Fast Company has a beautiful slideshow of various design elements used by the Winter Olympics, which begin tonight.
Highly recommend checking it out.
Aaron Keller + Brian Adducci: Design Matters: Packaging 01: An Essential Primer for Today's Competitive Market (Design Matters)
An essential text for anyone looking to create exciting, engaging packaging.
Although Capsule didn't have anything to do with the physical construction of the gorgeous Herman Miller Setu chair, we can't help but feel like its our baby - because we named the thing.
We were intrigued by its unusual spine as soon as the prototype arrived at our Minneapolis office, and the process we went through to arrive at Setu was intense. Numerous presentations to the Herman Miller team, countless brainstorming hours and legal conversations and moments of inspiration while on the bus to the office.
So our baby is growing up (aka, getting noticed)... home design and lifestyle gurus at Apartment Therapy just gave it a glowing - nay an electrictified - review. You know you've done a good job naming your baby when, almost a year later, you still like the name. How many parents can say that?
See more about the Capsule naming process here.
Following hot on the heels of his recent Twitter q+a session, Toyota USA's COO Jim Lentz is opening up to questions via Digg. Submit your question here, and those that get the most votes/Diggs will be asked. I'm curious to see how people use this forum, which allows more word count than Twitter.
As I blogged about on Wednesday, Toyota has really been putting itself out there through the social media in an attempt to keep the public on its side. It's fascinating to watch as it all unfolds.
Toyota has long enjoyed a stellar reputation of reliability, quality and value. Until recently, its brand had only been strengthened by the dilapidation of the U.S. car industry, and Interbrand ranked it eighth on the list of the world's strongest brands of 2009.
Indeed, when I was having the inevitable conversation with my father about which car I should test drive at the tender age of sixteen, I still remember him telling me that Toyota made the most dependable vehicles.
How things have changed. Over 19 fatalities have been attributed to problems with Toyota vehicle acceleration mechanisms, including a tragic crash involving an off-duty California police officer and his family in late August 2009. Apparently reports of unreliable acceleration have been around for several years, however the story has only recently become very public. The officer had been driving a loaned Lexus while his wife's model was being repaired, and reported to emergency authorities that the car was automatically accelerating out of control. Speeding at 120 mph, he and his family were killed in the horrifying accident. In a press release of September 14, 2009 Toyota expressed its sympathies to those involved and explained that it appear a floor mat had been incorrectly installed, causing the accelerator to become jammed.
The company's worst nightmare has continued to intensify since then. A voluntary recall was announced November 2, 2009 for owners of certain Toyota and Lexus models, with floor mats still suspected as the cause for alarm. Come January 21, 2010 Toyota stated it would recall 2.3 million cars to correct sticking accelerator pedals on certain Toyota models; this process was explicitly made separate to the risk of "pedal entrapment by incorrect or out of place accessory floor mats." (link) Several days later, it decided to suspend sales of eight models.
The influential Consumer Reports has removed its recommendation of the eight models suspended. Toyota stock has dropped significantly. Car owners are understandably concerned.
So has Toyota handled this crisis well? Has it adhered to the fundamental principles of crisis management theory?
In some ways, it has. Toyota has made good use of social media avenues to engage customers using a frank, reassuring voice. Jim Lentz, president of U.S. sales, answered questions directly through Twitter. ("We believe if we do this right, customers will come back," he Twittered.)
A massive campaign is in full effect, utilizing full page ads in newspapers, a dedicated web site, television ads and executive interviews have been consistent in messaging and tone. These tools have been well used to promote the company's actions to address the problem. The company's U.S. blog, Our Point of View, offers a first-person discussion of the issues at hand. It also publishes questions from the press along with Toyota's responses.
But while Toyota has been swift to move on this particular series of incidents, perhaps it would have already passed through this storm if it had paid greater attention to the complaints made prior to 2009. Always assume the worst. With the unbelievable number of social media arenas used by consumers these days, there's no excuse for brands not to have their fingers on the pulse of consumer sentiment.
Today, a guest post from our account management intern, Amber:
Hi, I am an intern, and I
love lists. It is my coping mechanism in this big bad world of omnipresent
media bombardment, and how I make sense of the world. I wake up every morning
and make lists in my head. The five things I need to do
today. Five reasons I love graduate school. Five things I like about Minnesota
in the middle of winter (still working on this one).
