Posted by Andrew VanderPloeg
In the last week, two articles have come to my attention, each one showing the different sides of effective branding. I encourage you to give both articles a full read, but here are my quick breakdowns:
Article 1 - The city of Hamilton, ON hired an out-of-town firm to develop a campaign for them. Unfortunately, some gaffes were made, such as: Twitter feed contributors had no idea that Hamilton's public transit system was known as the HSR, images of Hamilton, Ohio's courthouse were used on Pinterest, and a T-shirt was made which stated the population of Hamilton is 354, likely representing the small town of Hamilton, Washington, not the half million+ people living in Hamilton, Ontario. The firm has since offered an apology to the residents of the City of Hamilton on the Our Voice, Our Hamilton website that had been developed as part of the campaign, but forgiveness doesn't seem to be forthcoming.
Article 2 - A CBC article highlighting the fact that Hamilton has seen the biggest drop in welfare cases since the 2008 recession hit. The article personalizes the facts of the case by telling the story of Circe Luna, who, just one year ago, was living off of the Ontario Works program and now, is a creative and design specialist for City Kidz, a non-profit agency that works with inner-city youth.
So, what's the difference here?
Well first off, I want to be clear that my intent is not to defame or denounce the firm in the first article. These things do happen and there are reasons why a firm might be put in a position wherein this kind of thing can happen - we really don't know the whole story.
My point though, is about honest, authentic, human communication.
The campaign developed for Hamilton is called, Our Voice, Our Hamilton, and in developing that excellent theme, the expectation is that communications in that campaign would actually be the voices of Hamilton - clearly, they weren't.
But when you read an article that talks about a huge success story for Hamilton in terms of an overall improvement in welfare numbers and then communicates that win in terms of the story of a human being who is part of the story and is now helping that story come true for others, you've truly landed on an example of, Our Voice, Our Hamilton.
It's honest. It's real. And it's effective.That's what good branding (and the marketing and advertising within the brand) looks like.