Tag: branding

What’s in a brand?: Debating the Pros and Cons of Brand South Australia

Marketing0 Comments

brand-south-australiaEarlier this week, the South Australian Government lifted the lid on a new brand for the state created in collaboration with international branding firm, Kato Partners, and Adelaide creative agency kwp!

To say the reaction was mixed would be disingenuous. If a Metacritic score existed for it, it would have an average of 21% based on Adelaide’s reviews. Or to put it bluntly, the natives were really pissed.

There already are a few excellent blog post about the brand (such as Sputnik and Erica Nistico, amongst others) so I won’t bother rehashing what is and isn’t a brand but  summarise what I liked and didn’t like about the logo and the brand.

Things I like about Brand South Australia:

  • It’s bold, clear and to the point.
  • It’s flexible and actually does work in different contexts. Don’t like the colours? Drop in an image that better represents your organisation (if I were still working at Adelaide Uni, a graduation shot of Bonython Hall would be in there so fast).
  • They certainly solved the main problem they identified in the research (“no one outside Australia knows where South Australia is”).
  • The projection on the Festival Centre was really quite excellent.
  • The insights driving the strategy seemed spot on and the methodology thorough.
  • I can get on-board with the doorway idea. We already are in some areas (arts, wine, mining) so hopefully we will also aspire to be in others.

Things I don’t like about Brand South Australia:

  • The brand values – “Creative. Innovative. Industrious.” – seem hollow and amorphous. While a staple of corporate brand guidelines around the world, in this context, they feel too intangible nor provide direction.
  • It looks like it belongs on the Pope (of Chilli Town).
  • What happened to Tasmania?
  • It’s geared too much at an international audience. South Australians know where South Australia is. Ultimately we need to be the biggest advocates of the brand so it would have been nice if there was something more than a door for us to rally behind much like the oft mentioned Canadian maple leaf.
  • That font is really uninspiring.
  • The hashtag was confusing. The original, compact #brandsa devised at the media briefing was replaced by the official #brandsouthaustralia which inexplicably gained a few letters before the event was over #brandingsouthaustralia

For me, the verdict is still out. Although I’m not in love with it right now, I can see myself growing to like, even love it, if we as a state becoming the living embodiment of this new brand narrative.

To the Economic Development Board’s credit, the government agency tasked with this mammoth undertaking, they never said a change was going to overnight and it would take time for South Australians to identify with it.

And whether we like it or not, a stake has most clearly been put in the ground that has polarised the state. But as every marketer knows, if what you’re doing doesn’t piss someone off, you’re not doing it right*.

* Hats off to Central Institute TAFE Marketing Director Kenley Gordon for lending me that one from the Social Media in Tertiary Education Conference. I now use it everytime I’m pitching a new idea.

** Also a big shout out to Adelaide City Lord Mayor Stephen Yarwood who showed me his socially-enabled calendar i.e. every event in his diary now comes with social media notes including relevant hashtags and the Twitter handles of anyone he’s meeting with.


Read More ›

Breakfast with Gary Vaynerchuk

Social Media4 Comments

A little while ago, I had the pleasure of having breakfast with the amazing Gary Vaynerchuk. Sitting in the Shangri-La Hotel restaurant, overlooking Sydney Harbour we discussed the future of social media and why it’s now all about the customer service.

The first thing that struck me about Gary was that he is exactly as I’d imagined. That is to say no B.S., 100% Gary.

He is passionate, engaging and overflowing with confidence that what he is doing is the right way to do it. His energy is totally infectious and had us hanging off his every word. But even then, he is also incredibly warm and friendly, genuinely caring about what you have to say.

Since most of the Gary V story is already covered in Crush It!, I won’t bother recapping it here. What we did talk about (besides parenthood and the Knicks chances of landing LeBron, amongst other things) was social media and how it profoundly effects business.

From Gary’s point of view, what social media has done is force previously faceless brands to get a personality if they want to succeed. Simply put, social media has fundamentally changed people’s expectations of how they expect brands to interact with them.

So what is Gary’s secret to succeed in this brave new world?

Story telling.

Brands need to tell their story, build advocates and empower them to share that story with their networks. Technology and the platforms aren’t nearly as important as the change in mindset this entails. It is about genuinely caring for your customers and treating them with respect and like human beings.

Following on from breakfast, Wine Australia have actually gone out and done this with their A+ Australian Wines project that went live last week. Worth a look!

Customer service is the new black in Gary’s world – and with his track record who could argue.

Location-based services are also going to be huge according to Gary. A claim he’s willing to put his money where his mouth is by his personal stake as an angel investor in Simple Geo and Gowalla.

Even bigger, Gary insists, will be Facebook credits. This will not only transform Facebook into a legitimate economic force but change how we incentivize and monetize the consumption of branded content.

