Its All About The Brand

No Brand = No Business

Most business owners tend to think that a brand is merely something artificial like a logo or even a mission statement. A ‘necessary evil’ in having to sell products or services in the 21st century. Well this couldn’t be further from the truth, a brand from the perspective of the company is the narrative that defines its complete existence. In the case of the consumer, it is the complete sensory perception of this company. If I had one piece of advice to those that control their company’s brand, your brand is precious. It has to be created, nurtured and looked after. A strong brand not only has a financial value but it also pre-determines a company’s ability to attract quality staff, suppliers and partners. Furthermore, it also pre-determines future income from your loyal brand ambassadors. For companies in the Western world, the values of a strong brand are going to become ever increasingly important as the internet will allow greater numbers of consumers to make use of cheaper services from Asia. If you’re brand doesn’t stand for something, it will be forced into competing on price, at thankless task against developing countries with weaker currencies such as India or China. So what is the difference between a good brand and a poor brand?

Good brands stands for something; they have transcending values, a stance, a point of view. They have a culture that can inspire both consumers and staff alike. A poor one doesn’t. It’s really as simple as that, the rest is simply communication. Good brands live their values consistently and coherently. Furthermore, good brands will redefine their image, their products and vision in line with the context of time and events. A great brand sells a vision. Poor brands tend to try to appease everybody, be indecisive and sell on benefits or features. People buy them because they want the cheapest product/service available.

The Demise of Blackberry

I started to reflect on this as I considered Blackberry’s current plight.

Blackberry’s just aren’t cool anymore, maybe I am an old sentimentalist (give me an Alfa Romeo over a BMW or Audi any day) that secretly supports the underdog.

Once upon a time, Blackberry was the first and only Smartphone on the market. Being the first phone to properly combine e-mail and phone. It had a ubiquitous charm, being the phone of choice for ‘business people, journalists, people on the move, international travellers, the jet-set.’ It was a bit of a status symbol and was embraced by business people and Holywood A-listers alike. When I bought my Blackberry Bold, I absolutely loved the fact that it came with (as standard) three different plug outlets for Britain, Europe and America. It was this kind of touch that endowed it with its charm and was incredibly intelligent brand building. Even President Obama couldn’t be wrestled from his Blackberry when moving into the White House in 2008. The ultimate celebrity endorsement. The problem came when Apple decided to revolutionise the phone industry. They have previous here. Just ask Tower Records what happened to the music industry? Apple are an incredible company with an unbelievably strong brand, and their achievements in the Smart Phone market with the I-Phone once again moved the market on again. Blackberry reacted as most companies would, they panicked, and forgot who they were and what they stood for. Instead of focusing on their original values, Blackberry has been playing catch up with Apple. Blackberry’s reaction since I-Phone 1 hit the shelves has been painful to watch.

First came the less expensive Curve, which showed Blackberry trying to offer Smart Phones to a wider audience, which is fine. However, the grave almost unforgivable mistake came with the release of one of Blackberry’s greatest innovations BBM. This was a great innovation, for once out Appling Apple, that basically allowed all Blackberry users to communicate to each other with an instant messenger. A fantastic feature, but one that was always likely to be short lived with greater social media integration into Smart Phones. By having one feature that Apple didn’t possess, Blackberry went mad and completely changed their marketing strategy. Suddenly, they were the phone for the youth. They were and problematically still are the phones for students, for young girls to lose in night clubs, for people to keep in touch at festivals.

Suddenly there are pink ones and sparkly ones. Absolute madness. Yes, they cashed in at the time, only as recently as last year. Blackberry had their best ever year, profit wise. But the damage to the brand has been irepparable. Apple quickly invented whatsapp and more recently i-message, furthermore most people can communicate instantly using twitter or Facebook. BBM is no longer relevant and those same people, the business people, the movers and shakers, that once loved their Blackberries feel neglected and are now turning to Apple or Android in their droves. Blackberry cannot hope to compete with Apple technologically, it never could. But worst still, it has lost the appeal that once made it so special.

Is there a way back for Blackberry? Well I sincerely hope so. They are still the only real smart phone producer that have proper keypads, which genuinely do give a better typing experience, compared to touch screens. Furthermore, the Blackberry Enterprise server and push e-mail functions still function slightly better than its rivals. Both important features to its core audience. The biggest problem with Blackberry is the I-Phone is just so good, a real game changer. Branding and style tend to make a real difference when product offerings are similar and people purchase on more emotive reasons. However, when a genuinely innovative and innovating product comes on the scene such as the i-phone, which can appeal to almost everybody, as each of its features are so good. Branding becomes more difficult as you are asking your clientele to purchase a mainly inferior product. Blackberry should have focused on being the ‘best business phone on the market.’ Furthermore, Apple’s use of the Apps market to liberate thousands of developers is further testament to its genius. Crowd sourcing at its very best. Most companies would do what Blackberry did and look over its shoulder as opposed to the goal straight ahead. However, I believe Blackberry would be in a stronger position had it focused even closer on the business aspects of its phone, made it even better for those people that loved the original ones. It could have got away with charging more per unit and its distinctiveness would have helped it retain its strength of identity. It could have cleverly positioned itself as a tool and not a toy, left the games and the mass market to Apple and leave Blackberry as ‘the proud maker of proper business phones.’ This would have been one way to confront the I-Phone problem. Whether there is any way back for Blackberry, time will tell.

