James Spader transformed into an elf – by design

Sometimes brand identities just get in the way. Like this one advertising The Blacklist on Sky, turning James Spader’s ear into an elf shaped one… Made me smile.

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Back to basics

We have a newbie in our family – which is why it’s been quiet on the blog. Now that life has settled in a bit, I think it’s time to go back to basics.

Branding is not only relevant to businesses, personal brands have been expanded and monetised for a long time – think Jamie Oliver, the Beckhams or in a crude way, politicians vying for votes.

Brands help categorise not only products, but also personalities, and as a combination of both they make us belong to our own little (or large) tribe. We all naturally brand ourselves not just by the clothes we pick, the phone we buy and the car we drive, there are also professional differentiators, such as job titles – and which company we work for.
With business social media sites the likes of LinkedIn, personal and professional branding has become more and more connected to our status in the market place.

Previous jobs, references, titles and responsibilities shape an image for those researching ‘human resources’ or useful connections for their own venture. Taking care of your image online is now high on the agenda – and it’s not down to make-up and work wear.

We have become official representatives of the businesses we are connected with, be it employers or our own. And they in turn need us to complete their own brand image. It is one big branding soup served as the market dish of the day.

Have a go and google yourself! It’s quite insightful to see what the world sees when your name comes up.

There are lots of little helpers to create a personal brand image for yourself. Depending on how you value your privacy and perhaps how ‘delicate’ you everyday life is, Facebook is one of the most known platforms. But, for a more business related approach, here are some thoughts on what to look out for:

Personal profile websites

Flavours.me
Flavours

About.me

About.me

Pixelhub.me

Pixelhub

Other useful sites to build – or check – your online brand reputation

Quora is a question-and-answer website where questions are created, answered, edited and organized by its community of users.

LinkedIn is a business-oriented social networking service. Founded in December 2002 and launched on May 5, 2003, it is mainly used for professional networking.

Klout is a website and mobile app that uses social media analytics to rank its users according to online social influence via the “Klout Score”, which is a numerical value between 1 and 100.

Twitter is an online social networking service that enables users to send and read short 140-character messages called “tweets”.

Many more are available and it depends on your location, your situation and your intention.

There are however boundaries to even the best attempts to brand yourself professionally – at least when it comes to insurance quotes! We work so hard on differentiating ourselves with job titles and descriptions, yet the IT systems behind the insurance broker websites don’t recognise half of them.

I have specialised in brand consultancy for many years now, combining the analysis and development of a brand strategy and visual brand identity / implementation, being, if anything, more of an art/creative director – yet I will always end up being a ‘graphic designer’ in the field of ‘marketing’. :-) I don’t mind, because at the end of the day I work with people and not form fields.

Personal branding is not about pigeon holing and it’s not about being crazy (unless there is a strategy for that) – but at the end of the day we are all professionals and the titles will only matter if someone actually has a tick box for them in their system.

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Proud to be broken

Lego is coming to a cinema near you.

Lego is coming to a cinema near you.

With two boys under 6 there is no way you can escape Legomania! We have been bricked up ever since my oldest could hold a shovel – it’s a brilliant toy for training fine motor skills and as a mum, I personally prefer playing Lego with them than endless car chases or the usual boisterous fighting games.

I played Lego as a child (the East German version with limited colours :-)) and remember the magic of unpacking a set of the Western counterpart that was more than just a heap of bricks ready to be transformed into something. There were little men and bits that made a motorbike or a fire engine. I don’t think I had many Lego man but we did find my husband’s childhood collection in the loft and there were quite a few space men with helmets and rocket packs, awesome. Sadly, quite a few of the helmets were broken at the chin strap, promptly rejected by perfectionist dear son.

So, when walking through town centre and seeing the large version of the cinema poster for the Lego movie, I was double impressed by the brand and its attitude to super heroes, not shying away from self-deprecation and mixing grown up humour with childlike excitement and naivety…

Whats that tear in the helmet? Tradition! A  convincingly human brand attribute...

Whats that tear in the helmet? Tradition! A convincingly human brand attribute…

The rocket man in the post has the renowned broken helmet! Well done Lego! It’s a display of confidence as much as known brand loyalty when a product brand can actually celebrate its flaws from the past – a true translation of human traits and values.

Just clever. The magic continues…

 

 

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Who Will Beat The Amazing Spiderman?

Looking back over some news of now last year, the Brand Channel‘s announcement of the 2013 Brandcameo Product Placement Award Winners and Losers covering movies released in 2012 made me smile – especially ‘The Amazing Spiderman’ for worst product placement.

