Archive for the ‘Brand Loyalty’ Category

Did you hear the one about the “Kerry” man?

July 24, 2017

Kerry

Did you hear the one about the ‘Kerry’ man?” was the joke that we heard often years ago.

We don’t hear that joke being told too much these days and maybe, that’s because “Kerry” has become worthy of respect for so many reasons including prowess on the sporting field, the most beautiful of places, links golf courses, fantastic hospitality, success in business with huge companies such as Kerry Group and FEXCO and even politicians that should never be underestimated!

There is something very special about Kerry and this is recognised in Ireland and internationally.

There is something so special about ‘Kerry’ that a huge legal dispute has been rumbling for the last few years between the food giants, Kerry Group and Ornua.

Kerry Group introduced their Kerrymaid butter product into the Spanish market a few years back and Ornua, the makers of Kerrygold have legally challenged their right to do so.

While this case is complex it looks like Kerry Group have won this battle (according to the European Court of Justice) as:

  • both have been selling in the EU already, for quite a while alongside each other (in Ireland and the UK) and
  • the word ‘Kerry’ is okay to use as it is an indication of geographical origin as long as this is true and honest

I read the legal jargon about the case and there are many subtleties to each of these points but this was the gist of it (please read the case in detail if this is an important issue for you).

Kerry!

In a way this opens up a huge can of worms for both of these brands as it implies that if you are in Kerry and you produce a product then you can use the word ‘Kerry’ as part of the name.

Kerry is obviously a fantastic brand right now with many positive attributes – there are no right or wrong answers here as the brand attributes are what each of us believes them to be.

When I think of Kerry I think of positive things such as nature, beauty, the coast, agriculture, hospitality, quality, sport, literature, music, business success, resilience but I also do think of negative things such as poor roads, too many American tourists, cute politicians and a few rough towns.

This is my version of  ‘Kerry’ but for others it will be quite different and we all carry things in our heads that make up what the brand is for us.

If Kerry suffered from a major incident such as a gigantic oil spill that contaminated the whole coastline then maybe the use of the name on products may not be as positive as it is today – while this is hard to imagine, having your brand attached to name that is largely out of your control could be risky.

Kerry – is it good for the butter?

While Kerrygold is a very successful brand, is it because it carries the name ‘Kerry’ or is it because it is a great product with great packaging and marketed really well? – I’m sure all of these elements contribute to the success.

Kerrygold and KerrymaidIn the case of the ‘butter wars’ I suspect that one part of the argument is about the ability to use the word ‘Kerry’ as it borrows all of the positive attributes of the place but for others who may not be as familiar with the place, a different argument could be that they are borrowing the positive attributes of the other product.

Would the Spanish know enough about the Kerry region to now the attributes of the location?

The Reverse Argument

In this particular case one could make a strong case against any company being able to use the name of a place in their brand and not actually producing it in that location – is this an even more serious issue for another day?

Place of Origin Branding

When we incorporate the name of a place in our brand or company name, we do automatically benefit from the positive attributes but, most importantly, if we are to use that place name, we also have a responsibility to uphold that name and not damage it in any way.

Did you hear the one about the Kerryman who thought he could sell his butter in Spain – he was right!  

If you need to chat about your brand, give us a call!

Greg Canty 

Greg Canty is a Partner of Fuzion Communications, a full-service agency that offers Branding  services from our offices in Dublin and Cork, Ireland

 

VIP and not so VIP

April 26, 2017

VIP Parking

We arrived at the car park that we normally use as were about to start our working day.

They operate a simple system whereby you buy a parking ‘pass’ for the year and even though they don’t operate a dedicated reserved parking space you park in whatever spaces are free. It also operates as a public car park whereby people can park and pay.

From a business point of view it doesn’t sound ideal as you might worry that you won’t get a parking space when you need it (such as in the lead up to Christmas) but this is never an issue.

When you arrive early for work there is an extra bonus because at that time you can get a parking space on the lower floors.

This Monday we arrived early to find four of the very best parking spots empty but marked up with very clear signage “VIP – Reserved“.

