Wednesday, 17 October 2012

The Downed Robin branding clinic

I'm not that interested in 'branding' and I'm bit cynical about the whole over-hyped process. It's only when I see it being done really badly that I realise that effort put into branding something isn't always a complete waste of time.

Dashing into a local Co-op for some bread and a bottle of wine, my wife was accosted by a middle-aged woman who wanted to know whether she'd be interested in subscribing to 'a nice little magazine for ladies'.  My spouse, a busy working mum, took umbrage at the suggestion that she might look like the sort of person who'd go for 'a nice little magazine for ladies' and expressed a forceful lack of interest.

It doesn't take a marketing genius to work out that the magazine (Candis magazine) is going to actively annoy quite a lot of women if its representatives promote it with the strapline 'a nice little magazine for ladies.'

I've taken a quick look at Candis magazine's web site. The forthcoming November issue promises autumn updates for your home, wardrobe and hair, six ways to boost your brainpower, an exclusive chat with Daniel Craig, free moisturiser for every reader and much more. Not very challenging, then, but neither are most lads' mags and you don't see FHM promoting itself as 'a nice little magazine for boys.'

And Candis probably does rather more good in the world than FHM. According to Mister Wikipedia, the magazine evolved from the 1962 Cancer and Polio Research Fund News Letter, which subsequently expanded to include football pools and reader competitions, before becoming a fully-fledged magazine, which was eventually re-named Candis in 1986. In recent years, as well as raising money for the Cancer and Polio Research Fund, the publication has helped to fund several other health charities, including Marie Curie Cancer Care, the National Asthma Campaign and Macmillan Cancer Support, various childrens' charities and the Douglas Cyclotron Centre.

If I was pitching this magazine, I'd be making far more of the social responsibility and good causes angle and instructing promoters to avoid patronising women with the 'nice little magazine for ladies' line, which has all the charitable brand appeal of digging up an old celebrity endorsement from the late Jimmy Savile.

As it happens, that wasn't the last of yesterday's branding stupid, as we found out at dinner when we opened the bottle of wine from the Co-op and winced at the taste. The bottle looked like a perfectly ordinary bottle of red wine, with the manufacturers' name (First Cape) and the words 'fresh and fruity red' in large, friendly letters on the label. It was only on closer examination that we found, in smaller print, that this wasn't actually wine, but an 'aromatized wine-product cocktail' which was 'fruity and refreshing' and 'perfect for all occasions and at 5.5% alcohol, suits today's busy lifestyle.'

It was sort of 'fruity and refreshing', with a taste somewhere between a light Beaujolais nouveau and Vimto, which would have been OK if we were people who didn't really like wine, looking for an sweetish, inoffensive, low-alcohol wine substitute. It  wasn't OK for a hurried shopper trying to grab a generic bottle of actual red wine to have with dinner. Branding tip 2 - don't put this stuff in a bottle that makes it look even vaguely like real wine.