What’s in Store

USA Today features two interesting articles about product design and branding today. In the first, Edward Baig reports that Richard Branson and the Virgin Group are branching out into consumer electronics. The products, which include CD and DVD players, come in the characteristic Virgin silver and will be sold in Targets and Virgin Megastores. It’s a solid step that’s largely in line with Branson and Virgin’s already far-flung brand strategy.

On the opposite page, Theresa Howard takes a look at the Martha Stewart Kmart ads that will air before her securities trial. Hawking Stewart’s line of Everyday sheets and towels — one segment featuring a grinning Stewart flashing the Victory sign like a Japanese schoolgirl — the ads are the first aired since Kmart emerged from bankruptcy.

One branding expert, Peter Montoya, author of a book called The Brand Called You — no, not that Brand Called You — criticizes the ads. Because Kmart’s and Stewart’s brands are on shaky ground, the pairing could be polarizing rather than promotional.

Regardless, I know I’d rather hang out in a Target than at a Kmart. But that’s just me.