at the intersection of brands, media and culture

Archive for the ‘communications’ Category

Knee deep in work

In communications, Consumers, culture on March 4, 2009 at 7:18 am

This has been the theme from the last few weeks. However, on my cold walk to work I made a comittment that I would make a focused reentry into the blogosphere. And while my phone is filled with snapped pictures begging to be released from their iPhone purgatory, for now I deny their crys.

A while back I wrote a post about manufacturing authenticity which I still believe in as a last resort. But I came across two interesting posts this morning that made me consider the general lack of culture through which things are emerging.¬† The first is an interview from the newly discovered A Continuous Lean in which Mr. G. Bruce Boyer discusses Ivy League style and how it emerged from a class culture and came to signify it. He makes the assertion that today’s fashion is a mash-up but that it is all about costuming rather than authentic references.

Second link comes from Daily What and is a very authentic list of what it takes to be cool. I’m moving my way up the cool scale as we speak and I’m currently seeking individuals who can speak “European” so that I may learn from their skills.

Maybe that wasn’t the best name after all…

In communications, culture on February 10, 2009 at 7:15 am

This is no time to point fingers…

In communications on February 5, 2009 at 8:08 am

Unless of course you are going to do a brief history of “finger pointing” posters through the ages and around the world. See them all here courtesy of the Russian design studio of awesomeness, Art. Lebedev.

Innovation that is just LoudEnough

In Brands, communications, Consumers, culture, marketing on December 8, 2008 at 6:03 am

Innnovation is typically focused on a few different paths. There are consumer needs, cultural trends, marketplace/technological opportunities, brand led innovation…and the often overlooked product difficency innovation.

There is an iPod development story that suggests that Steve Jobs is slightly hard of hearing. As a result, in his characteristic, idiosyncratic way, he demanded that the volume on the iPod be louder than on other MP3 players. Hence the ear blasting sound that you can now obtain.

Now most of us would probably just turn down the sound. But one company created this is a crafty little targeted product for hip, yet concerned mom and dads. LoudEnough are earphones for kids where you can set a maximum decible range for your little ones and keep their ears safe and sound. It’s a nice innovative product that solves a need (or creates one) while taking advantage of a product deficiency. The branding also nicely straddle the gap between communicating to mom/dad the purchaser, while still appealing to kids.

A crisp, green, Apple

In Brands, communications, marketing, strategy on December 3, 2008 at 6:18 am

I loathe using Apple as an example for anything. Not because it is wrong to do so but it is just so damn obvious. Regardless, they have done a pretty good job of greening up their notebook line and then announcing it to the world in a manner that suggests they have always been green.

The environment has always been a sticky issue for the boys and girls from Cupertino. When I was at Sterling Brands we did a pro-bono project for Climate Counts. We were rather surprised that of all of the examined consumer electronic companies, Apple ranked the worst. There were also YouTube videos from folks like GreenPeace lambasting Apple for it’s environmental policy.

The new Apple campaign (here), is the advertising equivelent of a plea bargin deal where they pay the fine but don’t admit guilt, and that’s exactly the way that it should be. When a company updates it’s formulation or product line it shouldn’t feel as though it needs to shame itself for it’s past choices. It rather needs to present new and relevant reasons for purchase and if the environment or health or whathaveyou becomes part of the value equation then you talk about it. I’m still surprised how many brands, especially food stuffs, feel the need to say things like “now with no transfats!”, when a simple “no transfats” would do the trick.

Because we aren’t high falutin’

In communications on December 1, 2008 at 9:40 am

The blog has been getting a little heavy and a little long-winded lately. I suppose that’s what happens when one takes a sabbatical. But this is Monday, my stomach is full of Turkey and other Ohio goodies and I just want to enjoy the 27 days till Christmas.

This Steven Colbert video is a good start to the holidays. Some other day I’ll write about how he is becoming the poster child for the next wave of personality branding…but not today. Today I will seek out leftover pumpkin pie.

Video is here at Colbert Nation as wordpress only likes YouTube video embeds…

And now a word about sponsors.

