Music as part of branding

When most people think of what constitutes ‘branding’, they think of a logo and the ‘look’ of the website, marketing material, business cards, etc. But branding is so much more than that.

It’s everything from the way the store is laid out, the way a company’s staff interact with customers, the way the phone is answered (or not) the clothes that staff wear, their policies and procedures (or lack of them!), how they deal with complaints. And then of course it’s their products or services, their vehicles (how they are driven, are they clean?) and their advertising. Which brings me to music.

Which TV commercials do you recognise from the music?
I was watching a program on TV and ducked out of the room during a commercial break (as you do) but kept an ear out so I could hear when the program resumed. I could hear the music of a particular ad, which is still relatively new but I could identify it immediately. AirBnB. Their music is quite distinctive and you know that it’s their ad even before you hear the woman speaking or they say the name of the company. The melody is kind of light and breezy, perfect for taking you away. Which is what AirBnB is all about. That’s good branding.

Shops use music as branding all the time
Retail clothing stores at my local shopping centre all have their own music. Sometimes I see something interesting in the window and wander in, only to be assaulted by extremely loud doof-doof ‘noise-pollution’ (as my dad used to call it) which immediately sends the message… ‘Lady, you are WAY too OLD to shop here!’ And I’m out the door.

If you have a shop, it’s worthwhile asking the question: What message does your music send to your customers?


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Kochie delivered at Adelaide Convention Centre

When I was invited to go to the Convention Centre for Tuesday 23 June to hear Kochie speak about small business, I said yes. There was a wait list but I eventually got in. Now, as a small business person I have gone to a million talks, networking events, etc over the years. Some memorable, most not, many a big big waste of time. So I was curious to see which category this one would fit into.

All the speakers were brilliant
Kochie spoke about the challenges to small business. He had a lot of good things to say and case studies to talk about, and from the photos being taken of the screens and the notes being written down, I am sure that everybody there took away some great ideas. The main takeaway messages for me were about having a mentor and about staying open to continuous learning.

Argo is much more than just a coffee shop
This was a theme that was reinforced by Daniel Milky from Argo on The Parade, another speaker at the event. I really liked his saying… ‘When you’re green, you’re growing… when you’re ripe, you rot.” Daniel’s approach to creating much more than a coffee shop was really inspiring. If you aren’t familiar with Argo, google them and check out what they’re up to.

Edible Blooms owner leaves ego at the door
Edible Blooms owner Kelly Baker-Jamieson spoke about out-of-the-box marketing ideas and how she dressed up as a strawberry to hand out flyers. Actually, she spoke about a lot more than that, but as someone who works in advertising and is constantly trying to push my clients out of their comfort zone to help them stand out from the crowd, I just loved hearing those stories.

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Who says tyre ads have to be boring?

This ad is not new and maybe it’s only showing online but I think this ad for Bridgestone Tyres is a real work of art. It has probably won some awards and I think it should work its butt off as well. Because what it does so cleverly is put emotion into a commercial for something that is usually pretty bland and boring. Tyres.

The advertisement is very interesting visually and stands out dramatically from the usual ads you see on TV. Shadow puppetry is used in a really clever way — and the movement of the hands makes you pay close attention, so you can try to see how exactly the images are created. Sure, we’ve all done the bunny rabbit, but this takes it to a whole new level!

But it’s not just about making pretty pictures for the sake of it

What makes it really clever is that the use of the hands in the commercial has real relevance — based on good research and one very interesting fact about tyres, which I was really surprised to learn.

The overall message is very strong, and the stark black and white simplicity tells the story beautifully. Because it’s not really about tyres at all — it’s about the safety of you and your loved ones. Nice work.


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Dr Karl does a runner

If you’ve been watching TV lately, or ABCview, you’ve probably seen the government’s commercial with the well-known Dr Karl up on stage, talking about a new report.

Evidently, the Federal Government has commissioned a big report called Challenge of Change. At first glance, it makes sense to choose a spokesperson who is well-known by the people you want to get the message across to. However, it’s very important to make sure that the person you choose is a good fit for the product or service (or in this case, message) that you are selling.

I thought Dr Karl seemed to be a good fit…
…until I heard that he has since distanced himself from the report. Why? Beause this big important report that probably cost tax-payers megabucks doesn’t have any mention of climate change or how it will affect Australia in the future. Gee. I think that’s a bit of an oversight. And Dr Karl is a scientist. Doh!

If you check all this out online, you’ll find quite a bit of argy-bargy about who said what, and how it all happened or didn’t, but at the end of the day the outcome is the same. A bit of a mess. If you have a business, and you choose a well-known personality (or anybody, really) to be the face of your campaign, make sure you’re on the same page.

P.S. I can’t find the ad but if you check out this, I’m sure you’ll know what I’m on about…

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Vehicle signage is tricky

I love good vehicle signage and if you’ve read myVanBackWhatBiz
eBook, you’ll know I’m a big fan of the back of a vehicle because that’s what you’re stuck behind in traffic. However, I have no idea what this van driver’s business is… so just in case you are planning to have some vehicle signage done for your business, please make sure you tell the whole story on the back, not just the ending!





