An authentic brand tone of voice

Bob Dylan, speaking at Musicares

Sam Cooke said this when told he had a beautiful voice: He said, “Well that’s very kind of you, but voices ought not to be measured by how pretty they are. Instead they matter only if they convince you that they are telling the truth.”


Charging for services : value v cost

A guy wakes up one Sunday morning to find the kitchen flooded. Water is spurting everywhere and things are getting ruined. 

He tracks down a plumber who arrives to a fraught family scene. ‘Thank god you’re here’, says the dad. 

The plumber surveys the situation, pulls a tool out of his bag and stops the burst immediately. 

‘That’s fantastic’, says the guy, ‘how much do I owe you?’

‘£100’ says the plumber. 

‘£100?’. says the dad. ‘It only took you two minutes!’

‘No’, says the plumber, ‘that took me 25 years’ 


Political rhetoric 

Read My Lips – Why Politicians Speak the Way They Do – terrific podcast covering the power of words to influence. 

I particularly liked how the speech consultant improved on “hard-working families”



Pleased to see that one of the first, and still one of the best, crowdsourced twitter memes is still active


MotU #3: How many coins in the jar?

Stuff you knew you needed to know

About 10 years after the term was coined, are podcasts entering a golden age? Certainly, intelligent content is no longer the preserve of the BBC. 99% Invisible has been impressing for a while, but this season’s mega-hit is Serial – a real-life crime documentary where Twin Peaks meets the Wire. Do try it. Apps are getting better too – Overcast calls out to be trialled with its clever smart speed feature
Amazon appears to be getting into travel. Skift reports that the retailer-phone-maker-cloud-computing giant has approached hoteliers about listing on Amazon Travel. Does their brand and expertise stretch that far? 
Under Steve Jobs, Apple didn’t do societal stuff. Tim Cook has changed that enormously. The company finally started charity donations and campaigns for workplace equality (see also Cook’s beautiful coming out essay). This year, for World AIDS day, they’re promoting special (RED) editions of apps. It’s very impressive. The peerless Monument Valley special edition is a must.

… and stuff you didn’t

Passwords are our private diaries. Memorable and unguessable by necessity, they become a safe haven for our personal in-jokes and unspoken fantasies. The Secret Life of Passwords delves into what they say about us. 
App of the week. Remember Draw Something? If you liked the smash hit Pictionary-style drawing/guessing game, then check out Draw Type – it’s a keyboard add-on for iPhone that takes Emojis one stage further by letting you draw cute (or unsavoury) images for sending by SMS or WhatsApp. 
Can the internet count coins as well as a bank machine? An experiment at Stanford University is testing the wisdom of crowds by inviting all-comers to guess the value of coins in this jar. Make your guess by Dec 8.


Monument Valley: Forgotten Shores

Brilliant in-app purchase. What a game.



Pack mentality

Nice playful packaging by Tyrrells for Virgin Atlantic



Thatcher Marmite

Brilliant from the Guardian

fragile Misc

Why clever people can be bad for good marketing

I loved the Olympic opening ceremony. For the first time, here was a major event that spoke to me and actually felt like the modern Britain I know and the London I am proud to live in.

This article celebrates what an extraordinary achievement it is for Danny Boyle to get his vision realised (and, to be fair, for it to be allowed to be realised). In these kinds of situations, it’s all too easy for a genuine vision to get blanded out by committee. As Bill Cosby said, “I don’t know what the key to success is, but the key to failure is trying to keep everybody happy”

I’ve written before about how easy it is to kill good ideas and this thought rang all too true to me:

Smart people can kill a terrific but vulnerable idea faster than anyone, because they have the analytical ability to create a firing line of objections to anything new and hence dangerous.

likeability Misc monetisation surprise talkability

A mad idea

Nice transmedia support for Mad Men.

reissued by Grove Press after being out of print for 45 years

Via BoingBoing

branding disruption Misc strategy

Will people pay for content? Wrong question

Far better to ask – will they pay for my brand?

Are you thinking hard enough about what you really provide to them – rationally and emotionally?

