust and who not to, I put together a few tips that should help determine if someone is capable of executing any sort of social media campaign: 1. What is their Klout score? Klout.com is a tool that helps measure influence.  Influence is established by having an idea of what you're doing.  Amazingly, many social media experts have very low Klout scores.  Hmmmm  Bullshit meter is already starting to hum.

2. Do they have a LinkedIn, Facebook, Twitter and blog presence? Those are kind of the main social sites these days.  If they're going to build your business online, they need to show mastery of those sites.  Understanding how all the social sites fit together is critical because web 2.0 is all about open source, or the ability to share between sites.

3. Are they promising ROI? Hardly anyone has figured out how to manufacture and measure ROI.  Even the Old Spice campaign, which is considered to be one of the best social media efforts in history isn't fully understood yet in terms of ROI.  You can't promise a certain increase in followers, fans or ROI because all those things are out of your control.  Free will can't be manipulated, and that's what social media is.  You can't make someone become a Facebook fan or follow organically.  The only way is through gimmicks like contests or something that bumps numbers up, but doesn't create an authentic connection.

4. What do their online conversations look like? There's a social media "expert" in Northern California who's Twitter stream is only Foursquare checkins.  No actual conversation are taking place.  Having engaging conversations is a pretty important part of the equation.

5. If they can't build their brand online, they can't build yours Sounds obvious, but there's truth to that statement.  Walking the walk and talking the talk is important because it demonstrates how well someone can do what they're saying you should do.

I'm going to make a blanket statement and say anyone who refers to themselves as a Social Media Guru or Expert isn't.  Ironically, this is the easiest way to find the people are aren't.  Like Santa Claus and Nessie of Loch Ness, Social Media Experts don't exist.

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5 Social Media Tips for Wineries & Wine Shops

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Few things bring people together like food and drink.  From the Roman empire on up through the ages to now, wine has served as the common thread that weaves together society though social gatherings.  Birthday parties, annual holidays, business functions, family dinners or just hanging with friends are settings where wine and conversation are likely to be found.

That bodes well for wineries and wine shops wanting to build their brand in social media.  The wine industry has a bit of an unfair advantage over other industries.  If we were using social media to talk about tires it wouldn't be nearly as sexy as talking about Chardonnay.

I've seen dozens of wineries who are trying to make sense out of social media and utilize what limited time they have to do something, anything just to avoid being left behind.  Well open up your mouths baby birds, because I've got a big fat night crawler for you.  Well, five actually.  Here's some answers to the test:

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1. Be Patient - It can work.  But it's not going to happen overnight.  The best analogy I can give is the example of planting vines.  You don't plant vines, then turn around and say, "where's my grapes?".  You have to wait 3-5 years before your vines produce fruit you can use.

Luckily, you don't have to wait 3-5 years for your social media vines to produce fruit, but you do have to nurture it and let your social presence grow organically.  If you do that, your social media presence will produce fruit consistently.  It's hard for winery owners to commit 100% to this concept, which is why some of them are failing at it, and ultimately writing off social media as a fad.

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2. Build Trust First, Then Sell Wine (maybe) - This is the secret.  It's the answer to the million dollar question.  It might blow your mind when I tell you in the past 12 months St. Supéry winery has offered to sell wine through social media a total of three times.  Yet, people are buying our wine and sales are up.  They're buying for a number of reasons, including the hard work of our CEO, VP of Sales, National Accounts guy, price adjustments, new winemaker and our stellar visitor center.  Social Media and Marketing is one cog in the engine.

The worst thing you can do is get online, then start pushing your product.  Nothing will dissuade trust faster.  In fact, that's literally the opposite of what this is all about.  As soon as someone opts in either by following on Twtiter or becoming a fan on Facebook, that is the beginning of a personal relationship.  That's the beginning of trust building.  You have to put faith in knowing your trust will create a tighter bond with consumers, which in turn will lead to sales.

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3. Establish a Personality - Wine drinkers would prefer to see a face or hear a voice.  If it's the winemaker, even better.  If it's the chef or owner, that's a great start.  Just putting the winery label out there is okay, but it's not very personal.  The consumer wants to get to know the people behind the brand.

Videos and photos are going to happen.  Attending wine and social media events is going to happen.  Before a consumer opens up their wallet, they want to know who they're buying from.  Adding the human element to interactions with customers through the face(s) of the winery allows the winery to show they care and are transparent.

