Parents of adventure-loving boys might relate to this. My son – and credit to him for his endurance – has been an avid Shark boy and lava girl movie fan for more than a year now.
That’s ok – but when his letter to Santa only contained one wish, it became more of an issue. He desperately wants a shark boy outfit.
There is however little or no merchandise around – and the few retailers that do have some items are so niche that it all becomes very expensive.
It will need to be a DIY job, but it will never be as good as the original.
I think it shows how kids movies these days almost demand a product to satisfy fans. Out comes the movie, followed by the goods. Toy Story, Shrek, Frozen, Cars, Monsters inc… Or the more grown-up Starwars, Spider-Man and Batman (I think it’s funny that he can’t watch these, yet has already bought into the products).
Somehow this movie got away, and whilst I congratulate the fact that it means the lack of character merchandise actually stimulate his creativity and makes him create his own material, the part of me does not want to sit sewing shark fins on jogging suits wished shark boy had been branded a bit more!
Looking back over some news of now last year, the Brand Channel‘s announcement of the 2013 Brandcameo Product Placement Award Winners and Losers covering movies released in 2012 made me smile – especially ‘The Amazing Spiderman’ for worst product placement.
As with many years, 2012 had its fair share of bad and egregiously bad product placement. Incongruous on-screen brand cameos such as Subway in Wreck-It Ralph and Acura in Avengers are the stuff that gives the practice of product placement a bad name. But while even Heineken’s role in James Bond had a few defenders, practically nobody came out to stand up for Peter “Spider-Man” Parker’s choice of search engines.
Making Bing’s forced Spider-Man placement worse was Microsoft’s inability to spin the negative publicity to its advantage. Ironically enough, Comicbook.com points out that in the comic book, Peter Parker uses Google as his search engine of choice. (A bit like how the film version of E.T. famously featured Reese’s Pieces while, to this day, the novelization uses M&M’s.)
Of course it is easier to mock those who got it wrong but there is something about brands working with characters, movie topics or scenarios and I am bemused that BING considered itself to be the search engine of choice for snazzy Peter Parker, spiky haired, rebellious and secretive…
Looking at what is out there in terms of search engine brands, perhaps the funniest one is DuckDuckGo – with Google being the obvious choice (and apparently what the comic writers had intended). Most search engines just lack the familiarity of Yahoo and the before mentioned Google and BING, but that doesn’t necessarily make them a correct brand match in my mind.
Still, I guess it could have been worse if they accepted an offer from AOL… Roll on 2014…
My boys are crazy about this animation from the creators of Ponyo and Spirited Away. I have now seen this movie more times than any of my all time favourites (no I won’t list them as there are some embarrassingly cheesy choices in my feel good movie selection) and I couldn’t help starting to analyse the content a bit more.
Turns out, Kiki has real entrepreneurial spirit we can perhaps all learn from!
To explain, Kiki is a with in training and it is custom for witches to leave home and live in a different city or town when they reach the age of 15. Kiki can fly but that’s about it it seems – her mum has not had enough time to show her potions and I am not sure dad is into witchcraft at all considering his car loading troubles.
Once in a seaside town, unexpected events lead her past a bakery and she observes how a lady lost her baby’s dummy, pregnant bakery owner to the rescue… Kiki offers to fly after the lady and her push chair to save the trip home and promptly gains her first reputable recommendation ‘your new delivery girl is great’.
So, putting broomstick and business together, Kiki sets up a delivery service – more or less with a flying start.
It’s just a story of course but it does remind how important it is for existing business owners or startups to keep their eyes open for opportunities and possible business expansions. Meeting people and finding out about their problems might just inspire the next brand extension that breathes fresh air into a venture – opening opportunities for a fresh look at existing methods, the market, changes and trends in technology, in what consumers or B2B clients require, internal processes and innovation.
Just because you have always done something doesn’t mean you can’t add to it, build on it or change completely if you discover a gap in the market.
