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Most of us 40-somethings have contemplated writing a book. It's cheaper than the other traditional cures for a midlife crisis: Porsches, Harleys, divorce!read more
Now here is a mystery.
Why are there no soaps set in the Midlands? London has East Enders, Manchester 'Corrie' and Liverpool has 'Hollyoaks'. We don't even have any of the constructed reality programmes set in the Midlands like 'TOWIE, 'Geordie Shores' or 'Desperate Scousewives'.
I have no idea why this is, though not sure it's much of a loss. But did you know that watching the soaps is can help build strong brands.
All this week in The Mailbox there has been a celebration of the Midland's great design heritage and of the region as the home of some of this country's great brands-Jaguar, Triumph, Land Rover, Aga, JCB and even Marmite. If you haven't already been to this celebration get down there quick.
In my job I spend a lot of my time trying to design and develop brands. I don't do the creative work on brands but instead it is my job to come up with the underlying definition of the brand. I try to define what it is going to stand for; the promise it is going to make, and to try to keep, to its customers; and how it should present itself to its market. Someday it is my hope that the brands I am working on will feature in an exhibition of great brands.
It took me a wee while to find inspiration for my first blog but I found it in a place not renowned for its inspiring qualities.
And from this unlikely beginning, the intention is to provoke debate and stimulate thinking on the business of marketing and the marketing of business. Hopefully you will enjoy sharing and discussing my views.
Last week I had to leave Birmingham for the delights of London. Fortunately this gave me the opportunity to travel with my favourite train company and to meet up again with the people working there who make travelling a real pleasure.
In my own research into quality management I, like many others, was intrigued by the apparent dominance of Japanese companies.
All the studies I came across in the early 1990s emphasised the importance of understanding how Japanese companies had successfully learned the lessons of implementing improvement based on teamwork, using statistical process control, obsession with customer satisfaction and constant development of products and service through innovation.
The lexicon of management started to include expressions such as excellence and the quest to become 'World Class'. Significantly, commentators acknowledged, as far as the latter was concerned, it was Japanese companies that dominated any list of the top companies.
The message to others was that you must get better or get beaten and that Japanese companies had cracked the secret of success.
Recent announcements by two Japanese companies, Toyota and Sony, show that success is never permanent and that you have to work hard to remain 'the best'.
In the case of Toyota there is a belief that after a number of recent crises it is well on the road to recovery and will continue to be regarded as one of the world's most successful car makers.
However, Sony's misfortunes seem to be continuing and it has just announced record losses. Sony has discovered that the dominance it once enjoyed has gone and that competitors are outpacing it in terms of innovation and excellence.
What has gone wrong and what does it tell us about the relevance of Japanese management techniques that were once proposed as a sure-fire way to achieve success?
In the new edition of The Harvard Business Review (April 2012), Walter Isaacson, the biographer of Steve Jobs; The Exclusive Biography (Little Brown, 2011), provides a distillation of the reasons why the influence of one man was so crucial in making Apple currently the world's most valuable company.
As Isaacson describes, the rise from founding Apple in his parent's garage in 1976 to its current success has been incredible. There can hardly be anyone in the developed world who can claim to be unaware of the influence of Jobs through his products.
Isaacson states that under Jobs leadership seven industries have been transformed: personal computing, animated movies, music, mobile telephones, tablet computing, retail stores and digital computing. Consequently, Isaacson believes, Jobs 'belongs in the pantheon of America's great innovators, along with Thomas Edison, Henry Ford and Walt Disney'.
So how did Jobs do it and what can we learn?
Among the many joys of owning a smartphone are the bouts of mild panic when the device cannot be found in the usual pocket.
Yesterday, the issue of media standards finally jumped the shark. Or rather, it loaned the horse.
News International's former boss Rebekah Brooks, stunt double for Pixar's heroinein forthcoming movie 'Brave', was purportedly the recipient of a loaned police horse from Scotland Yard.
Twenty-seven minutes before mainstream media broke the news of Whitney Houston's death last Saturday the story was on Twitter.
The news was first tweeted by @ajaDiorNavy, with a mere 14 followers at the time, who's "Aunt Tiffany", an employee of Whitney's, found the diva dead in her bath. An hour later it had been re-tweeted 2.5m times.
Tradition dictates, in my last missive of the year, that I review the technology predictions I made in my first post of January. Unfortunately, it seems to have been deleted, so I'll have to stick to what actually happened instead!