To meet the demands of discriminating consumers, a winning marketing plan requires that we reorient our thinking.

From market insight, digital and print considerations, content creation, and brand development, we have you covered. Focusing on the end-user first, Highlands brings you a complete top-down marketing blueprint that speaks directly to your target audience. Meeting the end-user where they’re at, precisely at the right moment, streamlines your business product supply chain.

The (not so) Scary Truth about CX

You don't have to trick your customer, just treat them like humans.

Customer Experience (CX) is dead. That’s right, you heard me. Placed in a coffin, buried 6 feet deep and topped with a gravestone. Dead. 

In the mausoleum next to CX lies its famed predecessor: User Experience (UX).

So what does your brand need to focus on now? It’s actually quite simple: humans. We propose that in order to build a successful relationship between your brand and your consumer, you need to speak humanly and directly to them. Everything in between (whether it’s bad or it’s good) is just noise.

It sounds so simple. But sometimes we forget that our company is built and run by humans and our customers are, at the end of the day, people too. Why not speak to them that way?

Is it really that easy?

Actually, no. I’ll explain:

Nowadays, customers expect the UX standard and are even used to the CX standard. Because of this, they have higher expectations of the companies from whom they choose to purchase products and services. Today, people value corporate conscience. Meaning: companies need to have AND portray their values in a real and authentic way. We believe, this is increasingly as important to consumers as: cost, quality and customer service.

BOMBAS case Study1

How do companies start thinking like a human?

In order to portray our humanity to our customers, companies must first organize around purpose. It’s all about the emotional connections. Your purpose should give your customers a reason to believe in your brand. This is followed closely by authenticity. If you don’t convey your purpose authentically, then consumers will see right through the facade. 

Is it time to ghost on CX?

We certainly aren’t saying that you should say boo to your current UX and CX strategies completely. But you should definitely consider this more holistic, human-centric perspective. Never forget there is a human being at the end of your supply chain. And, we’re here to help you get started.

ideal brand 1

Innovative Millennial Branding Increases U.S. Shredder Market Share

Seeking to boost U.S. shredder sales, particularly through the Office channel, Krug & Priester turned to the branding experts at Highlands. 

The Client 
Krug & Priester GmbH is one of the world’s largest manufacturers of shredders and cutting equipment.

The Challenge 
Seeing that the U.S. market share for their shredders was low, Krug & Priester was seeking a fresh brand for the Office channel that would stand out against the competition and complement their newly created healthcare series. 

The Highlands Difference 

Realizing the Office channel was already saturated with long-established brands, Highlands needed to communicate key shredder benefits in a new and interesting way. After extensive market research and analysis (including focus groups and competitive pricing analysis), Highlands revealed an under-served market with immense potential: Millennials.  

To reach this much larger and younger market, Highlands used key learnings to create a business strategy, a vision, mission and value proposition, and a softer, friendlier brand, including a new logo, a resonating messaging strategy, print/digital assets and website. 

Check out the videos here
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It’s not WHAT, but WHERE and HOW

Re-imagining The Way You Present Your Products 

B2B distribution channels are merging - we like to call it ‘channel blurring’. Wholesalers, distributors and resellers are all looking for ways to grow, so they seek new product categories, new services and new channels. Some examples: Staples is the second largest Jan-San distributor in the USA, Grainger sells business machines, HD Supply offers stationery products (through strategic alliances), and Amazon Business has a stated intention of tackling industrial and healthcare markets.


What does this mean for the B2B sales person? Increasingly they’re being asked to sell a wider portfolio of products to a wider set of customers. Their ability to be experts in every category is difficult, if not nearly impossible.


What does it mean for manufacturers? Simply put: your salesforce is being stretched, often stretched to a point where they will find it difficult to provide genuine insights to their customer base about your products. Quite a conundrum.


What can a manufacturer do about it? Next time you produce a catalog, sell sheets or training material, think about updating how you present your offering this way:


Start with the WHERE, by positioning your range (or at least the relevant parts of your range) into vertical markets, so both your salesperson and their customers can see HOW your products apply in their environment. And highlight benefits, not features - ultimately, that is what people buy anyway!


