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So as I was walking through the streets of Barcelona, I passed a shop that I hadn’t seen for a long time …
Yep, C&A … the ol’ mass market clothes retailer that left the UK god-knows how many years ago.
To be honest the only things I can really remember about the place is …
1 There was a very rude joke about what C&A stood for – involving women’s pants. Take a wild guess …
2 Mum only took me there around the start of the school term.
3 The branch in Nottingham was huuuuuge.
4 On Saturdays, the friendliest busker in the World played there – a busker with talent and personality, which makes a change from the ‘statue’ trend that seems to be sweeping the World’s shopping thoroughfares at the moment.
5 A friend once pretended I was famous to see if the dumbo security guard would ask for my autograph. He did.
… and yet I still felt an irrational sense of warmth towards the place.
Of course I didn’t go in and buy anything … but I did find it interesting that an old looking logo for a brand I know little about [bar a bunch of associated memories] made me feel good inside.
And here’s the thing … quite often planners ignore the outside influence in the development of brand perception and focus purely on the relationship between consumer and brand.
Many, many years ago I did a project with the jewellers Tiffany’s. [Yes me, Mr Ugly Mug!]
Anyway, when we were doing the background research, the people we interviewed all kept telling us the same words as regards what they thought the brand represented: Classic, Sophisticated, Understated.
The thing that we found most interesting was that it didn’t matter whether they were male or female … a Tiffany’s owner or someone who had never set foot in a shop … they all pretty much felt the same way and we wanted to understand why.
Well after all sorts of research [which is a post in itself], we were able to prove that the simple answer to this ‘riddle’ was ‘associated memory’.
You see Tiffany’s was seemingly more closely associated with the movie ‘BREAKFAST AT TIFFANY’S’ than anything the brand had purposefully produced… and the star of this film, Audrey Hepburn, had come to represent all the traits people felt were the Tiffany’s brand – Classic, Sophisticated, Understated.
Now this was kinda scary for Tiffany’s because what we were saying was their brand had been created by factors outside of their direct control or influence, however this feeling was so prevalent within societies mind, that we just couldn’t ignore it in our brand development process.
Same thing happened when we were re-launching the Mini in the US.
When we talked to people about the car, the words we kept hearing back were things like [if memory serves me] Mischievous, Fun, Fashionable, Energetic, Audacious … and where were these coming from?
The movie ‘The Italian Job’ and 60’s model ‘Twiggy’ because she was the model [featuring photos that are still regarded as iconic today] when the Mini was originally launched.
Of course you can’t just take these elements and turn it into brand communication, however it can [in certain circumstances] form the foundation for the core brand idea – acknowledging you need to find category/consumer/competitive/cultural insights to make sure there is relevance and resonance with today’s customer. [Which in the case of Mini, all came together with a core idea of “Mini Puts The Fun Back Into Motoring”]
Lots of people talk about the need to be rigouress when planning – and by god they are right – but don’t just think that means you have to do the bare essentials well, it’s also means you have to think interms of breadth as well as depth.
I love planning, I love it when the unrelated actually proves to be related – but in my experience, that only comes about when you think, explore, talk, read, watch, collaborate, question and experience every aspect of the communication chain – including associated memories.
Planning is an outdoors activity – and by that I mean both physically and mentally.
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