A Brand New Recipe For Branding

In a recent article, I told the story of when I was a young whippersnapper, attaining classes at what was then and still is called "one of the more famous hotel schools in North America", the marketing professor gave us an interesting, but quite challenging assignment.

We were to find a hospitality business that marketed itself by using the participation of the owner as part of the "distinctiveness" of the business. At the time, this seemed like a most difficult assignment, because in those days, it seemed that not too many people really stood out in this field. At least that what it seemed like to me in my youth. Or maybe it was just that they did not want to either make a fool of themselves. There seemed little need to drive the world to their door. I chose a very different restaurant enclosed within an old 19th century Mansion in this very cosmopolitan city. It was called Julie's Mansion and was owned and operated by a very eccentric, but wonderful showman who knew that he had to differentiate his restaurant from all the rest. He knew that the best way to do that – after the assumption of great food, entertainment and service – was to turn himself into the "brand."

My job, as a young hospitality student, was to watch him carefully and learn as much as I could. One Saturday night I showed up and Julie was trying to 'insert' himself into the home team's pro hockey uniform. It was immediately obvious that Julie had never played hockey. To see a middle-aged man struggling to get into and then have to have me extricate him from the jersey, equipment, elbow pads et al, was hilarious for a young guy like me, who had been on skates and playing the game since age four. He certainly was not afraid to make a fool of himself. When I showed up that night, he had less than no idea what piece of equipment went where, and was struggling with the shin guards. He had got himself all tangled up with what he thought were hip guards, when in fact they were shoulder pads, worn over the shoulders. It was indeed the first time I had ever seen a 'player' wearing shoulder pads, stretched around his butt.

I helped him get 'dressed'. Next came the taping of the hockey stick. This was really hilarious, watching this fellow trying to figure out the right way to tape a hockey stick without making a mess of it and looking foolish to his customers. He had a special plan for that stick.

I taped his stick and now he was ready. He had on his uniform, equipment and helmet, borrowed from one of the local NHL players who were a frequent guest at the mansion. Now, he actually looked like a real NHL hockey player … in black and white running shoes, sans skates!

Then Julie 'flew through' the different alcoves and floors of the restaurant with a big ball of foodservice aluminum foil as his 'puck'. He stick-handled in and out and between tables, took shots with the aluminum ball off the walls, cross-checked his own waiters trying to serve tables, all the while yelling cheers and the phrase made famous' round the world, by Foster Hewitt : "he shoots …. he scores!" All this, at the top of his lungs. Then he had planned for a horn to sound loudly indicating that the 'period of play' in his imaginary 'game' was over. It was now time to go to the dressing room. In a flash, just like an on-stage magician, he quickly disappeared into thin air, hidden in his office.

My face was covered in tears. I could not stop laughing! The restaurant was in an uproar. Guests were laughing so hard … one guy literally fell off his chair. The waiters were laughing, the guests were laughing, I was laughing and all the while Julie was having a ball too. Here was a restaurateur who made his work fun.

I had not met one of these types before. I really liked and respected this fellow. But I figured then, and still today, that anyone who had that much fun … and made that much money … must know something the others did not. And he did. He became his own brand. 'Distinctive. 'Differentiated. 'There is attractive to people who are sick of seeing the same old, same old every day. People are attracted to differences not similarities. Take a look at what you can do with yours. It's right under your own nose.

© Copyright, Roy W. MacNaughton, 2006

Shipping Companies’ International Services – What Mode of Transport to Use?

There are a few freight forwarders which ship goods only within the same country. Usually, the shipping companies' international services are quite extensive. Most are able to arrange any mode of product transportation for their clients. You will certainly get the advice and assistance that you require to make a decision, but the final choice is yours. That is why it is important to know as much as possible about the available options and to be able to define your needs clearly.

The choices of transport which you can select from include road, rail, sea and air. Of course, the range of options may be limited depending on the initial location of the goods and their final destinations. For instance, if you want to use shipping companies' international services for transporting goods from New Zealand to Australia or from the US to Europe, you will have just two variants – sea and air. Taking, these limits into account, you can quickly define the criteria which you will base your choice on.

What is the nature of your product? What are the weight, size and volume of the goods? Perishable products such as fruits and vegetables require faster shipping from one country to another so that they can be effectively preserved. In this case, speed should be the leading criterion when making a choice. Most companies export large volumes of goods with reasonable weight and this is the reason why sea transport is often preferred for international shipping. This mode of transport is suitable for goods with odd shapes and sizes. On the other hand, for a small volume of goods even air transport can be cheaper.

How important are speed and safety for you? Undoubtedly, the fastest choice of transport available is air. However, it is typically the most expensive of all shipping companies' international services as well. In this case, you have to know exactly how much faster delivery will cost you and whether you can afford to pay the price.

When it comes to safety, you have to consider the risks associated with the different kinds of transport. For instance, air transport accident is much less likely than a road transport accident. However, in case of a plane crash, the risk of your goods being completely destroyed is times higher.

