Tuesday, 22 November 2011

Savings Champion, are champion!

Are your savings losing money? (hint: they are) Then you need to sign up for a new service that we've created for our new friends in Bath, savingschampion.co.uk 


We'll talk in more depth about the work we did for Savings Champion soon, but for now we'd love to let you know about their brilliant service, Rate Tracker.  


Easy as 1-2-3.  Sign-up for alerts when your bonus rate ends.
Rate Tracker is simple.  You input a couple of details about your savings account and Savings Champion does the rest.  They will alert you when your existing savings rate changes.  Simple!  No more dormant savings accounts earning 0.50% for us... or for you.


Even if you don't have savings then go and take a look at our latest creation.  We're pretty proud of what we've done together in a few short months.


Have a peep: www.savingschampion.co.uk

Tuesday, 3 May 2011

2025, the year of [________] contd.

Last weekend was the start of May, which means we are well and truly in the middle of spring 2011. Some of the Nameless team have been getting their pins out and wearing shorts to the office in the hope that this will guarantee a great summer ahead, so we felt it was time to carry on with some more predictions of what our staff think the future might hold for us all in 2025...

Sammi

In 2025, digital technology has entered into an Orwellian world with two great powers battling for our love and devotion. These powers are Frutopia (formerly apple computers) and Humanoidia (once known as Facebook). It’s a battle of hardware versus software (Microsoft stopped trading in anything technology related back in 2019, after Bill Gates philanthropy efforts discovered the cure for all known illness – which is nice, but does make it rather more difficult to explain away a hangover when invited out for Sunday lunch with the family).

All of our thoughts and feelings are automatically detected by our hand held devices by the amount of perspiration levels we emit, like those archaic lie detector test. Status updates automatically let all you friends and family know your every mood – and all your friends can press the hug/scold/giggle button. Shopping is being delivered to your front door before you have even finished thinking “Ohhh I quite fancy macaroni cheese tonight” and Saturday afternoons are spent wandering around the empty high street stores which were turned into participatory art instillations after becoming obsolete.

But don’t fret, there is no need for a Winston Smith style moment of rebellion, the great Wikileaks trial of 2012-2017 (the longest and most expensive court case ever known) means you are more than welcome to scream out loud “ya know what I miss those cute little aliens on android phones – fruit’s rubbish” or update your status to “Joe is ignoring you all today, no matter what his sweat say’s: even you mum”. You are also allowed to sneak into the attic and gather a book made of paper, fabric and needle or pencils and sketchbook and a old music device called a walkman and turn on, tune in and drop out.




Sarah

Before I drain my mug of tea and peer into its murky depths to help make my 2025 digital predictions (this is a loose leaf tea free zone, so I have to make do) I think it’s a worthwhile exercise to go back in time by 14 (well, ok, 17) years…

In 1994, a PC connected to (gasp) the internet was installed my school. Accessible only to the keenest beans who were on the right side of the librarian, it was kept locked away in a glass room like some kind of secular holy grail.

In between lessons, we would linger like Victorian street urchins outside a bakery, waiting for the librarian to take pity on us and let just one of us in so that we could get our mitts on our heart’s desire: the opportunity to get online, plagiarise someone else’s work, and pass it off as our own, thus reducing time required for homework.

For me at that time, the digital world represented a way of connecting with the world and dipping my teenage toes into a wealth of new and incredible information.

I could never have imagined then, how digital would become so fundamental to how I function and earn my crust in 2011. So, what might 2025 bring? I am no digital soothsayer, but here goes:
1. Self cleaning keyboard. Never again would I have to spend 2 hours cleaning soup from my keyboard with the aid of only cotton buds and elbow grease.
2. Digi-pathic communications. Actually let’s do away with keyboards altogether and use the power of brainwaves to guide our technology. Possibly not so good if your mind tends to wander…
3. Cloud based hosting will become the norm for the average Joe (or Joleen) so that music, applications, files, pictures and the rest can be accessed from anywhere. Goodbye external hard drives, hello flexibility.
4. Proper books will still exist in my house in 2025.
5. I will feel like a digital dinosaur, not being one of these lucky digital natives who will be running the world by then, probably from their bedrooms.

