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What are your thoughts on these major brands—Apple, Tiger Woods, Nike and Scrabble—making headlines this week?


Was Avatar Just The Beginning?

During my weekly scan of the New York Times I came across an idea that I haven’t been able to shake. To be honest, it’s something I’ve been thinking about since my second screening of Avatar… I’ve been quietly pontificating but now I’m going to wonder out loud, with you.

The line in the New York Times read, “Put on your 3-D glasses — What isn’t in 3-D these days?”

So I ask, are you with the pictures—have you made the switch to 3-D?

Are the classic and modern ideas of simple, clean lines becoming blurred, maximized and digitized? If more and more directors, executives and influential companies are getting on board with this techno-trend, is this a shift, does 3-D really have legs?

I might be able to get used to seeing the world in blue and red but on the flip side, I am not willing to sacrifice image/picture quality and refined brand iconography for what may just be a passing fad. Design innovation is great and I love how 3-D bends traditional in-the-box concepts and ideas. I confess, I did see Avatar not once, but twice and loved being taken into the picture in a whole new way but that doesn’t mean I want to see any old rom-com in 3-D. There is a time and a place for this technology—in the coming months how many marketing departments, designers and branding professionals will implement this technology.

…And for all you golf fans with a 3-D capable box, you might want to mark you calendars and stay on the look out:


Holiday Branding

Another consumer holiday has passed—Valentine’s Day. Grocery stores, drug stores and big box retailers alike were stalked up on Valentine’s Day treats. Everywhere I looked, love slogans and warm pink hearts—in my face. Are holidays such as Halloween, Valentine’s Day and Easter being over marketed and turned into consumer nightmares? I think it’s fair to say that most holidays have become a brand.

Many companies have hopped on the holiday branding-wagon, and why not? There is a market for these branded holiday products after all… But how far have these new “brands” strayed from the original holiday spirit? Does it matter?

With my belly full of chocolate—‘tiss the season, I’m curious to know, which holiday has been branded the best? Which brand do consumers spend the most money on? Personally I would say Halloween has developed into a strong brand over the years. The costumes, the parties… I can’t even begin to count the number of events that are centered around Halloween, it’s out of control! Who wouldn’t love a holiday that allows you to change your identity if even for just one day? The costume options are endless these days—from the always-traditional Witch, to the famed personas of Marilyn Monroe or Elvis. After all, it’s Halloween the normal rules don’t apply. Young or old, single or hitched Halloween is fun for all and definitely one holiday I’m excited to spend my money on. But have we lost sight of the true meaning of All Hallows Eve?

Likewise, Valentine’s Day seems to have lost that, “love will conquer all” feeling and replaced it with the pressure of picking out that perfect diamond bracelet, playing the best (but not too clichéd love songs) for the evening’s candle-lit dinner and a movie. Where did all this stress come from? Is it the brand that now puts pressure on consumers for the best and most outrageous and original costume or romantic evening? The evolution of these holidays has been a long time in the making and while it’s interesting and a fresh take on an old concept has it gone too far? Or, are we comfortable allowing these holidays the opportunity to become even larger brands?


Design Copycats: Inspiration or Theft?

As I walked along Spadina, I stopped in my tracks when I came across this small travel agency called “ G.A.P. Adventures”. Their company logo almost identically resembled the M.A.C. Cosmetics logo, even having the periods in between the three letters. The only differences were that the spacing between the letters was wider and a line went below the word G.A.P. While this was perhaps a bit of inspiration, I feel a bit of plagiarism may also be involved in this case. It’s true it is difficult to reinvent the wheel since almost everything you think of or see these days has been done before. The art is to take the best of everything you see or hear and put it together to create a new piece of art and give it your own personal touch and style.

Another copycat scenario that a friend who lives in New York brought to my attention is the exact likeness between a TTC poster in Toronto and the MTA ( Metropolitan Transportation Authority). Although the TTC received permission from the MTA to use the same creative concept, it is very unoriginal on the TTC’s part. I find the whole structure and look of the design to be weak so why copy a poorly designed concept instead of strengthening it?? The two look almost identical, even having the same placement for the text and imagery. My friend, who had been in Toronto before, thought at first it was the same poster she had seen back home. However, upon closer inspection she noticed the small differences such as the statistics and the TTC logos at the bottom. The TTC poster states the source of the poster, written in very fine print and positioned at the bottom left of the poster. Yes the TTC got permission from MTA but it’s pretty pathetic that the TTC funds and licenses existing designs from other transit authorities instead of coming up with their own. I personally would rather they used someone else’s design (at a much lower cost to them) than paid someone else big bucks to say the same thing.

