‘People First!’ – ‘these boots are made for walking…’

18 05 2011

‘These Boots Are Made For Walkin’’ a 1966 signature hit for Nancy, daughter of ‘Ol’ Blue Eyes’, Sinatra and more recently covered, in controversially raunchy style,  by Jessica Simpson for the 2005 Hollywood movie ‘Dukes of Hazzard’  was an appropriate iPod download for Sunday’s ‘In Her Shoes’ sponsored walk.  

The money raised by this VSO (Voluntary Service Overseas) event will benefit mothers and babies in the developing world, helping volunteers to touch thousands of lives. For further insight into how donations will help please visit http://www.inhershoes.org.uk/casestudy

There were eight walks nationwide and luckily the weather held good. I donned my trusty, red, ‘Cotton Traders’ walking boots (a bargain purchase at £20.00 from their Ambleside outlet, in the Lake District!) and matching VSO T-shirt for the Worcestershire VSO Supporter Group organised walk along the Worcester – Birmingham Canal.

It was a pleasant enough amble starting at Tardebigge Top Lock, down to the ‘Queen’s Head’ pub at Stoke Pound, and then back up part of the longest flight of canal locks in the UK.

There were 15 doughty souls who gave up their Sunday morning to complete the 5½ mile walk. With all due respect to my hiking companions, pleasant as they were, none of them came close to Nancy or Jessica, but c’est la vie!  

Very misguidedly, in my opinion, VSO have recently seen fit to rebrand, supposedly to update the charity’s image and make it more instantly recognisable.  

As walkers signed in on Sunday morning they were handed a sparkling white T-shirt bearing the newly launched logo, a nauseous swirl of pink, or is it purple? The colour is as indistinct as the message!

As there were none left in ‘XL’ I was more than pleased to stick with my old version, with its bold ‘Sharing skills, Changing lives’ slogan, which at least gives people an inkling of what the organisation is about.

I dread to think how much the re-branding exercise cost, but these things don’t come cheap. The new logo is not currently accompanied by any slogan although I understand ‘People First’ is to be adopted.

Am I missing something, but how does that help create a clear impression of what VSO is about? It strikes me that any organisation from a bus company to a medical centre, a supermarket to a citizen’s advice bureau could trumpet the same banal message.   

Presumably somebody carried out a market research exercise on the likely benefits of re-branding? But, judging by the response from dog walkers and passers-by along the canal tow-path on Sunday, the new logo seems to have completely missed the mark. Not a single person had any idea what the initials VSO stood for!  

However wasteful this, no doubt, well intentioned marketing exercise might be, it shouldn’t detract from the sterling work carried out by so many of VSO’s employees and volunteers. The packaging may have changed but the product remains wonderfully worthwhile.

If you would like to find out more about the work VSO is involved with, in 44 developing countries world-wide, visit www.vso.org.uk

Many thanks to all of you who kindly sponsored me for the ‘In Her Shoes’ walk; I have raised £70 to-date. For those who may have intended to contribute but forgot, it’s still not too late. Donations (no matter how small) can be made at www.justgiving.com/Phil-Aldridge

Be assured your money will go towards supporting those mothers and babies in the developing world, for whom it is intended,  not the ridiculous re-branding exercise!   




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