Archive for the ‘Branding’ Category

Sad songs, dirty lovers and technology abandoning consumers

March 26, 2017

Johnson & Perrott

The call came through that my new car was ready to be collected – as it was a weekday I didn’t want to spoil the very special occasion by collecting it, driving back to work, parking up and driving home later.

I asked if it was possible to collect the car on Saturday when I would have a chance to properly enjoy it. That was fine so a new plan was born.

On Saturday morning I woke up excited as a child on Christmas morning and the first thing I did was go through my CD’s to pick something suitably rocky to put the superb sound system through its paces. If you haven’t heard the album, “Sad songs for dirty lovers” by The National then check it out quick. There are a few hard, driving rock songs that will get you in the mood!

I thought my dad might like to come with me and enjoy the buzz so I collected him on the way to Johnson & Perrott in Mahonpoint.

I didn’t see the car parked outside as I was expecting

When we got there it’s as if they were waiting for us. They were treating the occasion of handing over a new car to a customer with the same reverence and sense of occasion as it was for the customer. I was however wondering where the new car was?

Ah Greg, we were waiting for you. Let’s get you your new car“.

In the middle of the showroom there was a car that was under a sexy black cloth cover. I was curious and wondered if a new model of a car was going to be unveiled later to the media or if there was some embargo whereby they weren’t allowed to show it to the public until a certain date and time.

The cloth created a sense of theatre and intrigue.

Dan O’Neill, the wonderful sales guy that I have been dealing with for many years caught my curiosity and asked me if I was ready to see my new car.

He brought me over and theatrically pulled the cloth away from the car and unveiled my new, gorgeous Jaguar XF to both me and my dad.

Jaguar XF

Oh my God, what a moment – buying a new car is special but this rewrote the rule book on how your new car should be presented to you.

The car was driven out of the showroom, I quickly completed some paperwork. Dan showed me some of the new features and the keys were finally handed over to me.

It was time to hit the road in this beauty that I was privileged to be driving (I work my socks off but I don’t for one second appreciate how lucky I am) except there was one last thing to do before I pressed on the accelerator.

Sad songs for dirty lovers” was removed from the case and ….

A moments confusion – where do I put the CD?

There was no slot where you would expect it. Was there a button to press somewhere that would slide open a panel on the dashboard where the CD would go? Was there a multi-CD option in the boot (I never liked that idea but okay if that was the case)? Was there some place in the console next to the driver where you placed the CD?

Feeling rather stupid that I wasn’t able to figure out this basic thing I went looking for Dan and asked him the embarrassing question, “Dan, where do I put the CD?

They’ve done away with a CD player in this new model, it’s all by bluetooth now” he explained.

I was staggered and disappointed. We switched on the radio and heard Bobby Kerr doing his business show, I flicked the channels to find some decent music but nothing was what I wanted to hear on my first journey in this fantastic machine. Instead we drove away and just listened to the gorgeous purr of the engine.

Someone somewhere made a decision on behalf of all new Jaguar XF drivers that any music listened to while driving would be on the radio or via something pre-loaded on a phone or an iPod.

I love my music more than most, I love my CD’s and I love the idea of being able to grab something from my collection or buy something in the music store and just play!

I probably sound like a dinosaur (the dinosaur who was buying the car!) but this boy is thinking that technology is now driving a lot of behaviour in a way that maybe the customer just doesn’t want?

Get your hands on that National album (CD or Vinyl) and put it in a decent sound system, crank it up as loud as you can bear and celebrate how things should be..

Note – I bought the car at the beginning of 2016 and a few irritations with technology recently have prompted me to finally write the piece.

Greg Canty 

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

 

 

 

 

 

 

The St.Patrick’s Day lost opportunity

March 16, 2017

St.Patrick's DAy

Can you imagine getting off the plane today, 16th March visiting Ireland for the first time. It’s the eve of St.Patrick’s Day, the iconic Irish festival and I wonder what are your expectations?

You have heard all about it, you have seen some footage on the TV, you know about the Irish dignitaries visiting foreign lands pressing the flesh and exchanging gifts of the shamrock. You know about the Irish celebrations all over the world on this special day where the Irish (and so many who would love to be Irish!) celebrate their Irishness. You have heard about Ireland, the friendly, beautiful country that is famous for the warm welcome, the craic and of course the pubs with that iconic drink, Guinness.

