Branding. It’s the single most important thing about marketing. A brand communicates how a company wants to be perceived – or how it wants you to think about its products. Branding is a combination of one part image, one part slogan, and 98 parts repitition. Great brands are not created overnight. They are built slowly, one message at a time, until the brand becomes etched in your conciousness. Brands are expensive to build. But their worth their weight in gold. Which makes it all the more interesting – and madning – when I see a company kill a brand that resonates with the public. Don’t believe me? Let’s take a look at three brands that have been killed-off by their corporate masters, and examine the who, what, and why they died (and perhaps why killing them was a dumb idea).
I’ve been in the business of using computers, in one way or another, since 1982. I wrote my first college paper on an Apple III. I owned one of the original IBM PCs (Hercules Graphics Card! 512K RAM! Two full-height 5 1/4″ Floppy Drives! Dot Matrix Printer! DOS 2.0! Ashton-Tate Framework! All for the low, low price of $4,000!!!). I’ve worked as a software engineer, product manager, project manager, marketing manager, and user interface evangelist for software publishing companies. I was around for the birth of Windows 1.0, the life and death of COMDEX, the rise of the common user interface, the Year of the LAN, and a slew of other things, long consigned to the dust bin of computer history. I’ve been a user, author, coder, beta-tester, evangelist, designer, and planner. In short, I’ve held just about every job you can hold in the software industry.
Now I’m writing reviews. Continue reading My two cents.
Know what a “Tween” is? Unless you’ve been living under a rock (which might not be such a bad idea, actually), you know a tween is the trendy label for those ages 9 to 12 – not quite a child anymore, but not quite a teenager. A “tweenager,” if you will. I’m the proud father of a tween. She’s obsessed with all the typical things that girls her age are – fashion, Miley Cyrus, High School Musical, Jonas Brothers, and fashion. The problem is, I’m not sold on the idea that all those obsessions are the right ones.
Here’s the deal. I had a great childhood. Idyllic, really. I want the same for my daughter. But we live in a radically different world today, and I’m afraid she’s being exposed to a lot of things that are stealing her childhood right out from under our noses. Continue reading The Problem with Miley.
I’m not easily impressed by most marketing. It’s not that I’m jaded…I’ve just seen a LOT of pitches, promotions, and “new” (read: “recycled, old”) ideas. No big. But every now and then, something comes across my desk that makes me sit up and take notice. Such is the case with http://www.news3online.com. This thing is brilliant.
Few people that are hip to the capabilities of Photoshop and AfterEffects are undully impressed with seeing their photo munged into another. Fair enough. But what if you created what appears to be a legit news story about a grassroots Presidential campaign, and built a dynamic database to capture emails, with the viral “news” story as the lure? Now THAT’S marketing. Continue reading My friend ran for President, and all I got was this lousy TShirt.
…what is the answer? In anticipation of giving Sprint the same consideration they’ve been showing me for low these 12 years, I visited my friendly, neighborhood AT&T Phonaporium today. The 3G iPhones (or iPhone v. 2.0 for those of us outside the Macinverse) will be available this Friday. I was keen to learn what all this über-coolness is gonna cost me – or at least get a picture of how AT&T’s version of rape differs from Sprint’s.
I have to admit – my first impressions were pretty favorable. The AT&T staff was cheerful (unlike the generally sullen folk at Sprint…kind of like the diifference between flying Southwest versus American Airlines). The guy I worked with was knowledgeable, and seemed genuinely interested in steering me to the best plan for me – and not whatever AT&T has a spiff on this month. Continue reading 3G…or not 3G. if that is the question…
You are looking at the bane of my existance.
Okay, to be pefectly accurate, you’re looking at a picture of the same model phone (an HTC Mogul from Sprint) that is the bane of my existance. In all the years I’ve had a cell phone, I have never owned a bigger pile of steaming yak droppings as is this phone. I have never dealt with a bigger bunch of lying rat bastards than the ones that sell and service this phone. And I will never make the same mistake again. Allow me to explain… Continue reading Phone Home.
This is a shameless plug for my wife’s company. I say this in the spirit of full disclosure. VectorRight.com sells conservative-themed merchandise (shirts, caps, bumper stickers, etc.) I did the design work for her on the front end, and all the tshirt and bumper sticker designs as well. There’s some free stuff there, too – a bunch of Photoshopped pictures that feature Bill, Hillary, and some other lefties. It’s a completely partisan site – forget “fair and balanced,” unless your idea of fair is that she’s got a site and there are probably a dozen liberal merch sites out there competing with her.
So if you’re in the mood to see some decidely politically INcorrect stuff that trashes the Left (as opposed to what you’re USED to seeing, where the Left trashes the Right but calls it “all in good fun” – go for it. And buy something. I don’t make a dime off it – I did all the work “pro bono” which is Latin for “Honey do” (if you know what I mean, and if you’re a married guy, you do). But in order to perserve a more perfect union (mine) I’d consider it a personal favor if you hit the site, looked around, and found something nice for the Conservatives in your life.
I like water. I like to drink a lot of it, as it is probably the only thing in my diet that tastes good, is good for me, and has zero calories. (Now if only they can come up with a zero calorie steak…)
Years ago, Robin Williams did a bit that went like, “Ooh…when I wanna blow a buck on a bottle of water, I buy Perrier!” That was back when buying water – any kind of water – seemed pretty stupid, as the stuff that came out of the tap tasted pretty good. I howled. Then I moved to Amarillo.
I don’t know what’s in the water up here, but whatever it is, it tastes foul and evidently fouls up your teeth. We still bathe in it (by necessity), but we’ve taken to buying water by the three-gallon jug, so our teeth won’t fall out. Continue reading Water, water everywhere.
I love advertising. There. I said it. I’d rather watch a great ad than just about anything. A 30-second national ad has roughly the same budget, acting quality, directing quality, and production quality of a 30-minute sitcom. A well-crafted 30-second spot tells a short story, with a plot, characters, story arc, and everything else you expect in good communication. Oh, and it sells something. Usually. (Some advertisers forget to sell a product, and some forget to tell a compelling story, but I’m speaking here of GOOD commercials.
Continue reading The Language of Advertising.
Robert Scoble, God bless him, is willing to tell the truth about Microsoft and Branding. Let’s compare and contrast Microsoft’s and Apple’s branding:
Microsoft: Windows XP Home Edition SP2
Microsoft: Wireless Optical Desktop Pro (keyboard + mouse)
Apple: Apple Keyboard/Apple Mighty Mouse Continue reading Tone-deaf Branding.