The One Reason Nike’s Just Do It Campaign is Brilliant

There are a lot of pundits out there trying to explain Nike’s new campaign featuring Colin Kaepernick. The problem with most of them is that the optics are all wrong. They are looking at it in the context of politics. But that is not why Nike and their advertising agency, Wieden + Kennedy chose to feature the polemical NFL quarterback.

The reason is cultural leadership.

Nike has not exactly shied away from controversy in the past. They embraced bad boys like John McEnroe and Charles Barkley. They used Spike Lee in commercials to promote Air Jordans. And they are highly aware that athletes can be polarizing. They dropkicked Micheal Vick in less than a day of learning about his dogfighting ring.

Thanks to the folks at Nike’s agency of record, the shoe brand has learned over the years that it pays to be part of the cultural conversation. It’s why they began embracing women as women in their communications and product design. It’s why they are leading in addressing working conditions in overseas manufacturing facilities. And why they are among the few large companies to formally address workplace discrimination issues.

Nike is an athlete’s brand. They have one of the most succinct mission statements in corporate history, “to bring inspiration and innovation to every athlete in the world.” And as one of their founders once said, “If you have a body, you are an athlete.”

Nike supports athletes. And it is no secret that a majority of athletes recognized Colin Kaepernick’s right to protest during the playing of the national anthem before NFL games.

Where do the majority of Nike’s customers reside? In large metropolitan areas— the same areas that are bright blue on the electoral map. So the ad featuring Kaepernick wasn’t very controversial with most of their customers. In fact, they likely did a few focus groups to test this idea. I doubt they were surprised apparel sales jumped 31% after the launch of the campaign.

The cynics will say that Nike is exploiting a controversial issue to sell shoes. But in an era of contentious opinions, where everyone has a platform to express those opinions, publicly deride and defame individuals for the slightest provocation, and declare a boycott on brands who do not meet their cultural standards, Nike showed leadership.

And it made them more relevant than ever.

‘Burstiness’ is the key to the most innovative teams

How do you get the best ideas out of a group? The key is a concept called Burstiness. It’s when your group creative brainstorm is bursting with ideas. Maybe people are talking over each other. It’d like a raucous family gathering. And it results in some of the best ideas in a short amount of time.

How do you get this in a team? There are a few keys to the creative play session.

  1. Psychological safety. There must be a sense of mutual respect. And that comes with feeling safe to express a really dumb idea for someone else to launch from. This safety should come from the leaders of the team.
  2. Welcome criticism. Despite the old concept that all ideas are good ideas, the welcome criticism concept allows for standards.
  3. Lowered inhibitions. Studies show that the teams with the best innovations have lower inhibitions. In the paper clip study, two teams competed for the best new ideas for the use of a paper clip. The teams with the most creative ideas, like an emergency suture and a new form of art, shared embarrassing stories with one another first.
  4. Task bubbles. The creative process has to move along like a well-oiled machine. Each stage of the creative process, from conception to the finished project must have clearly defined task bubbles, where team members are very clear about their role in the end result at any given time.
  5. The right mix of people. Diverse groups are more creative.
  6. Practicing together. Regular brainstorm practice helps to solidify the team.
  7. Think team first. Instead of looking for creative individuals, think of creative teams as the solution and hire creative teams as a unit. Or try to create a complete unit.

Many of these ideas come from the group psychologist Adam Grant, who has an excellent podcast called WorkLife. In this particular podcast Mr. Grant follows the Daily Show and discovered how they do it four times a week, every week. You can find it here along with another fine podcast on “The Problem with All-Stars.”

The Last Hot Lick

Jaime Leopold
1946 – 2018

Music Legend, Ad Man, and nascent Movie Star, Jamie Leopold has died. Together with Jerry Ketel, Terra Spencer, and Bob Macer he created Leopold Ketel & Partners. But Jaime had a legend behind him as a stand-up bass player for Dan Hicks and his Hot Licks. He was a raconteur of the Haight Ashbury in the late sixties, rubbing elbows with the likes of Alan Ginsberg and Neal Cassidy. He fled the scene in the late 70’s and came to Portland to become a respectable advertising executive and family man. After retirement, he returned to music and wrote enough songs to record two worthy CDs of what he called “American Quirk.” His final act was to become the star of a film loosely based on his later years as a singer-songwriter entitled, “The Last Hot Lick.”