Since it is January, it is a
good time for resolutions. Since we all know that resolutions are never kept,
maybe a list of reverse resolutions would work better. Being a master procrastinator,
it should be easier to resolve not to do something than to actually have to
take real action. Here’s my list of reverse
resolutions from lessons learned in 2009.
Confusing your customers: The fastest way to confuse your customers and see
your sales drop is necessarily changing the look and feel of your well-loved products beyond
recognition. Remember New Coke? Or
Pepsi’s clear cola? Will people still buy Tropicana orange juice if the
packaging doesn’t have the picture of the iconic orange with the straw poking
answer is no.
Allowing your brand to be hijacked: Corporate brands have a love-hate relationship with
social media. Facebook, Youtube and Twitter and other arenas have allowed companies to have
direct contact with their target market. But on the flip side, it has reduced
their control of their brand.
Just ask Dominos.
former employees of Dominoes made a prank video of themselves using less than sanitary practices to make pizza, and posted it on Youtube. It promptly
turned into an Internet sensation; the company fired the employees and went
into full damage control. But the damage was done and the brand was tarnished.
In another case, a disgruntled United
wrote a song that became yet another Youtube sensation, after a fellow passenger witnessed his guitar being thrown - and broken - by runway crew. Advice to every brand out
there: implement social media guidelines and be sure all employees understand how
to follow them.
Assuming that one size fits all: We have one heard many, many good things about Apple's iPhone, and it
finally made it's long-awaited debut in China
in October 2009. Shockingly, in a country of 1 billion people, Apple sold only
5,000 units in the first month. How could this possibly happen to Apple? This
is the very same company Adweek named “Brand of the Decade.”
The problem was that Apple sold
the iPhone to its Chinese customers with the same carrier-subsidized phone
strategy that they use in the United States. The phone was bundled with a
monthly subscription plan, but that is not how Chinese customers buy their cell
phones. They prefer the pay-as-you-go, prepaid method. By not being in-tune
with local preferences and traditions, they managed to take a premier product
and shoot themselves in the foot.
The business world is littered with corpses of failed marketing ideas that we can learn from. Here’s to a great 2010!
I could also title this post Just because you can, doesn't mean you should.
Everyone's been in a rush these past few years to get on-board the social media train. Facebook. LinkedIn. Typepad. Plaxo. That Twitter thing. Digg. Bloglines.
We've seen such a blur of online activity in this arena that you have to wonder how much thought was going into the decision to set up a blog. Perhaps in some cases it was more just a "me too" moment... but it's not musical chairs.
No brand-related decision can ever, ever be made without thinking about the reason the brand exists in the first place. Its audiences. Any organization, whether B2B or B2C, whether it has $10 billion net worth or isn't turning a profit, should understand its audiences with the same certainty that it understands its own product or service. In this case, it needs to know how its audiences want to interact with the brand. Do they care that it has a Twitter account? Do they have unrestricted internet access at home, or at work? Do they know what Twitter is? Do they know what the internet is? No? Then Twitter is not for your brand - at least, not now. Find better channels that will resonate with your audiences, and in turn see some clear ROI for that marketing dollar.
Visually and aurally, that is.
I went to see our own Minnesota Wild play hockey last night at St Paul's Excel stadium. Obviously, there is violence to be expected in this sport. Body slamming, puck whacking and yes, the occasional punch-up.
What I was not prepared for though was the pre-game ad spot for the National Guard, a joint effort by Kid Rock and some NASCAR dude. It's 2:36 of sheer testosterone, us versus them, and America hell yeah. I felt like I was watching a shoot 'em up video game.
Regardless of my personal opinions on the war, and American foreign policy in general, the messaging behind the ad simply highlights how dire things must be for military recruitment. For the U.S. military brand, the Hero archetype obviously makes the most sense, but let us not forget that this archetype's shadow/downside (ie when the archetype is taken to the extreme) is arrogance. And in this case, it's a very fine line.
I don't have the magical solution. The military has been recruiting for an extremely controversial conflict for a long period of time. People are more and more skeptical of our involvement with it, and of the human cost it brings. Perhaps the brand has no other choice but to try to energize potential recruits with blaring rock music and lyrics such as
So don't tell me who's wrong and right/ when liberty starts slipping away/ and if you ain't gonna fight/ get out of the way/ cuz freedom ain't so free when you breathe red white and blue/ I'm givin' all of myself cuz that's what I do.
Is there a better alternative?