I have a number of clients that have successfully launched new parts to their business, reacting to new government legislation, changing trends in the travelling industry and in medicine – they all kept their eyes open and even though things like this involve risks, they can equally involve great rewards.
Let’s get that broom out the cupboard in the new year and start some flying around the competitor landscape and business scene – who knows what ends up right under our noses.
When it comes to feedback from clients following the ‘go live’ of a web design or the distribution of a brochure, catalogue or marketing campaign, usually no news is good news. Feedback is usually given during the concept phase and and the ensuing design and print or web development management success is (understandably) expected. That’s why it always feels special when you get an unprompted compliment after ‘go live’ or ‘go public’ – and even more so when it comes in the form of flowers and kind words.
I think most creatives will agree that whilst we all need to earn money, that’s not really why we are trying to do the best job… it’s the process of finding a solution and how it is perceived by the client and the public.
So, thank you to APP for being more than a super client!
No, this post won’t have an underlying thought on branding, brand strategy, graphic design or advertising. Just a reminder of the weird, wonderful and never failing to inspire world that is London. That blue cockerel is such a warming sight amidst the more traditional architecture or Trafalgar Square, it makes me want to shout about it… Once again, thank you London for being a city full of creative opportunities!
… or so it seems to be in the case of this portuguese ice cream advert.
When it comes to photography, the model is just as important as the product – and in a case like this, the pose and gaze they are shot with can really influence and change the message intended.
It may not have made us purchase their ice cream, but it certainly made us stop and smile!
They have everything going for their brand identity. Clean, clear type and colours. A bold message. A modern feel. Shame that the first thing I associate with their logo is not anything to do with food and transport / logistics – it’s simply the feeling of frustration and losing time watching the famous Apple pin wheel rotate on my screen.
What is a shame is that exactly this association of waiting is less than appropriate with a delivery company of any type.
With the Olympics finally here, I was interested in those brands that paid to be affiliated officially with the event.
The big brands have the cash to participate – but having observed who does what in recent weeks and months leading up to the event, I wonder if they are playing their cards right.
When visa insisted tickets could only be purchased with their cards, they lost a lot of respect from me simply because a brand that limits options is in my mind a brand that reflects an attitude of wanting to gain rather than wanting to give and that doesn’t support individualism and consumer choice.
And why everyone has to eat Mac Donald’s is just another example of selective monopolism that is so very much against the idea of the Olympics, it makes me somewhat doubt their brand strategy in this respect. I understand they give a lot of money to be sponsors and allow for better games for all of us – I just wished someone tried a fresh approach to the inevitable marketing frenzy of the event that ensues.
In comparison, it seems rather harmless that Panasonic puts his Olympic stamp on products designed to capture the moment. (A bit like crunchy bars as the snack for audiences…)
I would have liked to see a truly refreshing brand action in connection with the Olympics that was more than handing out micro bottles of coke on the torch route – at least with crunchy bars you got the full size! 😉
It just shows that most brands are motivated by profits and whilst there is nothing wrong with that, in connection with events such as the Olympics makes their benevolent activities seem somewhat contrived.
They have done well getting their movies linked with instantly available merchandise. My three year old can name you all the super heros not because we have taken him to see any of the movies, animations or comic strips, but because they are omnipresent in shop windows, supermarket isles, on food packaging and clothing.
A great example of creating a far-reaching brand. However, after this weekend I am not sure how loved the brand is in parent’s eyes! Dear son had earned a toy and since he is in spiderman mania we got him a matel toy figure – happy it did not come with another silly plastic gun that gets lost, doesn’t fire and is totally unrelated to the super hero within their movie story lines. What should have been an amazing spider man success turned out to be an amazing disappointment when little one pointed out that they made him all wrong! He was not wearing the right boots, he had no gloves, his sleeves were too short and he could not bend into the position of the poster display where he is crouching.
We resolved it by actually painting the faults in with permanent red pen and discussing at length how this was just a pretend toy – but it did make me realise once again how well we are trained to recognise music, patterns, visuals, logos and how deeply we associate them with our experiences of those brands – and how we struggle when somebody changes them.
