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Microsoft’s Internet Explorer is “brand gone”….

In Uncategorized on March 21, 2015 at 12:07 pm

by Robert Liljenwall

After years of indecisiveness, bad reviews, bad performance, and a frustrated management cycle, Microsoft finally pulled the plug on their former stalwart brand — Internet Explorer.  Ask yourself:  Just how many times have you hit the ‘Explorer’ icon in your digital lifetime?  
 
ieFirst released in the mid-1990s, it dominated the browser market at its peak in the early 2000s, but it came to be associated with poor security and compatibility with other browsers and has since languished.  The new browser project is named Spartan, and whether that is the brand they finally end up with (they are non committal on this brand selection), it will have a lot to overcome.
 
Google’s Chrome has dominated the PC browser business — a market in which Microsoft use to control. According to StatCounter in February 2015, Chrome held 43.2 percent of the global browser market including desktop, mobile, and other platforms, while IE captured just 13.1 percent — FireFox had 11.6 percent.  
 
According to AdWeek’s Kristina Monllos, the IE brand is so tainted with poor performance, especially in the mid-2000s, that they will have a lot to overcome.  What some analysts quickly pointed out….to get users to switch back to IE, you are asking them to switch their daily habits, and that’s hard to do, especially if there is a bad taste in their mouths.  IE has left a bad taste for some time.  
 
IE still controls 25% of the desktop market, so it’s not going to disappear — but it will take some very creative and effective marketing to get users to switch back to Microsoft’s new brand, whatever it is.  
 
Not everyone is happy about IE going away….a gal in the Midwest who runs two small businesses is ‘sad to see it go.’ when interviewed by NPR.  She is beginning her mourning process, and “I’m thinking of a good martini — with anchovy olives — that will be appropriate.”  
– RJL

Here comes the Apple Watch on April 24. It’s about time….

In Uncategorized on March 21, 2015 at 12:03 pm

by Robert Liljenwall

This is no ordinary Apple launch — it’s not introducing the sixth version or the fourth version of an iPhone or iPad.  It’s not a mystery as to what category this new Apple product is in:  It’s a watch.  Not a standard watch, by any means.  But it is still a watch — but beyond any other watch on the market today, so Apple hopes.

apple watchApple has done what Apple does best — launch new products.  And they have recruited an incredible team of branding, retail, and technology experts to support the Apple Watch launch.  For example, their retail division has been going through a major in-house restructuring since the Sr. Vice President Retail Ron Johnson left for JC Penny in 2012.  Apple enticed Burberry’s highly regarded and electric Angel Ahrendts to come in as Sr. Vice President to head all retail and online sales efforts, which is causing the reported departure of long-time Apple retail executive Bob Bridger.  To get the high-powered Ahrendts, Apple made her an offer she couldn’t refuse — more than $39 million in stock grants to leave Burberry plus, plus, plus..

To bolster their bet on the Watch, two of Apple’s key acquisitions last year was the hiring of Tag Heuer’s vice president of sales, Patrick Pruniaux in April and the head of French fashion brand Yves Sant Laurent Paul Deneveto who will work on special projects.

(On a side note:  Bridger was responsible for the real estate and development of Apple’s retail operation and was key in the design and placement of Apple’s iconic, original glass staircase at SoHo (NYC) and the ground-breaking vaulted glass ceiling architecture used at Palo Alto and others.  He was considered Steve Jobs’ ‘left hand‘.)

The forthcoming Apple Watch launch on Friday, April 24, (pre-orders will begin April 10) is expected to produce another record quarter for Apple, although sales estimates vary all over the field, Fortune Magazine conducted a survey last September and the analysts’ predicted from 8 million to 41 million for 2015.  The average was 2.5 million per month.  That blows past any watch sales record (of any type).  Initial estimates from Apple was an order of 5-6 million watches.

Apple has already announced that all of their stores will be modified for the integration of “wearable technology” with the Apple Watch stimulating a ‘re-think’ on how Apple stores will be configured to sell the Watch which goes from $349 to as much as $17,000+.

