Thursday, February 21, 2013

Vine: What’s Cool about It?

When new exciting products come out I try to avoid all reviews and chatter about the product so that I can form my own pure opinions before they are skewed by others. I’ve been playing with Vine for several weeks now so I’m ready to share my thoughts.

So far, two key things stand out about Vine for me; creativity and a different view; literally.

Compared to YouTube or other video platforms, Vine seems to really be attracting creative and artistic people who are embracing stop motion and really pushing the envelope in artistic ways. It’s as if a bunch of young filmmakers were unleashed on me, and I get to watch Gumby and Pokey in a battle against Batman all in just 6 seconds. It’s fun, and it’s serving a different purpose than other video platforms.

Secondly, and this is what I enjoy most about Vine, is a reduction in selfies. I’m aware that many people enjoy using video platforms to show their face to the world, but that’s getting old and boring and the world is getting cluttered with selfies. Because Vine isn’t setup with a front-facing camera, I think more people tend to record what they see, instead of themselves, so now we get the opportunity to see the world through the eyes of others and I’m truly hoping that Vine will not change that feature. Now don’t get me wrong, many people still see themselves as interesting and worth looking at so they simply flip their camera phone around BUT I will say that there’s a great majority that are allowing us to see the world through their eyes, and this is truly refreshing.

So far I feel that Vine is pretty cool and has positioned their product as a unique tool that is here to stay. Also, it’s rather user-friendly and intuitive which is half the battle.

A few brands have jumped on the bandwagon so far, including Urban Outfitters who was one of the first, showcasing a video of dogs and another of beer (entirely unrelated to the brand).  I’ve also noticed a few agencies and companies testing out Vine, including BuzzFeed who is rather active; giving us an inside perspective of what it’s like to work there. Several celebrities quickly embraced the platform including Adam Goldberg and Jimmy Fallon utilizing the platform as a snapshot into their lives; just a few step beyond Instagram.

It will be interesting to see which big brands will embrace this platform for advertising, and since consumers hate ads it may just be the perfect place to keep their short attention span. Just imagine the pre-roll for a 6 second ad.

Tuesday, February 19, 2013

19 Trends for the 19th

This is not as easy as I thought it would be but this time I'm trying to move beyond trends from 2011 (thank you Jeff Dickens for your constant support cough cough). Also, I really need to make this list at the beginning of the month when I don't have to come up with so many trends simply to satisfy the blog title. Anyways, enjoy!

1. Stop motion
2. Cold brew coffee
3. Checking in with GetGlue
4. Rose gold
5. Pingpong
6. Snapchat
7. Fennel
8. Sophie the giraffe
9. Gluten free
10. Peplum tops
11. Herringbone
12. Unique ice cube trays
13. Keeping calm and carrying on
14. High top wedge sneakers
15. Mint (the color)
16. The Harlem Shake
17. Zombies
18. Retro swimwear
19. Google Hangouts

- Posted using BlogPress from my iPhone

Tuesday, January 29, 2013

29 Trends for the 29th

Here are 29 trends for you, with no context, in no particular order, left for you to ponder.

Also, I stuck "reform" in there and I'm not sure it's a "trend" persay but the topic is running rather ramped these days so I feel it's worth a shout-out.

1. Ombré
2. Cauliflower
3. Big buns
4. Horizontal scrolling
5. Gourmet doughnuts
6. Mason jars
7. Denim dress shirts
8. Southern food
9. Online dating
10. Spinning
11. Pinning
12. Inspirational Quotes
13. 6 second videos
14. Animated gifs
15. 50 Shades of Gray
16. 3D Printing
17. Rural reality shows
18. Farm to table
19. Immigration Reform
20. Healthcare Reform
21. Nail Polish
22. Kendrick Lamar
23. Crowdfunding
24. Pop-Up shops
25. Taco trucks
26. Whiskey
27. Extreme Marketing (think Felix Baumgartner)
28. Bicycles
29. Apple (not the fruit, duh)

- Posted using BlogPress from my iPhone

Monday, January 28, 2013

Typography: It's All the Rage

On a recent project about the current and future state of digital, I learned of a coming trend towards a greater emphasis on the visual typography of websites. After all, the majority of a website is text, so naturally this makes sense. I feel this is largely driven by visual typography on social media platforms like Pinterest.

With that said, digital isn't the only place for creative typography, big brands are quickly moving on this trend too.

This weekend I enjoyed some Dominoes pizza and noticed their box (to my surprise) is solid black. Secondly, it is covered with a range of mixed typography, as if it's been lifted right off of the boards of Pinterest. It's very unfamiliar for the category so I just wanted to say kudos to Dominos for taking a leap of faith towards creativity, it's refreshing.

