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品质 | quality | 품질 艺术与设计 | design | 예술과 디자인 铭记 | branding | 브랜드 마케팅

What we’ve lost with Moo.com business cards

Reading Time: < 1 minute

Back in the early-1990s I dj’ed a little bit at Liverpool venue the Baa Bar and whilst sorting through my Rolodex frames found the card of the then manager (now chief executive of Baa Bar plc). It reminded me of the beauty that well designed and printed cards can bring.
Love this old business card design
The card has a fade towards the middle and the grey is actually a matt silver metallic ink. You don’t get that on a Moo card. Don’t get me wrong I love the way Moo cards democratise the calling card in a world going increasingly digital, but it takes away from the craft of the graphic designer and the printer.

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品质 | quality | 품질 艺术与设计 | design | 예술과 디자인

Debenhams storefront displays and web design

Reading Time: 2 minutes

I found out about Debenhams window display on Oxford Street from a friend who was fascinated by them. Once I had got over the original oohs and aarghs I was curious to find out how they had done it.

When I was a child, shop windows with animatronic displays were custom-made and fragile like a wedding cake. Their skillful construction often detracted from their entertaining nature.

Debenhams animatronic window display

The Debenham’s window display was a product of the 21st century. In sharp contrast to the wedding cake approach, this show was based on cheaply made common pieces. There is:

  • Three types of cheap stuffed animal characters: owls, deer and foxes (which I presume Debenhams had made en mass for use in their store network
  • A set of standardised electric motors
  • Fishing line and the plastic tags used to secure pricing information to clothes labels

Everything else relied on the sense of theatre of the window dresser. The amount of slack in a line connected to the electric motor arm governed the ‘organic feel’ of the movement and the line was secured with the tags. One fox lay in the snow and the extremely slack line attached to his belly gave the appearance of breathing. It was impressive the way commoditised really simple dumb technology produced such ‘organic behaviour’ from the characters in way that would have otherwise cost a fortune in animatronic smarts.

I thought of it as kind of a real-world metaphor for modern web services and social media: lots of simple commoditised components being used to make something that is much more than the sum of their parts.

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品质 | quality | 품질

I love this quote

Reading Time: < 1 minute

From BBC Newsnight’s daily newsletter: “I can’t come to the phone right now because I am in jail. I’ll call you back in six years” – Apparently this is the message on the answer machine of Maryland state senator Tom Bromwell. Bromwell was sentenced to a seven-year stretch for taking bribes, filing a false tax return and racketeering conspiracy.

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品质 | quality | 품질 市场营销 | marketing | 마케팅

Blogging, customer service and cool marketing campaign

Reading Time: 5 minutes

OK, so everyone is talking (alright having a conversation with some naked guy) about the Edelman blog for a Wal-Mart sponsored puppet organisation.Whilst I would like to be exploitative and steal some of their business, I feel for the people at Edelman. When you put yourself in a pioneer position, some of your mistakes can end up being very public.

Anyway some thoughts on it all:

