Weekend Video Fun

For your amusement, two very funny videos:

You know the voices. You’re sitting down in the movie theatre, and the “voiceover” guy is narrating the previews. What would happen if 5 of them got together for a limo ride?

And, one of the best trick football plays ever. “Coach, this isn’t our ball!!”

Best Brands

Business Week has a mega-series of articles on-line about the best brands worldwide.

Go there!

Have a free Picnik!

I’ve been using free on-line image editing tools for months now, and love them. Of late, I tended to use PXN8 most, but after reading a glowing column by Walter Mossberg in the Wall Street Journal today, I decided to revisit Picnik.

In a word: Wow!

picnik_logo.gifI glanced at Picnik when it was a brand new beta – some months back – and liked what I saw then. However, after playing with it today, I’ll toss away all lesser sites.

Read the review (link above). Go to the site and play. For bloggers who like to incorporate images, it’s a dream app. You’ll be hooked.

A Public Reading of the Age of Conversation

Seems to be the going thing these days for AOC authors to “strut their reading stuff” publicly on blogs and on Flickr. Although Sean over @ Craphammer has done us all one better with the worldwide premiere AOC video (and it’s a gem!)

So, with minor reservations, I’ll join the club. You see, I only ordered the e-book version, so…

Age of Conversation reading

Do you Hear what I Hear?

Is this marketing?

Nope.

Branding?

Nope.

Just a very cool story about a life changed by medical technology.

The 12 Types of Ads – and Gareth beat me to it!

dozeneggs.jpgSomebody thinks that ads can be boiled down to 12 basic types.

Somebody posted a nice article/”slide show” on Slate to illustrate.

I was going to write a post about this, but…

Somebody (Gareth Kay) beat me to it.

No sense wasting virtual ink. Gareth’s post nails it…so go there!

Get a Taste of the Age of Conversation: From S to Z

aoctalkbubble.jpgThis is the fourth and final installment of a “review” of the just-released Age of Conversation book – actually, just a taste of what each author has written, to make the case why you should buy the book!

This post will show the entries for those authors with last names from S to Z. Except there aren’t any starting with Z. Or X, for that matter!

So what is the “value proposition” of the Age of Conversation book? Take a taste. Then go buy it!

Mike Sansone
DO YOU TALK WRITE? – “We live in the McNews generation. We scan. Lectures don’t sustain our attention — neither do long sentences. Writing like you talk can also be a freeing feeling to those who think they are poor writers. Of course, writing is a muscle that improves with consistent use.”

Patrick Schaber
STARTING THE CONVERSATION FOR THE SMALL BUSINESS MARKETER – “The rise of search engines has allowed for a “meeting place” of sorts between the interested consumer and seller. As the consumers search for their interests, the seller can now be there at the right time in front of the right prospect with an enticing offer. If accepted by the consumer, this offer begins the conversation that can lead to long-term relationships and purchases.”

Gary Schoeniger
THE NEW ENTREPRENEURIAL PARADIGM – “Amidst the wreckage and the ruins of the old economy, a new breed of entrepreneur is emerging, adapting to a new global economy where the old rules no longer apply, where no one is in charge and no one is coming to the rescue. To this new breed of entrepreneur, problems are opportunities.”

Ron Shevlin
BEHAVIORAL CONVERSATIONS – “To succeed in the Age of Conversation, it’s not sufficient for marketers to engage customers in verbal conversations on social networking sites. Instead, they must develop a new marketing competency — a sense-and-respond competency — to sense consumer needs and intentions based on their behavior, and to respond with appropriate advice, guidance and offers.”

Jamey Shiels
THE WALLFLOWER – “When you consider the conversation that is happening online; the growth of interaction, connectivity and communication; are you out there dancing or are you leaning on the wall and watching. Are you a wallflower?”

Cord Silverstein
VOICE TO THE VOICELESS – “Helplessness is one of the worst feelings in the world because we feel powerless to change what is happening to us. We feel alone and isolated with nowhere to turn. Many people feel that the Internet and technology are causing people to be more isolated and that we are losing the art of conversation. I disagree.”

Nathan Snell
ARE YOU REAL? – “All these people are customers. Except they’re more than that. They are community members. They are fans. We engage them. We help them become involved in what we’re doing. More importantly, they let us become more involved in what they are doing. We open the lines for conversation. We establish relationships. It is here where the magic takes place.”

Mario Vellandi
COLLECTIVE INTELLIGENCE – “By starting a conversation with the attitude of a desire to collaboratively create a better product, service, relationship or experience NOW… we exhibit our commitment to unconditional quality and being a true team player.”

Greg Verdino
HAVE YOU HUGGED A BLOGGER TODAY? – “By my count, I’ve met or spoken with more than two dozen people that I would never have had the chance to know if it weren’t for our respective contributions to the social media community. And each time this happens, I’m floored by the way simple text — just one guy’s thoughts about media, marketing, business and life — pecked out on my laptop keyboard in a few spare moments at the end of each day has led to new real world connections with actual flesh-and-blood people.”

S. Neil Vineberg
COMMUNITY AND CONVERSATION – “For those seeking a voice in their community of interest, technology is your amplifier. You can become a publisher and broadcaster. Spread your views and build a community of interest through
a blog, podcast, videocast and webcast. If you’ve got something cool to say, the audience will be there for you.”

Roger von Oech
HOW TO THINK LIKE A FOOL – “What did the fool do? Simply stated, it was the fool’s job to “whack” the king’s thinking out of habitual thought patterns. The king’s advisers were often “yes-men” who told him exactly what he wanted to hear. The king realized that this wasn’t a good way to make decisions. Therefore, he gave the fool a license to parody any proposal under discussion. His candid jokes and offbeat observations forced the king to re-examine his assumptions. By listening to the fool, the king improved his judgment and enhanced his creativity.”

Kimberly Dawn Wells
UNTITLED – “Not that long ago, dating was a contact sport. Couples got together when they wanted to talk. But, for singletons in the 21st Century, email make-ups and IM break-ups are quickly becoming a shocking standard…Oh, and for those of you considering a breakup via text messaging … don’t even think about it, loser.”

C.B. Whittemore
THE CONVERSATION AGE ENABLED – “Imagine being deaf, dumb, blind — like Helen Keller — caught in your own world with no way out, perhaps filled with brilliant discussion, conversation and brainstorms, but only with yourself. As enlightened and clever as you may be, you stagnate for lack of newness. Your world is a closed loop, a closed system. Then, imagine an “enabler” entering your world…”

Craig Wilson
BRINGING IT BACK TO LOCAL – “The Internet is amazing. Websites, blogs, podcasts, streaming video and e-commerce open the doors to a world of business opportunities. It allows small businesses to speak to almost anyone. However, this broad scope and randomness can also be a weakness for businesses who are not structured, or do not have the desire to sell to the world. How can regional businesses harness the immediate communication and broadcast possibilities of the internet and apply them to the market they actually want to serve?”

