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Archive for the ‘Branding’ Category

What we’ve learnt about Apple from their new iPhone 6 launch

Posted Friday, September 26th, 2014

Apple claim to have shifted approximately 10 million iPhone 6 and 6plus combined. That’s a huge number in it’s first week and has been accompanied by the media sensation and long queues that we’ve come to expect

But what has the recent launch shown us about design, marketing and technology?

Apple’s phones have been designed consistently thinner since their original release and for the first time they’re big. Jobs famously said that consumers didn’t want large screens but the recent releases seem to suggest that Cook disagrees as a result of the demand from their customer’s demands. When I recently spoke to an assistant in the Vodafone shop 6 months ago she claimed people were selecting their phone devices on size so it has been no surprise that apple have responded accordingly.

Apple’s keynote is a major tech event which generates its own hype but interestingly problems have come since the event. The keynote was dogged by poor viewing, the servers were struggling to stream the event and for the first 20 minutes it was dubbed in Mandarin. Since then people have criticised the forced download of U2’s album, the bendy iPhone 6 plus and bugs with iOS8. Frankly, these issues won’t effect sales and nor have they deterred me in any way to order the iPhone 6 but it shows that life is never silky smooth even for the world’s coolest brand, voted by cool brands.com

Each new iPhone release has major upgrades which improve the running and functionality of the phone but if you ask a consumer what the difference between the iPhone 5 and iPhone 6, I bet all they will say is size! Interestingly, iOS8 and the iPhone 6 are according to Apple the most significant upgrades since their first phone. As someone who takes  a keen interest in the upgrades and how it will effect my startup BeBirbal I’ve noticed that users will find taking pictures and videos will offer more options and iOS8 makes it a much easier to search for websites and apps.

To be honest whatever Apple offered with a new phone it’d be snapped up but I do feel that recent upgrades are an improvement to the user and even developers. We know apple are cool even if they do make some major mistakes, such is the extent of their customer loyalty. They’ve delivered what was expected, a slickly designed device with some fantastic technology and a strong message which covers any cracks.

The 5 Worst Social Media Fails Of 2013 So Far

Posted Friday, April 5th, 2013

We’re only in April but several brands have already made king-sized screwups in social media. Among their crimes: Using a four-letter word to insult a nine-year-old girl. Live-tweeting a mass layoff.

No 1 : HMV

In January, an HMV social media worker live-tweeted the mass firing of 190 staff. Among the tweets were: “There are over 60 of us being fired at once! Mass execution, of loyal employees who love the brand” and “Just overheard our Marketing Director (he’s staying, folks!) ask ‘How do I shut down Twitter?'”

No 2: US firm fails to deliver flowers on Valentine’s Day

Both US companies 1-800 FLOWERS and FTD realized the cost of screwing up on the one day of the year when you need to be on your game, especially if you’re in the flower business!

No 3: American Airlines

In February, American Airlines’ policy of auto replying to every tweet, no matter what, backfired. People began tweeting insults at the company. Scripted tweeting just doesn’t work.

No 4: Tesco

Tesco forgets to change this pre-scheduled tweet in the middle of a PR crisis about horsemeat found in some of its frozen dinners.

No 5: The Onion

The Onion uses a four-letter word in a joke to describe 9-year-old actress Quvenzhane Wallis during the Oscars. The satirical newspaper later apologized.

Which is your favourite?

Will giving up social media for a week cleanse your soul?

Posted Monday, March 18th, 2013

Russian Orthodox church advises people to avoid Instagram and Twitter when annual period of self-denial begins next week

The Russian Orthodox Church has long told its followers to give up milk and meat for Lent but when the annual period of self-denial begins on Monday its leaders want the flock to go one stage further.

There should be no tweeting or instagramming of the experience – and no social media at all, in order to better cleanse the soul, according to church spokesman, Vsevolod Chaplin.

Interestingly, Maureen Henderson did exactly that last September for a month and documented it in her article 3 Reasons you Should Quit Social Media in 2013. She claimed the 3 main reasons people should reconsider devoting so much time to social networking were: 1) it harms your self-esteem 2) your blood pressure will thank you and 3) online is no substiture for offline.

