Archive for September, 2009

Living up to it

September 22, 2009

Ah, the brand promise. And living up to it.

I just saw this sign outside a pub in town claiming to be the friendliest bar in London.

London's friendliest bar

Quite a statement but at least they invite you to tell them if you think otherwise. It might tempt me in just to see. Although, their sign isn’t exactly advertising to the masses being hidden away on a back street.

I’d also want to go in and tell them that no, in fact, it’s not that cool to have air conditioning if you care about climate change.

A little further down the street I saw a sign for Prestige Dry Cleaners. Another big statement of a brand name. But to me seemingly at odds with their branding with makes me think party planner not the place to take a beautiful but trashed dress post party.

PrestigePerhaps I will try them next time I’ve got some dry cleaning to see if they live up to their prestigious promise. The service offered on their website certainly sounds impressive. Shame about the inconsistent branding. Maybe I saw the old version (the writing on the wall).

When you’re in the business of creating brands for other people (logos, straplines, tone of voice, strategies for use), it’s relatively easy to come up with the goods. But once the commission is complete you usually have no control over whether the company/ organisation/ charity/ initiative is actually living up to that brand promise.

When there are over 2 million bloggers out there, whom people are taking at their word for trusted recommendations and brands to avoid, if you’re not living up to your word then you’ll lose out. And that recognisable, unique brand you spent money on will become one to pass by.


How r u broadcasting?

September 17, 2009

Photo from Flickr Creative Commons

I feel there’s a lot of dinner table chat at the moment about the broadcast generation we’ve become seemingly overnight. One day we didn’t have mobiles, now we can’t live without them. One day we didn’t have a way to broadcast our own daily headlines. And now we do. People use their facebook status updates to shout about everything from the momentous to the mundane. Some are so tedious I long for the good old days of a bit more mystery and intrigue. As a friend said, there are certain things I would prefer my friends not to know about me. I agree, but other people seem to favour the blow by blow online broadcast. YouTube were spot on with their ‘broadcast yourself’ tagline. Perhaps we’ll all have our own TV channel one day. Films like EDtv and the Truman Show and all their nightmare scenarios spring scarily to mind.

Then there are twitter tweets, my current social media medium of choice. Mostly because I use them to keep up with my friends/ acquaintance/ organisations who’ve got interesting things to say and share. Also, there’s a limit on a tweet. There’s less introspectiveness going down on a tweet. Tweets don’t get interrupted by holiday photo albums, although twitpic caters nicely for the odd pic here and there. I don’t feel compelled to follow anyone on Twitter. I haven’t yet had long-gone (and gone for a reason) friends start stalking me on Twitter. And I can follow famous people!

Inspired by something I saw on the writers’ network 26, I’ve written an A-Z story of our daily broadcasting. Words beginning with x are the biggest challenge!

Anyone broadcasting can deliver effect, fantasy, genius, horror in journalistic keyboard life made now. Oh pretty quickly realising several times unleashing very x-aggerated yelling zone.

And for my final broadcast headline of this post, check these crazy social media statistics. Does it make you want to broadcast more or less? I’m not sure…

If you’ve got it…

September 16, 2009

Lovely bit of pavement marketing just seen on Southwark Street.


Makes me think the answer to my quest for a ‘one a day’ challenge a la Alastair Humphries’ a-photo-a-day, should be to capture a new sign every day. Watch this space for a Flickr page of sign pics.

In the meantime, check this snap of a delightfully-sounding street name in York – Whip Ma Whop Ma Gate – courtesy of my friend Bev. Gotta be said with a Yorkshire accent!


The School of George

September 14, 2009

I’ve tweeted this before but it deserves more than a 140 character mention. I totally agree with Caroline Brimmer – the Programme Director of The School of Life – on her pedalling thoughts. She writes…

‘The saddle is one of the very best places from which to contemplate the world. As Robert M Pirsig, author of the infamous Zen and the Art of Motorcycle Maintenance, said “In a car you’re always in a compartment…You’re a passive observer. On a cycle the frame is gone. You’re in the scene, not just watching it. The sense of presence is overwhelming.”’

It’s not surprising then that The School of Life offers a Philosophy by Bicycle day trip. 20 miles to cover the whole of Western philosophy. That’s speedy Sartre, rapid Rousseau and hasty Hobbes!

On my recent holiday – 2 wheels, trois belles, 230 miles – there was a lot of time for philosophical contemplation between crepe breaks, chain fixing pit stops (I only properly learnt how to use the gears of the bike I borrowed on our 4th day!) and cursing those unexpected Norman ‘monts’ and that ferocious coastal ‘vent’.


I found myself thinking about the conversations I’ve had with friends recently about their own informal rules/ quotes/ film and song lyrics/ sayings that they live by. Typically, in that initially surprising but probably subliminally determined way, at the same time as talking about it I came across articles in the media (a supplement about how to be happy in the Saturday Guardian), was recommended books on the topic (like Jonathan Haidt’s The Happiness Hypothesis) and was introduced to organisations including The School of Life with its ‘ideas to live by’. I’m intrigued by their MOT of your mind service although I’m not sure I’d be brave enough to test it out!

With these timely prompts, recent musings over my freelance offering, and mile upon mile of thoughts from the saddle I’ve come up with a few rules of my own. I’m not sure if they make me cry or cringe, but they’re an articulation of my values/ beliefs/ motivations/ whatever, that I’ve illustrated by some of my favourite quotes/ sayings/ advice.

So, here goes…

1. Give it a go

The hardest part of doing anything is making the decision to do it — My brother

He who dares wins — Del Boy Trotter

2. Be an individual

In order to be irreplaceable one must always be different — Coco Chanel

3. Keep calm and carry on

Worry pretends to be necessary but serves no useful purpose – Eckhart Tolle

Never worry about anything you can’t change — Michael Caine

4. Live it and love it

Dance like no-one is watching — Mark Twain

5. What’s the rush?

Wisely and slow, they stumble that run fast — Friar Lawrence, Romeo and Juliet

6.  Trust your instinct

Instinct is there for a reason — My friend Emily

There is nothing either good or bad, but thinking makes it so — Shakespeare

7. Believe

Influence can be made, inspiration and passion can’t — Brains on Fire

Lloyd: The least you could do is level with me. What are my chances?

Mary: Not good.

Lloyd: You mean like one out of a hundred?

Mary: More like one out of a million.

Lloyd: So you’re tellin’ me there’s a chance.

Jim Carrey (Lloyd) in Dumb and Dumber

8. Less is more

Listen more than you speak, read more than you write — Anon

9. Great just isn’t good enough

What’s the point of competing if you’re not out to win — My other brother

10 Keep it short (and simple)

Brevity is the sister of talent — Anton Chekhov (via Andy Maslen, copy writer)

And if I’m allowed an 11th, it’d be two wheels good.