What doe this all mean?  It means simply that Apple put their $$ on proven stars in the luxury brand category — Burberry, Tag Heuer and Yves Saint Laurent….bringing seasoned leadership to the Apple brand.  This is, indeed, an impressive array of brand talent.  After all, Apple is also perceived as a luxury brand.

On the Watch technology front….Apple has opened its first new product to app developers since the company introduced the first iPad five years ago….and Apple is hoping there will ‘thousands of great apps’ by the April launch, and there are more sure to follow.  The Apple Watch is not unlike other smart watches from Samsung, Google and others. The Apple Watch, however, stays connected to your iPhone so it can retrieve information, receive notifications like texts and emails, and can be patched through to make and receive phone calls as it has speakers and microphones.  It’s also a fitness tracker with heart-rate measurements….it plays music….had bluetooth for earplugs and headphones…makes payments via Apple Pay and can even be a remote for connected smart-home appliances.

The software development kit released last year allowed app makers to work on creating “different” apps than would be found on other already-in-the-market smartwatches.  Their complaints is that they have been given guidance along the way — some express frustration in Apple’s handling of the app market.  And, oh, yes — you will need an iPhone — 5, 5C, 5S, 6 or 6 Plus.  Earlier iPhones are excluded.

apple watch 2What about the feel, touch, look?  Reviews clearly demonstrate that the new Watch is elegantly designed, handsome on your wrist, user friendly and a “let-me-show-you-my-new Apple Watch!”  You can quickly imagine that Apple Watch users most likely won’t be wearing long-sleeved shirts — they’ll want to show off their new toy.  This is, after all, a “luxury branded product” — and if you’re rich enough for the solid gold Apple Watch, it will be the topic of many conversations with “interested” friends, even if they’re not interested.  But they will be.

Overall, the design and technology appear to be moving to the top of the ‘approval ladder’ from technologists who have followed this wearable technology sector and actually had one on their wrist.  The Apple Watch uses haptic feedback via what it brands a “taptic engine” that feels like more advanced and subtle vibration. It also has a force-sensitive display: press harder, and it will do different things. This could mean more advanced types of notification buttons, or control input. Apple’s newest MacBooks use this same combination of “force touch” and haptics to simulate clicking, and it’s astonishingly effective according editors of CNET.

At this point, there are many unanswered questions — is the 18-hour battery life real or fiction?  Will apps transform the watch beyond what competitors are already offering?  Does it make the iPhone better?  Will it be easy and fun to use as Apple wants it to be?  Will it stand on its own merits?

Time will tell. — RJL

Certain truths are self evident. Ask Ithaca, NY

In brand-building, social media on March 18, 2015 at 11:54 pm

by Robert Liljenwall

The area around Ithaca is known for its robust winters. Known by some as the “snow capital of the world,” this region endured record-breaking snowfalls and cold this past winter. But if you’re the head of the Ithaca Convention and Visitors Bureau during one of the worst winters in history, you reach the point that “you’re fed up”, so fed up, in fact, that the Bureau came up with a remarkable marketing idea: Tell the truth. “That’s it. We surrender. Winter, you win. Key West anyone?” And while it’s your job to promote tourism to your area, it was self-evident that tourist were not flocking to an area to which was blocked by closed highways and below-freezing temperatures.

While the marketing concept was later “retired”, it went viral, and as Bruce Stoff, director of the Ithaca Convention and Visitor Bureau told CNN — “everyone in the Northeast is beaten by winter now…and we were dreaming of being someplace that is warm.” It was a move that some in the tourist industry frowned on, but the spokesperson for the Florida Keys Tourism Counil told CNN, “it’s the wackiest thing I have every seen in my life from a tourism marketing standpoint.” The Floridan tourism group eagerly complied with a request to send a photo for the Ithaca web site — it went viral on Twitter.