Steve Woodruff
THE LOWERED FENCE OF COLLABORATION – “While we still have nearby families and friends for support and fellowship, we now have a neighborhood far greater in scope. Collaboration and communication via the web means that I can now find others of shared interest — wherever they may be. I can create my own neighborhood, based on common professional interests, shared life experiences and mutual hobbies. The common space has no boundaries.”

Troy Worman
CONNECT TO THE UNCONNECTED – “Who are the unconnected? Look around. They are the people you don’t see. Listen. Theirs are the voices you don’t hear. They are the absent. Sometimes they are easy to forget as we go about our hectic days, rich with lattes and wireless networks….”

Nick Wright
CREATING VIDEO CONVERSATION – “The time is ripe to explore the conversational (rather than merely presentational) potential value of online video. Video can be a great invitation for people to chat, discuss and engage with you. You can gain instant feedback from encouraging participation and the more active your consumers are, the more free word-of-mouth marketing you get.”

Faris Yakob
“GIVE ME SONGS. GIVE ME SOMETHING TO SING ABOUT” – “Brands have been giving people songs but that’s not enough anymore — they want something to sing about. Today, brands can’t stick to a single song sheet. People have wrestled back control of brands because each of us has a voice now and we can make ourselves heard — online everyone is equal. If we choose to all sing a different song, the brand’s solo will be drowned out.”

—><—

See the full series:

A taste from A-D

A taste from E-J

A taste from K-R

A taste from S-Z

Get a Taste of the Age of Conversation: From K to R

aoctalkbubble.jpgThis is the third installment of a “review” of the just-released Age of Conversation book – actually, just a taste of what each author has written, to make the case why you should buy the book!

This post will show the entries for those authors with last names from K to R.

So what is the “value proposition” of the Age of Conversation book? Take a taste. Then go buy it!

Gareth Kay
THE STRONGEST CONVERSATIONS START WITH A POINT OF VIEW -”A brand worthy of conversation needs to have an opinion; a clear and credible point of view on the world and the brand’s place in it. A sharp opinion, strongly held is the fuel that ignites and sustains conversation. It has the ability to make your brand matter in the maelstrom of daily life because an opinion gives people something to talk, and think, about. It may polarize, but in so doing it helps the brand become a catalyst for conversation.”

CK
THE “SHARE” ECONOMY – “Many companies view sharing as synonymous with losing control. Yet an objective assessment illuminates more opportunity for gain than risk of loss. With this new medium (and mindset) comes new
methods to build awareness, new access to communities in which to build market share and new technologies to create offerings.”

Kim Klaver
HOW TENNIS PUTS CONVERSATION INTO MARKETING – “People in direct sales and network marketing, the field I work in, do what the big boys do, only one-on-one. They contact people they know, and insist on having a 1–3 minute non-stop monologue with each person, gushing about the product they are marketing, and how it’s a MUST HAVE for the other person. This has not worked well in our field. Most people doing direct sales and network marketing (one-on-one) drop out. Ninety-five percent, actually. That’s where tennis comes in.”

David Koopmans
THE VOICE OF THE CEO – “Traditionally, communication between companies and their audiences of customers, employees and investors has been a carefully managed monologue. Our hierarchical business structures create a buffer of managers between CEOs and the rest of the world. So the conversation is often conducted on behalf of the CEO, rather than by the CEO.”

Jim Kukral
CAN I HAVE YOUR ATTENTION PLEASE? – “Two bloggers walk into a crowded room. The first blogger says, “Hi, my name is Jake and I blog about sports. Here’s a bio sheet and an about pamphlet you can read about me. Plus you could grab my RSS feed if you want”. He proceeds to hand out his information. A few people look up and accept his handouts. The rest continue in their own conversations, ignoring him.”

John La Grou
THE EMERGING MICROCLESIA – “In times past, the church had the luxury of slowly engaging new technologies over decades, even centuries. Today, the intersection of faith and technology is about rapid convergence that cannot be contained within inherited ecclesiastical architectures. Just as the printing press caused an epochal shift in religious priorities and organization, so the church is again being profoundly (re)created by instantaneous virtual interconnectivity.”

Karl Long
VIRAL GAMES – ALTERNATE REALITY GAMES -”Alternate Reality Games or ARGs may sound extremely science fiction but are in fact happening now, and have been happening for some time. Did you know that one of the things that makes Lost so compelling is that it has an Alternate Reality Game that runs parallel to it?”

Lori Magno
“SPEAK TO ME TJX” – “Speak to me! Why are you ignoring me? I thought we were friends, well, if not friends exactly, then shopping buddies. That was addressed to the TJX Companies from me, a humble consumer. Why did they dump me? Me, the person lining their pockets!”

Valeria Maltoni
CONVERSATION AGENT.COM: THE CONVERSATION AGE @ WORK – “We get things done through talk. We always have. The organizations that understand and allow these dynamics to develop and emerge with customers, partners and employees have a future. Over time, contracts, policies, scripts become less important — the free flow of ideas and projects is the backbone of this brave new world.”

Carolyn Manning
COMMUNICATION ISN’T LOST – “The main parallel between the Lost Generation and the Blogging Community will become more obvious when the best literature of the twenty-first century rises to the top. Yet, there are marks of similarity, even now. Those marks are the small things, things hidden in the open. The Lost Generation read from each other and talked together; they shared ideas freely. The Bloggers do the same.”

Paul McEnany
TELEVISION IN THE AGE OF CONVERSATION – “Before, TV was about high-paid executives, Hollywood mega-stars and prime-time budgets. Tomorrow, it’s all about me and my friends.”

Colin McKay
GOVERNMENTS – “Unfortunately, most executives, and most government officials — elected or appointed — are instinctively wary of an unrestrained exchange of ideas. To them, the world of online communications is a lot like the annual family reunion — for every bright nephew with a good idea, there are still two crazy aunts circling the bar holding a grudge.”

Drew McLellan
FULL CIRCLE – “Suddenly, whether it was a small business down the road or a conglomerate, they weren’t faceless anymore. They were Joe. Or Raj. They were a blog reader. They were a 24/7 live customer service rep. They were a peer in the same industry but half a world away. They were a blog writer. They were accessible.”

Gaurav Mishra
CREATE CONVERSATIONS, NOT CLUTTER – “A community in itself is not enough; it needs content to get into the conversation mode. One way to enable conversations is to focus on niche channels.”

