Archive for May, 2012

CPB discusses Royal Warrant on BBC One Breakfast

by Alex Benady

This week Vicky Bullen chief executive of Coley Porter Bell made a brief appearance on BBC1 Breakfast. The programme is doing a series of reports on different aspects of royalty and on Monday it was looking at the Royal Warrant. (more…)

Visual Futures event 2012: Reality Sucks!

by Sarah Cameron


As June approaches, the Coley Porter Bell office is gearing up for our annual Visual Futures event.

This year’s presentation is a lively and engaging visual analysis of an emerging trend towards alternative realities, one that plays to the principles of Surrealism and it’s impact on products, services and brands.

We will look at why this is happening now and how brands and companies are responding.

The event is being held in the wonderful surroundings of the Soho Hotel. Please book early as places are bound to go quickly.

We look forward to seeing you there.  Click on this invite for more details…

Visual Futures 2012: Reality Sucks

Is protecting the IOC trade mark damaging the IOC brand?

by Alex Benady

Sorry, we daren't show the Olympic logo

Are the International Olympics Committee (IOC) and London Coordinating Committee for the Olympic Games (LOCOG) being so assiduous about protecting their trade marks that they are damaging their brand?

Last week a Brighton-based entertainments company received an unexpected call from lawyers for LOCOG. The lawyer informed the company, H2oh!,  that the words “Olympics” and “London 2012″ must be removed from their website immediately to avoid court action. Later H2oh! received another call complaining that one of their acts had posed for a photo with aerial hoops in the Olympic colours. It was too much like the Olympic logo and must also go. (more…)

Pressure training at Coley Porter Bell

by Alex Benady

Under pressure at work?

Last week Coley Porter Bell went to the doctor. Or to be more accurate the doctor came to see Coley Porter Bell. He was psychologist Doctor Bill Mitchell whose practice specialises in treating “conditions that result from the pressure of life today.”

His advice turned out to be wise guidance on how we can personally manage pressure at work and with only the gentlest of stretching it became a metaphor for brand management too.

Not that Coley Porter Bell is sick you understand. In almost every way the company is doing very well. We’ve had a good recession. We are winning business, we are winning awards, our staff turnover is low, morale is high and we are profitable.

Yet we work in a highly competitive, rapidly changing, globalised service industry. There’s a constant need to be more creative, more profitable and more efficient all the while fielding round the clock demands from clients who themselves are under pressure from their bosses to be more creative, more profitable and more efficient.

It’s the way of the world these days. According to Doctor Bill it’s quite normal for people to sometimes feel overwhelmed by the constant pressure. He introduced us to the idea of the ‘performance curve’, an inverted U shape which describes the relationship between energy and pressure.

Too far to the left indicates that demands on you are too low. People feel disengaged, tired and demotivated. Performance drops. Too far to the right indicates that pressures are too great. You are stressed. People start to feel overwhelmed, they become anxious and susceptible to illness, energy drops and performance drops.

Ideally we should be on the sweet spot around the top of the curve where we can use our abilities and talents to their full. It represents a state of mind where the demands of life and work are balanced by our inner resources. Doctor Bill calls this balance “resilience” and he says that it is made up of three elements.

Physiological- which includes factors like diet, exercise and sleep all of which help regulate the production of cortisol. (I hardly need explain that cortisol is a steroid hormone, more specifically a glucocorticoid, produced by the zona fasciculata of the adrenal gland and it’s released in response to stress.)

The second factor is behavioural. How do you respond in terms of seeking help, drawing boundaries around work, time management and assertiveness? “Stay focused on what matters at work. Don’t put things off. And don’t get distracted,” he advises.

And the third factor is how we see things, -our attitudes. It is quite possible to reframe many negative thoughts, says Dr Bill, using such strategies as drawing on positive past experiences, recognizing what you are good a and, appreciating what is good in your life.

He provided a short menu of clear simple actions that we can take to improve our resilience. The single most powerful and appealing among them was the idea that you need to have a few areas in your life that are yours and are simply non-negotiable.

It sounds selfish and maybe even anti social and seems to go against the grain of the can-do, always-on service ethos of today’s work place. But if you dont have them, the danger is that there could be nothing left of you that is yours, warned Dr Bill.

These non-negotiables dont have to be huge,- perhaps a couple hours a week at the gym, or cooking or learning Italian. Even this can be enough to provide a buffer between us and the pressures of the workplace, allowing us to retain a sense of control and identity. The trouble is that under pressure often these non-negotiables become first a little flexible, then negotiable, then up for grabs by whoever shouts loudest.

It can be very similar with brands. They may be conceived as an immaculately modulated gestalt in agencies like Coley Porter Bell. But they have to exist in the hurly burly of the commercial world. It’s easy to start compromising on this value and that value. To abandon core principles and lose sight of core beliefs to accommodate the demands of the here and now.

If that happens even the strongest brands are open to erosion by whatever forces happen by. You only have to look at how a brand like Stella Artois allowed supermarket discounting to undermine its premium positioning -and nearly destroyed itself in the process. Stella, like you and I needed a few ‘non-negotiables’ to ensure it’s continued healthy existence.



This blog is about all the things that inspire us as we make brands beautiful: insights and ideas, points of view, fabulous work, nascent trends - all the things that excite us and help us to see new possibilities for the brands we work on. So please enjoy, add your comments, forward the link, and come back and see us. We’ll be posting regularly.