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4. The Right Person isn't a Millennial - One of the biggest misconceptions is you need someone in their 20's.  It might seem like a good idea because twenty-somethings are cheaper to hire and are the main users of social media, right?  Wrong.  The largest demographic of wine drinkers online are women 35-55.  I'm a 40-year old male, and having some successes in this arena.  Gary Vaynerchuk is a 30-year old male and definitely having successes.  The right person is someone with emotional intelligence to responsibly represent a brand publicly.

I'm not saying someone right out of college won't work, just get someone for the right reasons.  This person is going to be holding your brand in their hands, which is why I tend to lean towards hiring someone internally rather than a so-called social media marketing firm or social media "guru".  Anyone who refers to themselves as such should give you reason to run in the other direction.

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5. Promote Everyone but Yourself - I'm really fortunate to work for the Skalli family at St. Supéry.  They understand we can't just talk about ourselves all day because that would be boring and one dimensional.  We often talk about everyone and everything but ourselves.  It blows people's minds when we promote our competitors online.  We do it because we're stewards of a legacy of collaborators.  Before any of us were born, grape growers used to work together and help each other out.  Luckily, in the realm of social media, you're rewarded for doing that.

If I had to guestimate, I'd say a winery's brand has little better than a 1:1 return on effort when self promoting.  But you get better than 2:1 when promoting members of the community.  Imagine that, you get rewarded for being positive and supportive.  Pretty cool concept.

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Bakas TV#15: Willamette Valley Road Trip

Oregon's Willamette Valley is a beautiful place to visit with lush, rolling hillsides and surrounding farm communities.  This time of year is especially nice in the valley because harvest is happening, and it's the time of year when the sun is out for more than one day in a row.  I lived in Portland for 17 years and I can say without a doubt, when the sun is shining, Oregon is the most picturesque place in the U.S. A drive through the Willamette Valley is filled with hidden roads around the bend or over a gentle slope, passing country markets and pumpkin patches along the way.

Farmscape of The Willamette Valley in northern...
Image via Wikipedia

During my time living in Oregon, I fell in love with the Pinot Noirs.  Not hard to do...if you've ever had a good Pinot Noir, it's magic in a bottle.  But if you get it wrong, Pinot Noir can be disappointing and uninspiring.  I find it to be one of the most dramatic grapes in terms of end result.  With grapes like Cabernet or Merlot you can get more consistency year in and year out whereas Pinot Noir is much more temperamental.  You can't handle it the same you handle Cabernet—it requires a more delicate hand.  In fact, wineries often use gravity flow instead of pumps when transferring Pinot from one place to another because it's that sensitive. You'll notice the average price point of a decent Pinot is higher than other grapes, in part because of the extra handling required.

Pinot Noir is a wonderful grape, and it grows exceptionally well in Oregon's Willamette Valley in part because Oregon is situated along the 45th parallel. The climate and terroir in Oregon's fertile Willamette Valley provides ideal growing conditions for the finicky grape. When I met my wife, she was an Australian Shiraz drinker, but then I took her to Oregon and introduced her to good Pinot Noir—now she's hooked! Pinot is a very food friendly wine that goes with so many different kinds of foods it's not even funny. Well, maybe a little bit funny.

After driving up I-5 I arrived in McMinnville, Oregon and checked into McMenamins Hotel Oregon. I headed up to the Rooftop bar to get on my laptop and get some work done. As I sat at my table enjoying a pint of Oktoberfest, I plotted out the next day's itinerary.  At the table next to me were two guys who had been working harvest that day.  They were nice enough to provide some pointers.

McMenamins Hotel Oregon

I awoke the next morning to find a silver tint to the clouded sky overhead. Looking out my hotel window over downtown McMinnville was like a trip back in time to 1950. The old fashioned downtown has a tree lined Main street with old fashioned appliance stores and warm cafes. After getting a fresh baked item from Red Fox Bakery, I headed out to Oregon wine country.

In the south part of the Willamette Valley you'll find long time producers Cristom and Bethel Heights. Both are family owned, and both have been making stellar Pinot Noir since the 1970's. I walked into Bethel Heights to be greeted by a warm aroma of homemade cooking. Right there in their tasting room, one of the founders was making Salmon Chowder (with BACON) for the crew. Another day of harvest was complete and the troops were hungry. I tasted through the Bethel Heights lineup, finding myself going back in time to when I first discovered Pinot nearly 15 years ago. Their whites were good, but their reds were better. I was especially interested in the Southest Block Pinot Noir. That, and the Justice Vineyard Pinot Noirs were every bit as good as what I remember. I took all sorts of great footage of their winemakers picking through grapes that had just come in, but that was lost in the transfer. The view from Bethel Heights tasting room was unreal. You step out onto the balcony and about 10 feet below is the downward sloping vineyard that seems to go on forever. The owner/winemaker mentioned 2009's vintage as not only very good quality, but there were large crops. That's means there's going to be plenty of good Pinot Noir to go around for everyone when the wines are released.

