Sunday, February 28, 2010

Brand Yourself Online

Whether you like it or not, you are a brand. How you behave and how you react is what makes each person unique. Having said that, whatever you say or do in the online world is a reflection of who you are. People who like to rant a lot on blogs or via status updates on social media sites are usually whiny people too in real life. In social media is all about the power of influence. It’s therefore very important to note that you need to be extra careful and witty on what you put up on Twitter and Facebook because the general public might not necessarily perceive it the way you really meant. And if you’re a fairly well known individual, it could be rather damaging to oneself.

Similiarly to consumer and service brands, people might lose confidence should they have a bad experience with a particular brand. So the next time you update that "status message" of yours, do remember to put extra thought to your content and also put yourself in your intended audience's shoes and see it from their perspective.

Friday, February 12, 2010

Google Buzz = Buzz Kill?

Google recently launched Google Buzz, a service to share updates, photos, videos, and more. There are a lot of criticisms when it went live 2 days ago, I for one am a skeptic, but also understand what Google is trying to achieve by doing so.

It certainly looks like a mediocre attempt to emulate Friendfeed and it certainly feels like it's a half baked product in terms of features. But if you look at how Google is positioning it in terms of a marketing stand point, it looks more like a beta or even alpha version of the upcoming Google Wave. Right now, Buzz is available as an extension on Gmail while they improve on Google Wave.

What I don't like most about it it's the way it's presented. Latest "buzz" threads are not displayed in reverse chronological order like Facebook or Twitter updates...which means users need to scroll all the way down to read new updates in a particular Buzz thread. Active Buzz threads are on the top, while the less active ones are below. Although it’s annoying, it does kinda make sense, because “buzz” is really what it’s all about; which are the more talked about topics/threads.

There also isn't a clear indication of who has updated what thread, unlike Facebook have with their "Notifications" tab. Also base on my usage, I’m only notified on Gmail on the threads that I’m participating in, and don’t get updates on those which I’m not. I might be wrong though. Bear in mind, you can also now share photos, videos and links using Buzz…nothing new really...all features that can and will expand into Google Wave in future.

In summary, I think Buzz is released to do what it's meant to do; to create "Buzz"...simple as that...nothing more in terms of function. If you ask me, Google definitely did a good job by getting users like you and me to use Buzz as a test platform for the development and enhancements for Google Wave in future.

Saturday, February 6, 2010

Branding Fashion Through Sports

When you ask someone to name some brands in fashion, well established and brands like Versace, Armani, and Yves Saint Laurent are amongst the few names that will come to mind. These brands have a long heritage and have been in the fashion industry for generations. But when you mention “fashion” about 2 decades ago, brands like Nike, Adidas and Puma don’t seem to fall in that category. It is not until the early 1990s that sportswear have been associated with fashion brands.

Photo from
Sports fashion today is often associated with lifestyle, attitude and fame. Sportswear makers nowadays make use of the latest in clothing and fabric technology. It therefore makes sense that eventually these technologies are likely to filter down into every day wear. The technology used cost money to develop and investors and companies can gain more profit by offering the technology to a wider group of individuals.

When a celebrity endorses a particular brand, often times it gives the perception to the consumer that the brand is good enough to be worn even by celebrities. Oversized sports clothing like basketball and baseball jerseys are often associated with hip-hop or rap artistes. Music celebrities wear them because they are comfortable, but to the consumer it is often viewed as a fashion statement and lifestyle symbol rather than clothing for sports. Although brands still have collections designed exclusively for athletes and sports enthusiasts.

In recent years, there has been growth in what is known as "luxury sportswear". These “new breed” of sportswear are often times limited edition items which are designed by fashion designers such as Stella McCartney for Adidas; and Philppe Stark and Yasuhiro Mihara for Puma. These lines of clothing are usually special made collections that cost more than the regular sports wear. Consumers will spend on these lines of clothing even though it’s a bit costly as they brand it to be at the same tier as the Armanis, Versaces and YSLs; or that’s what the manufacturers want you to think at least. I for one am guilty of buying limited edition sports wear; simply because it’s “cool” to be seen wearing one and you have bragging rights owning one.

