I’ve been thinking about this a lot over the last few weeks since the first debate and thought it would be good to relate the huge surge of support for the Liberal Democrats to a consumer brand – which they have effectively become when they are ‘advertised’ in such a high profile manner.
I think the answer is simple.
By allowing Nick Clegg to stand on the stage next to the two major brands of Labour and Conservative, they were giving them the equivalent of a supermarket listing for a minor brand.
For a minor brand to get a listing in the likes of Tesco, they are immediately given the assurance that ‘if it has been chosen by Tesco to be sold, then it must be okay’ as the overarching brand is that of Tesco as a distributor and comes with their own big brand reassurance. Similarly, a place on that platform came with the assurance that they must be broadly equal in stature.
Likewise for Nick Clegg to be ‘offered for sale’ alongside the market leaders it comes down to whether the consumers like the packaging and the price and feel like a change from the main brands. He’s a good looking bloke (I haven’t got a man crush or anything) and he speaks well. He also constantly refers to the other two parties as the OLD parties – a really important differentiation for the younger voters/buyers.
I have asserted on many occasions that the future is unbranded, and many of us will always choose the guest beer in a pub rather than being herded into the mainstream brands – This is the same principle. It is a brand backlash against the mainstream brands and may be here to stay.
So the mistake came in agreeing to the debate in the first place. They gave they Lib Dems a listing that their previous size may not have warranted. There was no place for UKIP, the awful BNP or the SNP, despite their late court protestations.
If the Lib Dems do sweep into some form of shared power then I believe it all stems from their amazing move to get themselves onto the debate platform in the first place.
I can’t wait to see the outcome on Thursday night.
One of the biggest changes for any organisation that is considering a new logo, is top accept that the logo doesn’t need to say what you do, and just concentrate on letting it say who you are.
Look in the yellow pages and you will see many, many ‘logos’ where there is a person with a hammer or spanner or pipe wrench next to the name of their company. These don’t say who you are, just what trade you practice. They make it impossible to extend into another area without causing confusion, but they still proliferate in ‘trade’ markets.
By removing the ‘what you do’ element, you have to work harder to explain this, and so the second option is to introduce the strapline to attempt to explain the services offered, or the ‘what you do’.
There are hundreds of examples out there.
‘Britain’s favourite retailer’ by Tesco
This line allows them to say what they do without having to say underneath the name on the front of the shops.
It is very rare to see a logo out of context anyway. You would normally see a Tesco logo on a store, a pack a vehicle or an advertisement, so the logo is simply an identifier to say that it is ‘one of theirs’. The branding work comes in saying what can be expected by choosing a Tesco product over any other one.
A strapline is quite different to a campaign slogan such as
‘Vorsprung durch technik’ that Audi have used since the 1970’s. This was already on the wall of the factory when their German design agency MetaDesign went for a factory tour. They saw that it summed up what the business was all about and their living the brand ever since has been part of the reason for their growth to become one of the biggest car makers in Europe from their humble roots as the fabulously mad little NSU luxury car brand and their hugely innovative but incredibly unreliable RO80 Wankel engined car of the late 1960’s.
Their chosen phrase actually means ‘Advancement through Technology’ and as such, does not actually explain what the business does. The slogan therefore just adds a little more layering to the brand by way of an advertisement theme.
The big brands such as Tesco become known for ‘what they do’ because of their scale, visibility on the high streets and the (omni)presence delivered by big marketing budgets.
But when Tesco lunch into another country, they invariably work under another brand name or with a local partner. Jack Welch, in another of his Podcasts argues that it is ALWAYS more effective to buy local talent in the target market than it is to try and import it, citing their plastics businesses opening in China as a real life example.
When Tesco went to the US, they started under the brand name of Fresh & Easy, launching a much smaller format store to those they are known for in the UK and starting out from California. They therefore face the same issues as any start up. They may be better financed, but they still have to prove and refine their offer in order for them to begin to roll it out nationally. Even Tesco don’t have deep enough pockets to attempt this with a flawed or unpopular concept.
It is often argued that smaller companies can’t go down the ‘who you are’ route because they don’t have the marketing budgets of the likes of Tesco. We would argue that they could make their smaller budgets both more cost effective now and more valuable in the future, by concentrating on the ‘who you are’ now.
Focussing on a one or very few key message will always make marketing more effective and make what you do spend work in a more focussed way.
Without the ‘who you are’ you can only sell ‘what you do’. This limits the growth and expansion possibilities of your brand.
Potential customers who like what they see in the ‘who’, will go the extra mile and find out more about you, what you do and what you stand for. This creates devoted customers who both love and understand your brand.
