CAN GAP REGAIN RELEVANCE BY REDEFINING ‘NORMAL’?

At the heart of GAP’s brand is the belief that ‘individualism and liberation comes from confidently being your most authentic self’.

This belief has been expressed in their new campaign “Dress Normal”.

According to Seth Farbman, Gap’s global chief marketing officer “Finding your own version of ‘Dress normal’ is an art. Dress Normal is about dressing for yourself. It’s about celebrating the confidence that comes by dressing how you’re most comfortable”.

So, here we have Angelica Houston, looking normal? That’s not normal. Is it? Alongside Angelica, other ‘normal’ looking people such as Elisabeth MossMichael K. WilliamsZosia MametJena Malone, Luke Grimes, Olivia Thirlby and Bobby Canavale are all clad in black denim in a series of print and online ads currently rolling out as part of Gap’s new advertising campaign by Wieden + Kennedy New York. All looking normal. Apparently.

You know, I am just not convinced. I really do not get it. At the surface level the concept is appealing (and very much on trend if you believe K-Hole the New York trend forecasting firm, who coined the term ‘Normcore’), but then the execution is so staged and soooo dated. This all looks like catalogue images from the 90’s. And more importantly, where does this fit with the belief of individualism and liberation?

"Normcore" is based on the idea of opting into sameness and looking for opportunities to create connections, rather than focusing on self-differentiation, according to K-Hole (love that name!).

Sorry Gap, but I am just not feeling it. You might just think about doing something new rather than post rationalising the blandness that defines you and your declining market share.

HEAVYWEIGHT CHAMPION TEAMS UP WITH MONOTYPE TO CREATE A NEW SLAB SERIF FONT, TO PUNCH OUT ILLITERACY.
With fists dripping with paint, Wladimir Klitschko punched out 26 letters of a new typeface, to create awareness that over 250 million children worldwide have no access to education.
The 26 prints created by Klitschko were then digitally scanned and used by Monotype to generate the font. Both the prints and the font were sold on eBay over the next 10 days. All money raised was donated to BILD’s "A Heart For Children" charity, which aims to combat illiteracy internationally.

Although donations are welcome, a digital version of Klitschko’s font is available for free download at Monotype’s official site.

HEAVYWEIGHT CHAMPION TEAMS UP WITH MONOTYPE TO CREATE A NEW SLAB SERIF FONT, TO PUNCH OUT ILLITERACY.

With fists dripping with paint, Wladimir Klitschko punched out 26 letters of a new typeface, to create awareness that over 250 million children worldwide have no access to education.

The 26 prints created by Klitschko were then digitally scanned and used by Monotype to generate the font. Both the prints and the font were sold on eBay over the next 10 days. All money raised was donated to BILD’s "A Heart For Children" charity, which aims to combat illiteracy internationally.

Although donations are welcome, a digital version of Klitschko’s font is available for free download at Monotype’s official site.

ART FOR ART’S SAKE, MONEY FOR GOD’S SAKE.  ISN’T THAT HOW THE LYRICS GO? 
The concept that art exists for it’s own sake with no ideological or purposeful ends is strange to me. The denial that art can be therapeutic also. Have you ever been to a gallery, museum or exhibit and exited with a deep sense of calm or elation? It gets me every time and my mind is not my own for some time after.

The present ‘guardians of culture’ – art and literary critics employed by media organisations, professors in the humanities and museum curators – are deeply devoted to the idea that art should exist ‘for art’s sake.’ Here The Philosophers Mail argues for the enormous task that lies before art and culture, if only it can become conscious of its true purpose.

ART FOR ART’S SAKE, MONEY FOR GOD’S SAKE.
ISN’T THAT HOW THE LYRICS GO?

The concept that art exists for it’s own sake with no ideological or purposeful ends is strange to me. The denial that art can be therapeutic also. Have you ever been to a gallery, museum or exhibit and exited with a deep sense of calm or elation? It gets me every time and my mind is not my own for some time after.

The present ‘guardians of culture’ – art and literary critics employed by media organisations, professors in the humanities and museum curators – are deeply devoted to the idea that art should exist ‘for art’s sake.’ Here The Philosophers Mail argues for the enormous task that lies before art and culture, if only it can become conscious of its true purpose.

DIRTY BIRD HAS LOCALS IN A FLAP

So, you logo is not a penis then?
The owner of Cardiff based chicken outlet, Dirty Bird, has insisted that people are seeing what they want to see, and not what was intended. He claims that the logo is simply the lower case initials of the company placed back to back in order to form the neck and wings of a cockerel. Really.

Ok. So it is just co-incidental that your marketing is loaded with sexual innuendo? Um.