It may be one of the many reasons why big brands tend to evolve their brand identity instead of giving it a completely new look – unless they are looking at a very different positioning and new brand message ‘ala BP in 2000.
Just why Matel decided to release a toy that bears so little resemblance to the icon they spent so much time and money for creating I don’t know, but I do have to admit it has been a valuable lesson in Martin Lindstromeque ‘brandwashing’ and the power of a marker pen.
This may be a case of juvenile association – but perhaps I am not the only one wondering about this choice of logo shape. Even describing it as an icon symbolising fluidity and movement seems inappropriate. If it was a word, I would understand – plenty of those happened when international brands made cultural slip-ups with ill-advised translations. But this is surely an international symbol and I can’t help but not take their branding serious!
It’s one of those things shoppers have to expect: You walk into a store and a shop assistant will ask you within seconds if they can help you. (When I first arrived in the UK, I was stumped but then quickly learned the phrase ‘no thanks, I am just browsing’.)
Another regular occurrence of high street shopping is that a team of fundraisers will hustle you to appeal to your giving nature. This one is a particularly tough one because obviously the charities need to raise funds. However, there are different ways to go about it and I have come across groups of fund raisers who gathered at lunch time, swapped their branded vests and changed into another charity – it does border on insincerity and changes the image of philanthropy to hard core business.
More crazy though, every week, I get a letter from three household brands and, after more than five years of getting them now, it is definitely affecting the way I see their brand. Lloyds tries to give me a credit card, BT some phone line upgrade and Virgin anything that’s on their mind at the time. I subscribed to neither, and neither messages have ever hit me at a decision making point over a rather large ‘buying cycle’ period, which makes me question their effectiveness.
Yes, the old dogma of brand marketing used to be to ‘carpet bomb’ the consumer in the hope that a message would stick with a number of people which, despite being very small, would build the customer base that made the business worthwhile. We have moved on – and very select targeted advertising is possible now, but it seems it’s still too much effort or too scary for brands to throw away those huge direct mail data bases and find new, innovative means of brand communication.
It’s not just about shouting out messages at people, it feels like an invasion of personal space. Those brands, that have looked at other approaches to become embedded in the mind of their target market when it comes to the buying decision, will probably find the long-term benefit of not poking their nose into our every day life and let us come to them when we want something. It’s not just the power of the niché, it’s the power of the brand itself.
Educational approach – provide customers with practical, educational content, be it on your website, blog, via an app for smartphones, on social media platforms such as twitter or LinkedIn, appearances on seminars, exhibitions, in the press – you are the expert, so make sure other people can benefit from that. Yes, it’s a worry that the competition will ‘take inspiration’ from what you do, but you can’t run a business worrying about what they may or may not do; it’s much better to be the first one that wholeheartedly embraces the ‘sharing’ attitude and builds a name (brand) for themselves in their chosen field.
Subtle post sale marketing – Someone bought something from you, whehey! They get a receipt, and that’s probably it. Perhaps this is the point where they are open to find out a bit more about your magic product or service. Perhaps the receipt could be accompanied with a short message about related items of potential interest? Amazon’s ‘others also bought this’ system and derivatives are really effective and make sense if you consider the consumer being on a ‘shopping spree’ and open to suggestions.
Supporting causes, charities, events, fundraisers – it’s nothing new, but ‘giving back’ means free PR, great local exposure and a positive attitude towards your brand. It’s a win-win situation and doesn’t have to cost much.
Devising a strategy to reach the most relevant target market – this has a few advantages. Speaking from a designer’s heart, one obvious plus point is that the value of a very specifically targeted campaign item is much higher because of the better conversion rate. Thus, it is viable to invest proper time (and money) and the creation of a great piece of communication that will convince rather than grind down readers. Another one is the likelihood of recommendations and referrals. If I talk to those interested in my brand, chances are, they will appreciate the communication and remember to mention it with other like-minded people. Nobody really shouts about the local pizza menu thrown through the letterbox every week, but if you are a golfer and found a brand that provided you not only with great relevant products but also added value to your shopping experience by giving tips, insider tricks, offers, etc, you may very well tell your golfing friends about it.
