Brand minutiae: Dennis Nedry, dress shop robberies, catchphrases and Biblical Samson

BY Tony Allen

Brand minutiae hold interest.

Emily Chang’s book Brotopia digs into the history of a male-dominated IT culture in Silicon Valley. Way back, as seen in mid-60s editions of Cosmopolitan, programming did have a gender bias. Women were best at it – the original ‘computers’. But two researchers, Cannon and Perry, concluded from a new aptitude test that the happiest programmers would most likely prefer objects to people. Cue fifty years of self-fulfilling prophecy and an assumption that really great programmers need to be anti-social, and therefore usually blokes. The kind of blokes portrayed by Wayne Knight as Dennis Nedry who ended up inside a Dilophosaurus in Jurassic Park. Does this mean anything? Some would say a lot and they are trying hard to rebalance things. IT, coding and gender can easily become a branding story of sorts. Emily Chang’s book will continue to reinforce everyone’s efforts not to be the new Dennis Nedry on the block.

What kind of dresses was Marie-Ann Banham selling, where on earth was her shop and why did she change from selling frocks to selling locks? Walking into a Banham showroom today makes you appreciate foundation values. What needs to happen in your life to make you design and build such robust contraptions? Being constantly robbed is going to do it.

“If we concentrated on coming up with catchphrases rather than slogging over a ‘corporate signature’ we might find it easier to get across our ideas.”

Finally to a delightful piece of pomposity-puncturing with a searingly relevant message. Branding is an elemental profession. Once you have enough of the elements you can create a tasty picture and strut outside with confidence. There is then only the need to refresh one’s garb from time to time. Going tieless, dropping the waistcoat, wearing coloured socks, these kinds of things. So much so is this the case that all the elements in the branding repository have a formal name – and the corporate signature, tagline, payoff, strapline or support phrase is paramount. What a delight it was then to hear this finely-crafted element being referred to recently and in all innocence, as a “catchphrase”!

That’s a TV show isn’t it?

If we concentrated on coming up with catchphrases rather than slogging over a ‘corporate signature’ we might find it easier to get across our ideas.

Abram Lyle was pious. He explored The Book of Judges for his catchphrase and lo it revealed itself: Out of the strong came forth sweetness. What a triumph. Try getting away with that conundrum today. Try also getting away with a dead lion and bees as your trademark.