July 24, 2004
One of the great benefits of the computer age has to be the de-skilling of photography. Gone are the days of grappling with SLR’s, light meters and the complexity of film speeds, aperture size and the nightmare of the flashgun. We’ve move on from photographs to ‘digital imaging’, from the object to the experience.
I’ve just given away my darkroom equipment that dates back to art school days. The reality is that much as I loved taking photographs and developing and printing black and white films the equipment has moved house with me at least three times and remained in its packing case. It’s gone to a good home, a neighbour who was a photographer and who’s taken it to his new home in Spain.
Idea and reality are different when it comes to photographs. While I rave over the work of Paul Strand, Lee Miller and Weegee etc. The chances of me ever going back to feebly trying to emulate these artistic titans are to day the least remote. It’s not that I don’t value process, I do. It’s just that the space, time and the effort involved in producing it are unrealistic. Then there are the questions of ability and experience. I’ve reached the ‘love it but can’t be a****!’ stage and will content myself with looking at other people’s work in galleries.
One of the great benefits of the computer age has to be the de-skilling of photography. Gone are the days of grappling with SLR’s, light meters and the complexity of film speeds, aperture size and the nightmare of the flashgun. We’ve move on from photographs to ‘digital imaging’, from the object to the experience. From having to spend weeks and months mastering the technical niceties of film to being able to point, click, download, manipulate and email our images. We create little masterpieces in a wonderfully democratic way. We can all let loose our creative spirits and record our world. You can turn out surprisingly good work with not that much skill. You feel enriched by this. It can make you very happy. It’s a shared experience as you email the images almost as soon as they were created.
Brands I’ve favoured in the past are Canon and Pentax but buying digital took me beyond these brands. With a wide range of brands and new players in the market like HP took me outside my normal camera buying experience.
There’s certainly no lack of choice and my recent foray into purchasing took me to shops and took several attempts (reflecting my indecision and the array of choice). There will be an estimated 53 million sales of digital cameras in 2004*. I feel like I’ve seen most of them on Tottenham Court Road.
I thought I could go for a Pentax Optio camera – intrigued that it’s ‘The official camera of the Internet’ (what does that mean exactly?). Then the HP cameras - so un-sexy I didn’t want to pick them up. I purchased a Konica Minolta Dimage Z2 as it provided 4 mexa pixels and 10x zoom – the equivalent of 35-380mm. It’s like a bug and a bit funky. I like it a lot and the website promises DIMAGE Finding your finest images, ‘Mega thrills await you’ – can’t wait. So I bought on the mixture of performance and looks, reassured the Konica Minolta have been in the camera business for decades. The look and feel of the product really mattered – somehow a little silver coloured box didn’t do it for me not even with a nice name like IXUS.
The market for digital camera sales is estimated to rise to 82 million units by 2008. The major players are the established major camera brands Canon, Sony, Olympus, Fujifilm and Kodak* (in order of sales). They’re expected to remain the top five.
Sony was one of the first manufacturers to enter the digital camera market and remains the market leader in the US. Their key to success has been in developing storage capacity and delivering the Cyber-shot ® range quickly. Cyber-shot® is Sony’s killer product and the brand name is used across the range from ’point and shoot’ to the professional range. Their cameras are providing healthy profits and enabling it to move product into the emerging Asia-Pacific markets where sales will increase.
In Europe Canon is the market leader with the brand and products “inspiring creativity” being a major factor in their success along with high brand awareness and heritage. PowerShot® and Ixus® provide “the optimal balance of style and substance”. Nice products holding their own against the sexy might of Sony.
The Sony website provides access to a learning centre, information and a Digital University of free educational courses to enable you to get the most from the product. A very Sony approach. Canon have their Canon Image Gateway which I tried to access but was unable to register for online.
A key factor in the opening-up digital technology is the ease with which experience can be recorded and shared. Brands need to have this at the heart of their proposition and express it through their communications.
As most ‘early adopters’ have adopted the technology so sales are moving to mainstream users. The low-end share of market shrinks as consumers purchase higher performance models and the peripherals. In reality the increased take-up of digital camera phones has also eroded the market for low-end models.
It’s interesting that the established camera brands like Pentax and Nikon are not the major players in the digital camera market, although both are important players. Canon and Sony have been at the forefront of technological development. Both brands have change and personal transformation at their heart. It’s about enabling people to produce small masterpieces and be enriched.