As with many years, 2012 had its fair share of bad and egregiously bad product placement. Incongruous on-screen brand cameos such as Subway in Wreck-It Ralph and Acura in Avengers are the stuff that gives the practice of product placement a bad name. But while even Heineken’s role in James Bond had a few defenders, practically nobody came out to stand up for Peter “Spider-Man” Parker’s choice of search engines.

Making Bing’s forced Spider-Man placement worse was Microsoft’s inability to spin the negative publicity to its advantage. Ironically enough, Comicbook.com points out that in the comic book, Peter Parker uses Google as his search engine of choice. (A bit like how the film version of E.T. famously featured Reese’s Pieces while, to this day, the novelization uses M&M’s.)

Of course it is easier to mock those who got it wrong but there is something about brands working with characters, movie topics or scenarios and I am bemused that BING considered itself to be the search engine of choice for snazzy Peter Parker, spiky haired, rebellious and secretive…

Looking at what is out there in terms of search engine brands, perhaps the funniest one is DuckDuckGo – with Google being the obvious choice (and apparently what the comic writers had intended). Most search engines just lack the familiarity of Yahoo and the before mentioned Google and BING, but that doesn’t necessarily make them a correct brand match in my mind.

Still, I guess it could have been worse if they accepted an offer from AOL… Roll on 2014…

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Business Teachings of a Teenage Witch

My boys are crazy about this animation from the creators of Ponyo and Spirited Away. I have now seen this movie more times than any of my all time favourites (no I won’t list them as there are some embarrassingly cheesy choices in my feel good movie selection) and I couldn’t help starting to analyse the content a bit more.

Turns out, Kiki has real entrepreneurial spirit we can perhaps all learn from!

To explain, Kiki is a with in training and it is custom for witches to leave home and live in a different city or town when they reach the age of 15. Kiki can fly but that’s about it it seems – her mum has not had enough time to show her potions and I am not sure dad is into witchcraft at all considering his car loading troubles.

Once in a seaside town, unexpected events lead her past a bakery and she observes how a lady lost her baby’s dummy, pregnant bakery owner to the rescue… Kiki offers to fly after the lady and her push chair to save the trip home and promptly gains her first reputable recommendation ‘your new delivery girl is great’.

So, putting broomstick and business together, Kiki sets up a delivery service – more or less with a flying start.
It’s just a story of course but it does remind how important it is for existing business owners or startups to keep their eyes open for opportunities and possible business expansions. Meeting people and finding out about their problems might just inspire the next brand extension that breathes fresh air into a venture – opening opportunities for a fresh look at existing methods, the market, changes and trends in technology, in what consumers or B2B clients require, internal processes and innovation.

Just because you have always done something doesn’t mean you can’t add to it, build on it or change completely if you discover a gap in the market.

I have a number of clients that have successfully launched new parts to their business, reacting to new government legislation, changing trends in the travelling industry and in medicine – they all kept their eyes open and even though things like this involve risks, they can equally involve great rewards.

Let’s get that broom out the cupboard in the new year and start some flying around the competitor landscape and business scene – who knows what ends up right under our noses.

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Top 10 Marketing Week stories 2013 | News | Marketing Week

Top 10 Marketing Week stories 2013 | News | Marketing Week.

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How Times Have Changed…

Helping family to move house a couple of weekends ago – yes, this is one more reason why I am so inactive on my little blog at the moment – I came across a couple of brand items that struck me as amazing.

Player’s Navy Cut (a cigarette brand part of Imperial Tobacco) has had a very different marketing approach than cigarette brands of today.

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“The sales of Player’s Navy Cut Cigarettes for the past twelve months show a substantial increase over the preceding twelve months. Here is definite proof that “It’s the Tobacco that Counts,” and that “Quality will Tell.”

You don’t read that in the papers these days! Nor do you read “very gratified to have given so much more pleasure” on a cigarette advert – in fact, you don’t see cigarette ads any more… which also means that Swan had to change their brand strategy:

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“The smoker’s match” seems dated for more than one reason. I spotted this Swan ad on YouTube:

Swan Vesta, now part of Swedish Match, has a bit of a hard to believe vision, considering the industry they are in, but it shows that even the most unlikely products can adapt to a changing market:

Swedish Match brand vision and strategy

It’s perhaps a bit of a crass example illustrating the importance of keeping your brand current and relevant to trends in the market, changes in technology and in perception.

A brand health check is just as important as keeping track of your finances, your insurance, policies and business strategy. And as in most areas, working on your strategy a little bit frequently avoids having to consider a drastic shift in positioning because the brand and its vision have lost their ways.

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