Archive for January, 2008

Respect the Architects

If you ever wanted to know what goes into designing a shoe at NIKE, this is a must see.

This a story about Tinker Hadfield, the man who designed shoes like the Air Max. Originally trained as an architect, he was hired by NIKE in 1981 to design their corporate headquarters.

Four and a half years later he was designing shoes.

From the inspiration to the criticism he faced as a designer, this video inspired me as an information designer to push the limits. I hope it does the same for you.


The Scroll Wheel: Not just for scrolling anymore

I’m starting to see more and more sites using the scroll wheel to enhance the user experience by offering more than just scrolling. For example, Suit Supply, an online merchant for men’s suits, uses the same scroll wheel feature as Google Maps: Zoom In and Out. A great feature when you want to get a closer look at the suit material and details.

Toshiba built a gorgeous site to let users browse elements of the site with the scroll wheel. The site is all about creating an emotional connection with products consumers may not necessarily understand. It dimensionalizes them in a way that connects interaction with a very unexpected outcome.

I would like to create an archive of sites that use the scroll wheel for more than just scrolling. If you happen to see any, please post them here.


The Myth of Brand Engagement – Debunked

This is in response to a post by Cam Beck over at Marketing Profs. In it, Mr. Beck states that no amount of “brand engagement” is going to make people think more about a brand. Here’s my response:

While I agree that a company’s brand isn’t as important to its audience as it is to the company, I strongly disagree that no amount of “brand engagement” is going to make people think more about a brand.

Let’s start from within.

Did you know, for example, that companies like SAS in North Carolina offer sports facilities, subsidized child-care, early schooling and a primary health-care centre, free to staff. The latter is increasingly being studied by other firms as they struggle to contain the growth of health-care costs. In fact, when Google was planning the Goolplex, they went to SAS for inspiration.

What does this mean?

SAS’s turnover rate is approx. 4% a year, compared with 20% in the software industry as a whole. If that’s not keeping your staff engaged, then what is?

Now let’s look on the outside.

Apple keeps their consumers engaged with products that continue to push our creativity. From the start, when Apple Computers made a PC that was simple to use, their focus was always on the end user: how can we make a better PC? How can we make a person better at being creative? Then Apple Computers made different computers at faster rates and newer designs, things people wanted to display in their homes and/or offices as works of art.

I remember an old employer buying a first generation iMac for the front reception desk so that when clients arrived, they saw it. No one else in the office had one. I call that brand engagement.

Then Apple made the iPod and iTunes. Enough said.

Then came the retail experience, launched at a time when all the “experts” said Steve was crazy to think of going bricks and mortar. That it would never succeed. Guess what?

20% of Apple revunue comes from their retail outlets.

Then came the iPhone. Do I need to say anything else?

What’s interesting to note is how Apple dropped the word computers from their name. They no longer consider themselves a computer brand; they’re an experience brand that continues to engage consumers with more design at more touchpoints.

If that’s not brand engagement then sign me up for fire fighter school because clearly, I’m not getting it.

The Marketer’s Engagement Diamond

When it’s time to pop the big question, many marketers wonder where their ad dollars are best spent.

TV used to be, and still is in many markets, the first thing that comes to mind. But as reach and frequency and models of CPM continue to diminish, the savvy marketers are wondering how to keep their consumers engaged.

Yesterday I asked my colleagues what engagement meant to them. The response was overwhelming. My goal is to use these insights to help create what I’m calling The Marketer’s Engagement Diamond.

Here’s what they had to say:

I’m getting married
Getting involved with something
It’s a function I’m attending

As a consumer it means how long I stay interested in an item and/or product.

Personally, from a consumer POV, I would define it as a relationship of sorts – loving what a brand does; loving what effect it has on your life and lifestyle; putting your stamp of approval on a particular brand; communication (or at least the perception that I COULD communicate) and listening to what I’m saying; continuous innovation to better suit my needs; added value for my loyalties.

As a consumer it means to get inside my head and ‘get me’. It means being really connected to me emotionally and intellectually.
A brand can engage me when I realize they have connected with me their first.
Then, it’s up to the brand to be creative in how they will surprise, delight and entertain me.

Committed, invested interest

To me it means that I’m involved.

Means marriage to me… I think we should try to be funnier. Humor is the only things that really engages me in advertising.

Engagement to me means I move from passive observer to active involvement.

2 way communication… somehow the customer interacts with you directly… an actual conversation… exchange of contact information / method is assumed

It can be as simple as taking customer input (usually a complaint) and turning it into a special experience that converts them from a consumer of your goods to loyal advocates. Something any organization can do starting now.

Engagement is interest, motivation to follow up on what the brand is doing; level of trust; advocacy.

Connecting with me in a way that inspires me to respond – physically (thru purchase), emotionally (thru equity in brand – could be positive or neg)

Engagement. Super involved, like a relationship.
The point where it is hard to back out of the purchase. (Or Marriage.)

A simple reminder

With all the technology.

All the portability.

All the predictions that 2008 will be the year of mobile.

David Lynch reminds us of the basic trues in life: There’s nothing like the magic of movies when placed in context, a key metric for my Marketer’s Engagement Diamond concept.

Why Do We Support This?


Many will tell you that the Stanley Cup is the hardest trophy to win in professional sports.

It might explain why it’s taking the Toronto Maple Leafs so long to win, but I have another hunch.

My club, which I can only afford to watch on TV, is the second richest club in the franchise yet continues to play worse each year.

When I do turn on the TV, the best seats in the rink are filled with guys in Gucci suits sucking back a Pepsi in a plastic cup.

Those same seats are empty for the first few minutes of each period because the Gucci guys are mingling at the bar, checking their Blackberry or adjusting their $300 tie. Meanwhile, the nosebleeds, which cost about $30 when you can get them, are teeming with fans.

Their hearts are in the right place, but their bums are not.

Of course, this is business. But it’s messing with our game. Toronto signs 1 star like Sundin. He’s an amazing athlete but a ridiculous price.

It’s not about the experience anymore; it’s about profit. We’re well on our way to being in last place in our division yet the Gucci guys still come.

I wonder if they talk about their club as they drive into their Bay St. garages? Do they hang around the water cooler and talk defense? I bet a lot of the nosebleeds do.

The Most Contagious of 2007

Prepared by the brilliant minds at Contagious Magazine. See the ideas, trends and innovations behind the world’s most revolutionary marketing strategies.

The sheer volume of Contagious stuff in 2007 has proved to be both a blessing and a curse, making the selection process that bit trickier. In the end, the inexorable onslaught of the social networking phenomenon proved too much.

Never before has so much been placed in the hands of the consumer, forcing brands and advertisers alike to adapt furiously to an environment where a product can be made or broken with the creation of a simple slanderous facebook group.

However, the shifting of the proverbial goalposts has begun to dictate the creation of useful content on genuinely engaging platforms.

Find out here (PDF 2.8 mb)

January 2008
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