Which came first the egg or the credit card?

I’m often surprised by how many times I’ve been asked by friends & clients to help them name a business or service, as they believe, once they have the name sorted, everything else will fall into place, but this isn’t the best way to do it (but it can work sometimes). What comes first the product or the name? (when I say product I’m referring to your company, services, products), hopefully you will say the product.

Depending on how you market yourself, ie your company name explaining what you do as a company may be vital, or it may be irrelevant. eg Kwik-Print informs you that they’re a printers and they’re quick, while the name MacDonalds has nothing to do with fast food. You should try avoiding negative connotations within the name, and if you’re using a descriptive name you need to get to the point, plus whatever you end up with it should be as memorable as possible or even unforgettable.  Of course you can break all the rules and end up with a name that’s descriptive, an oxymoron, has negative connotations yet still unforgettable. I own no paper™, it has the word “no” in the name (can’t get much more negative than that!), it’s descriptive yet an oxymoron, as it says exactly what we don’t do as a company, we don’t do anything that involves using paper, yet it’s unforgettable.

So if you agree that the product comes first, then surely the next step is, defining your goals, your service offerings, your branding etc well, not exactly, the most important aspect of your business, no matter what industry you’re in, it’s your customers, without them you don’t have a business, plain and simple, so what your customers get out of your product is key to everything. The more you can make your name about what they want & not what you do, the better. Here’s an example, if the benefits for you customers is to help them in their day to day lives and to help them achieve new goals etc, then you’re obviously having a positive affect on them. So, you should be focusing your naming efforts on the outcome for your clients and not on you & your services. You should be looking at the positive results of your service, not the service itself, your audience & customers will only be interested in the results, so that’s where you need to hook them.

Here’s a list of things you should consider before finalising your name and in this order as well.
Your Mission
Your Vision
Your Core Values
Your Unique Selling Point
Your Emotional Selling Point
Your Brand
Your Tagline / Strapline
Your Identity
Your name (Yeah sorry about that, but it’s way down here!)
Your Logo

Briefly, your mission sets the goal for your organisation, it’s purpose. Your vision is more personal and motivational, a driver to help you fulfill your mission. Your core values are the very essence of what you or your company stand for, strip away everything else and the core values remain, they will be your compass in good times and bad times. Before I move on it’s important to understand the importance of this. Your values become the very glue that holds your company together, your values are things you either know already or discover, you can’t invent them or fake them. Plus they must not be confused with your service offering (ie Disney’s core purpose is to make people happy, not build theme parks or make cartoons). Your unique selling point is what makes you different from the competition. The emotional selling point is how customers will feel about using you or your service. Your Brand is your promise, it reflects your Core Values, but note your brand is what your customers think & perceive about you, it’s what they walk away with, it’s important that you live up to your promises and deliver them. Your tagline, supports your brand, it says in words what you can’t necessarily express with a picture or icon. Your identity is the visual element that supports your brand & it’s message (note that, audio, smell, taste & touch are elements to some companies/products identity & brand). Then we get to the the name & eventually your logo.

Of course you can always ignore this entirely, and just come up with a name that has absolutely nothing to do with your product, then market the hell out of it. Egg did it with their credit card & bank services, it’s not unforgettable, but it’s certainly memorable, plus it’s been very successful. Of course marketing alone won’t make your business a success, it’s your customers that make your business a success, so focus your efforts on your customers, as they’re the best viral marketing campaign you can ever have, remember, make your business viral, not your marketing.

Steal

Steal from anywhere that resonates with inspiration or fuels your imagination.

Devour films, music, books, paintings, poems, photographs, conversations, dreams, trees, architecture, street signs, clouds, light and shadows.

Select only things to steal from that speak directly to your soul. If you do this, your work (and theft) will be authentic.

Authenticity is invaluable.

Originality is non-existent.

Don’t bother concealing your thievery – celebrate it if you feel like it.

Remember what Jean-Luc Godard said: “It’s not where you take things from – it’s where you take them to.”

I stole this from Paul Arden (although he stole it from Jim Jarmusch first)

Do You Want a Green Egg?

“Help us help the environment, go paperless” is the pitch you get from your utility company, your bank, your broadband provider and anyone else that sees sending you a paper statement or invoice in the post as a cost to them. We all know that they don’t actually care about the cost to the environment, that’s just marketing spin, we know they need to look good because everyone else is turning green, so they have to too.

Which is fine, but they should at least stick to their end of the bargain. When I sign up to be paperless, that’s exactly what I want, they promised not too send me any more paper in the post, but they lied. Of course they kept their end of the deal on one level (but only because it cost them actual money) I no longer get the statements and invoices sent out to me (although I now have the inconvenience of going to them to find them, having to remember yet another username and password, plus they only keep them for a year, what???? so I have to download and store them myself! but that’s another story for another day)… but I still get just as much marketing junk mail from them trying to entice me with new offers and services. Where’s their green credentials now?

