April 20, 2016

Nothing But The Same Old Story (And That's Why We Love It!)

This week's post comes courtesy of my colleague Anne Tannam, guest contributor and Brand Manager at Islandbridge.

Recently I was chatting with my colleague (and sometimes brother) about Guinness' 'Made of More' and Smirnoff's 'We're Open' ad campaigns, and his reactions to both.

These ad campaigns celebrate inclusivity and integrity, focussing on individuals who see beyond the restrictive norms of society to our common humanity. In one of their ads, Smirnoff uses the example of Chris Fonseca, an amazing dance teacher, who happens to be deaf, and John Hammond, a music scout, who heard no colour in music.

What's The Story?

With such similar content and messaging (seeing beyond our differences to the bonds of real community), he was surprised how different his response was to both. In the case of 'Made Of More', he felt a strong emotional response to the story. However his reaction to 'We're Open' was more a critical evaluation of the ad and how well it worked.

Simply put, he watched the Guinness ad heart first and the Smirnoff ad head first.

There are many possible factors at play here that may predispose his preferences, one being personal taste, another being tribal (we are Irish and the black stuff flows through our collective veins), but I got to thinking about how we connect with brands through story and though we like some variation to add a bit of spice to the relationship, ultimately, we are looking to hear the same story over and over again, to reassure us that the rules of engagement have not changed and that our shared values remain the same.

A Brand New Old Story

So I had a look online at older Guinness ad campaigns and discovered that Guinness has been telling this story for years and years. The characters and backdrops may change but the values stay the same.  It's a magical story of an individual who dares to think differently, live differently, love differently, and how community is built when we celebrate those ordinary, heroic traits in all of us. It's a universal story and if Guinness were a Pixar film, theirs would be A Bug's Life and Flik the hero.

I asked myself the same question about Smirnoff and what story they were telling and in the end concluded that the ad is less about telling a great story, and more about asserting an attitude, an attitude that is of great value and substance but struggles to reach the heart the way a great story does.

When a brand consistently stays true to its story, it frees up its audience to enter the story and respond, not just as consumers, but as fellow travellers on life's adventures. And of course, in that state of emotional openness, we are much more likely to be persuaded to buy whatever product is on offer. We're got to live in the real world after all!

Over To You

What has been your response to the Guinness and Smirnoff ad campaigns or what other brand stories have you responded to recently? We'd love to hear from you.

Anne works alongside Gerard and the team at Islandbridge Brand Development to help our clients develop a brand framework within which they can build new relationships and strengthen existing ones to gain competitive edge and grow their business. 

April 15, 2016

Flipping Food-Ordering On Its Head

The world of fast food moves fast, but not quickly enough for the many of us whose hunger pangs are frustrated by the often elaborate means of ordering it for delivery or collection. Very much a first-world problem, I know, but try telling that to the growing numbers of people who see ordering in as an essential part of the daily routine after a busy day's work.

And whilst fast food itself has moved on from the traditional chipper or Chinese takeaway, with many leading restaurants now offering a take-home menu, ordering in still involves either the phone call to the restaurant or the online system that obliges the hungry customer to jump through a series of hoops before placing their order.

So Frustrated, He Flipped

Our featured guest on Kickstart Your Business, Conor McCarthy, was one such hungry and frustrated diner. With a background in software development, Conor first considered developing an online food ordering system back in 2007, but didn't feel he could bring anything new to the dinner party back then. Seven years later, and appalled by the poor customer experience delivered by other food-ordering apps, he decided to develop Flipdish, a two-tap app for the hungry diner.

His revolutionary app, cuts out many of the unnecessary steps to dining heaven, resulting in food ordering that's almost two and a half times faster than competitors.

Winning The Hunger Games

Whilst George professed himself to be a sceptic when it comes to fast food (he's the man, remember, who turned down the McDonald's franchise opportunity because "the Irish will never take to burgers"), he did appreciate that for the growing numbers of people who want fast food fast, Conor's speedy app is likely to be just what the hungry diner ordered.

Meanwhile, I applauded those features which Conor has included, many of them intuitive but still absent from so many other apps, such as localising your choice of restaurant or dish, which make ordering such a pleasure. Technology often promises to deliver better customer service, but the customer experience is frequently the opposite. An app that genuinely makes things easier is something of a rarity.

Fast Forward To Success

How do you suggest Conor might win the hunger games for diners in Ireland, the UK and beyond?

