The good, the “brand” and the ugly of 2012
Banks are the absolute masters of giving with one hand while taking with the other, but this year ANZ seemed to make it into an art form. Firing people amid record profits, failing to pass on interest rate cuts amid a campaign touting their support for the customer, and generally acting in ways designed to give even the most casual commentator whiplash.
I guess being number four of the big four will give you a bit of a complex but I might suggest that acting more consistently might give a few more customers reason to trust what they say. Until then I’m happy to have them make what is becoming a regular appearance on this list.
Brand confused – If you don’t know who you are and what you stand for then chances anyone else will are slim to none.
It could be the impact of the “mummy blogger”. The now famous “misogyny” speech by our Prime Minister. The social media campaign ascribed to by many famous female faces called “Destroy the Joint”. The statistics that show that while a few cracks have appeared in the old glass ceiling it is a long way from broken. I think it’s probably all of the above and quite a bit more.
Whatever the reasons, feminism is back and it’s more than a little irked. You might argue that it’s not really a brand, but anything that people feel this passionately about has to be something and brand is as good a way to describe it as any.
So while the stalwarts of feminism remind us of the legacy, a whole new generation is redefining what it means for them – after all, that is what great brands have always known. You need to evolve to survive.
Brand #DestroytheJoint – We’re not going to take it any more (are those new shoes you’re wearing? They are gorgeous).
It’s been a bad year for independent private schools with more broken promises than you can count.
In Victoria alone, Mowbray College closed with debts of $18 million; MLC School Board fired its principal, earning the wrath of students and parents past and present; Acacia College ran into construction-related debt and was sold off; and too few enrolments led to St Anthony's Coptic Orthodox College closing.
Behind each one was a school board that seemed to forget that it’s primary role is to keep the promises it makes (and make ones it can keep). But that’s not just a failure of these school boards, the long list of companies that suddenly, and supposedly without notice, have gone bust is also an illustration of the point. Behind every failed organisation are promises that could not be kept.
And whether it is students left without a school or people left without jobs, the results of failed promises are left for all to see.
Brand grade F – A lesson not learned. Hopefully the 2013 report card will see a better grade.
It wouldn’t be a 2012 list without the latest in what has become a pattern for radio station 2Day FM.
No need to rehash the details of the sad saga that continues to unfold, and the casualties of this one will probably extend well into the new year. But it’s on this list because it’s one of the most powerful illustrations of unintended consequences in action I’ve seen for a long time.
Unfortunately, it took a tragedy for Austereo to finally ban prank calls (as if the previous incidents of things not going as planned hadn’t been warning enough). The fact it took them nearly a week to act is testament itself to their values and it remains to be seen if that will be enough to shift the shock jock approach embraced by its station operators and DJs. Or whether, after an appropriate time has passed, the old ways return in search of more listeners and the associated ad revenues they generate.
Brand not funny – Once could be a mistake, twice is careless, three times is a pattern.
I am sure it didn’t have any correlation but just a few weeks after I added Carman’s Muesli to my list of brands that I like, CEO and founder Carolyn Cresswell was awarded Telstra Businesswoman of the Year. It is so nice when good work gets recognised and rewarded.
A 20-year overnight success, Carman’s has rapidly become the alternative choice of choice, sitting on the supermarket shelves alongside cereals pumped out by the mega food companies. A rose among the thorns if you like.
And in keeping with the trend of this year’s list, the company that stands for something and doesn’t lose sight of what that something is, is the one that continues to prosper.
Brand good food – Staying with it pays off and we all get to eat the results!
There are plenty who could have and probably should have made the list. Perennial favourite Qantas went on its merry way, seemingly hell bent on destroying what is left of their brand. They were then one-upped by Air Australia, who actually destroyed the company and with it their brand, and in the process stranded thousands of people.
Skin care darling Aesop looked to capitalise on their success and put themselves on the market for a buyer, a decision that will be interesting to follow in 2013.
My brand darling Patagonia expanded their Oz presence with stores in Melbourne and Sydney, making it that much easier to get my fix of great made apparel that does as little harm as possible.
Left, right and centre, companies went the way of the dodo and their brands right along with them. And at the same time, new crops of people dipped into the fray, willing to try their hand, their finances and their sanity at building something worthwhile.
I hope my blog provides some food for thought and inspiration for those endeavours. Many thanks for reading this year, I really appreciate it and wish you joy and peace for the year ahead.
See you again in 2013.
Michel is an independent brand advocate dedicated to helping organisations make promises they can keep and keep the promises they make – with a strong, resilient organisation as the result. She also publishes a blog at michelhogan.com. You can follow Michel on Twitter @michelhogan.