Despite the storm in a teacup (my opinion) over Facebook’s privacy issues, the simple fact is they are far too big a player with nearly half a billion heavily invested users to go away seemingly overnight (a la Second Life).

With our time over all too soon, he talks passionately about his business Vayner Media and the growing list of A-list clients desperate to cash-in on the Gary V brand and expertise (such as NHL, New Jersey Nets and Campbells). All, I might add, without a hint of arrogance only absolute confidence that he is going to crush it big.

And to his goal of one day owning the New York Jets, I wouldn’t bet against him.

Gary’s response to my tweet, “What could the Australian wine industry do to empower their fans to spread the word and develop overseas markets?”

Thanks to Lucy Anderson and Paul Henry from Wine Australia for giving me this fantastic opportunity to have some one-on-one time with Gary.

Read More ›

Why AC/DC matter more now than ever before

Marketing, Music0 Comments

Even though Craig Wilson has already written the post I wish I’d written about AC/DC, I thought there was still room to add my 2c worth to the discussion.

It all began in 1990 at the age of 10 when I first discovered AC/DC while watching music videos on a Saturday morning. The video was ‘Thunderstruck‘ and that was exactly the effect their music had on me. AC/DC’s raw energy and straight-up rock’n’roll sound was unlike anything I’d heard before. From that point on, I was hooked.

The only problem was that there was a clear stigma attached to their music where anyone who listened to it was instantly branded a bogan or similar. Particularly in the schoolyard where Nirvana and Pearl Jam (for example) were considered cool, AC/DC was most definitely not.

This extended to mainstream media, where despite achieving more international success than any other Australian entertainer, the local press routinely ignored them with music critics dismissive of each new album.

In the past 2 years, however, there has been a real shift in how AC/DC are perceived. Especially in the last few weeks with the band on the Australian leg of the Black Ice Tour, it seems fans are coming out of the woodwork and every major media outlet can’t get enough of them.

AC/DC Highway To Hell

What you see is what you get

It is almost a reaction to the collapse of the world economy and the excessive consumerism of the early 2000’s that consumers now are looking for authenticity and a sense of ‘realness’. In this regard, there is no better example (in musical terms) than AC/DC.

For 37 years they have recorded and performed different variations of the same few songs. But the fact that they come exactly as advertised and without pretense means that for their fans, they are a constant in otherwise turbulent times as we seek to inject our lives with something more meaningful than today’s homogenised, mass produced, faceless ‘music’ that is more style than substance.

Unlike other similarly massive bands who are constantly reinventing themselves and striving to remain relevant by preaching one cause after another (I’m looking at you, U2), AC/DC have never wavered from what they do best: playing blistering, wildly entertaining hard rock.

(Read what Brian Johnson has to say about Bono and Bob Geldof)

They have built a level of trust with their fans that few other bands have done and are now more successful than ever before. All by focusing on the things they do well and getting rid of the rest.

So next time, before start thinking about changing your logo/website/etc. ask yourself (a) why you’re really doing it, and (b) if your customers will even notice or care.

I finally got to see AC/DC live for the first time at Adelaide Oval on March 2nd. For a bunch of guys my dads age, they put on a hell of a performance that more than lived up to my expectations. Unlike some bands who I’ve seen live who could be sleepwalking through their set, you just know that these guys care about giving their fans a show and are leaving nothing on the table!

Read More ›

A (Short) Tale of Two Twitter Squatters

Social Media5 Comments

Late 2009, AdAge guest columnist Michael Werch conducted a social media experiment where decided to impersonate a famous brand and see how long it would take for them to notice and what the resposne would be.

For two weeks, he posed as a Twitter representative of Heinz under the username @HJ_Heinz where he shared information about the brand as well as recipes and tips when using Heinz products. In other words, he was an advocate for the brand. Once Heinz got wind of the account, however, it was swiftly shutdown and Werch’s username changed to @notHJ_Heinz with a stern warning that he had violated Twitter’s rules.

In contrast, @Adelaide_FC started life as the unofficial Twitter account for the Adelaide Crows with an unnamed fan tweeting regular updates and news about the team including links to the Crows official website. Once the Crows found out about it, however, they did not ask Twitter to close the account but instead reached out to @Adelaide_FC and asked if he would continue tweeting officially for the team.

Today’s digital tools have empowered consumers to spread the word and share their passion. However, it is up to brands themselves to decide how much control of their brand and their message they are willing to cede to their customers.

How much control do you think an organisation needs to keep over their brand?

Do unofficial brand advocates need to be kept on a leash to prevent them from saying something damaging or are brands better served letting them spread the word authentically and without interference?

Read More ›