Will Your Customers Give You Their Bodies?

[Cache - #164]

How many of your customers have tattooed your logo on their bodies?

If your company happens be called Anytime Fitness, a chain of more than 2,400 gyms in 19 countries, your answer, according to a BBC News story this week, is 3,000.

anytime fitness logo

Especially interesting is that the Anytime logo is not a well done piece of artwork:  it looks surprisingly amateurish for such a large organization.  Intended to look like a person while running or exercising, it looks more like a sketch of Gumby stumbling to the bathroom.  See how professional and refined the Under Armour and Nike logos, also from the fitness category, look in comparison.

under armour logo

 

200px-Nike swoosh
So it’s not a kickass logo that is compelling Anytime’s customers to make what is a truly remark-able demonstration of bonding with the company.  Instead, it is the way the company helped them feel.

Says Chuck Runyon, the Anytime founder:  ”Instead the answers are always very, very personal.  Many say they got the tattoo to mark the fact they have achieved something they never thought was possible, such as losing a considerable amount of weight, or feeling healthy.”

For Runyon, making customers feel good is a deliberate strategy:  ”The company works hard to make them feel good about themselves, and that they belong to a caring community.”

There is still no excuse for having an unprofessional logo that portrays your brand in a less-than-positive light.  But the real question is:  how do you make your customers feel – good enough to give you their minds, if not their bodies?

Thanks to Robert Gillelan, my Coin colleague in Quebec, for this story idea.


New Andris Pone comment in the National Post:  “Birks and Tiffany & Co: Battle of the Blue Jewelry Boxes.”

Book:  Buy the #1 Globe and Mail bestselling Brand: It Ain’t the Logo or download a free chapter.

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National Post comment on Tiffany’s and Birks

A quote from yours truly in the National Post, in an interview related to Birks’ entry to the United States.  Something that did not make print was my view that the awareness Tiffany’s has built in Canada around the “little blue box” has not just eaten Birks’ lunch, but the entire buffet.

IN THE MEDIA:  Andris Pone comment on WestJet, Tim Hortons, Lululemon, Indigo and more.
BOOK:  Buy the #1 Globe and Mail bestselling Brand: It Ain’t the Logo or download a free chapter.

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That Spence Diamonds Guy is a Total Moron

[Cache #163]

There are plenty of people who think that Sean Jones, pitchman for Spence Diamonds, is a total moron – and that’s just the way he wants it.  

Spence is an engagement ring retailer with locations in BC, Alberta and Ontario.  They advertise heavily on radio, a medium that puts Jones’ flamboyant, purring voice – which also howls bizarrely – on centre stage.

The ads are intensely irritating.  Jones intends them to be intensely irritating.  Perhaps as a nod to the Facebook page dedicated to getting him off the radio, he says in a current ad:  ”You hate the ads.  You’ll love the stores.”

Or, the ads are charming and funny, depending on your personal taste.  The best evidence that some people find them charming and funny is that the ads just keep on coming, countless times every day, month after month, year after year.  So it is only reasonable to assume that the ads are actually prompting some listeners to visit the stores and buy a ring.

Other listeners wouldn’t be caught dead in a Spence store, for fear of being surrounded by goofball employees – or worse, having to explain to the woman you love, in the seconds following the most serious thing you have ever asked her, that her ring comes from that clown on the radio.

But Jones is no bozo.  Instead, his buffoonery betrays branding brilliance.  His strategy is not unlike that of Abercrombie and Fitch, which has an in-store environment that many people despise:  nightclub-dark, loud music, cologne-soaked air.  The haters, of course, are the people – parents and the otherwise uncool – Abercrombie doesn’t want in the store in the first place.

Branding, as a discipline that is fundamentally about positioning, recognizes that you can’t be all things to all people – so you can’t turn everyone into a customer.  Provocative messaging like that of Spence is an effective way to help the non-believers – the people who aren’t on your wavelength – go away.

So you can concentrate on courting the cohort you can actually get to the altar.

 


New Andris Pone comment in the National Post:  “Birks and Tiffany & Co: Battle of the Blue Jewelry Boxes.”

IN THE MEDIA:  Andris Pone comment on WestJet, Tim Hortons, Lululemon, Indigo and more.