I found myself getting really angry… (oh Greg, that’s unlike you !!) 

Now they had two customer types: VIPs and VPOs (Very p**sed off!)

Obviously, the car park has done a deal with some new customers but instead of offering them the package that they were operating with everyone else they offered a new package whereby someone could reserve their own space.

Let’s assume for a moment that the new customers have agreed to pay super premium for these reserved spaces in prime location – fair enough.

First as an existing customer for the last two years (we pay for 3 spaces) I would have liked to have been offered this package that was not available before – this was a lack of courtesy.

Secondly if you do operate reserved places please don’t call them “VIP” as this makes the rest of us existing customers (99%) feeling not quite so important. “Reserved” is enough.

If you introduce any mechanism for categorising new customers be careful how you make the existing ones feel.

Greg Canty 

Greg Canty is a Partner of Fuzion Communications, a full service agency that offers Marketing, PR and Graphic Design services from our offices in Dublin and Cork, Ireland

United Airlines and the Costly Culture

April 16, 2017

United Airlines protests.

When you hear the company name “United Airlines” what comes to mind?

When you hear the company name “Volkswagen” what comes to mind?

In both cases, you probably think of the well publicised and very damaging situations that have occurred, which have caused untold damage to these monstrous brands.

At the time of writing United Airline shares had dropped significantly resulting in a market capitalisation collapse of $570 Million.

While United Airlines was a very specific incident and Volkswagen was a very deliberate campaign of deception what they both have in common is that what occurred was not something that you could blame on “a” culprit in each company.

With United Airlines could you point the finger at the security guards who removed the passenger?

With Volkswagen could you point the finger at the engineers who were able to rig the emissions performance?

In each case, the individuals involved knew that what they did was okay with their bosses – why would they do such a thing otherwise?

In each case, their bosses knew that this was what they were expected to instruct their subordinates to do – why else would they give guidance like this?

In each case, their bosses, bosses had jobs to do and targets to meet and the expectation was that these must be achieved as a priority beyond all other objectives.

And so on up the chain of command.

The huge problem in large organisations is that very often something rotten is allowed to creep into the culture resulting in management and employees behaving really badly and eventually it just bursts through and shows its ugly face in a way that is quite extraordinarily shocking to everyone.

Oscar Munoz - United Airlines

For example with United Airlines the initial reaction of Chairman Oscar Munoz was to apologise to other passengers for the “upsetting event” but went on to push the blame onto the 69-year-old victim Dr.Dao for being “disruptive and belligerent“!

If you ever wanted someone to confirm the rotten culture at the airline, Mr.Munoz did it in his next communication to his staff where he praised them and stood behind them:

Our employees followed established procedures for dealing with situations like this. While I deeply regret this situation arose, I also emphatically stand behind all of you, and I want to commend you for continuing to go above and beyond to ensure we fly right

In a strange way, he was 100% correct – they did what was expected of them in these situations and as a result, he applauded them!!

At this point in time, the airline’s reputation was in tatters and Oscar and his team started to frantically backpaddle and within three days their tone had changed and fresh press statements included grovelling apologies to Dr.Dao for the appalling treatment and a full refund to all passengers on the flight (what difference was this ridiculous gesture going to do for anyone?).

The best PR advice when something like this occurs is to come clean and apologise immediately with complete sincerity. The word “Sorry” if people genuinely believe those that are delivering the apology can go a long way to reducing the damage caused.

However, just like in the United Airlines scenario a genuine “sorry” was not possible because the culture was too rotten to even contemplate doing such a thing – the expression ‘not being able to see the wood from the trees‘ comes to mind here.

Your reputation ultimately comes from what you do and how you behave and while good PR professionals can help to lessen the damage from a bad situation, it cannot change the culture, which can often be the reason why these things ended up happening in the first place.

Could your culture end up costing you?

Greg Canty 

Greg Canty is a Partner of Fuzion Communications, a full-service agency that offers Crisis PR consultancy from our offices in Dublin and Cork, Ireland

I’m not telling you where it is..

February 5, 2017

Fireside

You can feel everything heating up again..

