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

Build A Cliche, Not A Life …

I recently had to go to a DIY centre.

On a Sunday.

For anyone who knows me, this is literally my idea of hell.

Fortunately I asked Jill to go inside instead of me to avoid having to kill myself.

I know that sounds like a shitty thing to do, but she LOVES DIY – and is amazing at it – so it was really a gift.

Anyway …

While I was waiting in the carpark, I saw their sign. This was it …

I don’t know about you. but when I looked at it, I didn’t notice the 15% off price guarantee, I noticed they had designed it to look like it had been done by hand.

Oh I get it, DIY store = DIY sign.

But …

Apart from this falling into the ‘cheeky Chappy’ tone that Uncommon destroyed with their [still] best work for B&Q, I can’t help thinking that if anywhere should have perfect signage and store interiors, it’s a DIY retailer.

Sure, there’s something ‘human’ about the imperfection of creation, but faking it doesn’t make me connect to the brand more, it makes me look at them and wonder what the fuck they were thinking.

Yes, it’s a minute thing.

Yes, Mitre 10 are pretty good.

But – as I am seeing a lot in NZ right now – this obsession with reinforcing stereotypes isn’t actually removing barriers for people to feel they can step in and step up with the ambitions or aspirations they have for their life … it’s keeping them, and treating them, like nothing ever changes.

NZ is an amazing place and has so many things the rest of the world could/should learn from … and we genuinely are grateful for the wonderful opportunity the people here have given us to live here – but for a nation that needs ambition and entrepreneurship to maintain a positive future, it’s amazing how little of that spirit is championed or celebrated by society, government and brands.

And while many will claim it’s because of the humble spirit of this great nation, it’s probably – and terrifyingly – because of this.

16 Comments so far
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Another example of marketers wrongly equating authenticity with imperfection.

Comment by John

Well said.

Comment by George

You notice the weirdest stuff.

Comment by DH

What would you expect from soneone who hangs out in non-dogging car parks.

Comment by John

As opposed to those who hang out in pro-dogging car parks?

Comment by Rob

Purpose-driven customers.

Comment by John

Of course you sent Jill to go inside.

I would love to know more about your NZ observation. It is fascinating to me to hear the ambition is to play to the tropes of society rather than evolving it.

Comment by Pete

Isn’t that happening everywhere?

Comment by DH

It is definitely happening everywhere but maybe the problem is the aspiration and ambition of the people behind it.

Comment by George

This is a good read Robert. Do you think others in NZ feel the same way or are they choosing not to?

Comment by George

Hahahaha … that’s a good question.

A lot of youth definitely feel that way. We have a book coming out later this month that will show that. Think America In The Raw but from NZ and with more terrifying context.

The rest …

Some are ignorant but many are deliberately ignorant. Choosing to ignore change because it suits their circumstances and agenda.

I’ve written about this before, but as great as NZ is, it is basically run by old, white men who are happy to see the country grow old rather than grow up as it enables them to stay in control.

Their goal is definitely helped by having a small population of which youth is so small they’ll never be the critical mass needed to force change like it did in China – which NZ is bizarrely similar too in many ways. It is also why I expect to see an exodus of one-way travel now the borders are opening as youth want to go to places that do things for them rather than about them.

Comment by Rob

Will it be old copies of AITR with the photos crossed out and new photos taped in?

Comment by Bazza

With the time it has taken to finish, it just might …

Comment by Rob

I understand price is important, but by making price the dominant feature of their brand, it’s as if they’re saying DIY is just to save money on repairs and improvements. I am sure you have seen it, but Uncommon’s new B&Q work is wonderful. I still think “build not buy a life” is better, but compared to 15% cheaper promises, this is miles ahead.

Comment by Bazza

Yep … I feel the same.

Love flip for the craft but adore ‘Build A Life’ for the idea.

Comment by Rob

Great article.

Lots of similarities to Canada. We have incredible people here, but as an industry often feels like we lack the ambition/boldness to disrupt the status quo. Leads to brands that feel like their goal is to fit in with the conventions and not really be noticed.

Comment by Matt

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