You must be excited..

I’ve just parked the car, grabbed a coffee and walked to the office and I’ve tried to put myself in the shoes of this visitor – what do they see, what do they experience, what are they thinking?

Except for the window of the Tourist Office you really wouldn’t even know that there was a festival. That poor tourist must be a little confused!

I haven’t come to town to see the parade for donkey’s years (even though I do hear its got a lot better) and I haven’t considered it either this year either despite our office being on the route with a perfect view. Outside of the parade is there anything else that would bring me to town to celebrate my Irishness? I know there are some activities planned around the city for the weekend but the occasion just hasn’t crept inside my skin, it doesn’t connect with me.

Palio

Twice a year in Siena (start and end of the summer) in Tuscany there is a festival called the Palio of ‘Palio di Siena‘ which is basically a local festival that runs for a week each time that culminates in a bare back horse race in the Piazzo del Campo at the centre of the town.

Palio

Every man, woman and child comes out and celebrates. They sing, they parade behind their horses and at night they eat and drink together.

The Guardian refer to it “It’s not a horse race, it’s a way of life” and they talk about it being an “embodiment of civic pride”.

We have been there about six times as I am totally seduced by this special feeling of being connected and part of a community spirit, a coming together.

Everytime I go there I wish and long for something in Ireland that can bring out the same spirit and feeling of community, pride and connectedness –  St.Patrick’s Day should be that day but for some reason it falls short.

St.Patrick’s Day is one of our greatest assets and it should be the most special day in all of our calendars. Every man, woman and child, let’s celebrate together!

How can we make that happen?

Greg Canty 

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

 

 

 

A Stick to beat yourself with or a Value to promote?

October 24, 2016

Carlsberg - Probably

Organisations make claims about their products and services the whole time, proudly celebrating key attributes that they believe make them special. When these attributes are an integral part or a key essence of these brands these attributes might be incorporated consistently into their messaging.

A very effective way to express your most special attribute as part of your branding is to introduce a tagline, which can then be used the whole time in conjunction with the product/service brand name.

When we think about some of the popular car brands we can see how taglines can be used to express something special about the range of vehicles that carry the brand name:

JaguarThe Art of Performance

BMWThe Ultimate Driving Machine

ToyotaThe Best Built Cars in the World

These taglines are typically used in all communications including adverts, brochures, packaging and even press releases consistently so that over time they become so synonymous with the brand that a consumer can recite them when they hear the brand name.

When companies develop these taglines for their brands they are creating a clear “experience” expectation with the customer – they should only make these declarations if they believe they can live up to them.

If Toyota declare that their cars are the “best built cars in the world” then they must commit to manufacturing quality cars. If a customer has a bad experience Toyota must respond from a positive place and do everything with the customer to demonstrate their commitment to quality.

Taglines and #Hashtags

With social media communications I find a very effective way of reinforcing a key message is to incorporate them into the #Hashtags that might be used when posting. Even better, if there is a tagline for the brand this could be used in the #Hashtag – if the tagline is too long then maybe some keyword variation could be used.

In the examples we gave above Jaguar might use #ArtOfPerformance, BMW may use #Ultimate and Toyota could use #BestBuilt.

VW - Clean Diesel

Sticks and Values

I was chatting with a client and we were developing a strategic communications plan for them and as part of this work we were discussing their social media messaging and the use of #Hashtags.

While the client was using a tagline consistently on all of their branding they were strangely very reluctant to use it as their hashtag.

This really confused me and I pushed them on it.

It turns out that while they were happy to make this quality claim on all of their branding and communications they were unhappy using it on social media because their feeling was it would be a huge ‘stick to beat them with‘ if anything ever went wrong.

But, shouldn’t the tagline be the same whenever you use it?” I asked

Yes, but on social media it’s different” was the clear response. “Sometimes things can go wrong, often through no fault of our own and the customer will hammer you quoting your hashtag/key message. For this reason we don’t want to use it.”

My belief is that you shouldn’t make a proud claim if you can’t stand over it. If you can stand over it then online should be no different to any other form of communications.

Your special attributes should always be celebrated, they are never sticks!

Greg Canty 

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

 

MAGA and simple messages

September 28, 2016

Donald Trump

What in the name of God is MAGA?

