Tuesday, 30 August 2011


I blame the accountants.

When they discovered that brands were worth lots of money we were all told to join the brand game. If it earns money it’s a brand now. And brands are valuable. Madonna is a brand but so is John Humphrys – the Today programme inquisitor. Be a brand.

Put it this way, as the CEO of Nestle did when asked what would the consequences of each of the following occurred. Imagine the following horrors:

  • Your top team assassinated
  • Your key manufacturing plants blown up
  • Your top brands confiscated
He was remarkably sanguine about the first two – a bit of time, a lot of money but back to normal soon because no-one and nothing is indispensable apart from brands…. If the brands go we are in big trouble….it will take vast cost and risk in trying to recreate them.

Brands are hard to create, expensive to develop and hard to control…like works of art or orchids or Pit Bull Terriers.

Brands used to be staid and safe. Benton and Bowles (imagine what Messrs Benton and Bowles were like) were said to have been the architect of the three ‘b”s – “big, bland and boring” or if you add the eponymous founders the “five b’s”.

And this was especially so in the field of professional services where the names of the founders were used to define the business – thus J Walter Thompson or Doyle Dane Bernbach were all we needed to know. But now we live in different times.

Here are just a few names flying around in the marketing game right now. Marketing men have stopped behaving like bankers (and the mind still boggles as to what Saatchi & Saatchi would have done to Midland Bank if their attempt to buy it in the 1980s had come off – maybe the face of the high street bank would have changed forever.)

Some names, names just within the professional advisor sector: Mother, Strawberry Frog, Adam & Eve, Karmarama, Elvis, The Red Brick Road, Pretzel, Red Lorry Yellow Lorry, 3 Monkeys ….

And why not…why not find a name that grabs the imagination and tells a story?

These are brands now not just firms of advisors.

And as such you could argue life is more colourful.

The days of egocentricity have been surplanted by a desire to make your company name sing and I think I prefer it.

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