He will be remembered for his charming personality and disarming sense of humor. And his ability to get you to tell him your innermost secrets.

We miss you, Jaime.

No beans about it.

The Rock and Roll Chili Pit opened a week ago today. This restaurant is only a few blocks from our office and had been under construction for months. The anticipating was killing us (well, mostly just me). And like any obsessive fan, I was there opening day with high expectations in tow.
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I ordered a cup of the Red Zep and a cup of the Iron Flamin’. Let me rephrase that: I ordered a bowl of steak bites in a chili sauce and a bowl of pulled pork in a chili verde sauce. So. Much. Meat. To many, this would be a home run. But I was missing the beans. I suppose I should have done my research on “Texas-style” chili and I could have better prepared myself. There ain’t no beans in Texas chili.

I’d order the Iron Flamin’ again, but the Red Zep was just too much beef for one sitting. I’m also anxious to try the Motley Stew, a chipotle beef and pork chili with potatoes and carrots, and the ZZ Slop, a vegan chili with BEANS.

A few other fun tidbits: All of the employee shirts have old rock song lyrics, the bar is in the shape of a guitar, and the lights are drum heads. They’re definitely reppin’ the rock and roll brand.

Welcome to the neighborhood, Rock and Roll Chili Pit.

Fun in the Sun

I just got back from Hawaii and boy are my arms tired…

How to be Unignorable

We have a running joke at every agency brainstorm meeting. At the point it gets quiet, when everyone is deep in thought on how to solve a challenging marketing problem, I slap the table and say. “I’ve got it! We get a guy dressed up in a costume and have him wave a sign at motorists driving by.” It never fails to get an improvised response. And a few eye-rolls.

Most marketers understand how hard it is to “cut through the clutter.” It the old days, before the internet, we used to say the average person experiences over 500 “ads” a day. That would include the usual radio, television, billboard and print advertising. But it would also include logos and signs one encounters in a daily walk or drive. Today we would have to include the 147 average emails we receive each day and the average 32 hours a month we spend online (I’m sure you spend much more time than that).

A recent survey by Oracle found that folks are now “dual screening.” In other words, they are watching TV and checking their phone. They are doing work on their computer and texting their honey. They are Twittering and Facebooking at the same time. Essentially, we are multitasking both at work and at home and whenever we can.

Which means advertisers have about 30 seconds to command our attention.

Are you still reading this?

The obvious solution to this problem is to be as loud and crazy as possible. At least within the norms of social acceptance. But as we all know, when everyone shouts, no one is listening. We counsel a different approach that is simple in strategy and offers a return on investment. And it’s deceptively simple:

1. Change the conversation

2. Be authentic

3. Engage deeply

The trick, of course, is in doing it just right. But let us elucidate further.

Changing the conversation means to avoid the cliches the rest of your competitors use every day. This requires thinking differently. It also requires thinking like a leader. And you don’t have to be the market leader or the sales leader to be a thought leader. Don’t play the game, change the game—and you will win. Just as we did with the Oregon Humane Society.

When is comes to being authentic, we advise brands to do a little navel gazing, or at least allow us to do it for you. It requires a discipline of recovering your core values and making sure your mission and vision are relevant for internal and external audiences alike. Naturally, we assume that your product or service is worth promoting. Because if it isn’t, the best marketing partner in the world can’t help you. We did exactly that for Pendleton Whisky.

It’s easier now than ever to engage with audiences on a macro and micro level. At the same time. But our belief is that you need to think about how to engage with your customers emotionally. This requires the ability to communicate on a human to human level, to provoke a response and to evoke a sense of personality. How can you go the extra mile to treat your customers as human beings instead of an ATM machine? Can you get more personal? See how we did that for Umpqua Bank.

From here you can choose a host of tactics to implement this strategy. Social Media. Public Relations. Digital advertising. The list goes on and on. But if you follow this framework you will succeed in being unignorable for a very long time. And you won’t need a guy on the street in a costume with a sign pointing to your business.

Would you like some specific examples? Download our brochure, “Be Unignorable,” to see how we created excellent results for clients such as Umpqua Bank, Tillamook Cheese, Benchmade Knives, Omega Morgan and more.

Do you have Infinite Game?

