Friday, 21 October 2011

Some thoughts on powering an ancient brand

Select the satellite view on Google maps and search for a town in Morocco called Merzouga. If you zoom in really close in to the outskirts of town where it meets the red sands of the Sahara desert you may notice a very faint black line which, if you carefully follow it for a couple of miles, you'll see that it snakes out to a series of canvas covered buildings owned by the indigenous tribe of Morocco: The Berbers.

The Berbers have inhabited the hostile and arid desert for thousands of years - happily surviving in seemingly impossible conditions. Not only do they have the stultifying heat to contend with but they must look after their families and animals, ensuring they have enough food and water. In addition, they’ve had to achieve this amongst the backdrop of constant invasions: from the ancient Greeks, the empirical Romans, and most recently by tourists wanting to live a bit of the real life by taking camel treks out to their encampments and to spend the night living with The Berbers under the stars amongst the dunes.

The Berber story is quite impressive. In amongst all this change the Berbers have stuck true to their roots by always maintaining their identity, their traditions and lifestyle whilst adapting to new regimes, religions and, even, tourism. A good example of this is that faint black line I mentioned in the first paragraph. It’s an eight inch cable that feeds power to these seemingly isolated camps. It allows tourists to have hot water, a flushing toilet and stoves for the hosts to cook on. And do you know what? The Berbers make a tidy living out of it. Not bad eh?

It led me to thinking that The Berber brand is probably one of the longest brands to have survived. And the only way they’ve managed to do it is to adapt or die. I think many modern day brands could learn from that little black electric cable that heads out into the desert.

Posted by Andy Cording, Brand Experiences Account Manager , The MotivAction Group

Thursday, 6 October 2011

Apple of the Brand Eye

Ironic life isn’t it? On the day I attend a breakfast briefing on the power of brands, heavily featuring one of the world’s super brands, Apple, news comes through of its inspirational leader’s passing. Think Apple; think Steve Jobs. Think Steve Jobs; think Apple. The signature of truly great brands is their ability to live on beyond the company’s products, services…and people. This surely is going to be the biggest test of Apple’s claim to be a truly great brand. How much of their swashbuckling, pioneering, maverick, user consciousness and human style is the personality of their most famous leader and how much is part of the Corporation’s DNA. The future months and years will reveal all.

In the meantime, here are some inspiring words from the great man. Steve Jobs, RIP.
“Remembering that I’ll be dead soon is the most important tool I’ve ever encountered to help me make the big choices in life. Because almost everything – all external expectations, all pride, all fear of embarrassment or failure – these things just fall away in the face of death, leaving only what is truly important. Remembering that you are going to die is the best way I know to avoid the trap of thinking you have something to lose. You are already naked. There is no reason not to follow your heart.”
– Stanford commencement speech 2005
Steve Jobs 2“There’s nothing that makes my day more than getting an e-mail from some random person in the universe who just bought an iPad over in the UK and tells me the story about how it’s the coolest product they’ve ever brought home in their lives. That’s what keeps me going. It’s what kept me five years ago [when he was diagnosed with cancer], it’s what kept me going 10 years ago when the doors were almost closed. And it’s what will keep me going five years from now whatever happens.”
- AllThingsD Conference, 2010
“We think the Mac will sell zillions, but we didn’t build the Mac for anybody else. We built it for ourselves. We were the group of people who were going to judge whether it was great or not. We weren’t going to go out and do market research. We just wanted to build the best thing we could build.
When you’re a carpenter making a beautiful chest of drawers, you’re not going to use a piece of plywood on the back, even though it faces the wall and nobody will ever see it. You’ll know it’s there, so you’re going to use a beautiful piece of wood on the back. For you to sleep well at night, the aesthetic, the quality, has to be carried all the way through.”
– Playboy magazine 1985
“That’s been one of my mantras — focus and simplicity. Simple can be harder than complex: You have to work hard to get your thinking clean to make it simple. But it’s worth it in the end because once you get there, you can move mountains.”
– Business Week 1998
“Being the richest man in the cemetery doesn’t matter to me … Going to bed at night saying we’ve done something wonderful … that’s what matters to me.”
– Wall Street Journal 1993
“Design is a funny word. Some people think design means how it looks. But of course, if you dig deeper, it’s really how it works. The design of the Mac wasn’t what it looked like, although that was part of it. Primarily, it was how it worked. To design something really well, you have to get it. You have to really grok what it’s all about. It takes a passionate commitment to really thoroughly understand something, chew it up, not just quickly swallow it. Most people don’t take the time to do that.”
- Wired magazine, 1994
“In most people’s vocabularies, design means veneer. It’s interior decorating. It’s the fabric of the curtains and the sofa. But to me, nothing could be further from the meaning of design. Design is the fundamental soul of a man-made creation that ends up expressing itself in successive outer layers of the product or service.”
– Fortune magazine 2000
“Innovation comes from people meeting up in the hallways or calling each other at 10.30 at night with a new idea, or because they realised something that shoots holes in how we’ve been thinking about a problem. It’s ad hoc meetings of six people called by someone who thinks he has figured out the coolest new thing ever and who wants to know what other people think of his idea.
“And it comes from saying no to 1,000 things to make sure we don’t get on the wrong track or try to do too much. We’re always thinking about new markets we could enter, but it’s only by saying no that you can concentrate on the things that are really important.”
– Business Week 2004
“You can’t connect the dots looking forward; you can only connect them looking backwards. So you have to trust that the dots will somehow connect in your future. You have to trust in something – your gut, destiny, life, karma, whatever. This approach has never let me down, and it has made all the difference in my life.”
– Stanford commencement speech 2005
“Your work is going to fill a large part of your life, and the only way to be truly satisfied is to do what you believe is great work. And the only way to do great work is to love what you do. If you haven’t found it yet, keep looking. Don’t settle. As with all matters of the heart, you’ll know when you find it. And, like any great relationship, it just gets better and better as the years roll on. So keep looking until you find it. Don’t settle.”
– Stanford commencement speech 2005