  • There but for the grace of God go I: it was bound to happen sooner rather than later. Yes it was pretty dumb and demonstrated the kind of strategic thinking that PRs often get slated for. But I would put good money on it that a number of managers of other large PR agencies had a similar reaction to the post. I am sure that they would love to nail Edelman to the cross in an effort to shake some of their clients loose, but it could just as easily been another large agency instead
  • Crisis management 101: Where Edelman did go wrong was in not keeping the channel of communications as open as they could. Both Rubel and Richard Edelman kept their counsel until they had done an internal inquiry. Really they should have told the blogosphere what they were doing and then went ahead and did it. What is needed now is for the agency to demonstrate that they have learned from the mistake by telling the inside story rather than just committing to it never happening again
  • Sloooow response leads to message amplification: This story seemed to get legs really fast, yet Edelman seemed to take a long time getting a handle on it, allowing the story to gain momentum. Blogs are like an echo chamber, allowing themes to reverberate around -and-around, rather than quickly die like the news agenda for print or broadcast media
  • The only crime is getting caught: Many years ago for a brief time I used to stack clothes in a garment factory. I was very young and there was a van driver called Joey. Joey had been an unsuccessful villain who used to rob payroll deliveries and post offices in the 1970s and used to tell us about the old days. Usually the tale would end with him getting put away and would end with a few factors that had they gone the other way would have saved his bacon. If the client hadn’t been Wal-Mart and the blog done a bit more subtly would they have got away with a good corporate reputation exercise? How many people have got away with the same trick before Edelman and Wal-Mart got caught?
  • Living in a glass house: What made the situation worse is the Wal-Mart puppet sponsored site Paid Critics which is a platform to attack paid critics of the retail behemoth
  • Chose your clients carefully: Wal-Mart is considered by its detractors to be exploitative, abusive and the best example of corporate evil in the western world today (though I am sure that environmentalists would argue that ExxonMobil could give Wal-Mart a good run for their money in the corporate evil sweepstake). To borrow from George Lucas: it’s corporate body is viewed by critics like the Galactic Empire, and each store a corporate death star with Sam Walton as its Emperor Palpatine. There comes a time when a client is perceived to be so morally repugnant (like tobacco firms have become) that you have to draw the line and turn away their business. Wal-Mart is pushing that boundary. (Hell, I don’t mind its scandalous record on the way it treats staff, its exportation of manufacturing jobs on a previously unheard of scale or its treatment of suppliers, but Wal-Mart is so wrong that it wants to hijack the smiley and own it for itself). Oi, Wal-Mart NO! You cannot hijack a cultural icon and get away with it. Bottom line: Edelman’s campaign would not have drawn as much scrutiny or criticism but for the emotive association with Wal-Mart

If anybody wants to comment on the Edelman side of the story, or if you are a masochist defend Wal-Mart’s smiley hijack, the blog comments section at the bottom of this post is there for you.

No sooner had I blogged about how customer experience was an intrinsic part of brand experience than my MacBook Pro got damaged. My home and contents insurance won’t cover it and taking it in to get it serviced at Apple’s retail locations means running the gauntlet of its online lottery for the genius bar.

I took my machine to Square Group instead where it will take two weeks for my computer to be looked at an at least another week for parts. The representatives at Square Group admitted that they were overrun in their service department, probably because so many Apple users have had to make the same trip from Apple Store Regent Street to their offices on New Oxford Street.

This service experience lacks quality and I don’t mean that in a small way I mean that in a big way.

Apple often compares itself to BMW as a brand, yet BMW has a well defined very efficient customer service machine that is based on traditional values, attention to detail and an understanding of customer needs. Apple obviously doesn’t have this heritage and understanding which is the reason why its service model lacks a soul. Slick retail design is merely emperor’s new clothes for being a premium brand.

Finally on a more positive note, Absolut Vodka have an interesting marketing campaign called the 100 Absoluts. Participants passions are tapped, they are asked to contribute their opinions and images (user generated content) on the following items. It’s a clever campaign that extends itself beyond online to PR and advertising. I only wish that I had thought of it!

THE ABSOLUTE BAG
THE ABSOLUTE BAND
THE ABSOLUTE BLOG
THE ABSOLUTE CHEF
THE ABSOLUTE COCKTAIL OCCASION
THE ABSOLUTE COFFEE JOINT
THE ABSOLUTE COLOR
THE ABSOLUTE COMEDY MOVIE
THE ABSOLUTE DESIGNER
THE ABSOLUTE DIRECTOR
THE ABSOLUTE DRINK MIXER
THE ABSOLUTE FLAGSHIP STORE
THE ABSOLUTE FURNITURE
THE ABSOLUTE GAY ICON
THE ABSOLUTE HAIRCUT
THE ABSOLUTE HORROR MOVIE
THE ABSOLUTE IMAGE
THE ABSOLUTE JOB
THE ABSOLUTE JOURNALIST
THE ABSOLUTE KILLER HEELS
THE ABSOLUTE LITTLE BLACK DRESS
THE ABSOLUTE LOVE SONG
THE ABSOLUTE MOVIE KISS
THE ABSOLUTE MUSEUM
THE ABSOLUTE NOSE
THE ABSOLUTE ONLINE FILM CLIP
THE ABSOLUTE OPERATING SYSTEM
THE ABSOLUTE PAINTING
THE ABSOLUTE PLAY
THE ABSOLUTE PRE-DINNER DRINK
THE ABSOLUTE QUOTE
THE ABSOLUTE RESTAURANT
THE ABSOLUTE RETRO VIDEO GAME
THE ABSOLUTE ROMANTIC COMEDY
THE ABSOLUTE SIGNATURE SCENT
THE ABSOLUTE SITCOM
THE ABSOLUTE SOFTWARE
THE ABSOLUTE STREET
THE ABSOLUTE TECH DEAD END
THE ABSOLUTE TOILET POETRY
THE ABSOLUTE TYPEFACE
THE ABSOLUTE VICE
THE ABSOLUTE WEB BROWSER

