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Inside the Carri-On store with three customers standing at the counter with products being displayed

car·ri·on noun \ˈker-ē-ən
dead and putrefying flesh; also : flesh unfit for food

Also a travel luggage store found in Sydney airport. Might be a bit hard to get this one past quarantine.

When you’re brain storming up catchy names for your new brand, the last thing you want is some negative nay-sayer pooh-poohing ideas and holding up the whole process. Having said that, it never hurts to consult a dictionary before going beyond the creative stage.

31122008

Sign outside a “boutique” housing development in Richmond.

Branding a housing development has its benefits – it makes it easy to identify and refer to, and can be the first step in a consistent design aesthetic for the entire complex.  But Hive Living?

Maybe it’s trying to appeal to that crucial market segment that live like nonautonamous drones having their every move directed by a dominant queen.  I hear it’s getting pretty big these days.

Build your personal brand.  It’s a phrase I’m reading and hearing a lot lately, as the language used by journalists and “consultants” to describe social networking matures.  Apparently, by using sites like Facebook, Twitter, and blogs, you can shape and mould your personal brand to represent exactly what you want others to perceive.  There are people out there who spend quite a lot of time formulating the perfect Twitter tweet, the coolest Facebook status, and agonising over the best background colour for their blog, to best deliver their desired brand equity.  All seems like a bit of a wank, really.

Maybe the tools have changed, but this isn’t a new, Web 2.0 innovation.  Malcolm Gladwell tells the story of Sidney Weinberg, a key player in Goldman-Sachs’ ascent of Wall Street, and how he carefully crafted a mythology around his background as a means to further his career.  Gladwell himself is no stranger to the idea of building a personal brand – the photographs on his website and book jackets illustrate an obvious attention to detail in terms of how he presents himself to readers and fans.  He cultivates the image of a fringe-dwelling observer of society, an outcast by choice, and that adds weight to his opinions on cultural phenomena and human behaviour.

However, guys like Gladwell and Weinberg have something that most of today’s tweeting, self-Googling personal brand builders do not.  Talent. 

I’m always amazed at the willingness of large corporations to spend massive amounts of cash on branding, as though they can really influence how customers perceive them simply by changing the colour on a logo.  The best brand development definitely involves deciding how the company wants to be perceived, but then requires tying these intangibles back to the tangible actions or attributes the company has that create these perceptions.  Some people call these “proof points” and they are vitally important.  Why would a customer think your company is caring, responsible, responsive, or high quality, if your entire operations and culture aren’t set up to deliver on it?

Every day you develop your personal brand.  When you decide what to wear that day.  When you advocate certain restaurants, or films, or whatever.  At its rawest, when you submit a C.V. for a job.  And there’s absolutely nothing wrong with this, as long as the proof points behind it are in place.  Anything else is fantasy.

Anyone forced into watching TV at the moment would have seen the ANZ iPhone ads, and if you were really pushing it you might have seen the ads for the re-launch of Mother energy drink.  These ads left me scratching my head.  Check ’em out:

If you don’t see the connection between those two ads, stop reading this site now and go read the Herald-Sun, or watch Battle of the Choirs or something.

Do the brains (and by “brains” I mean idiots) behind the casting for these ads really think people are that stupid they won’t notice it’s the same guy, talking as though he represents both companies?  So you’re trying to tell me that not only is this dude a mild mannered Apple trend jocking Mac-guy fashion clone who works for ANZ, hes also a special forces solder trained to kill the evil scientists behind those original, horrible Mother (now with more horrible, incidentally).  TV land has always perplexed me but I seriously hope people aren’t that mind-numbed when they get home from a hard days work to zone out in front of the TV that they don’t notice, and even worse, don’t get outraged!

OK so maybe it’s not worth getting outraged over, but it sure is an example of how marketing departments can insult their customers’ intelligence, whether knowingly or through failing to do their research.  Of course we all know this guy doesn’t really work for your company but does it have to be so glaringly obvious?

Remember the Dove “campaign for real beauty” from a few years ago? It’s been the subject of a fair bit of discussion, and supposedly 8 out of 10 males in the Canadian 28-45 age demographic find the television ads offensive. To me this is straight crazy – first of all, that there is anything groundbreaking about putting “average looking” people on an ad (don’t get me started about how they define “real” women) highlights something really wrong with advertising. Are these people’s heads so far up their celebrity-worshipping asses that this seems innovative? Secondly, the fact that these 80% of Canadian males are finding the ads “offensive”. The same demographic that wouldn’t blink an eye at the Texas Chainsaw Massacre is too sensitive for some pictures of fat women? Wow.

Anyway, this post is actually not about that type of real woman. I noticed this article in Wired the other day about the first ever adult exhibition in Japan (NSFW link here). There are some pics on there of these incredibly life-like sex dolls, made by a company called 4Woods (ha, ha – by the way, that link is NSFW too). I’m blown away by how realistic these things are, and it reminds of a wacky French flick I caught on SBS a few years ago called Monique. The reviews of Monique are pretty bad, but personally I kind of enjoyed it. It’s just so ridiculously stupid and the guy in it plays the complete idiot so well. Basically it’s about this bloke who gets bored of marriage and life, has a quasi-mid-life crisis, and winds up dating a sex doll. An awesomely realistic sex doll, much like those Japanese creations.

Lars and the Real Girl is a more recent, US attempt at a movie about a dude and his plastic woman. And really, there should be more of these flicks – it’s a goldmine of laughs in my opinion. I’ve never actually met anyone who owns or has had much to do with a sex doll, not even just those crappy blow up ones you see at office parties (apparently), so I’m wondering what the market is for them. I mean they’re not cheap – those Japanese ones are around AUS$6,500 a pop, so it’s something you’d really want to think long and hard about before shelling out for. Definitely not something you’d see a lot of desperate teenagers stashing under their beds for those long lonely nights.

Having said all that, I’m not intrigued enough about rubber women to actually click on any of the links that pop up when you type related words into a search engine, mainly because I’m not sure if my firewall could handle the barrage of spyware and trojans that would undoubtedly ensue. Suffice to say it seems like there are plenty of options out there should one want to conduct further “research”.