Then, when the customer is interested they can dive into the product detail, or the WHAT.


So, give your sales team the tools to show their customers the WHERE and HOW first, and they’ll get to the WHAT.

If you would like more information on creating great product stories for your customers, contact us.  

social media content

Social Media Content

March 27, 2018 

Are you struggling with getting on the social media train in 2018? Did you know there were 3.03 billion ACTIVE social media users as of November 2017? If you aren’t currently utilizing social media, or are doing so with very minimal efforts, you might be breaking a sweat as you continue to read this. 

What is Social Media Content? 
Social media content is any form of content shared via social media. Sounds simple, but there are various ways of attracting consumers via content. What type of content should you use? Which platform is acceptable for your brand? How do you know when to post these items? This blog aims to help you understand social media content and which trends you should consider executing to increase your brand’s reach.

Social Media Content Strategy 
Successful social media starts with a social media strategy. Research needs to be done in order to effectively execute your social media strategy.
Before spending copious amounts of time creating and posting content, follow these steps to improve your chance of success with social media content:

1. Think of your intended audience first. Who are these people? How can you relate to them? Where are they? 
2. Establish your "brand voice" and REMAIN CONSISTENT. If you missed our last blog - "Content that Supports Brand Messaging", you can find it here
3. Develop content surrounding your findings. We will get into social media content “trends” next, which may help you discover your preferred style of content. 
4. Post on the relevant social media platforms. There are many social media management platforms that can post for you. Start by setting up a calendar, adding content, and let the management platform do the hard work - maintaining a schedule. 
5. Set goals for your strategy. What is your desired outcome? Increase ROI, website traffic, etc. 
6. Lastly, analyze your results and adjust your goals and content accordingly. A great way of monitoring your success is to use Google Analytics

Trends to Watch for in 2018 
  • Increased engagement between brands and customers - Jay Baer, President of Convince and Convert, found that 42% of users complaining about a brand via social media, expect a response in less than one hour. Gone are the days when consumers had the patience for 1-800 numbers and their automated systems. 
  • Videos as top priority - With predictions that video will account for 80% of global internet traffic by 2019, you should ask yourself, “is your current content strategy poised to embrace this trend?” Keep in mind, consumers are 73% more likely to purchase product(s) after watching a video.
  • Chatbots - Oracle conducted a survey, which suggested that 80% of marketing executives are currently using chatbots for business, or plan to by 2020. 

If you would like more information on providing great content for your customers, contact us.  

branded content

Content that Supports Brand Messaging

March 12, 2018 

With the ever-increasing use of falsified beauty, such as: false eyelashes, Spanx (to keep it all together), and Botox, - particularly in television and entertainment - it’s less and less likely that the average woman feels beautiful on a daily basis. ‘Dove’ introduced a new outlook on ‘beauty’ when they introduced the ‘You’re more beautiful than you think’ video.  This was a statement about what the Dove brand stood for: You don’t need to be a super-model to be beautiful with Dove.

Consumers grew connected to the stories that ‘Dove’ told and that’s how many people remember this brand; it made them feel good. This is a fine display of content that supported the brand message - content which strays from the more traditional advertising methods. This type of content brings relevant value to the consumer through emotional storytelling, will entertain consumers, or even teach them something and offers clear differentiation amongst competitor brands. This results in increased brand engagement, ultimately (hopefully) increasing sales growth for that brand.

Key Aspects of Content that supports brand messaging:

• Clarity and Consistency: Be clear on what your brand stands for, if you aren’t, then your target audience won’t be. And, be consistent. Being consistent will reinforce your message.
• Know your audience: Content can be created in different ways; it changes according to the target audience. For example, kids understand pictorial representation; the same cannot be used for an official purpose. 
• Differentiation: Be different and be prepared to be different. Have a distinct message for your brand that resonates with your audience and establishes ‘clear, blue water’ between you and your competitors.
• Remember Company Culture: Never compromise on these, whatever you create. Company output should reflect the vision, mission, culture or any of those qualities which represent your business.
• Stay Updated: Check out your competitors; know what the audience wants and provide what they are looking for.

