Tuesday, September 8, 2009

When old farts reminisce

I caught up with my good mate, Nige, the other week over a coffee. Just as a sidelight comment for the benefit of those living outside Victoria (that's the one in Australia!), you cannot find a better place than Melbourne's beachside suburb of St Kilda to enjoy this pastime.

Anyway, back to the point. As we each mentally jousted with whether to eat the froth with a spoon first, or suck the coffee through the froth, we got down to griping about the challenges of communications consultancy in a world dumbed down by the mediocrity of Microsoft. Yes, that's right - the company notorious for mediocre fonts, poor layout programs and compromised output!

You see, Nige is still in the graphics business, whereas I stepped out of communications consultancy after 12 years and returned to the corporate world (now that's another inexplicable story). We both blame our absence from BRW Magazine's Australia's Rich 200 list (our "Costco" version of the Forbes list) on the inability of clients to distinguish between well-written and laid out communications and, well, the alternative.

And that's where Bill Gates comes in wearing the white shoes and checked pants of the slick salesman. In a vain attempt to save a few bucks, clients have bought relatively cheap software from him to put together their own communications. This has resulted in drip-fed brainwashing, which ultimately convinces them that there's really not much difference between what they produce and what their agency produces. And the great thing is, that instead of paying for author's amendments, they can forego the planning process and refine on the run - interminable amendments at "no cost". "What the hell was it that our agency used to charge us for? This only takes a few minutes! Janine on reception can do it between calls."

So the role of "brand manager" becomes knowing how to place a jpeg of the logo (roughly matched to the corporate colour palette) in the top corner of the page. Oh, by the way, it doesn't really matter if you forget to press the shift key as you scale the logo - I reckon it looks better when it's flattened out a bit!

You've got to ask: "How serious some companies are about their brands when they allow these practices to occur?" But.... ah well.... just see my previous post for commentary on creating a discipline around brand presentation. Catchya later.

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