Not Around Here You Don’t – Managing Corporate Behavior

January 20th, 2011

Illustration: Eyerocket Design

There are two recent incidents that underline the importance of how managing your company behavior can affect your company brand. The first example signifies over-management. The other demonstrates under-management. Both represent mis-management.

In December 2010, UBS Bank, Geneva rolled out a 44-page dress code which was so specific it was ridiculed as being discriminatory and downright rude towards both male and female staff. Details about how women should wear skin-coloured underwear and men should avoid eating garlic was seen by many as being over-the-top.

The second example is of a Montreal retailer called Orchestra that banned a mother from breast-feeding in the store. They claim the employee was a new hire and therefore didn’t know breast-feeding was allowed. Too late though, mothers retaliated en mass with a mall protest against the store. Orchestra has since apologized due to the erosion of their brand reputation.

What can be concluded from both these stories is that guidelines are necessary but should inspire not dictate. As is the case with Orchestra, knowing what can and cannot be done within a retail environment is crucial. Learning on the job can clearly create a mess. In UBS’ case, too much detail is simply… too much even though they claim the guidelines are intended on being guidelines and not hardline rules.

How far do you go to build a unified brand through a corporate community? How do you respect individual dignity within a corporate community of more than 65,000 staff as is the case with UBS? Are guidelines necessary or do they breed bureaucratic mistrust.

Well, it’s all in how you present them. If your company is one that is trusting, then you provide parameters that allow staff to make their own choices. Better yet, the guidelines are a collection of staff stories that inspiration instead of condemn. For over 150 years, UBS has provided only the best client advice from its client-facing staff. It should follow then that they would hire only those that have enough common sense to look and act respectable when representing their company. The best rule of all is always by example. Having managers that integrate with front-line staff is crucial in creating an environment of behavior that is unique to the brand but is never forced.

Takeaways on branding CMC’s “Setting the Stage” Gala

January 19th, 2011
George Weston Recital Hall - CMC Gala - November 2010

George Weston Recital Hall - CMC Gala - November 2010

Eyerocket’s involvement in branding the Setting the Stage Gala held at the Toronto Centre for the Arts in Toronto last November was focused on developing the event graphics and all that came with. However, the experience saw us working in between a traditional and modern world. It taught us a great deal about working with local interest groups, building influence and the elements that make an effective branding campaign.

Working with the local Ontario CMC chapter made it important for us to shift our perspective and recognize the differences in goals and approach between this local group of people and our regular “corporate” client. Their ethos is not in the profit – rather it is in the development of the musician. Instead of a guerrilla-splash campaign with tweet events and mass advertising, they opted for a more traditional word-of-mouth approach via the schools and the home. This approach meant working with flyers and posters which meant our reach was limited to the production run and budget.

CMC Gala Promotional Flyers / Posters

CMC Gala Promotional Flyers

Second, the Ontario CMC chapter had a number of volunteers which we engaged with a toolkit to spread the word. The kit included a “Save the Date” pdf as well as an HTML email sample and HTML banner ad for inclusion where they see opportunity. Although noble attempts, we realized that a toolkit alone was not enough. The team needed a more thorough marketing plan with directed targets and achievable goals. It did not help that the location of the event was miles outside the epicenter of the organizing committee.

CMC Gala Promotional Materials - Program

CMC Gala Promotional Materials - Program

All that aside, once the event date did arrive, the magic of the evening made all things equal. The visual experience achieved its intended goal of elegant sophistication. Keeping to budget, we decided to minimalize the brand elements to the Programme and a banner series hung behind the stage. This focused attention on the CMC brand during the performance.

Takeaway #1: there is a huge difference in how local interest groups operate and how the branding process should be tailored to a more intimate collaboration. It becomes a huge benefit in developing real ideation.

Takeaway #2: hold your event close to where your centre of influence resides.

Takeaway #3: make it feasible for volunteers to use your branding toolkit – instill a thorough followup process to help them “market” your event.

Takeaway #4 : with budget in mind, focus the collateral materials in one area preferably where there is cross marketing for maximum impact.

The program achieved its goals and many scholarships were funded – that’s what important. For Eyerocket, it set the stage for future collaboration and client understanding. For further program imagery visit our website at

Building brands from the inside out – Eyerocket’s new focus

December 1st, 2010

Eyerocket is in the thows of launching an online publication called Branding for Good. The publication is a first step towards evolving our practice towards providing our clients services that help them help the world.

The emergence of social media, the recent recession and the decline of traditional marketing channels are pushing companies to expand their outreach to those they serve. Less BS and more TLC, so to speak. Building trust has never been more important than now.

Defining your company’s position within the trust landscape is critical to a successful brand evolution.

We welcome your ideas. This is a collaboration between all of us. Our ears are open as we use Branding for Good to listen to the awesome ideas being implemented and learn how they are being implemented.

Visit our site, subscribe and join us in this exciting journey.

Roger Brenninkmeyer

Trustpoint Dynamics:
Understand Your Brand

August 30th, 2010

Download whitepaper

There are many ways a company can promote its brand. Some of the more obvious touchpoints are dealing directly with a company salesperson, classic advertising and social media. But there may be over a hundred such touchpoints for each enterprise and some of these may be much more relevant and subtle than others. A touchpoint is “all of the different ways that your brand interacts with and makes an impression on customers, employees and other stakeholders.”¹

We firmly believe each touchpoint plays a critical role in a brand’s ongoing evolution regardless of its relation to the company product or service. It has the power to build or break trust in that brand – as such we like to refer to them as “Trustpoints“.