We spend at least half our working week doing business in Dublin and our home has been a particular hotel, which was located close to the office.

It became a home from home of sorts for years with most of the staff recognising us as we trooped in with our bags week after week. They looked after us really well and we left them lots of business. We had our corporate rate and our bonus nights and they had a regular customer, often at times of the year when Dublin was quiet.

The first sign of things changing was an email last year notifying us that our corporate rate wouldn’t apply on peak weeks. Okay, but wasn’t that the whole point of a corporate rate – a good average rate in exchange for lots of regular business?

The second big sign, which came along a few months later was an email informing us that the corporate rates in 2017 were increasing by 40%. Thank you… it seems that the whole loyalty thing doesn’t quite cut the mustard when things get busier!

So we went shopping for an alternative.

We did find a place, a little further out that gave us a good corporate rate and they assured us that they had a complimentary shuttle service to alleviate the slightly inconvenient location.

On the first day using the new hotel I enquired about the shuttle service – unfortunately the driver was on leave this week so there would be no shuttle service. Okay – Mr Shuttle driver could not be relied on!

I headed on foot to the office and just as I was nearly there I passed a gorgeous little place, an old Georgian house with a sign outside declaring it to be a “hotel”.

I marched up the steps of this beautiful property and pushed the door open to be greeted by a really nice, friendly guy. I asked about rates and asked to see a typical room.

I was so impressed with the package he offered me and the gorgeous rooms and homely atmosphere that I immediately booked us in for a number of weeks ahead. The guy I was dealing with was the owner – the place had been in his family for decades and somehow you knew it had.

Our first stay didn’t disappoint – “Would you like a tea or a coffee?” was just one part of the warm welcome, the room was homely and impeccable and our breakfast was delicious and made to order.

I’m guessing the friendly woman, Agnes who served us was part of the family that owned this special place.

We walked to work, just a few minutes away and there was an extra skip in my step because in all the years that we have been staying overnight in Dublin I have never felt so at home.

So, unfortunately I’m not going to tell you where it is!!

I’ll resist tweeting about it because selfishly I want to keep this place a secret so that there is always a room there for us.

Dublin is booming ..

Greg Canty 

Greg Canty is a Partner of Fuzion Communications who offer Marketing, PR and Graphic Design services from our offices in Dublin and Cork, Ireland

Microsoft, LinkedIn and the Personal Touch?

December 8, 2016

Microsoft buys LinkedIn

Today I received a really nice personalised email from Mike.

Mike is an important guy in LinkedIn (I’m guessing) and clearly he and his communications team felt it would be appropriate to reach out ‘personally’ to communicate some messages about some rather important news.

The problem is I don’t know Mike, I’ve never had correspondence from him and in truth he is attempting to communicate to an audience (me and God knows how many others) who are cynical and probably won’t connect with his message because we know it is a giant company who just don’t communicate like that to customers.

I totally get why the email was sent and all of the logic behind the “personal” touch BUT when you do this you must be tuned into your audience and what they are thinking so that your message will connect instead of having the opposite effect.

I’m not sure if you think like me about these things but I’ll try to share my thoughts (I’ll put these in brackets) to highlight what happens when you get the communication wrong..

Mikes email:

Dear Greg, (do I know you?)

Today, Microsoft completed its acquisition of LinkedIn.

This is a major milestone for the technology industry and for our two companies (good for you!), and I wanted to reach out to you, (that’s lovely!) a valued customer of LinkedIn, (quite honestly I’ve never quite felt like that) to reaffirm our commitment to you and your business. (Yeah right..)

As we said in June, when Microsoft announced its intent to acquire LinkedIn, LinkedIn’s vision — to create economic opportunity for every member of the global workforce (what workshop came up with his one – are you taking the p#ss?) — is not changing (I can now sleep at night).

Additionally, LinkedIn will retain its distinct brand, culture and autonomy as a company (how long will this last?).

Finally, we remain committed to innovating with our partners to ensure LinkedIn’s products work with the tools and systems you use every day, from Applicant Tracking Systems, to Customer Relationship Management platforms, to Learning Management Systems, and more. (I’m breaking out the champagne!)

