Archives for posts with tag: Brand

I love nuts, the salted kind. I’m not a huge fan of the unsalted kind, they taste pretty bland to me. Nuts are a good way of me staving off my hunger pangs with something that, in moderation, is pretty good for me.

With nuts you pay by weight. You pay for all the weight, shells included. In an average bag of pistachio nuts you get around 5 to 10% of nuts which are still closed or not sufficiently opened from the roasting process to be edible. That means you’re only getting 90 to 95% of what you paid for, and less if you count the weight of the shells.

For me it’s the unfulfilled promise of unopened pistachio shells. They go straight into the food bin or the fire, even though I’ve invested in their promise of taste and nutrition, in that order.

OK, so sometimes you get a burnt piece of cereal, but it’s one of maybe a thousand or more in the pack, which I’m prepared to tolerate from a 3- or 4-sigma variance point of view. But with pistachios, it’s different. It’s 5 or 10% of the flipping things. It’s more real, more tangible. It’s like buying broccoli when you never eat the base of the main stalk.

How hard can it be for the highly sophisticated food production or processing plants to exclude the nuts that don’t open sufficiently after the roasting phase and are not worthy of making the final cut?

Is it too hard, or is too lazy, or too greedy on the part of the producers?

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I’ve written before about how powerful our sense of smell can be for evoking feelings, memories and so on.

Some things obviously have a recognisable smell to them, like a chocolate factory for example – d’oh! – that immediately connects. I get the ‘recognisable smell’ feeling whenever I walk into a health food store.

What is that smell? Is it the supplements? It smells strong, other worldly and hard to identify, but it’s unmistakeable nonetheless. All health food stores have this smell. It seems impossible to counteract, even if you wanted to diminish or alter it.

For me it’s not a particularly nice smell. It feels artificial, chemical almost. But it is recognisable, identifiable, connecting, which is a good thing if you have such a store.

It’s well known that you pay more for branded products than their generic or knock-off equivalents. You get what you pay for, as the saying goes, but also you’re investing in the brand’s equity and goodwill, which comes at a price.

I was in a homeware specialist the other day, looking for an ‘Egg Perfect’, one of those clever things – or clever yolks as the Irish would say, and I like the pun in this context – that you pop into the water with your eggs and it tells you when they’re done to your preference by changing colour.

The price was €9, which I thought was a bit steep, but i’m familiar with the brand and they last ages, so I bought it. On the way home I dropped into a local store that sells almost literally everything. I’ve blogged about it before, in fact. They too had immersive egg timers, the generic versions. The price? €2.

So the branded version was 4-and-a-half times the cost of its imitator, a 350% difference. Which, I suppose, is not as bad as the difference between a Gucci handbag or a Rolex watch and their me too counterparts.

The proof’s in the pudding, so we’ll see how the two of them perform over time. Still, I did feel pained when I saw the €2 version. That’s a difference of about a pint and a half between the two of them.

There’s nothing like a familiar sound to bring you back and connect you with something.

The other day I heard a wood pigeon coo-cooing somewhere in the estate where I live. It’s not a very familiar sound to me now, but back when I was a kid doing my homework in the bedroom that looked out onto the back garden of my childhood home, it was a very familiar sound. It instantly reconnected me to my past in an unexpected and not unpleasant way.

Sound and the hearing part of our senses have of course always been very important to a brand. We can all remember signature tunes from our favourite shows, programmes and global brands. A few examples: the 4-note signature of the UK’s Channel 4, the 5-note signature of the McDonalds ‘I’m loving it’ campaign, and the ‘Holidays are coming’ refrain from Coca-Cola for around this time of year.

Sounds are a key thread of how we identify with a brand and of the overall brand experience, along with the sights, touches, tastes and smells of the things we like to use or consume. They evoke an instant feeling and connection.

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…

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.