All of these points play a key role in connecting your audience with your brand message. Deliver what is apt for your product and audience, or we could help you. In Highlands’ next blog, we will look at how content can be created specifically for social media.

EOPA Award

Krug & Priester wins European Office Products Award, Product Video Produced by Highlands

March 7, 2018

German manufacturer Krug & Priester was one of the winners of the 17th European Office Products Awards (EOPA) which were announced during a glittering presentation dinner at the Hotel Okura in Amsterdam on March 6, 2018.

The EOPA 2018 presentation dinner, hosted by OPI CEO Steve Hilleard and OPI Director Janet Bell, was attended by leading industry figures from across Europe. It was a fun evening of fine food and wine, and a chance to celebrate some great products, initiatives, companies and individuals from the business supplies industry.  

Krug & Priester won the prestigious Video of the Year award with its “IDEAL Shredders: Quality” video. The winner of this relatively new EOPA category went to a company in a very mature product category. It certainly managed to produce a video that hands-down beat all the competition with its light touch and engaging content. Gordon Christiansen, SVP Marketing for Highlands said, “We were tasked with creating videos that highlighted the key value propositions for the Ideal range of shredders but keeping it simple, short and fun.  This presented creative challenges however I’m proud of the way the team overcame these and delivered a great video.  Credit too, to MBM Corporation, the US-based distributor who inspired the project and allowed us to roll it out on both sides of the pond.”

Commenting on this year’s EOPA, Hilleard, who is also the Chairman of the EOPA judging panel, said: “Once again, the judges were extremely impressed by the quality of the entries we received and are great endorsement for an industry that is tackling head-on the many and varied challenges thrown at it.”

For more information about the EOPA and the judging process, see

About Krug & Priester

Founded in 1951, Krug & Priester based in Balingen, Germany is now one of the leading manufacturers of document shredders, cutting machines and paper finishing products.  Recently it has expanded its range to include air purifiers, following the tradition of high quality, best in class manufacturing.

For more information about Krug & Priester, please visit

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transactional content

Transactional Content that Drives Sales

February 26, 2018 

Are you experiencing flat or decreased sales, even with the implementation of what seems a great marketing strategy? Maybe you’re misusing your marketing budget, or it needs a few tweaks. As discussed in our previous blog, there are different types of content that have different business applications, and as a business owner, you must be sure you’re not wasting dollars for your brand.

The term “transactional content” refers to content which helps meet a desired business goal at the point of purchase. Because traffic and revenue tend to go hand in hand, most brands are building content marketing platforms to work toward these goals. The level of utility in transactional content is what sets certain companies apart from the rest - you have the traffic but now you need to maximize conversion.

The basics, but essentials, of transactional content include: great video, quality imagery, 360-degree shots, and strong copy. Below, you can find a few great examples of video.

1. Saddleback LeatherTypically, before customers buy a product that is new to them, they prefer to know how the product will benefit them, and how they will use it. Saddleback Leather created a video which gives simple instructions on how to use one of their satchel purses. Allowing consumers to understand all the functions of the purse will lead to a better customer experience. You can find the video here.

2. Mancrates: Mancrates is a subscription company (similar to Birch Box, Dollar Shave Club, etc.) which sends out assembled wooden boxes filled with man gifts. These boxes are difficult to open and come with a small pry bar, because what guy doesn’t love tools? This video used by Mancrates gets consumers excited and provokes interest about the product, by showing the dismantling of a Mancrate. They do this all in only 21 seconds. 

The main takeaway here is that transactional content has one purpose: to transact. Creating good content around this goal will provide sales growth. In our next blog, we’ll get into branded content and how companies can benefit from its use. 


Content Marketing Types

Content Marketing and It's Types

February 6, 2018

“Just do it!” - And we know, it is NIKE!

“You’re more beautiful than you think” -

This Dove commercial is a fantastic example of content marketing and has been one of Dove’s more popular videos to date. It was released in 2013, but consumers are still coming across it, and are loving it. 

