So, today, the BBC news team have moved from Salford back to London for the duration of the Olympics. I sincerely hope all goes well and there are no unpleasant incidents of any kind. We have seen the Olympic torch make its way around the country in some vain attempt to make us all feel part of London 2012, regardless of where in GB we reside. Tonight it will make its way across the set of Eastenders which for me trivialises the whole pageant, but hey I am not a fan and easily made grumpy!
But the branding issue thrown up by the Olympic business partnerships and the impact these are having on reputation of the games being an inclusive affair for ‘Team GB’ has moved me to comment. Much has been written over the last several days about the
appropriateness of the sponsors (fast food and fizzy drinks from the USA) and who
may or may not make use of the Olympic rings and what you can wear to visit the
games and here is just ne example from The Independent. I think the bulk of opinion is heading in one direction – the brand police have got it wrong.
I have worked for many years protecting the reputation of individuals and organisations as well as trying to establish reputations for new kids on the block. Part of the reputation is the brand, the image, the identity. I have fiercely protected the colour, the shape, the position of logos; had sleepless nights about ‘tone of voice’ and agonised about whether ‘that photo’ fits. But in all that time I hope I have not lost sight of the best form of flattery being imitation.
The brand police are robustly preventing sausages in butchers windows being arranged in the shape of the Olympic rings, fairy cakes must not be arranged in ‘that’ way. And, if you have got yourself a ticket to the Games be careful you are not wearing anything branded by anyone but the sponsors….. Even Michael Payne the man responsible for the business partnerships wonders if it has gone too far.
Such a zealous approach is not helping the reputation of the Games. It is flying in the face of the desire to make it feel inclusive and to leave a legacy that supports the small and medium sized enterprises our nation depends upon.
The key to a successful brand and reputation is to align your messages; this behaviour is filled with contradictions. I wonder what inspiration it will leave for a generation of PR people?