Apprentice Final: Avoiding a brand crash

posted on December 22nd 2014 in Branding with 0 Comments

Avoiding a branding crash

So the final of The Apprentice has aired and Lord Sugar has made his winning choice. Mark with (another) SEO start up. Is there anything we can learn from a branding perspective to consider over our Christmas holiday. Absolutely there is…

The programme

For those of you unfamiliar with the programme format, here’s a summary: the producers pick lots of candidates who have business ideas articulated in a business plan, they are set business challenges week by week, they embarrass themselves, Lord Sugar makes a final decision based on the idea that will make him the most money.

The two finalists had very different ideas, Bianca with tights colour matched to your skin tone because many women can not find tights that do, and Mark who would create an internet marketing agency because every business wants to be page 1 of Google.

No brand in the business plan?

What was fairly staggering was the lack of consideration for the brand in the business plans. Neither finalist had planned out what their brand was, what it would be called or how they planned to promote it.

Mr SEO Mark then used a brainstorm to develop a name: Climb Online. Does what is says on the tin, nice. Except the URL is used by a charity to promote rock climbing ( The .com has gone too. Now you’d think an SEO guru would think about URL availability, as well as a name that isn’t going to be fighting with established organisations.

Bianca Tights also left out a business name in her plan. To her credit the one piece of brand thinking she’d articulated was the fact she wanted a ‘Premium brand’. Hmmm. So yet again we were left to watch a naming brainstorm and, tdah, ‘True Skin’. Hmmm. Not exactly premium. The packaging was even worse (more Tesco essentials than Fortnum and Mason).

True USP’s

Bianca Tights had a great idea. Unique. Compelling. Big ticks in the unique selling points box.

Mark SEO’s USP’s were also developed in the brainstorm after he found out that to stand out he’d have to be ‘unique’. And so Mark developed a way of being unique by saying he would visit his customers and ‘really get to know them’. Cue tumbleweeds. Now getting to know your customer and talking to them isn’t a USP surely? For any business. Good SEO agencies do this as a matter of course.

Not just the numbers

It’s amazing seeing this process how little consideration is given to pivotal decisions. The price points, projections and profit levels are clearly key. The idea even more so (and for us Bianca actually had a genuinely innovative idea).

But lack of time developing a solid brand name and identity can really see a business and brand crash before it’s even begun. The buyers hated Bianca’s packaging and brand. Mark doesn’t have a workable brand name and URL, or unique selling point that makes his brand different.

Now you may think this is the preserve of a TV show. Well no, we had a call once from someone who had developed a website with no name, no branding and no brand identity and was a week from launch. Not the best start to creating content, a proposition or a look and identity that held together seamlessly.

So thank you Lord Sugar. It makes us think what factors need to be given careful planning time and effort!

Happy Christmas.

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