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Sign o’ the Times

Kim Fischer 19 April 2016 44

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Every day we are surrounded by symbols. Some symbols are nearly universally recognised, like the marriage ring, the Jewish star and the peace sign. The strongest symbols and brands also have what marketing types call “imbued meaning”: the ability for people to infer values just by seeing the brand image associated with a product or service. When you see the Nike ‘swoosh’ or the Mercedes-Benz logo, you make automatic positive and negative judgements about that product.

Cities, states, and territories now get branded as well. New South Wales is “making it happen”. Victoria has the “best of everything”. Canberra, of course, has Brand CBR and our “Confident. Bold. Ready.” slogan.

Branding and marketing have been around for a long time, right back to the busts of emperors in Roman times. Way before the concept of a trademark was conceived, monarchs controlled the rights to issue coats of arms – nothing less than a form of state-sanctioned branding. But today when government launch brands for cities, they often get a pretty rough reception from their residents. The common complaint is that they are a “waste of money”.

It is true that it can be hard to link brand activities to a direct monetary return. However, the saying “perception is reality” has a lot of truth to it. We know that confident consumers spend more, and that investors will put their money in places that are growing, attractive places for people to live.

City branding is just as much about convincing its residents that they live in a great place as attracting investment from outside. Brands provide a recognisable “hook” for people to respond to, and can be instrumental in changing behaviour in desirable ways. For example, the draft Belconnen Town Centre Master Plan wants better branding for Lathlain St and Emu Bank to encourage people to eat and congregate in Belconnen instead of going to Manuka, Braddon, or Bunda St.

Here is the interesting secret of marketing today: You can’t just make brand claims that people don’t believe and make them stick any more. The taxi industry campaign #YourTaxis backfired badly when people shared their horror stories about taxis instead of their positive experiences. Oil companies like Shell, BP and Exxon Mobil face intense criticism and scrutiny for their attempts to position themselves as environmentally responsible.

Contrary to some beliefs marketing is now increasingly about substance, not spin. The Walter Kronkite era of authority where someone would be believed simply because of the position they held is long gone. The consultancy Brand Matters suggests four key things that are necessary for a strong brand:

  • Credibility: Do your actions match your words?
  • Relevance: Does your audience care about the promises your brand makes?
  • Differentiation: How are you delivering on your promises in a way that is different from your competitors?
  • Sustainability: Is your brand going to maintain a strong position in the long term?

Whether you are a politician or a multinational corporation, overcoming scepticism in the message you want to communicate is often the very first challenge. The first step is to establish trust in your intentions, but how can you do that if people won’t even listen to what you say?

Which brands do you think are effective (either in Canberra or elsewhere)?

Kim Fischer is an ACT Labor candidate for the seat of Ginninderra in the 2016 ACT Legislative Assembly election.


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44 Responses to Sign o’ the Times
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rosscoact rosscoact 9:46 am 21 Dec 15

wildturkeycanoe said :

For a slogan, how about
“CBR – short for Canberra”.

This is a winner 🙂

rosscoact rosscoact 9:45 am 21 Dec 15

Constant Buffoon Remarks

switch switch 9:34 am 21 Dec 15

Acton said :

It has to be ….. Skywhale
Inflated by ever rising rates, held aloft by hot air, only moving in the direction the wind blows. Out of touch. Promising much, but unable to deliver from the empty sagging udders of an aging body. .
http://www.pixhoster.info/f/2015-12/1605b598eaa25b2681fcb0f4bcadf86c.jpg

I thought Skywhale was grounded some time ago. We are not likely to see it again.

Acton Acton 9:52 am 20 Dec 15

CBR
Controlled by Rogues, a government Casually Blowing Revenue from Continuously Ballooning Rates.
A Crappy Budget Result.
Can Barr Remain?
A theme is emerging here. And a logo with a theme needs a symbol. A symbol that represents extravagance, waste, arrogance and contempt.
It has to be ….. Skywhale
Inflated by ever rising rates, held aloft by hot air, only moving in the direction the wind blows. Out of touch. Promising much, but unable to deliver from the empty sagging udders of an aging body. .
http://www.pixhoster.info/f/2015-12/1605b598eaa25b2681fcb0f4bcadf86c.jpg

dungfungus dungfungus 8:42 am 20 Dec 15

rommeldog56 said :

John Hargreaves said :

Anyone remember the slogan “Feel the Power of Canberra”? I remember going to Melbourne and having my friends there bag me out mercilessly. Dud of a brand if ever there was one.