Next stop was Cristom, one of my top 3 favorite producers in Oregon.  Cristom has vineyards that were planted back in the 1970's which is cool because older vines means more complex wines.  The first wine I tasted was the 2006 Pinot Gris, which is made entirely from the 5-acre estate vineyard Emilia. You drink their Gris and it reminds you Oregon makes exceptional wines besides Pinot Noir. This Gris was floral and fun to take for a spin. But I was there for the reds. The Louise, Marjorie and Eileen Pinot Noirs didn't disappoint. All three remind me of three sisters I used to party with back in college who were always the fun girls invited to every social function. Each one has its own personality, but together they all share a common bond. Each year those sisters continually find the balance and walk the line between good girls and frisky while making their parents proud. I left with more bottles than I had intended :D

Last stop was Sokol Blosser, located smack dab in the middle of Oregon's wine country.

@sokolblosser wines

@sokolblosser vineyards

I spent the afternoon with Kitri and Jeff from Sokol Blosser. They took me to the Dundee Bistro, a place that used to have an after meal bacon dish. Sadly, the bistro no longer served that. After lunch (photos are lost) we went next door to the Ponzi tasting bar. There we were able to taste through all sorts of different Oregon wines. Again, I left with more bottles than I had planned but my wife and I are going to drink well for a while :)

Kitri and Jeff were great hosts, and gave me a tour of the winery, barrel room and vineyards. Sokol Blosser is not only one of Oregon's oldest wineries, with some of the oldest vineyards, but they also have the first LEEDS certified winery in the U.S. and practice sustainable farming habits. You might know Sokol Blosser best from their Evolution white wine sold in just about every liquor store across the U.S. The most recent version of Evolution is like the old style—not too dry. We tasted through different vintages of Pinot Noir from different vineyards but the one that really gave me the OMG! reaction was their 2004 Willamette Valley Cuvee. WOW! Everything a Pinot Noir should be. Silky, sexy a great dancer but looks great in an evening gown. A real classy version of a high society wine.

Portland Farmer's Market

Before heading back to Napa, I visited some friends in Portland and spent the day Saturday frequenting farmer's markets.  Besides having incredible Pinot Noirs, Oregon has just about everything else you could want if you enjoy food and wine.  There's local seafood, cattle ranches and local organic produce farms within an hour's drive from Portland.  This was a fun little weekend and when I come back it won't be soon enough.  Cheers!

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East Coast Wine Tweetup Tour in October

Image representing Twitter as depicted in Crun...
Image via CrunchBase

I'm going out on the road and I need some dedicated wine drinkers to come help me drink some delicious wines.

Hard to believe how things unfolded over this summer.  On August 3rd, the Bakas family moved to Napa Valley so I could start my new role as Director of Social Media Marketing at St. Supéry winery.  The first 60 days have been a blast not only from talking wine and food all day, but also because #harvest09 was just beginning. In October, I'll be taking the winery tasting room experience on the road for the wine industry's first ever Tweetup Tour. I'll be stopping in each city listed below visiting restaurants and wine shops sharing the delicious nectar known as St. Supéry.   All are welcome as there is no charge to attend. St. Supéry wine club members will enjoy club member benefits at these events.  We'll have special guests, including our wine maker and chef, who will be appearing via U-Stream.

If you aren't able to be there physically, you can follow along on St.Supery's custom TasteLive page or Twitter using the #stsupery hash tag.  In an effort to get wine drinkers to taste along online, the winery has created "taste packs," 4-packs of wine sold at a discounted price.

St. Supéry East Coast Tweetup Tour (click on the city below to RSVP to that event)-

October 13th BOSTON Twitter Taste Live with Bin Ends Wine October 14th NEW JERSEY at Gary's Wine & Marketplace October 15th NEW YORK CITY Roger Smith Hotel October 16th NEW YORK CITY Harry's Cafe & Steakhouse in the Financial District October 20th ATLANTA at Murhpy's October 20th ATLANTA WINE SCHOOL hosted by Ed Thralls aka @winetonite October 22nd WASHINGTON DC at Pearson's (speaking at TWTRCON that day) October 23rd *to be announced October 24th ORLANDO at Gran Cru

Hope to see you there!  This is going to be fun so grab your tickets now...

Cheers,

Rick

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10 Ways to Hide Wine from Your Spouse

Scooby-Doo
Image via Wikipedia

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Sometimes you have a really good bottle of wine that you don't want to share with anyone.  Kind of like a snot nosed kid in the sandbox who doesn't want to share the newest toy.

