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For a moment, I was not sure if Apple were losing me.

Or if Samsung were winning me.

But there is only one crystal clear reality in actual fact.

Apple are losing me.

Brand Loyalty.

I’m a real Apple fan.

Because of the aesthetic across their products.

And the usability with the iPhone.

Usability on the MacBook is weak.

So that’s not what hooks me.

Nevertheless, I never ever looked elsewhere.

Until recently.

Attitude.

I loved their attitude once upon a time too.

But, somehow, I have come to think of them as arrogant and salesy.

And I am starting to see their biggest competitors as humble, hard working and a genuine alternatives.

I am not quite ready to jump ship, because I am (albeit at arms length) ‘learning’ the competitor’s  products.

But I am interested.

And this is new.

And from what I read the 2019 iPhone won’t boomerang me back either.

It’s launch will apparently be headlined by some unexciting, intangible, immediately forgettable bollocks like ‘better screen’ or ‘faster’ or ‘there’s a new gobbledy-bollocks in the camera.’

Bored.

I’m just a bit bored with Apple.

I am not cheering for them any more.

I don’t care if they win or if they lose.

They try to sell to me every few days with some annoying crap about memory on my phone.

MY phone.

And I don’t want THEM selling to ME on MY phone.

How dare they!

And their adverts are neither as artful nor beautiful as they once were.

These days they look like they are created by several good minds instead of one beautiful one.

Marriage.

A great relationship with a brand is like a marriage.

It is love.

But, unlike great marriages in the real world – the real impetus behind the relationship is one way only.

It is the job of the brand to make me feel heady-in-love.

As consumer, I am largely passive in this relationship, until the brand compels me to behave differently and connect.

And eventually fall in love.

Waiting.

So with Apple, these days, I wait.

I want to be seduced.

Entertained.

Bowled over.

Over and over and over.

I want to be proud to be Apple.

And I am not.

The End.

It’ll be some time before I leave Apple.

But the fact that I am even entertaining the idea; the fact that my head has been turned is disappointing for me.

You see, I still love them.

I just don’t think they love me any more.

So, I am sorry to say, that instead of me only having eyes for Apple – I look around.

I rate the others as they jostle for position.

I compare.

I create my personal hierarchies with the other players in the market.

The only good thing that has come from the deterioration of my dedication to Apple, for me, is that I can now write my worst pun since starting this blog.

In the last sentence.

Here goes…

I now do not only have eyes for Apple.

I see many credible alternatives, and I am prioritising them all as pretenders to the crown.

My monogamous relationship with Apple is over.

It has ended in tiers.

When you FINALLY commit to doing that thing you’ve been thinking about doing for ages, push it down.

Internalise it.

Just build it in to your life invisibly.

That way, you’re much more likely to keep on doing it.

That’s the way habits form.

They just become ‘something you do’.

The Trap.

I go to a personal trainer 3 times a week.

And apart from the odd story on 50odd I don’t talk about it.

It’s because I find that when people do rattle on about things like this, they are as much fed by the reaction of the person they are telling, as the thing itself.

Ooh. This diet I’m on is a bugger. I had a cabbage for tea last night. What do you think about that? Cabbage. That’s all I had. A cabbage. But if I want to lose this 5 stone, I just HAVE to do it. What do you think about that? Cabbage. Oooooh!

I fell into the trap a week ago.

I’m off caffeine and alcohol at the moment as I was knackered and dizzy.

And I mentioned it to far too many people.

It somehow became a badge.

I think that – for some reason – I wanted to say it, then see what people said.

To see how they reacted.

I think I did that because I wanted to turn a very personal decision into a group decision.

So that someone might talk me out of it.

Oooh I’ve had these headaches. Because I’m off alcohol and caffeine. Aren’t I great being off caffeine and alcohol? Do you think I should stop off alcohol and caffeine for ever? Or shall we go to the pub tonight? What do you think? Are you busy later? Pub? Me and you? 7?

I didn’t say this, exactly.

But something weird was going on in my head.

So I’ve decided to shut up now.

And push it down.

That way, I sense it’ll just become part of what I do.

A habit.

And I actually think I’ll get a better feeling if someone ever comments on the effect of the change I’ve made, as opposed to hearing their comments on the change itself.

Would you rather do the popular thing?

Or the right thing?

Popular v Right

This is an age-old conundrum.

For people and for business.

And especially for the young these days, it is huge.

Young people need our help with this.

Because young people see and feel the ripples of self-harm and suicide from the ostracised and the bullied around them every single day.

And because they want to avoid the same troubles, they choose popular over right.

Choice.

Being popular versus doing the right thing seems like a choice to young people.

And we need to change that.

By showing that doing the right thing is actually the popular thing as well.

Because people that matter (so not the bullies and the fools) really do respect and love people that stick to their convictions and be themselves.

It takes confidence, I know.

And confidence is transient for most.