The majority of product and range names fall into the types of names used for film cameras, words like ‘pix’, ‘shot’, ‘cam’ ‘opti’ and ‘max’. Kodak have opted for the promoting ease of use and sharing – very much in line with their ethos of making photography available to the masses. Canon’s IXUS goes for the digital/trendy/compact market –the products are nicely designed and look and feel good. Fuji’s Finepix fits with the brand message of quality images, so successful in building their film based business in the last twenty years.
So whether you Finepix or Cyber-shot, Digimax or Easyshare, IXUS up to you – just go out and be creative!
* Source: Infotrends
Mike Mahony’s story at Manchester Online – how sending a digital image can change your life! www.manchesteronline.co.uk/news/s/86/86016_model_mike_dials_a_new_future.html
Posted by pauline.amphlett at 03:53 PM | Single Article
July 14, 2004
Stealing the heavens
Intrigued by the idea of names that we have adopted from history, or indeed ‘normal’ language, to label something new, and are now more closely associated with that new thing than the original. So at the mention of Homer, the first thing that springs to mind is Springfield and its inhabitants, rather than the epic story of the Trojan War.
I half-heard one of those snippets on the radio the other day that got me thinking. It was along the lines of someone saying, “I didn’t know Homer Simpson wrote the Iliad.” I was intrigued by the idea of names that we have adopted from history, or indeed ‘normal’ language, to label something new, and are now more closely associated with that new thing than the original. So at the mention of Homer, the first thing that springs to mind is Springfield and its inhabitants, rather than the epic story of the Trojan War. (www.thesimpsons.com)
Ancient mythology is an area that has been thoroughly plundered. Trojan, especially in the US, immediately suggests something quite un-classical, in fact America’s Number 1 condom. Again the struggle between Greece and Troy can’t break through the modern media offensive.
Venus still fairs rather better with immediate associations probably with the planet or the Roman goddess of love and beauty, before Gillette’s ‘lady razor’. Gillette’s new Venus Divine emphasizes the heavenly qualities of the product, presumably giving you even more goddess-like legs. On the website (www.gillettevenus.com) you can reveal your goddess name – fatuous but quite amusing – especially when mis-used. I entered the name of my (male) dog Toffee and discovered his inner-goddess is “a thoroughly obliging friend who favours endless emotion.”
From goddess to vestal virgin. What does virgin conjure up? I think rather impressively, in branding terms, the first thing I think of is phones, or trains, or indeed the distinctive script logo. When the brand name Virgin was first bandied about I think I was young enough to be at least slightly embarrassed and to feel the slight frisson of rebelliousness intended. It felt brave and naughty. Nowadays Branson heads up a brand that’s moved on from its naďve beginnings, but still has that challenger spirit.
Even commoner words are being heisted. Think of orange. I think just the colour hits me first. But then the phones and the fruit flood in at almost the same time. Not dissimilar to being Tangoed. Another impressive and consistent piece of brand building has hijacked a familiar part of our language to create a highly resonant image. As a child oranges were my favourite fruit but I think my love for them has been slightly tarnished by having their name used as an abstract for more commercial purposes.
Apple is another fruit now probably more associated with computers than orchards – or even celebrity babies. The plurality of meaning resides reasonably comfortably in my head. I don’t think there’s any chance of me going shopping for a few apples and coming back with a brown paper bag full of i-macs. All meaning is context dependent, and so generally the use of a common word as a name can work. Two recent exceptions, that seemed to lead to more confusion than rich imagery, are Monday, PwC’s consulting arm, and One, the train company.
As we know, available names are getting harder and harder to find. It’s often nice to use real words for names as they can conjure up evocative myths and images that begin to tell the brand story immediately. However, some of the plundering of the heavenly bodies does feel like a shame. Pluto’s a dog, Mercury was a phone company, Milky Way is the treat you can eat between meals. Strangely enough Uranus seems to be available…
Posted by kate.fishenden at 12:10 PM | Single Article
July 12, 2004
Your Product Name: Fame or Shame?
How, once in a great branding while, does a product become so successful, it becomes the new moniker for the entire company?
I read an interesting article by Alycia de Mesa (freelance brand identity consultant), which, looks at how a company often christens itself and then applies the same name to its first product or product line. But how once in a great branding while, a product is so successful, it becomes the new moniker for the entire company.
