Archive for Strategy
22 December 2009 | Comments Off
9 December 2009 | Comments Off
2 September 2009 | Comments Off
Lessons In Brand Marketing To The Affluent
Perhaps you don’t know any rich people and get few opportunities to observe them in their natural habitat. Their mysterious ways stymie your formulation of evil genius-caliber marketing plans to separate them from their surplus funds. This is an especially big problem if wealthy people are the only ones who can actually afford the products you sell.
There are two cornerstones of accepted wisdom about the affluent that may help.
First, being rich is as effortless as it is fabulous. It’s all velvet chairs, fluffed ascots, caviar dollops, and periodic urges to stir up high society scandal to fight the ennui that comes from never truly needing to get out of bed. Fortunes are amassed either through accident of birth, or as a by-product of living as though civil and scientific laws don’t apply.
Second, being rich may be fabulous, but it’s no fun. The rich secretly envy the simple pleasures that necessity invents. They long to sneak down to the ship’s lower decks and dance with the scruffy folk in steerage. Their luxuries insulate them from awareness of how miserable they truly are, and they will buy anything if it supports this illusion. During temporary lulls in the acquisition of furs, thoroughbreds, and boats with putting greens, they find comfort in decadent innovations, such as bathrooms wallpapered with 100-dollar bills. The richer the person, the poorer the soul! Read the rest of this entry »
8 July 2009 | Comments Off
Research shows consumer trust has plummeted over the past decade. 75+% believe nothing a company tells them through the traditional means of advertising, identity, and print tactics. Research also shows that their website is the only lingering shred of credibility clients have, because it gives customers information and ways to interact and experience the company that THEY control. In order of importance, in almost all categories, the most influential channels for building brands are as follows: 1) word of mouth, 2) websites. And, of course, the two channels are increasingly overlapping online and creating new ways to interact with companies and other consumers. To sum it all up (and to put your work in perspective), the websites we design, build, and maintain are now the #1 branding touchpoint for our clients, whether they always realize it or not.
30 June 2009 | 1 comment
We’ve intuitively known for while that it no longer holds true (if it ever did), but despite many attempts, we’ve had nothing come along that’s replaced it… good post on the topic.
6 June 2009 | Comments Off
4 June 2009 | Comments Off
Today i was contemplating one of the more unintuitive aspects of being on the front line of client relationships. (notice how i’m trying desperately to avoid saying sales) After many years in trenches it slowly dawns on a seasoned (old) professional that personality, or presence, does more for customer acquisition than most anything else (for service oriented providers at least). Don’t believe me? Ask around. Best place to start is with customers. Ask them why they chose you? See if they don’t come back with something stewed in the amygdala. Oh they’ll come up with a few practical or logical things to toss into the mix as a futile duck and cover from the simple truth. They had a ‘feeling’ or the meeting ‘felt right.’ Personality and the mystical ‘chemistry’ has more to do with a successful business connection than any preparation, product or portfolio… But you have to be authentic (or a gifted thespian).
2 June 2009 | Comments Off
Sorry for the long form. But someone’s gotta do it, and it might as well be me… and I want to give some historical perspective on what we’re doing with Symantec that so many people’s design, content, and development efforts are contributing toward…
To begin with, the virus industry is sick. The entire category’s come down with a contagious case of consumer apathy and confusion. How did it get that way and what is FINE helping Symantec’s consumer brand, Norton, do about it? Let’s review.
1982: One computer virus known to man. Symantec founded.
“Elk Cloner” got a lot of attention. It caused people problems and then left them a cute poem that said things like “It will stick to you like glue. It will modify RAM too.” It made a 15-year old computer nerd named Rich Skrenta semi-famous.
And that set the tone for years. A succession of hacker types created malicious software primarily to gain a certain kind of twisted fame. The media complied by sensationalizing their exploits and striking fear with viruses like “Melissa”, “Tequila”, “Dark Avenger”, “Good Times”, and “I Love You”.
1990: 1,300 named viruses exist. Symantec buys Norton Computing.
By the early ‘90’s as the Web emerged, Symantec’s Norton brand was an industry leader and trusted ally against threats. But as viruses grew and the virus software industry matured, people stopped worrying and got a little numb to it. Hackers began to lose interest in stardom. Threats grew quiet. Software development settled into a succession of ever more bloated versions that layered more and more patches to answer new threats that no one understood.
The average consumer disengaged and forgot why they should even care, except for increasingly brief periods 1-2 times a year when some large outbreak occurred. Meantime, tech savvy consumers simply got annoyed at Symantec’s subscription-based business model and unwieldy software. Symantec maintained its position as the runaway market leader, but in an industry that had become about as glamorous as toilet paper or cooking oil.
In this environment of apathy, where few can tell the difference, the barriers to entry into security software plummeted. A host of new competitors emerged, offering freeware and white label solutions. 13-14 software providers (triple the choices in a healthy industry) began to compete for attention, many offering limited protection when not expertly cobbled together – just enough to hook users into upgrading, or provide a false sense of security to those who’d rather not think about it at all. Norton maintained its lead, but began to see some of these competitors chip away at their share and, more importantly, to commoditize the entire industry.
2007: Symantec resolves to “Win Back The Wired”
To reverse this trend, Norton had to win back the tech savvy “wired” consumer who knew enough to avoid risks and make do with limited protection, while playing an opinion leader role with the rest of us clueless consumers. They would do this through a combination of re-engineered software that would be the lightest and fastest in the industry (go to NortonToday and take the Performance Challenge to confirm) and by engaging with consumers to expand the dialog beyond features and functions to make Norton feel like an integral part of life in the connected world again.
