Monthly Archives: September 2013

Andrew Hill

British bank customers are hearing a lot about a 19th-century Scottish cleric called Henry Duncan, who opened the world’s first savings bank in 1810, from Lloyds Banking Group and TSB, the latest descendant of the good vicar’s pioneering idea.

But the origins of “new TSB” are less inspiring than those of its ancestor. It is the brand attached to bank branches the European Commission has forced Lloyds to separate out as a condition of the group’s post-crisis government bailout. In due course, Lloyds is expected to float TSB on the stock market. Read more

Emma Jacobs

A recent blog post in the Harvard Business Review raised the one of the most annoying and common problems of modern day office life: the “‘busy’ humble-brag”.

Everyone, just everyone, complains about how busy (or tired) they are at work. No one can even be plain busy – they are “slammed” or “buried”, writes Meredith Fineman, a publicist. Each employee, she says, is locked in a competitive battle of hyperbolic one-upmanship.

Ms Fineman’s favourite humble-brag (a brag because, of course, it also shows your importance) was “that of a potential client who apologized for lack of communication due to a ‘”week-long fire drill’. What does that even mean? Does this mean there were fake fires, but not real ones, all week? Does calling it a ‘drill’ mean that everything is okay? Is your business in flames? Should I call someone?” Read more

The life and career of Ronald Coase, who died last week aged 102, spanned the century in which modern management developed. That is appropriate, because Coase contributed immeasurably to our understanding of the potential and limits of the basic management unit that is the modern company.

So the revelation in FT Weekend’s interview with David Cornwell, better known as John Le Carré, that Mr Murdoch once lunched with the master espionage novelist is a delicious one. Mr Le Carré is no fan of the media mogul, telling one interviewer in 2010 (even before the phone hacking scandal engulfed News Corp) that his empire was guilty of “pretty horrendous manipulation of the media” and “enormous intrusions into our domestic affairs”.

But some years ago, he relates in the FT interview, he met the proprietor of The Times, after taking offence at one of the newspaper’s stories about him. Read more

Emma Jacobs

The revelation that candidates for a job at Currys, the UK electronics retailer, were asked to dance as part of the interview process, recalls David Brent’s worst excesses. But at least the mythical manager in The Office chose to humiliate himself.

As 21-year-old graduate Alan Bacon told the BBC: Read more

Many years back, an American friend who was visiting London from New York remarked on the odd way in which people were walking around with blocks of plastic held to their ears. “Why don’t they just use normal phones?” she asked.

Andrew Hill

Google's Android KitKat sculpture – hard to stomach?

Something has gone slightly mad with brand management if we barely shrug at the news that Google’s next release of its Android mobile operating system will be named after a chocolate bar.

Android Key Lime Pie was the original name – continuing a trend of labelling Android versions after sweet treats. The Android KitKat idea was kept under wraps until this week, but it is now out there, complete with an Android KitKat sculpture at Google HQ in California. Read more

Lucy Kellaway

First came Ben & Jerry’s. Now we have a new brand: Steve & Stephen. It sounds like a men’s hairdressing salon, but turns out to be the sign-off used by Steve Ballmer and Stephen Elop in their open letter telling the world that Steve at Microsoft has bought Stephen’s Nokia handsets.

The effect leaves me feeling slightly queasy. The ampersand usually belongs to more formal pairings – Johnson & Johnson or Dun & Bradstreet – and to see it joining two first names like that gives the new “brand” a cheeky, snappy feel. Read more