In addition to this, brands are also banking on sports superstars to inspire their line of clothing. Golf celebrity Tiger Woods and basketball legend Michael Jordan did a very good job in building the Nike brand to what it is today. Again, it’s always the consumer’s perception that if someone wears Nike, they will be able to perform as good as both Woods and Jordan.

To sum it up, sportswear has gone through a whole lot of transformation over the years. The perception of sportswear brands became more fashionable, luxurious and marketable in recent years due particularly to the interest in sports personalities and well known celebrity fashion designers used by big brands.


Thursday, February 4, 2010

Don’t Use Social Media If You Don’t Know How

In today’s digital world, online presence has become a necessity in order for companies to survive and to reach out to their customers and clients. Social media tools such as Facebook and Twitter has provided everyone with a platform to do just that. As with everything else, there is always a tendency for companies to want to use these tools, simply because it’s the current “in thing” and that everybody is doing it.

Based on my personal experiences, many companies here come to me to ask if I can incorporate these tools as part of their online marketing strategy, but they have no clue whatsoever on how these tools function. My job is to educate them on how these tools work and how it will benefit their company. The first question I always ask my clients, “Who is going to maintain it?” Often times, I will get blank stares from them as though that I’m speaking in some foreign language. But the truth is, unless there is an appointed PR company or a qualified spokesperson from within the company to manage and maintain the use of these tools, I wouldn’t recommend companies venturing into them as yet. Here are 3 reasons why:

  1. Tools such as Facebook pages and Twitter require constant interaction between companies and their customers. The whole idea of using these tools is to add a “human touch” to the company or brand. Unless of course you have an automated robot intelligent enough to answer questions and respond to each customer directly.
  2. Updates. One major use of Facebook pages and Twitter is to push promotions and updates to your followers. If the page is just there for the sake of being there, followers will get disinterested very quickly just like how no one likes visiting a website that hasn’t been updated in a long time.
  3. Being professional. I have personally seen some companies on Twitter that often times respond to their customers with lame jokes and casual conversations totally irrelevant to the nature of business. In my opinion, while I agree that companies need to provide a “human” response rather than a template one, they also need to know where to draw the line. Responding to questions casually is still acceptable, but it’s totally unacceptable if it’s got nothing to do with the company product, service or whatever they are set out to achieve. Companies need to know their boundaries on how they respond as it represents the company or their brand as a whole. Which is why I highlighted that it’s very important that these tools are managed by a qualified person who understands clearly of what the company’s objectives are and how they want the public to perceive them.
To sum it all up, my advice is not to venture into social media just because everyone else is doing it. I think companies who are serious into social media must first know how to use it and understand the mechanics of how it works. Only then, social media will be beneficial to the company, otherwise few months down the road, they will be wondering why is there no ROI or participation from the public even after using these social media tools.

Monday, February 1, 2010

David Armano on Brand U.0

David Armano, Senior Vice President of Edelman, talks about Branding U.0 and branding on a personal level.

Key points:
  • "A brand is a person's gut feeling about a product, service or organization." - Marty Neumeier
  • Branding is about building trust and interactions.
  • Everyday people like yourselves are brands - publishing, creating content - having the ability to share and influence others. Celebrities like Oprah Winfrey who is highly influential, are brands.
  • Everyone on the web has influence.
The 5 B's of Buliding Brand U.0
  1. Be Ubiquitous: Create multiple streams of "you"
      - If you're really serious about building a personal brand, you got to figure out which one works for you. If you're going to be on Facebook, how are you going to use that? If you're on LinkedIn, how are you going to use that?
  2. Be Social: Effectively manage your "social systems"
      - You got to figure out how to effectively use these social network and these tools to create our own social system, that aligns with our personal brand and make the most of it.
  3. Be Interesting: Write, photograph, share, give
      - Share what you know. Write and share the things that you see to make it interesting.
  4. Be remarkable: Do something worthy of a remark
  5. Be yourself: Let your personality shine through
      - Personality has to be true to who you are as an individual.