Most likely, you are playing a finite game. And if you are, you are short sighted.

Finite games are about beating the competition. They want to end with a clear winner. Infinite games want to continue forever. They are inclusive and collaborative. They are win-win.

Finite games have clear rules. You play within strict boundaries. Infinite games change the rules over time. They are more creative. The goal is to continue the game forever.

The idea comes from game theory. And it has the potential to inform business, politics and your personal life as well. Philosopher and theologian James P. Carse extended the idea to include all aspects of life in his book, “Finite and Infinite Games, A Vision of Life as Play and Possibility.”

Wikipedia describes the theory and practice:

“Finite games have a definite beginning and ending. They are performed with the goal of winning. A finite game is resolved within the context of its rules, with a winner of the contest being declared and receiving a victory. The rules exist to ensure the game is finite. Examples are debates, sports, receiving a degree from an educational institution, belonging to a society, or engaging in war. Beginning to participate in a finite game requires conscious thought, and is voluntary; continued participation in a round of the game is involuntary. Even exiting the game early must be provided for by the rules. This may be likened to a zero-sum game (though not all finite games are zero sum, in that the sum of positive outcomes can vary).

“Infinite games, on the other hand, do not have a knowable beginning or ending. They are played with the goal of continuing play and sometimes with a purpose of bringing more players into the game. An infinite game continues to play, for the sake of play. If the game is approaching resolution because of the rules of play, the rules must be changed to allow continued play. The rules exist to ensure the game is infinite. The only known example is life. Beginning to participate in an infinite game may be involuntary, in that it doesn’t require conscious thought. Continuing participation in the current round of game-play is voluntary. “It is an invariable principle of all play, finite and infinite, that whoever plays, plays freely” If you think about it, most businesses and individuals are playing a finite game. You achieve a goal and then move on to the next. You want to beat the competition and win the game. But life isn’t like that. We are involved in an ongoing series of events that arguably, continue even when we aren’t “playing the game.”

An example might be the “War on Terror.” Most wars have a beginning, a middle and an end. But with the war on terror, there is no nation or person to either completely subdue or surrender to. It’s not a finite game. It’s an infinite game. And once you reframe this game, you begin to look for multiple solutions, instead of just a handful.

Let’s look at the business world; Amazon is playing an infinite game. The rest of the world is only now catching up to the idea that Amazon wishes to control all of commerce — not just to sell books. The difference between Microsoft and Apple is a study in infinite and finite games. One is playing the infinite game, and one is not. I’m sure you have figured out which is which.

Once you begin thinking about this concept, it opens a new door to the world. One of infinite possibility. Where you can rewrite the rules as you go. And contribute to the ongoing story of our existence.

I don’t know about you, but I’d rather play in the infinite game.

What’s Your Story?

When I was a child, around the age of one and a half, my mother would put me in a playpen while she did chores around the house. At the same time, she had the TV on for background noise. And at that time of day, she was watching soap operas. Naturally, a little boy of 18 months paid no attention to the programming. As my mother tells it, I would be happily banging my toys together and rattling my cage while General Hospital was playing. That is until the commercials came on. During the entire commercial break, I stood transfixed as each mini story passed the screen. And when the show came back on, I went back to chewing my toys.

Because of that, mom always knew I would become an adman.

This story is a nice example of the power of story. I could have given you personal stats on where I went to school, how many years I’ve been in the business or the types of clients I’ve worked for, but you won’t remember any of that. However, you will recall a story. Because as many psychologists and anthropologists have documented, human beings are wired for stories.

And now research shows that a good story can increase the value of a product, service or brand. Take a look at the graphic below. Clearly, a good yarn can increase perceived value. It is part of the human condition to be empathetic, to want to be emotionally involved in the theater of the mind. And when we do become involved, we also become attached.

Stories get better results.

The Sound

 

Is your brand dynamic?

Our client Omega Morgan has been with us for seven years. In that time, the company has made constant ongoing changes to serve the market. And of course, we have helped them along the way.

Recently, Omega Morgan introduced a new crane service to augment their specialized heavy rigging, machinery moving, and millwright & industrial services. And our marketing communications were able to run right along with them. We incorporated their new service line into their website and all of their marketing materials. Including a logo specific to the new line that echoes the parent Omega Morgan logo.

