JOHN LEWIS vs HAPPY EGG COMPANY. NO CONTEST.

The masters of branding have done it again. But The Happy Egg Company gets zero points.

The Christmas television advert for John Lewis is with us once again. (If you haven’t seen it, what planet are you on? Check it out here.)

John Lewis 2016 branding advertIt features a little girl called Bridget who loves to bounce, watched all the time by her boxer dog called Buster. (That’s him on the right.)

Her mum and dad buy her a trampoline for Christmas, and on the night it’s set up in the garden, all kinds of wildlifeemotional branding with animals (including foxes, a badger, hedgehog and squirrel) have great fun bouncing up and down on the new trampoline. A very unhappy – and jealous –Boxer watches through the patio doors, growling at their every move.

Next morning, the parents show Bridget her present, and she rushes out into the garden. But as she approaches the trampoline, Buster charges forward, leaps onto it and begins a hilarious bounce routine, while Bridget and her mum and dad look on with stunned faces. Continue Reading…

ANIMALS MAKE GREAT EMOTIONAL BRANDING.

‘Never work with animals or children’ said American actor and comedian W C Fields. But the bond between animals and humans can generate powerful emotional branding.

When it comes to building emotionally driven branding, animals can help tug at heartstrings in a powerful way.

Churchill dog brandingCartoon animals in particular, such as Churchill Insurance’s nodding dog or Purina’s black and white cat Felix can yield exceptional returns on brand investment if the message and creative work is done properly. Felix the cat branding

It’s a shame that many companies fail to use emotional connections with animals in the right way. But the worst has to be charities (not-for-profits for you readers in the USA). Having consulted for various charitable organisations over the years, it seems their understanding of how emotions – and subsequent feelings – are aroused is pretty weak at the best of times. Whether it’s homelessness, hunger, animal cruelty, persecution and abuse, the focus always emphasises the negative aspects of the cause they are raising funds to help eliminate. Continue Reading…

‘REBRANDING’? WHAT HALF-WIT DREAMED THIS UP?

Brand nonsense doesn’t get better than this.

If I was given a penny for every time some twit has told me their company has had a ‘rebrand’, I’d be rich.

When pressed as to exactly what a rebrand means, no-one has been able to give me a proper answer.

That’s because there isn’t one.

Not only is the whole concept of a rebrand absolute hogwash*, the people that prey on the gullible, half-baked managers who buy into the concept don’t even understand what a brand is themselves.

What, in fact, clueless brand executives waste their money on under the guise of a ‘rebrand’ is usually a new logo, together with some huge corporate identity tome that gives you rules on how the logo should be used, plus a bucket of tripe about the new ‘positioning’ of the company. Continue Reading…

THE CHARITY COMMISSION’S NEW BRAND? BONKERS.

If you don’t know what a brand is, you can always design another logo.

The old Commission 'brand'..I am a great supporter of the Charity Commission here in the UK.  But some fruitloop in the organisation recently determined that the ‘old logo and brand’ that you see here didn’t reflect the ‘new’ approach of the Commission, whatever that happens to be.

Given that no-one at the Charity Commission, it seems, even understands the difference between a brand and a logo, I’m not surprised that choosing a new design was achieved by, of all things, holding an internal competition for ideas. Continue Reading…

IS YOUR MARKETING 50 YEARS OUT OF DATE? PROBABLY.

This is an article I wrote recently, highlighting the woeful state of sales and marketing today.

My article on outdated marketingSuccessful marketing is crucial for any business wanting to survive and thrive. But it’s tough out there. Fierce competition, globalisation and commoditisation are just three of the issues any company faces no matter how large or small it might be.

So you’d expect marketing to be leading the way in strategies and processes that address the business challenges of the 21st century head on, wouldn’t you?

Well, you’d be wrong. Marketing’s return on investment continues to fall, with studies in 2014 showing 75% of marketing strategies under-performing. Eight out of ten new products or services being launched fail to make it past six months. Advertising is losing its pulling power. More direct mail is going straight in the waste-paper basket than ever before. Companies are making severe cuts in their non-performing salesforces. Continue Reading…

CAN PR HELP YOU BUILD A STRONG BRAND?

The answer is a definite ‘Yes’. Watch my interview with PR expert Farzana Baduel to learn more about helping your brand to grow by using PR.

In 2004, Al and Laura Ries wrote a book called The Fall Of Advertising & The Rise Of PR. PR helps build a strong brandIn it, they stated that the major brands around today were born using public relations – PR – not advertising. The book cites an astonishing number of branding examples, including Starbucks, the Body Shop, Wal-Mart (owners of ASDA here in the UK), Red Bull and Zara as having been built with virtually no advertising.