As the name suggests, content marketing is about creating content around a product and attracting customers with it. It’s not direct marketing, as we don’t sell anything directly, rather we provide information about products and services. Customers that are engaged in this type of content will, typically, feel good. This is because the content is coming from a brand which makes the customer feel involved in the experience.

Content marketing starts with analyzing customer wants, creating a content strategy around the customer preferences, creating the content and, finally, publishing it. Content will vary depending on the platform used. Content marketing takes place online through blogs, videos, emails, info-graphics, web pages, eBooks, etc.

Like any marketing, it must have a purpose. Let us dig deeper and look at the various types of content marketing. 

1. Transaction Content: There may have been many instances where you read or saw something regarding a brand/product, and suddenly, you’re interested. That content which nudges you to make a purchase decision is called transaction content. The customer is attracted to take a leap from researching about the product to purchasing it.

For Example, consumers who come across content with embedded promos, such as: “50% off if you answer this simple question about XYZ Brand”, are likely to make that purchase. They answer, get a discount on product, and the brand wins a customer!

2. Branded Content: This is an entertaining way to approach the customers. Registering your brand without saying anything about it directly is known as branded content. The brand tells a story, entertains, and engages the customers. The customers easily remember and recall the name of your brand. Lego® has a film which has entertained millions of people and is a perfect example of branded content.

3. Social Content: Spreading information and educating your customer via social media is the way of marketing through social content. A video goes viral, a post is shared, a blog is read by many - all of these are ways of reaching your customers. Content will vary across various social media platforms. 

Now, you may wonder which is the best approach for your business. Well, it depends! It depends on your brand, product and the target customers. Sometimes, it may also depend on the platform being used. So, developing a content strategy is the first step. We will dive deeper into each aspect of content in our later blogs. Stay tuned!

inbound marketing

Inbound Marketing

January 24, 2018

You’re browsing the internet or checking your emails and end up reading something interesting.  Perhaps interesting enough to find out more.  You click the link, watch a video or read a blog and perhaps even research it some more. Attracting strangers to your brand through interesting content and making them want your product is called inbound marketing. The best part is these strangers may never have wanted to buy your product but they end up being your loyal customers. They also become part of “word of mouth” marketing, bringing in more sales because they love your product. This type of marketing is usually inexpensive compared to more traditional marketing, or outbound marketing.


Email marketing, Blogs, Vlogs, video and SEO are major components of Inbound Marketing. Simply, we use great content as a magnet to attract visitors and drive the sales.

Depending on the kind of platform, there may be variation in the content. Facebook needs catchy lines whereas an eBook will need pages! Inbound Marketing is considered Permission Marketing, as we clearly get the attention of the customer rather than invade their privacy. Why is Inbound Marketing popular?

1.    Understands the Emotions: Customers aren’t forced to buy anything; their freedom is respected and valued. Customers take their own time to choose, research and decide. The customer really is King!
2.    Information is Wealth: Yes, instead of promoting a product with flashy adjectives, we simply provide enough information for the audience to make an informed decision. This provides deep explanation, therefore, pulling the customer in closer.
3.    Trust: Ah, the most highly sought out quality. When you aren’t directly asking the customer to purchase, but are instead providing ample information for them to make an informed choice, they will trust your brand. 
4.    Less Expensive: As it’s about providing content and information, there is no traditional promotion. This reduces a considerable amount of expenditure.
5.    2-Way: When the communication is 2-way, who will not love it? Customers provide their feedback, which will bring you more customers. These days, the “reviews” section is where the consumers’ eyes are! This also allows you a chance to understand if/why consumers don’t like your product.
6.    Long-term Relationship: Once you’ve hit the bull’s eye of gaining the trust of the customer, they will, most likely, come back to you. Once you have established a relationship, they will be more apt to look at your emails and blogs.
7.    They Share: The content you’re producing could go viral-  but remember you can’t produce a ‘viral’. We see our friends sharing so many posts and blogs, which sometimes catch our eyes, and result in us reading (possibly even sharing) this material. This is the best example to know how many impressions the use of inbound marketing can create.
8.    New Audience: Yes, a visitor reading a blog can end up reading another blog. This is how you can end up getting a new audience for your product or brand.