Of course it is an acronym for “Make America Great Again” used for hashtag purposes by Donald Trump with his social media posts.

This phrase is that one thing, that tag line if you will, which his whole campaign is built around – it is that one message that he keeps pumping out over and over, in every speech and now in every social media post.

Functionally when he uses #MAGA or any hashtag it pops out at you as it appears in a different colour and when you click on it you will see a listing of all of the social media posts where that was used. This makes it easy to track all of the posts.

People are bewildered about the success of this brash, uncouth, abrasive and insulting man who is now dangerously within touching distance of being the “Leader of the Free World“.

How is this possible?

While it is unbelievable I have a simple theory that I think partly explains the Trump pheonomena.

Here goes …

In this fast paced internet age where we are being assaulted 24/7 by messages and news via many media platforms it is very difficult to focus one’s attention properly.

As a result our attention spans are tiny and if you have a message that you want people to grasp then you must have one simple, clear message that is memorable and used consistently over and over.

This can be really effective because most people do not have the time or the inclination to dig deeper, to do their own research and properly inform themselves of all the facts about issues that are important such as who becomes the next President of the United States.

This key message should become your tagline and if possible it should be capable of being used as a hashtag in your social media posts.

BREXIT - We want our country back

For example in the recent BREXIT campaign the ‘leave’ campaigners put out a consistent campaign about “getting our country back“.

This simple message was pumped out over and over resulting in a majority of voters opting for ‘leave‘. What was clear afterwards was that many of these voters admitted that they had no idea about the consequences of their vote.

The ‘stay’ campaign had no clarity about their message so they made it easy for the opposition.

A key learning for all of us in this ‘short attention span era‘ is that a simple clear message that connects with your audience used consistently will win.

Does Hillary Clinton have a clear message?

I’m worried ….

Greg Canty 

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

Without some “wow” its difficult to see how!

July 10, 2016

Products with nothing specialI arrived there in torrential rain and entered a premises that lacked personality, that lacked anything. No pictures, no branding, no product displays…nothing.

There was a display on the wall with Certificates of Incorporation and some certs confirming a legal change from one company name to another.

I was politely ushered into a room and three people joined the meeting.

The new product was produced and placed centre stage on the board room table. The bland, quite generic packaging was the first thing I noticed.

Where was the product made, what’s special about it, what has the journey been, what is the wow, what is the  “story“?

I probed, I dug deep and I asked this crew why they developed this product, why it was in front of me on the table and why they brought it to market?

I was hoping to discover a unique (I hate that word) insight, I was hoping to hear some personal story, I wanted something that would help us to bring this “thing” to life in a genuine and authentic way that would connect with their target audience.

What I got was very profound – “it’s just a product that we think we can make money from

This won’t work…

Greg Canty 

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

About us

June 2, 2016

About us -

I was working on a proposal for a prospect and I wanted to find out more about the people behind the business.

Who started the business, who is involved now, what are they like, what is their background, what is their journey that brought them to today, is this a passion or just a way to make money?

I looked for the “about us” section on their website and like so many other websites these days I got nothing other than some generic “blurb” about what they do, which was just a variation of their homepage.

Who you are. your “story”, is an essential part of your brand. If I don’t see it here I may never bother trying to find out more.

I hate that – go on tell me about you and what makes you special.

I always get a little suspicious when people don’t. Is there something to hide? Do you not want people to know who is behind this enterprise?

The “about us” section of your website is one of the most important parts of the site. For me it is the “trust” section and the part of the site that convinces me why I should be comfortable dealing with you and explains why you are different to every other provider who offers similar products and services.

Go on, take the time today and fill out the “about us” section properly.

Share your genuine story with us, let that passion and authenticity for what you do shine through and please tell us about you and your fabulous team and the journey that brought you to today.

About us….

Greg Canty 

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

Hate !

May 3, 2016

Ryanair pic by Greg Canty

Hate is a big word and I hate using it!

Boarding our Ryanair flight from Liverpool to Cork I uttered the words I have uttered many times before to Brendan, my son “I hate Ryanair

He took me up on it straight away “give it a rest, they are really good now, way different to before

Sure enough the process felt different, the APP made it easy to manage our booking and the stampede for seats that used happen before when the boarding gate opened just wasn’t there now.

Why do you still hate them” he asked?

