106 Communications

6th Sense

Don’t be brand washed…

June 2016 | Employer Brand, Storytelling

I have nothing against Fat Face.  Some of my best swimming shorts are from there.

But recently I was walking past the store and saw the headline ‘Washed in Happiness’.  I nearly spat my Starbucks coffee over a family of four.

I can imagine the conversation between agency and client.

Client: Our clothes. They’re not simply garments. Or shabby chic. They put a smile on our customers’ faces.  We are in the business of happiness.

Agency: Okay, gotcha, what about…? [Finger drum roll] … Fat Face.  Washed in Happiness.

Client: Wow, yeah. That’s like completely symbolic of…

Fly On The Wall: Shambolic, more like…

Okay, I know that as advertisers, marketers and communicators, we are in the business of selling a lifestyle, a dream, an outcome or an aspiration, as we look to build an affinity with a product, organisation, person or project.

But ‘washed in happiness’ is simply trying to be Cadbury (but without the chocolate), in the same way that ‘I am train’ tries to ‘Be more dog’ but without the imagination or humour.  Or a canine.

Corporates struggle more than most to articulate a story that isn’t either derivative or dull.

Carillion (‘building a better tomorrow’) wants to be the Sky (‘believe in better’) of the building world.  But neither really tells us what better is.

Lloyd’s Register is ‘working together for a safer world’ and it’s got a ring of truth.  Except the ‘together’ bit.  Just not needed.

Personally I think there’s something in Unilever’s purpose of ‘making sustainable living commonplace’. Although I confess a dislike of the world sustainable.

But just in this small and very unscientific sample, you can see that organisations are trying to sell you the future, rather than something about who they are today.

Which is a bit like Boris Johnson trying to sell you a haircut.  It’s hard to envisage, when it’s not substantiated by real stuff, right now.

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