It’s an interesting thought and I’m beginning to see and hear more people who are threatening to leave social networks, particualry Facebook, but very few following through for any length as after all, it’s the centre of keeping up to date with the people, businesses and interests they enjoy staying up to date with.
So did we adopt social media too quickly and are the cracks now appearing? It’s quite possible that activity is just levelling out as it was never going to be possible to maintain the explosive rates of growth. As a business, there’s still no choice but to join social networks and have your business represented to the highest standard with significant activity. So why the call for people to leave social media when it’s so important?
It has to surely be assessed as to how people use the various platforms and with what motives. I know of people who reguarly remove posts if it has not received as many likes or comments as they would like. This type of use is a far cry from the hugely beneficial attributes social networking has to offer, such as keeping up with breaking news and engaging with our sporting heroes, it’s a darker side to social media use. It’s no wonder then that social media is critisized and people threaten to adandon the platforms. But with everything used correctly, social media is an indespensible tool for personal and business use.
We should remember that causes like red nose day was undoubtedly helped by Facebook and Twitter as people spread messages and encouraged people to donate.  It is the ideal way to keep up to date with your industryand talk to the brands you are buying from. Yes it can be misused, like everything else but that shouldn’t threaten why it is such an important part of our lives now and how with the right balance, social media can improve, not distrupt our lives.

Is Facebook taking over the world?

Posted Thursday, April 21st, 2011

According to Terminator lore Skynet was implemented on April 19, 2011 and will begin its attack against humanity on April 21- today! Skynet is obviously the ‘baddy’ in Terminator when it becomes self-aware and launches an attack on humanity. Laughable fiction obviously? Or is it when we’ve got Facebook around? Facebook is growing as a company, as an entity, as a social platform that has aided revolutions and supported the election of presidents. Is Facebook all that different to Skynet after all?

First of all, we would hope that Facebook isn’t able to infiltrate the MOD and launch nuclear weapons. Nonetheless it seems Facebook is everywhere these days. It wasn’t that long ago that companies were reluctant to join social networking sites in fear it would degrade the image of their company and now suddenly, everyone is diving in as though you’re perceived as ‘behind the times’ if you’re not actively involved.

Fan page links and Twitter icons seem to be everywhere, TV adverts no longer direct people to their website but instead advertise their Facebook and twitter IDs. Almost as though a light has switched, companies have finally accepted the use and benefit of social media and how it is an indispensible tool in modern business. Could we go so far as to say….social media has changed the way we do business?

Take Coca Cola for example who have seen their Facebook fan page reach an incredible 25 million fans. The flip side of this is that websites are becoming ‘old fashioned’. They’re stagnant, often boring and in many occasions have no means to interact. Coke’s website traffic has dropped by 40% in one year! Will the website soon become obsolete? If so, Facebook will become incredibly more powerful than it already is.

Recent research shows that 23% of consumers prefer to receive information from brands via Facebook, with 21% preferring a brand’s website and 3% from a company blog. Ben&Jerry have gone so far to announce that they won’t be emailing customers with newsletters anymore because they feel it is ineffective, (who reads newsletters anymore- don’t they just get flagged and forgotten?) and will be using Facebook instead.

So Facebook is taking over the world then? Whilst it might not be pointing nuclear weapons at your home as Skynet did, it is fast becoming an entity, or a mind, of its own.

Is it time to worry then? Not at all. Facebook has yet to pass the ultimate challenge- the test of time. In terms of a major historical household brand, it’s still in play school. Think friends reunited, where is it now? Nonetheless there’s no denying that Facebook is emerging as a leading brand, but it’s rise to fame could be as easily followed by a slide to obscurity.

Do we need to take shelter and buy up supplies as Facebook gathers momentum?  I like to believe its intentions aren’t as destructive as Skynet’s. However, there’s no denying that Facebook has already ‘changed the world’ but how long until it ‘rules the world’?

Blog inspired by @spreadingjam who tweeted yesterday about the importanc of the date- thanks!

Children in need rebranding to avoid one day wonder

Posted Thursday, March 3rd, 2011

Children in need wants to mainatain its brand awareness throughout the year and not just once a year when it appears on TV.

It will do this by leveraging the characters Pudsey and Blush. Children in Need have filed a trademark to allow themselves to expand the character’s merchandising reach in retail stores.

