Beyond Branding

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Beyond Branding is written by members of The Medinge Group

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May 29, 2005

Could this be broadcast media's salvation?

To tell you the truth, I don’t understand this site. I think it says any film producer can make a proposal to reuse any BBC film content for non-commercial purpose.

For example since 1984 we have believed that the BBC should be helped into a reality tv game that connected to the internet and explored 30000 win-win projects for ending extreme poverty; how do we backstage that stimuli until the BBC wants it

If it does, could that change the world. We are aiming to do a collaboration café with one of youth’s leading concerned film producers the coming Friday 12.30 at British Library café – a few hundreds yards from London’s Euston Syation. Confirmation of the café will be made on Tuesday but if you are interested please start nominating yourself, and if you have any views on whether I have understood backstage correctly or wrongly, I always need to learn!

Chris Macrae
PS closing calls in the government’s public feedback on the future of the BBC at Tuesday midnight-
Easiest way is mail
Or you can do the survey at
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Beyond Professionalisation of Communications 

This maybe the number 1 reason why people lurk. I hate to see how it has happened especially as my professional career has inadvertently compounded its vicious conseqeuences. I was brought up on a paperback book on marketing by Hugh Davidson as how we try to help people create what is most needed next. The vast majority of branding no lopnger aims to do any such good.

Contrary to any expensive bullshit adverstising agents may tell you , the most vital conversations do not depend on stylish colours, buying expensive television coversage, shouting to millions of people from on high, or even imaging beautiful looks. They start with big honest, often stuttering questions, which ring a chord with other people as tapping into deeper truths than commercial or political interests have so far found a way of serving

Unless you are confident to start asking whatever is your deepest question- the words don't matter as long as you know why you want to constantly rehearse it - then you are being censored, democracy is being lost, markets are destroying nor creating value, and as for knowledge it is being managed the wrong way - at least as far as my eyes can see

Let's bring back communications as every person's right and work out which debates we need to plant everywhere people of goodwill can meet
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May 27, 2005

Farewell to a trailblazer 

The passing of producer Ismail Merchant, of Merchant Ivory, today at age 68 reminds me that this his was a brand that could have qualified for a nomination with the Medinge Group's Top Brands with a Conscience.
   Merchant Ivory films celebrated a certain level of Englishness, despite Mr Merchant's roots in Mumbai. One exception was the recent Le Divorce, but there was Room with a View and Howard's End.
   But it's not the content of the films; rather, the idea of an Indian producer breaking in to mainstream markets dominated by Hollywood long before any fascination with "Bollywood".
   He and his American film-making partner charted their own path, gave us films that won Oscars, in an era when western people viewed a rapidly industrializing India through nineteenth century stereotypes.
   While Mr Merchant went to university outside India, he was proudly Indian, holding on to his passport as well as a British one.
   I admire trailblazers, and Mr Merchant certainly was one. I am sure he faced his share of racial prejudice, yet stuck with his principles of making the best films he possibly could. He would have been less well financially resourced than his colleagues in California, but proved that no one possesses a monopoly on excellence. If anything, he proved that deep pockets have nothing to do with success, one of the messages of this site and book. Mr Merchant's record speaks for itself.
Yes some of my favourite filmgoers moments go with Ishmail.  
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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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May 21, 2005

Fighting the rumourmongers: the task of modern "competition" 