With the completion of this acquisition, you can continue to expect the great products and service to which you’re accustomed from LinkedIn. (if you say so yourself!)

You can find more details about today’s news here. If you have any questions at all, please don’t hesitate to reach out to your account team or a representative here at LinkedIn. (Seeing as you emailed me Mike maybe I could email you directly? …nah, I know it doesn’t work like that)

We sincerely appreciate our partnership (hmmm- when did that happen?) with you and look forward to the successes we will share in the future. (this makes no sense whatsoever – even more champagne?)

Thanks,
Mike (from one first name to another)
Mike Gamson
Senior Vice President, Global Solutions (I bet you have a nice car!!)

Communication Breakdown..

I apologise for the sarcasm and maybe its just my mood today but was that email a whole pile of self serving me, me me rubbish?

You have to wonder if there is any point when communicating trying to pretend you have a relationship that you clearly don’t have and then smother this with cliche, marketing jargon that has been spat out of meaningless workshops where there wasn’t a genuine ‘customer’ in sight.

The purchase price was supposed to be in the region of $26 Billion – what happened with the communications plan?

Maybe just keep it easy? – issue a simple press release that says the sale has gone through

Greg Canty 

Greg Canty is a Partner of Fuzion who offer Strategic Communications, Marketing, PR, Graphic Design services from our offices in Dublin and Cork, Ireland

 

 

The Culture Creep

December 29, 2015

Tony Hsieh

Tony Hsieh, CEO and founder of Zappos speaks about culture in a very clear way “Our belief is that if we get the culture right, most of the other stuff – like delivering great customer service, or building a long-term enduring brand and business will happen naturally on its own

He believes in this so much that every year he produces a ‘culture book‘ for the company. This isn’t something that management drafts with rules and guidelines and inspirational words but it is something that all employees, partners and vendors are invited to feed into.

The submissions are not edited except for typos as it is intended to capture the culture of his special club.

He gets that the culture of the business is the driving force behind it but he also gets that you can’t dictate it – it is what it is and he uses the book to capture the pulse of the organisation in a clean way.

If you read Hsieh’s book ‘Delivering Happiness‘ you will learn the lengths the company goes to, to ensure that the right culture is ingrained in every employee from the minute they join and even some novel ideas to encourage people who “don’t fit” to quickly exit (they will pay you €2,000 to quit!) to ensure they don’t infect the business.

Culture creep

An article caught my attention recently in the Daily Telegraph about the recent VW scandal with the headline ‘Emissions rigging scandal was caused by the firm’s culture

VW Scandal

The chairman, Hans Dieter Potsch stated that “misconduct, flaws in our processes and an attitude that tolerated breaches of rules” had been allowed stretching back over a decade and ending with the company deliberately cheating pollution control tests on a massive scale.

He went on to state “This was not attributable to a once off error, but an unbroken chain of errors“.

The day an employee starts a new job they quickly learn the lay of the land – what is the place like, what does it take to progress, what things get you in trouble, what are the golden rules?

These important things aren’t what is printed in the ‘hand book‘ or on the company website but they are the living, breathing dynamics of everyday work life that you need to learn quickly if you want to survive and progress in your new job.

Ironically on the VW website they have a campaign called “Think Blue” . Read the blurb: “Everyone can help to treat our environment better. At Volkswagen we are not satisfied just to build cars with lower CO2 emissions. Instead we have taken a much more holistic attitude towards ecological sustainability: “Think Blue.

I couldn’t find anything on their website about the culture and values of the company.

What happened at VW ?

It seems that a culture creep happened whereby my boss thought it was ok to bend the rules because his boss thought it was ok because his boss said it was and this obviously crept up and down the organisation until a culture of honesty and integrity (corporate buzzwords you will regularly see as key values) had virtually disintegrated. This however didn’t stop the marketing machine with their ‘Think Blue‘ campaign!

This culture creep obviously took years to infect the company but it did have to start somewhere with people in senior positions for whatever reasons (pressure, bonuses, incompetence?) making really damaging decisions, which have possibly irrevocably wrecked the proud reputation of this fabulous company built gradually since the forties.