Earlier this year we conducted a survey of a select group of industry experts and senior marketing executives within service-based companies and asked them about Trustpoints, what they think about them and whether they use them in building and evaluating their brand platform. Our conclusion have been published in the following whitepaper entitled: Trustpoint Dynamics. The results give a better understanding of where their companies use or mis-use Trustpoints within 5 specific marketing channels. The paper contains both quantitative data as well as qualitative insights. A must-read for anyone interested in understanding how understanding touchpoints can drive focus into your branding initiatives.

1 Harmonizing your Touchpoints. by Scott Davis and Tina Longoria, BrandPackaging, February 2003

The Power of a Better Message

December 4th, 2009

Getting the message right is so essential to connecting you with your audience. It can be the difference between success and fail as demostrated with this fabulous short.
What emotional connections did you make with the new message versus the initial message?

Humanity Amongst the Clouds

November 20th, 2009

vintage_stewardesses_1aThanks to Air Canada’s reputation for breaking things, I had an eye-opening experience yesterday that made me nostalgic for something more human. The tragic realization that their on-line entertainment system was bust for the full 7 hours initially stirred quite the rage – how can I sit for 7 hours without a movie? Yet, there were some pleasant surprises amongst the clouds that proved otherwise.

It was when we were pulling out of the port, that I realized the stewardesses were standing proudly in the aisles opening and closing buckles in unison, adorning those fashionable yellow life vests and adding a grin here and there to connect with their audience. It felt like a revisit to an old vintage car being showcases on The Price is Right. How great it was to see this human interaction in motion. When was the last time that happened? When, exactly, did the airlines squeeze this great art-form into the 5″ X 9″ screens in front of our noses? Who decided that would replace an actual human?

If you think about it, airlines have a great opportunity to craft real brand experiences. Where retailers have a few seconds in a shopping mall, airlines have a minimum of 30 minutes or even 18 hours depending on the destination. As Virgin and Southwest have realized, your brand is so much more than the physical product you sell. It’s an emotional connection. Or at least the opportunity to create on.

As we continue into a new world of technology, it is increasingly important to take note of how emotional connections are being managed, substituted and lost. You might shave a minute or two off of your process. However, it is crucial to take note, too, of what that action means to the customer experience. I ended up thanking the stewardess for her demonstration as if I had never experienced a flight safety demo before (she must have thought I was one short of a full picnic). The experience made me smile. After that, I actually read a book for most of the flight! Wow!

Starbucks: Back to the Garden

August 6th, 2009

Here’s an article I wrote about why Starbucks may have a tough time capturing the Neighborly community with their new concept brand store:

Can Social Media build trust in your business?

July 31st, 2009

We’ve all been delighted at some point in our lives when someone trusted us. In most cases we ended up doing more for that person than ever before because of that one moment of trust. Yet, for most business leaders today, trust and social media are currently like oil and water.

How awesome would it be if your employees were able to speak freely about their jobs – and you encouraged them to do so. Better yet, imagine if your customers did the same about your service? One begets the other and it’s all based on a simple rule of transparency: if you trust your people to speak about you openly then you clearly have nothing to hide which means the general public (your potential clients) have every reason to trust you because the message was authentic.

Jeff Jarvis, blogger, journalism professor, and author of “What Would Google Do” has a few words to say on the topic. Hope you enjoy.
Jeff Jarvis on Tapping Social Media“>

Marineland: Where are the fish?

July 14th, 2009

I couldn’t believe it when I visited Marineland, Niagara on Sunday for the first time with my family only to find out that there were no actual fish to be seen. Even more humorous was the fact that the only sea living creatures there were all mammals: Beluga Whales, Killer Whales, Dolphins and Seals – all beautiful and fascinating creatures.

My gripe is more about the name Marineland and the brand promise that goes along with the name. I expect this center to be the experts in marine life. Instead, the majority of their effort went into rides and a petting cage for deer (I confess I have never seen deer whilst scuba-diving).

In their defense, I did get some clarification only after asking the obvious questions to one of the trainers. Apparently they are working on an actual acquarium to be opened who-knows-when. Meanwhile, I spent well over $100 bucks there and managed to get precious little new knowledge out of my experience – I now know that my daughter loves roller-coasters! Even though my wife was suckered into buying season’s passes, I won’t go back until their offering is a little more in line with what they claim to be.

United Breaks Guitars

July 9th, 2009

Could there be a better example of Trustpoint abuse?

Dave Carroll, leader of the band Sons of Maxwell, has single-handedly created a disaster for the United Airlines brand with the release of the first of his tri-part single named “United Breaks Guitars”. By Wednesday his video became #1 on YouTube with more than 160,000 views. His popularity has grown ever since. He even made it onto CNN:
CNN: Man Goes After United Airlines On YouTube [United Breaks Guitars]

Why is this a part of our blog?

Because it points to how easy it is for a company’s brand to be tarnished by a single act that breaks client trust. Actually in this case, more than one trustpoint has been abused.
1) The baggage handlers were seen throwing Mr. Carroll’s $3,500 custom-made Taylor guitar which is a travesty in of itself.
2) United Customer Service refused to immediate action to rectify the situation – a 9-month battle ensued between the customer and United with Mr. Carroll turning to music for justice.

Regardless of who is responsible, the results are clearly in Mr. Carroll’s favor – United is all of a sudden cooperative with the intention of saving their reputation. There’s even talk of this case acting as catalyst for industry-wide change.

I conclude by mentioning that this can happen to any company at any stage of their development. Managing client / customer experience is essential in building positive intent and long-term trust.

“It takes a lifetime of effort to build a good reputation, but only a moment of stupidity to destroy it.”
Shiva (taken from