This morning, as is now my routine, I was listening to the Today Programme on Radio 4 when I heard a rather peculiar article about Yell rebranding as Hibu. That’s Yell, as in Yellow Pages. Y’know, with the Yellow branding that’s really recognisable in the UK. Now, the new identity has been developed by Landor to be rolled out across all offline and online channels to reposition the beleaguered company. To make matters worse, Mike Pocock, the CEO of Yell/Hibu has claimed that the name Hibu ‘doesn’t mean anything’. Pretty shocking considering how powerful the Yell brand is within the UK.
Now, I mentioned above that the company is ‘beleaguered’. Let’s just say it isn’t doing very well. However, not so badly that they can’t scrape together a few shekels to appoint one of the costliest agencies around. But there’s a bigger issue at hand here. Have you tried to use Yell? It’s shit! Seriously! I tried to use it to search for the service of my present organisation, using the office postcode as my location and guess what? My company was not top recommendation. In fact the top recommendation was for a firm based in Bromley – over 9 miles away! Obviously this firm has bought this space to promote it’s business but I don’t really care whether they can serve me or not. I want to use a location based site to find an organisation as convenient to my location as possible. Yes, paid ads must be a consideration to make the business work however failing to deliver results that suit customers just isn’t going to wash. Which leads me to conclude that the problem is not the extremely recognisable brand, but the service that’s actually on offer. Rather than spunking a fortune on appointing an agency, Mr Pocock would have been better investing said fortune on improving the service.
Which leads me on to GM. Last week GM announced that they were pulling $10m worth of ads from Facebook because they just weren’t working and that it was so hard to get cut through via social media.
Seriously? They attempted to back up this claim with an illustration of social media to demonstrate how difficult it was to get your head around social media and make that impact. Oh, woe is me GM. Poor you.
Now, isn’t this the same GM that is rife with bureaucracy and incompetence, that had to drive to Washington 4 years ago, cap in hand, looking for a bail out? It’s it also the same GM that produce crap cars.
But obviously, it’s not GM’s fault that their social media campaigns are not working. How could it be? They only produce crap cars and those that use social media are clearly incredibly stupid. Yeah right. Conversely, those that use social media are incredibly savvy and if GM had decided to listen to what people were saying about their brand rather than picking up the metaphorical megaphone and shouting at them, maybe, just maybe, they might get an insight into the issues that people have with their cars?
Ultimately, it’s easier to find a scapegoat for your company failings however blaming social or digital channels for your failings is simply not on. Rather than attempting to ride the social media wave to guaranteed profitability (as realistic as the American dream), why not invest in listening to what people say about your brand, harvest this data and use it to improve your product. If you listen to your audience and apply their (tested) suggestions, you’ll create an army of brand advocates who will be more than happy to talk about your brand in a positive way on social and digital channels.