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Branding is such a big deal these days — at least to people in the world of advertising…and Donald Trump. These days, his commercial (company) ‘brand’ is apparently suffering — and that’s not taking into account his peculiar brand of ‘Presidenting’. It would appear that he seems to consider the two things to be one in the same. But I do concede that proper branding is a tricky, yet often crucial aspect of life.

Having been involved for years in fundraising myself, and watching Gill as she does her job, I sometimes marvel at the, I won’t say stupidity, but certainly the lack of insight people often exhibit when it comes to branding a product.

It was with this in mind that I took special notice of the recent  gondola ride we took in New Zealand…and not just the ride itself, but the environs.

It was located in a beautiful little city by the name of Queenstown, in the South Island. In the mountains, everything you need as a tourist is within walking distance. And walk we did — up steep hills, down those same hills, sometimes on our way to a meal (not a good plan when you’re already weak from hunger) and often so stuffed after a meal that we could have taken advantage of a fork lift.

Nonetheless, walking is a great way to get to know an unfamiliar place. Everywhere we went we saw athletic (both young and old) people, often dressed in hiking gear, vigorously determined to reach their destination quickly. New Zealanders as a whole seem to be fit and live a healthy, outdoor life. And everywhere, attractions were advertised: gondola rides, hiking, camping, biking, hang gliding, surfing. You name it; they had it. That speaks well of a place, I thought.

And, of course, with all those activities came the stores and restaurants catering to that clientele. Their were hamburger joints (some American chains, but also delightful pub-type burger joints like the “Devil Burger” boasting a burger called the ‘She Devil’ , the waiters wearing t-shirts with “The Devil Made Me Do It’ printed on the back). There were surfing stores, hiking and biking stores, all quite normal and expected.Things were very casual, restaurant patrons verging on rubby-dub at times. But hey, with my clean laundry supply dwindling daily, I wasn’t one to pass judgement.

What I didn’t expect, as we walked up to get on the gondola ride, was the shops and businesses surrounding it. First was a Medical Centre. Then a pharmacy. Then a physiotherapist, and perhaps even an insurance office, then last but not least, a CEMETERY!! Now if that isn’t bad branding, I don’t know what is…especially for someone as fearful and non-risk-taking as I about to voluntarily step into a small cubicle hanging from a flimsy cable over a mountain.

I attempted to convince myself that these facilities were more for the hang gliders, bikers, etc., and not mere passengers on our gondola, but of course, flashing through my mind were newscasts of cable car accidents, skiers plunging to their deaths in the Rockies, etc. Or horrid biking accidents (some of which hit close to home with Crazy D’s antics).

I attempted to reason silently with myself: ‘Perhaps it’s comforting that these facilities are so close at hand — in case I need help’. Even I wasn’t buying what I was selling. But I was committed to the gondola, so up we went. Obviously, we lived to see another day. And it was a glorious experience.

But if I could, I might have a little chat with the town council about perhaps re-thinking their branding…and placement of some of these facilities. I mean, where’s the harm in re-locating them behind a big barn or something so they’ll  still be there if you need them, but out of sight if you’re paranoid? Makes sense to me, the original Miss ChickenShit!

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