The Blush brand was launched in 2009 but has been quickly developed over the years. A former Sky Media brand manager who joined Children in Need at the start of the year said ‘I would liken Pudsey to the Mickey Mouse model: he appeals to 5 year olds, 11 year-olds and right up to adults.’

Social media and digital will be apart of the marketing strategy to showcase the charity’s work for communities and disadvantaged kids.

She added ‘the trick is to make sure this vehicle is targeted, relevant and our communication is kept fresh.’

Is an £80 million transfer fee really all that ridiculous?

Posted Friday, February 11th, 2011

When football players throw their toys out of the pram demanding more money or handing in transfer requests, they’re always told that no player will ever be bigger than their respective club. But a change is occurring, players are amassing accumulated power to get their way and if the club they’re with doesn’t pay up, they know someone will. Because if you’re any good, the players marketing clout is priceless.

Players know that they’re not just footballers on the pitch who win games they’re also commodities. They demand ridiculous wages and mind blowing transfer fees because they know whatever the club is paying, they’ll be making profits just from merchandise before any football is played. When Real Madrid decided to sign David Beckham, the President told his committee that he would pay whatever was required to bring Beckham to Madrid because no matter what the fee, it would be a guaranteed money maker and he was right. They had expected to make £20 million in Beckham shirt sales over 4 years, they paid for his transfer in shirt sales before he had played his first game.

When Torres signed for Chelsea in January they weren’t just spending £50 million and getting a world class player they were also selling hundreds of thousands of shirts at full price when most clubs cut the price by 50% after Christmas. Robin Clarke, head of sports at Starcom MediaVast said ‘Chelsea is effectively getting full price for what will soon be old stock’.

Shirts are a big source of income and thus a key element of club marketing. Chelsea sponsor Samsung would’ve been delighted by the global coverage they received from the pictures and news of Torres holding the Chelsea shirt. Liverpool sponsors Standard Chartered may have been less impressed given that it focuses on the Far East and Andy Carroll is an unknown.

Paul Meadows, head of brand marketing at LG, sponsors of the Fulham team, explained that you’re always looking at the media value. When Fulham got to the UEFA final that was obviously great press but at the same time, when they avoided relegation on the last day of the previous season, it was also great coverage.

However recently the shift is moving from team sponsorship to the individual player deals. Brands want to sponsor their boots or have them in their commercials. Torres’ transfer went to the wire because his representatives were trying to keep hold of him as much as possible. Meadows explained ‘players are the magic dust that allows sponsors to connect with consumers; you don’t get the depth of relationship through team sponsorship’.

When you look at the likes of £50 million for Torres and £80 for Ronaldo it’s a lot of money and there’s no disputing that but when you view it in a marketing and ROI it’s not that ludicrous. Torres was the top selling shirt in the premiership which now passes to Chelsea and with the likes of pay-per-view revenue, mobile apps and games, webisodes; it suddenly looks like a good outlay. Whilst the players think they’re God’s gift to man kind, the team’s know they’re just a product. No doubt Ronaldo was rather pleased with himself when he became the most expensive player in the history of football but Real Madrid were probably even more pleased when they paid off the fee within a year and are have been taking outright profit since.

Why Marketing Threatens the True Promise of Social Media

Posted Thursday, January 6th, 2011

06 January 2011, Mashable

Social media is everywhere, and it is finally accepted as much as, well, as much as the Internet itself. Sadly, though, in reaching this level of ubiquity, we have ended up surrendering the real promise of this medium.

I fought for so many years to convince people that the Net was a social medium in the first place. Until recently, everybody seemed to believe that “content is king,” and that all this messy socializing between people was of little value. It was all about getting people onto a sticky website so they’d make purchases. Their conversations and innermost thoughts were once considered utterly un-monetizable.

But thanks to Twitter, YouTube and Facebook, social media has arrived as a justifiable expense for businesses looking to do whatever it is that’s intended to replace advertising. And as a result, people who should know better -– many of us who have some understanding of how social media actually works –- are busy working for companies who want to turn this social landscape back into a marketplace.

This isn’t about pointing fingers or laying blame. It’s about stopping ourselves before it is too late. We still have a chance for social media to generate the biggest change in how culture and commerce operate since the invention of the printing press. But it will require that we recognize what is so special about it, how it disrupts the status quo, and why it’d be such a shame to give all this up without a fight.

