Sunday, June 27, 2010

Now How Cool Is That!

I saw more of them yesterday.

Some preach…some give you an inside look at the inner circle…some exalt.

I am sure you have seen them.

Whether you watch CNN, FOX, CBS, MSNBC…they are out there.

They include the banks, the auto manufacturers, the telecoms, the insurance companies, the oil giants, the global traders…

It’s their corporate brand ads extolling the attributes of their products and their mission statements.


It is because of this new rash of corporate ads that makes the current issue of Fast Company Magazine’s featured article stand out even more so.

The title of the article is “The Invincible Apple…10 Lessons From The Coolest Company Anywhere.”

With Steve Jobs at the helm, the black turtleneck and blue jeans sans the belts dominates the executive set.

A couple of the lesson subtitles captures what makes Apple “the coolest anywhere” company:
** Turn Feedback Into Inspiration
** Don’t Invent, Reinvent
** Serve Your Customer. No, Really.
** Transcend Orthodoxy

But the coolest of the 10 Lessons is titled “Everything Is Marketing.”

Get a load of this…

“When Martin Lindstrom, a brand consult and author of Buyology: The Truth and Lies About Why We Buy, examined those brains under a functional magnetic-resonance-imaging scanner, he discovered that Apple devotees are indistinguishable from those committed to Jesus.”

And as I preach…brand success is contingent upon every touch-point of the brand experience.

“Think of the iPod’s white earbuds, the Mac’s startup sound, or the unmistakable shape of of the MacBook’s back panel. None of these choices were accidental.”

The article goes on…

“The actual launch day (of the iPad) is choreographed like a dictator’s display of military splendor… This past January 27, when I walked into Apple’s iPad debut, the street ads depicted something old; when I left, there’s the iPad everywhere you look.”

“Study the iPad in the post its clock says 9:41 a.m. Why? Apple thought of that too. That’s the exact moment that Jobs revealed the iPad to the world.”

Let me say it again…brand success is contingent upon every touch-point of the brand experience.

And it's not complicated. The drive is simple…but a conviction.

Get a load of this process of product engineering for a DVD-burning program…

After three weeks of preparation time, the engineering team gathered in the board room with “page after page of prototype screen shots showing the new program’s various windows and menu options along with paragraphs of documentation describing how the app would work.”

“Then Steve (Steve Jobs) comes in. He doesn’t look at any of our work. He picks up a marker and goes over to the whiteboard and draws a rectangle and says…

“Here’s the new application. Its got one window. You drag your video into the window. They you click the button that say ‘BURN.’ That’s it. That’s what we’re going to make.”

I will repeat it again. The drive is simple…but a conviction.

Apple isn’t the only cool company out there.

There are others and they are not all BIG companies like Apple.

This past week in my Entrepreneurship class I reiterated, “build it and they will come is dead.”

Back to those corporate ads…

I get accused as seeing the glass half full more than I should.


But as I blogged last week… I know the storms are coming.

And you know how I know?

Because I have an App on my iPhone that shows one is approaching.


Now is that cool or what!

Sunday, June 20, 2010

Storms Brewing In The Heat Of Summer!

It’s damn hot down here in the South.

So hot that nearly all the folks I know spend their days and evening under the fans and soothing air conditioning.

The baseball fields are still. The bandstands are empty. The ponds barely post a ripple.

The stage is set for the explosion of sound and light with the July 4th fireworks!

USA Today ran a story this past week about the cable nets.

Here is the lead-in of the article…

“Chefs on the sci-fi channel SyFy? Cars and comics on the History Channel? A show about people with obsessive-compulsive disorder on VH1? Boxer Mike Tyson on Animal Planet?”

The lead-in then follows with this statement…

“Your TV isn’t out of whack, but your cable channel might be.”

In many ways what is taking place doesn’t surprise me.

The article posts a sub-head that reads “Formats are blurring in push for viewers.”

No question that the economy is one of the factors driving the quest.

As ad dollars decline, the nets scrape for whatever remains at the bottom of the barrel like a pack of dogs fighting for the bone.

But the economy is not the only driver.

Bring to the table the impact of online and mobile options, cable network lifescycles, next generation management and the original innovators now replaced by the MBAs.

And its not just the cable nets that deserve the limelight.

I am writing this blob at a Starbucks. Remember when Starbucks declared the ownership of the “Third Place?”

Today that “kitchen table” has been replaced by breakfast sandwiches designed to sway me from McDonald’s and instant coffee packs sold in supermarkets to sway me from Folgers.

Back about eight years ago, I leased an Infiniti FX mini-SUV that sported a completely new auto style and design.

Today when I drive up next to what looks like my old Infiniti, I see brand names like Ford, GM, Mercedes, Toyota and Kia.

And then when I get home I see TV ads for those same brands all declaring their new, novel and break-through new look and design.

Then there’s the new 4G iPhone that really isn’t any more “Mac innovative” than the 3G, but shoot, they have to compete against the 4G Google Phone.

Its like the post-innovative technology CEOs are now overdosing on Viagra.

I can go on with stories about banks all clamoring around service and hospitals all claiming the position of “we care.”

But I won’t.

Maybe it’s the Maslow pyramid hierarchy at work.

Maybe it’s about brands that have not just hit market maturity, but are now on the decline fostered further by the economy.

Out with the brand vision.

In with shedding the brand clothes and scrapping up whatever crumbs fall in the mud below.

Whatever happened to taking the risk to be brand innovative? Whatever happened to the brand platforms? Whatever happened to the brand stewards?

This past week I was again labeled as the proverbial optimist.

As much as it’s damn hot outside, I know that it will not remain still for long.

When the thunder rumbles, my heart beats faster.

A couple of weeks ago, Fine Living became The Cooking Channel, a network crafted specifically around the passion of the kitchen…not restaurants, not how food brands are made, not eating weird foods and not about travel.

When I served as the brand steward of Cartoon Network, we took a firm stand that no live programming could air on the network. Space Ghost Coast-to-Coast pushed the bar, but Space Ghost and his “studio” remained in the cartoon setting.

While MTV is airing movies and Travel Channel is airing game shows, Cartoon Network remains all cartoons.

There is hope.

When brands reach market maturity they will either Innovate again with what some may label as hierarchy or they will go out of business.

Entrepreneurs are crafting new ways to do business without the overhead of the corporations.

YouTube is now posting 2 billion views per day. Gee, wonder if those cable nets want to be YouTube?

As the cable nets elect to blur their brand lines, they may be surprised when they find themselves in the very seats that CBS, NBS and ABC sat in not that long ago.

Trust me. Get ready for the storms.