Scott Monty
B2B SOCIAL MEDIA: DON’T MONKEY AROUND – “Above all, resist the temptation to jump in until you understand the context. Businesses that attempt to harness the power of social networks or new media sites without realizing the rules and etiquette will find themselves unwelcome. It is only by listening and learning will B2B marketers be able to start talking with their customers.”

Michael Morton
HOW TO BUILD A COMMUNITY ON A BUDGET: JUST USE AN ONLINE NEWSLETTER! – “…your customers must view your company as something more than just a business. They need to be able to humanize your company. This can be accomplished in many ways. One way is through your writing, another is by showing your charitable side.”

Chris Newlan
WE ARE ALL NEWS HOUNDS NOW – “Citizen journalism — where ordinary people capture a newsworthy event that the mainstream media struggle to provide instant and first hand coverage — means that history’s first draft now often makes its debut appearance within minutes on social networking sites like Facebook, on personal weblogs and video sharing sites like YouTube.”

Andy Nulman
HOW TO SHOUT – “Shouting is not about making yourself heard. It’s about making yourself interesting. And making yourself into someone people will want to converse with.”

Simon Payn
HOW PETER GOT HIS CUSTOMERS BACK – “Everyone in the neighborhood knew Peter. He was the hardware guy. On sunny days, he would stand outside and wave to people as they walked by. Some would stop and talk. After all, Peter knew everyone — and he was always full of good conversation, from the latest gossip to the best grade of sandpaper for pine.”

David Polinchock
THE ROLE OF CONVERSATION IN THE BRAND EXPERIENCE – “You see, the real challenge for brands today is that I’ve got lots of brands that I can talk to. So, if I’m not enjoying the conversation I’m having with you, it’s really easy for me to find someone else to talk to.”

Joe Raasch
NO LIMIT CONVERSATION – “The only rules are that no one can defend anything, no can promote a specific agenda, random connections are followed, and the final topic connects back to the original topic.”

Arun Rajagopal
THE RULES OF THE GARAGE. FOR DIGITAL MEDIA CONVERSATIONALISTS – “Your interactive channel should reach out, inform, entertain and make an impression on the world.”

Ryan Rasmussen
IT IS NOT ENOUGH TO SIMPLY LISTEN – “The risk of requesting feedback in an uncontrolled public setting is often the leading inhibitor for companies to join in the discussion. However, the loyalties made now will become the backbone of your future brand image as participatory consumerism and social medias topple traditional models of business-centric customer relations. It is not enough to simply listen.”

Connie Reece
THE TWO-STEP OF CONVERSATIONAL WRITING – “…one of the skills in great demand is conversational writing. Even in B2B marketing the need is for plain, but powerful, language. A writer who tries to dazzle readers with buzzwords
will not be effective.”

Emily Reed
IS YOUR BRAND A BORE? – “in her advice on the etiquette of conversation, Emily Post wrote this about a person who can only talk about himself – but she may as well have been describing most marketing communications…”

Brian Reich
PUTTING MEDIA BACK IN THE MIDDLE – “Media — or to be more clear, what I call the ‘little m media’ — is the information, the experiences and the stuff that we create, consume and share every day. Media is at the core of what
organizations do and what inspires their work. Media is what we learn from, talk about, and define ourselves by.”

David Reich
CONVERSATION – THE ULTIMATE CUSTOMER SERVICE – “The new marketing buzzword is engagement, but it really stems from something that marketers had more than 50 years ago — conversation. Personal, up-close conversation with customers — a real two-way dialog. Knowing your customer — what they want, why, when and how. Knowing it because they’ve taken the time to tell you.”

Sacrum B Rown
WARMNESS – You’ll just have to buy the book to see this graphic!

Sandy Renshaw
GRAPHICS AND CONVERSATIONS – “Since 60 percent of us are visual learners, a well-placed image can convey an idea to a wide audience quickly and clearly.”

Nick Rice
AUTHENTICITY-BASED BRANDING – “Right off the bat, I want to get one thing on the table. You do not own or control your brand…You cannot control your brand because your brand is defined by the internal feelings your employees, suppliers, customers and their associates have when they think of or experience you.”

Steve Roesler
WANT TO CHANGE THE ORGANIZATION? CHANGE THE CONVERSATION – “The successful New Leader will realize that organizations are now inhabited by people who are either part of the conversation or disengaged. Internal social media will become the friend of the New Leader or the enemy of change.”

Roberta Rosenberg
AT MY GRANDMOTHER’S TABLE – “I’ve been a copywriter for 25+ years. Print or web, I write and like it all. But I love writing letters most of all because they remain the most intimate and powerful form of persuasive conversation in print.”

—><—

See the full series:

A taste from A-D

A taste from E-J

A taste from K-R

A taste from S-Z

Sun, Surf…and Storm

cimg0765.jpg

Long Beach Island, NJ, July 19th, 2007

Get a Taste of the Age of Conversation: From E to J

aoctalkbubble.jpgThis is the second installment of a “review” of the just-released Age of Conversation e-book – actually, just a taste of what each author has written, to make the case why you should buy the book!

This post will show the entries for those authors with last names from E to J.

So what is the “value proposition” of the Age of Conversation book? Take a taste. Then go buy it!

Mark Earls
“WE” NOT “I” – THE HUMAN TRUTHS REVEALED BY THE AGE OF CONVERSATION – “What the new connectedness that technology has really done is reveal human nature more clearly, more fully, and more usefully. And in doing so, it challenges some of our most important assumptions about human nature and human behaviour, ideas that have dominated for two centuries at least.”

Gia Facchini
ABOUT CONVERSATION – “Without a conversation there is no engagement, no sharing of information, no transfer of knowledge. Without a conversation, we cannot learn to listen, to give words their own meaning and not the one
we would like them to have. Without conversation the essence of blogging would be lost as well as the newest trend in customer-centric marketing.”

Anna Farmery
HOW TO TURN EMPLOYEE ENGAGEMENT INTO A HAPPY MARRIAGE – “To win in your market, you need to win the hearts and minds of the talent in your company — as it is the talent that differentiates you from your competitors.”

Julie Fleischer
VISUALIZING THE THREADS – “In contrast, two or more speakers engage in conversation — their threads interweave, they jut, they pause, they wrap around each other. If you pull one thread from the fabric, it all unravels. A good conversation is one in which neither thread dominates, neither thread tells the whole story; together, they create something entirely new. Each thread, each participant, is influenced by the other.”

Cedric Georgi
THE INTERNATIONALIZATION OF WORD OF MOUTH – “International WOM will, in fact, improve conversations all around the world. As a consequence, almost everything will be known on earth and companies or governments will have to tell the truth and start real conversations with people!”