What is interesting in my conversation with Stoff was that this idea had been in the talked about for eight years, and it was in the planning and implementation stage for the past two years. “It was certainly calculated….that this was going to be a positive for Ithaca.” Bruce is still on the job, but he cautions that the next three quarters will tell if their concept worked.  — RJL

What were they thinking? Car Bomb Stout brand?

In brand-building, Lemon Award on March 18, 2015 at 11:49 pm

by Robert Liljenwall

It’s OK to scratch your head over this one.  Fat Point Brewing, a Porta Gorda, FLorida, craft brewery, posted pictures of cupcakes and beer to its Facebook page on Monday, March 16, announcing the release of its Car Bomb brand — “a milk stout fermented with Jameson Whiskey oak staves and Irish creme flavor,” which was to be served with Car Bomb cupcakes in honor of the St. Patrick’s Day holiday.  Surely, someone — obviously, not a history major — forgot about The Troubles, the nationalist and religious conflict in Northern Ireland that began in the late 1960s and ended in 1998 with the Belfast Agreement. More than 3,500 people died during the three decades of turmoil that included detonating car bombs. The Fat Point post’s Facebook comments started out innocuously with fans asking about the brewery’s hours and the beer’s availability. But Tuesday afternoon they took a turn.  Brand lesson: If you can’t say in front of TSA, you better not use it as a beer label. – RJL

Google dips its toe into the retail world….

In brand-building, Google, innovation, retail on March 18, 2015 at 11:46 pm
Liljenwall 3-18-15by Robert Liljenwall
It’s only a “toe” — not a full, dedicated retail store like its rival/pal, Apple.  But nonetheless, it represents the first-ever physical presence for the Silicon giant Google.  Here’s what they have done:  This past Wednesday, Google unveiled its debut foray in London’s Tottenham Court Road within retailer Currys PC World. Designed in similar fashion to Apple’s successful model, the storefront plays host to a wide range of Android phones and tablets, as well as Chromebook laptops.  Customers will be able to comb through the store to test out devices and software, as well as attend classes and events that teach them how to use the products.
“The pace of innovation of the devices we all use is incredible, yet the way we buy them has remained the same for years,” James Elias, Google’s UK marketing director, said in a statement at the store launch. “With the Google shop, we want to offer people a place where they can play, experiment and learn about all of what Google has to offer; from an incredible range of devices to a totally-connected, seamless online life. We think it’s a genuinely unique try-before-you-buy experience.”  But for now, Google will be sticking with the store-within-a-store model and the company plans to unveil two more shops later this year!  Where?  No one knows yet! – RJL

“Old” becomes “New” in Pasadena tech venture

In brand-building, innovation, startup, Technology on March 30, 2014 at 9:53 pm

by Robert Liljenwall

85-87 NR and 56 HollyPasadena has always been a technology center in an “old sort of way.”  Jet Propulsion Laboratory and the California Institute of Technology are two venerable brands – institutions that continue to lead space research and produce Nobel Prize winners and provide the nation’s top-ranked scientists.  Pasadena is also home to the Art Center College of Design, which continues to be a world leader in graphic, industrial and automotive design, and creative arts.  And there has been a surge in Pasadena in recent years of startup high-tech firms such as EarthLink, eHarmony, Idea Lab, and more than 300 other notable high-tech companies in the past several years.

Pasadena’s ‘brand’ has always resonated well throughout the world because of its beautiful neighborhoods and civic assets, including the world-famous Rose Parade and Rose Bowl, nearby Huntington Library and the restored “Old Pasadena” – a booming retail, dining, and entertainment center now ripe for its next phase – infusion of trendy high-tech entrepreneurs who want these amenities close by.  In short, Pasadena is a great place to live and work.

