Category Archives: living the brand

Light-hearted look at the vuvuzela and other African icons

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Honesty: where most brands still fear to tread

It’s always hard to admit to imperfections and perhaps understandably so when ‘goodwill’ is literally at stake, so is it really any wonder that eight out of 10 British firms are yet to embrace social media?

The harsh reality is social media is still a pretty perilous place, where public dressing downs are not uncommon for corporates or politicians alike. Friends and foes, shareholders and competitors are also at liberty to listen in, requiring yet more dimensions to be added to some already complex strategic games.

However, another perspective on this dilemma is that the sooner certain brands and firms get on board, the better equipped they will be in the future, to deal with the inevitable innovations and subsequent uncertainties destined to arise. Lessons learned now, the hard way, will also be invaluable, and are currently likely to have fairly limited repercussions while the pond remains relatively small.

Rather then, the short term question is: which brands and businesses would be most suited to engage with social media right now?

At first glance, one would think those brands and businesses that claim to be customer centric, but that claim has become so widely used, that it is almost meaningless in the context of this article. Similarly, having the social skills to interact effectively, efficiently and elegantly with stakeholders in private, let alone in public, is really quite a rare skill. Yet, the opportunity to shine through actions, rather than just marketing, is there.

A second thought is for those who claim to have honesty and integrity at the very core of their organisational values, and this would indeed be a very natural fit. It might even suggest that Bernhard Warner’s eleventh commandment to corporate tweeting is right on the button:

“We will use our Twitter channel not just to bump out cheery news, but to keep customers informed in the event of bad news (i.e., a product recall, a hostile take-over, a PR crisis), too.”

The real measure of whether we have reached enlightenment in society will therefore be when the shareholder value actually increases as a result of such open, honest communication.

Perhaps it is not the foolish who might rush in, but the very wise and courageous instead?

Sainsburys: a basket case of advertising

Sainsburys – on the somewhat aptly named Dog Kennel Hill – has recently implemented third party advertising on its baskets and trolleys and it’s making me anxious.

What’s upsetting is that I feel like I’m being treated like an idiot, which in turn is making me wonder if the management team actually understands what Sainsburys means to me, and what my in-store experience is actually about. What will this mean in the long run? What is it going to do to one of my more simple pleasures in life?

Whilst some might say in our increasingly ad-splattered spaces, it is only to be expected, I can’t help but think – oh! but at what expense?

By the very nature of my work, I recognise I am a somewhat conscious consumer, but in all honesty, I was immediately agitated last week to see that Sainsburys might soon be subjecting me to carrying around advertising for some brand I don’t use, nor have a care to.

Today, after a desperate search for an unmarked basket, I realise I am given no choice but to accept either Warburtons or Visa. Given my already highly sensitive disposition and subsequent wheat intolerance, I opted reluctantly for the latter only to find the credit card firm is also peering up at me from inside my shopping basket.

What’s worse though – is that everywhere else I look – I keep seeing my biggest fear: whilst it might be harmless wholesome Warburtons to you – to me it’s gut flora gone wrong, abdominal pain, cramps and bloating.

Quite frankly, it’s terrifying.

The result? I didn’t enjoy my shopping experience, sought to leave there as quickly possible, and certainly didn’t linger to see whether any new brands, ideas, packaging or some such other treats might have appeared on the Sainsburys shelves.

@sainsburys may I kindly ask you to reconsider – or perhaps we could collaborate in trying to discover a smarter long-term revenue generating solution which also enhances the value of your brand?

Charities could dance the Paso Doble in the Strictly Branding Ballroom

When it comes to social media, one of the key concerns facing corporations is whether their employees live their brand values both on and off the playing field, and it is my contention that most charities have staff that not only walk the walk but could probably dance a pretty darn passionate Pasodoble on the Strictly Ballroom dance floor!
Put another way – it’s highly probable that there are a few things that corporates could learn from charities too.
However, it could beg the question: how many charity staff would be potential ‘stars’ with high emotional buy-in and high knowledge about what the charity needs to do to achieve its objectives, or how many would fall into the ‘loose cannon’ segment?