媒体与艺术 | culture | 미디어와 예술 消费者行为 | consumer behaviour | 소비자 행동 铭记 | branding | 브랜드 마케팅

Brand Power

Reading Time: 2 minutes


I was sat on the Eurostar on the way to a meeting in Brussels, my knees compressed by the back of the next seat ahead of me and couldn’t help but overhear a conversation of the people in front of me. There were discussing an unnamed third person and talked about how the person had bought a second-hand Porsche 911 sports car and the affect that it had had on them.

Most interesting was the change in language of the person. For instance when they were at the golf club, they were asked whether they would have enough room for a set of clubs in their car to which they replied “Yes I have enough room in the Porsche for the golf clubs”. They systematically substituted the word car for Porsche in their conversations.

Whilst they guys in front of me thought that this person was a bit of a prat, ‘being with him is like stepping back to 1986, you know like Loadsamoney’: I can’t really comment on that, I was struck by the power of the brand.

The linguistic changes showed a deep brand relationship. If someone asked me for the time, I wouldn’t say “The time by my Rolex is X o’clock.”

Yet a watch or mobile phone is a much more personal product than a car. I sleep with a watch on and my mobile phone goes everywhere with me, but its still my mobile phone despite by strong preference for Nokia handsets.

There are only three products and services that I have a relationship that is that linguistically close to the Porsche relationship described:

  • My Mac – and this is usually because the expressions PC or laptop have been considered by many people as being a Windows machine, thus presenting issues regarding compatibility with anything else that maybe needed
  • iPod – it is (probably unfairly so) the evoked set for portable entertainment appliances, in the same way that Walkman was in the 1980s
  • Google – because using the site has become such a ‘learned habit‘ that Google is the evoked set for algorithimic search
市场营销 | marketing | 마케팅

Ask For A Habit, Not A Trial

Reading Time: 2 minutes

I kept an account the on Monday about the amount of times that I used Google: 30 times in one day. On top of that I use Yahoo! Search shortcuts to three currency conversions. At no time however had I used Why do I use Google? Its a good question, Yahoo! provides broadly comparable natural search in terms of relevance and freshness of data.

When I started in PR, I used a number of search engines: Alta Vista was my primary search site, but Hot Bot was particularly good for technology and on occasion I would Excite. And then for a long time Google has been head and shoulders above the competition. The thing of it is, if I am on a web property like the BBC, I don’t hesitate to use the search box on there and am perfectly happy with the quality of the results. But when I need to look for something in particular I nearly always go back to Google.

I don’t even think about it, using Google has become as much a learned pattern as the way I sign my name or put all my pocket contents into an aluminium tray when I return home at night.

Now there were a number of things wrong with Ask’s recent advertising campaigns in the US and UK which other people talk about elsewhere – so I won’t go on and discuss the campaign creative and execution.

With Ask’s market share being so low in the UK and US, desperate times call for desperate measures. The company needs to get cut through and it needs to encourage trial, but it also needs a specific type of engagement. Not getting the customer to try different services, bouncing them around a web property network, but instead getting the same customer to come back day-in, day-out for three weeks; long enough to form a habit….

This is one of the reasons why the social web is so much top of mind at places like my old employers Yahoo! The cheapest way to get people to come back repeatedly is to foster a sense of community like Flickr. Fostering a community in this way is as much art as science, so there are more talented engineers out there than skilled community wranglers.

However, there are also other more direct incentive techniques. If you look at a product like Yahoo! Answers continued participation is encouraged through a points and level system, together with virtual swag like branded computer desktop wallpapers.

I heard that an Asian site offered free wallpapers of J-pop artists or their equivalent to consumers who retrurned to their portal site every day for a set amount of time.

商业 | business | 상업


Reading Time: 3 minutes

I met up with my friend George who writes for a number of specialist telecoms publications covering everything from back-end systems to mobile services.

He has noticed a resurgence in the telecoms sector driven by large media companies like Google. This resurgence isn’t the hype blown version of the 1990s but a comeback none the same. There is no longer a surplus of capacity from an aggregated point-of-view and where there is, it is because the fibre was laid between the wrong destinations.

Telecoms providers do face a continued problem; how to monetise this new demand and there in lies the crunch.

Will customers accept prioritised packet delivery, tiered SLAs and delivery policies based on an application analysis?

The technology from the likes of Naurus, Cisco and TopLayer Networks is already available.

Businesses that did remind us of the alternative telcos of yore that were eventually swept away with debt and failed business models are the mobile services companies. They have a number of challenges to overcome:

  • A torturous road to market, by gaining space on a carrier’s portal page
  • Relatively expensive delivery mechanism
  • Relatively high content development costs (and possible brand licensing costs), particularly games development; especially if you contrast this with the ringtones of a few years ago
  • Little to no, consumer brand awareness or loyalty
  • Hard to translate a sale into further word-of-mouth buzz in the same way that happens with physical games media

Large existing games companies like Eidos or Infogames have an advantage in that they can leverage marketing campaigns and popular franchises if they can coordinate a product launch on console, PC, portable devices and phones at the same time.

Over at MicroPersuasion Steve Rubel is wondering whether the vibrant nightlife in San Francisco is sign of another bubble.

I’m not inclined to think so, at least not on the same scale anyway. I think that Rubel is right in that we will see a lot of failures. In fact, Silicon Valley has been built on the bones of failures and will continue to be, for instance General Magic, Be Inc., Xerox PARC, Digital Research and NeXT. I also agree that there will be a market correction, but I don’t think that it will be on the same kind of scale as the dot com bubble:

  • Sarbanes Oxley means that the IPO is no longer a realistic out for many businesses that it was. However the LSE AIM market may offer the option to European businesses and already there has been a mini-burst in the online gambling sector when US gaming law changed the dynamics of the market in favour of domestic offerings
  • Funding: most businesses don’t need a lot of it. LAMP (Linux, Apache, MySQL, PHP), development tools like Ruby and Amazon’s S3 service mean that a start-up can be funded by scraping around with a couple of credit cards and family loans. This also means a lower barrier to entry for competitors and a lower resale value. Hence VC money required is an order of magnitude less and the level of reward is substantially smaller
  • Fast-failure approach: take Bing as an example. This was a five-man start-up. After they did an alpha test of their product that was luke-warm and after some additional research, they shut up shop and returned the capital to their investors. Contrast that with web 1.0 where bad companies were merged to make them more of the sum of their parts and VCs not having to write their investment value off
  • The competitive advantage in many sites is not in the code but more in the art of community management. As media companies have proven, building a social media site is not hard, building a vibrant community is the challenge.
  • Hotter areas: green and healthcare are both more capital intensive sectors with the promise of a big pay-day for VCs (so they don’t have to refund the unspent money and their management fee to their investors)