THE ABSOLUTE BAND NAME
THE ABSOLUTE BAR
THE ABSOLUTE BURGER
THE ABSOLUTE CITY
THE ABSOLUTE COCKTAIL
THE ABSOLUTE COLLECTOR
THE ABSOLUTE COMEDIAN
THE ABSOLUTE CUISINE
THE ABSOLUTE DINER
THE ABSOLUTE DISPLAY WINDOW
THE ABSOLUTE EGO BOOSTER
THE ABSOLUTE FLOWER
THE ABSOLUTE GANGSTER FLICK
THE ABSOLUTE GIF BANNER
THE ABSOLUTE HOBBY
THE ABSOLUTE HOTEL
THE ABSOLUTE INVENTION
THE ABSOLUTE JOKE
THE ABSOLUTE JUICE
THE ABSOLUTE LIP PLUMPER
THE ABSOLUTE LONG DRINK
THE ABSOLUTE METAL BAND
THE ABSOLUTE MOVIE VILLAIN
THE ABSOLUTE MUSIC VIDEO
THE ABSOLUTE NOVEL
THE ABSOLUTE ONLINE GAME
THE ABSOLUTE ORIGINAL SOUNDTRACK
THE ABSOLUTE PICKUP LINE
THE ABSOLUTE PODCAST
THE ABSOLUTE PUBLIC ART
THE ABSOLUTE RECORD SLEEVE
THE ABSOLUTE RESTROOM
THE ABSOLUTE ROCK STAR
THE ABSOLUTE SCI-FI MOVIE
THE ABSOLUTE SINGER/SONGWRITER
THE ABSOLUTE SNEAKER
THE ABSOLUTE SPAM
THE ABSOLUTE TATTOO
THE ABSOLUTE TECH GADGET
THE ABSOLUTE T-SHIRT PRINT
THE ABSOLUTE URBAN LEGEND
THE ABSOLUTE WALLPAPER
THE ABSOLUTE WRISTWATCH
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UPDATE (October 22, 2006)

Edelman have outed two more fake blogs for Wal-Mart. Also Wal-Mart have retired the smiley from their campaigns, now I am hoping that they will park their ridculous claim jumping efforts on the smiley as well.
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Categories
品质 | quality | 품질 铭记 | branding | 브랜드 마케팅

Off the deep end

Reading Time: < 1 minute

I had to take my IWC watch back to get it fixed.Cynics may say what’s the point of having a decent watch when it’ll break just like a bargain basement Casio? What you don’t get with a Casio is close on a years worth of precision engineering in the watch.

The watch is also supported by a comprehensive service organisation. Rather than having to argue the toss with a couple of school leavers, I spoke with a professional who sorted out getting the watch fixed with no quibble.

It brought home to me how quality goes beyond the product itself to encompass the whole experience behind it. Its all the other touch points on the customer’s mental score card the make up a brand experience.

It doesn’t matter how good new brands get at making a product, putting that infrastructure in to support it is going to be the hard part. It is the structure that supports the dominance of LVMH and Richemont in luxury brands.

It also shows the serious investment and learning curve that new global brands like Samsung or LG and the young Turks biting at their heels like Bird International have yet to do, if they are to become more than just the vassals for more established western brands. Thoughts?