Pasadena hasn’t always been “top of mind,” however, for high-tech startups compared to other California tech havens such as Silicon Valley and Silicon Beach, which is a relatively new concentration of high-tech firms in the coastal corridor stretching from Santa Monica through Venice to Playa Vista.  Silicon Beach is a brand that has ‘stuck’, and it attracts techies who love to be near the beach, palm trees, the strand, and soak in the California sunshine.  The area epitomizes the best of California for many.  And with nearby Hollywood, entertainment-oriented tech firms thrive in this focused community.  It would seem that Silicon Beach has a hefty advantage.

But this is going to change.  Enter David Sacks and Rising Realty Partners who have joined together to create an “answer” to Silicon Beach.  Starting with a quiver full of technology and environmental assets, Pasadena is perfectly positioned to exploit new opportunities being created by these two visionaries.  They are confident they can make an appealing case to entrepreneurs who want what Pasadena has to offer – an intellectual, high-tech, high-energy culture along with its traditional community values that attract a young, upward mobile entrepreneurial elite.

Partners with pedigree brands

David Sacks brings a pedigree high-tech startup background to this venture.  Sacks was the first chief operating officer for PayPal, which was later acquired by eBay for $1.5 billion, and the founding CEO for Yammer, which was acquired by Microsoft in 2012 for $1.2 billion.  He has an eye for successful startups as an early investor in Facebook, Inc., Twitter, Uber, Space Exploration Technologies, Palantir, Houzz and Airbnb.  He knows how young entrepreneurs think and what they want.

Rising also has a gold-edge brand as well – headed by CEO Nelson Rising, former CEO of MPG Office Trust, and a senior partner for Maguire Thomas Partners.  And he served as chairman of the board of the Federal Reserve Bank of San Francisco.  His son, Chris Rising, serves as chief operating officer and has a strong background in investment management and hands-on project management.  He is supervising the Pasadena project.  RRP also has a reputation for preserving and restoring older, historical

Los Angeles-based buildings and turning them into profitable commercial investments that feature the best high-tech amenities that are requisite to today’s technology firms.

“First of all, while we’re starting off with three century-old buildings as the cornerstone of this new technology center, we’re insuring that these buildings will have the most advanced fiber network available.  We’re also making Wi-Fi available to the nearby public park so that our tenants can work in a variety of nearby locales and still conduct business,” stated Chris Rising, president of Rising Realty Partners.  “We know that tech companies prefer access to the highest speed Internet services, and we’re providing 10GB fiber for every office.

“But we also know that young entrepreneurs are attracted to older, restored office environments that have been popular in San Francisco, Austin and Seattle.  We’re preserving the original facade and brick-wall interiors,” he said.  Office sizes will range from 5,000 sf to 15,000 sf.  But it will be the intangibles that make this venture a success:  “We’re looking to group together spirited, ambitious high-tech entrepreneurs who share the passion for a new vision in a complex that breeds successful ventures.  We’re here to support their quest to achieve their startup goals.  And we’re willing to provide below-market rates to these startups,” Rising said along with other superior support services.

This landmark buildings – known historically as the Pasadena Plaza – were built in the late 1800s and early 1900s in the heart of Old Pasadena, which until the late 1970s, was the rundown section of the city.  But like many cities across the United States, commercial and retail visionaries came into Pasadena in the early 1980s and restored many buildings – whole square-block sections – which attracted national retailers, specialty shops, fine restaurants and theaters.  The area is one of the hot spots in Southern California today.

So why is this an intriguing brand and technology story?

This is a classic brand case of “old” versus “new.”  Pasadena was and is considered “old money” – the original founders of the city came from Indiana in the 1800s with their strong, conservative work ethic and Midwest values.  They created a master plan based on classic European cities – large civic plazas, wide thoroughfares, and provided for a variety of large estate and smaller residential parcels.  Ask anyone what they think of Pasadena, and for those who have been here, they ‘love that city.’

The LA business elite settled here, too – such as the Chandlers, who published the Los Angeles Times, and most of LA’s prominent lawyers and bankers made their homes in the idyllic neighborhoods of Pasadena and nearby San Marino.  The Wrigley’s and Gambles built their winter homes in Pasadena.  And, of course, there was always the annual Rose Parade and Rose Bowl game … still iconic brands after more than 100+ years.

