Dare Greatly

I caught this commercial from Cadillac a few weeks back and it left me completely speechless! Not many commercials have left such an impression. See for yourself:

This commercial is part of the ‘Dare Greatly’ campaign by Publicis for the 112 year old iconic brand Cadillac.  The campaign is part of the effort to revitalize the brand and reposition it as an alternative to its German competitors.

The campaign is bold and enlists the stories of today’s innovators, game changers and movers and shakers.  The stories of Steve Wozniak, Jason Wu, Richard Linklater, Njeri Rionge, and Anne Wojciciki are stories that we know and through them, we are able to understand what Cadillac is trying to accomplish.

On the campaign page, Cadillac’s president, Johan de Nysschen
 tells us:

“To once again become the standard for excellence around the globe, we cannot follow any of the examples set by the luxury market “establishment”, nor meekly succumb to preconceived notions about this great brand, or even, perceptions about our rivals. We respect each and every one of our competitors, but Cadillac will chart its own course, and we will speak our own truth.

Cadillac is on a mission to shatter the status quo. Cadillac will lead with highly aspirational products packed with advanced technology, superlative craftsmanship and distinctive design. And a brand character that symbolizes quality and respect. We don’t aim to be the biggest. We aim to be the best, the highly aspirational domain of the few.”

Dare Greatly comes from Theodore Roosevelt’s 1910 ‘Citizenship in a Republic’ speech – “It is not the critic who counts; not the man who points out how the strong man stumbles, or where the doer of deeds could have done them better. The credit belongs to the man who is actually in the arena, whose face is marred by dust and sweat and blood; who strives valiantly; who errs, who comes short again and again, because there is no effort without error and shortcoming; but who does actually strive to do the deeds; who knows great enthusiasms, the great devotions; who spends himself in a worthy cause; who at the best knows in the end the triumph of high achievement, and who at the worst, if he fails, at least fails while daring greatly, so that his place shall never be with those cold and timid souls who neither know victory nor defeat.”

Dare Greatly Cadillac

Cadillac pulls inspirations from figures past and present for their big revival and produces something great and daring!  While these stories resonate so powerfully, I wondered about how they were selected.  Richard Linklater, Anne Wojcicik and Steve Wozniak as we know are all American. However, Jason Wu and Njeri Rionge are Taiwanese-Canadian and Kenya respectively. I wondered if featuring all American stories would not have helped the brand showcase their all-American heritage even more!  Check out the rest of the videos and the letter from the president here.

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From ING Direct to Tangerine – Still the Same Colour Orange

For weeks now, I have been driving by the same Tangerine billboard advertising their interesting-earning chequing accounts.  The billboard very simply asks “Do you want to earn interest on your chequing? a) Yes  b) No”.  The copy is so simple and yet, so effective in conveying the message.

You might have seen these ads too – on billboards, buses, TV commercials and at the movie theatre.  Tangerine was officially launched in April of this year; but it is not another foreign bank entering the Canadian market.  Formerly known as ING Direct, the bank was rebranded as part of the acquisition by the Bank of Nova Scotia. Imagine having to rebrand a financial institution, especially one with a brand that was well-liked and well-respected!

ING Direct was an innovator in the banking industry. From the first ‘Save Your Money’ commercials to their no fee, no minimum accounts, they are no strangers to introducing new banking practices to Canadians.  And now, with their much younger, much funner branding, Tangerine is continuing to do what they do best – bring innovation and fresh ideas to an otherwise conservative industry.

tangerine bank rebrand

We had a discussion on this rebrand a few weeks ago at my office and the general consensus was that it was a puzzling move.  How do you go from the ING Direct brand with its traditional serif font and lion to a fun, whimsical brand with an orange coffee mug?  I was puzzled at first.  Banks have always been so corporate to me and so official – and it only made sense that the marketing would be a reflection of that. After all, banks are about money and from my past experience working in banks, I know that people get very serious when it comes to their money!  It puzzled me that the Tangerine brand seemed so young and fun, and so far from what anyone would expect from a bank.

Fast forward a few weeks – maybe it’s the marketer in me, but I am always on the lookout for inspirations.  Clarity finally came to me and of all places, while I was on vacation in Barbados!  We drove by a construction site on Bay Street in Barbados and the exterior wall/fence had been painted orange (yes, the Tangerine orange) with a very simple message in white – “Think outside of the bank”.  Not sure which bank it was for but seeing that did inspire a new thought.

Tangerine has always been a “think outside of the box” kind of bank.  It has never been stuffy – their messaging has always been witty with a bit of humour.  And the font? Well, the tagline “Forward Banking” has always been San Serif!  A big part of the Tangerine rebrand has been about reassuring clients and the general public that while the name has changed, everything else has stayed the same.  And I think its true.

The most important part of ING Direct still remains and that is their commitment to innovation and bringing simplicity to banking.   With this new branding, Tangerine continues to push the envelop and challenge the way Canadians approach banking.