That’s how we roll.

If you would like to educate yourself on this highly specialized service, we encourage you to hop on over to OmegaMorgan.com to learn a little bit about how big industry keeps moving thanks to folks like Omega Morgan. If you had a fascination of dump trucks and backhoes when you were a kid, you’ll enjoy seeing how Omega Morgan moves bridges, ships, transformers and sensitive machines for high-tech industry.

We really geek out on it.

Following our own advice. With Direct Mail.

Marketing agencies of all stripes implore their clients to promote, promote, promote. But few of them actually follow through on their own advice. Well, we think that’s just a little bit hypocritical. So we try to market ourselves in the most appropriate way for a consulting firm such as ours. In the past, we have sponsored drivetime on OPB radio, participated in trade shows, used digital display advertising, hosted open house events, gave speaking engagements, told stories in the press, and we’ve even decorated the front of our building (which may have given us the best results so far). For 2017 we are initiating a direct mail campaign. Why? Because it cuts through the clutter. It turns out people like getting something in the mail—as long as it is an entertaining and thought-provoking piece. What we created was a mailer that challenges our prospects to be “Unignorable.” The piece itself is unignorable because it highlights a few of our greatest successes and we personalized the mailer each time. We expect great results.

For more on the efficacy of direct mail, check out this link. It really works.

Happy Place

A physical or psychological space, in which all worries escape you and you’re left feeling energized, warm and fuzzy. For us, a community event full of music, ink, and collaborative creation is just that.

Last month we hosted Happy Place in our downtown Portland office. Appropriately, the theme of the night was “happiness.” We rolled out long pieces of crisp, white paper and scattered pens, pencils, markers and brushes throughout. As the music began to play, we began drawing our perceptions of happiness. As the night went on, individual pieces started flowing into collaborative works, each with a unique blend of color and style.

The photos here archive the creations and show the wonderful community that made them possible.

Stay tuned for our next Happy Place events happening in February and April.

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Give me…

Jerm: Give me cognitive dissonance, or give me death!

Look who’s back in town

Spring

It’s sprung

How to Murder Your Brand #1.

Drinking the Social Media Kool-Aid

Today a meeting with a new client often takes a weird turn when the subject of social media comes up. We always talk about how brand strategy dictates all tactical media concerns; strategy comes first no matter the medium, outdoor, TV, PR, etc. And then our respected partner says, “What about social media? We need to get more likes.” Or, “Can we make a hashtag for Twitter?”

I’ve long felt that social media marketing is a scam perpetuated by social media sites like Facebook. And time is bearing out my intuition by this fact reported by Forrester Research:

“Social tactics are not meaningful sales drivers. While the hype around social networks as a driver of influence in eCommerce continues to capture the attention of online executives, the truth is that social continues to struggle and registers as a barely negligible source of sales for either new or repeat buyers. In fact, fewer than 1% of transactions for both new and repeat shoppers could be traced back to trackable social links.” 

One of my favorite expressions about social media is, “I don’t want to be friends with Tide.” I don’t want to see Tide in my feed at all, whether it is on Twitter, Facebook, Pinterest or Linkedin. That includes native advertising and just plain advertising as well. However, I will be friends with Via Chicago, owned by my buddy and associate Kevin Reynolds. They have 600 likes but the real draw is the food and the location. Tactically, social media is on the bottom of the list for marketing. As it should be.

How to be a brand hero: Make sure you have a strategy for your brand first and then consider how social media fits in with your business model. No one size fits all.

 

How Silverton Health told the truth — like a good brand should

Our client, Silverton Health is a hospital system in Silverton, Oregon. When you think of hospitals it’s not long before lawsuits come to mind. Quality care shows glaring mistakes by contrast. Just this week Silverton had to admit that a mistake in maintenance procedures caused many people to be exposed to potential skin burns. Filters were not replaced on halogen lamps in the operating rooms of the system. Admitting this opened them up to potential litigation. Instead of covering it up, Silverton did the right thing and admitted the mistake openly in the press. They also took steps to make sure it doesn’t happen again—without firing a single person. In this age of the 24 hour news cycle and Monday morning punditry, Silverton went the way of leadership instead of fear. We give kudos to our client—especially the way it was managed with the press by the executive team. Doing good is good. Below is a quote from a recent Salem Statesman article on this subject.