BOOK:  Buy the #1 Globe and Mail bestselling Brand: It Ain’t the Logo or download a free chapter.

brand: it ain't the logo - The #1 Globe and Mail business bestseller - Ted Matthews with Andris Pone -

Posted in andris pone media comment, be remark-able, brand advertising, brand differentiation, brand experience, brand messaging, positioning | Tagged , , , , , | Leave a comment

Why Fake Football Works

[Cache #162]

There was a moment in the USA-Germany game yesterday when everyone in the audience laughed.  World Cup soccer is not intended to be comedy, but the crowd assembled in the lobby of a downtown office building could not suppress its laughter.

Two American players had simultaneously fallen to the field as if shot by a sideline sniper.  In isolation, this incident would not have elicited a snicker.  But faking injury is as integral to the World Cup game as green grass and a round ball.  Just see this hilarious advice in Maclean’s on fakery fundamentals (“Await the medics.  It is one of soccer’s proud traditions that every Euro-douche who trips over his shoelaces is tended to as though he took a burst of shrapnel while storming an enemy trench.”)

It turns out that while the Americans were arguably embellishing, they had actually hit each other hard enough to warrant a collapse to the field.  The audience simply assumed, with good reason, that they were faking.

Fakery is interesting from a branding point of view because it is widely believed that phoniness is no way to build a brand.  In contrast, it is believed that customers respond very strongly to – and are capable of bonding long-term with – fraud’s opposite number:  authenticity.

While the beer business, for example, sometimes uses frivolous and bikini-driven advertising to promote its products, it also relies heavily on heritage.  Stella Artois talks about its formation in 1366, Sleeman talks about its bootlegging past, and the craft brewers more recently on the scene (Steam Whistle, for example) talk about small batches, craftsmanship and old-time values.  And we know that people seriously identify with, and are loyal to, their beer.

Authenticity at the World Cup is irrelevant as a branding tool, because of the higher imperative that rules the tournament:  winning for your country.  What is important is not to win or lose with honour, but purely to win at any cost.  Any behaviour, biting included, is justified and at least tacitly encouraged by fans whose sense of national identity is threatened by losing and validated by victory.

The lesson is hopefully not that cheating is good brand strategy – but that if you can make people feel good about themselves, you will win.



IN THE MEDIA:  Andris Pone comment on WestJet, Tim Hortons, Lululemon, Indigo and more.
BOOK:  Buy the #1 Globe and Mail bestselling Brand: It Ain’t the Logo or download a free chapter.

brand: it ain't the logo - The #1 Globe and Mail business bestseller - Ted Matthews with Andris Pone -

 

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Great, and Not So Great, Moments in Brand Naming History

Great, and Not So Great, Moments in Brand Naming History

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Branding For Women

[Cache #161]

American Apparel CEO Dov Charney, just removed by his board, is renowned for removing his pants before a stroll around the factory floor.  Or for just wearing a sock where one would expect his underpants to be, and for many other sexually-charged workplace antics.  As a (presumably) heterosexual man with several sexual harassment complaints against him, this kind of behaviour from Dov is obviously not targeted at the males in his employ, but at the females.

Dov, a (presumably) proud Canadian, has blown off his behaviour as just “salty.”  This is a sad, rather unusual, but ultimately not extreme example of the BS women must regularly tolerate in the course of trying to do their jobs.  I’m not offering up any statistics, but if you ask the women around you, an unacceptably high proportion of them have experienced unwelcome behaviour from their male superiors, clients, co-workers and vendor partners along a continuum from suggestive text messages to creepy touching to physical grabbing and beyond.

How is a woman supposed to deal with these situations in a way that preserves her reputation – her brand, in other words?  The answer is surprisingly not obvious.  Some women are afraid that a swift verbal response, or even a measured physical one (a face-slap in answer to a grabbed body part, for example), might result in the woman being branded as “difficult” or as a “feminist.”

To these women, the deck appears to be stacked such that the person who needs to worry about reputational fallout from an ass-grabbing situation is, oddly, not the (male) grabber but the (female) grabbee.

Beyond the issue of harassment are a range of branding concerns for working women, including what constitutes appropriate business attire (or is there such a thing as inappropriate?), how to be feminine without being sexy (or is it OK, and even useful, to be sexy?) and how to act with confidence without being perceived as “a bitch.”