A strong culture is a core element of your brand and it needs to be nurtured and protected by every single person in your organisation. The branding, inspirational taglines, value statements, books and brochures should be expressions of this culture but they must be real and must genuinely reflect the ethos and ‘truth‘ that exists in the business.

Anything else will eventually be found out..

Greg Canty is a Managing Partner of Fuzion Marketing, PR and Design.

 Fuzion provide Crisis PR services and run Brand Workshops for clients from our offices in Dublin and Cork, Ireland

 

 

 

Dyson – Rising to the Customer Service Challenge

October 4, 2015

Dyson Customer Service

Back in January our Dyson vacuum cleaner packed up and we were more than happy to replace it with another one. It’s a brand I really believe in, so much so that I wrote a blog about it called ‘Hoovering and Storytelling‘.

Three weeks ago we had a problem with our relatively new Dyson so we rang the customer service number and after a very straight forward, quibble free process the offending part would be replaced and delivered to us. The promise was that we would have it within ‘10 working days‘.

To be honest I thought 10 working days was quite a long time for a part they said was in stock but at least they were going to replace it and in the meantime we would manage.

Three weeks passed and there was no sign of our part so we called the Dyson customer service number. They had a record of our transaction and confirmed that due to a system glitch the part had not been dispatched. The operative was very polite, very apologetic but explained that unfortunately we were back at the beginning of the process again and a replacement part would take up to 10 working days to get to us.

It was time to take a stand and explain that this really wasn’t good enough.

Without getting argumentative we asked the operative if there was some way of expediting the delivery of our part. He told us he needed to check with his supervisor so he put us on hold briefly. After about two minutes he came back to us and confirmed that while the circumstances were unfortunate there was “nothing they could do“.

I detest those words because quite simply there is always something that can be done. ‘There is nothing I can do is a choice about what you are prepared to do, a choice about what is acceptable.

This was the system.

There is nothing I can do

We left him know that we weren’t happy and that surely there is ‘always something that can be done‘? Nope ..

We had exhausted the ‘official channel‘ so we reluctantly reverted to twitter to vocalise our disappointment with the Dyson brand.

Immediately the Dyson social media team reacted and wanted to know what happened. Without too much fuss they confirmed that what happened wasn’t good enough, that it wasn’t consistent with the Dyson culture so they would investigate our situation immediately and check with the customer service team.

They thanked us for highlighting a ‘flaw‘ in their customer service procedures, which they would take on board as a learning. Instead of waiting 10 days for a replacement part a new, better machine would be delivered to us in three working days.

With all of our businesses we have to make decisions on a regular basis about how we handle complaints. What do we do, how quick do we respond, what is fair – what do we decide is acceptable?

Things will inevitably go wrong from time to time and while we all hate complaints we need to make a decision about how we deal with them. A complaint is a great way to show the real ethos of your business and instead of saying ‘there is nothing I can do‘ we need to embrace the issue, do our very best and learn from it.

If you were cynical you might decide that Dyson reacted because the issue was highlighted on a public social media platform but I do believe they were genuine and they rose to the Customer Service Challenge. Instead of being a negative for the brand it is a positive. My faith is restored!

Well done Dyson ..

Greg Canty 

Greg Canty is a Partner of Fuzion PR, Marketing and Graphic Design, with offices in Dublin and Cork

 

 

 

Believing

July 17, 2015

Steve Jobs and wozniak-1977

When you believe in something it engages you.

When you believe in what you are doing then you do it with enthusiasm and purpose.

When you believe in who you are doing it for and why then you do it with even more intensity and passion.

When everyone in the team has the same belief then you have a common bond and you become a powerful collective force.

When your customers believe then you can make real magic happen

Without belief you have nothing.

The most important thing you can do as a manager is to give your team something real to believe in

Greg Canty 

Greg Canty is a Partner of Fuzion who offer Marketing, PR, Graphic Design services from our offices in Dublin and Cork, Ireland

Crushing young dreams 

April 12, 2015

Tears

My daughter Ellen has had a run of bad luck, which eventually seemed to be turning.