Old Pasadena is not unlike other re-inventions going on in other American cities but the partners know that the city holds some outstanding trump cards – CalTech, JPL and Art Center, plus a growing tech sector. To Silicon Beach, Rising and Sacks are saying – Hold on!  We have something to offer high-tech startups that is as good – if not better – than what you’re going to get in Silicon Beach.  What Rising brings to the table is development and management expertise that is critical to building a critical mass of the ‘new’ tech that is driving the rapid expansion of startups.  Sacks brings the necessary mindset of what is “new tech” and the challenges of starting a high-tech business.  Together, they intend to be very competitive and give these fledgling companies the added expertise of their experience.

“Our strategy is to not try and steal firms from Silicon Beach.  We’re after the many young companies who are looking for help.  Innovate Pasadena is one of the strongest community-centric organizations that is providing a broad range of startup services and support to these entrepreneurs.  We’re an integral part of that initiative,” Rising said, who is a member of the Innovate board.  Innovate conducts a broad spectrum of education and networking programs every month in Pasadena.

One last thought … transportation hub advantage

Rising had one last observation that bears watching.  He aptly noted that California is the automobile manufacturer’s best friend.  Nobody takes public transit.  “But not anymore,” he stated. Ridership on the expanding network of Metro Rail is growing steadily every year … the Gold Line stops just steps away from the new Rising/Sacks project, and is being extended eastward.  Santa Monica will soon have an extension of the Expo Line, and this is where young, hungry entrepreneurs are using these days – it’s cheap, and it beats crawling on the freeways.  Rising fervently believes that the high-tech firms of the future will want to be next to public transportation hubs.  “And we’re practically sitting on one in Old Pasadena,” he said with a smile.  “Pretty soon, one can take public rail transit from Pasadena to Silicon Beach.  Who would’ve thought?” – RJL

Film Festivals Embrace High-Tech

In brand-building, mobile & tablets, social media, Technology, Video, Movies & Television on March 30, 2014 at 3:19 pm
RiverRun International Film Festival April 4-13

by Jeff Sandgren

riverrunThe 16th annual RiverRun International Film Festival will be running from April 4 – 13 in Winston-Salem. Held annually each spring, RiverRun screens a wide variety of feature-length and short films from all genres, and also presents a broad range of special events, including high-profile regional premieres of significant films. This year, festival winners can even become contenders for next year’s Academy Awards.

The festival, like its more famous cousins at Sundance and SXSW, relies increasingly on new technologies to develop and deliver the wonder of traditional moviegoing. We spoke with Christopher Holmes, Program Coordinator for RiverRun, about how they use small-screen and other new technologies to bring this banner event to the big screen in the City of Arts and Innovation.

BTN: How has technology changed the realization of your film festival?

RRIFF: Online streaming platforms have made all of our jobs tremendously easier. Keeping up with the programming landscape at major international festivals like Cannes has become so much more manageable – without ever having to leave the office. In the past it might take several emails back and forth and then the mailing of a physical DVD screener to facilitate the consideration of just one potential film, or even schlepping to the festival in person.

Online filmmaker services such as Cinando and Festivalscope now exist that allow us to request and receive invitations to watch streaming versions of many films, and this can all happen within the span of an hour or less now, given the response time from a particular filmmaker or distributor. Likewise Vimeo and YouTube have become high quality, legitimate receptacles for screeners from filmmakers that respond to our open call for submissions, so it’s really changed things for the better in terms of how quickly we’re able to preview titles that pique our interest.

BTN: How does it help support and promote the event?

RRIFF: Social media tools and their mobile apps have become integral to the way we promote the festival. We used to rely heavily on our in-house printed film guides and brochures, and local print media to get the word out, but now we can do that worldwide within a matter of minutes using Twitter, Facebook and Instagram. These tools additionally allow us to maintain a direct running dialogue with our supporters in the community and make everyone feel actively engaged with what’s happening at RiverRun on a consistent basis.