Can you find other places where you think something has been too closely copied from the original? Do you consider it to be an inspired or a stolen design?











All Marketers are Liars

Besides a catchy name, Seth Godin’s latest marketing book, All Marketers are Liars, successfully outlines a key branding principle:

“All marketers tell stories. And if they do it right we believe them. Successful marketers don’t talk about features or even benefits. Instead, they tell a story. A story we want to believe.”

Markets have ingrained and pre-set worldviews, biases and preferences. Organizations that can adapt and mould themselves to these preconceived perspectives and develop believable product or service stories will win marketshare. When audiences identify with a product or service “story” they become brand consumers.

For example, “…we believe that an $80,000 Porsche Cayenne is vastly superior to a $36,000 VW Touareg, even if it is virtually the same car. We believe that $225 Pumas will make our feet feel better—and look cooler—than $20 no-names, and believing it makes it true.” In other words, Godin is suggesting the market’s perception of a brand is more important than the actual product or service itself in winning marketshare.

Overall, All Marketers are Liars is a quick and interesting read. The book provides information on marketing and branding principles and methodologies while featuring case studies to support Godin’s position.


CaseCamp Benefit – Social Media Event

I recently attended the CaseCamp Benefit in Toronto, an event that features an intriguing list of international speakers with various points of view and future predictions on current social media practices. Here are a few key take-aways from three of the speakers:

Pet Holdings Inc.

Ben Huh, CEO of Pet Holdings Inc.

In less than two years, has become one of the world’s largest blog networks, with 5.5 million page views per day on sites such as Fail Blog, Engrish, and Rofl Razzi. This blog network caters to “wasting your time five minutes a day”.

* Human nature has a tendency to admire complexity but reward simplicity.

* Don’t start from scratch. Use open software platforms to keep your business costs down and increase your profits.

* If your user has 40 seconds on your site, what would they want to see?

ComeScore Inc.

Bryan Segel, Vice President of comScore Inc.

A global leader in measuring the digital world, comScore enables clients to better understand the growing worldwide web and mobile environment.

* 72% of Canadians use the internet monthly, averaging 43 hours and viewing approximately 4,000 pages.

* 89% of Canadians use online social networks viewing 650 pages per month.

* Canada has the highest per capita online video usage in the world.

Know Your Meme

Kenyatta Cheese, Producer and Co-Creater

Elspeth “Ellie” Roundtree, Producer, Writer, Internet Culture Enthusiast and Host is a website documenting internet phenomena: viral videos, image macros, catchphrases, web celebs and more.

* Internet Meme: The propagation of a digital file or hyperlink from one person to others using methods available through the Internet (for example, email, blogs, social networking sites, instant messaging, etc.). The content often consists of a saying, joke or rumor; an altered or original image; a complete website; a video clip or animation; or an offbeat news story, among many other possibilities. Internet memes have a tendency to evolve and spread extremely quickly,

sometimes going in and out of popularity in just days. They are spread organically, voluntarily, and peer to peer, rather than by compulsion, predetermined path, or completely automated means. The term is generally not applied to content or web services that are seen as legitimate, useful, and nonfaddish,

or that spread through organized publishing and distribution channels. Thus, serious news stories, video games, web services, songs by established

musical groups, and the like are usually not called Internet memes. Wikipedia

* Kayne Interupts Example


Who doesn’t love apps?

Every day there seems to be new applications that make the world slightly more enjoyable. Apple even has a program called “Genius” that recommends new apps they believe you’ll love, based on the history of the apps you have already downloaded.

Here are a few of my favourite iphone apps:

Shazam: Identify music tracks, buy them, share the tags with friends and learn more about the artists.

Cleartune: Tune your musical instrument with Cleartune.

G-Park: Tap “Park Me!” Then, when it’s time to head back, tap “Where Did I Park?” and follow the turn-by-turn directions to your vehicle. Oh, and don’t forget if you park at a meter, set the timer on your iPhone—it will alert you when the meter runs out of time.

Bucksme: Find the closest Starbucks, how great is that? Other apps are available for your preferred coffee house.

Facebook: Connect directly to your Facebook account.

What apps are on your smartphone?