I originally wrote this as a comment at Brandshift, but unfortunately despite the link, it wouldn't let me add it.
   The original post was by John Moore, about trust in newspapers. And whether they can create the same feeling of community as Craigslist has been able to do. My response, slightly edited for Beyond Branding, is below.
   'One of the experiences I have to relay is about a fashion magazine here, which, while it does not compete with us on content, does for advertising dollars. Sadly, someone's been sticking knives in its publisher's reputation, more so after both her brother and her boyfriend died within three months of each other.
   'I don't believe in kicking anyone while they're down and I alerted her to the fact I had been approached by a journalist about her. An article that just stopped short of making a connection between her and drugs was published the next day.
   'Normally one would expect that as a "competitor", I would be overjoyed, but the experience essentially put two "rivals" closer together. Because I know that if the shoe were on the other foot, I'd want someone to bat on my team. I'd want someone to tell me if they had been asked strange questions.
   'Whomever was doing this to her had powerful enough friends to get a major "broadsheet" (when you read the article, you realize that we might only have tabloids here that are just printed on big paper) journalist digging. Now, he couldn't find anything he could print, so I applaud him for not sinking into libel—which I have a feeling he may have been pressured to do.
   'The rumours continue to this day and while I wasn't present for her boyfriend's death, her story seems a lot more plausible, and simpler, than any that the gossipmongers are propagating.
   'I understand that some Australian publishing company representatives have been trying to start a rumour and saying I have connections with Chinese organized crime. I thank them for this, because I now use this to great comic effect in my public speaking. And as you know, Johnnie, I get around. Globally. Anyone who knows me and has seen me speak know how humorous this sounds. Especially with those chaps with nunchuckers and knives standing behind me holding up "Applause" and "Laugh" signs. (See what I mean? Great material.)
   'All this did from my perspective was write a forum post at Lucire's web edition about what she had gone through, then publish something similar in the print one the following month. I'd rather expose the crap someone goes through than join in the chorus.
   'And while it doesn't mean that we've stopped competing with her for dollars, at least I came up on the side of truth, which really, as a publisher, I should be defending every day. If she happens to cease publishing, then so be it: at least I wave farewell to her with clean hands, not ones bloodied from her stab wounds. If she continues, then maybe she and I are a step closer to putting up a sign of unity against others who are unscrupulous.
   'Through that, I, too, hope to create trust with my readers, possibly as one of these "beyond" brands.'
   Regardless of where I post, this message still seems relevant.
It's really nice to see someone putting the golden rule in action.  
Thank you, Alex: I'm happy to know that others feel I did the right thing. If I were a twentieth-century businessman who put profits first, convention would almost demand I join the chorus of rumourmongers. I'm glad we've moved past that era, into one where independent, individual action can make a difference.  
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May 14, 2005

What not to do in the 21st century 

A few more days and Lucire, the fashion magazine that was once web-only, will launch in Romania as a print edition. I think—though I would like to know for sure—that it's the first time someone's branched off a printed fashion magazine into a second country within a few months of launching it in the first.
   When asked how I did it—even though for me it's a case of counting chickens—I tell folks that I ignored the advice of the experts. Not so much the experts here, but the traditional ones in media (because frankly, I only know of two other people who have done the web-to-print transition), finance (anyone want to look back at Slater Walker, the 1980s, or for that matter the 1990s?) and even magazine publishing (if the model works for online, why can it not work for print?).
   I don't know if I am right. To be fair, no one does. Turning a web site into a print magazine is a new thing. Give it a few more years and everyone will be writing books on how to manage the transition and create business cases ex post facto. But for now, I'm hoping that the lessons of Beyond Branding apply, and that I haven't read consumers wrong in two countries. We shall see.

Further thoughts at:
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May 07, 2005

Legacies of BBC - Blair Broadcasting Corporation : bye bye 

BBC -the levy is Dry, as American pie...

Q1 In terms of serving world economic transformation (which bloggers call freakonomics) - do you know what Britain's unique jewel in the crown is? A1

Q2 Anyone feel like playing the online networking game - what would be the simplest way for media man Blair to regain his legacy?

Suggestion 1: How about doing his bit to ensure that no Prime Minister ever again believes thye British people want to be imaged over. A perfect way to do this would be to get the BBC to serialise The Corporation with each excerpt's main lessons being tutored from 10 Downing Street. Come on Tony that be GRRRRREAT for British identity and the future of leadership. I am sure Ray Anderson & Sir John Downham would help you if you need any help in translating reality branding to our new hi-trust media age. I am sure the UniversityofStars youth celebrities would support you. We could bring out a new edition of Imagine! to celebrate trust being popular again as WhiteHall & WhiteBand (icon of MakePovertyHistory) discovered that politicians do after all love the people all over the world, and demand likewise from business and sustainable valuation. And the great Blair law family could get working with The Corporation's Joel Bakan in Canada and namesake Margaret Blair, ex Georgetown Law School, Brooking's Unseen Wealth and now VanderBilt.

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