- Posted using BlogPress from my iPhone

Thursday, January 24, 2013

Barbie, She's Not Your Average Doll

Barbie has 6,816,586 likes on facebook and 160,868 “talking about this”; I am one of her many fans and she is one of my most favorite facebook friends. Yup, I said it, I called her my friend. The funny thing is I never even played with Barbie dolls as a child.

Barbie isn't just another brand intruding on my social space, to me, she feels real. She’s funny, she’s true to herself, she’s engaging (not boring), and she isn’t pushy. I just adore the language she uses as every perfectly crafted word seems to be an extension of herself, and thus an extension of her brand. Am I taking this too far? I think not.

Here are a couple of her recent posts:

“OMD. I’m so excited to share a never-before-seen Life in the Dreamhouse clip with you, dolls! Hope you enjoy watching it as much as moi... stay tuned for more Season One extras!” – 5,624 likes, 432 comments, and 2,636 shares
“Fall is the perfect time of year for one of my fave activities... glam-ping!” – 10,605 likes, 696 comments, 4,193 shares
“It's no secret that my favorite color is pink... but it's not just any pink! Pantone 219 is so fab, I had to devote a custom dress to it!” - 5,499 likes, 794 comments, 2,746 shares

If you haven’t already befriended Barbie, go ahead, give her a chance. Not only will she make you smile, but she’ll serve as inspiration for communicating your brand more effectively in social media.   

Monday, January 21, 2013

Semiotics in advertising

As I’m waiting for the metro…

Friendly man: Can I borrow your pen?
Me: Sure
Friendly man: I am soooo proud of you, you’re such a good student, keep up the good work and you will succeed
Me (guilty as I haven’t been a student in over 6 years): Thanks (giggle)

This is a conversation I have with strangers quite often and I don’t believe it’s because I look young (which I hear is true), but because I use a backpack instead of a purse, and just happened to have been reading a book at the time.

Book + backpack = student

Why is this interesting to me? When I worked in primary market research I was briefly introduced to the concept of semiotics. It is an idea that is greater and more complicated than my current understanding, but what I took away from the idea is that Semiotics is the study of signs and symbols and their use or interpretation. Signs acquire meaning and value with becomes culturally accepted; it becomes ingrained in our culture without notice. This becomes relevant in the world of advertising as we use signs and symbols to represent different messages and ideas that must align with our expectations. And sometimes, we deviate from what is expected.

For example, red, yellow, and orange are all commonly used colors in fast food advertising. Greens and browns often signify natural and organic. Black and white could mean that a brand has a long history or is trying to get across a serious message. Two hands shaking means a deal has been agreed upon (often used in banking), a thumbs up means something is good or somebody is happy. I can go on and on and I think you get the picture.

In advertising, not only must we be aware of the meaning assigned to signs and symbols, but that adaptation over time. For example, something as simple as a pattern can mean one thing to one group of people in a particular period of time, and then evolve. As shown below, if I asked my grandma about this pattern she might say it’s Navaho or associate it to American Indians but ask a teenager and most likely she’s seen this pattern incorporated into fashion design at Forever21. If you asked me, I’d call the pattern “Hipster”. Put a girl in an ad wearing this pattern 10 years ago and it’s Navaho, but today, its trendy.

As culture and trends rapidly evolve, keeping abreast of these changes is a crucial ingredient to effective advertising.

Thursday, June 21, 2012

Be Careful with Using Fear in Ads

I got this ad in an email just now and didn't particularly like the use of fear, especially since it alludes to a child drowning. Of course a call to action (download our app or else!) is the goal, but I just can't imagine that app would be able to save her life in an instant (unless it turns your phone into a swimming robot).

Monday, June 18, 2012

Content Strategy

Simply put, content can be thought of as words and images, something (say a video) that must be expressed through a medium (say a website). The internet, for example, is filled with an abundance of content – sometimes meaningful and relevant, often times not. Content Strategy then can be understood as the action plan for giving content overall direction; making it useful, relevant and usable for those seeking to consume it.

In the context of designing websites, let’s think about content strategy as our home. We have walls and support beams, doors and steps; all necessary components to the structure of our home. All of this must make sense though, and there is no simple formula because this structure may be different for you than for me. Just like with website content, we all seek something different from our home which reflects our personal tastes. So when building a website we must first think about the necessary architecture or structure – the website layout, the colors, the fonts, the location of the context, all the way down to the  tools that exist behind the website that analyzes our actions and key strokes.

