Tag Archives: brands

What will it say on your Gravestone?

Have you ever stopped to consider why you’re on the earth?

What your function is? What you’re ‘meant’ to achieve.

What thing inside you, what burning ambition, what gift to the rest of us, what piece of learning, what advancement in a particular field you have to impart?

Whether you destined to be an utter failure (like a moronic Microsoft employee who after 20 years STILL hasn’t mastered any successful form of smell check) or a Zuckerberg, I find it hard to believe that we don’t all, somewhere in us, have an innate sense of what we can achieve.

Now, for sure, it may have been squashed, by parents or teachers or bosses, but if it doesn’t still live in you, at some point in time but most surely did. Whether plausible in conception or not, we humans dream.

And having a dream and being able to keep it alive and making it real, I believe, is the difference between success and failure – and, if you will, between emptiness and fulfilment.

Continue reading What will it say on your Gravestone?

Planned obsolescence

I have a good deal of respect for Mr Alfred P Sloan.

He rescued GM in the depression of the 1920’s.

He built the company into the largest corporation on the planet.

And he poured many millions of his own money into a philanthropic organization that still bears his name.

He did, however, a couple of less good things:

  1. He (allegedly) was pretty friendly with a small German guy with an attitude problem and a small mustache
  2. He invented “planned obsolescence”

Now, this concept (planned obsolescence) was pretty crucial to GM’s success and – from a business point of view – was a very smart thing to do.

In essence, prior to the mid 1930’s (and following Henry Ford’s edict – and made real by Karl Daimler and Gottlieb Benz) a car was to built to last.

And in the case of Daimler and Benz, last a very long time.

Ford’s motives were: “Replace everyone’s horse with a car.”

The Germans’: “Build the best engineered car.”

But GM’s was: “Don’t have last year’s model, have THIS year’s model.”

Epitomized by this great Doyle Dane VW ad “Auto Show” from 1970:

Continue reading Planned obsolescence

The Power of Lasting Brands: Man pays $4.2M for Batmobile

I have a strange belief that the power of (and loyalty to) brands you fall in love with as a kid can supplant tens millions of dollars spent trying to lure you elsewhere, in adulthood.

I called them “bedroom wall brands”. To me, as a child growing up in the UK in the early 70’s, those brands were Aston Martin (courtesy of the James Bond franchise), Ferrari (don’t laugh, courtesy of Magnum P.I.) and Liverpool Football Club. Oh, and the United States.

Those loves (what Saatchi CEO, Kevin Roberts terms “Love Marks”) are indelibly etched in my brain.

When I was able to afford a serious sports car, despite the “common sense”of a Porsche, I wanted a Ferrari. And I got one. And, later, I managed to scrape the funds together to buy an Aston Martin. And, eventually, I even managed to secure the Holy Grail: a silver Aston Martin DB5 – the car Sean Connery drove in many Bond movies.

And you know what? It was a piece of crap.

Surely one of the most beautiful cars ever built, but, well, it was like driving a truck. It had a gearbox from a tractor (no, it really did), steering seemingly from a U-Haul truck and the kind of speed and handling one could expect from an AMC Pacer. In short, it was awful to drive. And it was unreliable in the extreme. And every time it ventured to the shop (and by that I mean it needed to go to the Factory) it could clean me out of $15,000 a few times a year.

So did it erode the brand for me?

Actually, yes, it did. They were beautiful, appallingly-built, cars. (Now, for sure, their cars are still beautiful, and now very well made – courtesy of a CEO who used to work for Porsche.)

Do I want one again? Nope.

The brand “promise” was broken. Like a cracked glass, almost impossible to fix.

And so to the man who spent $4.2M on the Batmobile. Well, I hope he enjoys it and sees it for what it is. The materialization of a long-held dream.

I’d suggest he never attempts to drive it.