Keeping in touch with our audiences and staying on their radar in the many off months has always been a particularly challenging undertaking and technology has allowed us to accomplish this in a more purposeful and conversational way. And just in terms of design and implementation of graphic elements, it speeds up turnaround time on the creative end as well, since sharing high-res mock-ups and proofs via email is now very simple.

BTN: What is this new connection with the Academy Awards?

RRIFF: This year, for the first time in our history, we’ve been approved as a qualifying festival for the Academy Awards in the category of Short Subject Documentary, of which there are only a handful in the Southeastern United States and just a few dozen overall. Each year we assemble a jury for each competition category, comprised of noteworthy professionals, writers, academics and other personalities from the cinematic arts. Those juries deliberate during the festival to distinguish films with awards in their respective categories.

What the Oscar-qualifying tag means is that whichever film our Documentary Shorts jury awards with the Best Documentary Short prize is automatically in the pool of films that the Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences members ultimately consider for Oscar nomination. Basically we are a necessary filter between the entire mass of documentary shorts produced every year and what the Academy members are able to consider with their extremely limited time. So there’s a decent chance that one of the films programmed will be among the Oscar nominated shorts this time next year, and directly because of its participation in the festival.

BTN: We hear a lot about multiscreen user experience these days. Are you discouraging or encouraging it for events like this? 

RRIFF: We are certainly discouraging it during the screenings themselves!  There’s nothing more magnetizing to the eye than seeing a screen light up, and it is an enormous disruption to the immersive environment filmmakers covet when creating their work, so we do everything we can to be faithful to that interaction. However we are certainly encouraging the integration of all sizes of screens and technology in representing the festival more generally—talking about viewing experiences our audiences have had, sharing viewpoints on films we’ve shown, events we’ve put on or experiences we’ve created, and including things like trailer links and other visual content on our web-based analogs.

BTN: How can moviegoers use their mobile devices to select films and track showing and ticket availability?

RRIFF: Our website has a mobile version which enables sorting through film listings, viewing the schedule, watching trailers and buying tickets online. Additionally we have a mobile app for both iOS and Android devices that makes simply sorting the films even easier … it even allows the user to filter out a combination of attributes such as genre and venue to achieve a very specific set of recommendations based on a lot of different variables.

BTN: Looking ahead, how do you think wearables – especially devices like Google Glass – may change the film going experience of tomorrow … for better or worse?

RRIFF: Hmm, we wonder…

We don’t see a small-screen application like Google Glass as particularly conducive to the large scale, projected effect that cinematic communication necessitates. After all, larger screen sizes have been positively linked to viewer engagement and interactivity (even on a physiological level) so the smaller the viewing space, the less control the filmmaker has over the way and degree to which the audience engages with the content.

For more small-screen, commercially driven applications like viewing sports, news, film trailers and social media, we can imagine it being very appealing, even if only from a novelty perspective. People are constantly looking for new user experiences and ways to keep their messages fresh and vital, so Google Glass and other wearables seem like they could present new opportunities in that respect.

Perhaps there’s a way to integrate the glasses with 3D moviegoing and TV experiences, as well?  How about it science? – JTS

Finally! Microsoft wakes up.

In Apple, Microsoft, mobile & tablets, Technology on March 28, 2014 at 6:48 am

MS Office comes to your iPad

by Robert Liljenwall

Office on iPadThe announcement happened March 27, but it has been in the works for months. Microsoft Office is coming to iPad.  I already knew this:  I learned about it a week ago – while ‘camping.’  My Airstream was parked next to another Airstream in Northern California, recently purchased by a just-retired Microsoft executive. We got friendly, and I told him that I would not get an iPad until it had Microsoft Office, one of my major objections to the tablet world.  (I have a MacBook Air, which I love).  He then informs me “… that’s going to happen in the next two weeks!”  “You’re kidding?” He said it was decided that “Microsoft has to be where our customers are … and they’re on iPads, and so we have to be there, too!”

