Category: PR

When a Brand Mix Becomes a Brand Mix Up

More out of control… A jumble of brands and graphics

Pole position? Or running behind the times?

The adverts position Santander as one of the Formula One brands. Here are some thoughts on why I don’t think they really work in favour of this brand.

1) Visual appearance

The images come across as contrived and – apologies to the designers – a bit messy. The main graphics features racing driver Lewis Hamilton wrapped in a range of brands – Mercedes Benz, Vodaphone, Boss etc – some in a far more prominent position on the driver’s suit than Santander. It does (in my mind at least) not convey the message of being ‘In Control’ especially since the advertiser’s logo is cluttered by other brand icons.
Visually, the first thing I saw was the Mercedes Benz star, then I noticed the Vodaphone logo and finally I did make the effort to follow the ad to the Santander logo.

2) Too many messages spoil the broth

There seem to be at least three strap lines there as well – ‘In business with you’, ‘Driven to do better.’ and ‘Value from ideas’. All have their own different typography. To add to the disjointed image they put on a QR code and yet another logo linking to Santander.
The messages don’t gel and they don’t make me want to scan that QR code and find out more. They just create a sense of ‘design by committee’ where too much was packed in.

3) The right brand ambassador?

I am no Formula One expert by any means but it seems to me that Lewis Hamilton has been more in the press recently for his on/off relationship with Nicole Scherzinger than winning races.
And even if he is ‘consistently improving this season’, as a brand I would be very careful in the selection of a person that you associate your brand’s persona with.

Kerry Katona Iceland Brand Ambassador
A step too far for Iceland brand values. Following photographs of Katona taking drugs, she is dropped from the advertising campaign of the supermarket chain.

Iceland is a great example for how not to pick women as responsible brand ambassadors – Kerry Katona and Stacey Salomon, both displaying dubious behaviour. Katona was dropped quickly following her drug revelations and Salomon was stripped of her ‘mother of year title’ when she was ‘caught’ smoking whilst pregnant.
Stacey Solomon Brand Ambassador for Iceland
Smoking whilst pregnant – Iceland stands by the young mum despite public outcries

A representative of Iceland said in March:
“Stacey has proved to be very popular with our customers over the last 18 months. We understand she deeply regrets the embarrassment she has caused with her recent actions but we are also aware that she has significantly reduced the number of cigarettes she smokes.
“Stacey tells us she is seeking medical advice to help her stop smoking and we remain fully supportive of her during this present time and going forward.”
Kate Moss Brand Ambassador of Burberry
Dropped because of drugs… Kate Moss lost her role as Burberry model in 2005

Some other less fortunate brand partnerships included Garry Glitter and National Rail and Kate Moss and Burberry who dropped her following her drug scandal.
Going back to the Santander advert, in light of all the issues with banking, even if Hamilton was still winning every race, I am not sure it is the best message to invest money and effort in being associated with Formula One at this time of financial difficulty.
Whilst other banks drum home their messages about security and responsibility, ‘In Control’ and ‘Pole Position’ seem to be missing their point a bit… Let’s hope they can recover their brand message as well as their credit rating. It may take more than showing a race driver to regain the trust of businesses in the UK.

brand advertising, Brand ambassador

Getting the Hang of Standing Up – Progress for the Standeazy Brand

It’s been months since I last wrote about my Standeazy marketing journey. I tried a lot of different things and some are proving to be successful. Somebody mentioned on a podcast that starting a new business, it usually takes around 18 months for anyone to really take notice, but I think it also takes the entrepreneur or brand manager a while to figure out how to position the product, what marketing methods work best and which tools to use.

Airplane entertainment
Couldn't have flown without it!