In truth, they had it wrong about advertising losing ground. But they got it absolutely right about PR. And even more so in today’s business landscape. Continue Reading…

TIMELINES? CHEW ON THIS FOR INSPIRATION.

Wrigley’s Extra Gum gets emotional. So do 20 million YouTube viewers.

Most chewing gum advertisements are boring, boring, boring. They either rely on product features, tangible benefits (like preventing bad breath after eating garlic or some spicy food) or some idiot acts stupid in the mistaken idea this will boost sales.

Last year, however, Wrigley’s USA made a gum commercial that really tugs at the heart strings.

Sarah and JuanThe ad follows the love story of two students – Sarah, an American girl (who is actually an English actress from Doncaster), and Juan, a Spaniard. They meet in high school and Sarah offers him a stick of Extra gum, beginning a relationship that progresses through a timeline. This charts their graduation from high school and moving away to different universities, but they stay in touch. Continue Reading…

‘STUPID IS AS STUPID DOES’ – FORREST GUMP.

Branding bonkers. Gump must have seen Enterprise Rent-a-Car’s current UK ad.

BradDavePicEnterprise Rent-a-Car’s long-running television ad campaign uses a couple of ‘salesmen’ known as Brad and Dave. Dave is a weedy little man who continually attempts to Anglicise the loud-mouthed American moron whose name is Brad (well, coming from the good ‘ol USA, it would be, wouldn’t it?). The ad series launched in 2012, and is now back on UK screens – again. Currently, it features some buffoonery with seemingly confused customers looking on. The ad ends with Brad and Dave proudly boasting: ‘It’s UK car hire with US customer service.’ Branding excellence in a campaign? I don’t think so.

I’ll get onto the dangers of using idiotic humour to get attention in a moment, but first I have to state my personal experience with Enterprise. Having hired a van to take me, my wife (a PR consultant) and a shedload of equipment to an event we were organising in York, the Enterprise ‘service’ went from bad to worse. Continue Reading…

JOHN LEWIS. MASTERS OF BRANDING.

The latest Christmas advert from John Lewis delivers pure emotional engagement.

John-LewisI admit it. I’m biased. For me, John Lewis doesn’t put a foot wrong when it comes to branding. Every year, the famous department store creates a television advertisement that not only defines emotional engagement of their brand, such is its depth that it literally brings tears to the eyes of otherwise cool, impassive people. And, from a financial standpoint, it creates profits way ahead of other high street retailers struggling to stay in business. Continue Reading…

HOW DO YOU BUILD A POWERFUL BRAND FOR A PAPER CLIP?

It’s a great exercise, and one I teach all my workshop attendees. I’ve had some amazing responses.

Paper-clipsThere isn’t an agency, consultancy or design house that doesn’t like working with well established brands. I mean, it’s really a no-brainer if the brand is strong, well-known, liked and has a reasonable budget attached to it.

But what if the product is seen as a commodity – and it is, well, bland? I always tell those in my brand workshops or extended keynotes not to despair if they’re responsible for marketing less-than-interesting products or services. Continue Reading…

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Brand Doctor: A brief bio.

I’ve spent nearly 40 years in advertising, marketing, design and branding. Starting life as a graphic designer and copywriter, I worked for Top-100 companies. I then progressed to heading up brand consultancies responsible for sales and marketing, branding, corporate identity and advertising for Yellow Pages, Virgin, AVIVA, EMI and British Telecom to name a few.

Throughout the years, I’ve also helped smaller businesses dramatically improve profits through building a powerful brand. (Not-for-profit organisations have seen their donor income increase using my brand approach too.)

I’m also a qualified psychotherapist. How people think and behave is crucial to knowing how to brand a business, and with 15 years of experience in the field of psychology, I'm better equipped than most to deliver brands that connect and engage with customers.

Psychology is a rare ingredient in marketing, but it should really lead the way. My psychotherapy work greatly influences the approach to branding I teach and formed the basis for my international best-selling book Branding Your Business.

‘James gave two consecutive keynotes for the past two years at our annual Indonesian Superbrands Conference. He is a breath of fresh air, bringing clarity and understanding to an audience of 400 senior marketing executives hungry for knowledge of ways to create leading-edge business and branding strategies.

James is now a Member of the Board of Advisors, Most Valued Business Indonesia, an exciting new initiative to recognise brands not just for their revenue, but for their social responsibility.

Whenever James comes to Indonesia, his fans eagerly await the latest from the Brand Doctor – and they are never disappointed. Thanks James – and good luck in all you do.’

– Alistair Speirs OBE
Chairman, Superbrands Indonesia
and Most Valued Brands

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