Inbound Marketing is not the answer to everything.  To really succeed you need some patience, and it should be part of a balanced marketing mix.  But, the advantages are always greater than the disadvantages. Keep in mind, the customer has greater control nowadays. Commissioning content professionals is the best way to start your journey. Not just yet. though. In our next blog, we’ll give insight into the various types of content, which can help the growth of your business.



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10 tips on how to produce the perfect product video

October 14, 2017 

Welcome back to part 2 of our series on Video Blogs. In our earlier post, we understood why product videos were important. To recap 73% more visitors end up purchasing products after watching a video.”

In that blog post, we also understood the factors that need to be considered before we start shooting the video itself.   Now, let us take a look at how to create the best possible video that can help you sell your product. 

Why should the customer watch your video?   Simply put, to understand all the aspects of your product, so that he or she can arrive at a purchasing decision. 

What does a customer expect from your video? Product videos should resonate with the viewer. If your message resonates, not only have you communicated your message, you have also captured mindshare (and a share of the wallet too, hopefully). Viewers decide quickly whether to watch the entire video or not you have less than 30 seconds to capture their interest.   

Keeping these points in mind, let us see how we can create the ultimate killer product video! 

1.       Script is important.  Don’t think that you can wing it without a script. A script is not just the words that are spoken, its about what you see as well. A weak script can risk hobbling the otherwise great work from the other components like the camera work, or the product itself.         

2.       Context is king! Show how your product fits into the bigger picture. A good product video will start by showing this context around the need of their product for the target audiences. 

3.       Talk about your product (not your company). Use appropriate video shots and camera angles to capture your product. Use a good voiceover to introduce the product with a bang!  

4.       Remember though, that 50% of videos are watched without sound, so make sure you have subtitles.  And, if your audience is listening the subtitles won’t distract them.  In fact, evidence shows that people are more likely to remember your message if they can hear and see it. 

5.       Demo!  All that the customer wants. Keep it simple and clear. No extra information is required. The demo should tell the customer that it is easy to use and better than other competitors. 

6.       Testimonials from the existing clientele.  It should be to the point and exciting. If the existing client is excited about the product, the vibe gets carried across easily. 

7.       No scare tactics! You don't want to be identified as the cheap infomercial that uses FOMO tactics to get you to buy their product. Good product videos can be carried on their USPs, and scare tactics are not needed. 

8.       Make it look good. Although beauty is not skin deep, a good-looking product video does not do your business any harm. Product videos are an advertisement for your brand, and a good first impression counts. Let the video have some personality so that your brand can shine through the competition. 

9.       Logo. Have your logo included throughout in the video. This is a better option than having a pre-roll. Nobody wants to see an ad within an ad.  

10.   Call to action. How do viewers buy your product after watching your video? Include next steps. If the viewer makes it to the end, there is a purchase interest. A call to action can help seal the deal.   

Bonus tips: 

Ø  Make various versions of the video. This is very important as we can use the same video on different platforms. Make 5-second, 15-second, 30-second cuts, depending on where you want to promote this video. 

Ø  Thumbnail. Thumbnails should have product close-ups. This attracts the customer’s attention and there will be an immediate click on it. 

Ø  Zoom-in: Give an experience to the customer that they are examining the product closely.  Show all the parts your product has.     

Use all these points and inspire great sales through your video. Remember, video attracts more eye-balls resulting in more conversions. Seed your video on YouTube and social networks like Twitter and Reddit, in addition to your website, to spark additional engagement.       


Gordon Christiansen    
Partner & SVP Marketing

Gordon is a 54 year old Australian who was born in Denmark, lived in the UK for 27 years and now wants to live in Atlanta.  After breaking his father’s heart by leaving the family ships’ chandlering business in Fremantle, Australia Gordon embarked on a career in sales and marketing with Pitney Bowes and Canon before investing in and running an office products and graphic arts dealership in London called London Graphic Centre. 

