Thursday 30 August 2012

Brand Challenge

"Eating the Big Fish" by Adam Morgan is one of my favourite business books, which has stood the test of time since its publication in the last century.

But, of course, one thing that's changed beyond all recognition in the last 13 years are the media that brands can use in their challenge.

So it's good to see that Adam Morgan has a new book out, co-written by Mark Holden of PHD, who should know his media stuff. This book does two things:

1. It classifies nine challenger brand stories beyond the one we know and love - David and Goliath aka as "The Feisty Underdog". And expresses what drives these brands and what they are challenging (not necessarily the market leader).

2. It looks at media choices best suited to telling the ten different challenger stories.

The book is called "Overthrow: 10 ways to tell a challenger story" and the website is here.

You can even find out "which challenger type you are."

Friday 24 August 2012

Second Hand Rose

One of my favourite trends at the moment, identified by Trendwatching and others is Recommerce. You'd never dream of chucking out your 5-year-old car, would you? Or pulling down your 10-year-old house? With the car, your opportunities to sell on are either do-it-yourself, which costs time and effort but you'll probably get a better price, or to put it in the hands of the dealer which is a heck of a lot more convenient but often disappointing in terms of financial reward.

Of course, Recommerce is a new-ish name for something that's been going on since time immemorial. Second-hand books, clothes, furniture, the flea market, the antique shop, the pawnbroker, classified ads and all the rest. And the last ten years or so have seen all this individual activity leap onto the internet with ebay, amazon marketplace and the like.

But outside the car industry, few companies have involved themselves in Recommerce regarding their own brands and products, until recently. Obviously, the costs and resource involved would not have justified the gain.

We live in a different world now. Recommerce satisfies peoples' need to be shopping responsibly and sustainably as well as saving money in cash-strapped times. And I believe that there is another human benefit that is integral to the Recommerce concept. Think of any antiques you own - they all come with a story - of previous owners, when and how they were crafted - and they carry with them a glimpse into a lost world.

If companies can tap into this aspect of Recommerce, they can strengthen their brand through its past.

Just one example of Recommerce is "Common Threads" the official co-operation and marketplace between Patagonia and ebay.

And a positive consequence of Recommerce is that it begins to erase the horrible words "consumer and consumables" from our vocabulary.

Monday 20 August 2012

Good foundations

If you're looking for stories about your brand to imbue it with substance and authenticity, you can do worse than look back at the person or people who founded it. More often than not, you should be able to trace back to the original idea or purpose that launched the brand, which may be more interesting than whatever is currently written on the brand's Mission Statement.

Many brands are unthinkable without their founders - Steve Jobs and Apple, for example, or IKEA and Ingvar Kamprad, whose initials give the first two letters of the brand acronym and whose legendary cost-consciousness pervades the IKEA ethos.

Even under Unilever ownership, the names and personalities of Ben (Cohen) and Jerry (Greenfield) and the Vermont provenance drive the premium ice-cream brand.

Another example is what Guinness is doing. Arguably already one of the world's strongest and story-rich brands, Guinness has established "Arthur's Day" in honour of the founder, Arthur Guinness. Until 3 years ago, Arthur Guinness was a signature on the label and no more, but the 27th September is now designated as a day to "paint the town black" amid musical performance and celebration - to the benefit of the Arthur Guinness Fund for social good.

And the advertising comes from Saatchi & Saatchi, an agency who knows more about the strength of founders' names than most, even if the founders in question have moved on.

Monday 13 August 2012

The colour purple

Most brands have a signature colour, or colours. There are the single statement colours of red for Coca-Cola, or magenta for T-Mobile, or turquoise for Twitter and the two-colour approach of IKEA, McDonald's or BP. And even some multi-colour brands, of which Google springs to mind.

Some colours are used less than others, especially as single branding shades - brown is a case in point, with UPS the notable exception in the use of this colour. And a colour that's a rare tone in nature is also relatively scarce on the branding front: purple.

Purple, as a non-primary colour, has a complex set of associations. The connotations of luxury, wealth and nobility may have influenced its use for indulgent brands such as Cadbury's or Milka, or Silk Cut. The links with creativity could have been grounds for Yahoo! changing their logo colour. But purple also has more difficult connections - with spirituality, magic and even emotional immaturity according to some - which makes it a tricky choice for a brand's uniform.

However, if one colour was in evidence in the UK in the last couple of weeks on top of all the red, white and blue, it was purple. But maybe this was a lucky choice in this case as purple goes so well with gold. 

Wednesday 8 August 2012

No sign of flagging

The display of Britishness that assaults the senses in a visit to any supermarket in the UK at the moment  certainly leaves the German 2006 World Cup in the shade - and could well put some of the USA's shows to shame.

It's hard to find products without a Union Jack or Olympic logo, and, just in case you miss the point, everything from butter to sausages proudly proclaims its origins (British cows fed on British grass watered by British rain...)

I suppose there will come a time that we can't see any more red, white and blue, once the shine of the gold medallion haul fades into the background.

But, for the time being, Britain's branding shows no signs of flagging.