Archive for the ‘social media’ Tag

All Brands Need is Love

The other day a colleague pointed me to BBC’s 1 hour documentary on Steve Jobs called “Billion Dollar Hippie” (I’d send you a link but then the copyright owners might yank it. Google it for now). There’s a line around the 40 minute mark of the video where they’re telling the familiar story about the iMac and how its success was attributed to its unique design and how Apple managed to make a computer fashionable. Then came a line that not only captures the brand essence of Apple, a quote from iMac’s designer, Jonathan Ives, “We have to make this something people will LOVE![emphasis added by me]. “Love” according to my colleague, should be the thing to which every brand aspires.

Every brand? I wasn’t so sure. Don’t get me wrong, I love ‘love brands’. I’m typing this post on my beloved MacBook. I have a protective case and an InvisibleShield screen protector for my iPhone. I find Porter Airlines and the Toronto Island Airport (Yes I know it’s officially called Billy Bishop Airport) experience absolutely lovely. I think I’m falling in love with this (new to my neighbourhood) frozen yogurt chain from California called Menchies. As a professional marketer, I love to work on ‘love brands’. And yet, there’s a ton of no-so-loved brands that do perfectly fine if not thrive in the marketplace. Take a look at the top 10 companies in the 2011 Fortune Global 500…only one of them, Toyota, still going strong despite its massive recall in 2009 and the Tsunami, has some ‘love brands’ in its roster.

  1. Wal-Mart Stores
  2. Royal Dutch Shell
  3. Exxon Mobil
  4. BP
  5. Sinopec Group
  6. China National Petroleum
  7. State Grid
  8. Toyota Motor
  9. Japan Post Holdings
  10. Chevron

You see what I mean. While I’m uncomfortable to say it, the evidence suggests that you don’t have to be loved to be successful. So that got me thinking…maybe love and not-so-loved brands can co-exist in the same marketplace. While being loved can be a competitive advantage, there must be other ways to gain competitive advantage and maybe being loved is something a marketer can choose a brand to be or not to be.

Enter Advertising Age’s ad critic Bob Garfield, someone not known for jumping on the latest marketing bandwagons. In what I think will become a landmark cover story, Garfield writes, “Say goodbye to positioning, preemption and unique selling position. This is about turning everything you understood about marketing upside down so that you can land right side up. This is about tapping into the Human Element. [bold face added]”

Notice that branding was not in his goodbye list. That’s because branding and brand building is more important than ever before. “…you are being evaluated 24/7 in countless conversations that have zero to do with your ad slogan. On the contrary, they are about your brand’s essential self–which behooves you to think very hard about your essential self.”

“Your essential self.” In other words, we judge brands pretty much like we judge other people. We dislike insincere brands in the same way we dislike insincere people. We love those that we connect with emotionally and who we trust. Why do we tell brands to be authentic? It’s the same thing we tell people before their date…”Be yourself!”

Authentic, trustworthy, brands with whom we emotionally connect have staying power. The others do too…but they won’t get our love. Imc2’s “Brand Sustainability Map” charts out this brand universe where the love and not-so-loved brands co-exist.

Brand Sustainability Map

At the top-right are the familiar “love” brands but next to them and below them are brands that have enough to keep them going for a while. Emotional relationship brands aren’t maximizing that connection to its full potential or are missing something. In the bottom left are the reluctant relationship brands. These brands have traditional competitive advantages like high switching costs, high barriers to entry from competitors, patents, etc. which might explain why there’s a phone and cable company in that quadrant.

So love brands, not-so-loved brands, and even bland brands can co-exist. It’s the same with other people in your life. You don’t love everyone you know; some people are just friends and some people are that bland acquaintance who’s a friend of a friend who you see at parties but don’t pay much attention to ’cause they’re kind of…meh.  So here’s the thing. No one wants to be that ignored bland guy. Most of us want to be loved…or at least…not be bland. So how we get there? That’s for another post.

Passing Notes in the 21st Century

First of all. It’s great to be blogging again after a summer absence and I’m starting off by committing a bit of a blogger faux pas, I went to see Shel Israel speak at Third Tuesday and I’m waiting until now to write about it. Only I’m not really going to write about it per se.

See, one of Shel’s remarks about twitter was that as a consequence of twitter being so mobile friendly, more and more speaking gigs involved him lecturing to people’s foreheads as we live tweet his talk. And what is the nature of these tweets? They seem to fall into three categories.


At every event I go to I try to live blog great quotes for future reference. The benefit to speakers, they get real-time feedback on the most memorable parts of their presentation. Shel had a lot of great ones, but my smartphone fingers have yet to catch up to my computer typing speed. I have but one saved one and it might be a paraphrase:

“Lethal generosity is the key to screwing your competitors”

Note Passing

Here’s where people make snarky remarks or arrange for post-event drinks usually during the presentation. This is probably why teachers ban cell phones in the classroom. Social media speakers love it. Afterall, the more tweets about the event, the more publicity for the next event. NOTE to bar owners and restaurant owners, need incremental business? Scan the twitterverse for upcoming events near your establishment and make a customized offer to participants in the event.

Asking questions

If you’re shy or just couldn’t think of the right question during the Q&A period, here’s your chance.

I’m definitely mis-using the term but there’s a certain augmented reality experience in participating, tweeting, and reading other people’s tweets during an event or presentation. It’s like you’re experiencing the same thing on different planes. Plus it lets you reveal you’re inside voice…in a respectful way.

Old Philosophies, New Technology Part 2

Freud remarked that since the invention of the first tool, we humans have extended the functions of our own organs to the point that we’ve become “prosthetic gods”. Motor power extends our muscular abilities while modern transport lets us travel around the globe. Telescopes and microscopes extend our vision while photography and recording devices extend our memory of a fleeting visual or audio event.

So what about the shiny new tool of the present, social media? Does it extend the depth and breadth of our ability to relate to one another. Well…no but yes. The oft-quoted Dunbar number states that the average person can maintain stable social relationships with 150 people. Facebook’s in-house sociologist seems to confirm Dunbar’s theory, the average Facebook member has 120 friends.

Give it a few years and I bet that number grows significantly. When Facebook first opened to the public everyone’s first instinct was to find all their old friends. Once a sizeable number of the old gang from high school, university, camp, etc. was reconnected our networks didn’t grow as fast and we slowly started adding people we met in real life. But we were scrambling. The kids are just starting. As they move from elementary school, to junior high, to high school, university, and beyond they will keep their old networks intact. Will childhood friendships last longer?

Maybe not, but the ability to call up old friends, flames, and acquaintences is much easier now. So our prosthetic godliness has gotten better. Whereas photography and recording devices extended our memory of a fleeting event, the multimedia lifestream that is social media extends our memory and lets us keep tabs on all the people we meet.

The Future of Magazines

Back in university, I wrote a paper on online magazines. At the time, Slate and Salon were new on the scene, PointCast was a popular screensaver/newsreader and there was this web site called Pathfinder that hosted a lot of the Time Warner titles. The question then was how an online magazine was going to make money if they gave away their content for free. My how times have changed. Now the print publications are wondering how they can avoid the fate of some newspapers.