Alycia looks at the brands; Colgate-Palmolive, Danone , PepsiCo and Perrier and whether choosing to re-name a corporate brand from a portfolio of existing brands requires the same benchmark process as creating a brand new name.
Posted by louise.tomkinson at 03:32 PM | Single Article
July 03, 2004
Top tips for naming
“For many reasons but especially product proliferation, global marketing and the Web, the naming of products and companies is increasingly difficult. Yet because of the cost and clutter of communications, the importance of an effective name is more critical than ever. Brainstorming and good luck are no longer a prudent alternative to disciplined, experienced professional naming services.” Tony Spaeth, Identityworks.
There isn’t an article, website or presentation about naming that doesn’t make this point – or something very similar. And it’s no surprise. New brand names and domain names are appearing at a faster rate than ever before.
There has also been a sudden rash of ‘tips for naming’ that I’ve come across – all including the advice to go to a naming specialist. From all my research and reading, I think there is a fair case for going to a naming expert, rather than say a branding company or design group, to get a new name.
The latter tend to be doing the job with the ultimate goal of creating a visual identity, which they can implement and guideline, generating lots of employment, and income, for their people. Don’t get me wrong. There are superb professionals out there doing great work. I love Wolff Olins Orange and Interbrand have fantastic credentials. But some of the most recent bloopers have also come from branding consultants.
Naming specialists have only one goal – to produce a great name. They tend to have considered more of the nuances of naming, have effective generating and checking systems and take pride in the name itself.
The down side of naming experts is that they can be slightly snobbish in their scientific approach to linguistics. Their recipe for success seems to involve breaking everything down into morphemes and phonemes, assigning symbolism to every squeak that escapes our lips and analyzing the meaning of each syllable. These elements do have value, but need to be given a reality check or we end up with names like Aliquis, Vulgo or Accumulo (made up brand names from www.whatbrandareyou.com ).
All in all what we really need is a happy balance. Here’s some tips:
• Winning personality - have a clear idea about the brand’s personality and who it should appeal to
• Motivating mythology – find or create the stories, associations and history for your company/brand that could inspire relevant, meaningful names
• Memory game – a name that evokes images, emotions or humour will be better remembered
• Meaning isn’t everything - semantics is the first leg a name has to stand on - but, like a chair, there’s three more:
• Phonetics - word stresses and rhythms, make it sound good
• Sound symbolism - certain sounds convey certain associations and attributes - P=compactness and speed, B=dependable
• Look and feel - easily reproduced in media, stands out in spoken and written word
• Names can’t solve problems - sort out any negative issues before embarking on name change, otherwise your new name will fail
• Understand its role - what else is being developed to convey the brand - straplines, visual id, tone of voice, product descriptor, pack? – together they can create the overall message.
• Fit for purpose - a company name has a different job to do than a product or service - a company is people, it needs provenance; a product name can be more fanciful whilst still having a convincing rationale
• Is it available – do the legals, there’s no point in skimping at this stage
• Red face test - try it out - imagine the CEO, a minister, your Grandma, a 3 year old, a 16 year old saying it?
• Just say no - not all of us are brave enough, but if it really feels wrong, don’t go there.
Posted by kate.fishenden at 05:55 PM | Single Article
July 02, 2004
On July 15 at the annual branding ‘Oscars’, Marks & Spencer, Gillette, BT, Duracell, Heinz and Jaguar cars were unveiled as the nation’s six favourite brands. These six were the most highly rated brands in consumer research conducted by TNS on behalf of the Superbrands Organisation.
275 consumers were contacted using the TNS interactive panel and asked to evaluate the Superbrands on the criteria of quality, affinity and advertising. TNS’s research showed that price and availability are the most obvious factors affecting what product or service a consumer buys, but that the quality of the brand, its heritage and advertising also influence the purchasing decision.
Looking at TNS’s analysis of these three criteria, how can brands build on these concepts and become truly super?
Quality – “The perceived quality of a brand has the strongest positive impact upon whether a brand is purchased or would be purchased in the future. Consumers feel that brands indicate the level of quality of a product. They will purchase a product they perceive to be a higher quality even at premium price.” (TNS)
Brands are viewed as signifiers of quality and some have been particularly savvy at marketing that. I have no idea what an Intel processor does, but I sure do want my computer to say ‘Intel Inside’.