I explained that I hated that Michael O’Leary had such a disdain for customers and customer service and this was the cornerstone of the brand. I hated how it made me feel when I used the airline and swore that I would even avoid destinations if they were the airline to take you there.

This time the Liverpool v Borussia Dortmund match dictated the destination and Ryanair was the best way to get back to Cork.

We are handed a magazine as we board… It’s not a magazine but a catalogue of things to buy – there is nowhere to put it except by my feet as there is no pocket on the back of the seat. The back of the seat instead carries safety information and an advert for cosmetics that can be purchased on board.

Ryanair pic by Greg Canty

I look down the gaudy big yellow bus, the heat is on full blast and everyone is fidgeting with their air vents. The people around me grumble about the stifling heat while the pleasant hostess passes by quickly wanting to know who wants to buy scratch cards (I presume some people like to buy them but for the life of me I can’t imagine why – I feel for her, it must be a part of the job she hates!).

I’m looking forward to getting off in Cork and for this flight being over but first I’ll finish this blog post about brands and how they make you feel.

I guess Ryanair have improved a lot but yeah …I still hate them but not as much as before.

What brands do you feel strongly about?

Greg Canty 

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

Dreaming Big is banned in Ireland!

March 21, 2016

Conor McHregor, Budweiser advert banned by RTE

Our state broadcaster, RTE has just banned the Budweiser commercial featuring UFC fighter and Irish hero Conor McGregor.

The banning has already led to newspaper articles, much discussion and a huge curiosity and will inevitably have everyone googling just to see what this “offensive” advert was all about. I suspect they will be left scratching their heads wondering what the fuss was all about.

In many ways this could be deemed as a huge success for the brand because it will now achieve a level of visibility and notoriety that it previously didn’t have, without having to pay the advertising costs.

While it sends out a big message from RTE you would like to think that this is a good, sensible one because we do want there to be watchdogs to protect us from danger. It is important that ‘banning’ makes sense, that it is rational and that it is fair.

The advertising guidelines around alcohol are very strict in Ireland and all of these were followed carefully.

In the advert there isn’t a picture of a bottle of beer, there isn’t a pub in sight. There is just Conor tastefully captured in a scene walking around his home town, Crumlin in Dublin, which then transforms into a street in LA.

This 27 year old apprentice plumber has achieved huge success by dedication to his sport and the advert demonstrates this with the help of these scenes and the voice over by Conor:

Never give up on your dream

Be your own inspiration, a beacon of self belief

Keep proving others wrong

If your dream doesn’t scare you, then its not big enough

So dream, as big as you dare

Only at the very end of the advert do we see the Budweiser logo and the usual drink responsibly message at the bottom of the screen.

For me the message from the advert is a very inspirational one, delivering a powerful positive message. Yes, it does come from a beer brand, which I think is more than ok. It shows you how the guidelines are keeping alcohol brands in a very responsible place and forcing a communication about positive values.

The message coming from RTE in banning this advert?

According to the newspapers they issued a statement to the Sunday Business Post that the advert breached advertising guidelines because Conor McGregor is considered a “hero to the young“, which will in turn encourage them to drink alcohol.

I don’t get it..

In my view banning the advert will achieve the wrong thing (besides totally confusing an industry that is trying to be very responsible) – viewers will definitely seek out the inspirational advert and could instead conclude that we are living in a censorship state that in some way has an issue with people from working class backgrounds having and achieving their dreams.

Banning the advert is also bad for the RTE brand as in my view it shows them as being ultra conservative and this is not good when they are up against such stiff competition. Leaving the censorship to the advertising authorities might be a much better policy.

It’s a great thing that we are seeing extra vigilance about alcohol advertising but we need to make sure that the brands that are working really hard to get it right aren’t punished.

Greg Canty 

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

 

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

 

 

 

Mahatma Gandhi gives valuable advice about Branding

November 23, 2015

Mahatma-Gandhi

I read this simple piece by Mahatma Gandhi, which could easily be used to help you describe the “essence” of your brand:

Your beliefs become your thoughts…

Your thoughts become your words…

Your words become your actions…

Your actions become your values…

Your values become your destiny.

What are your beliefs?

Greg Canty 

Greg Canty is a Partner of Fuzion PR, Marketing and Graphic Design, who conduct brand workshops for clients from our offices in Dublin and Cork