Gordon is passionate about getting corporate messaging 100% clear and how alignment between marketing strategy, execution and sales effort will enhance and accelerate market penetration for Highlands’ clients.     Outside family, the things Gordon enjoys the most are cricket, Australian Rules football, music and socializing with good friends, good wine and good food.  So, for anyone interested in learning the intricacies of cricket or Aussie Rules I’m sure Gordon can be bribed with a charcuteries plate and a decent red. 

This is why you need to create videos for your e-commerce store!

July 12, 2017

Do you think creating videos for your e-commerce store is too much trouble or not worth the investment? What if I told you that using such a “cinematic” experience is an ideal way to engross your customers and boost your conversion rates? Read on, and let me know what you think! 

Product videos not only create brand awareness, but also instill top of mind recall to your target audience. People only remember 20% what they hear, 30% what they see and 70% of what they hear and see. Videos form part of a highly impactful variety of content, which is consumed by invested visitors to your site. In fact, 73% more visitors end up purchasing products after watching a video. Viewer impact is not the only benefit that you gain. More than half of American shoppers polled by Animoto, say they trust companies that have product videos. 

Still not convinced about the utility of video?  From an SEO perspective, both Google and Bing are building towards including video in search results. In fact, a Search Engine Land study reveals that we can see close to 14% of the search result real estate devoted to video! Think of the opportunities lost if your products do not feature in that 14% of space.

What goes into the making of a video? You may wish to consider the following before you begin your shoot:
  • Leverage, interactive, and collaborative features that invite viewers to participate in your story.
  • Simplify complex processes with a detailed step by step explainer video
  • Use a conversational tone and script that your audience can relate to.
  • Use concise messages that emphasize your point quickly that your audience can easily grasp
  • Considering the attention span of an individual is just ‘9 secs’, the screenplay should be tight.
  • Plan carefully; pick your location, know your schedule and have the right people available.

Now that you’ve invested the time, effort and money into creating this great content, what should you do next to maximize the impact?
  • Seed it in any content platform, such as your website, blog or other third party audiovisual platforms like YouTube or Vimeo
  • Make sure your video can be easily viewed on all devices
  • Include a transcript; search engines aren’t as proficient at indexing video content as they are with text
  • Make it shareable on social media platforms
  • And, of course, ensure its loaded onto the e-commerce platforms you’re selling the products

The power of video for e-commerce is simply too great to ignore. They increase the stickiness of visitors, increase conversions and help boost consumer confidence. Leveraging this strategy for your e-commerce website will help your sales revenue as well as branding. Feel free to sound off in the comments - how has video helped your business? What challenges have you faced in producing videos?
 In our next post, we will focus on specific things you should keep in mind while producing video content designed to promote your products.

Gordon Christiansen
SVP Marketing

Incentives icon

My dream of the perfect incentive scheme

June 27, 2017


Over the years, I have seen many and varied commission plans, incentive schemes and bonus structures.  All of them have had merit, some have failed, many have worked but none have been perfect.  The reality is that the perfect scheme probably doesn’t exist, although that doesn’t mean we shouldn’t make it as near perfect as we can.  I dream of that perfect scheme....


Here are a few things you may want to think about.


Clarity  - Be clear on exactly what it is you wish to achieve.  Is it to grow sales?  Improve margin? Remember, your initiative is meant to change behavior, so make sure it does.


Alignment - Ensure the objectives of the organization are aligned to the objectives set out in your scheme.  This may seem straightforward however there are often conflicting objectives between management, sales or channel partners which you need to consider.


Achievable - Whilst you want your targets to be stretching, you need to ensure they are attainable.  If a sales person doesn’t believe they can hit a target, then there’s a good chance they won’t.


Make it Matter - The reward must match the achievement.  Small target, small reward.  Big target, big reward.  If the reward isn’t seen as being sizable enough, then the achievement of the target won’t be motivating.


