Stefan Drew - The Marketing Magician

FE, Education & Business Marketing: Quick, Effective, Low Cost Marketing

Stefan Drew - The Marketing Magician

Tag: brands

Brands Issues at Ahamay

Businesses Can Spend Millions on Their Brand; But It Can Soon Fall Apart.


We all know brands are important, especially to big business.  But you can spend millions building a brand only to find that things go wrong.

Take for example Ahamay.  They are known internationally for everything from music to motors.  

Have you heard of them?  Is it a brand you are familiar with?

Ahamay were flying the corporate flag in Portugal when I was there recently.  

The only problem was I didn’t recognise them as a huge international brand because they had made one very simple mistake with their branding.


You see their flag was printed so that the writing could be read from either side of the flag – lined flags are much more expensive, so they have gone for the cheap option.

Amahay are in fact Yahama … but only on one side of their flags!.  As Yahama they are well recognised.  But as Amahay no one really recognises them .. and if they do they laugh.


In marketing we need to look at every situation from various perspectives.  How we see it may not be the same as how someone else sees it.   

We’ve all made mistakes in marketing, certainly I have.  The trick is to spot them before everyone else does.

Finally let me tell you about a succinct strapline that was pointed out to me recently. The competitor of one of my clients were offering the chance to “learn business from the inside”.  By this they meant they were providing the opportunities to work in a business and learn from the experience.   My client liked the concept until I pointed out that the phrase could be perceived in an unintended way.  Being inside means to be in prison, so some people may think this is a training course for people being detained at Her Majesties pleasure (for my non English readers being detained at Her Majesties pleasure means to be in prison until such time as Her Majesty, the Queen, decides you can leave!).

Sometimes our straplines, headlines etc can be read in several ways.

When Lewis Smith from The independent interviewed me recently I reminded him how Rolls Royce allegedly nearly had a similar problem with their choice of words.  In the 1960s they were going to name one model the Silver Mist.  Eventually they choose Silver Shadow as “mist” in German means manure. 

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Ryanair’s Branding Changes: My Comments in the Independent

Lewis Smith from The Independent called me a few days ago.  He wanted to know my views on the latest Ryanair saga.

Ryanair claim they are going to change the colour of their logo.  I must say my first comment to Lewis was to ask if this a follow up tactic based around the fact Ryanair had previously suggested charging for use of the toilets and giving the option of having a seat or standing space.  


We then chatted for 20+ minutes on how colours are emotional and can contribute to the perception of a brand.  I explained how some supermarkets used vivid colours to draw attention to, and denote, cheap products.   Other supermarkets like Waitrose are more subdued in their choice.  They use greens and other colours to denote freshness, value etc.  

I also mentioned how Gap had previously said they were going to change colours and backed down after critics made an issue of this on social media.      

Despite us talking for quite a while the actual content I’m quoted on is relatively small .. but it is a vital consideration.  You see the other experts that contributed were specialists and i’m a generalist.  Their specialisms were in colour psychology and brands, and each focused on the importance of their area.  

Much of what I’d discussed was confirmed by them.  But the bit that was printed was about the fact I don’t believe you can easily test the true impact of brand colour changes for one simple reason.  It never happens in isolation.  It is always part of an attempt to improve the image of a company and will be accompanied by a whole series of other changes. Things like, as in Ryanair’s case,  additional exposure in the media.  

Of course you can extrapolate from focus groups and other research but really being sure that it is the colour change and nothing but the colour change is impossible.

One last thing I discussed with Lewis was how Rolls Royce had nearly named the Rolls Royce Silver Shadow as the Silver Mist until they realised that, in German, mist means manure.  

You can read the full Ryanair article here 


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Maximising Business Income: Selling Expensive Top End Products or Brands

Whatever product or service you sell you could probably charge mush more for it .. perhaps 2-3 times as much …… or even 100 times much!


I know it sounds illogical when there is a worldwide recession but there are still plenty of people with high disposable incomes who will willingly pay much more for simple things if only you give them the chance.


The photo on this page is of pot grown plants that has been pruned in the Japanese style.  This is currently very popular.


In my back garden I have three of these plants in pots.  They are only 8 inches high and cost me £2.99 each.  In 5-6 years they will be a tall as the ones in the photo and if I prune them correctly 2-3 times each year they will look very similar.  As someone that once owned a plant nursery, and made my living out of growing plants, I look forward to doing this myself even though it will take a few years.


Some people however want to buy the finished article and plant in in their perfect garden today.  They can do that.  All it takes it to shell out the £888.99 the garden centre is asking for each of these plants.  Even in a recession they will sell quite a few as a lot of people don’t want to do what i’m looking forward to doing .. growing my own.  they want instant gratification and will pay for the privilege; even when it costs £886.00 more per plant.


Now you might think that waiting 5-6 years to produce a product is a long time to wait when you want income this week. 


I agree.


In the above case the product had been altered over time and we don’t all have time for this.  So how about repacking an existing product and selling it for more. Every day millions of repackaged products and services are sold for more money than the standard product.  Often the only difference is the branding or packaging .. and that requires a branding strategy.  In supermarkets you’ll see top price products that command high prices compared with own brand products and the only difference will be the packaging.  


Years ago I worked in the food industry and we produced the same product day after day.  Every day or so we’d change the label and package the product for another supermarket but only rarely did we change the ingredients in the product.  In fact things like butter and cream are so closely regulated there is little you can really do to change them.  Butter for example can be unsalted ot have salt added .. but you can’t do anything else to it .. except add a fancy wrapper!


So which of your products or services can you repackage and change more for .. there will be a way to add value via repackaging to any product you care to name.  Your job is to find it and pocket the profit.



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Brand disasters: Rover cars

Why do some brands nose dive?  When branding really fails.


Rover had been making cars since 1904 and had made a mark.  But in 1994 BMW bought Rover and many argue this was the beggining of the end.  BMW continued to innovate with technicaly good designs but slowly people decided it was dated and too retro for the late 90s.  


What was the answer for the Rover brand?

Despite winning many awards Rover’s sales slipped and the brand was described in some papers as a “living symbol of the UK motor industry’s decline”.  


By 2000 BMW had had enough and decided to break the company up.  The £2million a day losses might have helped the decision.


Brand lessons for businesses


Sometimes you have to focus on the brand and not the product.  The engineering from BMW was good .. it was the perception that was bad.


If the name doesn’t convey the right message then dump it in favour of a positive name and image.  “Triumph” might have worked better than a name that is sometimes given to a dog!


What are you doing to use your brand to succeed rather than fail?

Think about both your business brand and your personal brand.

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