Month: May 2011

Every brand must dream

buy Seroquel online from canada Positivity comes with benefits if this article on the optimism bias is anything to go by. While, collectively, our view of the future can swing in synch with the news, the budget or the crime stats, a 2007 study found that 76% of respondents were optimistic about the future for their own family. According to the author, “Even if that better future is often an illusion, optimism has clear benefits in the present. Hope keeps our minds at ease, lowers stress and improves physical health.” It gives rise to phenomenon like talk of ‘green shoots’ in the midst of terrible financial depression because, it seems, we are compelled to find them. The take-out for brands is obvious. Clearly, there is merit in espousing a clear and positive view of the way forward. It’s not enough to just inform. Brands need to inspire, because that optimistic prognosis of what lies ahead holds real opportunities in terms of engaging and involving people. It humanises brands. Optimism, I surmise, also aligns directly with our worldview. In other words, …

Waiting for the uplift

buy modafinil pakistan I once had a flatmate who was a pilot. He used to fly these ridiculously small planes in and out of crazy airstrips throughout Papua New Guinea. Every take-off, he used to tell me, was almost literally a leap of faith. You barrelled down a ramshackle runway in the middle of the mountains, literally fell off the end and waited for the winds to pick you up. He used to come home from an assignment, throw his bags on the couch, and announce, “So far, so good”. For some reason, I thought about Simon today as I read this article about the fall of Martha Stewart Omnimedia (MSO). What a long way down. In 2005, Martha Stewart’s publicly listed company was worth north of $1.8 billion. Since then, the stock has plummeted a whopping 88%. Now it looks like it may be up for sale – maybe even revert to private ownership – at a fraction of its peak worth. Sure, they’ve been some contributing factors to that – conviction for Stewart herself and of …

The effect on Oprah?

go to site We’ve all seen what the Oprah-effect has done for others. Now it will be interesting to see the effect of change on the O-brand itself. By changing the formula, how much does she risk tampering with the magic? Will another talk-show rise to fill the afternoon gap, or will the 40 million O-army decamp and migrate en-masse? Is that even possible? How much do the dynamics of a brand fundamentally change when you quite literally shift the channel in which it is seen?

Be happy

Not the best of days yesterday. Put my back out, and retired to a lie-flat position. Brain racing, body stopped … Aaaargh. To pass the time, I mused on getting my understanding of the purposes of business and branding down to their most basic forms. It led me here: What if the purpose of business, particularly a service business, is as simple as this: to make people happy. Imagine if that was the metric for your product design, your standards, your customer service, your innovation programme, your culture, your brand, your competitiveness. And what if the purpose of branding is to let people know how you intend to make them happy. Here come the objections: most of them variations of ‘we do that already’. No you probably don’t. If you did, you wouldn’t have effective competitors, you wouldn’t struggle to maintain market share, you wouldn’t find yourself locked in a pricing war. Perhaps you think they’re happy or hope they’re happy, or you word your customer satisfaction surveys so that you can tell yourself they’re …

Well, well, well

When place branding specialist Simon Anholt explains in a podcast why nations need a carefully thought through brand strategy to which all players in the economy subscribe, he quotes the legendary David Ogilvy who once said, “If all you want to do is attract attention, then you put a gorilla in a jockstrap”. As Ogilvy himself explained it, if you want to get recall, you then put the brand on the jockstrap itself. You will certainly get buzz, and people will remember the stunt. But will anything meaningful, in commercial terms, happen beyond that? Doubtful. And the reason is that having got people’s attention, you need to do something with that energy. You need to direct it somewhere. You must provide a meaningful story and experience that links what people have seen with what they do. It’s not enough just to give them something to look at. It’s as meaningless in branding terms as a carrot, a jumping trout or just another pretty logo. Badges aren’t brands. Of course Wellington’s already done a lot more …

What will be, will be

What will be, will be?

We’d all like to think we have a greater understanding of what’s ahead than we do. And while some ideas may seem more credible than others, the fact is that people make predictions and indeed projections every day that may, or may not, be right. In fact, markets depend on it. Without opinion, emotion and uncertainty, they’d be no derivatives market for example, because they’d be no motive for volatility, which is, after all, the lifeblood of trading. We want our brands to be predictable too. We want to know where they’re heading. And yet, at the same time, we need them to be refreshing and interesting. A strange alliance To me, the art of branding is pinpointing what must change versus what must stay still. It’s a strange alliance of familiarity, response and initiative. Familiarity – enough of what we know about a brand needs to remain consistent enough for long enough for us to recognise it and treasure it. This is the bedrock. Change at this level happens very infrequently. Response – markets …

Taking it personally

There are days when the commercial creative process really does feel like blinding optimism in the face of unrelenting stupidity. And that’s the problem – it’s so easy to adopt an ‘us and them’ mentality, to slip into ‘right and wrong’, ‘enlightened and ignorant ‘… The working environment for marketers and branders is such a strange mix when you think about it. The need to give so much of yourself and yet not take the inevitable backlashes, compromises, negative feedback, rejections, legal insertions, snipping and blandishments to heart. In a discipline where getting people to feel something for what you sell is everything, the temptation to become detached can be great indeed. Sustaining a great brand though relies on believing in people, both inside your walls and beyond. Once care leaves the room, everything that makes a brand compelling soon follows: passion; commitment; excitement … Branding is personal and commercial. Hard as that can be sometimes, in the B2C world particularly, it has to be that way.

What will LinkedIn link into?

LinkedIn finally goes public today. This is going to be fascinating – not just to see what this IPO for a name social media company gets, but also to see what investors themselves are buying into. Are they riding a media wave, as is suggested here, or do investors see real and continuing value in B2B networking? My suspicion is the former, and that’s not good. Long after the hype and the bullish sentiment of launch, it’s the latter that is going to platform LinkedIn’s growth. After all, being a social media company is LinkedIn’s channel, not their strategy. And we all know what happens when investors plumb for a channel at the expense of a viable way forward. Nothing I’m seeing in the press suggests a worked out plan to meet Wall Street’s expectations in that regard. In fact, quite the opposite. LinkedIn does not expect to be profitable in 2011 and its financial performance to date hasn’t exactly been inspiring. I raised this point last week about the Skype purchase and I’ll raise …

Portion control

Often we don’t leave a favourite brand because of anything dramatic. In fact, quite the opposite: the experiences we have quietly fade to the point where there’s less reasons to stay than to go. One day the food isn’t quite as good as it was, the movies on the flight haven’t been changed in a while, the person we spoke with just now was that little bit less warm, the changes in the insurance policy are more inflexible and the biscuits in the pack are smaller and taste different. Brands make these changes with the best of intentions for the business. They do it to save money, to introduce a shortcut, to be more efficient. It’s just a little change right, a little reduction – think of it as portion control. No-one will notice. And most people don’t. Unfortunately, the people who do notice are the people who have been loyal to the brand. They know where this is heading. Not today perhaps. Not tomorrow. But at some point, this is going to be yet …