Remember when Asahi beer had a picture of a rising sun on its can? No? That’s okay, nobody does. During the second world war, the rising sun motif was the symbol of the Japanese Empire, and for some, came to embody some very negative associations. The rising sun was also the image on the Asahi beer bottle. Hardly promising connotations for a Japanese brand with ambitions to expand abroad. So they ditched the whole thing and started again, creating the black and silver brushstroke identity we know today. All because the rising sun triggered the wrong memories. I think of brand building as a form of memory making. You can create associations in the mind of consumers, but you can’t always control them once they’re there. In his paper ‘Posh Spice and Persil’, Jeremy Bullmore observed that ‘Products are made and owned by companies. Brands, on the other hand, are made and owned by people… A brand image belongs not to a brand – but to those who have knowledge of the brand’.
Never mind the cars, in a game of conference venue top trumps, McLaren’s Thought Leadership Centre is the card to hold. In this outrageous setting, we sat back and were immersed in one of the world’s most unique organisations to find out about their approach to enhancing performance. We were lucky enough to hear from all three parts of the McLaren business; racing, automotive and applied technologies. John Allert, CMO, was quick to remind us that this wasn’t a how-to guide, but simply one way of doing it. With that in mind, here’s a few of my highlights from the day: Learn from other sectors on how to use data to create and measure fans Unsurprisingly given F1’s reputation, “data” featured heavily as a topic throughout. As well as some great examples from Mike Collier on using data to “model what great looks like”, Rob Bloom (group digital director) talked about learning from other sectors. Programmes like Tesco Clubcard are inspiring new ways that the brand can interact with fans to push the sport forward.
I’ve spent in excess of £1500 on Amazon in the last year on orders that include the Bone Daddies cookbook, 12 gold party crowns, a joke hand buzzer and yesterday’s Prime purchase of Thor: Ragnarok; a retail tally second only to my supermarket bill. Online and out-of-town shopping consume much of my discretionary spend, leaving only bits ’n' bobs for the High Street - hair dye, kids’ socks, parking tickets, that kind of thing. I suspect this pattern is pretty common these days. Pundits claim the great British High Street is ‘shutting down’.
There are fewer sports that are pushing the boundaries of technology further than F1. The minute details and incredibly small margins between success and failure are what attracted me to the sport many years ago. This was the era of the genius Ayrton Senna and the ruthless Alain Prost. Both of whom, along with many of their peers, showed bravery beyond what the average fan can comprehend. Going into corners at frightening speed and waiting until the rest last millisecond to tap the brakes is a type of bravery only gifted to the very few….but we can all be brave in our own way.
We learned lots this year during the week. Here are some of our favourite quotes from a brilliant cast of inspiring speakers.