Research has shown that hospitals that take part in early disclosure and communication when bad things happen actually do experience a decrease in litigation.

So, doing the right think, owning up to your mistakes and acting human instead of like a corporate behemoth is a good thing. Who knew?

How creative is your office space?

I was interested in an article I found on CMO.com by Sofie Sandell. Her beat is the cross between the new digital world and creativity. There are a lot of those gurus out there. But there was a particular part of her piece about creativity and the office space and how it informs how open to innovation and creativity we are as a culture. Recently Leopold Ketel revamped our own office space and we decided to do something with our display windows. You can see the result above. We’re still working on our interior but the high ceilings and the brick walls say “creative” every time someone walks in the doors.

Here is the relevant quote from the article:

As a professional speaker I travel a lot and visit both new hotels and new businesses all the time. One of the things that you pick up on when you enter a building is the art and symbols on display. Last week I visited a government agency that is trying its best to be creative. The office looks great and wouldn’t look out of place in an interior design magazine. But something was missing. There were no symbols that I could connect with the people working there.

The opposite is Twitter’s London office. When you enter reception you see two big art pieces that are made up of the tweets of the people working there. It looks great and it’s a clear symbol that the people working there matter. It gives them freedom and the right to express themselves.

Art and symbols give us a sense of belonging and identity and if they are effective they support the way we work together.

In my discussion with Derek Cheshire he also said: ‘Visualize walking into a nursery for children; the children’s art is all over the walls. It makes the place feel alive and makes all of the children visible. Imagine if you could do the same in a workplace.’

You can find more here

Local News That Matters

 

Here’s our latest work for The Oregonian. We are happy to help local journalism in Portland because it does indeed matter.

When Christian Anderson III became publisher of The Oregonian four years ago, Olga Haley and I had a conversation about the state of journalism. Olga, being a former reporter was concerned about the state of local reporting. At that time it was widely believed that newspapers would no longer exist due to the disruption of the internet; Craigslist and the Huffington Post killed the newspaper man. Now that we have engaged with The Oregonian, we know that is no longer true. Reporting will survive in some form and I believe that newspapers will as well. We are still writing that story.

Low Budget. High Impact.

 

This little 10 second ad has people calling the stations and asking when it will be on again.

Who says a small budget can’t have a big idea?

The Fast and Furious method of marketing agency selection

Jeff Goodby, principal of legendary ad agency Goodby Silverstein & Partners gives very practical advice to Chief Marketing Officers: choose your marketing partner quickly and get the job done.

If you need a search consultant to help you make this decision, fine. Tell him or her that you want to have an agency in a month. One month. Tell the agency you want the new campaign a month after that. Watch. It will happen. And it will be good.

Amen to that. Here is the complete article in Forbes

Our holiday card to the city

This was the first window dressing we designed for our building. It was a little controversial but we got lots of great comments.

What we do

Fully integrated and creative driven, Leopold Ketel is a modern branding agency. We’re lean and mean. Creative and scrappy. We provide big brand thinking for Oregon companies by offering unique solutions for your marketing problems. And we are very effective.

Our areas of expertise:

BRANDING

More than just a logo and color scheme, Leopold Ketel has consulted on naming and defining brands to help employees and customers understand your vision and benefit to all your stakeholders. When you have a clearly defined position in the marketplace and can effectively tell your story, you’ll have greater influence.

STRATEGIC COMMUNICATIONS PLANNING

We can partner with your marketing department to evaluate your position in the marketplace and develop communications strategies for any number of goals, including increased mission awareness, greater stakeholder participation and improved philanthropic giving. And we can translate those strategies into targeted media, creative, and public relations programs.

CREATIVE SERVICES

Our team members have worked with some of the biggest brands and most beloved non-profits, and they bring that creative expertise to you, whether your marketing plan calls for print, broadcast, collateral, direct marketing or digital design.

WEB DESIGN

Our designers are well versed in the intricacies of the web. It’s not just print work on the Internet; it’s interactive relationship marketing. We make our web designs look good and work well.

WEBSITE SEM

If you launch it will they come? Not necessarily. We help your website get viewed organically and through paid media by using search advertising and more traditional digital advertising approaches.