Phil Gerbyshak
CONTINUING THE CONVERSATION: THE IMPORTANCE OF FOLLOW-UP – “One of the most overlooked pieces of communication is also one of the simplest, and most impactful, ones to do. It’s the timely follow-up after someone meets with you, be it for a formal interview, a question and answer session, a cup of coffee and polite conversation, or even an e-mail where you’re asking for assistance.”

Bob Glaza
GIVE AND GROW – “Every community has an intrinsic need to grow. The worthy community will always seek and embrace a diversity of voices. Begin by using your unique voice at the edge of the community.”

Mark Goren
BEING A GIVE + TAKE MARKETER – Act One: Joining In
“Stop talking.
No one wants to listen to just you.
Start a conversation.
Throw out a topic. Move out of the way.
And just see where it goes. “

Kristin Gorski
W.R.I.T.E – “Blogging and its immediate interactivity helps writers develop tools to blast through the dams that slow a flood of words to a trickle. When readers encourage, ignore, laugh, disagree, and link to us, blocks to expression cannot stand up to it.”

Janet Green
THE RESTORATIVE QUALITIES OF CONVERSATION – “Conversation also has the power to restore critical aspects of our humanity which over time have eroded from our daily lives: civility, credibility and integrity.”

Lewis Green
CONVERSATION THAT CONNECTS YOU TO ME – “Customers have a voice and they want us listen to their voices. If we want to gain their trust and win over their business, why wouldn’t we give them what they want? Isn’t that the basis of business — we understand what our customers want or need, and we give it to them. In exchange, they give us their business.”

Jessica Hagy
SHARING – “Ideas kept in the dark don’t corner markets.
Ideas kept secret don’t succeed.
Money in the mattress doesn’t earn interest.
Neither do ideas you keep secret.”

Ann Handley
HOW MANY PEOPLE ARE YOU TALKING TO? – “The thing is … in this Age of Conversation, one exchange has the potential to influence many. Anyone can be a maven. Or a connector. Social media like blogs and wikis help one person to reach and influence many.”

Gavin Heaton
THE PROMISCUOUS IDEA – “In moments, a concept can be explained, shared and tracked on a single blog — on the other side of the world, this idea can be modified, expanded upon and discussed. Seconds pass and more voices are heard — a version transmutes into new forms … being picked up as a podcast, a video, an older-style presentation deck. From a single creative impulse, a legion of additions, modifications and transmutations can spread in minutes, hours, days and weeks.”

Dr. Graham Hill
VALUING CONVERSATIONS – “There are early indications that we are already entering the Customer Co-creation age. Co-creation is based upon involving customers inside the company: in customer-driven innovation, in social marketing and even in customer self-service. Co-creation not only enables deep conversations between customers and companies, it also gives customers the tools to converse with each other.”

Kris Hoet
YOU GET A LONG WAY WITH COMMON SENSE – “There’s really nothing different about the conversations we’re having on the web using all this social media compared with conversations you have in a bar, in your office, at a conference or wherever. The speed in which technology changes might frighten a lot of people, but the conversation is the
same.”

Uwe Hook
THE NEW WORLD OF INVITATIONAL MARKETING – “Clearly, marketers have always tried to attract, allure, entice, or tempt people. But instead of being a polite supplement to everyday life, they tried the Neanderthal approach — hit them over the head, hold them hostage in exchange for entertainment and grunt at them louder if they react in
unexpected ways.”

Sean Howard
DISCONNECTION FROM COMMUNITY IN OUR REAL WORLD LIVES – Hmmm…you just have to see the (full-page) graphic in the book, I guess!

Robert Hruzek
THE AGE OF CONVERSATION MAKES ME THINK OF…BRIDGES – “Conversation, when employed wisely, can easily become an effective tool for bridging geographical, political, and ideological barriers. I talk to you; you talk to me — but watch out! You’re in a construction zone; a bridge is being built!”

Richard Huntington
OPINION IS THE LIFEBLOOD OF CONVERSATION – “After all, what makes you want to join a conversation, whether online or face-to-face? I’ll bet it is because you couldn’t agree more with what someone says. Or because you couldn’t agree less with what someone says. Or simply that the point of view being put forward is in some way fresh and unfamiliar to you. That’s why any of us comment on blogs. And for this to happen, a person, blog or brand needs to deliver a point of view the conversation can coalesce around. In other words, to advance an opinion.”

Tim Jackson
ARE YOU IN THE CONVERSATION? – “Here’s the core, the kernel, the meat of the matter; you can bet your company’s entire marketing budget, that if you are not online in some form or another, where your customers (or potential ones) are spending more and more of their time, somebody else is and they are taking them away from you.”

Dustin Jacobsen
ENGAGING CONSUMERS IN THE MOBILE INFORMATION AGE – “Mobile is one of the most personal forms of communication we have today, with most people carrying their mobile phone around the clock and well within reach 24/7.”

AJ James
THE ART OF NON-CONVERSATION – yep, once again, you’ll have to buy the book to see the (full-page) graphic!

Stanley Johnson
DON’T TALK. LISTEN. – “Listen to people. Real people. But not the sort of people who only tell you what you want to hear. Of course you may not always like what you hear, but that’s no reason not to listen. In fact that’s probably one of the best reasons to listen.

Spike Jones
SHUT UP – “Seriously. Shut your yap. You just might learn something if you do. In fact, I guarantee you will.”

Amy Jussel
MOMMY, WHY IS THAT LADY LICKING A BEER BOTTLE? – “The age of conversation … Age 5? 10? Trust me, it takes on a whole new meaning when you have wee ones trying to make sense of the media and marketing messages flying in their little faces with increasing coarseness, commercialism and crass innuendo 24/7 at rapid-fire speed.”

—><—

See the full series:

A taste from A-D

A taste from E-J

A taste from K-R

A taste from S-Z

Get a Taste of the Age of Conversation: From A to D

aoctalkbubble.jpgI was planning to write a review of the just-released Age of Conversation e-book, trying to extract the main points of emphasis, and the major themes running throughout the entries of 100+ authors.

Then I thought…who needs to hear my thoughts? Just give a taste of what each author has written, and the case will be far more compelling for people to buy the book.

Then I started attempting it. Hey, that’s too much work for one post! So here’s a sampling from the start of the alphabet (A-D), and then I’ll work my way through to the end over the coming week or so.

So what is the “value proposition” of the Age of Conversation book? Take a taste. Then go buy it!

Roger Anderson
KEEPING THE MESSAGE CONSISTENT – “Rewards can be offered and contests held, but people will never listen as intently as they do when they can feel the passion you have for your message.”

