Not all P+S relationships are brand relations

Every few months I get into a stupid debate about products and brands.

In my corner are those who believe that only some products and services are brands. That most interactions with products or services are just that.

In the far corner are those who (falsely) believe that every product or service has a little speck of brand DNA waiting for a smart agency guy to find, promote and cash in on.

I really don't think so. I believe Bayer is a brand. It has served my family with ethical medicinal products my entire life.

Coke, Tide, Ford, Coke, IBM and Panasonic are other brands I grew up with, continue to believe in and prefer.

When I drive by Dollerama or Giant Tiger I see two new discount retail brands.

But when I go inside, all I see is cheap stuff. One product running after the other on a race to the "bottom" where quality and value are ignored in an effort to further reduce the price of every item.

It makes me wonder what all those people in China and India think of us and our bizarre consumption habits.

Value Village sells used products to people who understand and appreciate the fact that quality brand name products can last longer than their 1st owner's interest.

My reliable + still very drivable 16 year old Volvo wagon is another example of a quality product moving on from one satisfied owner to the next.

I'm concerned that international trade has led to a global product and service discounting mentality.

The reduction in (fair) profits have had powerful ripple effects including the loss of local primary and secondary industries and jobs that support local economies and the R+D required to build and sustain our local, regional and national economies. 

We all need to think and do something about this some more.





 On sunny days these pine needles absorb enough heat to melt the ice around them. It reminds me how incredibly small differences can make big impressions.

This is the kind of stuff that inspires me to build valuable brands.


Open (or closed) For Business


This sign tells the people in my neighborhood when Joe the shoe-maker is in.

It reminds me of my mantra:

All that you say and all that you do,

helps your customers believe that they have come to the right place.

Or the wrong place.

In this case the sign makes sense because it says "same-old-same-old".

Walk in the store and there’s Joe: small, old, frail, friendly, surrounded by his old tools, worn shoes and compassionate customers. There are no deposit slips here, no receipts, credit, or debit cards. This store hasn’t changed in 40 years and everything in the store looks as shop-worn as this sign. But the neighborhood likes Joe and it wants to help him out. So patrons don’t haggle about the pick-up dates, pay what he asks in cash and encourage others to bring their shoes to Joe too.

So this is actually a VERY integrated little brand that knows its self and its audience well.

I don't think people would be as kind, compassionate and loyal to Joe if he showed up in a quality suit + tie, had a big new shop and a surly assistant at the front counter that checked your order in on a computer and promised to text you when the shoes are done?

Joe reminds us that great brands (no matter how small) understand their audience and draw them in.

It's part art and part science.


Alliance for Audited Media



A long time ago in a galaxy far away I became a media estimator for a company called Foster Advertising (at Yonge + St. Clair). About 37 years later I'm still in advertising.

I owe a lot to all those who enabled our media to be audited, to those who designed the audit reports, to the media reps who insisted I review them before I do my media buys and to my mentors who taught me how to read the audits and interpret them for the benefit of the media evaluations, the media buys, the post buys, the media plans, and the advertising plans I wrote for countless clients.

  • The certified audits lent credibility to my work.

I spend most of my time with online audience data now.

  • It's not audited or tested.
  • I often trip over data and projections that don't make sense.
  • I wonder how many users know how to test or challenge data?

I hope the Alliance for Audited Media is with us for another 100 years.


GOC can’t suck + blow at the same time

Tax picture

This is a great case of Business Objectives In Conflict.

Canada Post recently announced that door to door service would be eliminated due to a decline in business – and many Canadians seem to be up in arms about it.

These are the same folks who flap their arms when Canada Post announces increases in postal rates.

Today the CRA (Canada Revenue Agency) sent me this handy little notice, by Canada Post, encouraging me to use the internet to stay on top of

  • GST / HST notices of assessment
  • Easy access to your account statements, notifications and letters
  • A quick and simple inquiry tool that provides you with written responses
  • A variety of updated, helpful correspondence

A few months ago Canada Post sent me a notice telling me that they are now in the secure email business and that I could pay all me bills online now though their portal.

What will these smarties think of next?!

Why wouldn’t the CRA promote the Canada Post portal – or encourage us to keep using snail mail?