Back to school special

September 6, 2020

Can you feel it? A slight cooling of the air, the breeze through the trees, the silk inside a chestnut shell?

The grass is jewelled.

Jet planes meet in the air to be refuelled.

All those things we know so well.

This is actually my favourite time of year. I still get a slight whiff of that back-to-school feeling, which weirdly, I always enjoyed.

Did you?

imageI saw it as a great excuse to buy new stuff – shoes, pencil cases and school bags – and to find out what Pepsi and Shirlie had been up to all summer.

If only I’d been to school with a Pepsi and Shirlie.

But around the time of the late 80s, the real kudos came from arriving at the school gates with a branded piece of kit.

It’s weird to think this because it’s a bit naff now, but branded gear was all the rage then. It seems that this was the point when corporates saw what they could do by slapping their logo on gifts – especially for the young.

Take those Natwest piggy banks. Who didn’t have one of them? I’d made a half-hearted attempt to collect the set, but I only made it as far as the one in the nappy. I didn’t even know until now that there was a Sir Nathanial Westminster (who sounds like a right laugh). But you’d have to have saved £100 in 2 years to get him.

Are you mad?


So I became a Griffin Saver instead. This was Midland Bank’s own youth line. All you needed was £10 to open an account and you got a black PE bag with the gold logo and fully stocked pencil case with setsquare, compass and pen. All with this cool Griffen character on.


But would anyone – from any demographic – be as easily impressed these days?

I don’t think so. Gen Z are notoriously immune to branded merch and to anything that feels like a corporate trying to ingratiate themselves.

The grown-ups have become resistant to this too.

Free golf balls at conferences. Brollies. Mugs. Stress balls. It’s all become a bit predictable.

And we’re not meant to bribe people with gifts anyway. Certainly not kids. I think there are laws against that. And anyway, we’re not at conferences at the moment Miss, we’re stuck on the information super highway thanks to the Crisis. (Well done at the back.)

So what do we do instead? Well fortunately we’re all now a lot more open to high-quality content, free educational stuff that’s going to explain how finances work: blogs, white papers, guides, videos, infographics, emails. Even those Gen Z, Millennial types want this from financial services providers, so the surveys say.

And this stuff is a double whammy because – as it was pointed out to me in a conversation this week – high-quality educational content helps to de-risk the advice process. No one can say in the future you didn’t offer a range of engaging ways of explaining things when you’re offering a range of engaging ways of explaining things.

Trusted adviser. Educator. Engaging, helpful content creator. All covered.

I still want to make my own branded cloth bags though. Anyone else want one?

September 6, 2020

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