CTAM Summit 2009: Branding Tips From TAXI's Driver

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As a screen filled with customer screeds about cable companies blinked on the screen above his bald head, ad man Paul Levoie said that cable companies need to nurture relationships with customers as part of brand strategy.

The complaints were compiled by Levoie, the chairman and CEO of Canadian ad agency TAXI, from Twitter before the program.

As one might expect, the complaints about missed appointments, prices and bad service were peppered with expletives.

"Make it a meaningful relationship - if you can change that you'd be surprised how customers will tell your story for you," he said. "They will become your evangelists."

He called his own experience with his local cable company not a relationship, but a one-night stand. "We had a quick conversation. We discussed price. And I haven't heard from them since."

When he did call the company, "I got a robot." After finally reaching a human and making an appointment, the service man failed to appear.

Leboive said that the most successful brands:

-- Clearly define what they stand for.

-- Are consistent with their message

-- Live the brand

-- Tell great stories.
"These things sound simple, but it's rare the company that can do it."

Speaking at a branding panel "Stand By for Station Identification," which also included AMC network general manager Charlie Collier, Levoie said that in these "shift-disturbing" times, companies should strive to start a conversation with consumers in order to engage them.

To demonstrate his point on the power of brands, Levoie sent out an intern in New York to show a fake ad for a fake movie, Shark Police!, starring Daryl Hannah and Mark Hammill below a giant shark holding underwater guns. The ad got a tepid response, but the numbers shot up with the addition of a single logo: HBO.