I’m not sure anyone has quite worked out yet how far the people’s revolution can spread through the Arab World. For those of us that witnessed the fall of communism it was quite astonishing watching the former Soviet bloc countries fall like dominoes with the fleeing or execution of some very unpleasant dictators. The President of Tunisia saw the writing on the wall and cut and ran PDQ, President Mubarak won’t give up power that easily but there are a lot of unhappy people in Egypt and Cairo is a city of 20 million plus people which equals a lot of people-power. Whichever side the army supports as the situation unfolds will determine the outcome. Now comes news that Yemen is catching the bug and who knows where it will end. My guess is the GCC will be unaffected, most of the countries have small, wealthy, highly privileged local populations and the expats are not entitled to get involved. My only slight niggle is Saudi where there large numbers of disaffected youth but the importance of religion in their culture will almost certainly keep any discontent in check.
The Americans are now between a rock and a hard place. As the world champions of democracy they welcomed the collapse of the communist world but now they have the dilemma that undemocratic countries are their allies. Do they cheer the people on or offer covert advice and lend a few of their operatives to crush the people’s revolution? Maybe Wikileaks could throw some light on this one.
HSBC announces sale, time to fill your boots!
Having got that off my chest it’s time to return to marketing, my specialist subject. I’ve been having a very interesting dialogue with HSBC this week. Some of you may have noticed that HSBC is having their FIRST EVER SALE. Now it’s my opinion that bank and sale simply don’t go together and I put this to a representative of the bank and he really couldn’t see my problem. Resisting the urge to say it’s beedin’ obvious I resorted to reasoned argument. In my book a sale is when the owner of goods or services offers discounts to attract buyers, a tactic that is typically used to boost sales and get rid of excess stock. Banks by contrast are meant to take deposits and lend money, that’s their job pure and simple. They make money on the difference between the interest rate they pay on deposits and earn on loans.
Now you will remember the financial meltdown that is still having a huge impact around the world, without going too deep into the causes, it was triggered by the excessive risk-taking of banks. Lesson learned and you would expect a return to good governance and conservative banking practices, instead we have a bank throwing a huge amount of money at publicising a sale on products like credit cards, loans and mortgages! If that isn’t encouraging people to take on debt I don’t know what is. I have invited HSBC to reply to my observations, hopefully they are not too busy calculating their bonuses to reply.
What is a brand?
Staying with marketing, I had an interesting conversation with two very nice ladies from a charity we are supporting by providing our services at a heavily discounted rate (i.e. free). They do voluntary work for Senses, a charitable organisation that helps children with special needs. We got to talking about brands and they thanked us for the logo we have designed for them, at which point our branding guru, a certain Nameer Kanderian, explained a logo is all good and proper but a brand is much, much more. The essence of his argument was if you think of a person as a brand then the logo is the clothes they wear. This creates a first impression, but there is so much more to the person. Now one of the ladies was posh spice and the other sporty spice so if we judged them just on the clothes they were wearing we would never have guessed they are both kind, considerate, generous people who are totally committed to giving back. My guess is whenever they are deciding whether or not to do something they will subconsciously be making a judgement against their value set. This is what a brand should do. For example, the essence of Apple is Think Different and they live this in everything they do from the people they employ, to the products they sell to the retail shops we visit.
There endeth the branding lesson by a non expert. If you would like to know more Nameer is your man. He is also the person who when I asked about the 10km last weekend, namely did he manage to dodge the traffic queues into Media City, his reply was, ‘oh, I ran from my home’ (in somewhere like Abu Dhabi) ‘to the start’.
All time top 5s and the return of the Gang of Four
Having done my top 5s for 2010 a few people (one actually) asked me whether I had seen or heard anything in 2010 to change my all time top 5s. After a couple of seconds thought the answer was a resounding no.
Last week Gang of Four released their first album for sixteen years (or thereabouts). On the off-chance anyone out there is also a fan you can hear the stream by clicking the link below.
It always makes my day when someone pitches in below, so feel free to comment.