The Power of Colour

The choice of colour has become one of the single most important elements in creating a brand. I remember having a conversation about this over lunch with a very good friend and mentor of mine, Wally Olins CBE, who sadly passed away this week at the age of 83.

Wally was an extraordinary person in many ways and was in fact the first person in the UK to have launched a brand consultancy back in the 60s.

Wally understood – perhaps more than any other person of his generation – that branding is intrinsically linked with colour.

It was something he felt passionate about and when asked to create a new mobile phone brand by Hutchinson Telecom after its acquisition of a controlling stake in Microtel Communications in the early 90s, Wally is credited with having created Orange, one of the most ic...

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The passing of the grandfather of modern design – Wally Olins CBE, my friend and mentor dies

Wally-Olins

It is with great sadness and sorrow in my heart that I have to announce to the Guru in a Bottle community that my friend and mentor Wally Olins CBE has died after a short illness at the age of 83. 

He was an inspiration to me in my career and mentored me when I was tasked with re-branding the Royal Military College of Science.

I will always remember Wally as being incredibly charismatic, a brilliantly creative thinker and he had a rare and special gift – the capacity to take a keen interest in others around him in a very generous and warm-hearted way.

I had the pleasure of having lunch with Wally several times (he always insisted on paying!) and I always left cherishing the advice he often gave to me about marketing and about life in general.

We both shared a passion for India and I alw...

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Why marketers should focus on “sacrifice” rather than “satisfaction”

sadChoice is now something we all take for granted – from the type of product or service we desire, the features we look for that best suit our particular needs and requirements and even how much we’re prepared to pay for this.

Traditional marketing thinking went something like this: “Increase levels of customer satisfaction and give customers more of what they want is the key to commercial success.”

Well, the reality is somewhat different in 2014.

Much of the time, most of us don’t think too deeply about how happy we are about the product we’ve just bought at the supermarket or the service we’ve received at the local shoe repairer or whether it completely fulfils our needs.

But now and again a new product will arrive on the market or we’ll find a more convenient service and we’...

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How to avoid “Communication Breakdown!”

communication breakdown

Ever felt you were speaking to a colleague or client and not getting very far? Felt like you could be on another planet? All too often we suffer communication breakdown. Well, the fabulous Andy Bounds, author of one of my favourite books, The Jelly Effect has identified Top Ten things to avoid a communication breakdown.

  1. Back-to-back meetings. When there are no breaks in between, when exactly are people supposed to prepare or follow-up? I guess there are only two answers: ‘at home’ or ‘never’
  2. Pointless communications. You know all those comms – all those reports, meetings, conference calls, emails – that achieve nothing? The ones that nobody would mind if they stopped?
  3. Too irrelevant.  Sometimes, unlike the previous point, you do need to have a certain communication...
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Does culture matter?

spock-beautyAccording to American anthropologists Clyde Kluckhohn and Alfred Kroeber, culture “is a shared social blueprint for life – the constellation of values, assumptions, beliefs and behavioural norms that define a group of people.”

Well that’s the academic perspective for you, but how does this work in practice? Let’s say you have a prospective major customer in Germany and arrange to meet in Berlin over lunch.

Knowing how to read and speak German will be an obvious advantage when it comes to ordering lunch or entering into discussions but how will this serve you in being able to recognise the communication patterns of your guests that goes beyond the difference in languages being spoken?

Richard Lewis, a British linguistic expert and author of a fascinating book, When Cultures Co...

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Is traditional Product Placement dead as marketers switch to Content Marketing?

1949 product placementProduct placement has been around as long as TV itself. One of the earliest examples of product placement was in 1949 when NBC launched America’s first daily TV news programme, the ‘Camel News Caravan’, featuring a newsreader smoking a Camel cigarette and a policy that banned footage of ‘no smoking’ signs and anyone puffing on a cigars, including Sir Winston Churchill!

Today, brand and product tie-ins are less brazen but equally effective as a weapon for achieving a brand positioning advantage over the competitors’ above-the-line PR and marketing efforts.

The James Bond film franchise is credited with having started the current fashion of placing well-known branded products in the centre of the action, with brands such as Aston Martin and Omega taking high profile roles on scr...

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The ‘Cold War’ with Russia is hotting up and so is the PR battle

Cold WarThe war of words continues as Russia is finding itself increasingly isolated by the NATO Alliance and is already seeking stronger ties with leaders of the BRIC nations where it may feel it gets fairer hearing over its annexation of Crimea.

Certainly monitoring the news reports here in the UK you’re left with a distinct impression that the Cold War and the imminent isolation of Russia is just around the corner. Russia may have got what it wanted but it’s losing the PR war.

A good example of what I mean is illustrated by the attack Russia faced at the UN Security Council on Wednesday 19 March when US Ambassador Samantha Powers called the Great Bear a “thief”...

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Why PR is more than just column inches as discussed at the World Communication Forum Davos 2014

European flight destinations at Otopeni airport near BucharestThis was the subject of my presentation at the 5th World Communication Forum in Davos, Switzerland and my co-presenter was the dynamic Andrew Denton, Head of Media at Welcome to Yorkshire.

The topic we were asked to address was how global events can stimulate economic development. What you may not realise when you’re reading this blog post is that Yorkshire won the bid to host the first stage of the world’s most famous cycle race, the Tour de France.

The Grand Depart will begin in Leeds on Saturday 5 July 2014 and will be broadcast in 88 countries to millions of viewers around the world, many of whom may not have a clue about where Yorkshire is or indeed how stunning it is as a destination for sport and entertainment.

But all that is about to change and the signs are is that it’s alread...

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Happy New Year

Happy New Year

This is an excellent short film by Prof Lord Robert Winston that looks at the roots of Zoroastrianism and includes rare footage of the Fire Temple in Yazd in Iran where the Sacred Flame has been burning for over 5,000 years.

Another excellent documentary by the BBC featuring Freddie Mercury’s sister is available here

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The “phoney war” between West and Putin is going into overdrive claims leading Russian military expert

Putin address March 2014As Crimea becomes the focus of media attention here in the West, it’s easy for the facts to become obscured in the race for getting a headline grabbing news story as the public relations battle between Russia and the West picks up pace.

In the wake of the Crimea referendum on Sunday 16 March that was observed by more than a hundred bona fide international observers from 23 countries – although not affiliated with the Organisation for Security and Cooperation in Europe – it’s easy to dismiss President Putin as conducting ‘gun boat’ diplomacy when he addressed the Russian Parliament on Tuesday 18 March in what many commentators see as one of the defining moments of his presidency.

What’s not so clear is whether the Ukrainian officer who was shot three and a half hours later was done ...

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