Thursday, 3 March 2011

Marketing Superhereos
















Marketing people don't make great entrepreneurs.  It's not their fault though, it's just that the process of analysing a market, scoping the opportunity and planning an entrance strategy usually turn up reasons to investigate further and to delay the action. Entrepreneurs, in my experience, take action first and then analyse after and there is a lot to be said for that approach, or at least for adopting a more action-orientated approach in marketing.

Sometimes marketers over-market things and the result is a personality-free and homogeneous result to branding, packaging, campaigns and well, anything.  Sometimes, I think it's actually better to go with your own creative gut instinct.

Hollywood is the perfect example.  How many films have been ruined by the marketing folks?  The insistence of shoehorning in a child into most plots, to "tug on the heart strings", seems very de rigueur at most studios and it also ruins every movie where they do it.  How's about just going with the original story which was written without a concern for average reading ages and whether "your average Joe" will understand it?

I'm told that the UK's average reading age is 8 years old.  I don't understand that statistic though.  If your reading age is that of an 8 year old, how do they measure an 8 year old's reading age - don't they have variations in ability at that age too?  Are you telling me that all 8 year olds are exactly the same?   If not then that statistic is meaningless.  A quick aside, what is the optimum reading age?  Is it like sexual peak or do we keep getting better until senility hits?

Anyhow, back to the title of this blog, marketing superheroes.  A strange title considering the content so far, but then again I am hoping your reading age is in double figures and you'll appreciate the depth of message here.  The point I'm trying to make is that Superheroes would not exist if marketing departments were charged with their creation.  Let's take a look at a few examples:


THE INCREDIBLE HULK

The Incredible Hulk would never have happened if it was left to marketing people.  Here's why. First off, he is the result of gamma radiation.  That doesn't sound good does it, an accident?  No your marketing department would consider this too unfortunate and not nearly inspirational enough.  In today's society he would be green because he was put on Earth by mother nature to protect the planet from smog and other nasties.

The unmistakable fact that he is green would not be ignored, it would be a cornerstone of the "Hulk" brand, although the name would have to go of course.   The "Hulk" would be about green and reducing CO2 and punishing people who pollute the countryside.   When I say punish though I need to establish what punish means.  The Hulk wouldn't actually harm anyone, he would help them, he'd be a non-violent pacifist who would be more liable to hug you than hit you.

Now for the prickly issue of his name.   It's far too marginal and a little offensive.  No, no, no we can't have Hulk - how's about Giant instead, the Incredible Giant?  Although that doesn't consider the green bit.   So what about The Incredible Green Giant?  Getting there, but there's something else, can we really say he's incredible, is that credible?  No, it probably isn't, so let's go with "Green Giant".  Perfect, it says the right things and is "bang on" in terms of branding and merchandising, we could even sell peas using him to promote them.













You can see why marketers should be used carefully, otherwise you end up with a dumbed-down, safe-for-the-masses, nothing.


Spiderman would become "The Worldwide Web".  Superman would become "Average Person" and as for Batman, he'd probably be re-packaged for the pink pound, not that much re-packaging would need to be done.

Sometimes, I believe, we should follow our gut instincts.  We are not a danger to ourselves by going with what we instinctively feel we should do, most of the time at least - although admittedly a quick search of YouTube will show you lots of examples to the contrary.

Over analysis paralysis is all too common in most marketing departments, maybe it's time to take action people!

Tuesday, 1 March 2011

2025, the year of [________]

I’d like to wish you all a “Happy New Year”. Now, don’t I feel all the better for wishing you all good tidings this year? Well no, you see there is a question gnawing away at me which contaminates my feeling of contentment and that is; at what point exactly do you stop wishing people a happy new year? Is there a rule, perhaps? Have I just broken it, well it is March so most likely, which doesn't bode well for the year ahead at all. Still I will forge ahead regardless; such is the force of momentum that I’ve carried into this year, the year of the rabbit. Now there’s a title that will get you girding your loins.