MEDIA PLANNING & BUYING

When it comes to getting your message across, the media you buy is as important as your ad- vertising’s creative. We have in-house media planning and buying capabilities.

We foster a collaborative work environment with media and creative services working together to create thoughtful advertising campaigns. We have proven experience in creating comprehensive media plans that amplify other communication efforts, such as public relations, social marketing and internal initiatives. Media placements are negotiated to include additional advertising placements at no cost to extend the overall reach of the campaign. Our media planning process maximizes campaign impact by understanding the interrelationships between media vehicles, ensuring ad placements work together to build reach and frequency across media channels.

PUBLIC RELATIONS

Our public relations professionals can extend the reach of your marketing program with targeted promotional events and news publicity. Good public relations is more than writing a press release. Our public relations professionals can extend the reach of your marketing program with targeted promotional events and news publicity. In addition, we’re well versed in crisis communications planning and media training.

SOCIAL MEDIA

We know the way information moves through the social network and can tailor anything from a simple status update to a full-fledged visual campaign for maximum viral effectiveness. We’ve landed our clients’ social media-based projects in everything from People Magazine to Good Morning America and the Today Show.

What is a Modern Branding Agency?

A Modern Branding Agency pays great attention to finding the core attributes of a brand by defining the essence, and then discerning how it looks, sounds, feels and even tastes across all media. This includes traditional advertising media and all forms of digital media: web, mobile, social, viral, videos, etc. We also think about how the brand exists in the natural world, having spent much time developing what we call “handshake marketing,” as well as display, retail, packaging, and various printed matter.

With apologies to Dr. Marshal McLuhan, the medium is merely the messenger. The right brand message transcends all media. No matter what it is.

Below is a list of services we provide to help you discover the essence of your brand. We’d be happy to discuss this with you further.

Strategic Communications Planning

Branding

Advertising

Graphic Design

Web Design

Public Relations

Media Planning

Social Media

Search Engine Marketing

Digital/Mobile Advertising

Handshake Marketing

(And one day, we’ll be working with Google Glass or maybe that direct-to-brain implant.)

Kazoo..?

Jerry: I don’t seem to have my kazoo with me. Must have left it at home.

Doodlin’ in a meeting

Doodlers are more engaged during a meeting and retain more information. Especially when the meeting is boring. Here’s proof.

BIZ BOT!

It ain’t easy being Biz Bot

We love you, Olga Haley!

We celebrate the life of our dear friend and colleague Olga Haley. Her incredible career spanned the country and four decades; you can read about it here or here. Beyond her enormous skill and ability, we loved her for so many reasons: her kindness and warmth, her energy, her graciousness and more. Leopold Ketel would not be who we are today without Olga’s tremendous influence. Remembrances may be made to the Oregon Humane Society or the OHSU Knight Cancer Institute.

The consumer is crowned king and queen. What they do with it is the next chapter of American advertising.

“Power is now in the hands of the consumer,” has been a common refrain in the advertising and social media world for 5 years now. This article in the New Yorker brings it more forward in our collective consciousness. People are empowered and they know it.

It’s harder than ever before to create a brand that is unhinged from the reality of your company. If you make a crappy product people are going to find out about it. Branding isn’t about rainbows and unicorns, it’s about being honest about who you are. Top to bottom, inside and out.

You can’t blame Yelp, Facebook or Consumer Reports for your business problems anymore

Is this the end of branding? I prefer to think of it as the beginning of humanity.

Here’s a little taste of the article by James Surowiecki

‘Today, consumers can read reams of research about whatever they want to buy. This started back with Consumer Reports, which did objective studies of products, and with J. D. Power’s quality rankings, which revealed what ordinary customers thought of the cars they’d bought. But what’s really weakened the power of brands is the Internet, which has given ordinary consumers easy access to expert reviews, user reviews, and detailed product data, in an array of categories. A recent PricewaterhouseCoopers study found that eighty per cent of consumers look at online reviews before making major purchases, and a host of studies have logged the strong influence those reviews have on the decisions people make. The rise of social media has accelerated the trend to an astonishing degree: a dud product can become a laughingstock in a matter of hours. In the old days, you might buy a Sony television set because you’d owned one before, or because you trusted the brand. Today, such considerations matter much less than reviews on Amazon and Engadget and CNET. As Simonson told me, “each product now has to prove itself on its own.”’