Category Archives: branding

Come on Canada! Get onside with Wayne Gretzky and cheer for Blackberry.

The new Blackberry Passport is more than a smart phone, almost a full-featured tablet.  I like it and think it will be a winner for Blackberry.  Maybe not a quick fix for the company turnaround, but a clear departure from trying to follow the leaders - Samsung and Apple  - with another consumer friendly wannabe.

BBY PassportFocused on "serious" users of the smart phones who appreciate the real keyboard and high security features over games and cute apps to impress their friends.

You may think I'm only interested in pumping up the sickly share price, but I'm OK holding on for $20 a share and we're not likely to get their  soon, even with a Passport.

I think the company has put in place more competent, less ego-driven management and a strategy to leverage its substantial strengths into market success.  A new and improved Blackberry that Canadians can be proud of again.

We don't need another technology success story that crashes and burns like Nortel or (AES Data that rose and fell before it).  Also an easier symbol of Canadian entrepreneurship to promote than the Alberta oil sands. (And much less controversial.)

A recent article in the Financial Post by Steven Kates, SFU Business Professor, prompted me to reply.

I also use Starbucks as an instructive example for other businesses. But Steven Kates has it wrong in suggesting that Starbucks needs to "emphasize that it is continually learning how to be a good corporate citizen, not simply appear as one." Sorry, but that is not a relevant response to recessionary times.

He has it right in the first sentence of his article, "I have an abiding love for the Starbucks brand." That is the hot button to push for Starbucks - their astonishingly loyal, dedicated customers. Leverage that relationship to make the business recession proof. Recognize and reward loyalty. Keep them coming back; don't disturb or distract them from the attraction of the ambiance and the attitude that comes with visiting Starbucks. I know of no other brand loyalists that are such fierce defenders of their daily fix. (Some even admit that it's somewhere between an addiction and a cult.)

Starbucks customers might back off the $5 latte for a cup at $3.95 in response to current economic pressures, but they are unlikely to go to Tim Horton's for their coffee.

My advice to businesses in these difficult times is to focus on key customer relationships and know what will continue to work and what needs to change for them to stick with you. Starbucks is doing that very well by eliminating outlets in oversaturated markets and by returning to the service concepts that made them indispensable in the first place.

Thumbs up or down for GM?

It seemed like a strange combination on the same page of the Business Section in a national newspaper.

All the headlines were about GM and the risk of bankruptcy. One of America's largest and most important corporations in dire straits because of the economic circumstances. Should they get bailed out by the US treasury? Something must be done to save them and all the jobs that depend on GM.

And across the bottom of the same page a full colour ad for the new Cadillac CTS with 556 horsepower for zero to sixty in 3.9 seconds at only $68,500. Just what we need for difficult times.

It seems to me that one message explained the other.

Bad management leads to bad results and the free market economy will help to decide who consumers (i.e. taxpayers) should support.

The value of a good company name struck me en route to spring skiing on Sunday. Flying by on the freeway I suddenly noticed two distinctive names that seemed to stand out in the row of businesses along the highway.

Stonedge and Simple Signman.

Memorable don't you think? A catchy, meaningful and memorable name is always a huge advantage in building brand recognition and corporate identity. Especially if it is a good fit to the business and its strategic positioning.

In working with entrepreneurs I often have to get them to re-think their planned business name after we've completed a thorough review of their corporate strategy and marketing communications plan because it is simply not consistent, not supportive, and often in direct conflict with the message and the corporate identity. For example; "J&B Java" for a retro '60's style diner and gift shop. Or "PBX Services" for an architectural and interior design consulting firm. It's worth the extra effort to try and be more creative and consistent with your marketing image.

You may want to invent a new word for your name, like Yahoo or Google, but unless you can spend a fortune making it known and putting it everywhere, like Starbucks or EXXON, then try something that is more meaningful and memorable.

Imagine the additional business that comes from customers who will instantly recognize who you are and what you do, as well as those customers that will more likely remember you for next time. Think of a good name as a valuable silent salesman - always working for you.