Archive for February, 2010

Observer redesign suggests its weeks are numbered.

by Habib Patel

Newspapers are multi-faceted things, addressing the needs of many different groups of readers. But that makes the need for a coherent thread, a single unifying idea or characteristic, -a set of brand values if you like, more not less important.

It’s a point that Guardian newspapers might care to consider when they assess the effectiveness –or otherwise of this week’s last-throw-of-the-dice redesign of The Observer.

It is in part brilliant, in part dire and on the whole, totally confusing. I suspect that my confusion as a reader reflects the lack of certainty at Guardian newspapers over exactly what the paper should be doing.

The overhaul has been thorough, starting with the paper’s most basic ‘architecture’ – its rag bag of supplements and sections. Three of the excellent monthly magazines have been spiked and the paper has been reduced to four sections: news, sport, an expanded Review section and the magazine.

So far so good. It feels more focussed and somehow more confident.


I was a Gatwick brand vandal

by Christian Barnett
Ultra competitive Gatwick

Ultra competitive Gatwick

What can a duty-free shopping mall tell us about the role of brands on-line? Last week I found out. A few dead minutes at an airport turned into an object lesson in the ways that brands work and the benefits they bring to both brand owners and consumers.

I was waiting at Gatwick for a flight to Rome when I realised that I needed an adapter for my phone charger. A couple of years ago they were giving them away free, so I reckoned now I would have to pay between two and three pounds.

I happened to be standing outside Dixon’s, right next to the travel goods carousel .Hurrah, the basic UK-to-European single adapter was on sale. But much to my annoyance the price was about £6.50 – more than twice the price I had in mind. (more…)

Unilever gets balance right

by Alex Benady
bye bye ladies

bye bye ladies

When Unilever’s Persil launched its ‘dirt is good campaign’ a couple of years ago, P&G’s Ariel responded with a campaign based on the thought that ‘clean is better’.

That episode sums up one of the biggest dilemmas facing any brand manager: Sell the product and you’re in danger of competing for your customers’ business on a purely transactional or functional basis. Sell benefits or the social role of the brand and you are always vulnerable to rivals like Ariel coming along with a better product.

So it was fascinating to read in this week’s Marketing magazine, that Unilever’s Dove is shifting from a communication platform based on ‘real beauty’ to a more science-based, product efficacy story.

Gone are the real women in their white underwear. Instead we’ll get the image of a flower and raindrops “intended to represent the product’s three moisturising ingredients,” according to the report. Advertising will explain how the product helps to hold moisture at the surface of the skin.

Selling a dream

by Ed Silk

I have recently returned from a trip to China. I was there to conduct a market audit for an International brand with Western heritage to work out how to build its appeal with a changing Chinese consumer.

As has widely been discussed and rightfully recognised, China has established itself as the new super power. This shift in leadership from the West has got me pondering – in ten years time will we all be sitting here at our Lenovo computers, sending texts via China Mobile before heading out with friends to share a Tsingtao beer?

The logic I am following is that we have for some time all been buying into the American Dream which has been the foundation of many successful brands. As America created itself as the global leader we all wanted to share in their glory by associating ourselves with their home grown brands – from Levi jeans and Nike trainers to Apple Macs and Google searches.

So the challenge that I keep coming back to is: what is the dream that China will be able to sell to the world? How are they going to successfully and legitimately market their national brands to create a universal appeal to a global audience?

Made in China may now be a credible offering, but is it a dream that I want to be associated with and what will it say about me?


If it aint broke, don’t fix it

by Katie Monk

Ok so I get that we are living in a digital, web 2.0 world where our lives (supposedly) are getting easier as we have more technology to ‘help’ us.  However with all these gadgets taking over our lives i’m almost certain there will come a time when we wont even have to think for ourselves any more, computers will control our brains.

Its already happening to boardgames, have a look at what Hasbro have done to my favourite childhood game, Monopoly.

“Gone are the £400 property bargains, the silver playing pieces  -  and the opportunity to sneak a note out of the banker’s box”

Yesterday to mark its 75th anniversary, Monopoly unveiled their 21st Century version called Monopoly Revolution.  In a move that mirrors whats going on in our own society the nostalgic boardgame now uses electronic banking instead of paper money and the board itself has also changed from a traditional square to a circular board with sound effects! The new version completely removes the need for players to use mental arithmetic and think for themselves, its what I said at the beginning…. technology is taking over our lives!

In another move, property prices have also shot up to reflect modern prices.  No longer a bargin at £200, Kings Cross Station now costs £2million and not surprisingly Mayfair has not escaped the price hike either, it can now be purchased for tidy sum of £4million!

An estimated one billion people have played Monopoly since its launch.  Designed by Charles Darrow in 1935 it has gone virtually unchanged, so why take the decision to mess around with it now?

In my opinion Monopoly is a classic & iconic piece of nostalgia that didn’t need updating.

As my Mum & Dad used to say to me – if it aint broke don’t fix it!

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