Friday, October 28, 2011

Purple Cow

Chairing the Pacific Social Media Conference in Singapore and Hong Kong. reminded me of Seth Godin and his now famous book - Purple Cow.
Purple Cow is all about being remarkable. You won’t be noticed if you’re not. 
Many brands want to be noticed, and talked about on social media,. but aren’t willing to pay it’s currency - topicality, uniqueness and relevance. 
They are okay with being ordinary, average, mundane - not spirited, remarkable or out there with the best. Small wonder that in many cases the only people who ‘like’ their content are the people who created it in the first place! 
Purple Cow has big lessons for marketers, businesses and social media protagonists. If the things you do aren’t remarkable,  it’s unlikely that the results of your campaigns will be either. 

Friday, October 21, 2011

What goes Viral on Social

I discovered the answer to that a few days ago. I shared a really funny picture that said “Hope you’re life is as good, as you make it out to be on Facebook.” In 3 minutes, one person had liked and shared it with their friends. In 10 minutes, 2 more had. In a day, about 20% of my friends had either liked or shared the simple visual I’d put online.
What did that teach me? 
What gets shared is often what reflects what people are thinking - whether consciously or unconsciously - at a point  in time. 
The trick, therefore, to understand your audience,figure what’s on their minds and then develop an idea that taps into the way they think.
Singapore and the PAP
In Singapore, much of the country was angry with the PAP. during election time in 2011. The party didn’t realize that until it was too late - and they’d come back to power - but had lost seats. 
Citizens delivered a clear message to the party - change or else. PAP, probably one of the world’s most progressive parties, ultimately got the message (and hats off to them for that!). PM Lee Hsien made a public statement on the learning and how the party hadn’t been listening. It vowed to change that - which is precisely the effect people wanted. 
You’re a brand and you’re looking to use social media 
Don’t just jump in there. Listen, understand and then act. 
Recently, I was asked to see a company on social media. The CEO was gung ho about a new product that he wanted to launch using social as a channel. 
I had listened in on some of the conversations people were having about this brand. They weren’t pretty. There were complaints about service, costs (that the public thought were unreasonable) and staff - who the public thought were simply apathetic. 
Launching this new product and positioning it as the best thing since sliced bread would have led to a social nightmare (and haven’t we all had them). Twenty minutes into our conversation, and once the CEO’s defence barriers had been lowered, he agreed. The company had to address the social commentary that was following it around like a lap dog before it could enter into meaningful conversations with its customers. 
Is social media on your agenda?
Perhaps you need a consultant to help you develop your strategy. The Planning Agency is an agency of people who are constantly thinking about social media, where it is and where it’s going next. 
To view our work, experience and case studies on brands like Toshiba, British Council, F&N and others do get in touch.
Thank You.
Patrick D’souza
+65 9386 8678 

Saturday, May 7, 2011

Has Wieden got the idea for the Nokia N8 right?

Wieden and Kennedy’s launch ad for the Nokia N8 features blind photographer Gary Waite taking pictures with the new Nokia phone. Has Wieden come up with a winning idea for the struggling mobile phone manufacturer? I’d have to say no I don’t think so.

The reasons?

The ad, while conceptually strong, doesn't address key perceptions or misperceptions about the brand. Nokia is largely seen as a has-ben (at least as far as smart phones are concerned). It’s technology is both indistinctive and of questionable relevance and value to consumers today. This is a key issue that the advertising hasn’t addressed and needs to urgently if it’s to take the brand some place other than the mortuary.

What Nokia needs to be doing, whether through the N8 or a separate brand initiative, is giving its prospective buyers confidence. Confidence comes from providing people with a vision, one they can relate to and want to be part off. Nokia has not provided this through advertising or any other form of communication with its audience. Until it does so, it is unlikely to dislodge its competitors as a brand of choice in the competitive smart phone category.

The ad is strategically weak. It is based on a tenuous platform – better pictures. If people are interested in high quality pictures, they’d be using a proper camera - not a phone that doubles up as one.

The credibility for their camera feature is weak too.

It’s based on an award from ‘what digital camera’ – how many know the brand or see it as a credible source of endorsement I ask?

True, Wieden would have had its challenges doing this ad, the biggest among them being a product with nothing much to talk about but its camera feature. Still, it remains, the agency hasn’t cracked one of its trademark game-changing ideas the way it has for Old Spice, Nike or even most recently the Chrysler 300 (show where you’re going, without forgetting where you’re from).

Wieden, like Nokia, need to figure out what their brand story is, is relevance to consumers lives and why they should believe and buy it. 