Meanwhile, this Pet Health Network car is fabulously Dalmation dog painted, but there’s no way that you can read the name of the business at all. Unless you’re stopped in traffic behind them, at the lights, like me.



Vehicle signage is tricky. Get one thing wrong and it can be a total waste of money. Make sure you find a signwriter who’s not just great at signwriting but also knows the basics of design and understands how people think and read. And if you ever want to run something past me, please do give me a call… I’d love to help you.


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2 hour consult for only $55

Who says government doesn’t do anything for small business! I’m rapt to announce that the Federal Funding has come through — which means I can help small businesses with a small budget, once again.

Does your business qualify?
Some of you have already had my help on a budget, but this is a brand new round of funding which means we wipe the slate clean and you can apply again. Now, as the saying goes, there’s no such thing as a free lunch which means that there are a few hoops to jump through, and unfortunately not all businesses qualify. But all the details are on my website — just follow the links from the home page.

Save over $200
If you’d like to organise your consult or you have any questions, give me a call. My bread and butter comes from larger firms but I do have a big soft spot for small business and sole traders (after all, I am one!) so I would love the opportunity to help you. And please do spread the word.

Please note — numbers are limited.


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A tricky headline burns your chances

This bus stop ad is a great example of a headline SingesHungryThirstythat is way too tricky to get your head around. Don’t agree? Try saying it out loud. See?

For starters, ‘singes’ is a hard word to quickly read and understand, especially when you’re moving at 60km/hr. Singes is very close to the word ‘sings’. To make it even harder for the reader, it’s not a word you’d use frequently. Especially not in a sentence like this.

Writing a headline is hard work and the very best headlines are beautifully simple. The copywriter should be doing the hard work so that they don’t leave the hard work for the consumer. Because if you don’t get your message across fast, your ad simply won’t work as well as it could, you won’t sell as many products and you won’t make as much money as you could. A great reason to make sure your headline sings 🙂


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Service with a frown

This little sign was up at my local Brighton RanOutOfBasilFoodland the other day when I
went for my weekly shop. I didn’t need basil (I do my fruit and veg shopping at the little fruit and veg shop anyway) but I thought it was a really cute thing to do — for a number of reasons.

  1. It stopped people hunting around for basil when there isn’t any to be found
  2. It gives the business a real personality
  3. They said ‘sorry’ which in my book is a pretty big deal these days.

I cannot count the number of times I would have liked to have got a ‘sorry’ from a sales person and that little word would have made all the difference. Far from being an admission of guilt, the word ‘sorry’ makes you feel that the person understands how you’re feeling and that it’s an inconvenience when they don’t have what you need or they can’t help you. This is a little example of how easy it is to make customers feel that you understand and that you actually care.

Thanks, Brighton Foodland 🙂

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Are you offended?

One of my clients and blog readers sent me an email last month about an TV commercial that he finds offensive. Here’s a link to the ad…

And here’s what he had to say… “Been having some interesting discussions with people about the overuse (or not) of blaspheming in the new Bank SA campaign. Personally, it drives me insane and seriously turns me off Bank SA. But I was raised strictly never to blaspheme. A reflection on today’s society and/or Bank SA’s target market?”

I, on the other hand, was not offended by that ad at all
I’m not religious and to be honest, I think of it as just a phrase, not blaspheming. I may be wrong, but my experience working with ad agencies leads me to doubt that the writer even considered that anyone would find it offensive. But we’re all individuals with our own point of view and and beliefs and I find it very interesting to hear what other people think. The message I took away from that ad is ‘he’s married an idiot’.

When I brought this topic up with a group of friends, Maxine told me that she makes sure she doesn’t use this phrase when she’s with a particular friend of hers because she knows her friend finds it offensive, as she would this TVC.

But what do you think?
I’d be interested to hear your comments about this. Whether you find this Bank SA ad offensive or not. And if there are any other ads that you do find offensive, please send them in to me. They may be fodder for another post… and another discussion.


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It’s ok — your wife isn’t here!


Being a writer, I tend to read absolutely everything. So when I saw this sign on King William Road at Hyde Park, I just had to pull over, park my car, walk back, and check it out. With all the political correctness of the world, there seem to be fewer places that men or women can escape from the other sex. Because sometimes we just need to. If you don’t believe me, please refer to John Gray’s classic book, ‘Men are from Mars and Women are from Venus’. Not to be confused with 50 Shades of Grey, his advice is pretty black and white — a man needs his cave.

My dad and my ex had their shed, but with more and more work being outsourced to VIP or Hire-a-Hubby these days, and backyards getting smaller and smaller, the shed has almost become extinct. So where can a guy go to get away? The barber.

Robbie’s Chop Shop has got it sorted. When I popped my head in to ask if I can take some photos, it was full of men waiting to get in the chair. A totally female-free zone. Which I have to say was a lot quieter than my hairdresser ever was. Not sure if that’s because I stuck my head in, but I suspect it’s probably pretty nice and quiet anyway.

Barber3 Barber2 barber4





The witty words on the A-frame and on the door get the message across in a cheeky way. The big bike parked out the front is probably another great ploy to get attention from blokes driving past. From what I can see, the combination seems to be working.


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