Sunday, 11 September 2011

9/11 Remembered

The day of 911, I was in the NLA Tower of Croydon a puny relative of the Twin Towers of New York.  Today is ten years on as everybody knows, but you cannot believe that such a period of time has passed and the consequences of those actions.

Today I remember the victims of 911 and they are not just those that died on the day but the many who suffered as families and supporters and were overtaken by the "War on Terror" that Blair and Bush inflicted on the world.

Ten years on and the world is a less safe place.  Muslims, Christians, Hindu's and Atheists have suffered great losses in the last ten years, lets hope that the next ten years reap rewards of peace and contentment that the sacrifices of the last ten deserve, but I won't hold my breath.

Thursday, 30 June 2011

A letter from Lucy

I am unashamedly using this blog to plug the charity for Creutzfeldt-Jakob Disease which promotes its greater understanding  and treatment and also supports families affected by this awful terminal illness.  This charity has recently been hit by the Government cuts and lost its funding so is even more relient on the generosity of the public than ever.


A friend of mine wrote this and I am passing it on and asking you to support Tom & Hayleys run for CJD charity by sponsoring them.

“CJD killed our dear dad, a young, vibrant, healthy 62 year old, last year. If you’re feeling generous please sponsor Tom & Hayley, even if it’s just £1.
It’s the only CJD charity in the UK and is a lifeline to families like ours. The government have decided to cut 100% of their funding so now the CJD charity is run entirely on donations. We'd be grateful for every penny that you can sponsor them.”
“CJD is a fatal brain disease which affects one in a million, coming from nowhere for no apparent reason. There’s no treatment or cure. Many haven’t heard of it, or if they have, they think it’s ‘mad cow disease’ – some still make jokes about it. That was a new strain but the classic strain has been around for probably as long as us humans..”
Just Click Tom or Hayleys nose to donate
Please sponsor Tom & Hayley 
CJD Support network

The National Creutzfeldt-Jakob Disease Research& Surveillance Unit (NCJDRSU)

Thursday, 23 June 2011

Wednesday, 22 June 2011

Enjoyment starts in the first day of retirement!

As you age you half look forward to getting old and half regret the disappearing years.  At 40 if you are male you are told that that thing the size of a walnut that can only be accessed by your doctors finger in the rectum is going to grow and grow and grow and a full nights sleep is never going to happen again.  If you are female you are looking at the fluctuations offered by the menopause.  It ain't easy so the prospect of a happy healthy retirement around the corner when you are in your 50's is the incentive to keep going.

The Government and health authorities are supposed to be easing us into retirement, but oh no now we hear we are going to have to work longer and our pensions will be reduced.  I can live with that but today I hear on Radio 4 (the fact I listen to that shows I am ageing in itself) that after you reach 65 you should be severely reduce your alcohol intake.  For the sake of god, let us enjoy our twilight life. Let people ageing eat drink and be merry.  When I retire I am going to have loads of cheese, drink loads of whiskey, fornicate if I fancy it and I may even take up smoking.

There comes a time when you really should not worry about your health over your enjoyment and that time starts on the first day of retirement.

Wednesday, 6 April 2011

When Hash tags go wrong

Just realized that I have made up my own #tag for 30 day blogging challenge - whoops! So I have an audience of ...... 1.  Well I did say i write for myself.

Sorry will re tweet last couple of entries.

The Career Practice

The industry for professional careers advice is similar to the estate agent business, generally people do not have a good word to say about them, even the clients that use their services, so it is nice to be able to sing the praises of one that stands out in its field.

At a senior executive level professional careers support does not come cheap, I have been approached by many firms and received "modest" quotes of five figure fees.  When you are not employed as many are currently, finance is a major issue even when money is in the bank, as the light at the end of the tunnel cannot always be seen or if it can be it cannot be discerned whether this is the end of the tunnel or simply the 07.45 Express to Glasgow.