Some folk mark the start of a new year with a profusion of predictions about the year ahead. Laudable though that is, I’m not sure there is much I can add to what more established futurologists have already stated. However, I do think there is merit in making some predictions for the year 2025. If I was asked a good few years ago what I thought the world would look like in 2011 it would have gone something like this:

• The living room wall will be a telly, with at least ten channels to choose from.
• Everybody will be wearing jumpsuits (I suppose I was right for some parts of the UK where the shell suit is the de facto uniform these days)
• Cars will be powered by air and have a maximum speed of 300mph

Okay, they may not have come true, but they are all the more fun to read as a result. So, with that in mind, I’ve asked my colleagues who are an artistic, scientific, poetic and digitally savvy bunch to make their own predictions for 2025. I’ll admit it’s going to be a while before we can test our predictions, but like fine wine we’ll lay these down for future tasting. Which reminds me, did I mention about our new client Enotria Wines?
So to kick off the “new” year, here are a few predictions from some Nameless folk to whet your appetite for more full-on blogs about some of our bigger ideas for 2025.

Allanah

Before getting into the meat of Allanah’s predictions, it’s probably worth saying that when we asked her for her thoughts she was in the middle of a particularly dark novel which may have coloured some of her ideas:

• ID tracking chips worn under the skin will become compulsory within America
• Google will own the world!
• The British and American pound will steadily devalue against China’s Yuan and India’s Rupee
• Climate change, extinction of species that effect our food supply and heavy chemical and industrial pollution will be used as a reason to enter into a one world order
• 70% of the seas species will be wiped out and fish farming will be the next new goldmine
• Water will become more important than oil to our economy and Oil mining will become a thing of the past

Stewie

Stewie was born an electrical engineer, so it’s only natural that his thoughts focused on the technology that will surround our lives in 2025.
• More and better interoperability and integration
• A ubiquitous login-system for websites
• NFC/RFID payment systems trials
• SSDs becoming practical/affordable
• A throng of "App Stores"
• The death of IE5 and IE6 (*please*)
• Phone stylesheets becoming a necessity
• Something making 3DTV worthwile

Adrian

No relation to Tony Hart. Adrian has a similar style to the custodian of many a grown-up child’s TV/art memories, so it’s not surprising that Adrian has thought a bit about how technologies will affect people rather than just thinking about the technology.
• All cars are electric or run on orange juice/waste food
• Marketing recognition technology will be in employed in all high street shops - a la The Minority Report
• Free internet access – everywhere
• Facebook associated technology will be embedded in the working world as well as in a personal/social capacity

To mark the “new” year, it would be interesting to hear your own predictions for 2025. Don’t be shy. Through the year ahead we’ll re-visit this subject to look at some of the more involved answers from others at Nameless.

Thursday, 9 December 2010

Festival frolics and brand loyalty

With winters early arrival and the accompanying reappearance of woollen knitwear from the back of the wardrobe, the memories of the summer months still linger on. Like a lot of people I now forgo a week of lying on a scorching beach in a Mediterranean resort which bears more than a passing resemblance to Basra in terms of heat and charm (I’d imagine, since I’ve yet to visit Basra).

This particularly “pleasure” has been replaced in my affections by the charms of donning a sparkly outfit and camping in a field, whatever the weather, at one of the many boutique festivals across the country. This summer was no exception and I managed to squeeze in going to two of the smaller festivals (Glastonbury has still eluded me, but one day...) and danced my way through glitter-filled fun to my heart’s content. However both festivals suffered from problems which were either unforeseeable or outside their control, and whilst it wouldn’t have solved the problems a stronger digital solution could have eased their woes and resulted in a less stressful time for organisers and punters alike.

But these two festivals are not alone in having a digital offering that is not working hard enough when the going gets tough, and when the going gets tough, brand loyalty gets going. The first example of this is often before revellers have even entered the site. Many a festival attendee will arrive in high spirits and join the back of the queue, either in their car or on foot. Three or four hours later they can still be in the queue, but high spirits have long since disappeared.

These delays can be for a variety of reasons, ranging from staff being unprepared for the large numbers that arrive earlier and earlier each year to the long arm of the law adopting a strict search policy for illegal substances (although I don’t think it’s that difficult to find illegal substances at a festival – or at least that’s what I have been told!). But the crowd does not know this; staff have no way of communicating it to them, and the brand suffers as a result with negative comments from the crowd attacking the staff themselves and no longer believing in the carefully and lovingly created brand mythology.