Now strategic content is more than just the framework of the home. Your home reflects who you are; your design and personal touch. You may like to have a vase on your living room table; I might not even want a table at all. You organize details within your home so that it works for you. If you didn’t have a refrigerator in your kitchen, the walls in that kitchen really wouldn’t matter – your kitchen is useless without it and a website is useless without the information you are seeking. Just like a home reflects our personal needs beyond four walls and a roof, a website must contain more than just words and images. A website must be comprised of messages, ideas, and topics that have purpose, and that purpose must align with the goals of the business providing the content.

Sounds simple when you put it like that right? But of course not, because the objectives of each website or business is different, and the relevant content to each consumer (or potential consumer) varies widely.

So now what? I think the biggest challenge comes with understanding who wants to consume what. Content curators must first develop a strategic action plan. I feel that developing a deep understanding of the user is at the forefront of that plan. Then the curators must align the challenges and objectives of the company with the desires of their target market.

So here is the winning formula. Know business challenges and objectives. Understand the target market. Create COMPELLING content (with purpose) relevant to their needs. Test it. Implement it. Probably test it again. Tweak it along the way as more information is gathered or the desires of the consumers change (OR the business objectives change). And voila!

Why is this important? Without strategic content consumers will fail to find what is useful and relevant, and in turn the business providing the content will crumble, just like an old home.

Wednesday, May 16, 2012

10 Surefire Ways to Piss Off Your Facebook Friends

1. Include a hastag (#) in your status updates #justkidding
2. Constantly update your facebook status every few minutes (according to twitter users this is actually okay to do on twitter)
3. Accept your parents or others close relatives as your friends
4. Share really personal information about your point-of-view on important matters
5. Tag your friends in photos when they are not actually in them
6. "Like" your own posts (status updates, pictures, etc.)... it's like giving yourself a high-five in public
7. Piggybacking on #6... ask your friends to like your posts (shameless self promoting)
7. Send your friends game requests, calendar requests, app requests, etc.
8. Share everything you can about your newborn child because if it's cute to you, it MUST be cute to everybody else
9. Definitely take photos of yourself looking cute at strange angles where you can see down your shirt... typically the bathroom is a great place to do this
10. Write passive aggressive status updates about things your friends and family have done in hopes that they will read it and know you're talking about them

I created this list as a result of an article trending on twitter via Mashable called "10 Facebook Tips for Power Users". It focused on tips and tricks for navigating the platform, viewing photos, hiding personal information, and improving the overall experience by understanding how to fully utilize your account settings. It was rather technical and what was the result???.... an endless amount of twitter chatter about what people hate on facebook. So after reading through Facebook-hating tweets I decided to compile a list of surefire ways to piss off your Facebook friends. While I agree with the majority, these are not my personal opinion, just a collection of reoccurring annoyances by twitter users. Perhaps we can all learn from this.... or alternately continue to do these things to piss off our friends.

What is missing from this list? What just drives you absolutely crazy which people do on Facebook?

Wednesday, February 29, 2012

God is like... a brand

I’ll begin this blab by saying that I am not religious and I believe in science. I accept and appreciate that others may believe in whatever makes them happy and whatever they feel to be the truth. I also believe in comparing God to brands, so this seems like a good place to do that. This is from an email I received…

God is like BAYER ASPIRIN. He works miracles.
God is like A FORD. He's got a better idea.
God is like COKE. He's the real thing. 
God is like HALLMARK CARDS. He cares enough to send His very best.
God is like TIDE. He gets the stains out others leave behind.
God is like GENERAL ELECTRIC. He brings good things to life.
God is like WAL-MART. He has everything.
God is like ALKA-SELTZER. Try Him, you'll like Him.
God is like SCOTCH TAPE. You can't see Him, but you know He's there.
God is like DELTA. He's ready when you are.
God is like ALLSTATE. You're in good hands with Him.
God is like VO-5 HAIR SPRAY. He holds through all kinds of weather.
God is like The U.S. POST OFFICE. Neither rain, nor snow, nor sleet nor ice will keep Him from His appointed destination.
God is like CHEVROLET. The heart beat of America.
God is like MAXWELL HOUSE. Good to the very last drop
God is like BOUNTY. He is the quicker picker upper, can handle the tough jobs, and He won't fall apart on you.
He Keeps Going, Going, and Going.

So basically if you buy all these brands, you won’t need to search for God any longer (joke). Thankfully you won’t have to spend much money either since “he” is like all the big generic brands (another joke, don’t get mad God lovers). Apparently God is also a He! I thought this was interesting as it provides insight into the key truths and values behind each of these big brands (and God).