A Historic Opportunity

The most disruptive feature of social media is that it allows us to connect with one another relatively directly. (Even Facebook’s architecture of central servers is completely unnecessary for social networking to occur, as new tools like Diaspora are quickly demonstrating.) The direct connection via media –- for socializing, or even for commerce — has been controlled by both governments and businesses for the past 600 years. That’s right: This is our best opportunity in six centuries to connect with our peers via technology without the oversight of powerful interests.

After the fall of the Roman Republic, Europeans spent close to a thousand years living under the awful oppression of feudalism. There were lords who owned all the land and peasants who worked on it.

Nothing much happened until merchants started traveling around and spreading the innovations from one area to another. People became good at particular crafts and started selling things to one another, developing little marketplaces that slowly grew in size. Towns developed their own currencies based on grain and other commodities, and people started to get rich.

They had liberated themselves from absolute dependence on the landowners and created a peer-to-peer economy. They got healthy, bigger than at any time in history until the 1980s, and they worked less than four days a week. As a result of the rise of this new “bourgeoisie,” the lords had less power and money. They decided to crash this new economy.

Local moneys were declared illegal; people had to borrow “coin of the realm” from the central treasury. And if that wasn’t enough, local business was also stifled. Instead of working for themselves, people had to become “employees” of one of the king’s officially sanctioned monopolies — what we would today consider “corporations.” People got poor, conditions got worse, the plague broke out … you know the rest. We call it the Renaissance, but it was really the end of a peer-to-peer culture and economy that has never been matched. Until now.

The Potential for True Peer-to-Peer Culture

With the web — and more specifically, with social media — we have the chance to engage with one another in the ways that could restore a P2P society in which people create and exchange value directly with one another. Instead of depending on corporations for jobs, goods, and even investment, we can work for and with one another. Instead of relating indirectly through centrally constructed mythologies and brands (you’re a fan of Nike, too?!) we can relate directly with one another.

The real possibilities of social media, however, are quickly devolving to the limited applications of social marketing. In the past 20 years, I watched open source get reduced to the corporate-friendly concept of “crowd sourcing,” and my own concept of “viral media” get watered down to “viral marketing.” I refuse to watch the social promise of interactive media get redefined by those hoping to make a fast buck off our Facebook friendships. Not without a fight.

Instead of connecting to one another, we are increasingly connected to and friended by the same old brands and institutions that the Internet once stood a chance of upending. And worst of all, we the people are getting into the act, learning to sell our friends to the highest bidder. Whether it’s a Zynga game inviting us to turn over our address books for points, or an advertiser offering us a chance to win a prize for “friending” them publicly, we are now in the business of marketing our friendships to those who hope to exploit the bonds we have created with others. In doing so, we reduce the real value of those bonds, as well as the entire potential for peer-to-peer connection.


The real opportunity of social networking looks a lot more like Burning Man and WikiLeaks than it does like P&G’s word-of-mouth campaign or whatever Twitter is hatching in its new analytics lab.

We are building the social organism together. That’s all the Internet has been doing from the beginning. But it seems as soon as we develop a new tool or strand of connectivity, it is hijacked by business, robbed of its power, and then replaced by mechanisms that connect us to things, rather than people.

Will social networking finally accomplish the Internet’s real goal? We have yet to see. But in the meantime, how we use it — and what we think it to be — will go a long way toward determining its fate.

Business Blogging Tips – The Art Of Subliminal Advertising

Posted Friday, November 26th, 2010

Business blogging isn’t much tuned to the practice of blogging, as it is to the art of subliminal advertising. These are tips to better the advertising layered intricately within every single post on a business blog.

Any business only maintains a blog for lead generation and boasting brand image. There are no two ways about – even the Google blog attempted to sooth over concerns of net neutrality to maintain their “do no evil” image. Impressions don’t matter, the number of comments doesn’t matter – all that this blog (and company) is concerned with is to get across it’s message to the right people as best as possible. Think of it like Inception – the purpose is to plan an idea and watch it mature. Establishing that, let’s get down to…

Business Blogging Tips To Get Your Message Across
Create Content About Business, Rather Than YOUR Business
Create posts about your industry, its best practices, guidelines for new entrants, the trends it follows – basically, write about the everything relevant in your industry. The idea is to become somewhat of a inspiration and/or a guru to people in your industry. Let them know how things are done, while remembering that you’re doing so merely to establish two important facts: you know the business and your business knows the industry it belongs in comparatively well.

