Tuesday, 17 May 2011

Not branded is Cool!

Gedurende die vakansie stap ek agter drie seuntjies van so tussen 9 en 11 jaar oud.  Sonder dat ek probeer of wil luister, kom ek agter dat hulle besig is om oor ontwerpersname (brands) te praat. Sommer so in die loop doen hulle ’n inprompto SWOT-analise van al die brands in hulle leefwêreld.  Sonder inspanning vloei die een naam na die ander oor hulle lippe.

Wat vir my nog meer opvallend is, is dat dit lyk of hulle dalk nie te onhandig met ’n rugbybal sal kan wees nie.  Ek wonder of hulle die name van sportmanne en -vroue ook so glad oor die tong kan rol? 

Wat het gebeur dat gesonde seuns eerder oor WAT hulle dra en oor die brand van die kledingstuk praat as oor hulle helde?  Is dit hul mammies of is dit die celebrities wat hulle oor TV sien wat hulle so beïnvloed en breinspoel?

Eers oor die mammies. Volgens Alissa Quart is dit nie ’n vreemde verskynsel om middeljarige moeders in winkelsentrums te kry wat dieselfde nommertjies dra as hul elfjarge dogters nie.  Net soos die tieners gouer “ouer” word, het daar ’n parallel ontstaan van moeders wat langer jonk (wil) bly.

In her book Branded Quart writes that “over the last decade, there has been an exponential increase in the intensity that manufacturers employ to sell their stuff to the youth. Today’s teens are victims of the contemporary luxury economy. They have grown up in the age of the brand, bombarded and defined by name products and intrusive and clever advertising strategies.  Raised by a commodity culture from the cradle, teens’ dependably fragile self-images and their need to belong to groups are perfect qualities for advertisers to exploit.”

She argues that “teens suffer more than any sector of society for this wall-to-wall selling. They are at least as anxious as their parents about having enough money and maintaining their social class, a fear they have been taught is best allayed by more branded gear. And they have taken to branding themselves, believing the only way to participate in the world is to turn oneself into a corporate product or a corporate spy to help promote the products to other kids.”

If we take a look closely around us, we will discover that corporations spend billions of rands annually to woo teen consumers.  These efforts of the brand empires to control young minds and wallets take marketing strategies to a dangerous new level.

Hoe nou gemaak?  Moet ‘n mens alles met etikette op verbrand?  Ek wens ek het die antwoord gehad!  Wat ons wel besef, is dat die beheptheid met ontwerpersname ongesonde afmetings aangeneem het. 

Miskien kan ons weer begin om aan ons tieners ’n voorbeeld te stel van hoe om met brands om te gaan.  Nie as slawe daarvan nie, maar as verbruikers daarvan.  Laat die brand vir jou werk en nie jy vir die brand nie.

Meer nog, cool het niks met ’n etiket uit te waai nie.  Cool kom van binne.  Dit is die persoon binne die ontwerpersitem wat die cool veroorsaak.  Nie die brand aan die persoon se lyf nie.

As parents and schools we can sensitise ourselves about the pressure brands put on our children.  Maybe we can coin a cool unbranded slogan like: First the person; then the teenager?

Al die gepraat oor brands laat my dink aan die amptenaar van Waterwese wat een goeie dag daar by oom Barend se plaas op Garies opdaag.

Sommer so met die afklim laat hy oom Barend verstaan dat hy hier is om sy plaas te kom inspekteer.  Kwansuis alles oor die watervoetspoor en dié dinge.

Oom Barend is heel inskiklik, maar waarsku die man om hom nie in die naaste kamp te begewe nie.

Die amptenaar hak af: “Meneer, I have full authority of the ANC Government with me.  See this card? This card means I am allowed to go wherever I wish on any agricultural land. No questions asked or answered. Do you understand?”

Oom Barend knik sy kop en tel sy gereedskap op en gaan voort met waarmee hy besig was.

Nie lank nie en hy hoor gille en sien die man van Waterwese hardloop met die plaas se stoetbul kort op sy hakke. En die bul is besig om met elke tree die resies te wen. Die amptenaar gil paniekbevange dat iemand hom asseblief moet help.

Oom Barend los alles waarmee hy besig is en storm na die kamp se draad en skree uit volle bors:

“Jou kaart!  Jou kaart!  Wys hom jou f*@*#! kaart!

Image: Nuttakit/FreeDigitalPhotos.net

Monday, 16 May 2011

Huisie by die see

Wie van ons het nog nie tydens ’n strandvakansie geloop en huise kyk nie? Meer spesifiek, na die name van die huise gekyk nie.

Hoekom ’n huis ’n naam moet hê, weet ek ook nie mooi nie.  Die bousel het mos ’n naam.  Huis.  Waarom dit nog iets anders gaan noem?  As jy dan meer as een het, noem die een huis, die ander strandhuis en as jy nóg het, plaashuis, dorpshuis en só voorts.

Wat my die meeste van hierdie naamgewing ontstem, is die eienaars se gebrek aan kreatiwiteit.  (Seker weer die arme juffrou in graad 3 se skuld wat hul kleinspierkoördinasie opgefoeter het!)

Daar is veral drie kategorieë wat die witwaks uit my irriteer:

Eerstens daardie name wat met die see te doen het.  Klaarblyklik het niemand hulle geleer jy spel see met ’n S nie.  Lekker by die C, Come C why, C uitsig en ....

