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May 2020

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If you already run a business.

And you want to run a brand.

A proper brand, I mean.

A brand that is valuable because it guides you in the day-to-day.

And valuable because it makes you more money.

There is a lot to get right.

And one of the most important things to get right in the early stages.

Is perspective.

Perspective. 

Most people I work with as a Brand Strategist.

Think that it is the job of a brand to support the product and services on offer.

It isn’t.

It is in fact the other way round.

It is the job of the products and services on offer to support the brand.

What this means. 

What this means is that.

If you already run a business.

And you want to run a brand.

A proper brand, I mean.

A brand that is valuable because it guides you in the day-to-day.

And valuable because it makes you more money.

You have to make promises you believe in.

(I’ll get that right with you).

And you have to make promises you can deliver on.

(That’s your job.

But we’ll keep an eye on it as-we-go to make sure you stay true to who you are).

And all of this invariably involves at least some adaptation of the products and services on offer.

Change.

So stay flexible.

Be prepared to change.

Because if you really do want to build a brand.

Change to what you actually do.

As well as how you actually do it.

Is inevitable.

I am torn.

Really, I am.

Fast Fashion.

Primark, Matalan and similar Fast Fashion brands cancelled 2.4 billion dollars worth of clothing orders from Bangladesh once the Covid-19 crisis began to accelerate.

The result?

Starving workers.

Starving families.

The solution?

https://loststock.co

Loststock

Loststock will send you 3 or 4 pieces of clothing.

From the stockpile of (no longer) Matalan and Primark clothing.

In 4 to 6 weeks.

For £35.

And that.

Apparently.

Will feed a worker and their family for a week.

And if there is 2.4 billion dollars worth of orders sat there.

Then they can process around 6 million orders.

Torn. 

I’m torn though.

Because Primark and Matalan are the people that create the kind of clothing of which less than 20% are actually worn.

The kind of clothing that 70% of which becomes landfill within 3 years.

The kind of clothing that, amazingly, 30% of which never reaches the consumer anyway.

Because for some people.

Fashion moves faster than the clothing can.

Broken.

So all I am hearing from Loststock.

Is a cry for help to mend a broken, broken business.

A business that.

Even when it is working as it is designed to work.

It is broken anyway.

And all I am hearing from Primark and Matalan.

Is that they are double-bastards.

Bastards because they really don’t care about the environment and care little about the consumer habits they were encouraging pre-covid 19.

And double bastards because they clearly care even less about their supply chain than we once thought.

The Future.

I don’t know what to do best for the future.

I am torn because a little bit of me feels like these bad behaving brands are sat there.

Arms crossed.

Whilst Loststock try to solve their problems for them.

I am torn because.

Whilst I feel compelled to help.

I really don’t want to buy the shit clothes that have been commissioned.

And I don’t want to build a bridge for the factories.

From where they are now.

To the other side of Covid-19.

So that Primark and Matalan can pick up from where they left oiff on 6 months time.

So yes.

I am torn.

Really, I am.

More here:

https://www.theguardian.com/global-development/2020/apr/02/fashion-brands-cancellations-of-24bn-orders-catastrophic-for-bangladesh

I’ve started a few businesses.

10, in fact.

And it’s taken me all these years to be brave enough.

And to make the link between what I do.

And who I am.

Tight enough.

To give me the confidence to put my own name front-and-centre.

Mychael. 

mychael.co.uk is my new brand.

Here’s how I articulate what it’s all about:

Turning businesses into brands is amazing! Because brand-rich businesses – are rich businesses.

I get brands noticed, remembered and chosen. I help brands identify why they are different and better. To own their difference. And to tell their story beautifully.

Seriously Playful® means taking emotional and adventurous approaches to Brand Strategy and Storytelling. Standing out, not blending in. Brave, not boring. Creative, not cautious.

25 years and 70 awards in, I work quickly and precisely. Because I am senior enough and seasoned enough to know the rules of world-class brand building. Knowing which rules to follow is important. Knowing which rules to ignore is importanter.

A new chapter.

It’s great pinning down what you do.

(And even greater pinning down what you are for).

Read this here please: https://www.50odd.co.uk/rush/.

When we were both 15.

My friend, John was a big Rush fan.

I listened.

But I never bought any Rush.

John did.

John probably bought everything Rush ever did.

Neil Peart. 

Neil Peart was Rush’s drummer.

He died in January this year.

I play the drums.

Not as well as Neil did, though.

Spirit of Radio.

Here’s Spirit of Radio live.

It actually starts at 6.33.

So jump there if you like.

Then scroll down to hear Spirit of Radio – just the drum track.

Marvellous.

Drums only:

 

We’re moving nicely through lockdown now.

Well, nicely through this lockdown.

There may be another one.

Or there may be another few.

After all.

The virus is still out there.

And the vaccine – isn’t.

The Old Normal. 

Anyhow, I just wanted to let you know what my crystal ball just told me about what it is going to be like for business communications on the other side of lockdown.

I wanted to let you know what brand builders and marketers and designers should be doing once we are through lockdown.

So here it is.

If you are a brand builder or a marketer or a designer.

When we are the other side of lockdown.

Do pretty much the same as you did before.

Because it won’t be a new normal.

It will be an old normal.

Everything after lockdown.

And I mean everything.

Will be pretty much the same as it was before lockdown.

Good or Shit. 

You may also find this useful.

When we get to the other side of lockdown.

You will either be a good brand builder, marketer or designer.

Or you will be a shit brand builder, marketer or designer.