Dirty Bird scored top in the top “10 epic business logo fails” (Solopress blog). I am not sure it is a fail though, and neither is the owner who when he heard the news exclaimed on facebook;

We got Number 1 in the epic business logo fails chart!

DIRTY!!!

In my (humble and rather shocked) opinion, the Arlington Paediatric Centre should have been awarded the no 1 slot.

The power of controversy. The logo was designed by Something creatives.

PACKAGING THAT MADE ME SMILE

Trident Xtra Care, designed by Hani Douaji. A range of six variations, which represents three flavors. Each packet has an illustration : a mouth or a mustache, sometimes smiling or surprised. 

I am still smiling.

DOES YOUR BRAND INFLUENCE YOUR MARKETING?OR, DOES YOUR MARKETING INFLUENCE YOUR BRAND?THINK ABOUT IT.
How you market yourself determines, to a large extent, how you are perceived. How you are perceived determines your positioning, your relevance and ultimately your survival. Yet many companies do not connect their higher-level strategic objectives to everyday marketing activity.
You may argue that experience determines how you are perceived and I would not argue with that. Experience is the ultimate test as it combines the proposition with reality. If the customer experience is not aligned to the marketing proposition, then ultimately perceptions will be affected.
You see: it all has to be connected. The business strategic vision needs to be connected to the organisation: in turn it needs to be connected to the marketing proposition, which in turn needs to be connected to the customer experience. Put into a sentence, it seems simple, but in reality it is extremely difficult.
This is why many organisations outsource the problem, to their advertising agencies: for a creative solution. Sometimes this works. Sometimes the agency looks into the soul of the organisation and connects that meaningfully to the consumer: thus creating a compelling proposition for the consumer and a powerful and emotive proposition for the organisation to row in behind. Sometimes. I have seen it happen. But most times, the agency will not have the luxury of such noble thinking. They will be on a purely tactical trajectory. The creative may win awards from industry peers, but the net result may well be a slow march to commoditisation and price fighting.
Lets take a step back. What if. Instead of outsourcing the problem, the organisation looked to determine it’s positioning strategy first? 
Asking itself: What place in the market can we credibly and relevantly occupy, how will that differentiate us, how do we need to be perceived to occupy that space and (looking into our own soul) how aligned are we culturally and operationally?
These are fundamental questions, that, when asked, provide a solid brand foundation and a compass with which to influence not just marketing but every facet of the organisation. This extends the role of brand beyond marketing, to that of a business strategic tool.    
     
 

DOES YOUR BRAND INFLUENCE YOUR MARKETING?
OR, DOES YOUR MARKETING INFLUENCE YOUR BRAND?
THINK ABOUT IT.

How you market yourself determines, to a large extent, how you are perceived. How you are perceived determines your positioning, your relevance and ultimately your survival. Yet many companies do not connect their higher-level strategic objectives to everyday marketing activity.

You may argue that experience determines how you are perceived and I would not argue with that. Experience is the ultimate test as it combines the proposition with reality. If the customer experience is not aligned to the marketing proposition, then ultimately perceptions will be affected.

You see: it all has to be connected. The business strategic vision needs to be connected to the organisation: in turn it needs to be connected to the marketing proposition, which in turn needs to be connected to the customer experience. Put into a sentence, it seems simple, but in reality it is extremely difficult.

This is why many organisations outsource the problem, to their advertising agencies: for a creative solution. Sometimes this works. Sometimes the agency looks into the soul of the organisation and connects that meaningfully to the consumer: thus creating a compelling proposition for the consumer and a powerful and emotive proposition for the organisation to row in behind. Sometimes. I have seen it happen. But most times, the agency will not have the luxury of such noble thinking. They will be on a purely tactical trajectory. The creative may win awards from industry peers, but the net result may well be a slow march to commoditisation and price fighting.

Lets take a step back. What if. Instead of outsourcing the problem, the organisation looked to determine it’s positioning strategy first?

Asking itself: What place in the market can we credibly and relevantly occupy, how will that differentiate us, how do we need to be perceived to occupy that space and (looking into our own soul) how aligned are we culturally and operationally?

These are fundamental questions, that, when asked, provide a solid brand foundation and a compass with which to influence not just marketing but every facet of the organisation. This extends the role of brand beyond marketing, to that of a business strategic tool.   

 

Razor company Schick, lashes out at the onslaught of ‘beastly beards’. 
Whatever is going on? Like it or loathe it, we are amidst a frenzy of facial hair. Schlick’s are not having any of it. They have teamed up with Y&R NZ to help stem the tide of facial hair before beards go feral. “Free your skin’ they say, ‘free your skin’.

Women of the world, heave a unified sign of relief, Schick are on it. Go Schick.

Razor company Schick, lashes out at the onslaught of ‘beastly beards’. 