Our last day in New York and its our first free time since we arrived eight days ago and we’re flying through the night home tonight, giving back our five hour time difference in one six hour flying stroke. It’s a typical British Autumnal morning and I feel very much the Englishman in New York. Its dauntingly big and there’s too much to learn from in too short a time.
I wander up to the Wholefoods Market on the corner to buy my breakfast as I am up early and debating whether to take off on my own for the day or stick with the group. Wholefoods are the people that Tesco said they were taking on with their Fresh & Easy concept that they thought would capture the hearts and wallets of New Yorkers, but has so far, pretty much underwhelmed them.
Well, I have to report that having not seen the Kensington branch of Wholefoods, the one I saw on Second Avenue in New York was stunning. It looked welcoming, yet urban, the food looked beautiful and the staff members I spoke to were educated and interested, with one of the team on the till having spent time in the London Kensington store, helping with staff training. Can you imagine Tesco sending there checkout staff from Victoria centre being sent across to New York to show the Fresh & Easy staff how to be surly and cause unnecessary queues to wind people up in a hurry. Maybe they could just show them how they can tell customers that they can only use this queue if they’re buying Lottery, despite no-one else in the queue and people stacking the full length of the store at the self service tills?
Okay, that’s me being cynical and comparing the natural service culture we saw everywhere in the US. In the UK, we assume that it is insincere and below us to be polite, helpful and interested. We seem far more comfortable in being snotty or trying to catch our customers out than helping them enjoy their visit. This is a training issue we discussed an awful lot whilst we were away and whilst we don’t want ‘have a nice day’ all over the place, we do want to be able to deliver service staff who do just that – serve. It sounds simple, and it is in the US, but with a few notable exceptions, we make it look very difficult in the UK.
So after my early morning breakfast of orange juice and a parmesan breadstick (pretty healthy huh?), sitting in the park, next to the hotel, I watched the New York morning unfold before me.
There’s lots of honking, despite the signs threatening a $350 fine for anyone who does it and the driving is aggressive, the pace is hectic. It almost seems the opposite of how people behave when they get to work, or maybe those in cars are a different breed who never work in service positions? It’s a magical place to sit and absorb the atmosphere. I’m surrounded by New York Sparrows, (or their close relative, ‘cos I ain’t no ornothologist) and I share my bread with them and seem popular amongst them.
Back at the hotel, the others are gathering for the day and I decide to stick with the Sheriff and Adela as they are planning to go to Liberty Island. I know this is probably the cliché of all clichés, but I’ve never been and I wanted to take in another audio tour and see how the trip across compares to my favourite river trip – The Ferry across the Mersey.
The first stop is the Metro station at Lafayette and Broadway which we follow down to Bowling Green. This leads us onto Battery Park and our first view of the Statue of Liberty across the water. As we walk across the park, there is a huge damaged sphere in front of us.
At first the thought was that it had been vandalised, but when you read the sign in front of it, you begin to understand.
Again, the feelings of anger rise up at how this could have happened, but I love the Sphere’s symbolism. Its an even more powerful reminder than the slightly cold but informative hoardings at Ground Zero and its simplicity paints a far starker image in your mind than a display of what’s coming next could portray.
The boat trip with a full audio tour of Liberty Island and Ellis Island is $20 (about £12) which seems like good value. You then travel through a full airport security style search and scan, with everything X rayed and shoes, phone, cameras, belts ad even notebooks in the trays. Its something that is hard to begrudge as the symbolism of peace and liberty that the statue stands for is one that must be under constant terrorist threat.
The short boat ride across only stood out for the fact that it was a great place to photograph armpits and other people’s hands. It was like a class full of the worlds most enthusiastic school children with every hand up for most of the trip.
The silly thing about these shots, was that five minutes later when you landed, it was easy to get a much better image without the hands in the way and without the crowds around you.
We had a cup of coffee to see off the heavy rain and marvelled again at what exceptionally low prices they charge in these nationally controlled attractions. $1.50 (£0.89) for an almost nuclear strength 3/4 pint of coffee wouldn’t be seen at anything but the lowest of cafes in the UK, let alone with a captive audience on a cold wet island full of tourists.
The audio tour used the exact same digital system as the one at Alcatraz, but was far more dull. The single voice talking you through the history was informative at best, but turgid, if I’m honest. By the time we’d walked half way around the island, it was off and we were reading the signage, which had all the information anyway. But the view close up is perfect.
We had opted not to take the trip up the monument, which was good as the queue was huge and there was yet another scanning scrutiny. One of the previous blog commenters, Christine from Boston had been helpful in her recommendations and warned us that this was simply not worth the money or the queue, so we gladly took her advice.