Quality though needs to come back to focus on the value proposition. Quality is an entry to market, consistency and reliability a way of delivering it, but creating value, well, that’s what brands really should be doing. Whether it’s Tesco and every little helps, Debenham’s making inspirational design accessible to all, or DHL moving the world, the value (in all senses of the word) that the brands deliver to the consumer, should be the focal point of their brand being.
Affinity – “The affinity that consumers have towards a brand has a positive impact upon the purchasing decision which is nearly as strong as quality. This emotional advantage is gained through a strong heritage and is not easily or quickly won.” (TNS)
Heritage is the new celebrity. Brands like Jack Daniels (to some, our past is as rich and colourful as our whisky), Dr Pepper (the oldest soft drink in America) and Cartier (150 years of artistry) make much of their history and heritage. Why? Because stories create connections for people. Stories create the emotional context for people to place themselves within a larger experience.
If you and I were going to enter into a relationship (business, personal or otherwise), we’d share our life histories, our current situation and our future plans. We’d involve each other in our lives.
Kleenex is a good example of a brand communicating the sharing role it can play in the everyday lives of people through its ‘Thank goodness for Kleenex’ advertising campaign. It conveys the message that Kleenex can be relied upon not only when suffering from colds and flu, but on many other – often unexpected – occasions. Those other ‘occasions’ being the ‘stuff’ of life. HP is another company wanting you to share. It asks consumers to share their stories with them (and others) through capturing a moment. Their website currently features music inspired photo essays and consumers’ favourite music moments.
The below is taken from Audi’s website: “Our memories are one of our greatest treasures. They document our life and are an eternal record of people and moments. Audi’s activities in an extremely wide variety of fields help to turn events and dates into a stage for extraordinary experiences. And give you the opportunity for particularly remarkable experiences, encounters and – ultimately – memories.”
Brands being involved with consumer’s memories, how powerful is that?
Advertising – “A consumer perception that a brand has good advertising has limited positive impact upon the purchasing decision. Advertising, however, is instrumental in building a brand’s perception of quality and affinity with the consumer.” (TNS)
Perception is one thing, reality another. Brands need to live in the real world. Brands also need to recognise that consumers live in an emotional world. Emotions drive most, if not all, of our decisions. Advertising needs to move away from being about perceptions of quality and affinity, to genuinely binding consumers’ emotions to the quality and heritage of the brand.
Brands that will succeed in the future will combine the quality and affinity of the brand, and create an associated lifestyle around the brand’s being. For example, owning an Aga is more than just owning a range, it’s living a way of life. Just witness how coffee has woven itself into the fabric of people's lives thanks to Starbucks.
Brands have an opportunity to create a frame of mind that's unique. I find it bizarre that so much of our personality is tied up in the car we choose to drive, yet cars are almost impossible to individually customise. But observe the ‘iPod your BMW’ initiative. As both companies say, it’s the pleasure of experiencing the perfect marriage of design and technology. But more than that, the brands have merged driving and listening pleasures into one seamless sonic experience. iPod and BMW have constructed an emotional connection point that transcends either of their brands. Compelling stuff.
So, firstly find the ways in which you deliver value to your consumers. Secondly, understand the story of your brand’s life, and examine how you can share moments in the lives of your consumers. And finally, create a greater sense of purpose to the experience of your product or service. Take these recommendations on board, and soon your brand will be just super.
To see which brands were voted Superbrands please click here:
© Kristina Dryza 2004
Kristina Dryza is a consumer trends expert and a LingoLAB associate and can be reached on mobile 07812 352 088 or email: firstname.lastname@example.org
Posted by kristina.dryza at 04:35 PM | Single Article
July 01, 2004
"Come on Barbie, let's go party"
How much does a name influence a child when purchasing their toys?
Sugar and spice and all things nice that’s what little girls are made of….? Not too sure about that actually after watching the Money Programme –‘Barbie's Midlife Crisis’ which was broadcast on BBC2 last night (Wednesday 21 July).
It was rather an eye opener as I was never really into ‘Barbie’ when I was little. I had a Tiny Tears, which I broke her leg off (an accident of course) and my mom was rather worried that I really, did prefer my brother’s ‘Action Man’! KGOF (Kids Growing Older Faster) was more evident than ever last night with 5 & 6 year olds talking about their hobbies being ‘eating Spaghetti Bolognese, sleepovers and watching BBC’s Groundforce! Good grief…
Apparently the world's number one fashion doll – Barbie is 44 years old this year, and not only is she going through a midlife crisis after she dumped Ken on Valentines Day, (after 43 years as an item Mattel said they "feel it's time to spend some quality time - apart") but the split may also be related to sales figures in the last quarter - which fell by 5% globally and 25% on the domestic market in the US.