Whatever is going on? Like it or loathe it, we are amidst a frenzy of facial hair. Schlick’s are not having any of it. They have teamed up with Y&R NZ to help stem the tide of facial hair before beards go feral. “Free your skin’ they say, ‘free your skin’.

Women of the world, heave a unified sign of relief, Schick are on it. Go Schick.

THE 3 ROLES OF BRAND PLANNING.
 There is so much confusion about brand and the practice of brand planning, and all to often, a bit of secrecy.
Because of this, many businesses are not leveraging their brands strategically. The knock-on effect of this is a shift in focus from strategic implementation of brand strategy to isolated communications strategy and tactical battling. 
 The root of this problem is in a lack of understanding of the three fundamental roles that brand plays:
Brand to Business
The first role of brand is to connect the abstract world in which business strategy lives, to real-world strategy, in which people live.
Brand exists as a set of associations in the mind of consumers. That is the real world. At the highest level, there needs to be an understanding of how a company’s purpose and its products (two sets of connected associations) need to be positioned in the mind of the consumer and how that positioning needs to be established, communicated, maintained, measured and kept relevant. All of these are strategic imperatives in the delivery of any business vision. 
If used well, brand can become a powerful strategic tool to leverage business success. Key to this success is ensuring that strategic and commercial imperatives are not confused or conflicted. A symptom of this in action is when brand and marketing are lumped together in one function, or under a single commercial reporting line. In this world tactical need trumps strategic intent.
Brand to Organisation
The second role of brand is to connect and align the real-world strategy to the organisation. This requires an understanding of the role for brand in the organisation, as a compass for strategic decision-making, as a culture catalyst, as an agent of change, as a connector between employees and the consumer, as a mechanism for retention and employee engagement.
Key to success is in understanding that Brand to Organisation is not a communications exercise, but an exercise in building a culture to support the brand in every facet of the organisation. This requires co-operation, not compliance if the brand is to live sustainably in the organisation.
Brand to Consumer. 
The third role for brand is to connect with the consumer.
This requires an understanding of the role for brand in the consumer’s mind, as consumer truths and insights, which influence customer communications strategy and customer behaviour. 
Communications planning is a very specialised and strategic discipline with has a very specific trajectory and evaluation metrics. This needs to be balanced against the overall brand planning agenda i.e. does the proposition to the consumer build or detract from the higher-level set of associations you need to be known for in order to achieve your business strategy. In the case of Volvo for example, does an advertising proposition deliver on the communications brief, whilst reinforcing (and not undermining) the attributes of safety, reliability and quality.

In reality, all aspects of brand planning merge. It is not as simple as 1, 2, 3. The important thing is to get them working in concert and keep the brand grounded in the business.

THE 3 ROLES OF BRAND PLANNING.

 There is so much confusion about brand and the practice of brand planning, and all to often, a bit of secrecy.

Because of this, many businesses are not leveraging their brands strategically. The knock-on effect of this is a shift in focus from strategic implementation of brand strategy to isolated communications strategy and tactical battling.

 The root of this problem is in a lack of understanding of the three fundamental roles that brand plays:

Brand to Business

The first role of brand is to connect the abstract world in which business strategy lives, to real-world strategy, in which people live.

Brand exists as a set of associations in the mind of consumers. That is the real world. At the highest level, there needs to be an understanding of how a company’s purpose and its products (two sets of connected associations) need to be positioned in the mind of the consumer and how that positioning needs to be established, communicated, maintained, measured and kept relevant. All of these are strategic imperatives in the delivery of any business vision. 

If used well, brand can become a powerful strategic tool to leverage business success. Key to this success is ensuring that strategic and commercial imperatives are not confused or conflicted. A symptom of this in action is when brand and marketing are lumped together in one function, or under a single commercial reporting line. In this world tactical need trumps strategic intent.

Brand to Organisation

The second role of brand is to connect and align the real-world strategy to the organisation. This requires an understanding of the role for brand in the organisation, as a compass for strategic decision-making, as a culture catalyst, as an agent of change, as a connector between employees and the consumer, as a mechanism for retention and employee engagement.

Key to success is in understanding that Brand to Organisation is not a communications exercise, but an exercise in building a culture to support the brand in every facet of the organisation. This requires co-operation, not compliance if the brand is to live sustainably in the organisation.

Brand to Consumer.

The third role for brand is to connect with the consumer.

This requires an understanding of the role for brand in the consumer’s mind, as consumer truths and insights, which influence customer communications strategy and customer behaviour. 

Communications planning is a very specialised and strategic discipline with has a very specific trajectory and evaluation metrics. This needs to be balanced against the overall brand planning agenda i.e. does the proposition to the consumer build or detract from the higher-level set of associations you need to be known for in order to achieve your business strategy. In the case of Volvo for example, does an advertising proposition deliver on the communications brief, whilst reinforcing (and not undermining) the attributes of safety, reliability and quality.

