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Start-ups urged to avoid 'dumb blonde' branding

Friday, 15 October 2010 | By Michelle Hammond

A leading brand consultant has urged Australian businesses to learn from the "dumb blonde" marketing mistakes of Tourism Australia.

 

According to British branding expert Simon Anholt, Australia's tourism promotion campaigns has produced an unbalanced, "dumb blonde" view of the country.

 

''What you have is an image of a country that is considered to be very decorative but not very useful,'' he says.

 

Anholt says Australia relies too heavily on logos and slogans in its efforts to change people’s perceptions following negative events in the media.

 

''Rather than waste time fiddling around with promotional campaigns, what Australia needs to do is to invest in the sectors which demonstrate its seriousness and its capability.''

 

Erminio Putigano, managing director of FutureBrand Australia, says there's more to branding than catchy phrases and pretty pictures.

 

"From a branding point of view, the single most important bit of advice is not to look at the branding as purely a visual," he says.

 

"You need to think about the [business] culture. More and more, brand management is about the culture.”

 

"(It’s about) the people behind the start-up and the staff. Branding is more and more a cultural exercise. It is the opposite of advertising.”

 

"Advertising is purely externally focused and that is the beauty of advertising - keeping things simple and selling something.

 

"Branding is a lot more complex and, if you like, a lot more painful, than just coming up with an advertising idea.”

 

"If you create a start-up and a new brand, it's not just to sell something. It's a lot more about a sense of creation, a sense of identity [and] a sense of pride."

 

Anholt says start-ups are typically well placed in this regard.

 

"Sometimes, I see that some of the most interesting marketing approaches are actually coming from start-ups," he says.

 

"Usually, there is a particularly strong, charismatic, enlightened entrepreneur behind [the startup] and they can do amazing things."