G.Kofi Annan
FROM AID TO OPPORTUNITY – “…in this age where mobile technology and the Internet easily connect individuals from remote corners of the world, the voices of Africans have created a new image, exposed a new market, and changed the conversations about Africa and what can be referred to as Afri-activism— strategies where a person, group, or company engages Africa through aid and charity.”

Todd Andrlik
SCORING A TOP BLOG – “While it will likely take several months before you start gaining momentum and earning top notches, there are two immediate areas — content and creativity — that deserve immediate attention to help you demonstrate leadership, build a devoted audience and eventually achieve high rankings.”

David Armano
THE RELATIONSHIP RENAISSANCE – “But are we also seeing another Renaissance unfold before our very eyes? A Renaissance built off of us discovering each other? A Renaissance composed of a human Web woven through shared knowledge, interests, creativity, and, yes, conversation?”

Steve Bannister
HOW TO BE HAPPY – “…once our basic needs are met, the following question remains: how do we attain this elusive state called happiness?”

Ryan Barrett
FACE-TO-AVATAR – “The enthusiast compulsively crafts intoxicating content while his admirer, forever connected from either the other side of the Atlantic or the espresso machine, posts a comment. However, as passion and fascination
lures more of us into the virtual world, we are losing the willpower to look up and unplug.”

Cam Beck
GETTING PAST THE CONVERSATION BOTTLENECK – “With our heads buried in the familiar, we forget to look up and notice everybody is saying the same thing. A vibrant community demands we force ourselves to stir the pot, even if it makes us uncomfortable.”

Jordon Behan
USING THE TOOLS OF THE WEB TO BUILD RELATIONSHIPS ONLINE – “The copy on your website should tell a story about you, even though it’s not actually about you. It’s about your visitors, and you should speak to them accordingly.”

David Berkowitz
THE AGELESS AGE – “The more that conversations are digitized and the more accessible they are through search and discovery, the longer their shelf life. Conversations can continue years after they begin, with participants incorporating disparate forms of content that were previously unconnected.”

Susan Bird
HERE’S TO CAPITAL C CONVERSATION – “So what makes a conversation great as opposed to anything less? I believe it’s that the participants come to such a conversation with the intent to be changed by it. They come prepared to listen in a way that will reveal a perspective, an insight, a fact that eluded them until now. This is conversation with a capital C.”

Mark Blair
SPEAKING THROUGH ACTION – “Think of yourself as an anthropologist. Your goal is to understand the dynamics at work in your community. Make it a habit to look beneath the conversations to try and deduce the feelings that underpin them. What motivates these people? What are they passionate about?”

Toby Bloomberg
TECHNOLOGY IS RE-CREATING BUSINESS INTIMACIES – “Through funny little websites called blogs companies began to engage with their customers in people-to-people conversations. Those conversations occurred not with the marketing, PR, tech support “departments” but with people within those departments who shared common interests and passions. The exchange was richer, deeper and more satisfying relationships for both customer and company.”

David Brazeal
CONVERSATION AND THE CRUMBLING WALL BETWEEN JOURNALISM AND PR – “If you’re doing PR without doing journalism, you’re missing a wonderful opportunity to use creative, credible storytelling to earn the trust of the people you want to engage.”

Becky Carroll
CONVERSATIONS AND THE CUSTOMER EXPERIENCE – “A key part of managing each conversation is to understand the customer lifecycle. We need to look at ourselves through the eyes of the customer. Do they need to buy something? Are they already a customer? Are they referring others to us? Are they considering leaving us? The conversation should change depending on the customer’s perspective and combined experiences.”

Katie Chatfield
BRANDED COMMUNITAINMENT – “The brand’s role is to host a get-together. Swing open your doors, send out the invitations, arrange the entertainment and prompt the guests to provide the conversation. Invest in your most engaged consumers.”

Tony D. Clark
BREVITY AND LEVITY – KEY SPICES IN THE CONVERSATION SOUP – “Aside from deep or emotional talks, conversations with lightness and concise sharing of ideas tend to stick with us the most. We gain the key ideas and remember the person we talked to.”

Emily Clasper
COMMUNICATING OUR WAY TO USER-CENTERED LIBRARY SERVICE – “Librarians and other service-oriented professionals must stop viewing communication with our customers as a top-down, broadcast press-release model. We need to stop talking to patrons and begin talking with them.”

Tom Clifford
“LET’S SEE THAT AGAIN!” – “Are people talking about your corporate video? Does it make them think differently? Feel a certain way? Move them to act?”

Mack Collier
BREAKING MARKETING BARRIERS FROM THE TOP OF A HARLEY – “Willie knows that he could spend thousands of dollars on marketing research and surveys that would be designed to tell him more about Harley-Davidson’s customers. Or he could simply hit the open highway with fellow Harley owners, and become a part of their community.”

Peter Corbett
USING SOCIAL MEDIA TO DEEPEN BRAND ENGAGEMENT – “Ultimately, our user forward-able, mash-able, comment-able, rate-able, embed-able branded content will navigate the social media pool, and eventually deliver better informed, better engaged customers who are open to ongoing dialog.”

Chris Corrigan
ART OF CONVERSATIONS – “The web invites us to notice the power of connection and it challenges us to do something with that connection, to extend it back into real world conversation using the age old tools of making a difference — speaking from the heart and listening for understanding to propel real change and deep transformation in our world.”

Ed Cotton
SEVEN WAYS TO START A CONVERSATION WITH ADVERTISING – “Advertising as we once knew it is fast becoming a relic. The only way back is for the ad industry to grab some humility and learn the art of conversation.”

Luc Debaisieux
THE DAWN OF SHARED CONSCIOUSNESS – “Now what if one day … the “anonymous mass” would become “inter-connected individuals” with the ability to share their ideas on a worldwide scale?”

Geert Desager
BRING THE LOVE BACK – “‘“The conversation is already going on’, said Shel Israel, when asked about what brands should do within the blogosphere….”

Rishi Desai
FACILITATE BETTER LEARNING BY BREAKING THE CYCLE – “As the curator of the conversation, you are seeking to learn from the players involved. But also, you are seeking to further facilitate and massage the conversation forward with hopes to gain maximum insight.”

Pete Deutschman
REVELATION FROM A DIGITAL JUNKIE’S DIGITAL DIARY – “At the end of the day, I asked myself, as I did the teens, ‘what do you remember?’. Not surprisingly…very little with the exception of what was most creative.”