I've never been into The Biggest Loser much. This season, I've been sucked into a few episodes. Call it curiosity. Or perhaps I'm just trying to understand the Capsule office obsession with P90X a little better.
Whatever it is, the most standout thing about the show is not the incredible transformations, the tears, or the throwing up after a particularly strenuous workout. It's the horrible product placement.
Last night I watched Aussie chef hottie Curtis Stone touting Jennie O ground turkey burgers to the team: a giant disconnect if I ever saw one, given that his usual style leans towards local, organic and gourmet. Jennie O mass-produced ground turkey meat is none of these things. The close-ups of the product packaging, over-use of the brand name, and general clumsiness of the segment made the product placement unnatural and icky.
I've seen the same thing before with Yoplait yogurt. In one of the first episodes of the season, we see one of the contestants upset over something - possibly a poor weigh-in result. Bob consoles her. WITH A YOPLAIT YOGURT.
I don't know about you, but when I'm upset, the last thing I feel like reaching for is a low-fat strawberry yogurt. Another example of an unrealistic and forced scene. Poor Bob must have been cringing beneath those gigantic tattoo-covered biceps.
I understand that brands are seeking new ways to promote themselves - new causes, new associations, new ways of connecting with consumers. But they're putting themselves at risk of insulting the audience instead.
I found a transcript online of a blogger's conversation with Jillian Michaels and Mark Koops, executive producer.
“One of the other questions that’s been brought up by a lot of the readers on [DietsInReview.com] is the product placement that takes place on this show. Everyone [feels it is] very cheesy and it’s very obviously placed. Is there any plan to tone that back in the future or to maybe do it a little differently?”
Jillian: “Mark? I’ll have to defer to my boss on this one because I cannot talk about this at all. I’ll get in trouble.”
Brandi: “Product placement is obviously paying the bills for the show, but it seems to be striking a strange chord with the audience.”
Mark: “I think, you know, it is sort of, no pun intended – part of the reality of where television is moving to in the 21st Century. The 30-second spot, you know, goes away and (DVR) penetrations, it’s a longer topic of conversation.
We’re approached by a number of companies wanting to, to get involved in the show. And I think we’re very selective in terms of who we take. We’ve been approached in the past by all the fast food companies, you know.
I think we do try and have a selective process about who we pick and about the message they’re trying to (sell).
Could at times it be done, you know, cleaner and better? I think there’s always room for improvement."
Seems like Jillian's not excited about it either.
I have three words of advice for The Biggest Loser and its sponsors: Make It Subtle!
I recommend saying it like Tim Gunn.
Ever visited The Sartorialist? If not, go check it out for interesting pics of real-life street style... but be warned, he mostly shoots the pretty people so perhaps wait til you are having a good hair day.
A nice little piece in Fast Company today featuring the blogger's top tips for personal branding.
(Pic from The Sartorialist)
According to BusinessWeek, Interbrand and a myriad of other reliable sources, here are the most recognizable global brands of 2008 (and still pretty recognizable in 2009, too).
These will come as no shock…
1) Coca Cola
Others on the fringe: Mercedes Benz, Hewlett Packard, BMW, Gillette and American Express.
Few could argue that these brands are merely brands - they define cultures, eras and identity. Simply because the car we drive, food we eat and brands we don produce either an insult or mark of status, reinforces the fact that powerful brands are much, much more than a successful company that have great marketing. When these most recognizable brands plant their roots in the sunlight, they become tokens of who we are, regardless of our active involvement. When we live in a sect of society, whether we drive a BMW or chatter on a Nokia, these brands typecast us as a part of culture. Freaky, isn’t it?
Maybe you’re painfully aware of these branded measures of living, or perhaps you’re blissfully tuned out. Nevertheless, these big brands are certainly food for thought.
Also interesting are some of the criteria for pegging brands like Google and GE as global giants.
- Publicly available financial data
- At least one-third of revenue outside its country-of-origin
- Must be a market-facing brand
- The Economic Value Added must be positive
- The brand must not have a purely B2B single audience with no wider public profile and awareness
Hmm. While these provide standards for evaluation, there is a lot still up for consideration. How can we measure the tiny morsels of a brand’s appeal and its ability to function and communicate? Breaking it down this far makes you realize that entire books could be written about each brand and its background story of development; how each idea and decision influenced the level of impact these brand beasts would have on the globe. Blowing your mind?