There has been alot of attention on the issue of female confidence recently, as epitomized by the bestselling book by Katty Kay and Claire Shipman, The Confidence Code – The Science and Art of Self-Assurance.  The book’s central arguments are that female achievement is held back by their intrinsic lack of confidence compared to men, and that to succeed, confidence matters as much as competence.

I believe that confidence is a very powerful point of leverage for women, or any other cohort, who want to get ahead in the world and feel good about it.  It seems there is a connection between confidence and knowing how to address the above questions and many other related issues.  In my quest for a unified definition of branding, I have offered up these two key variations, which together or separately could frame a discussion on branding for women:

Confidently shaping what people think of you in order to charge more money for your organization, product or service than you would otherwise be able to. (Cache  #106)

The act of helping people achieve a deep understanding of the unique value you offer the world, validating your worth and helping you reach your highest emotional, intellectual, spiritual and financial potential. (Cache #111)

What do you think?


IN THE MEDIA:  Andris Pone comment on WestJet, Tim Hortons, Lululemon, Indigo and more.

BOOK:  Buy the #1 Globe and Mail bestselling Brand: It Ain’t the Logo or download a free chapter.

brand: it ain't the logo - The #1 Globe and Mail business bestseller - Ted Matthews with Andris Pone -

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Aeroplan Flies Too Close

[Cache #160]

The central purpose of branding is to help people understand how you are different.  On this basis, how different is your brand if it has the same name and/or tagline as someone else?

If that someone else happens not to be in the same industry as you, sameness is not necessarily a big problem:  think of the name Triumph, which is used by unrelated companies for bras and motorcycles, respectively.  Or of VIA, which is used for a train service and a Starbucks instant coffee, or of Dove, which is used for soap and chocolate.

It’s not even that big of a deal for companies in the same industry, provided they are in different jurisdictions, and hence are not in legal conflict over trademark rights.

(There is however an exception to these rules of thumb:  if, say, Brand #1 has a very high level of awareness, so high that it reaches into the jurisdiction of Brand #2, there is every reason to believe that Brand #1 will write Brand #2 a strongly worded letter at minimum, and sue them into the Stone Age at maximum.

(As it happens, there is an easy way to test this theory, and it involves calling your next company – say, a coffee shop – Apple, and then waiting [not very long] to see what happens).

BART, or Bay Area Rapid Transit, is a name known by everyone in San Francisco and California, and by millions of other people around the world, whether they have actually visited San Francisco or not.  Millions of people including Canadians, who have been witness recently to the new ad campaign by Aeroplan, featuring the tagline:  And you’re there.  

aeroplane new brand ad campaign
And so I was surprised last week when visiting San Francisco to step on the BART, at the airport no less, and find the very same tagline staring back at me from BART’s brochures.  A quick Google check suggests that BART has been using And you’re there since at least 2009.  So the question is:  is Aeroplan’s use of the same tagline a problem?

BART ad and you're there

From a legal point of view, probably not:  Aeroplan and BART reside in two different countries, and it would be difficult to argue that BART’s tagline is so well-known that Aeroplan is benefiting from BART’s brand equity (known as “passing off” in legal circles).

But ultimately I submit that Aeroplan has made a mistake.  Aeroplan and BART are not in the same industry, but they are in the very similar business of getting you somewhere; the fact that Aeroplan arrived at the same tagline is strong evidence of that.

Second, Aeroplan is not the corner laundromat:  instead, travel is inherently international.  Because Aeroplan literally takes you places, places in which you will come into contact with other major brands, their burden to be different should be greater.

On the other hand, to my focus group of four people – held in the statistically reliable setting of a Napa Valley winery tour – the real problem with Aeroplan’s tagline is that they simply don’t believe it, not that BART had it first.

Posted in brand differentiation, brand equity, brand names, positioning, taglines, trademarks | Tagged , , , , , | 2 Comments

Be Easy

[Cache - #159]

There’s never been more pressure for you to be easy.  And it’s never been more important for you to give in.

Consider Staples, which built a $25-billion empire around the Easy Button, a concept symbolic of their effort to make the exercise of shopping with them simplicity itself.  The fact that Staples recently announced the closure of 15% of its stores is all the proof one needs to conclude that its bricks and mortar locations are now, in the age of e-commerce, a relative pain to patronize – and that easy is more important than ever.