Couldn’t agree more – “Feel the Power” was a Kate Carnell special as I recall. Though its not a political thing – rather an administrative matter – both sides have dud slogans.

I suppose “the bush capital” doesn’t reflect “all grown up now” post tram and densification Canberra either.

Won’t Canberra number plates soon have “Age Friendly City” (or something similar) on them ?

Or was that dropped ?

The “Rainbow Capital”?

wildturkeycanoe wildturkeycanoe 7:33 am 20 Dec 15

rommeldog56 said :

Or, what about sticking with “The Nations Capital”, or “Australia’s Capital Territory” as a brand/slogan – including on number plates.
Rather than hiring consultants & ad agencies to come up with this stuff, I reckon if there was some sort of competition, the people could come up with something much better.

Anything but the AYAA-*** rubbish getting around on all Audis and BMWs. What about a “CBR” series of number plate if they are serious about promoting the brand? Do it in something not so bland as black and white too and make it cheap enough for anyone to buy. For a slogan, how about
“CBR – short for Canberra”.

bikhet bikhet 3:06 pm 19 Dec 15

rommeldog56 said :

Or, what about sticking with “The Nations Capital”, or “Australia’s Capital Territory” as a brand/slogan – including on number plates.

Yes, a much better idea.

rommeldog56 said :

Rather than hiring consultants & ad agencies to come up with this stuff, I reckon if there was some sort of competition, the people could come up with something much better.

But then they’d have to hire consultants to evaluate the responses.

rommeldog56 rommeldog56 8:00 am 19 Dec 15

Or, what about sticking with “The Nations Capital”, or “Australia’s Capital Territory” as a brand/slogan – including on number plates. In between the letters & the numbers on plates there could be a pic of a national institution or a scenic view, maybe a black cockatoo or a gang gang (just to keep Dungers happy !) or an image of the Chief Minister, the tram or something. Use a different image each year to support an enduring brand or slogan.

Rather than hiring consultants & ad agencies to come up with this stuff, I reckon if there was some sort of competition, the people could come up with something much better.

rommeldog56 rommeldog56 7:45 am 19 Dec 15

John Hargreaves said :

Anyone remember the slogan “Feel the Power of Canberra”? I remember going to Melbourne and having my friends there bag me out mercilessly. Dud of a brand if ever there was one.

Couldn’t agree more – “Feel the Power” was a Kate Carnell special as I recall. Though its not a political thing – rather an administrative matter – both sides have dud slogans. I suppose “the bush capital” doesn’t reflect “all grown up now” post tram and densification Canberra either.

Won’t Canberra number plates soon have “Age Friendly City” (or something similar) on them ? Or was that dropped ?

dungfungus dungfungus 10:38 am 18 Dec 15

John Hargreaves said :

Anyone remember the slogan “Feel the Power of Canberra”? I remember going to Melbourne and having my friends there bag me out mercilessly. Dud of a brand if ever there was one.

Times are changing John. You can stay in Canberra and get bagged out, no need to go to Melbourne.
Merry Christmas, mate.

dungfungus dungfungus 10:08 am 18 Dec 15

wildturkeycanoe said :

rommeldog56 said :

Postalgeek said :

When I see CBR all I can think of is Cost Benefit Ratio

Yes – and talking about the tram ‘case that is mentioned in the OP.

I think the CBR symbol is on the Brumbies jerseys. I wonder if the ACT Gov’t pays for that sponsorship ?

In any event, maybe they could also have a pic of the tram on their jerseys too ?

With wires of course.

When Canberra grows up into a big city as envisaged, Gungahlin can have their own “CBR Trams” rugby team.

Moore or less.

John Hargreaves John Hargreaves 6:04 pm 17 Dec 15

Anyone remember the slogan “Feel the Power of Canberra”? I remember going to Melbourne and having my friends there bag me out mercilessly. Dud of a brand if ever there was one.

wildturkeycanoe wildturkeycanoe 4:17 pm 11 Dec 15

rommeldog56 said :

Postalgeek said :

When I see CBR all I can think of is Cost Benefit Ratio

Yes – and talking about the tram ‘case that is mentioned in the OP.