The Career Practice is not cheap!  I have done cheap and it is nasty!  The Career Practice is value for money and was not, in cost terms, in the league of the services mentioned above.  It is, however, well in the league and at the top of it in terms of understanding of the needs of its clients, whether they are the bright and cocky ones expecting a job round the corner or the battered and bruised ones who have found the market place tough.

As part of its commitment to us, the actively seeking to develop a career, free resources are available, regardless of whether we sign up or not and you can get a free CV review, and yes this a marketing tool to get into an interaction with you, but its not heavy, no hard sell and it is always beneficial to get advice on your CV from people who see CV's and that includes head hunters you speak to.  One point on CV's is get as much advise on it as you can, but only use the advice that you feel comfortable with.  As an extreme example, it was once suggested that I use my middle name on my CV to be more acceptable (removing Kap for Jim).  Even though I am known as Jim to some, my business name is Kap and apart from that, when I turned up at interviews, i would have difficulty hiding my heritage.  Anyway, I digress.

My contact at The Career Practice is Nigel Cowdrey who is an experienced executive.  If you work with Nigel, don't think he will give you an easy ride, he won't, he is hard but fair.  I had met him before he set up The Career Practice, but having thrown off the shackles of other peoples businesses, he displays the ability to help clients mould and develop their careers.  Working alongside him are Denise Mulchrone and Crispin Reed.  Both of whom I have met and are good at their job.

I have known The Career Practice for a year now, although not registered with them and if you are looking for careers development support and advice I would put them at the top of your list to have a discussion with, I can assure you even if you do not decide to register with them it will be time well spent.

The 30 day blogging challenge

First of all it looks like I am not doing brilliantly on #The30daybloggingchallenge and have fallen a few days behind. All I can say is that i have been busy doing nothing and been quite productive at it too.

I will be trying to keep pace over the next few days if not to get on track again - I am sure you do not want three to four posts a day - but to get back on the horse and maintain the pace.

Sunday, 3 April 2011

What is a Brands Value?

I was recently asked by a friend to give him some thoughts on the value of a brand,  he had a client who was potentially merging with a larger organisation and wanted to know what the value of the brand was.

When companies are bought and sold it is very easy to value property, machines and physical assets, but how do you value something that is as subjective as a brand?

It is fine if you are a coca cola, its clear that the brand has value, just take a bottle of Coke and change the label, put it into a generic bottle, call it Kaps Cola, sell it at half the price of coke and see how quickly your brand fly's off the shelf.  Six months go back and wipe the dust off, replace it with a bottle of Coke and then go back and put stock on shelf to replace the stock that has been sold.  The brand has sold the product.
Coca Cola one of the most recognized brands on the planet with a value to match.

If, however, you are a small brand with few people having heard of you, never been invested in then is there any value in the brand?  Well you can guarantee that the value does not match Cokes, but then few brands do.

Brand values are intrinsically intangible as much of their value is based on emotion and perception.  This is particularly in the case of a service brand but true of products too.

The value of the brand is measured by its importance and relevance to  its market.

Every day we see products with brand names, at home, at work, in the shops but just because a product or service has a name does not mean it is a brand or it has any brand value.

Some brands will be aimed at a small niche market and may not have general awareness amongst the market place, but within the small niche market it is well known and to its devotees there is an understanding of what the brand represents and in representing this derives a value to the market.

The key criteria for establishing your brands value relates to its worth to the market it represents.  For instance:-

How well recognized is it?
How many users does it have?
What is its income?
Does its market recognize it?
Would its target choose it against a competitor because they trust it more than the competitor?
What level of marketing support is invested in it?
Does it create an image in the users mind and what sort of image is this?
Can the brand demand a premium price from its users?

A brand is not made over night, it has to be developed and nurtured, its image created and implemented across all forms of recognition to give it presence and stature.

If a brand is just a name on a bottle then it is just a name, but if you can build values in to it as per the questions above, you create competitive saleability products that have USP's and  a value that can be placed on the balance sheet.

If this post has been useful, interesting or just enjoyable to read, please leave a comment.

