Welcome to the relaunch of newcheeze.com
When my son was born, nearly seven years ago, I took a step back from business. That “outsider” perspective made me look at what I do from a different angle (always a good thing for writers and filmmakers).
This was the same time that social media exploded and everyone from companies to governments jumped on the bandwagon, many of them without a clue as to its purpose or how it really worked. To a lot of them (not all), new media platforms were just another channel to add to their marketing mix. Equal parts amused and irritated, I started referring to myself as “the anti-brand”. Sometimes, the word “brand” can still make me cringe.
The branding concept started as a way of putting a mark on property. Runaway slaves were often branded as punishment; livestock is still branded to show ownership and products are branded as a way of confirming their source. Today, marketing has made the brand a much more dynamic thing; by attributing unique characteristics to it, potential customers “feel” something when they see your logo or hear your brand’s name.
Take Jamaican Blue Mountain Coffee: people make the decision to buy it not simply because there’s a brandmark which denotes the source of the beans, but also because there’s a certain image that goes along with it. The fact that the coffee is grown on the hilltops of a Caribbean island communicates certain brand properties — high quality, organic, rich, flavourful. Just as effectively, it says something about the coffee drinker — cool, open-minded, laid-back, worldly.
But here’s what I believe: the best branding is not about flashy images and slick taglines; consumers are way smarter than that — so smart, in fact, that they are no longer waiting on companies and their advertising agencies to tell them what they want. Instead, consumers are busy living authentic lives and looking for brands that measure up to their standards. If they don’t find them, they either forego the product entirely or create an option themselves.
Brands that subscribe to this type of cultural movement marketing take their cue from their target market and not the other way around. But to me, this is more than a response to the wider cultural phenomena that produced products like affordable modern furniture and smart cars. The strongest brands must align themselves to consumers’ value systems. Don’t say one thing and do another — nothing upsets customers more — which is why Volkswagen is paying the price for claiming to be the ultimate car while finding ever more creative ways to dupe emissions tests.
This growing generation of educated, aware consumers also wants its product choices to make a positive difference in the lives of others — so brands need to become more definitive and conscious as a result. Let’s go back to Jamaica. If coffee drinkers have made up their minds to buy Blue Mountain Coffee, chances are they’d pick a brand like this one that offers tangible benefits to Jamaican communities.
And that’s what this relaunch is about. It’s essentially a refocusing on what is important to The New Cheeze. Telling authentic, meaningful stories, for and about Caribbean people, which have universal appeal. Producing creative, original content that is family-focused, and which can add value not only to how we parent, but how we live in the region and contribute as global citizens. Basically, walking the talk. Thanks for coming along on the journey!