Over the past week the physicists on the Franco-Swiss border have achieved remarkable global media coverage. The CERN labs, most famous it seems for giving us the internet, have just switched on their latest supergizmo. When I first heard of it, I’m pretty sure its raison d’etre was to help find ‘free energy’. Now all the talk is of bashing particles together to better understand the universe. At least we all might benefit from this in two ways. Firstly, the next generation of the web will be based on their “GRID” and be stupifyingly quick. And second, all those flat-earth clowns that said there’d be a black hole created causing an the implosion of the planet have been proved wrong.
I just spent a thoroughly enjoyable weekend of R&R in Geneva, and would you know it, the CERN labs are almost next door to the airport there.
So, awareness of their ‘brand’ has surely never been higher. And they’ve a souvenir shop. But what a disaster. No-one was buying anything. The prices felt unusually good value, strangely un-Swiss in fact, with t-shirts being only a tenner in trusty Sterling. But the ‘goodies’ on offer? … Well.
I’m constantly amazed at two facets of brand merchadising. One is when all people do is grab a dozen of the seemingly obvious products (t-shirts, cricket caps, pens, sweatshirts, mouse mats, etc). And the other is when they simply splash their logo on them (when will these people learn that the logo is NOT the brand).
Results end up exactly the same as for the rocket scientists. Piddling sales from unexciting, limited choice with drab, uninspiring products and designs. Which struck me as an incredibly wasted opportunity. In fact, I spent the next hour in the pub riffing ideas about all the things they should be doing instead. (Can you believe that there’s not even anywhere at the airport that offers a single CERN tee, but if you fancy a red and white abomination with a cow on it, feast yourself?)
And of course, it made me pause and wonder if in fact, I was guilty of similar misguided promotion. Are my products where my customers would buy them? Does my offering limit choice and look staid? Is what I consider cutting-edge actually just going through the motions instead? How should I be trying to stand out from the crowd? This kind of chat can make you shudder a moment!