The Musings Of An Opinionated Sod [Help Me Grow!]

Actions Speak Louder Than Advertising …
March 16, 2007, 11:24 am
Filed under: Comment

So Hari has already written about how shite our hotel was in Malaysia – despite being supposedly poncy and expensive – however there was one thing I did like, even though it had bugger all to do with the hotel.

Can you it?

Look closer and you’ll see that on the television remote control were brail symbols for the volume / channel and [out of picture] power buttons.

It’s this sort of attention to detail I love … not just because it is a real product benefit for those who are visually challenged … but because it shows they appreciate just who their customers are and could be.

It’s like Toyota and their RAV 4 jeep thingy.

Because they knew the majority of the sales would come from Mum’s with young kids, they placed little hooks all along the inside of the boot so that when the women went shopping, they could hang their bags over the various hooks ensuring they won’t fall down spilling the contents all over the place.


And then there’s Lexus

Inside their spare tyre kits are a pair of gloves and a small bottle of water and soap so that if the worst does happen, they can clean themselves up afterwards.

Simple, meaningful, effective.

There are many reasons why Toyota are so successful but one of them is that they really understand the needs and wants of their customers and express it in what they create and do.

They appreciate that they have to MAKE people believe in them … they have no right to simply expect it … and yet this seems to be the exception in business thinking, rather than the rule.

Only today I met a CEO of a massive advertising organisation who talked to me about finding ownable insights for his clients.

Ownable insights? OWNABLE INSIGHTS?  What a complete and utter twat.

You can’t own an insight … they are not something you can buy at a shop … they are things that live within and around all of us, all the time – the best you can do is try and ensure consumers associate particular attitudes/emotions/meanings to your company other than a competitor … and that ain’t ever gonna happen if all you rely on is fucking advertising.

Hell, even NIKE … the blueprint for ad attitude … spends an inordinate amount of time and money on ensuring all they do fulfils the consumer perception – from the products they create and the stars they sponsor through to the events they develop and the ads they produce.

The problem today is that too many companies – and ad people – are so focused on the daily financial fulfilment of business goals, that they forget that a real brand also leaves a ‘positive long[er] lasting impression’ on the consumer. 

Far too often, I see ‘brand’ relegated to a logo or a template or a colour … when in reality, it’s a feeling [or a perceptual memory] in the minds of the consumer that can prove to be the difference between success or failure in the tougher times of business.

You see people own brands … not companies … all an organisation can really do is try and influence how that feeling/memory exists – but to do that properly, they have to DO STUFF, not just say stuff.

In my mind, a successful brand is one that has the love of consumers wallets AND hearts … not one or the other … and they achieve this NOT by just making good products and having great distribution – but by consistently proving they are worthy of consumers belief in them.

So for example, when Tesco’s [many years ago] went to court for the right to import cheap Playstations so they could pass the savings onto their customers – they PROVED they were serious about wanting to give their customers the best deals possible. That’s a damn site better than just bombarding the masses with ads that say “Every Bit Helps”!

I don’t buy into this whole customer relationship marketing … for me it’s all about customer belief marketing … continually proving you are worthy of a customers loyalty by doing things they really want – not doing things you want them to want!

Brands can’t pull the wool over customers long-term … today, if they want to be successful, they HAVE TO FIGHT for that right on a long-term basis – which is why I spend so much time developing real brand philosophies for my clients [not some wanky mission statement]

If I can’t get my clients to demonstrate what they believe/stand for in EVERYTHING they do [be it ads to products to working environment to shareholders to packaging] … then I am failing them and they are failing their customers and shareholders – because the truly great brands motivate people to ‘buy’ rather than continually trying to sell.

Virgin Atlantic vs British Airways

Apple vs Microsoft

Tango vs Coke


iPOD vs Creative

Triple J vs Nova

Egg vs Barclays

Tesco vs Asda


Lonely Planet vs Thompson

I rest my case and can sleep at night.

10 Comments so far
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Sausage vs Bacon

Comment by fredrik sarnblad

i forgot you guys were responsible for triple j becoming half-way listenable again.. nice work!

Comment by lauren

Many companies talk “brand” but in reality all they communicate is “product” or “functionality”.

It seem marketing has become more about not alienating potential consumers rather than doing something that lets your brand mean something emotionally powerful to people.

Which idiot talked about ownable insights? Do they know what an insight is? How did they become a CEO of an ad agency?

Please name and shame.

Comment by Pete

I think the ipod vs creative is a good example. From what I understand the creative products are actually better.

The Tesco example is very true, they proved that they werent just talking about low prices.

You do know that the single raised bump on tv remotes and mobile phones is there to allow blind people to find the centre of the buttons so they can use it properly?

Comment by Rob Mortimer

Pete you are so right, it’s a tragedy that so many Marketing people see brand as nothing more than rational product messages using particular corporate colours, corporate fonts and corporate logos [bottom right, of course!]

No wonder there are so few brands that truly infiltrate societies imagination … but I guess that’s to our advantage as it lets our clients achieve far more with less – thanks to the poor standard of competition, ha!

Comment by Rob

It’s about building “Belief” first within your company, and then instilling that in your consumer.

Instinctive love.

Comment by Age

Instinctive love? Yes I like that age but maybe infectious love would be better.

Comment by Pete

infectious love? you can get protection for that these days..

Comment by lauren

lol Lauren…

Instinctive in the way that someone is drawn to a particular brand simply based on attraction. But where this attraction comes from is the interesting thing… Is it what they stand for? The little clever ways in which they communicate this? Is it because my mom used it all the while I was growing up so I trust it? Maybe Im inspired by their TVC? The bravery, originality, safety?

Example: I love Honda cars. Someone will ask me why, and I can tell them it’s because of their philosophy etc, their views of the power of technology and “dreams”. Funny thing, I’ve never owned one, EVER. But I want to. Because I use my own instincts to judge whether I trust them and BELIEVE their message because my instincts are the one thing I trust the most out of anything in the world. Honda has won me over because my instincts tell me they are number 1, so as long as they continue like this, in my mind I will instinctively love and support them.

I don’t even know if this makes sense, it’s late here and I need sleep. Sorry, I’m off to zzzzzzzzZZZZZZzzzzzzzz


Comment by Age

Hi Age … yes, I totally understand what you’re saying.

The thing about brands [and most things we like] is that they are chosen with our heart [emotional] and rationalised by our heads – be it cars, clothes or watches.

Some people may disagree with that … but it that was the case, we’d all wear denim suits, ingersol watches and drive Hyundai Getz.

Have a good one mate …

Comment by Rob

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