As she comes to the end of her beauty therapy course she was determined to find a job.

I’ve been offered a job dad” she told me excitedly down the phone. I was thrilled for her, she deserved a break and I could hear the difference that confidence boost had made to her.

The following day it got even better “you won’t believe it dad, I’ve been offered another job” she beamed.

Two days later she called again “Dad, guess what? I’ve been offered a job in a salon and the lady is lovely and it’s exactly what I want, This is the job I’m going to take”.

Three job offers in as many days and my fantastic daughter was transformed – she was now a confident woman with a real spring in her step. She accepted the full time job offer and was due to start the following Monday.

She was then called for an interview to a beauty salon that came highly recommended by her course director on the Saturday.

On the spot she was offered a job by the salon owner despite Ellen’s lack of experience. Ellen explained to her that this would be a big decision as she had already been offered a full time job.

She rang me “you won’t believe it dad – I’ve been offered another job, I can’t believe it! What will I do?

On the recommendation of her course director she accepted this offer and turned down the previous offer. To her credit she wrote a very professional email to the other salon, explaining the reason why she would not be taking their job offer after all.

Unfortunately the next call was Ellen sobbing on the phone. The salon owner that she had accepted the job from had a change of heart and suddenly her lack of experience was an issue and the full time job offer was rescinded. This news was delivered with barely an apology. While the salon owner thinks there is no consequence to her careless actions she has done huge damage to her reputation.

In the blink of an eye my precious girl was crushed and totally devastated and on top of this blow she now had to contemplate crawling back to the people she had already turned down in the hope that those opportunities were still alive.

Ellen is a strong, determined, talented young woman with a great personality who will recover from this cruel setback but it is one that she should not have to deal with.

I’ve shared this story with a number of people and to my horror nearly everyone I spoke to were able to give me similar stories.

When you offer anyone a job this carries with it a big responsibility – besides the obvious financial consequences you also bring the person, their dreams, hopes and wishes with you.

This is a big responsibility… Mind it.

Greg Canty 

Greg Canty is a Partner of Fuzion who offer Marketing, PR and Graphic Design services from our offices in Dublin and Cork, Ireland

 

Dunnes Stores – Building your Reputation

April 2, 2015

Dunnes Stores Strike

It was a strange thing – I heard news of the Dunnes Stores strike first thing this morning on Newstalk and immediately without hearing any of the detail I was on the side of the workers.

I wondered why did I think that automatically?

The truth is I never hear any good things about the company.

I don’t hear about charities they support, I don’t hear about a focus on Irish products,  I don’t hear about how they work closely with suppliers, I don’t see them being helpful on social media, I don’t hear about how much they contribute to the Irish economy and I don’t hear about new jobs that have created.

Instead I remember the strikes of old and the trouble and controversy that the company has had down through the years.

This doesn’t mean for a second that they do none of these things – it just means I don’t know about the good things they do and as a result when I hear a negative about them I tend to believe it.

When we use the words ‘building your reputation‘ it is a powerful analogy because your reputation is something that is built over time.

It is a culmination of all of the things you do; how you look after suppliers, your team and most importantly your customers. It also includes how you interact with the general community – while we are all in business to make a profit it is vital that we respect our environment and those around us and genuinely try to be a good, responsible corporate citizen.

Besides doing good it is vital that this is communicated clearly and effectively so that people understand that this is a business that genuinely cares about something more than just making money.

When an ill wind blows it is vital that your reputation has been built carefully and robustly so that it can withstand it easily and that you will have the support of your customers, investors, the media and the general public in these circumstances.

There is a strike at Dunnes

If a good job was done here our first thought when we hear this should be “They are a great company who are really responsible and fair – there must be two sides to that story

Build your reputation … it will protect you

Greg Canty

Fuzion with offices in Dublin and Cork, Ireland offer a full Crisis PR Service. Deirdre Waldron, (Partner) heads up the Crisis PR team, which includes former journalists, media training and social media expertise.