Another common problem faced by festival organisers in putting on a fun-filled weekend is nature’s typical insistence on making its presence felt. This was a problem faced by one of the festivals I attended this year. God made it rain - a lot. The car park flooded and organisers were forced to delay revellers for 24 hours. But this information didn’t come from the website, it came from Facebook. Panic stricken parents who had put teenage girls on a coach on the Thursday morning were desperately trying to find out what was happening. Confusion reigned as questions went unanswered as Facebook couldn’t cope with providing the information required.

As already stated digital media can’t stop these problems arising, but it can help contain them. The way in which people view digital media is constantly changing and has undergone massive changes in the past year alone. Festivals have visually beautiful websites but often made using an inflexible solution such as flash with no way of creating two way communications with their audience. Simple search functions are forgotten about and if they do exist information is poorly tagged (this alone would greatly solve the confusion of the official alcohol and glass policy, one story is of a group of friends having a champagne bottle ready for a 40th birthday toast confiscated whilst watching others carry in crates of cider). Widgets and polls can be used to gather information about when and how people are getting to the festival and a greater emphasis on good user experience needs to be considered when creating the navigation hierarchy.

The expectations of people to have the information they require provided quickly and concisely means that any site suffering from bad usability is dismissed and abandoned quickly. This is more readily acknowledged as a problem by companies directly selling products via the website, however it is still a problem for an organisation using the website for purely promotional purposes as it’s from this initial confusion and frustration that the breakdown of brand loyalty starts.

The full potential of social media platforms is not being realised, or not yet being used in the correct manner and ultimately costing money in maintaining the pages. Social media is best put to use when generating conversation and allowing people to play for short burst of time on apps, built to entertain and dazzle.

Festival organisations can use this to their advantage changing from beautiful but static and bandwidth heavy website’s in favour of flexible and searchable websites which broadcast information gathered from questions, conversations and comments already started on Facebook, Twitter or YouTube. This will free up time and budget to commission bespoke apps, be they social media, web or mobile, to fully engage and play with the brand and allow people to fall head over heels in love with the festival before they have even got there. Now has anyone got a spare Glastonbury ticket?

Wednesday, 20 October 2010

Please keep it simple!

If you’ve done DIY at some point in your life, the chances are that this has included a bit of painting. So, can I ask you something? Have you ever chosen a paint colour because you liked its name? Did the fact that the colour was called “sunblush” mean that you just had to have it?
Rubiks Pantone
If you’ve never done DIY then you are very lucky, because you’ve lived a very charmed life and I am willing to give you another example of needless naming. Have you ever chosen a special edition of a car purely because you liked its name? I once had a Renault Clio Oasis. It was a nice little car too, but I’d have been just as happy with it if it wasn’t called an ‘Oasis’, in fact I’d rather it was just called a Renault Clio. Incidentally it was dark green, a kind of ”British Racing Green” if you will.
In that instance the colour’s name actually helps, because British Racing Green is something with a bit of lineage and there’s a chance you might know what to expect from the name alone. Although, being French, I suspect Renault marketed this colour at the time as “Sacha Distel Green” or something equally unhelpful.

Sacha Distel
My car’s colour was nothing like Sacha’s jacket, more’s the pitty…

When the MoD decides on the hues for their camouflage paint jobs are they aided in the task by stupid names? I can just imagine the command: I’ll have an intercontinental ballistic missile in “jade green” with an accent of “puce”! (I know puce is pink, but I’ve never written the word in my life and couldn’t resist)
Here is Dulux’s paint colour (neutrals) page. Now, I think I like ‘Malt Chocolate’, but do I prefer ‘Mellow Mocha’? I’ve no idea what each colour looks like by the name alone, so why are they there? Do these names help me to choose between one colour and the other – not really. The swatches aren’t arranged from light to dark either, so what is my gauge for choosing one over another?
If the name indicated where one colour sat relative to the other colours in the same range that would be helpful. If I knew ‘Beige 007′ was lighter than ‘Beige 009′ then I’d have a decent gauge to judge the colours by. Incidentally that’s what Dulux does for trade customers. So why don’t they do that for your average customer? You could argue that the friendly names are more memorable, but I’ve got to say beige with an indicative number seems an even easier method for my brain to work with. In short, why do marketing departments add unhelpful frills that customers don’t want or need?