The two real lessons from Blackberry’s troubles are never treat your brand so shabbily, despite the temptation to cash in. And technology should never lead design. Good design would have used the technology behind BBM to help Blackberry appeal to its core values, instead the technology was allowed to dictate a full design/marking strategy. When there are companies like Apple around, any mistakes made by its competitors tend to be their last. I, personally, wish Blackberry the best in its fightback…

Have a great week folks…


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events events events

Hi folks, well I guess the title says it all. One of the very nicest things about being in business is the fact that as a good company, you are generally invited to lots of events. Most of the events tend to come with complimentary food and drinks and are usually attended by other great businesses. Loosely, it could be described as networking, and therefore work, not jollies, but that might be open to interpretation. Whether they are work or not, they are great fun and you tend to meet a lot of great people and find out about their businesses too.

This has been one such week… We are making great progress on all our clients projects, but we’ll talk more about that next week….

Social Media Week -The Meet

As we’ve already said. Social Media Week is coming to Glasgow in early September. The organisers Twintangibles, have already stated their desire for as many businesses to get involved as possible to host an event- regardless of size and what they do. So Wednesday night saw the First Meet Up of for participating companies at the Lansdowne in Glasgow. A bar that has already became fully synonymous with social media with their hosting of the quarterly tweet-ups.

The SMW meet up was really a great night, lots of great people from exciting businesses all gathered and shared their ideas for Social Media Week. It was actually interesting to meet some newer businesses such as Rory from ‘Digital Website’ who actually have social media at the heart of their actual business plans. It goes to show that the next generations of entrepreneurs actually plan to take social media to the next level.

The night was fantastically hosted by Tim and Daniela of Twintangibles who once again demonstrated their knowledge of the subject and its potential to achieve great things. Starting with Social Media Week in Glasgow.

One amusing point of the evening was telling my new friends about my dilemma in choosing a new phone and finding that almost every one of the other 10-15 people had their Apple (mostly I-Phone4s) on the table. A phone that I have contemplated buying for a while, safe in the knowledge that it is easily the best phone on the market. But just cant seem to bring myself to purchasing. Dont know why? What is amusing is that I cant believe that my old Blackberry Bold, one of the most corporate phones on the market, is now a symbol of individuality.

A great night though and fantastic to meet lots of great people. The Loft will be getting involved in social media week and we had subsequent discussions later this week. So we look forward to announcing something soon.

Blackberry Playbook

As I just stated, I have a thing about Apple. One such thing being the way that they have almost bullied Flash off of the internet by refusing to implement it in their products. The I-Phone being one particular case due to the size of a smartphone, Blackberry doesn’t have Flash either on its phones. But the decision to not implement it in the i-pad was a threshold moment. One that has severely damaged Flash as a company and a web-presence. Flash isn’t perfect as a technology, but to this date, it remains the one piece of software that can enable a designer to do things visually that no other software can do.

As I have already said, Flash isnt perfect but its treatment by Apple has been shabby to say the least. So it gave me great amusement to see Blackberry actually using the benefits of Flash to sell its new I-Pad competitor, the Playbook and subtly undermine Apple’s position in the process. So pistols have been drawn, it will be interesting to see how this battle turns out. Although it is great to see Flash through Blackberry fight back!


Business Banter every Thursday morning is always a great event. This week was no different but one of the more interesting things was Jacky who filmed a number of people talking about Glasgow on film. You can check out the video below…


Later on Thursday, I had the pleasure to attend SocietyM’s opening night at the new Citizen M Hotel. A fantastic night in an absolutely incredible new place. I have never seen so many pieces of inspirational pieces of furniture and design classics in one place. One of the really cool things about the night was the little complimentary gadget ‘Poken’ given to all guests.

The event has already been suitably covered by Tim of Twintangibles, so if you’d like to find out more about the event and poken, check out…

or to see more about Society M, check out their facebook page…

Venitaly Wine Tasting

Finally, earlier this evening, I had the great pleasure to attend Venitaly’s first official wine tasting in Largs. Venitaly, are a company that imports quality Italian wine to Scotland. Venitaly are a very new company and are in the process of developing a website and web-presence as we speak. We will let you know all of the details as we have them. The evening was a great success as we tasted a number of good quality wines, the Pecorino being a particular favourite. As I said at the beginning, all in the name of work.

Have a great week folks…


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New Home

Hello folks…

Well its been a bit manic and a lot of our stuff is still in boxes, but the Loft, finally moved into its new home at Bothwell Street, last week. We have only just got the studio operational (there are even still some issues with phone lines,) but we are thrilled with the potential of our new home. The Mercantile Chambers building is absolutely beautiful, complete with marble walls and beautifully decorative fixtures and fittings. Furthermore, the new facilities are going to be first rate.

We have some big plans to properly make sure that our new space has itself been designed with soul. These will be done step by step in the next couple of months. There is also likely to be a launch party so keep your eyes peeled for that.