Matt Dickman
TECHNOLOGY IS THE THREAD THAT BINDS CONVERSATION – “Technology is allowing new voices in non-traditional locations to emerge and have influence. This is not publishing as usual. This is not business as usual. It’s time to redefine usual.”

—><—

See the full series:

A taste from A-D

A taste from E-J

A taste from K-R

A taste from S-Z

Some Glass Eye Candy

brokenbayer2.jpgWow. Very cool photos of glasses shattering, and the effect on liquids inside. Shatteringly good!

Marketing Bloggers Unite!

…or, at least, collaborate!

There is an explosion of healthy collaboration going on among marketing bloggers. This sort of grass-roots effort to get to know one another, refine and improve our practices, and give to the community is a joy to behold. Some recent and future developments:

bw_logo_no_tag-med.jpg1. The BrandingWire posse recently took on their second challenge, re-branding a destination (Estes Park, CO). The comments thus far, including from the Director of Communications at Estes, indicate that a lot of actionable creativity was shared. Check it out here.

2. The Age of Conversation e-book, featuring over 100 authors (my chapter is on The Lowered Fence of Collaboration), is on the verge of being released. More info at Drew’s blog here. Authors include:

age-conversation.jpgGavin Heaton
Drew McLellan
CK
Valeria Maltoni
Emily Reed
Katie Chatfield
Greg Verdino
Mack Collier
Lewis Green
Sacrum
Ann Handley
Mike Sansone
Paul McEnany
Roger von Oech
Anna Farmery
David Armano
Bob Glaza
Mark Goren
Matt Dickman
Scott Monty
Richard Huntington
Cam Beck
David Reich
Luc Debaisieux
Sean Howard
Tim Jackson
Patrick Schaber
Roberta Rosenberg
Uwe Hook
Tony D. Clark
Todd Andrlik
Toby Bloomberg
Steve Woodruff
Steve Bannister
Steve Roesler
Stanley Johnson
Spike Jones
Nathan Snell
Simon Payn
Ryan Rasmussen
Ron Shevlin
Roger Anderson
Robert Hruzek
Rishi Desai
Phil Gerbyshak
Peter Corbett
Pete Deutschman
Nick Rice
Nick Wright
Michael Morton
Mark Earls
Mark Blair
Mario Vellandi
Lori Magno
Kristin Gorski
Kris Hoet
G.Kofi Annan
Kimberly Dawn Wells
Karl Long
Julie Fleischer
Jordan Behan
John La Grou
Joe Raasch
Jim Kukral
Jessica Hagy
Janet Green
Jamey Shiels
Dr. Graham Hill
Gia Facchini
Geert Desager
Gaurav Mishra
Gary Schoeniger
Gareth Kay
Faris Yakob
Emily Clasper
Ed Cotton
Dustin Jacobsen
Tom Clifford
David Polinchock
David Koopmans
David Brazeal
David Berkowitz
Carolyn Manning
Craig Wilson
Cord Silverstein
Connie Reece
Colin McKay
Chris Newlan
Chris Corrigan
Cedric Giorgi
Brian Reich
Becky Carroll
Arun Rajagopal
Andy Nulman
Amy Jussel
AJ James
Kim Klaver
Sandy Renshaw
Susan Bird
Ryan Barrett
Troy Worman
S. Neil Vineberg

3. If you haven’t joined in with the Marketing Profs book club, where a bunch of readers simultaneously read and interact on a given business/marketing book, don’t say you weren’t invited! Here’s the scoop…

blogger-social.png4. And then, of course, there is the upcoming Blogger Social (2008), being orchestrated by the illustrious CK and a growing cast of willing and/or press-ganged volunteers. Find out more here. Wherever this ends up being held, it’s going to be great. Can’t wait…

Quote of the Day

Pretend that every single person you meet has a sign around his or her neck that says, “Make me feel important.”

- Mary Kay Ash, founder, Mary Kay Cosmetics

(hat tip: AdvaMed SmartBrief newsletter)

Another Logo from the Zzzzzzz…List

I noticed a big advertisement today in the Wall Street Journal for Covidien, the medical device company recently spun off from its former Tyco Healthcare identity.

I think it was good to separate Covidien from Tyco (which had a number of unrelated businesses under its umbrella), and the name Covidien, if not all that inspired and memorable, is at least acceptable. After all, it is a difficult challenge these days coming up with new names.

But the logo and tagline left me frowning with disappointment.

covidien.jpgI believe there is a virtue in simplicity, when it comes to logo design. But this treatment is tired. Yet another uninspired takeoff on the medical Red Cross look. Yawwwwwnnn. A company in the pharmaceutical training space that I know quite well, MedSN, did something similar a while back. At least they used a few colors. The Covidien treatment, with a few variations of blue, looks like it never got beyond a Powerpoint storyboard.

And the tagline, Positive Results for Life, is yet another retread from the pharma/healthcare/biotech bargain bin. Some of the most uninspired and insipid taglines have been adopted by these companies, all vaguely promising health/life/goodness in a way that is utterly non-differentiating. I’m reminded of a phrase from A Christmas Carol, where young Ebenezer Scrooge gives a response that is “terribly safe.” That’s what these taglines are. With an emphasis on both words.

I don’t yet know who came up with this logo. Maybe, after I finish this post, I’ll look it up. But let’s take a flight of fancy here, and imagine we’re in the boardroom, as the agency gives its explanation/rationalization for this look:

“The background field of blue represents the universal desire for long life and health, tapping into the singular global aspirations that a healthcare provider such as Covidien will be a premier provider of positive results toward that end. Since the earth is mostly water, and water represents life, we encased the logo in the uplifting presence of a sea of calming ocean blue. Of course, the medical cross symbol is recognized across the universe as a positive and aspirational symbol of well-being, and now it is softened and yet heightened by being re-stylized in enriching shades of health-inducing blue, leading the thoughts and feelings of the onlooking world to pleasant deliberations of the intersection of medical devices and ongoing health. The merging of life-giving blue, the subtly blatant medical undercurrent, and modern encapsulations of individual aspirations will create the inevitable conclusion that Covidien creates positive results for life.”

And now, rewind a day into the design studio as the logo and tagline are being feverishly finished off for the next day’s presentation:

“Did you whip that thing up in Powerpoint?”

“Yeah…took me about an hour and a half. I billed 45 days of creative time for the team, however.”

“Looks like a couple of colorized Band-Aids to me.”

“Ain’t life grand? I came up with that this morning while fixing a shaving nick.”

“And did you pump something out of that funky ObviousTaglines.com website?”

“Oh, yeah – it was great! I just told it ‘healthcare’, selected a couple standard keywords, and out came Positive Results for Life. It’s a beautiful thing. And, I now have 10 others we can use for our next client.”

