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Marketing / Business branding

Dear ATO: Simple branding ideas to get in our good books

It’s that time of year again, when I write to the ATO and chat about their year and mine. In 2018 it’s all about getting authentic with branding and PR to take their reputation from tragic to taxtastic.

By

Dear ATO

Being awesome

Hi! Me again, back for our annual chat about all things tax.

I know, you do this all year round and we all get suddenly interested in mid-June. Sorry. It’s just that tax is so boring awesome, we’re not sure we could take the paralysing prattle so much awesome all year round.

Last year we got real on some tax deductions for small and solo biz people. Remember? Coffee, retail therapy, motivational snacks… I haven’t seen any movement on those. We’ll put a pin in them for now.

But this year I’m not asking for anything, I’m here to help. Truth be told, your reputation is a little bit screwed awesome. Maybe some of this (pro bono) branding advice could make it less naff more awesome.

The ugly truth

Tax sucks. BAS sucks. Invoices and receipts and PAYG calculations suck. It all sucks less if the words ‘refund’ are involved, but that’s a long shot so let’s unpack some other ways to change the conversation about you.

I get you need our money to, you know, run the country and stuff. But that doesn’t mean you should be the source of all fears, sneers and jeers.

I’ve put my thinking cap on for some branding and PR ideas to help you out. You’re welcome.

Polishing a turd up your image

1. Manners cost nothing

How about sending a thank you note when we pay our BAS on time? All I hear is ‘pay this’, ‘your PAYG is undecipherable’ and ‘did you steal my pen’. Positive reinforcement goes a long way to keeping your hostages compliant customers happy.

2. Now targeting… everyone

Ease off on the ‘this year we’re targeting…’ stuff. You’re not fooling anyone, we know who you’re really after. All of us. All the time. It’s the worst game of the ‘the boy who cried wolf ever’. Let’s play Hungry Hungry Hippos instead.

3. Playing the odds

Roll the dice (or spin a giant wheel) and give some unsuspecting souls a tax-free year. Imagine the boost to the economy as we work harder than ever. I recommend checking with your accountant if the giant wheel is deductible under Advertising. Or maybe an instant deduction if you can get one under $20K.

4. Virtually reality

Everyone’s talking about being authentic and telling your story. Tax reality show anyone? (This stuff writes itself.) Something like that random breath testing show I shame watch. Suspected tax evaders are taken into a van and we wait through four commercial breaks to see if they go over their allowable deductions. Then sit back and watch the Logies roll in.

5. Hold up

Get some better hold music. Something to make us Zen, a little sleepy and less likely to bang our phone repeatedly into the nearest wall. Over and over and… but I digress. If you’re updating it, now might be the time to take out those subliminal ‘pay your tax’ and ‘don’t deduct that’ whispers too. We’ve noticed.

6. Make tax fun again

How about wrapping up some of that inevitable bad news with something fun? Literally. Send the statement or letter of demand in a confetti card or attached to one of those bouquets made from fancy chocolates. Takes the sting out and potentially claimable under Entertainment. If the chocolates are a light snack only. Not a substantial meal.

7. Marketing mascots 101

Santa. The Tooth Fairy. The Easter Bunny. All solid brands. Get on board and create the Receipt Reconciler. A mythical (except real) character who arrives once a quarter. Leave out your crumpled receipts, unreconciled invoices and split payment nightmares. If you’ve been a good little worker bee, the moon is blue and full, and the sparrow flies east on his left wing… you may awake to perfectly balanced accounts. Or just get a good accountant and ask them to wear a cape.

ATO, we’re just getting started.

Amanda Ms InCogNito

ps: Don’t garnish my salary. Actually… I don’t have a salary. Don’t cancel my ABN?

pps: Talk next year.

Amanda Vanelderen

is the author of Write Better: How To Cut The Crap And Say What You Mean, an illustrated guide to everyday writing. Copywriter at WorkWords, she’s a news junkie and music lover. Connect with her on Facebook, Instagram and Linkedin.

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