New Clients

In the last couple of weeks, we have made agreements to design brand identities and websites for a range of exciting new clients.

Coffeze, led by Jonny Peyton, will be providing Glasgow’s first official coffee drive through in Dennistoun. They have secured the site and will be soon providing coffees and snacks to thousands of Glasgow’s commuters. We are convinced that the project is really going to take off and are delighted that we will be designing the next Coffeze website, which should be with you in around a months time. In the meantime, check them out on twitter @Coffeze

Freak Dem is a new fashion label with a difference. This is no flight of fancy, FreakDem will be doing more than just designing clothes, they are very heavily involved in using their clothes and associated events to build a positive urban community with positive values. They intend to build their brand to do tremendous good to those that need it most. Whilst designing a range of clothes that are cool, contemporary and cutting edge.

We very much look forward to working with Raschique Narwan on the Freak Dem brand identity, she’s great fun and has a real vision for doing something positive and different. Follow Raschique on Twitter to follow the adventure @ChiqueFreak

We are also delighted to be working closely with Brian Canavan and Aperture Marketing on a range of things including the development of his own brand. But firstly, the banners for his appearance at the Edinburgh business2business show. Aperture’s real strength is their ability to help its clients select, develop and focus their marketing strategies to produce a coherent vision in a complex sector. You can find Brian and Aperture Marketing at @aperturemarket

We are also continuing our ongoing relationship with PSYBT of Glasgow by assisting them with their elevator brand which this month included the custom design of their Twitter Home Page. Check it out @PSYBT_GLASGOW

Finally we are hoping to confirm another very exciting branding and website design project next week. One of which is very top-secret. So mum’s the word for now.

Nadia De Marco

it was a real pleasure to meet Nadia De Marco recently. Nadia has some big plans for her personal training company ‘The Team.’ We hope to be working very soon with Nadia on her company’s new website. To check out the existing website, visit…

PSYBT Elevator2

Wednesday saw the 2nd instalment of the excellent Elevator series. This really was a memorable night. The evening, hosted exceptionally by Sarah Scase, and aided by Gina Martin and Emma Fitzpatrick.

Firstly, it was great to see so many old friends. Jeff Horner of Go-Group, Gordon Lundie of Logic of 8 Design, Nicole Scott of Making-Trax, Daniela Castrataro of Twintangibles, Joe of JoeMBlair Photography. And new friends too – Nisha Haq, Nadia De Marco and Raschique Narwan of Freak Dem.

But also that Katie Anderson of KTBlogs gave an absolutely exceptional talk on social media. You can find out more about Katie’s business at The event was attended by Sir Tom Hunter and I was very fortunate to meet two other exceptional creatives- The exceptionally gifted Andy Murray of Andy Murray Designs who’s recent achievements include being able to use vac-forming to bend wood – a fantastic innovation.

And one of many ideas he has pursued. Check his business out at

And also one of the more stylish chaps of the evening. Frank To, complete with an elegant cross-knitted tailored blazer. An incredibly gifted artist and lovely guy too. See his brilliant work at

All in all, a fantastic night and another great success for PSYBT Glasgow. Looking forward to event no3.

#SMU 2 & Social Media Week

Another significant event this week was Social Media Unleashed 2 by Twintangibles. Twintangibles, once again with NewMediaCorp were responsible for putting on a great event at the Glasgow Light House. The event was attended by significant numbers and remarkably the twitter has tag #SMU2 was actually trending for Glasgow at one point.

The theme this time was the potential and power of Crowd-Sourcing/Funding. A really great topic ably discussed by a range of guest speakers from companies such as Dell.

One interesting part of the evening was the Skype Link-up with New York for Social Media Week on September the 19th which Twintangibles are co-hosting. You can find details of the presentations given from the Twintangibles website at And see pictures at All in all, a great night and another fantastic achievement for Tim and Daniela of Twintangibles. I thoroughly recommend you check them out on Twitter @twintangibles to learn more about Social Media.

The message from Thursday was clear. Social Media Week is Glasgow’s and they want as many companies, big or small, involved as possible. So get involved folks. Our own view is that the potential of social media knows no bounds -we haven’t even begun to scratch the surface, there are limitless possibilities.

We’ll be discussing social media week in more detail in the next couple of months. We are hoping to be involved too, but more about that another time…

Jim Henderson, Martin Jack & Brian Tait

Finally, I thought I’d give a special mention and thank you to some great people we have been dealing with a lot recently.

Jim Henderson has been a tremendous source of support and inspiration in recent times, we are thankful for the time he has invested into the Loft and look forward to working closer with him soon. Learn more… @JimatShirlaws

Martin Jack. I think the business community of Glasgow cannot thank Jackie enough for business banter or #TDBB. It is one of the most loved and well attended networking events in the city and we’ll be doing a full feature on it soon. Check Jackie’s company, Think Different at Thank you Jackie…

And finally Brian Tait. Brian is a close friend of the Loft, in terms of online marketing, we think he is one of the very best. We are developing our new ‘violence of the New’ projects with Brian and look forward to collaborating with him for a long time. Find out more at

Have a great week folks…


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