All right, I made all that up. I’m sure a bit more effort went into this. But I wonder…how much did this branding cost? And why is it so…undistinguished?

Search and You shall Find?

WordPress allows me to see what search terms people use to get to my blog.

Here’s what somebody was searching on yesterday, which got them to StickyFigure:

How to throw up instantly

Some of these search results are quite amusing…or are they enlightening? I’ll let you be the judge!

Estes Park – A BrandingWire Challenge

The BrandingWire challenge for this month is an exercise in “place branding” – in this case, the town of Estes Park, Colorado. We are operating from a 2-page branding brief prepared by one of the BrandingWire posse (thanks, Martin!) with some additions by the Estes Park Communications manager.

There are many questions that I would ask in the process of trying to re-brand this destination, with a heavy emphasis on the unique “draw” (or “draws”) of Estes Park, and the most desirable demographic(s) on which the town would like to concentrate. However, for the purposes of this post I’m going to concentrate my thoughts on some existing visual and branding elements – namely, logo, tagline, and web presence.

estes_park_logo.jpgFirst, the logo needs a total replacement. The “EP” letters are without meaning unless you already know that they are connected to Estes Park, and the stylized tree has no uniqueness – that tree could be anywhere. The logo itself needs to contain the town name, and there needs to be something in this primary identity piece that identifies the town as the point of entry to Rocky Mountain National Park.

e-park-brewery.gifContrast this with the logo for one of the businesses in town (a brewery), which does a fabulous job of creating a “feel” for the uniqueness of Estes Park and its Rockies location – it includes the town name, a scenic vista, and a very important touch – the elevation. It’s a logo that creates desire – it gives me a sense that going to Estes Park means seeing a lot of beauty. That’s a crucial element in destination branding – why should I want to go? Show me!

As for the tagline, I’m not sure there is one which is used consistently. There should be. According to our branding brief, the town has been known for decades as the Gateway to Rocky Mountain National Park. A nice statement of fact, but it doesn’t contain an emotional draw. On one of the two primary Estes Park websites, there is the phrase, “Get into the Real Rockies.” That phrase, however, does not necessarily sell the town – I’d like to get into the Real Rockies, but perhaps I can do so without Estes Park. If it said something like “The Real Rockies Start Here,” that would be more pointed – hey, you have to start with Estes Park if you want to move forward into what the Rockies really have to offer.

As for the two primary websites, here there is a lot of potential for improvement that would help enhance the “draw” of Estes Park. One website is the responsibility of the Convention and Visitors Bureau (CVB), and it is geared toward the potential vacationers and other visitors. The other is a more functional town website, mainly with information for residents.

The first thing I would recommend is an attractive opening page for the Town website that has a simple pick-one-of-two choice – a lovely mountain scene on one side of the screen, with words such as, Looking to visit the Real Rockies? Start Here! – and a click brings the web visitor to the CVB site. The other half of the screen might have a photo of an attractive town building, and words such as, Already a Resident? There’s more for you here!

e_park_town.jpgThe reason for this is that someone browsing the web might stumble first upon the Town site, and it’s pretty much just functional. Yes, it has a link to Visitor Info, which goes to the CVB site, but the goal should be for potential visitors to not end up at the town site – it’s not a turn-on to see links for Agendas & Minutes, RFPs, Wildfire info, Zoning, and the like. It’s good to have this info up on the web for residents, of course, but the casual web browser who wants to “feel” a reason to be attracted to Estes Park within a 10-second attention span should not have to even see this site.

From a graphic design point of view, the town site has some decent photos, but there are too many navigation schemes (top links, side links, mid-page tab links, sub-mid page graphical links) and the design needs to be simplified.

e_park_visitor.jpgHowever, the real key, from a branding perspective, is the Visitor site. And my first comment here is that the home page of the existing site is far too busy. While it does contain a lovely photo showing the beauty of the Rockies – a key strength – the rest of the home page is a jumble of color blocks, with too many links, too many different categories, and too many fonts.

What is really needed here is a theme. A story. Something that stands out about Estes Park, and makes me say, “Hmmm…I think I want to find out more. Maybe I really need to visit this place.” It is one of the cardinal errors of web design to throw it all out there – give the web visitor an overwhelming number of choices – instead of leading him/her on a journey of exploration, with an immediate emotional hook. The town, and the site, needs an engaging narrative.

About half of those links could be eliminated from the home page, and be put into sub-pages. And that isn’t counting the unnecessary repeat links, which are contained both in the blue area, and the green area below it!

One element of the key emotional hook – the sheer physical beauty of the area – is easy to capture and display on the site. And I would continue that by immediately leading the web visitor into a photo gallery of beauty – in town and outside of town (in the Rockies). And, by the way, ditch the webcams. All they do is provide poor-quality static images anyway, that change far too infrequently to be engaging. Just show beautiful photos.

In fact, one idea might be to run a photo contest – let residents and visitors upload their favorite photos of the town/area (perhaps using Flickr as a repository), and periodically award someone with a “Best Of” to keep up the interest level.

Another way to try to get some user/community involvement on the site would be to have an essay contest for prior visitors – What I loved most about Estes Park. The best ones are published, and a quarterly winner gets a free return visit with accommodations for themselves and another family. Referrals are a key way to generate interest, and genuine expressions from “real” visitors will be a powerful draw.

I will note that once you get past the initial home page of the Visitor site, the information and navigation design is quite a bit easier to work with. There is a wealth of information available. One weakness of the entire site is that it is designed with a restriction for fitting onto very low-resolution computer screens, wasting valuable visual real estate. There is very little reason anymore to design any website for legacy computer resolutions.

There is a lot on the Visitor site. There are some good photos. But I’m not finding the “one unique thing.” I need to know why I should go to Estes Park, and not one of a dozen other sites in and around the Rockies. Is there some particularly unique set of events (horse shows, for instance?). Is there something particularly family-friendly about the place, that makes it a primary potential destination for bringing my kids for a week? Is it unique accessibility, positioned between front-range cities like Denver, and the Rocky Mountain National Park? Can we take the contents of this page, and weave a story overlaying it, about how whenever you come to Estes Park, we’re going to give you an incredible mixture of natural beauty and wholesome entertainment? Can the wonderful, airy photo of the inside of a restaurant shown here be adapted to tell a story about unique buildings that you simply must see here at Estes Park – and no-where else?

As with all branding, it comes down to a unique message. A differentiator. I strongly suspect that Estes Park has its differentiators – and that’s the most important thing! Now it’s just a matter of bringing it more evidently, and pro-actively, to the surface.