Life would be simpler without marketing!

Now that’s a risky thing for someone in marketing to say, but I can’t take it back, it’s there in big bold letters and it’s also true. Before marketing, people just described things in a straightforward way with the sole purpose to help the person they were interacting with understand their meaning – unless of course they were like our friend Derren Brown and were practising the art of misdirection. This method worked for hundreds of years and language progressed along nicely and then marketing people got involved and complicated things.
Starbucks is one of the best known brands there is, so you’d think they would be above this kind of marketing misdirection. But no, sadly they are not. Now, I appreciate that they want to conjure up some Italian esque thematics, but we all know they are a relatively plastic homogeneous American brand. If they are going to pretend they are anything otherwise then they could at least do it in a way that doesn’t make my life more difficult.
Starbucks
I was in a Starbucks recently on my way to work, it was before 9am and therefore it was not effeminate of me to order a Latte, so I went ahead and ordered one. I’m told that if you have a Latte past mid-morning then it’s seen as being a bit girlie – this seems a bit pretentious even to me and I’m a bit pretentious, but I do admit that I feel a bit more comfortable ordering a Latte in the morning, just in case anyone is judging. Is Latte the coffee for people that don’t like coffee, probably.
I read the blackboard and saw that a medium-sized cup was called a “Grande”. As I’ve said, I am a bit pretentious at times so I couldn’t help but let on the fact that I understood what the English translation of Grande is, and I ordered a largeLatte. My mistake, Grande is large of course, but in Starbucks large is medium, super large is Venti, so if you ask for a large you’ll get a super-large cup – do you follow? So I ended up with a bucket-sized cup of warm milk and felt not only girlie, but also gluttonous.
Why do marketers do this? Is it just to make our lives difficult? Or is it so they can snigger at us all as we inadvertently buy the wrong products? I harbour a small desire for these people, who are hell-bent on making my life more difficult, to meet painful ends as a result of misinterpreting something.
Maybe something like somebody else in marketing deciding it would be great to be more inclusive with the American pedestrian crossing signs, “Walk” / “Don’t Walk”. So in place of this simple instruction the new signals might include symbols for all the types of people you could expect might use a crossing – resulting in the person who thought it was a good idea to call medium cups large getting flattened by a medium-sized articulated truck because they were mislead by the new-improved signal. Maybe I am taking this too far?

A simpler way

I leave you with a positive and that is that the User eXperience (UX) Design methods are killing this bad habit. Most forward-thinking companies now do at the very least some user testing of their digital communications and so this kind of confusing marketing intervention is being tested-out of existence.
The upside of this is that if someone says something is large then in all likelihood it will be large, not medium …and if someone describes a colour as “Dusted Damson”, they will also give you the additional piece of info that tells you that the colour is actually “Beige 031″, or at the very least they will show it in context against similar colours to give you a helping hand.
Professional, digitally-focused, agencies use UX design methodology to help identify the clearest solutions for their customers’ users. We also add persuasion to the mix, so that whilst we will make it abundantly clear that a Grande coffee is the medium offering available, we’ll still make the user want a Venti!
Phew, glad I got that off my chest. Time for a medium-sized (larger than small and smaller than large) Latte, which ironically enough is the colour of “Mellow Mocha” and brings a nice “puce” colour to my cheeks when I drink it. Although it is 11:37 am, have I left it too late in the day to drink it?

Friday, 1 October 2010

Enable Interactive - an obituary :-(

I'm reeling. One of our really good agencies in Bristol has just closed its doors. They started after us but grew much larger and won some amazing clients. We really rated them - still do. I guess that these are tough times for everybody, even the ones we think are recession-proof.

Damn it - we really liked you Enable - we were happy sharing the pond with you and even though we stuck to our own corners of the city most days we were happy for your success. You did good and made the city and the creative community proud. You attracted more talent to the city, you were active and positive corporate citizens, and even when you rocketed to stardom you were still down-to-earth in your dealings.

Bristol has lost a great creative force today. Lets make sure that we do everything we can to retain the talent they represented and take care of the talent we've got.