Archives for posts with tag: Brand

Necessity is the mother of invention, or so they say. Many good things can also come out of accident, confusion or a misunderstanding.

When I was working as an account manager in the marketing business, we came up with a public sector strategy to encourage people to claim the benefits they were entitled to with the strapline ‘money for nothing, cheques for free’. It was a line from a Sting and Dire Straits song that I actually thought was cheques for free, but was in fact ‘chicks for free’. My misunderstanding.

I have a potential new brand name for you.

The other day my mother and I were enjoying lunch at the house of one of my brothers. Admiring the crockery, my mother asked ‘this is nice, who’s this by?’, turning the plate over and squinting without her reading glasses at the brand. ‘Ah, EWOH’, she said.

‘I think it’s called HOME’, her daughter-in-law commented, ‘you must be reading it upside down.’

A funny moment for us all. The more I thought about it, though, the more I liked the new brand name ‘EWOH’, pronounced ee-woah.

Probably needs a bit more research…

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Mothercare store front

I was at my mother’s house in England the other day, casting an eye over all the toys we had as kids, which she has saved of course, and which her grandkids now enjoy.

I came across the edge of a toy package from Mothercare. This company has been around for ages and is clearly a highly respected name in anything to do with children. I love the identity – which I think the company has now moved away from – with the little child image literally under the protection of the m of mother.

What struck me for the first time that I can remember was how outdated the name was; the actual words mother and care put together to make a new name, as many company and product brands do. Back when Mothercare came into being, parenthood was possibly the almost exclusive preserve of the female parent, and that’s simply not the case any more.

The funny thing is, and I feel this about many household names and brands, we never question the name. We see the word mothercare and we equate it with a parenting brand for children. This is what a brand does to us. We rarely take the name out of context, deconstruct it, before realising that it’s perhaps not as appropriate as it used to be.

I think there are lots of examples of this, brands that we take for granted because they’re much more than the sum of their words. Lots of them, hiding in plain sight.

That’s what they say about imitation and me too products: the sincerest form of flattery.

I’m sure it rankles with the pioneers in a category when the giant comes in second with the massive resources and does it cheaper, better and more effectively. There has long between tension between the western markets who have laws in place to protect certain forms of imitation, copying and plagiarism, and the eastern markets where copying is considered normal. ‘Oh, we’re not copying your product, we’re improving it.’

I’ve noticed this tactic become much more prevalent with the German supermarket giants Lidl and Aldi, or Lidly Aldi as they’re sometimes rather hilariously known in Irish musical wag circles. They take a well known product and either call it exactly the same name, like Fruit & Fibre cereal of Kellogg’s fame, or make a very small adjustment so that you’re in no doubt as to what they’re ripping off, then sell it for about half the price of the branded version.

There are lots of examples of these marginally renamed products, but the one that sticks in my mind is the branded Angel’s Delight, that lovely fluffy dessert from our childhood, renamed in a German stylee as Heavenly Delight, with packaging so redolent of the pioneer product you wonder how on earth they get away with it.

What always strikes me as amusing though is that Lidl and Aldi are themselves, for me, completely interchangeable. I can never remember which one is which, which one I’m in when I’m in it and whose product is whose. It’s like the scene from Love Actually where the Bill Nighy character is interviewed by Ant & Dec, and replies to them as ‘Ant or Dec.’

They don’t really imitate each other. They are practically the same. Watch the song in the link above and you’ll empathise.