Listen back to Conor on Kickstart Your Business (with thanks to Energia), and tell us what you think? We'd love to hear from you.

Kickstart Your Business is broadcast on The Right Hook on Newstalk every Thursday around 6.25pm, and is available for playback immediately afterwards at Newstalk. com.

April 08, 2016

Have Book, Will Time Travel

My recollection of the subjects I learned at school is patchy at best, but those hazy memories are of a series of lessons in stand-alone subjects, which bore little or no relation to one another.

Even those teachers who taught more than a single subject seldom linked the events of one to the other, with the result that I left school with a number of separate parts rather than any real body of knowledge. Whilst I knew from the writings of an English poet that no man is an island, my impressions were of solitary experts - poets, geographers and mathematicians - rather than of any great continent of human development. Facts in history were largely presented as separate from facts in science and the arts, and any connection between them seemed purely accidental.

And yet recent commemoration of the events of 1916 have reminded me that the world of human action and thought is greatly intertwined, with the writers, thinkers, rebels and soldiers of that period all parts of a greater worldwide whole.

The Book That Binds

Our featured guest on Kickstart Your Business was Alison Hackett, a teacher with a background in maths and physics, who has always been fascinated with the role played by the sciences in the development of the world, and the links between the activities of one with another in the lives of men.

She developed The Visual Time Traveller project in order to present key milestones in world history over the past 500 years in a way that would appeal to viewers in a whole number of ways, what she describes as a mix of eye candy and brain food.

This extraordinary body of work offers five year windows on the world of the time via a series of images that include details of 12 events of the period. The Visual Time Traveller is a book, an exhibition, a series of talks and a whole lot more.

A World Of Wonder

Both Shane - standing in for George - and Gerard were awestruck at Alison's achievement, an extraordinary compendium of eye-catching pictures and ear-catching words that provides a fascinating insight into how the worlds within worlds collide in the most unexpected ways through the activities of people who appear on the surface to have little in common.

Gerard suggested that this is a big, big idea that needs focus in order to bring it to a successful commercial conclusion. In particular, Alison needs to determine quickly who are her best customers for The Visual Time Traveller, so that she can begin to realise the value she has created through her investment in research, design, creation and production of a truly unique product.

Balancing The Books

How do you suggest Alison might go about getting the whole world buying into The Visual Time Traveller?

Listen back to Alison on Kickstart Your Business (with thanks to Energia), and tell us what you think? We'd love to hear from you.

Kickstart Your Business is broadcast on The Right Hook on Newstalk every Thursday around 6.25pm, and is available for playback immediately afterwards at Newstalk. com.

April 01, 2016

Waited On Hand And Foot

Although modern life doesn't make quite the same demands on the body in terms of physical labour as before, hands and feet remain busy body parts, getting through a great deal of work and play each day. And yet these vital parts are largely neglected in terms of regular upkeep and maintenance, particularly by the male of the species, who's often harder on them than his female counterpart and slower to give them the care and attention they deserve.

At least that's the case in this part of the world, where metrosexual man has been slow to put in more than a fleeting appearance.

Just The Mani And Pedi Cure

Elsewhere however, men and women alike have been a little quicker on the uptake than our neglected and neglectful Irish male.

This week on Kickstart Your Business, we feature Gosha Marek, a Polish native, who is determined to take the footsore and careworn in hand courtesy of her Noir Hand & Foot Spa offering in Dublin's South Anne Street.

Walking On Air

Gosha treated both George and I to a pedicure before our feature, and we both reported walking on air afterwards as a result.

George waxed lyrical about the luxurious surroundings of Noir, and noted that Gosha's treatment went far beyond the much more superficial pedicures he's received elsewhere.

Meanwhile, I reminded listeners that Gosha's start-up is a hark back to many more traditional businesses in its strong service offering. Her challenge is to help neglectful men like George and I form the good habit of having a manicure and pedicure on a regular basis. Creating a base of returning clients means that Gosha can concentrate more on delivering a top class service and less on drumming up new customers.

Now You Help Us Nail It

What do you suggest Gosha might do to win over more and more hands and feet to care for at Noir Nails?

Listen back to Gosha on Kickstart Your Business (with thanks to Energia), and tell us what you think? We'd love to hear from you.

Kickstart Your Business is broadcast on The Right Hook on Newstalk every Thursday around 6.25pm, and is available for playback immediately afterwards at Newstalk. com.