So I know it’s hard.

Brands.

In my work at Always  Wear Red, one of the reasons we are becoming more popular is because we are – wherever and whenever we can – doing what we know is right.

It’s the same for Patagonia.

And Hiut Jeans.

So I think that, because young people buy into these brands, they already see and know deep down that right can be popular too.

Let’s keep the message going.

Right is popular.

Sometimes in business, ‘The Medium is the Message’.

This is a marketing observation.

So if you are in business or thinking about being in business, this is for you.

Medium.

By ‘the medium’ I am referring to ‘the means’ or some other nuance around how you actually choose to deliver the marketing message.

This is important because if you get the medium wrong, no matter how good the message is – I won’t listen.

The medium becomes the message.

Examples. 

So, an in-house photocopied A5 flyer on 80gsm paper (80gsm is the weight of ordinary/run-of-the-mill/crappy office paper) is never good enough.

I don’t care who you are, it is never good enough.

Unless you run an ordinary, run-of-the-mill and crappy business of course.

Then you’re fine.

And so it follows that the way in which we try to sell or influence is always part of the message.

So if you ask to connect with me on LinkedIn and then in the first or second message treat me as a prospect – I immediately unfollow you.

Because you’re a lazy and unimaginative.

And the way in which you have tried to engage me becomes part of your messaging – to me.

Similarly, as I also don’t like to be interrupted in my day-to-day life, I now make a special effort to remember not to use the brands that interrupt Izobel and I as we watch Mr. Men on YouTube.

The Medium Is The Message. 

As a brand guy, I am big on the importance of message.

I am all about brand really.

Brand being the unique proposition that your business owns.

But no matter how good you are at a brand level – please get the medium right.

If you do not, you will be ignored.

Or worse than that, consciously or subconsciously blacklisted as simply not good enough.

‘Ever feel like you’re living in a sitcom?

This actually happened last Sunday at our house.

At just after midday.

Background:

I write at home on Sunday morning.

A 2 year old Izobel distracted me for a couple of hours which is fine of course.

But it did affect my schedule.

So I was – inside – slightly tense as I went downstairs to make some toast.

And couldn’t find the butter.

Me:

Where’s the butter?

Lisa:

It’s in the fridge.

Me: 

Where?

(I was was conscious of my entirely undeserved, curt, monosyllabic tone with Lisa.

But I didn’t deviate.)

Me: 

I can’t find it!

Lisa (slightly higher pitch but still relaxed):

It’s in the fridge door!

Me (holding up butter):

Is it this one?

Lisa (Still slightly screechy but in control):

Yes! That’s the butter!

Lisa again, this time lower:

Anchor.

Now; I didn’t hear this last word clearly…

I thought she’d said, in her then lowered voice… something else.

I paused for a moment.

But said nothing.

And after I had buttered my toast I wandered back upstairs.

Smiling and reflecting on how something so trivial could have escalated, just because Lisa mentioned the brand name of the butter.

At least – I think that’s what she said.

If you want to start your own business.

Or if you’re running your own business and want to run a better business.

Know the difference between a Trademark and a Trustmark.

Trademark.

Most businesses look to build a trademark.

A trademark looks unique.

So unique in fact that it is authentic Intellectual Property and you’ll invest money in protecting it.

The McDonald’s golden arches for example.

Nike’s swoosh.

Primarily visual.

And a great reminder of a brand’s presence in the market..

Trustmark.

A Trustmark is better, though.

Being a Trustmark focuses more on what you’re recognised for than what you actually look like.

A Trustmark ‘feels‘ unique.

Because of how it behaves and how it actually ‘is’.

How it makes decisions.

Values are part of it being a Trustmark – and the fact that customers know what the Trustmark’s values actually are.

A Trustmark evokes emotional connection.

Loyal fans and followings.

And genuine adoration.

It’s normally because of the change the organisation is trying to make.

Their purpose.

All Trustmarks have a purpose.

Trademark v Trustmark.

So, if you want to start your own business.

Or if you’re running your own business and want to run a better business.

Build a Trustmark.

Because you’ll matter more and last longer if you do.

(People like angelfysh know how to do this, by the way.

So if you need help – ask).

I am not sure that I’ll do this now she’s here. 

But I had always imagined that when I had a child I would paint a continuous line around their bedroom wall.

On the line I’d write the following years:

  • 1600
  • 1700
  • 1800
  • 1900
  • 2000
  • 2100
  • 2200

This would allow me to highlight, in words, world wars.

World cup wins.

And with lines, I could highlight the life and death of Charles Darwin, Salvador Dali, David Bowie.

And me.

And Lisa.

And Lisa’s mum who is no longer here.

And Izobel’s 100 years, too.

The Visit.

It’s unlikely that I’ll do this.

Today, it feels like a blunt tool.

Although the principle – to show Izobel that this life of ours is merely a visit – is a sound one.

