09 Mar 2014
Best in show
You may have noticed that at Smith&+Village, we spend a lot of time thinking about Christmas and we love dogs.

This means that Best of Show day at Crufts is a bit like Christmas Day for us.

What on earth does that have to do with branding, you might think. Well, on the one hand, absolutely nothing. It's just an excuse for us to say that the Samoyed was robbed.

On the other hand, if you think about the journey that Crufts and its overseeing body The Kennel Club have been on in the past three years, it gives you a text book case of what branding is about.

Do you remember when the BBC did their exposé on pedigree dogs? It showed how over-breeding to create the perfect type was creating cruel, genetic problems that were seriously affecting the health of some breeds. The public outcry was considerable, yet The Kennel Club initially refused to act, causing the BBC to drop Crufts from its schedule and prompting many other sponsors to pull out. People had fallen out of love with the dog world and were dismayed by the arrogance of its governing body.
A year later Steve Dean was appointed as new Chairman of the Kennel Club. Without giving chapter and verse about the changes he made to the organisation, the principles of what he did to restore confidence in both Crufts and the Kennel Club were textbook examples of how best to manage a brand to encourage a change in perception:

1. He acknowledged that change had to happen
2. He was not afraid to stop doing things as they had always been done
3. He was not afraid to promote a radical change of behaviour throughout the organisation
4. He had a clear vision of where he wanted to get to
5. Once the strategy had been formulated, he stuck with it consistently to see it through.
Branding always works best with that kind of single-minded determination; it's how you get the best results and how we love to work with our clients. Now visitor numbers for Crufts grow and grow, the number of international entries rises by the year and it continues to be hosted (on Channel 4) by the spectacular Clare Balding. Steve Dean, we salute you, you really are one of our unsung heroes of branding.