De ja mobile

Roundabout in Covent Garden Market

Back in November 2000 I went to a conference hosted by Capgemini (then Cap Gemini Ernst & Young) third annual global telecom event A World of Change: Developing Winning Strategies in a Connected Society.

The key part of this event was the findings of a survey done by Capgemini and accountancy firm Ernst & Young of telecoms executives from a 124 carriers, equipment suppliers and technology companies.

The key take out of this was that the survey respondents didn’t know how business or consumer customers were going to use broadband and whether their network investments would pay off.

Move forward seven years, and I am thinking that the same can be said of the mobile phone companies years after their 3G mobile license auctions. I have talked with a number of people involved in the mobile sector with regards the situation.

All the carriers have a low-key developer programme in place which they hope incubate a killer application for all the bits and bytes. The major carriers have been screwed over by Apple, because they are desperate to be ’saved’ by some iPod karma.

Mobile carriers have ignored ways of increasing revenue opportunity through voice. Broadband providers are starting to think about HD VoIP. Mobile carriers had a similar premium quality voice offering in the late 1990s. One2One (now T-Mobile UK) with its Precept tariff and Orange had enhanced voice quality offerings which promised better-quality audio on calls. This did require capital investment in the infrastructure which made it unattractive at the time. These enhanced voice services apparently provided a three-fold lift in revenues, a fact that the carriers have chosen to ignore or have forgotten.

So is this wonderful data future down to mobile blogging, Facebook or email? I have no idea, but the general consensus is that last years flavour de jour mobile TV has been weighed, measured and found wanting.

Visual Identity, or A vaguely interconnected tale of two dumb companies and one dumb logo

Branding and visual identity is very important for a company. They convey what the company is, in the same way that a good artist can convey who the model really is in a portrait. Being a brand guardian is like being a good parent, knowing the art of when to set boundaries and when give freedom.

One of my favourite brands is Timbuk2, a San Francisco-based company who manufacturers luggage to a very high standard and is best known for its iconic messenger bags. In true San Franciscan yoga-bunny granola-munching style Timbuk2 looked at how it could make great bags and do its bit for the environment.

The company teamed with RootPhi who have created a tough resilient fabric from found plastic bags that would be otherwise holding soiled cat litter, wrapped around a 40oz as an impromptu beer holder or blowing around the neighbourhood.

Unfortunately Target did not want its bags with their distinctive bulls eye design to be used in the fabric, according to its lawyers taking a cease and desist action against Timbuk2 would better allow Target to compete by considerably increasing its evil quotient to better compete with Wal-Mart – ok so I made that bit up.

Ok, so I don’t want my brand associated with a project recycling some of the heinous crap that comes out of my retail empire by cool hipsters? Dumb company number one. I found out about this sorry tail from an email newsletter that Timbuk2 sent out.

Harvey Shopfitters Limited logo

A little bit later, I stepped out of the office to clear my head after having my head buried in my computer screen reading emails and writing a press release and came across this pictogram which looks like it was done by Otl Aicher to symbolise a massage parlour or bedroom olympics? What you might call one dumb logo.

Harvey Shopfitters Limited

So imagine my surprise when I found out that this was in fact the logo for the shopfitting company Harvey Shopfitters working on the vacant retail unit a few doors down from my office.

I would have loved to have been in the room when Harvey Shopfitters Limited decided to chose their logo, it must have been a fantastic sales job done by a design team with a perverse sense of humour.

Dumb or what? Yep dumb company number two.