the grass is greener on the internet


Who on earth is Telstra?
May 17, 2009, 9:26 pm
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I was going to post on Telstra – the disjointed confused brand, the recent ad spend and yet another store overhaul.

But it seems The Australian’s ‘the Deal’ magazine has managed to cover a lot of what I wanted to say in their latest feature. An interesting read – definitely pick it up (and don’t give me that print is dead spiel, even though newspapers are down there’s niche magazines sprouting up everywhere).

One thing is that Telstra is the big lumbering heavyweight in the industry, and consumers resent the fact that this means they can afford not to care.

Recently Telstra really has been showing off its clout, perhaps passively but in your face nevertheless. Major ad spend in their campaign preceding Mother’s Day – a sticker on the Sunday paper? Oh, well done. Telstra was everywhere you looked. Message: we have money.

The fact also remains that Telstra is the only carrier to have the infrastructure to carry out the national broadband plans – and probably could do it on their own, only it’s that much nicer holding out for a huge government cheque.

They did not touch on the new T [life] image concept going on, so here’s a few thoughts…

  • It feels very Optus. Light colours, open spaces, glass exterior. Any moment a giraffe might pop its head round the corner.
  • The idea of being able to play with phones in-store is great, but potentially expensive. It’s like an age simulation – I’ve seen what happens to a HTC touch after a few hundred schoolkids have played with it and it’s not pretty.
  • Change in image doesn’t mean anything if it’s not accompanied by an internal change. Most telcos seem to struggle with service but I hear the most complaints about Telstra (but that might just be my friends). I still remember the Telecom ads; ‘good, better, best’. They were about always trying to improve.
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If you learn nothing else from Tropicana…
February 24, 2009, 11:06 pm
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Yesterday we got the news that PepsiCo has withdrawn its latest packaging for Tropicana juice.

Brandcurve’s post on the topic several months ago was bombarded with comments about how much people loathed the design.

The new design cut back to simplicity with clean lines, simple pictures and bright colours contrasted with white space. In theory, a bit like Apple’s design concept.

So what’s so bad about it?

I have two words for them: subconscious cues.

In the f&b world, simple design reminds us of generic home-brands. It doesn’t try and impress us – so it just doesn’t.

For Apple, minimalism means making complex technology look simple and accessible to us.

Context is so easy to forget sometimes.

But context determines how we interpret the world, and that’s one of the key things branding consultants need to understand.



No value in brand valuation?
February 20, 2009, 11:37 pm
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I get the feeling Wally Olins likes to stir things up.

Yes, THAT Olins…of Wolff Olins fame, though now with Saffron.

Design Week has just published an excerpt of his latest book, ‘The Brand Handbook’, in which he claims that brand valuation is absolutely useless for all purposes except ego boosting.

It’s harsh but he does have a point when he says that it’s incredibly difficult to quantify a brand. A brand is not a financial value. To get anywhere near close to an accurate measurement you’d need an algorithm more complex than Google search.

Brand value is also more volatile than politics in a recession and can be just as irrational.

And yet Interbrand still ranks brand value yearly, with companies like Coca-cola, Nike, Apple and Disney coming out on top.

Is it just for ego?

In short…I’d say no. It’s an attempt by management to recognise that there are intangible assets that affect a company’s performance. Brand value is a significant factor in decision-making – the easiest way to make sure that it would be considered was to incorporate it into existing processes by giving it a numeric value.

Companies demand a minimum return on any investment made. The issue is how to justify the monetary investment needed to create a brand by showing that return.

I don’t have answers on how this can be done.

All I can say is that it’s not ideal, but with the current paradigm of decision-making brand valuation is the only way to ensure that it gets the investment that is required.