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Monday, 18 April 2011

The Brand Doctor did the trick - with the help of an orange monkey and Pavlov's dogs

If you want to know how not to manage events, I'm your man.

But even by my own demented standards I thought I'd blown it with the branding seminar we just finished.

So just in case you ever want to make things hard on yourself, just follow the following cack-handed recipe.

1. Run your event at short notice - in two months, for instance, so you don't have time to promote properly.

2. Find a venue that's a) hard to get to for quite a few people b) where you've never been in your life c) which nobody you ever met sees as somewhere to have a good time d) Get the dates mixed-up for the first two or three weeks, so everyone including the speakers is confused.

And that's about it, except it's also a neat idea to stay in a hotel backing on to a railway station so people can't get to sleep at night - and may decide to during the day.

I managed all that for our little thrash at De Montfort Business school in Leicester - and we survived.

That was mainly because people forgave my stupidity and came from as far away as Valencia. But also because Nikki at De Montfort was very helpful, Leicester has some nice places to eat, young Chloe organised well and equally young Ben Saffer was great with the filming and - well, the speakers really did a great job.

Rory Sutherland was hilarious and perceptive, as ever; Steve Harrison as laconic and biting as usual; James Joice of JKR did a brilliant talk on design ... but the real star was James Hammond, the Brand Doctor.

I'd only seen him in video, thought he was funny and perceptive. But I didn't really know how he would handle a roomful of delegates for a day - especially with such a varied range of businesses - a magazine, a car hire firm, a restaurant, a business coach, a financial advisor - and a quite a few more. I don't think they had anything in common except a desire to do better.

How the heck do you help such a varied lot to build a brand? Well Mr. Hammond managed it.

I'm going to stick up some comments in a few days, and we filmed everything. But I had no idea just how good he is. Surprising, challenging, sardonic about the rebranding buffoons, astoundingly well-informed – especially about how the brain works - and he gets people to think and work things out for themselves.

As a qualified psychologist he clearly should know the right buttons to touch, but if after a day with him you don't feel inspired and haven’t found at least ten brilliant ways to build or improve your business, you haven’t been paying attention.

The picture, by the way, is one of his slides, which made us all laugh - but there were quite a few others. I STILL don't know what the orange monkey was about.

Anyhow, before the event I had sworn I would never do it again. But who knows?

P.S. A few people have already signed up for my copywriting event in Bristol. The more of you come, the lower the price.

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