After a stint of local networking, it became quickly apparent that Standeazy is going to need a wider reach than a local networking group can provide. Considering the time it takes to network ‘offline’, even after weeks of connecting with people it seemed that time was better spent to actually invest in some SEO.
So I embarked on the SEO journey and stumbled across a site that helps with back linking and gives you a free SEO report on your keywords with suggestions for on-site SEO. It cost about £10 per month and since following their suggestions, we have managed to appear on google for keywords we were on page 149 – now iPhone stand puts us on page 4 in the UK and page 6 in the US. There is more work to be done for sure but it shows it is possible. The final test for the SEO are sales from the website itself and they have gone up considerably since February so that’s something worth bearing in mind.
The site is called Clicksubmit and they have been very good with email response as well.
I started using PressKing for press release distribution and also created a page on our website with news and press releases. In December, we were featured in a Birmingham gift guide which again resulted in measurable sales from the local area so PR is a worthwhile time investment. As for the distribution services (I have tried GnosisArt via a special offer on GroupPrice and PressKing) I am less convinced.
B7Living Gift Guide
Getting some exposure

Far more (expensive) impressive are Vocus and PRWeb but they are unaffordable beyond the free trials.
Another great little tool I used to do some market research and to create content for press releases is Toluna.
On my list to try is social media platform roost – I am still unsure if it really is a good idea. I am trying to find someone who has used it and am still waiting back to hear from them why they need access to EVERYTHING in my FaceBook account. Why do they?
We set up a German outlet on and the stands are selling there far better than we ever expected! I am now having everything translated to tackle the French market as well, but even just the German market has made such a difference.
What has been really exciting though is that we just completed our first corporate order! It’s taken a while but it is for Warner Bros promoting their UltraViolet brand to retailers at a trade show.
iPhone Stand for Warner Bros
Custom design and print for Warner Bros – the UV Standeazy

02 UV Standeazy iPhone Stand
The phone stand from the back...

We’ve also just had another review published and a video which is a great compliment.
Here is a video and the link to the site
So, I am continuing the hunt for a top spot on Google and I am hoping that by slowly making valuable connections in the media industry, Standeazy will go from strength to strength in the coming months.


SME Branding Lesson #4 Be Current and Pro-active

We talk about reputation and how to build it. We know it’s nothing that happens overnight – unless one is lucky enough to get featured in the mass media successfully ‘Dragon’s Den’ style. It will take time and effort to show the world that you are an expert in your field and can be trusted with your products and services.
You should always try to seize opportunities though that present themselves in slightly more unusual circumstances. I have been working with a group of surgeons for a while now and we are developing their brand strategy and brand identity – so I am always on the lookout for what could be relevant and useful for their reputation building and the communication of their brand values.

PIP Implant
Image courtesy of BBC Newsbeat

So when the media is full of articles about the PIP breast implant controversy, what better excuse than to voice their expert opinion, give their clients information and reassurance, comment and advise in forums to answer questions and to differentiate themselves from the big corporates by being caring and bespoke.
That’s just a simple example, but if you look around, there will be those little gems out there that will address your market, your audience and give you the perfect opportunity to speak your expert opinion. A few resources for communicating with the media and for monitoring a brand are:

  • Muckrack – what do reporters write about? Muck Rack tracks thousands of journalists on twitter and social media.
  • HARO (Help a reporter out) – Tool for sharing your expertise with reporters.
  • ProfNet – Another expert sharing site
  • Naymz – Watch and grow you brand reputation
  • VRank – Monitor your online visibility

Being in tune with what the media is reporting and how your brand fares right now on the internet, especially in social media, you have the advantage of appearing current and to be proactive when it comes to showcasing your strengths.
I would love to hear about other useful tools for reputation building and managing.

b, brand management, personal branding, SME

A new chapter for Standeazy

Yesterday was decision making day with the team at Standeazy. We will test the waters with an expo in the local town centre in October. It is a gamble, of course, but the expo had some great results last year and attracted the Saturday shopping trade.
I am hoping to be able to make some valuable connections with local businesses for feedback and thoughts on the promotional gift marketing. We are getting more and more interest now in Standeazy as a promotional gift item and I am concentration on this area at the moment, working with a PR consultant I met on LinkedIn (and by now in person) to get us to the PR starting line.
I knew it would be a great challenge so I really value the feedback I have been given so far regarding press release writing. I slowly understand the mistakes I’ve made and this is good work in progress. To be honest though, the press release distribution element is a mystery still.
I am researching the trade press and how to get articles published in trade magazines, but so far not anything ground breaking has come to light.
So, in a nut shell, we are making progress and look forward to an exciting Autumn period for Standeazy.