In reality, all aspects of brand planning merge. It is not as simple as 1, 2, 3. The important thing is to get them working in concert and keep the brand grounded in the business.

ALEX AND ANI, SUCCESS DRIVEN BY CULTURE
 I will no doubt be writing more about this company: a phenomenal growth story, 3,500% growth in 3 years, boasting 200 million in sales. This success story is driven by culture, a culture that focuses entirely on mindful actions. 
 Alex and Ani embraces a unique business model that incorporates corporate consciousness in all directives. The wellbeing of the environment, the health of local and national economies, and the empowerment of customers are taken into account with every decision made. It is this mindful culture that drives the business success, connecting the employee to the customer and the customer to the brand.
 A quote from Carolyn Rafaelian the company founder:
 “It’s not enough for our slogan to be about positive energy; our people need to live and breathe it. We teach them how to use human behavior to rethink retail and to bring the human element back into the culture of everything we do”.

The Alex And Ani collections are based on a single premise. Each bracelet is “infused with positive energy” and designed around symbols or talismans of empowerment and protection. Its bangles, necklaces, earrings and rings are available in 40 Alex and Ani stores in the United States, and in 1,500 other retail outlets around the world, including Arnotts, Aregento and Mint here in ireland.

ALEX AND ANI, SUCCESS DRIVEN BY CULTURE

 I will no doubt be writing more about this company: a phenomenal growth story, 3,500% growth in 3 years, boasting 200 million in sales. This success story is driven by culture, a culture that focuses entirely on mindful actions. 

 Alex and Ani embraces a unique business model that incorporates corporate consciousness in all directives. The wellbeing of the environment, the health of local and national economies, and the empowerment of customers are taken into account with every decision made. It is this mindful culture that drives the business success, connecting the employee to the customer and the customer to the brand.

 A quote from Carolyn Rafaelian the company founder:

 “It’s not enough for our slogan to be about positive energy; our people need to live and breathe it. We teach them how to use human behavior to rethink retail and to bring the human element back into the culture of everything we do”.

The Alex And Ani collections are based on a single premise. Each bracelet is “infused with positive energy” and designed around symbols or talismans of empowerment and protection. Its bangles, necklaces, earrings and rings are available in 40 Alex and Ani stores in the United States, and in 1,500 other retail outlets around the world, including Arnotts, Aregento and Mint here in ireland.









HAVE CHANGES IN MODERN MARKETING LED TO A SOFT SKILLS REVOLUTION?

Articulation and persuasion, the ability to embrace change, to spot opportunities and adapt strategies quickly, and also being passionate, curious and hungry to learn: all are the essential skills of the modern marketing revolutionary.

According to Econsultancy, a leading source of independent advice and insight on digital marketing and ecommerce, marketers are attributing more value than ever to so-called ‘softer skills’, alongside the more traditional vertical expertise that recruiters look for. This very much resonates, in a world where IQ is valued, but only when balanced with EQ.

In fact, Laszlo Bock, the SVP of people operations for Google, recently named this in a New York Times interview as one of the key attributes that it looks for when hiring staff:

“For every job, though, the number one thing we look for is general cognitive ability, and it’s not I.Q. It’s learning ability. It’s the ability to process on the fly. It’s the ability to pull together disparate bits of information”.

Qualities like this are, he says, critical in enabling different and new thinking. Marketing technology blogger Scott Brinker, when interviewed for the skills report, echoed this view, saying that:

“If there is one skill to watch for it’s the ability to be a self-motivated learner”.

    
Vive la revolution!

HAVE CHANGES IN MODERN MARKETING LED TO A SOFT SKILLS REVOLUTION?

Articulation and persuasion, the ability to embrace change, to spot opportunities and adapt strategies quickly, and also being passionate, curious and hungry to learn: all are the essential skills of the modern marketing revolutionary.

According to Econsultancy, a leading source of independent advice and insight on digital marketing and ecommerce, marketers are attributing more value than ever to so-called ‘softer skills’, alongside the more traditional vertical expertise that recruiters look for. This very much resonates, in a world where IQ is valued, but only when balanced with EQ.

In fact, Laszlo Bock, the SVP of people operations for Google, recently named this in a New York Times interview as one of the key attributes that it looks for when hiring staff:

“For every job, though, the number one thing we look for is general cognitive ability, and it’s not I.Q. It’s learning ability. It’s the ability to process on the fly. It’s the ability to pull together disparate bits of information”.

Qualities like this are, he says, critical in enabling different and new thinking. Marketing technology blogger Scott Brinker, when interviewed for the skills report, echoed this view, saying that:

“If there is one skill to watch for it’s the ability to be a self-motivated learner”.

Vive la revolution!