How much can you afford to pay for the transportation of your goods? It is best to compare the costs of each mode of transport for your particular product depending on its nature, size and volume. This will help you make the right choice between the shipping companies' international services.

Oakley – The Fusion of Science, Art & Expanding the Brand

Oakley, Inc. has long since been one of the leading sports brands dedicated to the fusion of science and art through its innovation in their products. Because of its huge success, it comes as no surprise that Oakley, Inc. would expand into the creation of other brands. These brands are the leading ones that you would find in the company's company portfolio:

Dragon – This brand actually has its roots dating back to 1993 in Southern California, with primary focus on the youth and its culture. Its influences come from the street and music culture rampant in today's youth, which are heavily accentuated into the products and eyewear the brand is very famous for. In fact, when you look at the goggles, sunglasses, and other accessories distributed by Dragon, you can certainly get in touch with the lifestyle and preferences of today's youth. At present, Dragon's products are distributed in over 45 countries worldwide, with a vast number of core retailers to its name.

Eye Safety Systems (ESS) – The designs developed by ESS are very popular, especially in the ranks of the military, police officers, and firefighters. This is because the designs boast of advanced eye protection systems of the optimum level. Such quality has made ESS the leading brand and supplier of eyewear for the US military. The great thing about ESS designs is that these were conceptualized for the most hostile environment possible, so peak performance and eye safety are guaranteed by these products.

Fox Racing, Inc. – The typical apparel for the motocross industry just would not be complete without protective goggles and eyewear. This is the forete of Fox Racing, Inc. Its innovative designs spell quality for all motocross enthusiasts all over the world. Because of the strong demand for Fox Racing sunglasses and goggles, more and more motor sports specialty retail stores have been distributing Fox eyewear worldwide. Oakley, Inc., of course, distributes these products as well.

Oliver Peoples – Oliver Peoples was actually co-founded by designer and optician Larry Leight way back 1986. In a short span of time, the brand has expanded its market to over 45 countries all over the world. In fact, 5 major retail stores are currently being operated by the brand in Tokyo, Costa Mesa, Los Angeles, and New York. New York actually has two retail stores in operation for Oliver Peoples. What's more, there are so many celebrities on the silver screen who wear Oliver Peoples® eyewear, making the brand all the more popular and prominent. Truly, with Oliver Peoples® eyewear, you enjoy the impressive mesh of both aesthetics from the olden days and finesse of the modern day.

Spruce Up Your House by Gardening!

It’s a good time to start thinking and planning ahead for your garden. A neat and tidy front yard can enhance a property, but a beautifully planned one can really make an ordinary house look special.

Some accessories that will make your yard look really good can be very inexpensive. Most of us are on a budget, especially these days when we never know how much it will cost to fill up our gas tank. Sometimes at this time of the year, you can find last year’s garden accessories discounted. Benches or garden lights may be listed for sale before the new stock comes in.

There are some basic rules which apply to every garden. Before you start you should try and afford a soil test. This is quite inexpensive and either your local nursery or the Internet will tell you how to go about it. You can also buy do-it-yourself kits. The second thing is to dig compost into your garden, and now (winter) is a good time.

If you are having a soil test carried out, you will know from the results if you should add any other nutrition to your soil. A soil test will mean you will not be buying the ‘wrong’ shrubs, plants etc for your soil type.

There is one last thing that you should monitor: how long and where the sun shines on different parts of your garden. Plants can thrive without direct sunlight, but only if you plant a type that likes the shade. This can still include many bright, colorful plants (i.e. impatiens), so you can still brighten up dull areas.

Once you decide to buy, you do not want to waste your money by having the plants or shrubs die on you. The soil test will curb some of these mistakes. The other thing to do is to look up, on the Internet or from a book, your particular growing zone. If you live in an area where, for instance, you come into the ‘Hardiness Zone’, it will enable you to pick the type of plant that has the best chance of surviving in your type of climate.

Always put short and stocky plants in front of taller ones. Remember to check the expected height to know this information – do not decide by the height at purchase time. Remember that short and stocky plants are generally tougher and more resilient, so choose more of these.

Try to resist buying plants in bloom at the time of purchase. The ones that still have to bloom will probably be stronger for the transplant process. If you have more shady areas than you wish, think about drastically trimming a tree to get more sunlight onto certain patches. Remember that some plants like a lot of water, so group these together to make the watering less laborious for you.

There are many small accessories that will really make your yard stand out. Obviously a strategically placed bench -or chairs and small table- under a tree will look welcoming and relaxing. A small bridge can really enhance a yard, and you can use it as a focal point for a few reeds or grasses to give the impression of water. Or if you feel daring you can try digging your own long shaped pond. Instructions on this are easy to find in books or on the ‘net.

For cheap plants (in fact free ones!) buy a can of ‘rooting powder’ and offer to swap cuttings with your neighbors. It is not recommended to sneak out at midnight with your scissors in hand!!