In Brands, communications, Consumers, marketing, strategy on November 25, 2008 at 4:36 am

Will Work for Corporate Sponsorship
Originally uploaded by Morningstarphoto

MediaBistro got me thinking this morning when they announced that GM had jettisoned their relationship with  Tiger Woods due to the economic climate. My question is, what is the value of these relationships/associations/sponsorships anyway?

I’m sure there are some computer models out there but looking at it from a brand pov I’m not sure I see the point. Three examples for debate.

GM cuts it’s ties with Tiger.
Did any of us believe that Tiger actually drove a GM?
Does anyone believe that it would have been his choice car if they didn’t pay him?
Did you have a more favorable view of GM since it parked itself next to Tiger Woods?

Joseph Abboud signs a 3-year deal to provide free suits to NBA coaches. (no signage or credit during broadcasts)
Does anyone pay attention to what NBA coaches wear, and if so, are coaches emulated?
How many times do you see a coach during a game looking cool, confident and collected, and not sweaty and pitted out?
If someone does pay attention, how are they supposed to know who makes the suit?

Sprint Halftime Report
What does Sprint have to do with halftime or football?
Do you have a different or reinforced perspective of Sprint after halftime?

Branding: faking it vs. making it

In Brands, communications, marketing, strategy on November 24, 2008 at 6:58 am

There is a quote that comes to mind that goes something like, “character is who you are when no one is watching.” This seems apt to describe branding at times. There are many brands that put on a good show in communications, packaging, environments only to let consumers down when they least expect it. Some of us have had friends like this in our lives, but how many of those relationships continue to prosper after we’ve been let down?

Brand relationships are about delivering an experience through all of the brand’s touch points. I won’t even go so far as to say that it has to be a consistent experience because I think branding is changing. But it does have to be a unified experience.

I’ve posted the above picture of GHIRADELLI Hot Chocolate as an example of how not to sustain a brand. For those who don’t know, GHIRADELLI is a premium chocolate brand out of San Francisco. As such you would expect brand attributes such as refined, sophisticated, luxurious and crafted to be part of their story. Note, these aren’t differentiated characteristics but rather table-stakes in the premium category.

The external packaging represents these characteristics and helps to validate the price point which you are bound to pay on a supermarket shelf. Once you make the purchase though, you are confronted with a food service, mass market brand on the inside. Why GHIRADELLI decided to pay a design firm for the external packaging and didn’t throw the internal pouch into the brief is beyond me. Did they think that it wasn’t important or that no one would notice?

I would argue that the experience arch for this brand actually peaks when the pouch is torn open and the product is made. By that account the internal packaging is more important to the brand while the external packaging may still be more important to sales. But, to my earlier point, the brand’s character is defined when it doesn’t think anyone is looking. Or perhaps better stated, “a brand’s character is defined when it isn’t selling.”

Doing good: two social works brands get it right

In Brands, communications, marketing, strategy on November 20, 2008 at 8:56 am


Taken during an ethics project in Africa
Originally uploaded by distillerymedia

It has always been a struggle for brands in the social good space to market well. Firstly, most of the folks running them aren’t marketers, they tend to be well meaning people who are dedicated to their causes and and businesses. Secondly, compelling the populous to care is harder than is probably should be.

To folks engaged in the space it seems logical that we should all care deeply and want to help in anyway that we can…unfortunately it isn’t that different than the folks at Colgate who believe that we spend most of our time thinking about our dental hygiene. Neither one is true. We tend to be selfish consumers and our thoughts are filled with a whole host of things, relationships, causes, products and needs all competing for our relatively short attention span.

That is perhaps why it is so refreshing to see two brands doing it well. The first I picked up from adfreak which is the new campaign launched by TAXI and OLPC. Honest, engaging and emotional the spot both captures the ethos of OLPC and tugs at consumers heartstrings while driving them to action.

The second is a new campaign from The Salvation Army which downplays its religious mandate while playing up the benefits that Salvation Army provides for the communities that it serves. It also nicely brings in the bell which serves to intertwine the campaign with the bell on the street. (unfortunately I can’t find this campaign on YouTube but you can see it on your tv).