Why would I want to do this?

It’s simple really…

Whenever I visit somewhere – a holiday venue, a new city or town – I ask myself a question.

It is:

What will I do when I get there?

I think this is a good question for all of us to ask about this visit.

The most important visit of all.

I am spending some of my 50th year wishing I was 30 again.

So this week, I thought I’d address this properly.

Over a cup of coffee.

I am a determined kind of guy so I concentrated.

And I have actually worked out how to do it.

The Plan. 

Here’s my plan.

All I have to do to feel 30 again (I can’t ‘be’ 30 again, but this is as close as I can get) is the following:

  • Think about all 50 year olds as ‘nearly dead people’ with ‘buy milk’ as the most important thing they have to do today.
  • When I go to the pub, go out early and stay out until closing time.
  • Drink much more alcohol.
  • Go out to the pub much more often.
  • Eat in no pattern at all, and giving no consideration to what I am actually eating.
  • Sleep on the settee fully clothed a few times a week.
  • Don’t change  the bed for 3 months.
  • Put myself first in most circumstances and don’t think about the world after I’ve gone.
  • Go to the cashpoint and get out as much money as possible in one go. Then cheer, smile and pat the shoulder of the stranger behind me as I wandered off, notes in hand.

30 at 50

But it’s rubbish idea.

I suppose it’s called, ‘behaving like I’m 30 when I’m 50’.

That’s different to ‘behaving like I’m 30 when I’m 30’.

50

Instead, I am going to work out how to be an excellent 50 year old.

Because, in theory at least, the age I do best at 50 –  is 50.

I have 5 months left.

So I’d better hurry up.

The best advice I’ve given myself in ages.

Is to be a tourist in my own city.

And better still – in my own life.

Tourists.

I was walking home one night last week along Newcastle Quayside.

It was about 7.30pm so it was just dark.

Lights on bridges, buildings and landmarks glowed twice.

The second time in the mirror of the River Tyne.

As I walked, I dodged quite a few smiling and laughing people taking pictures of each other.

They really did wonder at the architecture and the bridges.

But also in the street furniture, the neon signs, the laughing hoards and the cobbles.

These are the big things, and the little things, that make up my home.

I forget that where I live, and where we all live to varying degrees, is really great.

We’re lucky.

So I continued to imagine my hometown as a tourist would, just for a moment.

And smiled.

Home.

And when I arrived home 20 minutes later I once again arrived a place that could be bigger and could be better.

We could own a boat for example, sat bobbing up and down on the marina over which our house looks.

But we don’t.

Yet we could also own a house that didn’t overlook a marina.

Perspective.

I suppose it’s all about perspective.

There are many things I want.

But there are many things I have, too.

Some I don’t even notice.

They’re too familiar.

Unless I think like a tourist of course.

And just then, as Izobel runs over to me and my own front door closed behind me.

I imagined I was watching Izobel and I cuddling, as a tourist in my own life.

And I am reminded how lucky I am.

As I was paying for my petrol this week I looked down at the little machine I’d popped my card into.

The screen was asking me if I wanted to add 25p to the total bill for a charity.

I stared at the screen.

I could tell the man behind the counter was staring at me.

So I stared up at him.

Then I stared back down at the screen.

And pressed, ‘no’.

Charity.

I have a love/hate relationship with charity.

I suppose I dislike the fact that they have to exist in the first place.

But I understand that they do.

The passion of those that love the cause pulls against the inadequacies or indifference of whoever or whatever should be helping out.

Charity fills the gap.

Guilt. 

I do feel guilty sometimes though.

For not supporting, well, everything.

But that just can’t be done.

By me or anyone.

However I do also get annoyed by the fact that, sometimes, when I do support something – there is follow up. 

I don’t like the follow-up.

The systems they’ve developed to ask me, who has given money once, for more money.

Again, I understand it.

But I don’t like it.

And I actually think that it works against the ultimate goal of increasing donations over time.

OXFAM. 

I popped a couple of quid into an OXFAM bucket a wee while ago.

And gave them my mobile number so they could text me something, or so I could text them something.

I can’t remember.

But I do remember them calling me one night at 7pm about a week later to chat to me about helping out in some other way.

I really didn’t like that.

Their short term grabbery has scuppered any chance of my long term sympathy for their cause.

There are other charities I can move to.

Unless they do the same of course.

And if they do, I’ll move again.

Better way.

What’s a better way?

I’m not sure.

Telling the story well.

Building the brand so I understand the change they are making.

Making me feel part of something.

Clarity about exactly where the money goes to.

All these things help I suppose.

And even though half of the world’s wealth is owned by just 1% of the world’s population, they – whoever they are – don’t seem to be doing that much.

So in the meantime, let’s all chose a charity or two and help out where we can.

Just until they start calling us at home in the evening, asking us for more money, when we’re relaxing with our families.

If they do that – they can sod off.