September 28, 2007
September 27, 2007
Branding's periodic table
What's the difference between Marketing, Branding and Advertising? What is Brand Equity? Or Marketing Position? Few areas are as jargon-filled and full of similar-sounding things as Corporate Branding. The folks at Kolbrener have created a clever tool to help us keep it all straight.
Click on the chart to be taken to the interactive version.
September 25, 2007
I would have loved to have been a fly on the wall in the conference room when these advertising pitches were made.
"Your company name sounds too cold and formal. And insurance is kind of boring. We need something people can relate to. I know! What about a gecko?"
"And when the thirsty kids scream 'Hey Kool-Aid', this cool-aid monster busts through the wall and quenches everyone's thirst."
"No, nothing really happens. The friends just scream at each other. Trust me, it will be funny."
"And we think there should be three animated guys that help sell the cereal named Snap, Crackle and Pop."
Or how did this crazy ad for Outpost.com ever get approved?
September 24, 2007
Usable = Usual
Did you know one theory regarding the "QWERTY" layout of the keys on our computer keyboards is because it causes us to actually type slower? The idea was that slower typing would minmize key jams on early typewriters. This doesn't make much sense in the modern era but, because it's what we're used to, most people still find QWERTY preferable over a "more usable" keyboard layout.
What if a car manufacturer decided it would be more usable to put the brake on the right and the gas on the left? What if you stepped into an elevator and there weren't any buttons? What if your dictionary was not in alphabetical order?
Sometimes good usability is as much about our customs, habits and expectations as it is about design choices.
September 21, 2007
We all fall down
September 20, 2007
"Free news here! Get your free news."
The New York Times announced earlier this week that they would no longer charge for full access to their website. Many have called this the death of paid content on the web. "If the New York Times can't make a pay-for-access model work, it can't be done" goes the line of thinking.
I think it's more a matter of the type of content. News has become commoditized. Many print newspapers have become free at the newstand. It's hard to charge for a product similar in every way to free ones available from CNN, WashingtonPost.com, FoxNews, etc. It's no coincidence that there aren't "premium" news channels" on your cable or satellite service.
But in my opinion, this does not signal the death of pay-for-content on the web. Plenty of sites thrive now with this model by providing content not easily obtained elsewhere. Sports sites give you more or "inside access" to certain information for a fee. Niche sites dealing with particular topics can do well.
The question you have to ask is "Do you have a unique and compelling content offering?" If so, people may be willing to pay for it.
September 19, 2007
Happy birthday :-)
September 18, 2007
Spam is "the sending of unsolicited, generally undesired bulk e-mail." In a sense, "offline spam" has been around for a long time. It's just we called it something else. Door-to-door sales, cold calls, flyers placed on your car windshield, roadside signs telling you who to vote for, etc.
Marketing, like many things in life, has a "hierarchy of acceptability." We accept commercials during TV shows, logos on our clothing, billboards on the roadside. But spam, due to the lack of permission, is pretty much universally viewed with disdain (except by the spammers themselves and those that create spam filters).
And yet spam must work or else it wouldn't exist. Some people must order the Viagra or baldness cures. Some people must invest in the penny stocks. Not me. I just send money to that nice Nigerian man to help him transfer his fortunes. Poor guy.
September 17, 2007
Rule of thumbs
Here's an interesting article from The Washington Post on personal relationships and the use of text messaging.
Texting, while convenient and helpful at times, has taken its place on the bottom rung of the intimacy ladder.
September 14, 2007
404: Creativity found
We've all experienced it. The dreaded "Page Not Found" error message on a website. Often it means the address we have is incorrect or the content has been moved or removed. This is often referred to as a "404 error" indicating that the browser was able to communicate with the server but could not find what was requested.
Most of the time, the error message we receive is a standard one like this. Effective, but boring.
Well Smashing Magazine has put together a great collection of some of the most clever Page Not Found pages.
Some of my favorites are here, here, here and here.
September 12, 2007
They say when you treat a customer right he'll tell one person but when you treat him wrong he'll tell ten. Or thousands.
Your friends may tell you about the terrible waiter they had or their bad hotel stay. But you don't often hear the good experiences. But I did hear one the other day about Southern States.
My friend was purchasing a piece of yard equipment. While still in the store, an employee came up, opened the box and started filling out the registration and warranty card for her. She asked why.
He said: "We've found most people don't take the time to do it once they get the product home. So we take care of it for them."
My friend replied: "Well I know where I'm coming next time I need something."
To which he replied "I can't tell you how many times we hear that."
When so many companies are trying to cut corners, those willing to go the extra mile can really stand out.
September 11, 2007
Do you have "broken windows?"
September 10, 2007
How Dewey find books?
As the amount of content on websites continues to expand, you hear a lot more about taxonomies these days. Basically a taxonomy is nothing more than a classification system - a way to group and organize your content.
I was in a public library the other day and was forced to navigate the Dewey Decimal System, one of the world's most famous taxonomies. The thought that came over me was "If this is so great, why don't bookstores use it?" Or, alternatively, with bookstores like Barnes and Noble and Borders geared so efficiently to the needs of the reading customer, why aren't libraries organized the same way?
Turns out that, in at least one place, they are.
September 7, 2007
Friday fun: Word play
Sometimes we're attracted to words by their meaning or their connotations. Or sometimes the words make a pleasant sound or they are fun to say.
For instance, words I like:
On the other hand, words i don't like:
Now there's a website, Wordie, where everyone can post and share their favorite (or least favorite) words. As the site jokes, it's like Flickr without the photos.
September 5, 2007
September 4, 2007
Is better always better?
Those of us who work with technology often get caught up thinking that the latest is always the greatest. But that's not always the case. The history books are full of technologies that were hailed as the "next big thing" that turned out to be busts or didn't live up to the hype. Laserdisc, Betamax, DAT. By now weren't we supposed to riding Segways, reading E-books on our PDAs?
Great products that are first to market don't always win. See Netscape Navigator or CompuServe.
You hear a lot of commotion today about the DVD format battle - HD-DVD vs. Blu-ray. But I wonder if both may get replaced by something else. Will we even be using DVDs in 10 years?
Often we're so busy competing in the game, we don't notice something that comes along that changes the rules.