Inventing a past for a brand of the future

There’s an excellent interview in the FT Weekend [requires registration, but worth it] with restaurateur Jeremy King. He’s about to open his first hotel, and during the interview he displays an excellent approach to brand and experience building.

The Beaumont Hotel is a new name and a totally new build, but by imagining a convincing backstory, he’s got a tool he can use to explain to everyone else in the project what the vision is. It’s a great technique and I’m sure will lead to an appealing and coherent customer experience.

He tells me the story he imagined for his new hotel, complete with fictitious founder James “Jimmy” Beaumont. Jimmy, an American mid-westerner from farming stock, was working as the general manager of the Carlyle in New York.

“One day he is chatting to some guests, bemoaning that there he is in New York and it’s 1926, prohibition’s really taken hold and the only people having fun are at the speakeasies. New York’s getting violent, the hotel is quiet and incredibly boring because you can’t serve a drink and he says to these ladies, ‘I’ve had enough. I want to get out of the business’ and they persuade him not to. They say, “Go abroad, everybody’s getting excited about the Caribbean or Cuba, go somewhere else – Paris? No, the language. Well, how about London?”

King imagines the “original” hotel was peopled by Hemingway, Fitzgerald, legendary CBS reporter Ed Murrow . . .

“Of course,” says King, “you’d never know this but the photographs, the art in the hotel . . . they all tell this story.”



What start-ups can learn from the Tour de France

One of my favourite podcasts is Radio 5’s Sportsweek. It’s broadcast at 9am on Sunday just as I’m walking the dog so I usually listen to it across the week before work. Garry Richardson is a bit Marmite – he is always quite obviously digging for an angle, which grates with me, but at the same time, the show is excellent and he always seems to have exactly the right guests.

This week, he had the head of Team Sky – the pro cycling outfit that won the last two tours with Sir Bradley Wiggins and Chris Froome (though no such luck this year). Sky have been amazing and Sir Dave Brailsford is clearly quite a leader. I was struck by his ethos for success and it rang true with me regarding life for anyone building a start-up. When asked how he felt about the need to change tactics when his main rider crashed out of the race, he answered simply with the tenacity of someone who knows that the path to success is never direct and is always hard work:

We start off with the basics that the goalposts will move and that life’s not fair

Chelsea Fringe

On my cycle home, I pass one of the locations for Chelsea Fringe every evening and have been meaning to post about it. Chelsea Fringe – what a great idea. The Edinburgh Fringe is now the gem of the Edinburgh Festivals and started, I believe, as a response to the more traditional Edinburgh International Festival with its impressive, but elderly tattoo.

Gardening is and should be more accessible that just the rarefied experience offered by the Chelsea Flower Show, so the notion of a Fringe adds, at a stroke, a hint of cool and modernity – and increases the overall appeal and accessibility.

What else could do with a fringe? Ideal Home Fringe? The Proms Fringe? Glyndebourne Fringe? Henley Regatta Fringe?

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Show off media v non show off media

An awful lot gets labelled as social media. And irrespective of the words used, It seems any new way of communicating is bundled together as all the same sort of thing by the media for convenience.

Facebook, Twitter, Instagram, Whatsapp, Vine, Telegram, Skype are all birds of a feather, but I think they can be best be understood and categorised by noting whether they are show off media or not.

Places where people routinely show off, professionally or personally
– Facebook
– Twitter
– Linked In
– Vine
– Instagram
– FourSquare

Places where the whole point is to keep it private
– email
– Whatsapp
– Skype
– Telegram
– Snapchat

The killer app for both groups remains your address book. That’s the truth as to who we care about – and the real long term asset. ads from 1999/2000

Digging through some old files I’ve found these four posters I commissioned for through M&C Saatchi/Immediate Sales. They’re not my favourites but they’re the only surviving ones I have. The Blair “don’t plan” ad was an opportunistic response to the news that the then Prime Minister’s wife was unexpectedly pregnant.

The best ad we ran, IMO, was “Surprise your girlfriend. Take her sister to Paris.”

The LMN brand was all about spontaneity, adventure and romance. I have to say I think they lost that sheen, though they appear to be wanting to get it back.

Screenshot 2013-11-12 18.08.00 Screenshot 2013-11-12 18.08.23 Screenshot 2013-11-12 18.08.53 Screenshot 2013-11-12 18.10.04[ EDIT - I found more ads]

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