I think the CBR symbol is on the Brumbies jerseys. I wonder if the ACT Gov’t pays for that sponsorship ?

In any event, maybe they could also have a pic of the tram on their jerseys too ?

With wires of course.

When Canberra grows up into a big city as envisaged, Gungahlin can have their own “CBR Trams” rugby team.

dungfungus dungfungus 8:43 am 11 Dec 15

rommeldog56 said :

Postalgeek said :

When I see CBR all I can think of is Cost Benefit Ratio

Yes – and talking about the tram ‘case that is mentioned in the OP.

I think the CBR symbol is on the Brumbies jerseys. I wonder if the ACT Gov’t pays for that sponsorship ?

In any event, maybe they could also have a pic of the tram on their jerseys too ?

With wires of course.

It will happen.

rommeldog56 rommeldog56 10:30 pm 10 Dec 15

Postalgeek said :

When I see CBR all I can think of is Cost Benefit Ratio

Yes – and talking about the tram ‘case that is mentioned in the OP.

I think the CBR symbol is on the Brumbies jerseys. I wonder if the ACT Gov’t pays for that sponsorship ?

In any event, maybe they could also have a pic of the tram on their jerseys too ? With wires of course.

gazket gazket 8:16 pm 09 Dec 15

how much did Labor pay to get Opera to Australia . Nothing happened even though they said Opera would bring Hundreds of thousands of tourists no American’s .

CBR logo looks like a hipster DBR and fails. not many actually knows what it is or what it stands for . No value for there. Seems it was easy money for friends of government employees just like skywhale.

rosscoact rosscoact 7:27 pm 09 Dec 15

Postalgeek said :

When I see CBR all I can think of is Cost Benefit Ratio

Cost Benefit Ratio and Marketing are not happy bedfellows

tuco tuco 5:51 pm 09 Dec 15

Charlotte Harper said :

Morning, Rubaiyat. I’m sticking to our guidelines on moderation of comments so yep, some of yours are not getting through. When I think of the two most recent examples it was not about the subject matter at all but the tone and in particular avoiding publishing personal attacks. Think play the ball not the man and you’re more likely to get your views across.

Hey hey hey – that sort of reasonable comment won’t fly. Where’s the stridency? Where’s the shrill? C’mon the shrill …..

Acton Acton 3:31 pm 09 Dec 15

Charlotte Harper said :

Morning, Rubaiyat. I’m sticking to our guidelines on moderation of comments so yep, some of yours are not getting through. When I think of the two most recent examples it was not about the subject matter at all but the tone and in particular avoiding publishing personal attacks. Think play the ball not the man and you’re more likely to get your views across.

Thank you Charlotte. Perhaps it is worth repeating the RA guidelines for the benefit of those who react poorly to views other than their own being expressed on this forum:

“Rule #1 – Make thoughtful and positive comments. Thoughtful in both senses: both substantial and civil.

The test for substance is this. Does your comment teach us anything? There are two ways to do that: by pointing out some consideration that hasn’t previously been mentioned, and by giving more information about the topic, perhaps from personal experience. Empty comments can be ok if they’re positive. There’s nothing wrong with submitting a comment just saying “Thanks.” What we especially discourage are comments that are empty and negative. Doing so will get you reported and probably moderated if it hasn’t already been picked up by our auto filters.

However our most important principle on RiotACT is civility. We’re well aware that the anonymity of online conversation has lured people into being much ruder than they’d dare to be in person. So the principle here is not to say anything you wouldn’t say face to face. This doesn’t mean you can’t disagree. But disagree without calling the other person names or being inflamatory. If you’re right, your argument will be more convincing without them. Pretend as if you’re visiting someone else’s home when you leave a comment. Comments have the ability to build up or tear down your reputation. They are a permanent record of who you are and what you stand for – so take care – be gracious – make sure they add value (not only to RiotACT but also to your own online persona and profile).

Rule #2 – Refer to rule 1.”

wildturkeycanoe wildturkeycanoe 1:16 pm 09 Dec 15

Postalgeek said :

When I see CBR all I can think of is Cost Benefit Ratio

Honda motorcycles is my first thought.

CBR Tweets

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