John Paulo Cardoso

About John Paulo Cardoso

John Paulo believes that true design thinking brings meaning to the mass of needs, wants, ideas and perceptions, creating brand. ...

Posts by John Paulo Cardoso:

Where’s your brand equity when you need it?

branding brand equity

I think that there’s something perversely poignant about Bell appealing to its Canadian consumers to go to bat for it with the CRTC. But, maybe I’m missing something. As I understand it, the CRTC is ready to grant Verizon the right to compete with Bell, Rogers and Telus for our mobile phone business. The Canadian companies are objecting. They feel that the CRTC is tilting the playing field in favour of an American mega-company.

In a sense, this multi-media advertorial campaign by Bell and by Rogers is a referendum on their brands. Do we care about them enough to support them against the threat of a foreign invader?

Both Bell and Rogers began as monopolies. The government granted them exclusivity and they both grew fat and happy. They thrived because consumers didn’t have a choice. And even after de-regulation of their markets, these are companies that have chosen to go for immediate profit rather than long term relationships. They have milked the Canadian cow for every dime they could squeeze out of it, and now, sorry for the mixed agricultural metaphor, the chickens have come home to roost. Bell and Rogers are turning to their customers for help and we are not coming to their rescue.

Is it because these are brands that don’t offer globally competitive pricing? Is it because the entire Canadian mobile phone marketplace is based on confusing and confounding contracts? Or is it because these are brands that haven’t earned our trust, admiration or loyalty?

And, about the argument that Verizon won’t create jobs in Canada? The last time I called the Bell Sympatico help line, I spoke to a gentleman overseas. You haven’t listened to me as your consumer, Bell and Rogers. Why should I come to your rescue with the CRTC?
Can you hear me now?


What do ‘most hated’ brands have in common?

Worst Brands

I recently read a list of America’s least favourite brands on and was surprised that all ten of them are either financial institutions or communications providers?  But, should I be surprised?  What kind of evil do financial institutions, cable, satellite and cell phone carriers have in common that ticks off so many of us?

It’s the fine print.   When a company woos you to enter a relationship with promises in 16 point type, and then hits you with cancellation fees, service charges and conditions in teeny tiny 4 point type, it’s not surprising that you might suffer from a little read rage.

I know that these love them or hate them brand lists proliferate and aren’t all exactly what you’d called peer-reviewed, but they do give us a window into consumer discontent, which in the world of social media is an increasingly explosive performance indicator.  Unhappy customers now have the technology to tell their 30 friends and 30,000 browsers on the web about their bad experiences.

A representative of the bottom ten companies might remind us that the terms and conditions for cable, credit cards, satellite TV, bank accounts and mobile devices are clearly spelled out.  And legally, I suppose that’s completely accurate.  But I’m talking about building brands, not court cases.  I’m talking about consumer expectations.  And when you surprise consumers with leg hold traps in the fine print, you end up with a relationship that’s headed for the rocks.

So, what would I recommend to a financial services or communication provider client?  I’d suggest that three years isn’t a long term relationship.  Aim for a life-long relationship.  And don’t think of a cancellation fee as a source of revenue but rather a financial settlement of a divorce with a consumer who’s never coming back.  Contracts may bind us together legally, but they don’t really keep us together.  The only thing that does that is wanting to be together.   The same principal applies in branding.  You may have a contract with your customers, but if they’re unhappy, you’re sleeping on the couch.


1 Comment

Does Your Brand Have a Distinctive Voice?


As a designer, I confess to a built-in visual bias when it comes to brand expression. I tend to experience a brand’s essence primarily through my eyes, by seeing how it draws me into its world.  And when I’m working with clients on a branding project, one of my first steps is to create a book of strategically selected pictures and graphics that create a feeling of immersion in the character and the unique ‘feel’ of the brand.

The next step though, is just as crucial. It involves the expression of the brand through words.

Most major brands have graphic standards that instruct internal and external communications people about how to maintain the brand’s integrity from a visual perspective. Fewer brands have similar guidelines about what the brand should ‘say’ to stakeholders.

Why is a brand story and a brand vocabulary so important?  Simply because your website, your brochures, your advertising and social media are all opportunities to draw customers into your brand world.  The words you use should reflect who you are and what makes you distinctive.  Take something as elementary as how you describe your customers. Westjet calls them guests.  Augusta National Golf Club, where the Masters Tournament is played, insists on calling them patrons. Most professional firms use the word ‘clients’.

The decision to use those terms is the first step on the way to creating a corporate vocabulary and a corporate story that differentiates and distinguishes. It’s just that most organizations never take the next step and end up sounding like every other organization in their communications.

Given that you have a unique story to tell, when you use the same phrases and thoughts as everyone else to express it, you’ll sound the same as everyone else.  Don’t tell me you’re innovative, tell me why.  Don’t tell me that you value your people, tell me how. Don’t tell me you go the extra mile, take me on the trip with you. As we constantly tell our children… ‘use your words’.

No comments