We at BTN have always felt that Microsoft was too narrow-minded in refusing to allow Apple to have the Office suite – it was a strategic decision to drive customers to Surface, their tablet version.  But it clearly wasn’t working – Surface sales have always languished, and while it’s very versatile, it never had Apple’s panache and the new Microsoft CEO Satya Nadella recognized that if must deliver services to both businesses and consumers wherever they are, especially on mobile devices.

The new Office Suite app will be live for free on Apple’s App Store immediately, but for creating and editing content, you will need an Office 365 subscription, which their Home Subscription costs $9.99/month or $99.99 a year.  The expected revenue for Microsoft is estimated at $1.4 billion, which outweighed any risk to Windows.

So, the Microsoft brand has somewhat righted with its iPad move.  Microsoft has been trying to make it in the non-Xbox world of hardware with phones and tablets, but it continues to struggle.  A recent study showed that Apple and Samsung have now just about crushed any attempts from others in the smartphone and tablet business.  So, Nadella may just be on a roll to adjust Microsoft’s focus to the services business.

Always, there were tensions between Microsoft and Apple, stemming from the Bill versus Steve battles from the early days of the PC development in the late 1970s. Microsoft swiftly grew to soaring heights, leaving Apple in its dust.  But Microsoft invested $150 million in Apple when it needed it in 1997 to integrate Microsoft Office into the Apple line of products, which provided Jobs the boost he needed for selling computers.

Apple has not provided any sales projections yet – but BTN will keep you posted. Hmmm … time to go shopping? – RJL 

Branding Tip: How To Humanize Your Brand

In brand-building, innovation, social media, Technology on March 6, 2014 at 1:22 pm

3 ways to breathe life into your brand

by Sookie Lioncourt 

Your customers are human, and so are your business partners. The people who create your products and contribute to the proliferation of your ‘brand’ are also all, human. As a response, it’s just fitting that you should also start ‘humanizing your brand’ to make it more interesting and universally appealing. Tim Ingold Jr. and Jabil Circuit of Wired said that through this practice, retailers and establishments alike “can seek ways to add a personal touch to non-traditional outlets” for your products and services. With the rise of digital technology, this can be done with ease — you can leverage social media interaction to provide real-time information to the public, use an intelligent virtual machine in your freestanding kiosks that dispense products, or take advantage of augmented reality technology to add a lively flair to your brand. To elaborate this further, read on below for we discuss how digital technology can indeed give life to your precious brand.

Through Social Media Influence

Using a social media channel is a thoughtful and deliberate process in giving life to your brand that yields some great benefits when properly utilized. Maren Hogan of the HR Examiner pointed out that the “humanization of a brand fosters more intimate brand-customer communications, customer loyalty, growth through feedback and increased engagement.” Here’s how you can leverage social media:

  •  Document…Document…Document…

Collate all the responses from your customers and visitors, even if they are criticizing your products and/or services. The whole point of having a social media account is to hear, apart from being heard. Treat your online followers as if they are all your friends by listening to their suggestions and sentiments.

  •  Respond Rapidly and Individually 

Those who will leave a quick wall posting your business page wanted to be acknowledged and addressed immediately. If the information is not yet readily available, at least have the decency to tell them that someone is looking into the situation. Inactive social interaction translates to inconsistency in your business and company as a whole. “No one likes an inconsistent company… this is a glaring flaw when making use of social media interaction,” as highlighted by Wise (@letsgetwise). The web may be far too big to win over everybody, but a bit of personality is way better than being a faceless autobot.

  •   Say Sorry When Necessary 

Humans are not perfect. We do commit errors and mistakes and that’s OK. Apologizing to your customers will help them realize that your brand is committed toward serving them and caring for their personal interests. You’ll be surprised by the favorable effects that you can achieve when you “kill” them with kindness.