Here’s how you can work it out:

  1. If you were shit before lockdown, you’ll still be shit after lockdown. Either because you’ll simply still be same shit after lockdown as you were before. Or you’ll be shit after lockdown because even though  you used to be good before lockdown. You’ll be expecting a fundamentally different world and that fundamentally different brand building, marketing or design approaches will be appropriate as a consequence. Either way. You’ll be shit.
  2. If you were good before. And you understand that in every pandemic, war or deep recession – ever – markets and consumer behaviour were back to what they were before within months – you’ll still be good. But only if you keep the same fundamental approach at a brand level. With just a few minor tweaks (if any) at a marketing or design level.

After lockdown. 

So there you go.

If you want to know what will work in the new normal.

After lockdown.

Simply remember (or learn) the very, very best of what worked in the old normal.

And do that.

PIONEERS is a portraiture photography exhibition I did.

It toured several venues around the North of England in 2019.

The word PIO(NE)ERS quietly anchoring the subjects in their hometowns in the North East (NE) of England.

20 Portraits.

PIONEERS portraits are deeply personal.

Many reveal aspects of the subject not normally shared.

Those chosen as sitters are from.

Or have impacted positively.

The North East of England.

They are achievers.

Considered by many to be adventurous.

Charismatic.

And inspirational.

They are known for their fearless creativity and often-unpredictable approach to doing business.

They dare to be different.

And they are as generous and supportive as they are successful and memorable.

Some of them you’ll know.

Some you won’t.

Either way.

Here they are: https://www.mychael.co.uk/pioneers/.

I’m experimenting with swinging.

Desperate times.

Desperate measures.

Swinger.

Here’s how I describe it.

At https://www.mychael.co.uk/swinger/

Half awake.

Half arsed.

Half truths.

swinger is 15 minutes of early morning chatter at the half-way point of my weekly, Friday morning run.

Every Friday at 6am I stand on Newcastle’s Swing Bridge, watching the sun rise and filming a 15 minute monologue about whatever comes to mind.

So if you’ve never tried swinging – now’s your chance.

Email swinger@mychael.co.uk and let me know when you’d like to join me.

Thank you.

I was there this morning.

With Colin.

(And Colin.

By the way.

Is my dog).

Said Baaghil is one of the world’s best known Brand Experts.

Particularly in the Middle East.

He’s better known as Unconventional Baaghil.

And he’s a thoroughly nice chap.

Opinion. 

I have an opinion about brand.

It is that,

The thing with brand is that, it is just so simple.

It is so simple that even some of the greatest business minds don’t understand it.

I build on this by exploring how most business leaders overcomplicate brand.

So they brand is always sub-optimal.

LinkedIn.

Anyhow, I recently spoke about this on LinkedIn.

Baaghil saw it.

Commented.

Asked me to appear on his global podcast.

And, later, invited me to join his global consultancy portal, TakeAnswers.

Unconventional. 

Unconventional thinking.

Attracts unconventional people.

And as a consequence.

Unconventional things happen to you.

Try it.

Throw your opinion out there.

Be brave.

Who knows what might happen?

Roger Blight was in my team of Brand Consultants.

At the first Brand Consultancy that I founded, Violet Bick.

Roger Blight.

Before Roger and I worked together.

Roger had been Financial Director of Nike (UK).

He was with Nike for 18 years through much of the 80’s and 90’s .

So Roger worked at a comparatively small Nike at the beginning.

And the stories Roger told about how Nike grew.

Are as important now as they were 40 years ago.

From 3 to 1.

Nike were third in the world behind Reebok and Adidas when the 1991 recession hit.

Adidas and Reebok, fearful of the future, adjusted brand communication and (amongst other things) reduced advertising spend.

They held their breath.

Roger and Nike didn’t.

They kept on investing budget, time and energy.

They kept the brand breathing.

And Nike leapfrogged them both to emerge as the global number 1 just a few years later.

Business as Usual. 

OK, so it’s not ‘Business as Usual’ at the moment.

But – more than we think – it really is ‘Consumers as Usual’.

Consumers today are the same people they were 6 months ago.

They’ll still be fundamentally the same in a couple of years.

And there is always a gap between what consumers say they will do and what they actually do.

Especially when data is gathered in exceptional times.

Don’t Pause (Completely).

So shift shape and shift gear yes.

But don’t pause completely.

Don’t hold your breath.

Because you may not last very long at all if you do.

Endnote. 

OK.

OK.

I have to add an endnote to this apparently simple bit of, ‘keep spending (budget, energy and/or time)’ advice.

As well as my apparently simple observation that ‘people stay the same no matter what’.

Especially because I am the Founder of Always Wear Red.

A brand dedicated to changing the way consumers buy clothing.

Banking on (and influencing) morphing consumer priorities.

Look…

All I am saying is be careful of these two things:

  1. Be careful you don’t make the mistake of seeing the world how you’d like it to be – instead of how it really is.
  2. Be careful you don’t make any long term decisions for your brand based on what people are feeling, saying and doing right now.

So if it sounds like I am zigging and zagging a bit with this subject.

I am.

And if it sounds like I am almost ‘advising myself’.

And reminding myself to be careful of the two things I’ve mentioned just above, too.

I am.

Important.

This is important.

Because, in summary, whilst there will be some behavioural changes in your customer base because of the virus.

History tells us that the change us unlikely to be anywhere near as extreme as you imagine.

And it is also unlikely to last anywhere near a long as you’d imagine either.

If you want to chat about this, please email me at hello@mychael.co.uk as a get-go.

You’re welcome anytime.