So some statto facts about the statue itself. Its 305ft tall from the ground to the top of the flame and was completed in 1886 as a gift from the People of France. It was the tallest structure in the Eastern US when it was built as most of Lower Manhattan was only five stories until well into the 1920’s. She has a 35ft wide waist (like many other people in the US) and a 42ft right arm. Even her fingernail is the size of my forearm and she sees 3 million visitors per year to her very own island.
The ferry took us back via Ellis Island for a further (dull) audio tour and then back across to Battery Park.
Time was pressing on and we were leaving in a few hours, so we opted to walk back to the hotel along Broadway to take in some more of the atmosphere. A good three miles or so along a dead straight road, took in Wall Street. The signage is as we have all seen it, but the state of the roads and paths were awful. The police presence was massive and the crowds even more massive.
After collecting a late lunch in an immaculately clean and friendly salad bar, where you can choose what you want and pay by weight, we sat in one of the City parks and watched a group playing chess with a form of winner stays on. Quite a crowd gathered and you got the feeling that this was a regular haunt for city types and students alike. Black squirrels ran around us picking up scraps and the feeling was far more relaxed than any other place in New York I had seen.
The final walk took in the Bell of Hope and St Pauls Chapel, back at Ground Zero. The Bell was a gift from the Mayor of London to the people of New York and was created by the Whitechapel Foundry, who also cast Big Ben and the bell on Liberty Island. It is rung each 9/11 anniversary and was also rung after the Madrid bombings in 2004 and on July 7th 2005 after the Subway and bus bombings. It’s a very sombre reminder.
The chapel itself is where the firemen gathered and rested during the recovery mission after 9/11 itself. To most, it is the spiritual home of those who lost their lives.
It seems like a suitable place to sign off, on what was an incredible trip, full of learnings, stark reminders and world class attractions.
I honestly never thought that the US, would be my thing. I thought it would be too brash. Its big, yes, but it’s so full of genuine people who love our history, curtsey to our Sheriff and respect our country, its impossible to not end up feeling like you’re part of it.
In the words of King Arnie of California. I’ll be back.
There’s a battle going on about the branding of livestock based named drinks and its all been started by a Canadian man called Lino Fleury – a name for someone whose going to be different if ever there was one.
It’s all to do with who owns what ‘properties’ or ‘brand values’ in an energy drink.
On the one hand Lino’s new baby ‘Slow Cow’ is an anti energy drink. A concoction he has created that according to his story contains L-Theanine, an amino acid found in tea plants that’s meant to help you achieve a relaxed, focused state of mind. He’s even got some friendly doctor to say it is probably natures best kept secret. But I don’t actually believe that and I’m pretty sure he doesn’t either – surely nature’s best kept secret wouldn’t have been found yet?
For some reason, the people at Red Bull are none too impressed and have sent our hero Lino a notice to cease and desist. Even though for me, the brand values are at the opposite end of the spectrum.
But I absolutely believe they haven’t got a leg to stand on as the entire basis of the branding is completely different. They haven’t got a wing or a prayer of succeeding in front of any competent judge.
The brand basis of red Bull is to help you achieve more, to push yourself beyond normal limits. Their sponsorship of the Air Race series, F1 cars and any seemingly mad adventurous activity has to confirm this. For me, its entire reason for being is to convey energetic enthusiasm.
Their active ingredient of Taurine is widely copied in every generic ‘energy’ drink in any supermarket. Tesco settled out of court with Red Bull in 2007 for an undisclosed sum for apparently being too close in design with their Tesco Kick energy drink – but that’s more likely to be because they sell red Bull and didn’t want to lose the contract.
Aldi sell a six pack of Red Thunder (for £1.49!) which comes in identical sized and coloured cans to those of Red Bull, but as they don’t sell the branded product, they are unlikely to decease or delist!
Slow Cow, at the total opposite end of the scale, is all about taking time out, about slowing down and maybe even taking yourself a little less seriously. It’s about marking a time to begin relaxing rather than to begin being a bit excitable. Who would try and look ‘cooler’ by drinking a drink called, Fat Sloth, Ugly Dog, or spunky Monkey – let alone Slow Cow?
I would also counter the argument even more strongly that the packs look similar. They don’t. One is cream and the other is red, blue and silver. If you confused the two of them side by side, you would be stupid or lying under oath. The only similarity I can see is that they sit on the same beverage shelf and they are in the same sized can.
Beans come in the same sized can as peaches and are also sold in supermarkets, but you would hopefully think it was yourself at fault if you accidentally had them on toast, not the people who put them in the can in the first place.
This is bad PR by Red Bull and very clever PR by Lino Fleury. The two products are literally chalk and cheese and any talk about them being in the same trading space is utter, utter nonsense.