Is it really only news you sell, or is it reassurance? Or a signal for other people of your status? Is your magazine selling entertainment – or is it a way to pass the time? Or feel connected? Or feel good about yourself?

How can you take these underlying values and translate them into other product forms (guide books, insurance services etc)

I’ve previously written about my view that people will pay for content if you make it easy. But if they won’t pay for your brand, you really are in trouble

low cost marketing Misc productivity viral

clinginess is the new spam

Quite rightly, forward-thinking brands are connecting with their audiences via facebook fan pages. It’s a readymade network of peer groups and allows saliency and reputation to be built. It’s a social database that can be accessed for commercial means – to announce a promotion, drive traffic to a site or augment another brand experience.

ITV’s X-Factor are doing this especially well. By crafting provocative, open-ended questions and posting them while the programme is on air, they are tapping into increasingly popular TV+laptop behaviour and creating real-time water cooler moments. I saw one thread about the twins have over 10,000 comments in it. That sort of engagement has never been possible until now.

Picture 1

Unlike email newsletters, publishing content onto fan pages can and should be done quite regularly – certainly at least once a day.

And this is where brands need to spot the danger. All new media bring new communication opportunities. You can speak to your fan base whenever you like. But just because you can doesn’t mean you should.

Just as no-one wants to receive too many (any?) emails from you, over-communicating on facebook risks flipping the consumer’s mindset from “I love your brand!” to “hmmm… stop talking all the time. You are so needy.

Clinginess is the new spam

featured Misc

Five ways to improve Linked In

LinkedIn appears to have cornered the professional social network market with admirably clear positioning and a genuinely useful site. But I believe they could do even better:

1. Become the CV/resume platform
The design of public profile pages are too dry. Couldn’t the layouts have customisable themes to suit personalities and professions? They need to let people better express their portfolios and achievements. LinkedIn have the opportunity to become people’s CV/resume on the web and should take it.

2. Make conversations easier
Conversation and connection is at the heart of their brand. Group functionailty and social graph integration could be much richer. LinkedIn could be a service people encounter daily.
How about providing free online spaces for people to brainstorm topics or generate feedback on pitches and product ideas?

3. Get more people to go Pro
LinkedIn offer three account upgrade options, ranging from $24.95 to $499.95 per month. I’m sure that’s good value for some professional recruiters, but isn’t there an opportunity for Pro-style badges for the mass market? Done right, people would feel a professional obligation to have a Pro account – it’d be like putting on a good suit for an interview. Flickr seem to have this right at $24.95 per year.

4. Enable real-world networking
Every day all over the world, people attend conferences hoping to make new connections. How could LinkedIn add value? Could they provide dynamic pages on your upcoming events showing who else in your network/target is going to be there too? Could they be more proactive on Twitter, using hashtags to partake in conversations around hot events and topics. Might they even run/sponsor networking sessions at the bigger conferences?

5. Own the advice space
LinkedIn could be the platform for professional advice. Sites like Horses Mouth are getting traction in the mentoring space, but LinkedIn have the scale to take a huge share in this. Most successful business people would be flattered to share their experiences if it was made easy.

featured Misc

iPhone monetisation map

The new 3.0 software brings new commercialisation options to the iPhone, and I’ve been thinking of a simple way to summarise them:



Flying in the face of convention

Businesses are all getting to grips with the sensitive and tricky task of dealing with the wonderful world of bloggers. Most companies are extremely careful to be respectful of this emerging news channel.

Which is what makes Ryanair’s position on dealing with bloggers, given to Travolution and  reported in the Guardian, so extraordinary

“Ryanair can confirm that a Ryanair staff member did engage in a blog discussion. It is Ryanair policy not to waste time and energy corresponding with idiot bloggers and Ryanair can confirm that it won’t be happening again.

“Lunatic bloggers can have the blog sphere all to themselves as our people are far too busy driving down the cost of air travel.”

While this will doubtless cause much shocked Twittering, you have to admire Ryanair’s clear, if blunt, stance. It’s absolutely in line with their no-frills, low-cost positioning.


Twitter ye not

Doonesbury March 2nd