A Stand for Standeazy

I am never quite sure about exhibitions but you have to try everything at least once I guess, so end of October we will attend a town centre expo to show the Standeazy phone stands and chat to local businesses and people about the stands as gifts or as corporate merchandise.
One element of design that does help with those sales are the price lists. Excel is amazing and a great tool for costings, but it does help customers to engage with the brand and products when a table is laid out within the brand guidelines and it is all visually following set rules. Branding doesn’t stop with the layout of stationery and brochures, the web and social media touch points – it runs all the way through internal communications and the ‘boring’ financial elements.
I had a look around the web but I can’t find a good collection of creative table designs (unless I am expanding this to furniture or web development tables) but I did come across this online CI portal that has a very eloquent attitude to tables.

Table guidelines
Tables within the ZF Identity Guidelines

ZF Colour Guidelines for Tables

I am trying to do some Christmas PR but magazines are swamped with eager product owners so I am not sure how successful it will be.
BUT we are getting more and more enquiries on the corporate gift front and a steady stream of consumer sales so can’t complain. I can see a new photo shoot coming along for the Autumn and Festive Season. We did take some in situ shots in a pub showing a toddler watching a video using the stand for an iPhone. They should help to demonstrate that angle.
If only I had some good relevant press contacts! LinkedIn is my new best friend – but networking takes time. Still, Rome wasn’t built in a day either so I am using this as a proverbial excuse to not rush.


Press releases that are being read

… and for today’s Standeazy revelation? Having just written a press release for Christmas and how the stands are a perfect little stocking filler, it did occur to me that perhaps I need to take a different approach to let people know about the product.
It has bugged me for a while now that the only seasonal variation is that of the ‘occasion’ you may want to buy the phone stand for, so I am now going to explore writing about the people behind the product, the process of how it existed and issues surrounding the use of stands – perhaps this will add some variety and interest to the releases and attract some journalist to discover just how clever the little cards are…


Cision and that Christmas Press Release

Cision is clever. They are a huge PR platform – but they do give you some freebies that make their brand talked about even by those (like myself) who can’t afford the subscription service.
They also run an interesting site that shows ‘journalist tweets’ – which can be useful if you can answer their questions or comment on specialist subjects.
Their Christmas guide is a nice little helper to hopefully get some coverage for the phone stands as a great stocking filler for the festive season.
I’ve written a press release introducing Standeazy as a gift, but next is creating a good image to go with it.
Standeazy Stands Up And Out From Dull Stocking Fillers
There is an easy choice for clever Christmas and party gifts.
Anyone owning a smartphone will know the abundance of applications from video chat to TV and movie streaming that benefit from hands-free use; but where is that fancy stand when one needs it out and about? Discover Standeazy, the credit card sized phone stand designed for smartphones and devices such as the iPod Touch.
When it comes to Christmas shopping, loved ones (and what to get them) can quickly turn into a dreaded nightmare. Another bundle of socks? A funny mug? Slippers? When it comes to not wanting to spend too much on a nifty gift, the choices become quickly limited and frustratingly dull. And all too often, the latest gadgets are already around the house anyway, so it’s a big head scratching season ahead of the festive one.
Holding a phone can be as simple as this: a credit card sized piece of Priplak® polypropylene engineered to work for different viewing angles in both portrait or landscape. It’s suitable for devices with or without protective cases.
And what’s really neat about this clever phone stand? It fits into any wallet so it’s right there to unfold – wherever the phone (and owner) may be.
Standeazy currently comes in eight different designs and with prices starting at £3.50 there is a stocking filler to be had that is clever and fun for every smart phone user in the family.
So now I have to start working those editorial calendars, create a good image and try to knock on some doors. Never done it, but we’ll see. It might be the best Christmas for this fledgling brand yet!


Get in touch

We'd love to have a chat – feel free to drop us a line at

Copyright © 2020 Essence Design Ltd