Avoid Internal Conflicts - If there is a need for two people or groups to work together to achieve something and they carry different targets that may deter them from cooperating, then try to remove the conflict.  If not, inertia may reign.  You may even have to consider paying double commission if it’s the right thing to do for the business.


Avoid Channel Apathy  - Ensure your partners are fully engaged and that they feel suitably rewarded for their efforts.  They’re likely to have choices about which promotions or incentive schemes to run with so make it worthwhile, and if you can, fun.


Go Public - Good salespeople are competitive by nature.  Post targets and results publicly.  The desire to be ‘top dog’ will drive extra effort.  Make sure to keep the board up to date.  People lose interest quickly if it’s always wrong.


Be Flexible - The scheme you start with may not be the scheme you finish with.  Don’t chop and change too frequently but be prepared to make changes as your business needs change.  Also, consider short, sharp incentive schemes to boost activity, increase particular focus or product initiatives.


Keep it Simple - Try to make sure that everyone understands how the targets are set and how achievement is calculated.  If the salesperson can make a direct correlation between an activity they’ve undertaken and the reward, they will receive you’re on to a winner.


So, good luck with your scheme.  If you think you’ve created the perfect one, please let me know - I’d love to hear about it!            



Gordon Christiansen

[email protected]     

Flight Kit 2

Who cares about the English language?

February 26, 2017

Language is important.  My business partners Bob O’Gara and Shannon Blake must get bored when I keep harping on about this.  But, it is, and they agree…really.

As an example, we recently rebranded from The Highlands Group to Highlands.  OK, not a radical name change however there were various reasons for this, one of which was that Bob really disliked the company being referred to as THG.

Easy, kill the “The” and kill the “Group”.  THG becomes Highlands.  Boom!  Well it’s not that simple because despite Bob’s dislike of “THG” it had become endemic both inside and outside the business.  Sure we could tolerate (with a pinched smile) clients calling us THG but we must be able to get it right internally.  Slowly but surely we are weeding out and changing all those documents lurking in the deepest recesses of SharePoint and we’re truly becoming Highlands.

Once again my daughter inspired me to write about this topic.  For my recent flight from London to Chicago my Flight Kit included a book called F****** Apostrophes by Simon Griffin, a copywriter from Leeds in England.  It’s a witty and informative rant about the correct use of apostrophes.

Those who know me well will fondly remember those fun and invigorating conversations about the correct use of grammar and punctuation.  Particularly rich from a Danish born Australian who went to a middling comprehensive school in the suburbs of Perth.

Simon says, “The single most important rule of any punctuation is to help the reader understand what it is you’re going to say.”  Too bloody right.  As Lynn Truss says in her 2003 book there is a big difference between “Eats shoots and leaves” and “Eats, shoots and leaves”.

Don’t get me wrong I’m not linguistic expert, perhaps just a bit of a smart-arse pedant, however if you want people to understand your message is it not unreasonable to spend the time to try and articulate it properly? You never know, if you take that time people might actually understand what it is you’re trying to say.

That’s why all the best organizations take care to get their communications right.  Governments, charities, businesses, media companies all employ highly qualified people to help get it right.  Sure, nothing works all the time and sometimes so much care is taken not to offend that a message can become too bland and lose its meaning.  That’s not a reason to shortcut the process.

Well-articulated messaging is only part of the journey.  What we say has to be backed up.  A friend called any brand “A promise, delivered”. I really like. As an example, with the Highlands’ brand refresh we stated that our number one determinant in the recruitment and retention of staff would be cultural fit.  We have articulated this well into the business, now we have to deliver against that promise.

Reading Simon’s book and thinking about this topic has reminded me that we need to continually reassure clients that as we create their brand’s communication strategy we will take every care to ensure their “voice” is communicated clearly.   Whether it’s a website, a corporate brochure, a product flyer, advert or a promotional piece we will ensure their voice has clarity, is effective and resonates with the target audience.

And we’ll do that by putting the apostrophes, commas, parentheses, semicolons and colons in the right place.

If it’s worth doing, then it’s worth doing right.


Gordon Christiansen