Referring a specific brand too often causes readers to read between some very thin lines, and realize the intentions of a business blog. Allow them to gain knowledge, insights and exposure, but do NOT expose them to the brand behind the blog. That’s a connection you want them to make on their own.

Make A ‘Somebody’ Write Your Business Blog
This is an important one, and it continues to surprise me how many businesses continue to get it wrong – the blog needs a blogger, an identity. Your blog needs a face. I went through the top 25 results on Google for “business blogging”, and it’s amazing to see all of them resonate with a lack of online identity. Understand this – every business needs a face. Everything from the logo and font on your business card, to the architecture of your office(s), is part of that. To forget that essential attribute of brand image building is (at least to me) sacrilege.

Understanding Blogging – Regular Posts Are Essential
I’ll make this business blogging tips short – if you don’t make regular posts, comments and additions to a blog (any blog), it will fail. Without regular posts, expect not to get any of the following:

RSS subscribers
Followers’ on Facebook, Twitter, Buzz, etc.
Consistent visitors + Free word-of-mouth advertising.

How Social Search Will Transform the SEO Industry

Posted Wednesday, October 20th, 2010

Facebook and Bing announced last week an agreement that would allow Microsoft’s search engine to return results based on the FacebookLikes” of the searcher’s friends. Additionally, Google recently began including Twitter updates in its search returns. It’s a natural innovation that fits into the business models of both companies and takes the trend of individualized search results to its next logical level: results tailored to the searcher’s existing social footprint.

SEO insiders have wondered whether this new search innovation would affect placement strategies. And the simple answer is: yes. Yes, there will be changes to the way SEO professionals run their clients’ campaigns. Yes, this will affect the industry as a whole. And yes, we believe SEO professionals will have to adapt to meet ever-evolving needs.

Changing the Method, Not the Mission

But to think that this development is rocking the SEO world is to misunderstand the realities of the industry. In its roughly 15 years of existence, SEO has grown from being a small wildcat operation run by webmasters and content services to being one of the most dynamic, fast-growing sectors of the tech market. The reason for this rapid growth is because — not in spite –- of the constantly evolving nature of search engines.

Of course, as with any complex question about a dynamically evolving industry, there is a caveat. While the Bing-Facebook agreement and the recent updates to Google will change elements of how we do our business, the fundamentals will remain the same. As much as innovation shapes the day-to-day processes of optimization, the core foundations of the industry remain unchanged. The goal was — and still is — putting clients at the top of results pages, whether this is through organic search, paid search or social media.

Social media is nothing new in the world of online marketing. Facebook alone has 500 million users. We have already seen certain Twitter feeds included in Google search results. Before long, results may integrate other social networking sites, like Foursquare, Gowalla, Brightkite and myriad other sites that haven’t even been developed yet. For SEO professionals, this change highlights the need to integrate social networking if they haven’t already.

The Bing-Facebook agreement is indicative of the many changes that have taken SEO from a small-time game to a major, innovative industry. SEO is not about counter-punching, and it’s not about simply reacting to the changing search-engine landscape. Instead, it is about growing alongside search engines. It is about evolving with them to ensure that searchers get the results they need.

SEO Firms Must Become Digital Media Agencies

For years now, successful SEO firms have not been focusing their efforts strictly on organic search results. They’ve been steadily evolving along with changes in search engines: new Google algorithms, the emergence of Bing, the development of Google Local, instant searches, paid search, and searchable Twitter feeds. At mycompany, we believe that to be successful, SEO firms need to become something more advanced: Digital Media Agencies.

A modern DMA resembles an SEO firm from 2002 in the way that a Ferrari resembles a Model T. The basic elements remain the same, but sophistication and complexity have resulted in a better product. DMAs are about handling the many online representation needs of their clients. While top search engine placement remains the major goal, it is just one aspect of what they seek to do. A DMA also seeks to manage a client’s online reputation, create and maintain their social presence, and handle the many other aspects of a client’s online brand.

Will SEO professionals have to change their strategy in reaction to a new social media paradigm? The answer is yes. Their evolution into full-fledged Digital Media Agencies is imperative. And as the social and search industries continue to change, so too will DMAs need to innovate.

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