Tuesday 23 February 2010

You are not a gadget

I have been hearing the term "Social Müdigkeit" around for a week or two now - for non-German speakers, "Müde" is "tired", so it translates as "weariness with Social Media". I suppose I've had this feeling for a while myself - it tends to come when you get an invite to join yet another group that's going to do precisely nothing on Facebook and when you have enough of your own stuff to be getting on with anyway. Having said that, I'm pretty sure this is a mood, or temporary state, as with any form of tiredness and I'll be back with a vengeance next time someone posts a long-lost video of a Saatchi conference in the 90s or something.

It's probably not any different to those times when we were "fed up with TV" - until something worth watching came along.

However, it's probably good to be in this state of mind to read the new book from Jaron Lanier - "You are not a gadget". I haven't read this "manifesto" yet but, from the reviews such as this one from flavorwire, it certainly looks interesting.

"We've elevated the cloud or hive mind above the spirit, intelligence and idiosyncracy of the individual" says the review. It's certainly worth a thought: can the so-called "wisdom" of mobs and computer algorithms really be superior to the intelligence and judgement of human individuals?

Wednesday 17 February 2010

Gorilla vs Cow

I haven't really been following the Cadbury's takeover story but was nevertheless interested to read that Kraft will be rolling the Milka brand out nationally in the UK as from April.

Um...what exactly do they think they're doing here? Two chocolate brands, both with purple packaging (one a bit darker, one a bit lighter), both of which have a milk-based USP ("glass-and-a-half" or "Alpine"). It's a bit like the Boat Race...

Shouldn't Kraft have sat down and done a portfolio analysis of their existing and newly-acquired brands before sending their lilac cow's left hand into the ring to battle with the CDM gorilla's right?

Wednesday 10 February 2010

Mad Bank

Banks and other financial institutions have had a rough time of it recently - some wrongly, some rightly. Most have a pressing need to maintain or rebuild their customers' trust but I'm not sure that all are going about it the right way.

I've already blogged about one company that is taking the approach of changing its name and branding to sound less like a solid, reliable kind of place that you'd be happy to let handle your money and more like an entry for the Eurovision Song Contest (yes, that's you, "Aviva"). And now, maybe because "bank" is such a dirty word, the Deutsche Bank is adopting an even more radical approach.

It has been announced that the Deutsche Bank is going to remove its name from its branding, leaving just the logo and the tagline "Passion to Perform" in a hand-written style.

Now, I have lived in Germany for fourteen years and I have to admit that seeing a dark blue box with "Passion to Perform" scrawled underneath it conjures up High School Musical or The Kids from Fame. But not Deutsche Bank - or any other sort of bank.

So, why? Well, firstly, to emulate "other exclusive and premium global brands". And secondly, apparently "...everyone looks for personality in business...it helps us decide who we trust..."

I don't know about you but if asked who I'd rather trust with my money, a "personality" or a bank, even in these days of mad, bad and dangerous-to-know banks, I'd probably go for that option.

Friday 5 February 2010

Cool idea

As the snow is rapidly melting outside, I thought I'd draw your attention to an event that took place in Berlin a couple of weekends ago.

Energy company Entega, whose credentials in the area of green and sustainable energy are better than some organised a "Snowman Demo" to raise awareness of global warming and to get people talking.

I didn't see it live, but rapping snowmen paraded through Berlin and people were encouraged to build their own snowman in Berlin's Schloßplatz. Of course this was all accompanied online via the usual channels.

All in all, 750 snowmen were built. I'm not going to go into the politics of climate change, or bore holes in the logic. I'm not even sure how many of the 750 are still there but it's a pretty cool idea.

Wednesday 3 February 2010


At the moment, online communities seem to be popping up at a rate last seen during during the Gold Rush, rather like blogs a couple of years ago.

But I do think some brands lend themselves to communities better than others. IKEA, for example, was always destined to formalise or take its existing community online.

The business that the brand is in - Home Furnishings - and the fact that it's a brand with customer involvement at its core, not to mention the legions of existing fans AND those with an opinion make a community an obvious next step. Have a look here - and I expect that this community is not likely to become a virtual Ghost Town within a year.