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Beyond Branding is written by members of The Medinge Group

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May 27, 2005

On some more people who do not understand branding 

Some who follow my ramblings know that while I wasn’t surprised that Lucire —a "beyond brand", in my view—didn’t win a Wellington Region Gold Award in May, I was surprised who did.
   The New Zealand Sympathy Orchestra. I mean, Symphony. This is a world-class orchestra that I support by attending its concerts. I see zero publicity for it, but I still go and buy A-reserve tickets. A very strong case can be made for public support for it, because it is among the world’s best, in my opinion. It gets $10 million from us in grants, uses it, then goes back for more.
   I don’t have a huge problem with that. But for an awards’ ceremony that was geared to promoting entrepreneurship and innovation in commerce, a dependence on the public purse is not a good signal to send.
   I understand that the folks at New Zealand Trade & Enterprise, the trade body here (which I have not had any help from, at this stage), did vote for us. They thought that Lucire represented commerce and a can-do attitude more. I agree. But obviously a lot of judges in this contest did not have the foggiest what sacrifices are made in running a modern business, or the responsibility of demonstrating to this city what makes a successful brand.
   Actually, I thought another competitor would win, but I didn’t expect the evening to be championing bludging or the possession of governmental contracts and connections.
   But they don’t call it the Windy City for nothing.
   And now, I am suffering the consequences of having entered: letters from the sponsors touting for my business.
   I did get one pitch from a certain company whose representatives were recently responsible for starting unsavoury rumours about me in another city, so that was a no go.
   I got one from a credit control company, but I have already appointed someone.
   And I got one today from a major Australian bank (which they all tend to be here in New Zealand), Westpac.
   The writer is probably a thoroughly nice guy, but he doesn’t get off to a good start because his bank doesn't understand branding.
   My name, which is seven letters long, is misspelt. That’s 14 per cent of my name that he got wrong.
   His second paragraph is about how the Awards boosted our morale. Not really. We loved the press attention we got, which was the best thing about it. We loved meeting some of the people, including the Prime Minister. But the only ‘valuable insight’ we got was how disappointed our table, at the back nearest the toilet, was. Since the nomination we said we thought someone else would win. When we saw where our table was, our thoughts were confirmed. And considering I was one of the few in that room doing something about narrowing the country’s trade deficit, the disrespect was not something that raised the nation’s profile.
   ‘Please feel free to call me anytime.’ I just did, but there was only an answerphone. If Westpac Banking Corp. does understand its various slogans, ‘Help is at hand,’ ‘You can bank on the Wales,’ etc., then I expect the main phone to divert to some after-hours number.
   There’s no return address. No number actually printed in the letter. No attempt at customization based on all the data they must have about me from the awards’ organizers. Well, at least it isn’t in Arial.
   I do have the writer’s business card, but this is a sign that this bank does not understand business.
   Sending someone a standardized letter and printing a single letterhead for the whole country, without providing staff the capability of printing return addresses and phone numbers on it, is not understanding business. It’s not even understanding modern banking.
   It’s almost offending consumers, which is not what I am in business to do.
   Maybe I might offend the odd politician, the odd bank and the odd orchestra. But not consumers.
   So, readers, banks down here are just as clueless, just as set in the old ways, as banks nearly anywhere in the world, other than maybe those nice people at Handelsbank.
   After all, if I am supposedly among the crème de la crème of business people in my city, then you’d need a heck of a convincing argument to make me give up one thing I have with my credit controller and my bank: loyalty.
   Westpac Banking Corp. needs to buy this book.
Update: as expected, no one from Westpac called back.  
Update: as expected, no one from Westpac called back. I was so incensed I asked to be removed permanently from their databases. Got that confirmation today. I guess if you’re nasty to the bank, they will act, which kind of makes you worried about how they will treat you if you’re a customer.  
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