As with all innovators in their field, they will be met with push back but the more I think about this transition, the more it makes sense!   Do you think Tangerine made the right move?   And years from now, do you think Tangerine will be known for its part in changing how Canadians see banking or will it be known for making a silly move?

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Knowing the Difference Between Brand Coherence & Consistency


In this digital age of information sharing and instantaneous communications, we all know that change can happen pretty quickly. As a brand, it is important to be able to evolve and grow with your customers. This doesn’t just apply to your products or your policies, it should also apply to your brand. (Keeping in mind that your brand is more than just a logo, of course!)

I think that sometimes the idea of a consistent brand is so restrictive. We stop ourselves from doing something that is truly creative, fun and engaging for fear that it is not consistent with the brand.

What’s more important is that there is brand coherence, where the most important elements of the brand stay the same. In this way, we can keep what’s most familiar to our customers and yet still be able to grow and evolve with them and for them. This can open the door to more creative conversations and innovative ideas – and can even bring you closer to your customers.

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Apple is Defining its Own Verse

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This latest spot from Apple is just beautiful.  With this one spot, Apple returns to the characteristics that they are known for – poetry, beauty, romance, love and most of all passion.   What’s unusual about this spot is that it features a voice and verse that we are all familiar with – the beautiful and powerful speech spoken by Robin Williams in the Dead Poets Society about the value of poetry and being a contributor to your own ‘powerful play’.


Virgin America Wants Your Full Attention

Talk about brands saying things differently, showing personality and gaining consumers’ trust – here is another great example of a brand taking something very mundane and making it fun!

Virgin America Safety VideoI love travelling – but there are certain things about flying that I find so tedious!  Crowds of people, going through customs, and line-ups (not to mention the endless waiting for everything from food to bathrooms to boarding) are at the top of my list.  In flight safety announcements are another part of flying that I’ve learned to tune out.  Buckles, life vests, exits and no smoking – got it the first time around, thank you very much.

Recognizing that the mandated safety instructions are so mundane for most people, Virgin America decided to do things a little differently. They have released a safety video that is set to hip hop music, complete with dancing, a singing nun and child rappers. Completely wacky – but awesomely effective!

Virgin America recognized an area of the in flight experience that was lacking and turned it into a key branding opportunity.  They stayed true to their brand and delivered something that was different, refreshing and “share worthy”.  This has me thinking… where can I inject a bit of humour and fun in my sales funnels, and where are the opportunities for branding and outreach?

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Inspiring Success & the Golden Circle

I recently watched a very interesting TED talk given by Simon Sinek, a trained ethnographer and successful author.  To be honest, I didn’t think I would get pass the 1 minute mark. The talk was titled “How Great Leaders Inspire Action” – which seemed so bland and generic to me.  But surprisingly, I found quite a few nuggets in his talk and ended up watching the whole thing!

Sinek talks about the concept of the “Golden Circle” and uses it to explain how the world’s greatest brands and leaders are able to inspire and grow success.  The golden circle has 3 layers.  Starting from the outside in, they are – What, How and Why.


What – describes the things that you do.  For a business, it might be the products you make, or the services you offer.
How – describes the actions you take to achieve the “what”. It could be a company’s “trade secrets” on how they make the products unique or turn out the way they do.
Why – the reason or purpose behind everything that you do, the belief and the reason why a company exists.

Sinek states that most people or organizations will communicate from the outside in because the “what” is always clearer than the “why”.  In contrary, inspired leaders know to think, act and communicate from the inside out.  His example on how Apple has adopted this way of communication is truly eye-opening.

“If Apple were like anyone else, a marketing message from them might sound like this – We make great computers, they’re beautifully designed, simple to use and user friendly. Wanna buy one? And that’s how most of us communicate, how most marketing is done, how sales is done.  We say what we do, how we differ, how we’re better and we expect some sort of behaviour purchase…. Here’s how Apple actually communicates – Everything we do, we believe in challenging the status quo, we believe in thinking differently. The way we choose to challenge that status quo is by making our products beautifully designed, simple to use and user friendly.  We just happen to make great computers.  Want to buy one?”

What an amazing concept!  In today’s marketing landscape where options are a-plenty, having a story (especially one that resonates and is meaningful) is so valuable and so important!  I can tell you that when I think of the Apple brand, I know that the quality of their products is only a by product of what the company is about.  I know what the brand is about and I know what they want to achieve.  I can relate to the brand personality… and the brand essence.

What a neat approach to marketing – because at the end of the day, who wants to hear another spiel of why your products are so great, and how they are so different from the competition?  I’ll be sharing this with all my clients for sure.

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Pinterest – An Unlikely Source for Inspiration

Pinterest Marketing

Lately, whenever I’ve had to look for inspiration for design projects I’ve been going to one place.  Instead of going to Google Images, I’ve found Pinterest to be an even better aggregator for design inspiration.  I know a lot of people still think of Pinterest as a social media site for bride-to-be’s, stay-at-home moms and DIY-ers but since its launch in 2010, it has really evolved in both its membership and content.

If you’re a marketer, I highly recommend Pinterest for inspiration for your next marketing project. Here a a few areas that you can go to Pinterest for: