Tuesday, August 28, 2007

Home Interior Innovation - August 28, 2007

I read about this guy Chris Kabel who designed these sticky lamps which are sold on a website called Droog Designs.

I love the idea of being able to place lights anywhere you want. Yes, they could be a little more sexy, but nonetheless, it’s an innovative way at looking at the placement of interior lighting. In case you haven't noticed already, I am obsessed with innovation.

I really dig the site Droog Designs because it was set up as a way to provide customers with revolving new designs. Essentially, they collaborate with a variety of designers and manufacturers to produce cutting edge designs and products. They are constantly experimenting with new concepts, new materials and new techniques but also with age-old craft methods. It’s what Droog and I both think that keeps their brand fresh and vital.

Wednesday, August 22, 2007

Still Naming Shmaming - August 22, 2007

Continuing from my last post, I’ve been trying to figure out exactly what the hell I’m supposed to name my company. I can think of like 30 different ways to describe it, but not one word to call it. God, I’m dreading thinking of a three word tagline. You would think that working in the ad industry would give me a natural advantage, however, now I see why clients come to us for help.

Anyways, I discovered this little tool called the Visual Thesaurus. You type in a word and it gives you a map of how it links to other words. You can scroll over the dots that represents what other words you might be able to substitute based off of your original query, and be given a brief definition of the word. See below.
You can then click on any of the suggested words and the visual thesaurus will “re-map”. It’s pretty cool, and I think it is going to help me name this thing. You can also tug on the lines and make the map wobble, which is kinda entertaining too!.

I guess if all else fails I can do the Anagram Generator.

The Creative Mind - August 22, 2007

Introducing the new creative mind!!!

Tuesday, August 21, 2007

Naming Shmaming - August 21, 2007


Really, this is about the hardest thing I’ve had to figure out. I get ideas for companies left and right, but most happen to be incredibly impossible to create on my own. Deciding what to name something after you actually create the product is an entire other monster.
I guess it’s kinda the same problems parents run into while trying to name their baby.
I want the name to be somewhat descriptive of what the company does. It can’t be generic. It can’t be too descriptive as to come off cheesy. I can’t be so far out that no one has any idea what the hell the company does (e.g. “Double Monkey Ladder” or “Friday Twine” or maybe “Yellow Barn Inc”).

I know what my company offers to people, and I’ve been trying to figure out how that plays into the name. Like for instance if I were to be selling cookies, I would think of what cookies do for people. They make them smile, they taste good, and above all, they satisfy a hunger/desire. So what words can be descriptive of what that does….well, that is kinda how I’m trying to name my company now…and guess what???? It still isn’t working.

Things I’ve tried:
- Thesaurus
- Rhyming
- Random words picked out of dictionaries
- Checking out other naming blog sites
- Getting drunk
- Trying to get my friends to name it for me

Well, I’ve got to figure this out soon, as I have to register with the San Francisco authorities soon. I’ll keep you up to date!

Sunday, August 19, 2007

Rants on the Cell Phone Industry - August 19, 2007

The wireless industry’s advertising is currently categorized by what functionality a phone has, or how it makes a person cool. This trend is failing, and as a result, wireless providers and manufacturers have brands that are interchangeable, indecipherable, and meaningless.

Introducing a sleek and sexy phone. What do you mean your phone can’t send and receive emails? A Paris Hilton signature series. I take great pictures with my 1.3 megapixel camera phone. We have the strongest network. Show your spirit, and get your NASCAR branded phone today. My phone can stream video, can yours?

These are a sampling of the phrases consumers are likely to hear or read about in cell phone advertising.

Because the mobile space is extremely crowded, it is necessary to differentiate core functionality between phones, hence the proliferation of ads focused on device and service offerings. However, it is also important for ads to transcend this one-dimensional messaging approach, and demonstrate how the phone’s advanced features can be utilized by the phone’s owner. It is assumed that consumers connect more uniquely with advertisements in which the person using the phone is someone they are like or aspire to be, thus the explosion of “cool” lifestyle ads.

Although it is seemingly logical to market a cell phone in these ways, each direction is flawed. To understand why, first take a look at these ads.

These ads are not inherently displeasing or jarring, and consequently, lack originality. It would be easy to switch around the logos, and not know who promised what. It is here that the major problems become apparent.

First, lifestyle advertising has poorly reflects or connects with its intended target audience. Secondly, pure product functionality advertising ends up commoditizing a product.
Great advertising that gets people to buy a product or service, even beyond what they justify as a fair price, hinges on a delicate emotional balance between usability and sociological approval. Whether a consumer will or will not buy a certain phone invariably depends on whether said phone is psychologically easy, not functionally, to use. Most cell phones on the market have the same functionality. As a result, wireless carriers and manufacturers have moved to competitive differentiators based on style, “wow” factor, and other seemingly meaningless distinctions.

The question cell phone companies and manufacturers need to ask themselves is what type of message are they trying to communicate with their target audiences. Do they want to brand themselves as a fashion icon? Do they want their audiences to think of their phones as “workhorses?” These are questions they must think about more intently then they have before.

Right now, there is little differentiation between the brands of most carriers and manufacturers. To give some examples, Verizon is coverage, Nokia is fashion, Cingular is the network and latest phones, Research in Motion is business, T-Mobile is price, Palm is ease of use, and LG is about entertainment. These attributes are too broad, shallow, and can easily be lost if a competitor chooses to enter that territory.

It is time this industry considers a new strategy for marketing their products.

Friday, August 17, 2007

Robo building machine

This is pretty much the coolest robot building machine I've seen. It's more cathartic to watch this then it is to watch any other type of rapid prototyping machine.

Finance 2.0 "Convenience" (part 4 of 4) - August 17, 2007

Consumers and businesses alike are embracing stress reducing and time saving products and services.

Convenience has been defined as anything that saves or simplifies work, adds to one's ease or comfort, etc., as an appliance, utensil, service, or the like.

Laundry Locker provides door-to-door laundry pick-up and delivery, Netflix brings DVDs directly to doorsteps, mobile applications send users information on weather, events, music, and even directions to their phones, 7-eleven is open 24 hours a day, Waiter on Wheels delivers food to hungry homes from any restaurant the consumer wants, and churches broadcast their sermons via TV.

What do these have in common?

Consumers are bombarded with products and services everyday that are intended to make their lives easier.

Look no further than the robot vacuum cleaner or the dog walking service in the neighborhood. Or maybe it’s something along the lines of Best Buy’s computer savvy Geek Squad, and Rachel Ray’s Thirty Minutes Meals on the Food Network. Consumers are becoming more and more lazy. Americans want the quick and easy treatment anytime, every time. This attitude can be seen through quantifiable results such as the fact that 50% of American’s money spent to go eating out is used at fast food restaurants.

The trend for convenient services is holding true for the financial sector as well, and has been related to the appearance of new technologies such as the Internet and smart phones.

Online banking has offered consumers the ability to manage their finances with ease, and not coincidentally, has the highest growth rate for any online service. 53 million Americans, or half of all internet users are banking online, managing their portfolio, or paying their bills. Washington Mutual has grown in their online banking division by 33% by offering free products and services, and 43% new Washington Mutual customers came because of the free checking program.

There are however, still many consumers who are skeptical about using online banking services. About 70 million people that have bank accounts don’t trust financial transactions that take place on the Internet. However, 23 % Americans said that they felt more secure about online banking this year than they did previously.

Although financial institutions are trying to counter the online banking fear by increasing the amount of branch representatives to speak with, the online channel is an easy, cheap, and reliable way to handle their client’s assets, not to mention that it generates the highest R.O.I. Online banking users are over 30% more profitable than offline users.
The services financial institutions could offer for businesses are more complicated than for individual clients, but would be just as lucrative. Small businesses consider banking online a fundamental aspect of keeping their finances in order, and they are always seeking out new and more convenient online services. For larger companies, services could focus on more minute details, such as the ability to cover themselves against foreign exchange risk, which is a crucial point in international trade.

The convenient services trend is thriving, and is providing consumers and businesses with time saving, stress reducing, and reliable services and products to make their lives easier.

Thursday, August 16, 2007

Finance 2.0 "Shifting Demographic" (part 3 of 4)- August 16, 2007

The financial world needs to transition its focus from the baby boomers to the younger generations.

The United States is getting older. Families are having fewer children, but modern medicine is extending people’s lives. All the meanwhile, the baby boomer generation is entering retirement.

A consequence of having more senior citizens is having less Americans in the working world. The impact this is going to have will not only affect the U.S. labor force, but also slow economic growth, and rates of saving. The individuals who are working will be burdened by having to support a larger group of retirees, much larger than the labor force. Additionally, there are millions of immigrants appearing each year.

At the same time, financial service institutions continue to face challenges and unprecedented industry changes, such as increased regulation and shifting customer demographics. Other challenges finance institutions face include their disparate technology, and their dated systems and process. The influx of more institutions also creates heightened competition that makes them vulnerable to attrition.

Above all that, the most pressing issue facing finance institutions in the U.S. right now is the fact that the target demographic is shifting, in a big way. Banks, brokerages, investment firms, and insurance companies are set up to best service older, more mature individuals. However, a massive influx of young technologically hip Americans are looking to the Internet for financial advice and management. However, financial institutions need to pursue the younger demographic, not only because they will be responsible for supporting the economy, but because the manner in which they [younger generations] engage with their assets is completely different and unique.

Take a look at Prosper, an online people-to-people lending marketplace. Prosper works similar to eBay, but instead of listing and bidding on items, people list and bid on loans using Prosper's online auction platform. People who want to lend set the minimum interest rate they are willing to earn and bid in increments of $50 to $25,000 on loan listings they select. Borrowers create loan listings for up to $25,000 and set the maximum rate they are willing to pay a lender. Then the auction begins as people who lend bid down the interest rate. Once the auction ends, Prosper takes the bids with the lowest rates and combines them into one simple loan.
This new demographic is also engaging with online "social networks" on Google and Yahoo that let people exchange financial advice. They are also looking into Wal-Mart as a major provider of financial services for lower-income people reluctant to use a traditional bank. Wal-Mart does over 2 million financial transactions each week.

These examples are just a few of how the younger generations are uniquely handling their finances. It is imperative that financial institutions recognize their new target audience, and create new and interesting ways of engaging with them.

Wednesday, August 15, 2007

Finance 2.0 (part 2 of 4) "Mobile Finances" - August 15, 2007

Cell phones are now delivering videos, music, pictures, emails, and other data that was thought to be impossible ten years ago. These advanced features are not going away anytime soon. In 2004, 6% of all cell phone consumers used data features, and in 2005 nearly 16% of all users did. 2006 saw 45% of individuals ages 18-26 use advanced data features and 27% of those ages 27-40.

To add fuel to the fire, wireless carriers continue to invest in their networks to increase data transmission speeds. Consequently, new services such as Verizon VCast and Sprint Power Vision have been rolled out. These services are fast enough to stream video and music without interruption, or enable access to the Internet at about the same speed as at home or in the office. At the end of 2005, 15% of the U.S. had access to these high-speed networks, and 80% will have by the end of 2006.

Mobile services in the finance category are starting to take hold in the market. Some are as basic as Yahoo! Pay Direct (unfortunately it went out of business in November) that allows users to send and receive money from their mobile phone, and others are more sophisticated like Ameritrade’s mobile service that enables users to place trades, view balances and positions, get quotes, or connect to a representative.

The new capabilities of wireless technologies have led to an onslaught of other consumer facing mobile start-ups. To take an example, a service named Sticky Shadows, allows owners of location-aware cell phones to leave virtual sticky notes for the next person to “pick-up”. It's called "geo-tagging". Essentially, by walking into areas where a note has been posted, a location enabled cell phone handset will automatically be notified of the message that had been left. However, Sticky Shadows could be very threatening if the wrong type of notes were left at the local banking center or in the loans office.
The convenience and time saving benefits of wireless financial services are huge. The challenge of these mobile applications is how to turn these possibilities into a reality for consumers.

Tuesday, August 14, 2007

Looking for cash? Finance 2.0 (part 1 of 4) - August 14, 2007

I took a look at the world of finance, and what it means to people like you and me who need to get some extra cash or invest our savings. This is a four part series at a look into what I call (if someone hasn't already) Finance 2.0

Individuals interested in having their assets managed by an institution investigate different companies by visiting their offices and meeting with representatives, and by speaking with colleagues and friends. People typically start at their local banking centers to look into what programs are available to manage their assets. The same process applies to those looking to take out a loan.


Consumers are empowered with a variety of financial management tools and information, as well as many companies to choose from. They want simplicity, convenience, and control. More people are moving online to handle their finances, and many are comfortable with never personally meeting with their asset managers.

The finance space is extremely competitive, and the demographic target is shifting. Consumers are not only younger, but their values, mindsets, and habits are in a constant state of evolution.

Return from Yosemite - August 14, 2007

I have conquered El Capitan and Ten Lakes, I am number one.
Back to blogging regularly.........

soon to come:

The Airline Industry: The Great Brand Dissapointment
Corporate Experience at Celestial Seasonings: Get Your Audience to Drink Your Kool-Aid (literally)

Friday, August 3, 2007

"Handmadeable" - August 3, 2007

In the spirit of DIY, I wanted to post some really cool sites that tell you how to make things, and then a site that shows you where to sell that stuff once you made it.

First off:
MAKE & Craft are some of the coolest DIY projects out there.

Once you make it:
Sell it on Etsy.

The end.

p.s. Like robots? Pink Tentacle

Thursday, August 2, 2007

Flash Mobs, Culture Jams, and other Impromptu Rallies - August 2, 2007

On January 13, 2007, over 300 people participated in the largest No-Pants mission that invaded the London’s Underground, for no other purpose than to freak other riders out. They rallied using text messages.
In San Francisco on Valentine’s Day of 2007, a group of 4,000 individuals, split into two groups wielding pillows, and lined up across from another in a Braveheart-like scenario. As the clock struck 6 o’clock the two groups ran full speed at one another, and proceeded to pillow fight for over an hour. Attendees were informed of the location and time via a website, through texts messages, and countless emails.
On February, 19th 2007 a large group of individuals entered a Best Buy store dressed in blue polo shirts and khakis, while a group of people with red polo shirts and khakis entered a Target. The so-called “agents” did not claim to work at the store, but would be friendly and helpful if anyone had a question. The “flash-mob” stayed for less than five minutes, and coordinated the entire fiasco via email and text messages.

These events are stereotypical of the new cultural phenomena known as flash-mobs and culture jams. They are a random in nature, sometimes have little to no motive, and are arranged primarily via the Internet and mobile communication devices.

One of the most recent advancements in organizing these happenings has been through the development of a service called Twitter. Wikipedia defines Twitter as a social networking service that allows users to send "updates" (text-based posts, up to 140 characters long) via SMS, instant messaging, the Twitter website, or an application such as Twitterrific. Updates are displayed on the user's profile page and also instantly delivered to other users who have signed up to receive them. It is easy for groups of Twitterers to coordinate when and where to meet.

Companies such as Wrigley's have found innovative ways to pursue this cultural community movement. To launch into the flash-mobbing world, they created the Dry Spell Institute, an institute founded on the principal of preventing “dry spells” for those in search of romance. The institute suggested that the cure to preventing these dry spells was by having a fresh and tasty mouth. The Dry Spell Institute then launched the first giant “flash snog” (kissing session) in London to spread the word of their new gum, Extra Ice, which keeps people’s breath fresher and cooler longer.

The INPES, the French national health institute, used a known flash mob, the Free Hugs flash-mob, to promote a campaign against discriminations towards people with HIV. On March 26th in France, viral films and cable T.V. featured people “free hugging” each other, and urging them to do the same to combat discrimination towards those infected with HIV. Additionally, they created a virtual world where viewers can create an avatar and free hug people in the virtual world.

Flash-mobbing and cultural jamming does not end in the real world, it carries into the Internet. Some independent artists have already used the technique to try to increase their sales and popularity on iTunes for instance. Other flash-mobbing has occurred in Second Life, where hundreds of mobbers invaded a space that was being used for an interview.

Another phenomenon, real life gaming, takes another step towards the idea of taking down the virtual barriers of the web. Dozens of games have thus appeared in real life as people started adopting elements and acting out the role of characters from video games.

To take an example, Pac-Manhattan is a large-scale urban game that incorporates the New York City streets to simulate the video game Pac-Man. The game is coordinated using cell-phones, Wi-Fi, and custom software. The Pac-Man and the ghosts are tracked from a central location and their progress is broadcast over the internet to viewers.
There have also been organized water gun assassin games around the world, where participants receive information about their target to “kill” via manila envelopes and information on a website. The game continues as such until a the top assassin “kills” all the opponents.

Regardless of where they take place, all flash-mobs and culture jams are organized with the help of the web and other communication devices.

The bridge between the internet and real world is beginning to merge, and the technology at hand makes it possible for events to be coordinated from anywhere at anytime. The possibility to harness this sense of community in order to bring ideas that live on the web alive and visible to the world is very real. This is a new and unproven media, but a distinct advantage would lie in the hands of the companies that are able to leverage these communities’ energies and enthusiasm to their advantage.

Use them to create ground swell awareness about a new product, stir up viral discussions surrounding your product or brand, stimulate P.R., generate discussion in the blogosphere, or simply get people excited about your offerings. Think of culture jams as additional ways to support a feeling about your brand or product.

It is important to understand that undertaking a marketing initiative incorporating flash mobbing and culture jam tactics is a step forward to better connect with your audience. However, the goal must be to create experiences that the target community will relate to, engage with, and talk about. The initiatives must be entertaining, demand involvement, be meaningful, and take the brand or product forward in doing so. Remember, it is about socialization on a personal level with your target base, and make sure you put forward the brand or product’s best and most appropriate attributes.


I guess this is one way to rehabilitate a prison population.