Die tweede groep is daardie arme drommels wat totaal en al nog nie eens die woord kreatief gehoor het nie. Hulle beste poging is om dele van almal in die gesin se name tot een of ander monstrositeit te vervoeg. Jomasage. Vang jy dit? Nie?  Dis maklik; kom ek ontrafel dit vir jou. Dit is ’n neologisme van pa Johan, ma Marie, sus Sarie en kleinboet Gert! Dom van jou, né!

Laastens is daar die met die bousels wat die koningin skaam maak om te sê sy woon in Buckingham Paleis. Hierdie mense is tog só nederig met name soos Ook-maar-net, Trek-maar-swaar, Pondok en Nessie.

Maar die nommer een op my terefferparde bly nog Hier wurg Willie ... terwyl die branders saggies in sy ore klots.

Erens, nie te ver van Willie se wurgery nie, is daar mense wat niks het om aan te wurg nie.

Wat nog te sê om hulle sinkplate ’n naam te gee!

Foto: Kleinmond

Monday, 9 May 2011

Life is Great!

Ek is seker almal is goed vertroud met Jim Collins se spreuk Good is the enemy of great uit sy boek Good to Great.

Dat hierdie spreuk miljuisende male in bosberade, strategiese sessies en beplannings gebruik is om besighede tot beter prestasie en hoër bergpieke aan te spoor, hoef niemand oor te redekawel nie.

Waarvan ek egter oortuig is, is dat die res van die spreuk and when we look back over life and see if it is a great one, we don’t see many because it is just so easy to settle for a good one êrens met die klim na die piek weggeval het.

Seth Godin takes this idea a little further when he says that the opposite of remarkable is very good.  It’s a step closer, but still not great.

Why are there so many people then that are prepared to settle for a good life instead of a great one?

I think most people confuse great with good.  They believe that if their life is not awful, atrocious, mediocre or pitiful they have a great life. But in reality it’s still only good.

Let’s illustrate. If you travel on an airline and the flight leave on time, it’s not great.  They are supposed to do that.  But when they leave on time, upgrade you to business class and serve you mojito; that makes them great!

Same with life.  If you live your life between the normal lines, it’s only going to be good.  Not remarkable or not even very good.

Om great-status te bereik verg volgens my ook guts. En dit is waarom baie mense nooit great ervaar nie. Hulle is net doodeenvoudig te bang! Te bang om buite die inkleurlyne van hul daaglikse bestaan te beweeg.

Wie het ons dan só bang vir die lewe gemaak?

Miskien is die volgende woorde van Bill McKenna die sleutel tot ’n great lewe?

Life is not a journey to the grave with the intention of arriving safely in one pretty and well-preserved piece, but to skid in broadside, thoroughly used up, worn out and defiantly shouting GERONIMO!

Foto: Idea Go

Monday, 2 May 2011

Go Big or go Home!

Last week, while I was waiting to be served coffee in one of our local malls, the story of the New York cabbie (Tom Peters: Crazy Times call for Crazy Organizations) suddenly sprung to mind.
Why think about that, you may well ask.  The reason was plain and simple: poor service … again!  Or should I say, NO Service. I could have crawled to Colombia to harvest my own coffee beans.  Roast and grind it and made a cup of coffee before the waiters even condescended themselves to approach my table. The waiters and manager in this particular shop definitely never heard the story, for if they did they would have given their customers a WOW service! They would have made my experience special! But they did completely the opposite!
As the story goes, Harvey Mackay was taking a cab ride to La Guardia Airport. When he got in the cab the driver gave him a piece of paper that said: Hi, my name is Walter. I’m your driver. I’m going to get you there safely, on time, in a courteous fashion.
After that he offered him a choice between newspapers and what music channel he would like to listen to. He also offered a snack basket and a cellular phone for his use.
This cab driver took a common experience and transformed it into something special! Not so with the staff of the coffee shop.
Luckily I had my own WOW experience at the small Greek Taverna Yamas in Somerset West later that week.
It was an experience that lived up to all my favourite adjectives: WOW, remarkable, great, awesome and unforgettable!
The food at Yamas is amazing and affordable. The menu is small and so is the taverna.  The cutlery doesn’t match and there is no fancy signage that hangs above the main entrance.  But if you want to go and eat there, you have to book in advance for there is a waiting list to get a table at Yamas.
Why?  The key to this question lies with the owner/front of house/waiter/dishwasher, Barry.
I don’t know if Barry is familiar with the story of the NY cabbie, but he provides the same having a good time feeling to his restaurant. You enter as a stranger but leave as a friend and fan.
What can my useless friends in the coffee shop learn from Barry?
1. It’s not just the food or venue. It’s the service! Take time to spend personal time with your customers and talk to them like real people without thinking what you can make them buy.  Make a connection to the heart of your customer.
2. Surprise the customer with spirit, character, personality and last but not least, energy. Try to look if you enjoy what you do.
3. Go beyond what the customer expected. Deliver more than what he thought he will get.
4.  Make it fun! Make it an experience. Make it WOW!
There is a saying: Go big or go home. I want to change it to: Go GREEK or go home!
Thank you Barry for showing that I don’t have to go to NY to take a cab ride to experience WOW. 
I will be back.  Soon.
Yamas!