Diary of a Cornish Pasty: fight for brand recognition

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Cornish Pasties - the new Champagne

When I heard that the Cornish Pasty – the meat and potato filled comfort food which has been a staple of British diets for years – had been given protected status by the European Commission earlier this week, I thought there must be something we can learn from this humble food stuff.

The protected status means the pasty now has the same standing as French Champagne and Jersey royal potatoes. It can only be called a ‘Cornish Pasty’ if it is actually from Cornwall.

Now that’s strong brand positioning.

Putting my bloodhound nose and journalistic instinct to good use I managed to track down a diary belonging to an authentic Cornish Pasty and discovered that there are some vital lessons that brands and communicators can learn from his journey.

Mr Authentic Cornish Pasty’s Diary:

2008:

I tell you what I am fed up with imposters trying to steal my identity. Only I am a true Cornish pasty – what gives these other meat filled pastry’s the right to use my name when they’re second rate citizens and prepared no where near Cornwall. Pff! That’s it. I’ve had enough.

So I’ve approached the Department for Food and Rural Affairs (Defra) which has agreed to give me support to take my case for Protected Food Name (PFN) status to the EU.

I’ve always been passionate about who I am and what I’m trying to say to my customers. I know what it is that I offer and why people should choose me over anything else.

But what gets me is how many brands there are out there that are trying to sell themselves when they aren’t even sure who they are or what sets them apart from others.

In a world where every man and his son are fighting for acknowledgment and attention from consumers, peers and potential business partners, finding your own brand identity and protecting it above all else is vital.

Finding your differentiator, your USP, is imperative; and it needs to be portrayed in everything that you do from your website, to your business cards, to the quotes you give to the media.

2010:

I’m going to fight for my identity – but first off I need to think about exactly what it is I want the world to see me as. What messages am I conveying?

The Cornish Pasty Association (CPA) have described me as ‘a pasty with a distinctive ‘D’ shape and crimped on one side, with a chunky filling, made up of uncooked mince or chunks of beef with swede, potato and onion and a light seasoning’. I should be slow baked.

Not bad, hey.

Now apart from making me hungry, this level of detail got me thinking. Communicators really could take a leaf out of my book. Prepare some proper strong, detailed key messages and make them the foundation of everything you do.

After all what’s the point in liaising with media, tweeting, doing email campaigns and updating your website and blog if you aren’t actually clear on what it is you’re wanting to say or what it is you want to achieve?

It’s like me promoting myself and people thinking I’m a sausage roll.

Positioning yourself properly is imperative. Take the time to really think about your place in the market and what sets you apart from others. These in turn become your key messages.

2011:

Yay! I’ve won! You can now call me ‘Mr Authentic Pasty’, thank you very much. My Cornish counterparts the ‘Cornish Clotted Cream’ and the ‘Cornish Sardine’ won the status last year so I feel I’m in good company.

Now I’ve got my identity sorted I’ll be keeping a close eye on my competitors to make sure no one is infringing it.

If you aren’t quite as high brow as me with your own ‘stamp of authenticity’ then it doesn’t matter. You should still be keeping an eye on your competitors and market and making sure that you are consistently fine-tuning your brand and ensuring that your USPs and key messages are still clear and valid.

Happy social media day – is anyone else bored?

I may be putting my head slightly above the proverbial parapet here, but I need to get something off my chest.

I am so bored of social media.

Shock! Horror!

Now, I know what you’re thinking.

How can you be bored of social media when you work in PR and communications? Social media is what the industry is all about at the moment.

But seriously, am I the only one who is I’m bored of talking about social media and discussing how great it is and how it has changed the shape of the media landscape forever?

The point is – we know this.

I’ve been feeling like this for a while now but seeing the announcements for today’s social media day, has finally pushed me over the edge and into writing my first ‘rant’ for this blog. (Although in all fairness, after closer inspection,  the idea behind the day and getting people to connect, I actually quite like).

Are you celebrating social media day?

The benefits of social media are huge, and I, more so than many of my colleagues, have embraced it and can see the benefits of it for both personal and professional use.

I have three Twitter accounts and look after the company and clients social media, but, like us all, I am still learning and I’m excited about what the platform of social media will bring to the table over the next few years.

But it’s the incessant talking about it which is driving me mad!

I’ve been to a fair few social media events recently and each time I have walked away with interesting talking points, but ultimately each event is the same – different experts saying the same thing in a slightly different way.

Now that’s not to say they are not useful events but instead of talking about it, surely it’s better to just get on and do it?

I expressed this on LinkedIn once and was quickly shot down and told that you need a ‘strategy’ before ‘just getting on with it.’

Really though?

Perhaps I’m being naïve, but surely just making sure you don’t say anything stupid, that you follow and befriend people who are of interest to your industry, and that you signpost articles and news that are of interest to the types of people you want to follow or befriend you, is strategy enough?

Social media is a slow burn.

It takes a long time to get results and when you do get them its bloody hard to measure the return on investment. I’d rather just get stuck in and get the ball rolling.

Perhaps the reason I’m frustrated is that I like things that are black and white or yes or no and the one thing I have picked up from all this conversation about social media is that there is no yes or no answers.