Kap Varma has over 20 years experience creating and turning around brands, he has managed and developed leading brands in the UK including Ragu, Camel Cigarettes, Fray Bentos, Nivea, Goldshield and Silver Spoon. 

Thursday, 31 March 2011

A world of information in 140 characters

A world of Information in 140 characters can only mean one thing - TWITTER!!  I joined a company back in 2009 and was responsible for their social media strategy, or so I thought.

"Lets use twitter" says I,
"Lets not" says them
"Its a way of developing a following and interacting with our customers" says I
"Its a load of rubbish" says them.

In the end, I won a hollow victory but they would not tweet effectively.  To be of use, twitter, like a blog needs to be used regularly and be relevant.

Twitter needs to get over the stigma of personal tweets, "Just got up, feeling crabby", "Just eaten an egg!" even from celebrities, its hard to justify anyone wanting to be interested in this stuff.

However, many companies are building there business on twitter and their relationship with customers.  Part of the reason is that twitter is more than 140 characters.  The 140 characters can be used as an appetizer to something bigger more useful, that has an infinite number of characters.  The attachment facility of twitter creates the communication power that twitter is.

Companies use twitter to direct their customers to their websites, deliver special offers, communicate customer service records, build communities.

A community driven website that appeals to me is "Make it and Mend it" which is the brain child of four women – Clare Flynn, Clare O’Brien, Hilary Bruffell and Anne Caborn. The aim is to grow a community keen to share ideas and inspiration and which empowers everyone to re-use more and throw away less.  This coven of commercially astute women have used the full gamut of social media channels including twitter @makeitandmendit, to build their community.  In this throwaway community that contradicts its self with concerns about the environment and conservation, MIAMI hits the mark for many housewives and quite a few of their husbands too.

However, focusing on the twitter aspect of MAMI, this has been used strategically and effectively to build up   the audience and at the same time has been beneficial to other businesses that support the ethos of reuseability and recycling such as Lucy Robert who makes some weird and wonderful home craft items.

Twitter has built up businesses greater than MAMI and is a useful communication tool that can be as powerful as to build a multi million pound business or as useless as telling every one about your breakfast.

Know more about the power of the tweet, now go and open up your own account at and follow me @kappacino, MAMI @makeitandmendit, search what interests you and follow twitterers who interest you. Visit and become a member.

Tuesday, 29 March 2011

Top Tips or 30 day Blogging challenge!! day 2

Being part of the Nikki Pilkington 30 day blogging challenge sets its own challenges, over and above achieving a daily post that is not just gibberish to fulfill an obligation. Its great that we have broad topics to write on each day and today is "Top Tips", but what if we are not going to be around a pc or lap top during the day to despatch something?  There is a common misconception that those people that do not have a laptop in tow have dumped it for a Ipad.  For me the only Ipad that I have is worn by pirates.

That said many of us are in possession of a smart phone, yes you know one of those things with over sensitive key pads and battery lives that challenge the mortality of an adult mayfly.  So if while you are away from the pc or laptop and you are on the 30 day challenge or you blog and are likely to be inspired to write, as some authors often are, and you have a smart phone. My first tip is as follows:-

1. Set up your potable electronic communications tool to be able to send a posting directly to your blog.

This leads directly to tip two, read your draft before you post.  Or if you have little fat fingers like me, your blog may be full of typos or even worse silly embarrassing errors, maybe not as bad as some that appear on Damn You Auto Correct but you never know.

2. Check you have written what you wanted to write before you send it to your blog.

Tip 3 is an obvious one if you are a suck up like me.  I met Nikki a few months ago and had a a nice cosy lunch with her, along with 30 - 40 others.  Any way, sitting next to her, her knowledge of the cyber world interested me. I followed her on twitter and recently paid more attention to her posts following a "Power" altercation she was having.  Then I saw the 30 day challenge.  I do have a less serious blog than this is intended to be, but have struggled to get the right feel and tone to start this one off.  So Nikki has given me a get this going.  My third tip is follow Nikki and her website.