The Use Of Virtual and Real-Life Objects

What could be more human than a product that acts like one and operates like a person? One example of this one is the virtual holographic mannequin of Boston’s Logan Airport named Carla. She is an attractive young lady that gives out pieces of advice ranging from air security and safety. She and her other virtual sisters, whose located in strategic locations inside the airport, are also there to greet passengers and accompany them as they leave and arrive in the vicinity.

Another example is the campaign created by Douwe Egberts Coffee Company called “Bye Bye Red Eye.” The Dutch company installed high-tech coffee vending machines in airports and other public places that interacts though facial recognition software. So, when a yawning traveler approaches the machine, it automatically dispenses a hot cup of coffee for that wearied person.

Though these practices are done outside the traditional store setups, using the machine’s lively element can establish a more personal link between the brand and the consumers.

By Augmenting Reality

Augmented Reality, three-dimensional web tools, and interactive computer applications can also add a human flair to your brand even without an actual person from your company involved in the process. For instance, some clothing and Eyewear e-commerce shops are employing the use of virtual fitting room that uses the customer’s web camera to see if a particular product is ideal for them or not, before doing a transaction. Since this practice fosters a product-consumer engagement, using Augmented Reality is a cost-effective way of humanizing your brand.

With the proliferation of technology, adding a human touch to your brand is no longer a difficult venture. As you’ve seen, you can leverage social media interaction to provide real-time information to the public, or use an intelligent virtual machine or tangible object to foster product-costumer engagements and vice versa. – SL

BrandTech News is excited to share the insights of our first Guest Reporter, Sookie Lioncourt, bringing us news and views from her home office in the UK.  Welcome, Sookie!

Guest Reporter: Sookie Lioncourt

Guest Reporter: Sookie Lioncourt

 ABOUT THE AUTHOR:

Sookie Lioncourt has a solid background in business administration and marketing, she can give you helpful pieces of advice to kick start your business, and ensure your brand’s success by leveraging the power of digital technologies and online media platforms. Talk to her via LinkedIn.

The “Ultimate Selfie” — Hollywood’s Oscars at its best — Part 1

In Fashion, Video, Movies & Television on February 23, 2014 at 11:33 pm

by Robert Liljenwall

Hollywood is the best at self promotion — and the March 2 broadcast (NBC) will be one long “selfie” of how to create a major global event in honoring one’s self.  Make no mistake, the Academy Awards is an annual trek that all of Hollywood points to — sort of an Olympics held every year, not every four.

There are 25 Oscars being handed out during the three-hour broadcast and a new host this year — Ellen Degeneres, the popular day-time star on NBC.  In the audience will be all of the nominees, looking their finest after parading down the Red Carpet, which has now become a mini-show in itself — another “fashion selfie” where the emphasis is on “who” was the designer, plus who gets “best and worst dressed” awards from fashion “experts”.  Guys need not apply.

The Academy has nine movies up for Best Picture this year — American Hustle, Captain Phillips, Dallas Buyers Club, Gravity, Her, Nebraska, Philomena, 12 Years a Slave and The Wolf of Wall Street.  And of course, Meryl Streep (August: Orange County) is nominated, again, but Tom Hanks (Captain Phillips) wasn’t.  Christian Bale and Amy Adams (American Hustle) are back again, as is Sandra Bullock (Gravity) and Cate Blanchett (Blue Jasmine).  The collective ‘wisdom’ is that 12 Years A Slave will be Best Picture, although Bruce Dern’s Nebraska gets a lot of support, too.  Gravity is also extremely popular with prognosticators, too. We shall see.

The “selfie” has now become a part of our daily lexicon — the ease of taking one’s picture and broadcasting it instantaneously across multiple platforms (Twitter, Facebook,YouTube, Instagram, SnapChat, etc.).  The only real challenge is to make sure your arms are long enough to do your “self” proud.  It does take some practice.

I’ll be watching.  Will you? - RJL

Part II — Post Selfie Awards coming Monday, March 3

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