More important than ever, and not just because it is easier to shop at home in your pyjamas than pull on your pants and commute to a physical location.

But also because the age of online communication brings with it a faster-than-ever, and ever-increasing, pace of doing business.  And we are taxing the time of our potential and actual customers if we make it even a hair more complicated to communicate with us than is absolutely necessary.

Have you ever searched vainly through your emails for the contact information of a friend, family member, business associate or client?  Of course you have.

Then why do you, in all probability, not have your contact information at the end of each and every email you ever send, whether from your desktop, laptop, tablet or mobile device?  Probably not because you want your brand to be “difficult to reach.”  Maybe because you think it is pretentious to have your job title and phone numbers, for example, on every last one of your emails.

It is not pretension, but instead courtesy.  Courtesy itself a social convention invented to make our interactions with each other…wait for it…easier.  In fact the pretension could be that every person we ever deal with should have to take the time to enter our information in their contacts for possible use at some later date.  Any of you getting 25, 50, 100 or more emails every day know that this kind of data entry project is simply not a viable option.

Come on.  Give in.


Email signature essentials:

  • First and last name
  • Job title
  • Company name
  • Landline (with country code, so people can touch your number on their screen and be connected when it is a long-distance call)
  • Cell (with country code)
  • Fax (with country code)
  • Website
  • Snail mail address

Extras:

  • LinkedIn address (especially if you do not have a website that shows your bio)
  • Twitter, Facebook and other social media handles/addresses
  • Promotional info (media mentions, flogging your book, etc)

IN THE MEDIA:  Andris Pone comment on WestJet, Tim Hortons, Lululemon, Indigo and more.
BOOK:  Buy the #1 Globe and Mail bestselling Brand: It Ain’t the Logo or download a free chapter.

brand: it ain't the logo - The #1 Globe and Mail business bestseller - Ted Matthews with Andris Pone -

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Pocket Square Branding

[Cache - #158]

As we have put it so eloquently, a brand ain’t a logo. This despite logos having the potential to powerfully communicate your unique value proposition, and hence why someone should do business with you instead of someone else.

Likewise, a colour does not a brand make, even though colour can be a priceless corporate asset:  think Telus and white, Home Depot and orange, Tiffany’s and blue and Indigo and indigo, for example.

Striking colour is not just eye-catching – as important as that is – but also an opportunity for a company to demonstrate its deep commitment to the brand and what it stands for.  This was driven home recently in a chance encounter with Andrew Zimakas, Cache subscriber and CMO of Tangerine.  Walking into a Starbucks this week, I spied at a patio table three things almost simultaneously:

1. Andrew.
2. His shocking orange pocket square.
3. The shocking orange iPhone cover on the table in front of him.

What I interpreted from this colourful display is that Andrew is seriously, enthusiastically committed to his company’s brand, and that the brand is as fresh and new as it claims to be, and that as a Tangerine customer, Andrew’s emotional commitment could very well serve me well.

Were my interpretations correct?  Alas, I interrupted him with a hello, not to pose those particular questions.  And as it happens, I have met many people in the banking industry who, like Andrew (and like my clients at Oaken) are highly talented and committed, so I would hesitate to use pocket squares and iPhone covers as a basis for judgement as to how much benefit is forthcoming to their customers or to me personally.

The point is that someone who is literally wearing their brand could be interpreted as looking more committed.  And that this could influence potential and actual customers to believe that benefits will trickle down to them as a result.

What colour can you seize upon to drive difference and show commitment?  All the great colours are not – as one might believe – gone, as Rexall has just proven with an overhaul of their colour system with a hue strikingly different to the point that I don’t know what to call it.

Or, if colours are not your thing, what graphic icon could you bring into the physical world, like the broken ring worn by an insurance advisor I know, to symbolize the “cracks” everyone has in their life plan?



IN THE MEDIA:  Andris Pone comment on WestJet, Tim Hortons, Lululemon, Indigo and more.

BOOK:  Buy the #1 Globe and Mail bestselling Brand: It Ain’t the Logo or download a free chapter.

brand: it ain't the logo - The #1 Globe and Mail business bestseller - Ted Matthews with Andris Pone -

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