Despite sales of over 1 billion Barbies worldwide, the American icon is facing some serious competition for her fashion doll crown. Mattel announced in April, that their profits had slumped once again by 73%.
So who’s the new doll on the block…?
Well it seems that her main contender comes in the form of, no not ‘Sindy’, but the ‘Bratz’ dolls; Yasmin, Jade, Sasha, Cloe, Meygen, and Fianna. The dolls are designed to be more streetwise and funky than Barbie. Isaac Larian, an Iranian immigrant, launched the Bratz three years ago in the USA. Over 80 million Bratz dolls have now been sold worldwide. In the UK, Bratz owns more than 30% of the fashion doll market and Bratz's UK distributor Nick Austin is confident that their share will grow.
"If you asked children a few years ago what they wanted it was always Barbie, Barbie, Barbie, but that was because there was no competition," he says.
"There was nothing else there and I think this is the first time that little girls have had a real choice on the doll shelves."
But its not just Bratz who want a slice of the UK's Ł100m fashion doll market, last nights money program interviewed Denise Deane who is planning to relaunch the new look Sindy, Barbie's old rival.
Sindy originally came on the scene in the 1960s as a very British doll with a girl next door look. She triumphed amongst British girls in the 1980s but was trounced by Barbie in the 1990s. Denise Deane, design and development director of Sindy points out that "it's a very competitive time to make a re-launch, but we're confident that we have something unique to offer and that Sindy will be a main player within the doll industry".
So in answer to their competition, Mattel brought out a much funkier range to appeal to an older age group; My Scene. Like traditional Barbie, this group of doll friends, have a love of fashion and offer more accessories. So far their strategy seems to be working; launched in 2002, their sales increased by 380% in 2003.
As I sat and watched this very interesting program I thought, I think there is more to just the ‘trendy’ new doll and the updated designs. I think that the name 'BRATZ', is fantastic, it changes a childs perception of that toy. Barbie and Sindy sound so girlie and sweet, whereas BRATZ sounds cheeky, naughty, spoilt and denotes an air of 'if I want it - I'll have it now....' attitude. eek!! ‘The girl with a passion for fashion’. Even the website (http://www.bratzpack.com) is so hip and funky it uses words such as ‘chillin out…’ (although I must warn you that although this site has very cool music, it does drive you insane after five minutes of looking!).
Even the names of the Bratz dolls have cool and trendy names – names that ‘you’, might even use when naming your daughter – I mean, I might name my daughter Cloe or Jade, but I certainly wouldn’t name her Barbie or Sindy, because to me and to many young girls, it just makes you think of the plastic doll, a doll with too much blue eye shadow and look where this has got her – she’s now single!!
Don’t get me wrong, the design (and as we found out last night from the girls aged 3 to 8), and all the different accessories, are most important to their purchasing decision, but the name wasn’t mentioned at all and I feel wrongly so. Choosing a name for a brand or company is the single most important marketing decision you will make and usually survive corporate identity programmes, visual mark changes, pack redesigns, brand positioning re-jigs, brand value shifts, chief executives, marketing directors and brand managers…
“In the long run a brand is nothing more than a name”
The 22 Immutable Laws of Branding
Barbie is clearly not ready to hang up her fashion doll crown just yet and despite the increased competition, Barbie is still a bigger brand than most. It will be interesting to see how the new improved ‘just like me’ Sindy impacts on the toy market but Tim Kilpin, Mattel's senior vice president of girl's marketing, says Barbie’s position is secure.
"We're very confident that we can continue to prevail and continue to be the number one girls brand in the world," he says.
We’ll have to wait and see but I wish them well. I have no doubt, she will continue to date and meet the man of her dreams, but if Mattel want a naming agency to ‘name’ her boyfriends, I know that we can come up with some rather more ‘hip’ and ‘happening’ names than Ken! (Apologies to anyone called Ken!) So give us a call.
Posted by louise.tomkinson at 04:36 PM | Single Article
LingoLAB is a creative naming agency,
creating the language that makes brands successful.