To summarise, I believe personal space also applies to the way brands communicate with their clients and customers. Respect is key – as is relevancy and adding value.
I might just have to drag one of them charity workers to one side for a chat one day…
If someone is in doubt that a logo really is of monetary value to a business, and that a brand identity can be used to vouch for credit re-payments, here is a current news article that describes just that…
Ford pledged their Ford Blue Oval as part of a loan package and a representative commented on this: “When we pledged the Ford Blue Oval as part of the loan package, we were not just pledging an asset (…) We pledged our heritage. The Ford Blue Oval is one of the most recognized symbols in the world, and it is a source of great pride and passion, both inside and outside our company.”
Now, seven years after the bailout, Ford have their logo back in their possession – and comment further that this has an ‘enormous psychological impact on Ford and all of our employees’…
It’s just great example to advocate the importance of a brand symbol and why companies work so hard on keeping their icon unique and memorable. It is, after all, one of the easiest visual identifiers of a business, if neither the product or service are visible.
Whether Ford will use this opportunity to once again evolve their logo and thus mark the beginning of a new era will have to be seen – and maybe there is a brand strategy meeting being planned as we speak…
Talking of large brands hesitant to try new things in this economic climate, Land Rover Dubai had something else in mind. Their survival guide doesn’t just explain how to survive in the Arabian desert, it also offers the reader to truly digest their information – with the nutritional value of a cheeseburger.
It’s just nice to see a big brand that stands for adventure be adventurous and communicate with their brand essence written all over it. It’s a simple idea but wouldn’t really be suitable for many brands. Use it for Land Rover, and a bit of marketing magic happens.
I think this is what I am struggling with when brands suddenly venture into areas that don’t seem to gel – I am still coming to terms with the Kelloggs handbag. Any news on that one?
Another really nice piece of creative is the latest Banksy design – assuming it is him. Ready for the celebrations, it’s just a simple and sweet statement that makes me believe in the power of creativity.
Whichever way you look at brand communications and marketing today, there is no real reason why advertising, social and print can’t be extraordinary. It may be a step in the dark, but a mixture of understanding what a brand is about and great creative ideas to get the brand personality across to the nowadays pretty demanding consumer usually pays off long-term.
Aldi, Morrissons, Asda, Tesco, Sainsbury’s, M&S, Waitrose – in my mind that is the ascending order of grocery stores in terms of cost and quality. I would never buy chicken in Aldi unless it is a free range product. I treat Asda as good for kid’s clothes, Tesco as everyday reliable, Sainsbury’s as a bit more fancy and Waitrose as expensive but special, reliable quality – with some good sushi. And M&S? Up until now I considered it as a shop for a mid-week treat, a quality ready meal, for own-branded products that are a bit more expensive than other grocery stores. A business aware of their corporate responsibility and choice of sourcing and ingredients.
It seems I will have to re-evaluate. M&S this week launched Simply M&S, a new range of ‘basic’ products, 800 in Autumn, at budget prices. There may be good reasons for this decision, faced with the double dipped economy, stronger competition among food suppliers and the need for brands such as Waitrose and M&S to gain new customers.
But why pick that strap line – “M&S quality now at prices you’ll love” – ??? I can’t help but feel betrayed! Was I not supposed to love their prices before? Did they not spend all this time convincing me that they are worth the extra money? I just can’t imagine what this will say about their existing ranges – let alone for their Marks and Spencer Simply Food stores at service stations.
I guess it’s another ‘let’s see’ situation and I may find myself deeply infatuated with the new budget brand – or it may be the end of a love affair.
It’s a far stretch in my mind, but it seems the creators of Kellogg’s are the next brand to enter the world of fashion. Their first special edition designer handbag by Australian fashion designer Kirrily Johnston was announced this week.