Thankfully I don’t get anywhere near the amount of junk mail I used too, but it still annoys me that I still get any at all… especially as like most people, it never gets opened, as it all instantly goes into the recycle bin. There was a time years ago that I would open it, but only to see if any contained a freepost envelope… why? so I could stuff it full of the junk mail I’d received from someone else, which I would then drop in the post box on the way to the office in the morning. I know, not very grown up, not very clever and not good for the environment, but it made me smile (in fact it made me smile just now when I thought about it again!)

Of all the companies that I have accounts with, I believe only Egg banking had the option to stop ALL post, and sticking to their promise, I’ve not had a single piece of marketing or post from them through my letter box in years, yes I get the odd email, but that’s OK, it’s not everyday, just once a month, if that, plus I can automate it to the junk folder if I wish, so no biggie. Let’s just hope it stays that way, now that they’ve been bought out by Barclays!

So in answer to the question, yes I like my eggs green.

WiFi Visualisation as You’ve Never Seen it Before

“In order to study the spatial and material qualities of wireless networks, we built a WiFi measuring rod that visualises WiFi signal strength as a bar of lights. When moved through space the rod displays changes in the WiFi signal. Long-exposure photographs of the moving rod reveal cross sections of a network’s signal strength.”

YOUrban.no

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It’s Time to Throw in the Tau

I generally keep this to myself, but I’m actually a bit of a maths geek at heart… Hey, where are you going? come back here… don’t worry I’m not about to bore you with loads of maths I promise.

Today is Tau day, 28th June, although you have to use that weird back to front American way of writing the date to see what I mean, it’s 6.28, get it?

No? mmmmm… would it help if I said March 14th is Pi day? (3.14)

OK if you still haven’t got it, Tau = 2x Pi or to put it another way 2 x 3.14 = 6.28 tadah!

anyway doesn’t matter, what does matter is the video below.

A talented musician named Michael John Blake composed a piece of music that transposes the numbers from Tau to 126 decimal places onto the musical scale… and for those math-muso geeks out there, it’s set to 125.6 BPM = 6.28 x 20.

But forget the geekness that lies beneath this composition, just listen to it, it’s wonderful. By the way, Michael also created a composition based on Pi, but had to remove it off the net due to a copyright infringement claim? yep can you believe it, another composer claimed he’d thought of the idea first and composed a piece of music on Pi… what’s next the Fibonacci Sequence!?!?

Oh and for an explanation of Tau, I can’t think of a better way than this very informative and amusing video by Vi Hart

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Daisy Disk Sunburst UI

I stumbled across this app a few days ago and purchased it, not because I needed or would likely use the app that often, but because I simply loved the User Interface… and while it’s beautifully executed it’s not a case of form over function, this UI is a really elegant solution and works brilliantly… have a look at the video below to see for yourself (they’ve even uploaded the UI development history onto Flickr)

I have no idea what the sales demand of such a utility would be on the Mac platform alone, I don’t think it would be very large, which is a shame as the developers have spent an enormous amount of effort creating a stunning looking app and building a strong brand and identity around it, but it seems to have been abandoned, probably due to lack of sales. It looks like they made the classic mistake of focussing on developing the solution instead of ensuring the problem was big enough to warrant their investment.

Developer: Daisy Disk
UI history on Flickr

 

Defining a Fan

A short film exploring the roles of fan culture and their importance to brands.

Personally I think Aaron Bogucki nails the definition of a fan by saying “A fan is someone that finds something so inspirational that they alter their lifestyle to support it”

An important takeaway is that big brands need to respect that for someone to be a real fan and possible advocate, they need to do so freely and without pressure or coercion.

created by we are amplify

The Doctor Will Actually See You Now

A common problem faced by patients, is keeping track of their condition and remembering dates and details when asked for information by a physician. I’d pondered creating a personal visual health diary app in the past, something that prompts a patient to input information about their condition, be it hourly, daily, weekly etc. This data could then be presented to the physician in a visual and interactive way.

And I’m not the only one to think this could be useful, Katie McCruddy, a Myasthenia Gravis sufferer, has kept a detailed diary of her condition from the age of 13, but she is also an interactive designer, so when she was faced with explaining her condition and history to a new physician she thought visualisations would help get the details across quickly and effectively.

To see how effective it was see these posts The Timeline & The Consultation

One For The Ladies

Here’s a novel way of positively implementing facial recognition software for an advertising campaign by Plan UK.

If the poster recognises you as a woman (90% success rate), then it displays a video highlighting how women around the world are denied choices based solely on their gender, with a call to action to become engaged in the plan. If it believes you’re a guy, you’re not shown the advert but instead presented statistics on the problem, turning the table and driving home the message that as a man you’ve now experienced what it’s like to have your freedom of choice taken away purely down to your gender.

Neat idea that should garner plenty of press coverage and undoubtedly get a few people hot under the collar, but that’s a good thing!

more info:
Plan uk
Choices for Girls