Filed under: Comment
I’m a bit horrible to branding companies when the reality is, they’re no more fucked up than most ad agencies.
In fact, given they get away with charging clients outrageous amounts for what constitutes nothing more than a logo redesign, it can be argued that they’re way smarter than most of adland.
But the thing is, adland – for all it’s ego and delusion – doesn’t churn out a slightly redesigned brand logos and claim they will fundamentally change the way the organisation behaves and succeeds.
OK … OK … so that’s a bit unfair as well because they tend to say their new logo is simply an articulation of all the changes they have helped develop for their clients but as a designer once said to me,
“If a brand wants to be seen as bold and innovative, why don’t they make their products bold and innovative?”
Now that’s a good question … though we all know the answer don’t we.
In these share price obsessed times, brands want the glory without the risk or the need to invest huge amounts to change – but that’s a post for another day.
The purpose of this post is because I recently found out that a brand that I have an irrational affection for – C&A – had their positioning for China done by one of these branding organisaitons.
For those who don’t know who C&A are, they’re a low cost “fashion” chain – though it’s more like Asda’s ‘George’ than Uniqlo or H&M.
Anyway, while they have departed the UK, they are in other markets of which one is Shanghai.
Given China has commanded the interest and focus of most brands – especially fashion brands – you’d expect a company like C&A to come out with a clearly articulated positioning so the hungry-to-try-&-buy Chinese audience will view them as both desirable and a viable alternative to the countless other options available to them down most Shanghai urban high streets.
So what did they come up with?
C&A: FASHION YOU CHOOSE
What the fuck?
What the hell does it mean???
And before you ask, that is NOT a ‘back translation’ translation, it’s what they have over their door.
Seriously, ‘Fashion You Choose’ … as oppose to Fashion the Government choose?
I know China is communist, but even they haven’t gone so far to dictate what you can and can’t wear in 2012!
Maybe if it said, ‘Fashion Your Mother/Wife/Father/Husband Chooses’ would be better [it certainly would be more appropriate] but seriously, in a country that has a hunger for brands and a desire to explore and experiment in an attempt to help define themselves, is that all they could come up with?
And who came up with that masterpiece?
And probably for a humungous fee.
That makes me angry, incredibly angry.
Not just because it’s a pile of utter shite that isn’t worth a penny, but because I happen to like C&A.
No, it’s not because I dress from there [though it looks like it] it’s because it’s one of those brands from my childhood that was always ‘there’ and to see them being shafted like this makes me mad.
I know C&A aren’t Uniqlo or H&M but neither are they a poor-mans Marks & Spencer’s – and while some people out there will go on about how the Chinese will view any international brand as an aspirational brand – that doesn’t mean you should treat them, or the audience, like they don’t matter.
Sure, I know they’ll never be a super-cool brand – and nor should they be – but I honestly believe they have something unique and the way they are currently presenting themselves in China doesn’t capture that.
OK, so I’m calling FutureBrand out on this and that’s not really fair.
Well, in this particular instance it is, but overall it’s not because the fact is, every agency and individual will have something in their portfolio that isn’t exactly as good as they would want it to be.
There’s a whole heap of reasons for that – some justifiable, some less so – however what bugs me so much about branding consultancies is that so many of them act like they are the Gods of Gods when in reality, they are as flawed, myopic and delusional as everybody else when held under a microscope – or in the C&A case – when they put their ‘work’ out on one of Shanghai’s busiest streets.
So if anyone who reads my rubbish knows someone at C&A, can you please put them in touch because I’d like nothing more than to help them put the fear of god into all the latest and greatest ‘fast fashion brands’ – not by being someone they’re not, but by being true to who they really are.
38 Comments so far
Leave a comment