at the intersection of brands, media and culture

Posts Tagged ‘innovation’

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.

The New Russian Design Culture

In agency on April 15, 2008 at 12:29 am


Originally uploaded by distillerymedia

I toured the Moscow-based design studio Art. Lebedev yesterday and fell in love with these “Russian Doll” style tech measurements on display in their offices. Find more products and a bit more about them (they are really cool) at their site.

A Breath of Fresh Air

In Branding, Brands, Consumers, Design, innovation, marketing, strategy on April 15, 2008 at 12:26 am


Originally uploaded by distillerymedia

Going to the moon? In Russia you can now buy pre-packaged oxygen in phallic containers at your local design bookstore. While oxygen bars came and went in the US this new product bets that Russians are looking for oxygen and that it is best when it is portable.

A Complaint About Hold Music

In advertising, agency, communications, strategy on February 6, 2008 at 9:56 am

Holding Hands

Originally uploaded by DalaiMickey

I started my day yesterday by sitting on the phone for 20 minutes waiting for some clients who never showed up to the conference call. This was a painful reminder of how bad the conference call experience is.

I get it, the communication companies have invested money in the infrastructure that’s important, namely crisp, clear calls for low prices. But now that we’ve passed that phase of differentiation, can I get some choices on what kind of music I can listen to? Nothing says “we value you as a partner” like making me listen to Muzak for 20 minutes. How hard would it really be to offer me the option of pressing 1 for classical, 2 for pop, 3 for country western?

Oh, and the second part. Can people please start showing up to conference calls on time? “It fell off my calendar” is the new “my dog ate my homework.”

Innovations That Work

In Uncategorized on February 5, 2008 at 9:30 am


Originally uploaded by distillerymedia

Innovation is tough work for any company or product designer. How do you take something that works fairly well and find a way to make it work in some way better? This is a perfect example of how to do just that. I look forward to the days that I can sit outside after a rainy morning and take in the beauty of a city recently washed.

Hat tip to swissmiss and the designers over at Yanko Design.

When Product Accessories Become the Product

In Branding, Brands, Consumers, innovation, market research, marketing, strategy, trends on January 21, 2008 at 1:11 pm

What happens when that cool new thing that you got suddenly becomes the cool new thing that everyone has? Trend Setters (god I hate that term) either move on to the next new thing or  redouble their efforts to bring personal ownership to their products. Creating an accessory culture around new products may prove to be a way to keep these early users engaged.

Steve Portigal has an interesting post on Crocs culture and the emergence of charms in Japan and the UK (see picture above). Apple has also inspired a ton of secondary markets for its products from the useful iPod Skins to the scary-but-true Taser/iPod holster that was displayed at CES.

My personal favorite are the iColour modifiers which allow you to take that boring old glowing Apple logo and modify it to your own liking, gaining the ire of your IT dept. at the same time.


The End of a Fadmaker

In Brands, Consumers, innovation on January 20, 2008 at 12:22 pm

Wet Hula Hoop
Originally uploaded by DewCon

Early in my career, I remember seeing a posting on Craigslist for a marketing position at Wham-O. After I changed my pants, I applied and they had the good sense not to hire me.

Wham-O is a cultural brand with an amazing track record of creating fads that impact the social landscape. Last week it lost its founder Richard Knerr at age 82. That makes me sad.

From The NYT: Richard Knerr died last week at the age of 82. He co-founded Wham-O, the corporation that brought us the Hula Hoop, the Frisbee and the SuperBall.

Mr. Knerr and his partner, Arthur Melin, who died in 2002, were able to pull off one of the most difficult tricks in marketing: starting a fad. Repeatedly. Like quantum mechanics and comedy, not everybody can do it.

Red Bull Says Carpe Diem and Enters the Water Fight

In Branding, Brands, communications, Consumers, innovation on January 17, 2008 at 11:02 am

Holy Waters

Originally uploaded by ~FreeBirD~

We were recently doing a competitive audit for a client and came across Carpe Diem waters. The packaging isn’t much to look at (frankly, most of the category isn’t) but it does communicate freshness and enhanced benefits better than most brands in the water-Plus category.

The surprise came when we turned the packaging around and recognized the Santa Monica address as that of Red Bull. The fact that it comes from the adrenaline pumping, fly-off-a-pier-in-homemade-plane place makes it a bit more impressive in my mind.

Most companies work hard to not take any risks and to leverage the heck out of their equity until it is diluted to, well, something not unlike water. I’m impressed with the creativity and the soft brand that they have created here and how it creates a nice contrast within their portfolio. If anyone has more information on Carpe Diem or how it came about, write in and let me know.from the Carpe Diem site:
Carpe Diem is both – philosophy and brand.

Carpe Diem is a philosophy: an appeal to the people of our time – to live consciously and seize the day because today is the first day of the rest of your life. Carpe Diem unites all those who value conscious enjoyment with all their senses. Those who demand authenticity and functionality just as much as modernity and style.

As a brand, Carpe Diem stands for drinking with a purpose – for innovative functional drinks that equally combine drinking pleasure with effectiveness. The beverages of Carpe Diem are based on traditional methods of preparation and knowledge that is thousands of years old.

Carpe Diem has made it its goal to offer this ancient knowledge to the consumer in form of modern drinks. Carpe Diem – drinking with a purpose.

Brand Extension: SPAM

In Branding, Brands, communications, Consumers, innovation, market research, marketing, research, trends on January 9, 2008 at 11:47 am

Isn’t It Ironic?

Originally uploaded by Aiko Heiwa

Specifically designed to hit the market segment of people who love the great taste of SPAM but care about their health. I bet the five people who fit that description will flock to this “crazy tasty” treat.

On a slightly more serious note, Hormel what are you thinking? The SPAM brand is not a bastion of health benefits and my guess is that SPAM Lite still isn’t very good for you. Instead of going along with the trend take a note from Hungry Man and forget about the health claims and embrace the essence of your brand. There must be some brand extensions that make more sense there like pre-packaged dinners?

Brand Extension I’d most like to see: MINI Scooters

In Brands, communications, Consumers, innovation, market research, marketing, strategy, trends on January 7, 2008 at 2:01 pm

somebody’s scooter
Originally uploaded by leff

Congrats to BMW and the MINI design, engineering and marketing teams. The MINI is a ludicrous success and has one of the best brand cultures around. People rave about them, customize them, buy branded clothing and meet up for rallies around the nation.

Now that that’s out of the way… what the hell were you thinking coming out with the Clubman?! Don’t get me wrong– I get what you’re trying to do here. You did some research and looked at the market. People loved the MINI but it just wasn’t practical for the family man/woman. Where were they supposed to put the kids and the dog and the coolers and the beach chairs and all those other things breeders accumulate? Simple problem, simple response: build a bigger MINI and market it with the catchy slogan “All business in the front, party in the back.” I’m sure it’ll be a winner, and do at least as well as the mullet. But let’s look at wisdom of a classic MINI ad, “bigger isn’t always better.”

Thinking outside the Clubman box for a moment. You have a brand that runs on irreverence, spunk, small, humor, attitude, wit, performance and cute. You’ve invested most of your communication dollars in telling everyone that small still matters, demonizing the waste of America and its size complex. You’ve built your entire brand on small… and now you want to extend it to not-so-small, almost-small, probably-ugly? Oh, and there’s that other little thing that also happens to be small… you own BMW motorcycles!!!

Am I really suggesting MINI Scooters…you bet your logo I am.

MINI Scooters. “MINI, now MINIer.”