paul Matheson

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In my pre-career as a brand planner I met with then head of NY planning at BBH, Paul Matheson. BBH was on a side street in Chelsea, in a little commercial walk up, trying to find its footing in NY. As someone with little formal brand strategy training, apparently I did a rather good job of talking trade craft.  I recall Mr. Matheson saying of the 7 or so critical factors in a BBH brand strategy I mentioned 6.  Most people got 3, he offered.  Culture everyone missed, but not I — with an Anthroplogy background.

Today I’m thinking of revisiting my critical factors and adding a new one: Provenance.

A neat word provenance. It means where something comes from. Coors beer comes from the Rockies, brewed with Rocky Mountain water. Farm to table restaurant brands rely on provenance. Maine lobsters. Muscle Shoals musicians. That kind of thing. Understanding where brands physically come from is important. The people that make the brands. The materials. The design intent — Greene and Greene furniture, for instance. Endemic brand qualities are embedded in where and why products and services are made. Is an Austin app different from a Stanford app?

As my Norwegian aunt would say “Tink about it.” Think about provenance.

Peace.

 

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There were lots of clues leading up to the recent cultural/political explosion in Egypt. Guard dog sales were up and tourism jobs were tanking. Peru, a nation on an economic high, shopping malls filled with middle and upper class citizens, at first glance seems to be hitting on all cylinders. But monthly exports of copper, other metals, and minerals were down the first 6 months of this year; China is buying less.  Someone adding up mall sales may think all is good — but they’re measuring the wrong things.

In brand planning, knowing what to measure is a key planning tool. Paul Matheson, a planner with some big old chops taught me early on that we need to look at contemporary culture so as to have richer context for our strategies.  It’s not enough to use the typical brick and mortar marketing data, e.g., sales, share, demographics, etc.  And frankly, data sources are growing like crazy, thanks to big data computing and all the neat information trails provided by digital agencies.  That said, we must understand the beyond the data and see the culture of buying. And that includes the larger macro surround. Cue data, a la guard dog sales and the culture change it implies. 

The planner’s brain can do its own multivariate statistical analysis, without the math and expense, if it knows where to look. 

Find the cues and win the day. Peace. 

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