Get more high-voltage ideas at BrandingWire.com. Other members of the BrandingWire team include: Olivier Blanchard,  Derrick Daye, Lewis Green, Ann Handley, Gavin Heaton, Martin Jelsema, Valeria Maltoni, Drew McLellan, Patrick Schaber, Kevin Dugan and Becky Carroll.

How Would You Brand a Town?

Specifically, a vacation destination in Colorado?

bw_logo_no_tag-med.jpgJoin the BrandingWire team on Monday to see how they (we) take on the challenge of branding Estes Park, Colorado! For a sneak peak – a backgrounder on the town and the branding challenge – click here.

This second BrandingWire collaborative posting goes up “live” on Monday afternoon!

And feel free to play along – what would you do to put Estes Park not only on the map, but on the minds of potential visitors?

Pharma Web Branding, Part 4 – Novartis

A visit to Novartis.com is relatively pleasant, visually, from an initial impression point of view. Decent use of white space. Nice color palette (although I am not sure how the mocha color fits in with standard Novartis branding). Information and graphics presented in a way that is not overwhelming. This site, at least, does not chase the visitor away with visual overload.

novartis_home2.jpgThe first element that stands out is an animated rectangle which presents, via words and pictures, stories about people and/or treatments with a Novartis focus. One of these talks about their drug, and treatment program, for Malaria. Another is about LaDonna, a cancer survivor. These tangible stories about the true “deliverable” of a pharma company – changed lives through medication – are the best way to introduce the company to the public. Well done.

There is the pretty standard navigation bar (Products \ Disease & Conditions \ R&D \ About Novartis \ Investors \ Newsroom \ Career) along the top, then on the right side, some graphically pleasant boxes with key highlights (Careers, Corporate Citizenship, etc.) – a nice way to make important “destinations” easily accessible.

Beneath the animated panel, there are only four main sections – for Investors (with updated stock chart); Novartis feature (currently, an account about treating dengue fever); a place for selecting various worldwide site (drop-down navigation); and finally, Latest News, with a few hotlinks. For a major global company (which includes pharma, vaccines, consumer products, generics, and more), I’d say this is just about right – the information design shows admirable restraint in not jamming a thousand things onto the home page, but it brings forward enough up-to-date and useful information to draw the visitor in.

A click onto the U.S. site shows good consistency with the web branding and navigation scheme.

Of the pharma websites I’ve reviewed thus far, the Novartis home page is clearly the best designed of the bunch.

Tagged for 8 Things

David Reich just tagged me on a blogging meme going around, whereby I’m to share 8 random things about myself, and then tag others to do the same.

8-ball.jpgI will confess that I always have mixed feelings about these things – they remind me of chain letters. However, since so many of us bloggers have little or no opportunity to get to know one another face-to-face, there is a certain value to these exercises…and besides, I’m as curious as the next guy about the person behind the blogs I read!

So, here goes…

1. I have 5 boys. I was the third-born of 4 boys. My Dad was the third-born of 3 boys. His Dad (my grandfather) came from all boys. My third-born reckons that, upon proposing to some lucky young lady in a decade or so, he will have to deliver a caution with the ring…be prepared for a house full of six boys! It’s hard to fight it when math and destiny collide!

2. I once crunched my way through a set of tennis on a court blanketed with 17-year locusts, during the early days of the career of someone who is now an international recording star.

3. I have a large box loaded with hundreds of old matches/matchbooks (many probably quite unique), with no clue of their value, or what to do with them.

4. I am now sitting at a wonderful, large oak desk (suitable for use as a bomb shelter), which we spotted in the early years of our marriage at a flea market in Nashville, and which has laboriously followed us with every move since. It was $175.00, as I recall, a sum we barely had in those young-and-foolish days. This thing will likely last for generations.

5. We found out about the difference between the North and the South after having a fried chicken dinner at a famous Nashville institution right after our arrival. Attempting to pay the check with travellers checks, which was all we had at the moment, we were told that they only took cash. We were brand new in town and didn’t even have a bank account yet! “That’s all right, honey, you just take the check with you, and mail the money to us when you’re all settled.” We did, of course. (I just Googled to see if Loveless Cafe is still in business – yes, indeed! No surprise there…)

6. One year in college, I ran our dorm janitor for student body president. Rufus didn’t win, but I think he got 36 write-in votes.

7. One of my sons wants to be a film director, and appears to have the talent to get somewhere in that field (he just graduated from a special high school program for multimedia/performing arts). I vividly remember the moment, in the course of viewing one of his early “backyard” films, when it was suddenly obvious that he had the “eye” for good camera work. Now we have to figure out how to help him use his gifts professionally.

8. I analyze everything. Compulsively. Combustion may be spontaneous, but I rarely am!

OK, enough about me. I’ll tag a few others to take the dare:

Becky Carroll over at Customers Rock!

Eli Portnoy from The Brand Man Speaks

C. B. Whittemore from Flooring the Customer

Toby Bloomberg at Diva Marketing

(Image credit)

Ground Rounds – Boca Java

boca-java-logo.gifKnowing how much I enjoy trying different coffees, and following up on the recent BrandingWire project focusing on marketing coffee, my wife ordered a batch of Boca Java coffees for Father’s Day. They have recently begun advertising heavily in our area and I know she just wanted an excuse to order some. I didn’t protest!

She picked out 4 selections for me; thus far, I have tried two of them. Unlike Storyville (previously reviewed on this blog), which goes the simple route for mail order – Prologue (caffeinated) and Epilogue (decaf) – Boca gives you a wide variety of blends and roasts from which to choose.

I was immediately drawn to Sumatran Sunset, because it is positioned as a darker roast with a heartier flavor. In fact, I couldn’t wait – we were going away to Florida for a conference (ironically, only about an hour away from Boca Raton, where the company is located), so I packed the Sumatran with me for in-hotel-room brewing. Good move – this stuff is delicious. Definitely a tasty dark roast, and I’m guessing it’ll be my favorite.

b-java.jpgThe second flavor, just opened and brewed 1/2 hour ago, is Guatemalan Adventure. The packaging says that it is a medium roast with a nutty flavor…and that is exactly correct. Very nice – a little light for my taste – certainly a few rungs above anything store bought.

The packaging is visually attractive, and like Storyville, each packet has a “born-on date” to show freshness. Boca also has a commendable campaign going on, providing coffee donations to our troops overseas (closing in on 3 million cups).

If you’re looking for a wide variety of flavors and blends, you might want to give Boca Java a try!

A Great Article on Naming/Branding

From the Conference Board, via Igor International.

What’s Your Threat Level?

From a post I authored on the Small Business Branding blog:

How such a brand identity threat level chart might look for an I.T. company looking to express its differentiating message:

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