Sunday, May 1, 2011

An idea is what it's all about

Martin Puris, of Ammirati Puris once said that ’80% of all advertising fails because it is not based on a strong idea.’
Martin knows a thing or two about ideas. He’s come up with quite a few in his lifetime. Including BMW, ‘the ultimate driving machine’ and Club Med -‘the antidote to civilization.’  
What these ideas were successful in doing was position the brands that held them successfully against their competitors carving a unique niche for themselves in the process.  
Other brands that also developed clear ideas for themselves were POSB - ‘neighbours first, banker’s second.’ Absolutely brilliant. Hasbro - ‘the family is together again.’ And Disney - ‘magical experiences.’ 
What makes each of these ideas special? Again, they vocalize a belief or point of view that competitive brands don’t and create a unique and resonant position for themselves.
O,k so a few brands have created a clear idea for themselves. Why is defining this idea so important however? The reason is this - a clear idea gives a brand focus. And in doing so keeps not only communication but also products, people and investments on track. 
The trouble with brands today?
Not enough time is spent defining the core idea on which they will be based. The result is logic that’s fuzzy, and advertising and customer perception that invariably is too. 
The process of developing an idea for one’s brand is quite straightforward really. It starts with a look at the category in which the brand operates, the brand itself and the consumers it serves. Usually, I’ve found, an opportunity will reveal itself once the 3 key areas (category, consumer and brand) are put underneath the microscope. 
From this point on, a creative leap is required however to turn an opportunity into a genuinely strong and resonant idea.  It’s a lot of work to do this, but the result - a much sharper focus for your brand - is well worth the trouble and effort. 
The Planning Agency has a number of tools to help clients define the core idea their brand stands for. To find out more, call us on 9386 8678 or e-mail,sg 

Wednesday, October 27, 2010

Telstra finally 'connects Australia'

Telstra’s brand idea has always been about ‘Connecting Australia’. The idea is a great one and can be traced back to the brand’s original purpose – which, as the national carrier was to ensure every Australian home was connected by phone.

These days, the idea has taken on a new slant of course. ‘Connecting Australia’ is no longer about putting a phone in the homes of Australians but ensuring that in an era where competitive edge is determined by the uptake of technology, Australia and Australians in general are not left behind.

For a long time Telstra sought to bring its idea of ‘Connecting Australia’ to life only emotively through ads. It did so beautifully, a few years ago it must be admitted, when it released its ‘what brings us together is what sets us apart’ ad set to the Bruce Woodley song ‘we are Australian’.

What the brand failed to do consistently however was deliver on its idea of ‘Connecting Australia’ in a more real and physical sense. It seems to have finally started to do that with the Telstra T-Touch Pad. A product that I think is truly classic and redefining for TELCO’s who have until now seen their role to be carriers of voice and data rather than developers of life enhancing hardware and software products.

At $299 for the device, is Telstra finally starting to ‘connect’ Australia? I would definitely say so.

Monday, October 25, 2010

Positioning - POSB gets it right

One bank that has an interesting campaign in the market right now is POSB. Their idea, ‘neighbours first, bankers second’ is extremely powerful and well suited to the brand given its history as the ‘people’s bank’ of Singapore.

The challenge for the brand is always going to be living its position however and ensuring it drives every single one of its activities and operations.

This is easier said than done.

The reason – when you make a claim people tend to hold you to it.

What POSB is saying to the market through the idea of ‘neighbours first, bankers second’ is that they are not a typical bank but a bank more likely to be supportive in situations where you wouldn’t necessarily expect them to be.

It’s a good position – provided the brand can deliver on it - through product, service and the way they interact with customers on a daily basis.

The challenges for ‘neighbourly’ behaviour of course will come not when the chips are up but when they’re down. It’s when mortgage payments get reneged on and when people default on credit lines that the bank will face its first real challenges to its position.

If it responds in a truly ‘neighbourly’ fashion (a manner that’s patient and sympathetic), its position will be strengthened, reinforced and the brand will become attractive to an even larger contingent of customers.

If it responds in a way inconsistent with the expectations the idea has created, then the positioning will be diluted and ultimately lost.

Like most brands, whether POSB can hold on to its position depends on whether it can live it on a daily basis in its business.  

Thursday, September 9, 2010

BP/the Gulf of Mexico - who consumers hold responsible

The BP brand may have taken a battering in the world but people in Singapore at least will continue to buy its products it appears. 

This is the initial finding of a dipstick research that I’ve been doing on the brand over the last few months since the start of the Gulf of Mexico crisis.

It’s not like people don’t hold BP responsible or that sentiment towards the brand has not been damaged. It certainly has. However, despite 50% of people stating that their perception of the brand has been negatively impacted as a result of the crisis, only 13% say they would not continue to buy its products.

A staggering 45% said they would continue to buy BP products given an option, while a further 40% were undecided and said maybe.

Why is sentiment to the BP brand not as negative as it should be?

I think it’s because people don’t hold just the brand responsible for what happened in the Gulf of Mexico but also Government and themselves.

In another question in the same survey, I asked consumers to indicate which parties they thought should be held responsible for the Gulf event.

While 100% of people said BP, 68% of people alo said regulatory authorities (due to the inadequacy of legislation put in place) while a further 27% implicated consumers in the mess as well – the reason – the realization that our relentless demand for cheap oil may be what is encouraging companies like BP to drill deeper and engage in exploration techniques of a questionable nature.

In the Gulf of Mexico crisis, clearly multiple parties are to blame – BP, Government legislative bodies and consumers themselves. What is interesting to note however is the increasing responsibility consumers are taking on when it comes to the environment and the pressure they are putting on Government as well in matters of this regard.