There.  I said it.  I love my wife, but sometimes I just don't want to share.  Like the 20 year Tawny port I'm drinking right now.  Here's a few ways to hide wine from your spouse:

10. In your stomach. 9. You know those little wood barrels St. Bernard dogs wear around their necks?  Those can hold a full bottle of Pinot Noir. 8. Old desktop computer towers can hold two bottles, but don't turn 'em on because they'll cook the wine 7. "Why is this pillow so hard?" 6. I asked our cat if I could bury a bottle or two in her litter box.  I took her blank stare as a yes. 5. Remember on Scooby Doo how you could tilt a book on the book shelf and a secret lab behind the bookcase would appear?  Picture that, but a wine cellar. 4. A lawn mower bag can hold an entire case. 3. Baggy MC Hammer pants with carefully placed holsters can hold up to 5 lbs. a leg. The down side is you walk like John Wayne. 2. Hollow out a log in the fireplace.  Just don't forget it's there. 1. Some humidifiers can hold an entire bottle of Sauvignon Blanc.

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Ashley Bellview: A Fellow Wine Drinker to Watch

picture-11 This Murphy-Goode journey has had an unexpected benefit–it's helped me connect with other wine drinking social media types who otherwise wouldn't have met (most likely).  Take Ashley for example, she's in the running for #areallygoodejob and what she did well as a candidate is worth learning from.  The first, and best thing she did is keep her personal brand in tact.  She didn't change her name to "goode" anything.  Before, during and after this process, the Ashley Bellview brand is solid.

The next thing she did well is what we should all do in social media, be authentic.  In her video, Ashley is filmed cropped in close so you can hear her talking.  She doesn't say or do anything fancy or over the top.  She just put it out there like, "this is who I am, and I'd like this job".  It's one of the more transparent presentations, and that just makes her brand stronger.

When Murphy-Goode selects their final 10 candidates, Ashley is someone who would be goode to pick.  Take a moment and view her video, and vote.

Rebranding: The Good, Bad and Ugly

Companies rebrand themselves for a number of different reasons.  Sometimes the new look demonstrates how old and stale the old brand was, but everyone was used to it so no one noticed.  Another reason might be to create a retail spike in sales.  There's a right way and a wrong way to rebrand.  Sometimes it's a dramatic change, and other times it's a subtle change like what UPS did a few years back. I thought it would good to compare some recent rebranding efforts to see the difference.

The Good - Discovery Channel

discovery_channel_logo1

When you look at the older Discovery Channel brand it now appears to be dated.  Technically there's not really anything old looking about it, but it's just been around for over a decade.  The font is fine but the 3-D globe hovering over it could be seen as and older looking treatment.

The new Discovery brand appears more modern.  The drama between the larger 'Discovery' and the smaller 'channel' creates a nice visual interest.  And the globe has been integrated in a way that makes the 'D' look like it's coming out of the earth.  Visually it tells me the Discovery brand encompasses the entire earth, which is true.  My one criticism about the font is although it's a beautiful font, it looks like it reads, "Disoovery".

The Bad - Pepsi

pepsi_cans

I don't know what motivated Pepsi to rebrand.  Maybe it's to capture the momentum and recognition from Obama's branding during the election.  Maybe sales were lagging.  What I do know is that their competitor, Coca-Cola has one of the strongest and most timeless brands in the world.

The new look is one that is still confusing to me.  I still recognize the brand from the combination of colors, but I still can't figure out what the new circular shape is supposed to represent.  And what's with the blurry type on the Sierra Mist can?  Pepsi had just rebranded themselves about ten years ago, which, for a company that's been around as long as Pepsi, that's pretty recent.  I see it as unnecessary and disorienting.  It appears to be a brand disconnect.

The Ugly - Walmart

walmartrebrand

Talk about the mother of all terrible redesigns!  What is the new logo supposed to be?  My first impression was it looked like the icon you see on the iPhone when it's processing data.  Or maybe a power button on a cheaply made electronic device you get a flea market.  The font has a friendly look taking away some of the sharp edges of the old logo.

Walmart is an enormous company with huge brand equity.  To me it seems to have lessened the brand strength.  If the goal was to create a new Walmart look after years of bad press about working conditions, I get it.  The new brand does appear friendlier, but it also appears more vanilla.  Now that it's been around a while, the new branding hasn't grown on me, but I'm not a Walmart customer either so my opinion might be worth nothing.

If a company (or any entity) is going to rebrand, do it for the right reason and do it the right way.  Your logo is an outward sign of an inward belief.