It does have a pocket for holding the Special K snack bar but I am somewhat bemused and curious if this will be a sell out or just a fad…
The cost of the handbag, which is made from calf leather and has a handcrafted detachable tassel for a key ring, is around $750 and I will be really interested to see who will buy this. At this price point, is a cereal brand really attractive enough to make a woman who could spend that money on an established handbag or fashion brand to splash out on the Kellogg’s handbag?
Maybe they will and it’s genius. Maybe they won’t and it will move to the section of ‘brand extensions that didn’t work out’.
It might be just me but when I saw this packaging of people brand Jamie Oliver’s knife selection, I had to smile. For one, I am not sure if he’s such a pink guy but mainly the head is a bit close to the knife’s edge! A bit of Henry VIII maybe?
It would have been nice if, when they did the packaging design, they played with the presence of the knife and what the product does to try to link it visually to the brand.
It seems like a missed opportunity I hadn’t expected from the otherwise ‘super brand’ Jamie.
The Diet Coke brand s on the move. A few months ago it was London Fashion Week.
Now it is the launch of the Jean Paul Gaultier bottles for diet coke that is in the news. The ‘Madonna’ inspired designs position the brand as a cool accessory, which reminds me once again of the FiloFax strategy to use a designer to create a special collection for the rather traditional brand.
When looking at the different bottle designs and musing over the undoubtedly super versatile history of the brand, I remembered a scene from Strictly Ballroom that may have been the brand’s first exploration of the fashion subject – check out the socks! Almost as eccentric as the ‘The Cure’ Love Song where they have socks hanging up in a cave.
Here is a video of the whole scene. Obviously unintentionally, in light of the news and fashion hype surrounding the brand this just makes me smile.
The Santander brand identity has been a bit of a mystery to me ever since they took over our high streets in personal and business banking. In my mind, Santander are a baker, not a financial institution – mostly because their logo looks like a hot bun fresh out the oven, still steaming.
So imagine my joy when I walked passed one of their offices with posters advertising coffee and snacks. It must be true – they really are a pastry maker in disguise!
They are of course a major brand and their logo, strange as it may be, is well-recognised, but for me personally, the visual identity design of the ‘flame’ logo is weak and I curse it every time it triggers the thought of some lovely home-made bread which it then inevitably doesn’t deliver.
There is a local chippy that has a similar problem – though for a slightly smaller audience… in fact, probably just for me. They use red, black and white for their shop front and signage which has the effect of visually reminding not of the UK coastal fishery towns, but of Japanese restaurant exterior and from a distance the words even read ‘sushi fish bar’ instead.
Being a great fan of sushi and all things non-battered, it has caught me out time and time again, filling me with disappointment that the promise of fresh, unusual, healthy fish dishes is in fact that of deep fried sausages, poultry and haddock with the Nation’s favourite potatoe dish.
And whilst I’ve got absolutely nothing against fish and chips when it’s the right occasion, I feel that they missed a trick in their brand identity design – why try and be something they are not instead of celebrating the British? Until they commission a new lick of paint, I shall continue to drive past and remind myself that it’s really not that important…
Wondering if Siri is in fact German…
So, I’ve got Siri on my iPhone. It’s set up as English. I was super excited using Siri for text messaging or email – but kept on struggling to even get the simplest strings of words spelt out correctly. Now, I know that I have got an accent – German – but my husband is born and bred in the UK and struggles, too to make it work.
Recently I thought I’d just try for fun to talk to Siri in German and use it to email my family back in Thuringia and whehey – it just works a treat! Even the longest sentences come out without mistakes in them, it does the punctuation as requested and just rocks! My parents benefit from far longer emails – and this post would have taken a third of the time if I had dictated it to Siri in German – though my English readers will have struggled with that I guess…
I wonder if Siri has German roots or if it’s all a matter of elocution… Or maybe there is a setting for UK regional accents that would help. Any thoughts?