3. Follow @NikkiPilkington and monitor Nikki Pilkington.

My fourth tip is for people that just want to put their thoughts out there for themselves and are looking for the satisfaction of their own writing not promoting a business or cause or themselves.  Don't worry about the numbers of people that are coming to your blog.  If it interests you then there will be others that are interested too, you are unique, but you are not.  write what you want to write, not what you think others want to hear.

4. Write what you want to write not what you think others want to hear.  There will always be others that want to hear what you want to say.

If you are writing for yourself, just remember that whatever you put on your blog goes out into the cybersphere, so if you don't want it read by others, don't blog it.

5. Only Blog what you are happy others reading or at least be aware of the consequences. Abby Lee never expected to be exposed as Zoe Margolis and her parents to hear about her sexual desires and fantasies, but she was and they did.

The first five tips are my tips and come from me, the remaining are generic, so you may wish to end your reading here, but before you do, given my serious blogging innocence, Why not leave me a comment and let me know how |I am doing so far?

So you have decided to read on thanks.

Point six is about frequency.  One a day for thirty days maybe a bit over the top for normal life but not for a challenge, but if you leave it too long between posts then people won't return and you know you have something to share so share it.  some people do suggest a daily blog and they may be right for some but for others weekly or fortnightly maybe appropriate, as any marketeer will tell you, do what is appropriate for your audience or resource.

6. Blog frequently, without over kill.

Point Seven add a level of originality to your post, there is no point reading your blog if it is a rehash of something else inn the public domain.  People will read your blog because it is interesting, it won't be interesting if what you have said is already in the public domain.

7. Have something to say, don't just repeat from elsewhere.

Point eight is about having something that you want people to hear.  if you are in the category of bloggers that blog for them selves and do not care if they have even one visitor thats fine, but most of us want to be heard and want our writing to be read, so make sure that you communicate your blog through different channels.  Use buttons on your site to communicate, make it easy for your reader to find yuo encouragce readers to set up feeds and follows.

8. Communicate your blog.

And that is day two of Nikkis 30 day blog challenge, i hope you have enjoyed the read and I have communicated some wisdom. Please leave a comment and why not follow me to see how things progress.

Tomorrow I am away from the pc and the lap top, so lets see how smart phones work for bloggers.

Monday, 28 March 2011

Free to march or Free to riot

This weekend has seen another protest against the draconian cuts that we are all facing from the coalition government.  Once again despite the best intentions of the authorities the march failed to peter out, but again exploded into a running battle between the extremist wing of the protesters and the police.

During the second protest I watched transfixed to Sky and BBC 24 hour news, watching events unfold, buildings attacked, pop star children swinging on memorials and police snatch squads marauding and grabbing.  This weekend, I flicked occasionally.  Can it be so quickly with so many events around the world being brought to my living room (and sometimes bed) that I am very quickly anaesthetised to repeated events?  Has the Libyan war and the Japan natural disaster taken over from our very own troubles?  It is difficult to know.

What I do know is that the message that the march was trying to communicate is in danger of failing to be heard. A peaceful and some say joyous march seemed to be effective to deliver the message to the people of the country and the media had a story, but "the hangers on", those that are looking to change our society, have different ideas.  The cuts are not an issue for them, the cuts are a "god send" they provide the cover and the vehicle with which to communicate their message "ANARCHY IN THE UK".  The unfairness and divisiveness of the policies  of the ConDems are subjugated to the coverage of kettles and anger and hate and madness on our streets at night.

What is the answer?  I don't know!  Do we ban marches?  Take away our democratic rights to protest?  To be honest this is slowly being done anyway, as there are more and more restrictions on our right to protest.  Do we increase Police powers, which may only go to fuel further the aggression of the crowd - the police are no innocents in this?

I don't know the answer, I do know that there is an injustice being done in this country, where the poor are being attacked and the rich are being nurtured and the message is being muted.

I don't know the answer, but I do know that the message needs to be heard !!!!