Aug
08

Telco Brands: the Fair for Canada FAIL in one picture

Rogers, Bell, and Telus blow their big chance. By being themselves…

My friend Ottawa blogger and media commentator Mark Blevis has put out a couple of smart and incisive critiques of the “Fair for Canada” campaign by Canadian telco mega brands TELUS, Rogers, and Bell. Please do go ahead and read the MarkBlevis.com and Full Duplex posts.

But I think the many, many problems with this PR blitz can be summed up in one picture – brought to you by your three friendly Canadian mega corporations.

Sorry big Telcos, the combined boards of Telus, Bell, and Rogers don't qualify as ordinary Canadians to, you know, ordinary Canadians.

Actual screen capture from the Fair for Canada mini-site:

Sorry big Telcos, but the combined  “Bell, Rogers, and TELUS Boards of Directors” writing a letter to Stephen Harper doesn’t qualify as “What Canadians are Saying” to the rest of us, you know, Canadians.  [Read more...]

Jul
17

Farewell to a fearless storyteller. Alex Colville

Please join me in sharing an Alex Colville Painting today on Facebook

I noticed an interesting and powerful trend among my Facebook friends today. In honour of Canadian artist Alex Colville – who passed away in Nova Scotia yesterday at 92 years old – they’ve been sharing his work through their cover photos, avatars, or Facebook posts.

And it has made his work come alive for me again.

alex_colville_1953_soldier_and_girl_at_station

So I joined them…

AC Dennis Van Staalduinen

My Facebook page with Alex Colville’s 1962 painting called “Ocean Limited”

I have been deeply inspired by Colville since I was introduced to his paintings in grade nine by Mr. Ross at Confederation High School. My teacher was a die-hard fan of strictly realist art and had little time for abstraction or “fakery”. But still, he loved Colville and praised his work loudly as an example of the triumph of realism.

I loved it too, but for the opposite reason. I loved how Colville could take “realistic” scenes and elements, strip out many key details like shadows and blemishes to focus on simple forms, and create this mythical, dramatic, and often creepily ominous moment. Every Colville painting made my head spin with stories and questions. [Read more...]

Jun
21

Social Media Case Studies: my students want to write yours!

Algonquin Social Media Students 2013 Accelerated ClassMy Algonquin College students need real world subjects for their social media case studies.

As many of you already know, when I’m not doing my regular brand naming, storytelling, and strategy gig with Brandvelope Consulting, I moonlight as an instructor in the Social Media Certificate program – teaching professionals how to use social more effectively – at Ottawa’s Algonquin College.

In the next two weeks I’ll be starting two new versions of the Applied Social Media in Business class – the one week Accelerated version starting on Monday, and the seven week evening program starting Tuesday, July 2.

The Applied Social class is all about studying and developing real world social media case studies. We try to help our students understand in practical terms how social fits into real world workplaces and business strategy situations. From customer service to research, content marketing to old-school promotional marketing, small business to agencies to big brands. We try to cover a mix.

But the case study needs to be REAL: And this is where we need your help. [Read more...]

Jun
18

Sports branding: Senator’s arena becomes Canadian Tire Centre. Sigh.

Another stadium re-branding: we’re more than just tired.

So you’ve heard about the Ottawa Palladium? How about the Corel Centre? Scotiabank Place? Well forget about them all. As announced this morning, Ottawa’s professional hockey stadium is about to change its name for the fourth time since 1996.  

Your name here

The good part…

Stadium Brand names - sponsorship

Percentage of 111 stadiums for the “big four” professional sports leagues: NBA, NFL, MLB, and NHL

Okay, I’m a branding guy. So I get the naming rights game. I’ve been part of board room decisions around JetForm park, and I worked at Corel during 1996. Big brands will pay a LOT of money to get their moniker on the side of a stadium, and into the mouths of fans and broadcasters. And that’s all good.

And we could choose a much more embarrassing corporate partner than Canada’s iconic automotive / hardware / electronics / now grocery brand. We could have a “Sleep Train Arena” like the NBA team the Sacramento Kings, or “Dick’s Sporting Goods Park“, the home of the Colorado Rapids soccer team.

And it sounds like the Senators ownership team actually chose this partnership:

Senators owner Eugene Melynk said of the discussions leading up to Tuesday’s official agreement. “The possibilities kept growing and growing and growing. They made up their mind pretty quickly. After that, they moved so fast. In the end, it’s very extensive. You’re going to see a lot of big changes.”

The annoying stuff…

Here are a few reasons this name change is annoying to me – and if Twitter is any guide (and it is) – it’s annoying many other Ottawa fans as well. Yeah, we’ll get used to the new name. Again. But before the anger dies, some thoughts on stadium branding.

  1. Another name: it’s hard to really develop affection for a brand – any brand – if it keeps changing its name every few years. I had just gotten used to saying “Scotiabank Place”…
  2. Generic corporate blandness: 86 out of the 111 stadiums for the “big 4″ professional sports leagues have generic brand names. That’s 78%. A massive majority of hard-to-differentiate place names. Try this test: tell me where the Pepsi Center is. Minute Maid Park. Gillette Stadium. See? They could be anywhere.
  3. Back to “Centre” again?  The word “Place” wasn’t exactly rocking anyone’s world, but I counted: 17 out of the 30 NHL teams play in a building called “The <Brand Name> Center” or “Centre”. That’s more than 56% of teams in the same league calling their building the same boring thing!
  4. Lack of emotion: Distinctive names aren’t just more interesting and unique, they are durable. San Francisco sports fans demanded the return of “Candlestick Park” after 3M, then Monster.com bought, then abandoned the naming rights.  That’s a strong brand!
  5. You can be creative: Scotiabank also sponsors the Saddledome in Calgary, or as they call it “Scotiabank Saddledome”.
  6. Palladium is a strong name: and this is the kicker. We once had a strong, completely unique name for the stadium, and it’s still used as the street name for the stadium itself. There is no other Palladium in North America. And “Canadian Tire Palladium” isn’t so bad is it?

But enough about me: what do you think?