Category Archives: corporate identity

It's been a wGazetteeek now since the new and improved Montreal Gazette got delivered to its few remaining subscribers.  Can you see the difference? I can't.  But let's give them credit for not quitting and giving up on old-fashioned print media.

Unfortunately the decline will continue.  I think the National Post and Maclean's magazine do a better job of survival tactics - sensational headlines, attention grabbing photos combined with high-quality journalism and provocative commentary. That works for me. But maybe only for a few other stubborn traditionalists who want to browse, digest and share a printed product.

At $30 a month the Gazette is losing its appeal.  It's not enough to shuffle the format and add some colour.  Cost cutting by out-sourcing printing may help, but maybe delivery to the door of every subscriber is another issue.  Canada Post has already decided it cannot be done economically. (Although the postal worker is clearly higher paid than the newspaper carrier.)

I'm trying to be supportive of the local paper because it's an important alternative source of news and views on our community and the world around us.  But I'm not optimistic for the business model. And certainly not proposing a taxpayer funded CBC model.  We may be looking at another example of creative destruction and the Gazette will only survive by evolving to a more effective digital media hybrid.  The plan just needs to be more creative.

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.

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.