In 2008, NortonToday became the communications hub for this effort, including all of Norton’s online consumer advertising traffic, consumer promotions, and value-added content. NortonToday stood out in an industry that had become mired in sameness of design, predictability of content, and low involvement on all sides. In a survey of the more than 1 Million unique visitors to the site during its first year, 74% report an improved impression of the Norton brand due to their interaction with the company on NortonToday. More importantly, it helped energize (or, forgive me, Nortonize) the company.
That’s a start.
2008: 1.6 Million+ new malicious code signatures identified. That’s One Million Six Hundred Thousand plus, in one year. 90% target personal information.
While the visual, verbal, and functional message of speed and currency is helping reinvigorate the Norton brand, this marketplace is still ailing. Remember all those old virus threats everyone’s forgotten about? They keep growing. But the bigger problem is that the threats have changed. The new kind of cybercriminal is much different than Rich Skrenta in 1982 – he does not want to get famous. In fact, he’d rather no one ever know his name. Because his goal is not to fill the media with his name, its to empty your bank account of its cash.
Into this landscape, a further ramping up of emotional re-engagement with the category is required. It’s a level of engagement you see only during brief glimpses nowadays, when the Symantec website is briefly inundated with traffic seeking information on an outbreak like Conficker. But it’s not about mere scare tactics, it’s about changing what has become apathetic neglect into collaborative action.
Sure, the average consumer needs software help to block bots, phishing, and malicious code that culls the Internet for personal data so effectively that a stolen credit card number now sells for merely 6 cents, and an entire identity about $30. It’s a $10 Billion industry (bigger than the security software industry that fights it) where less than 1 in 10,000 cybercriminals are prosecuted, much less convicted. Software is needed, but so is attention, education, and collaboration. Today, only an estimated 30-40% of consumers are fully protected against the panoply of threats being constantly introduced. And their level of involvement in the category is still going down.
Enter programs like Norton SafeWeb, which allows Symantec’s millions of worldwide users to rate and verify the safety of websites (while looking, as many of you know, “Veb Two Dot Oh”). And now Norton Watchgroups, which allows Norton loyalists to become leaders of their own online neighborhood watch, keeping friends and family protected and informed through a dynamic watchgroup hub page. These programs don’t look or work like anything else in the industry. They don’t look like or act like software marketing at all – that’s because they aren’t primarily focused at selling boxes, but actually help supplement the software in the effort of keeping you safe itself. All that is accomplished through the application of compelling design to functionality that helps deliver and share important content and creates a platform that invites consumers to not just re-engage with Symantec, but with each other.
So that’s how FINE programs fit in the past and present of one of the world’s largest consumer software companies. Put simply, these tools are at the center of a next generation strategy that takes Norton out of the software box business and puts them back at the front lines of a united movement against all digital dangers.
More than that, FINE’s work with Symantec is not simply about promoting a brand. As the company that essentially invented and has led the category for 25 years, Symantec’s charge is to repair and re-envision an industry category that is more important to the average consumer, by far, than it ever was.
Nice work, guys!
11 February 2009 | Comments Off
*Reproduced from Communication Arts.com February 11. 2009
If you have a degree in what field is it? Aside from the odd man out among us who has an advanced degree in marketing, our degrees are in the two mainstays of design and communication expertise: molecular biology and philosophy.
What’s the best site you’ve seen lately? What’s so great about it? Netflix. Strong brand, simple interface. You choose the movies and darned if they don’t magically show up in your mailbox every time! And with the Watch Instantly library growing steadily, they’re well-positioned for a future of sticking it to the late-charging profiteers down at the corner of… Well, you know who we mean.
If you were to change professions, what would you choose to do? Our three picks: home refurbisher, teacher/tutor and novelist. All are professions where we’d take things (new homes, young minds, fictional worlds) and mold them. And we’d develop the mental and physical callouses to remind us of that feeling of accomplishment every day.
Design or technology? Which is more important? Why? Left ventricle or right? Which is more important? Why? For us, they live together as different words for the same process of figuring out how to pump the message across.
From where do your best ideas originate? Anywhere. If you look in the same place twice and expect to find something new, you’ve lost. Still, just to be safe, we always check in the bathroom.
How do you overcome a creative block? Take a focused tour of our most favored “nations”: rumination and, more importantly, caffeination; and, make war on the rogue states of procrastination and stagnation.
In one word describe how you feel when beginning a new project?
Do you have creative outlets other than Web design? Aikido, child-rearing and all things having to do with ninjas and Fantasy Football.
What music are you listening to right now? We can’t know, because we are in the middle of an infinite networked iTunes shuffle.
What product/gadget can you not live without? Moleskine notebooks and zippers.
What’s the strangest thing you’ve bought online? Baconnaise.
What’s your favorite quote? It’s a toss-up between “FINE. Be that way!” and “Try making UNcommon sense.”
Do you have any advice for people just entering the profession? You have much to learn from folks who have been in this business for awhile; don’t try to supplant them, outshine them or steal their clients.
What’s one thing you wish you knew when you started your career? Don’t be afraid to outshine and supplant folks who’ve been in this business for awhile. And while you’re at it, it’s okay to steal their clients if your ideas and efforts are superior.
Hey, we’re FINE.
a FINE blog
A glimpse behind the scenes into our highly regimented, irony-free, scientifically proven musings and inspirations. The secret sauce for removing all trace of suckitude from your brand's digital ecosystem, so that only the splendor that makes you an industry archetype remains. Don't forget to visit us at www.finedesigngroup.com