Aug
08

Telco Brands: the Fair for Canada FAIL in one picture

Rogers, Bell, and Telus blow their big chance. By being themselves…

My friend Ottawa blogger and media commentator Mark Blevis has put out a couple of smart and incisive critiques of the “Fair for Canada” campaign by Canadian telco mega brands TELUS, Rogers, and Bell. Please do go ahead and read the MarkBlevis.com and Full Duplex posts.

But I think the many, many problems with this PR blitz can be summed up in one picture – brought to you by your three friendly Canadian mega corporations.

Sorry big Telcos, the combined boards of Telus, Bell, and Rogers don't qualify as ordinary Canadians to, you know, ordinary Canadians.

Actual screen capture from the Fair for Canada mini-site:

Sorry big Telcos, but the combined  “Bell, Rogers, and TELUS Boards of Directors” writing a letter to Stephen Harper doesn’t qualify as “What Canadians are Saying” to the rest of us, you know, Canadians.  [Read more…]

Nov
16

Social brands: I love you RebelMouse. But the name?

Clever, catchy, and utterly unhelpful.

In case you missed it, there’s a new buzzy social media tool in town called RebelMouse. And even in its early release phase, it’s not perfect, but it looks awesome and works (almost) flawlessly. So why is that grumpy branding guy DenVan going to complain about the name? Didn’t the almighty Seth Godin and his equally legendary counterpart Shakespeare say that names don’t matter? I Beg to Differ… and so does the world!

But first. What I like about RebelMouse

Here’s the DenVan “dashboard” page with all the bells and whistles.

Okay, before I get all Scrooge-y hater on the Mausketeers, let me just say, this is the slickest, most impressive looking new social media product I’ve seen in, well, ever. The team at RebelMouse knows exactly what they’re doing, and they’ve earned the incredibly effusive praise they’ve gotten from across the social echo chamber – from this rave in Mashable to this one in PandoDaily.

Here’s what they do right:

  • Frictionless sign-up: I’ve never found it so easy to set up a service. Never. Try it yourself to see how quickly you can go from tire-kicking to driving off the lot wondering how you’re going to explain this to your wife. It took me no time to set this DenVan page up.
  • Effortless blending of social channels: my page displays my Tweets, my blog posts, my Instagrams, and custom links – all in a format that’s as easy to scan as Pinterest. Many services do that in many different ways – as TechCrunch tries to explain in this taxonomy: 1) Social graphs; 2) Vertical content channels; 3) Aggregators. But it’s bloody hard to do elegantly.
  • Beautiful design: did I mention how clean and elegant it is? Well the mobile site is just as good – something most established social media stalwarts like Facebook and Twitter haven’t managed yet.
  • The team: and though the product has a way to go in terms of living up to its promise as a real Social Media network and/or tool set – and becoming more useful than a glorified “About.Me”. I’m impressed by the great pedigree and corporate story this startup has built for themselves. So I have confidence they can nail the product end of things.
  • The name: Huh? Wasn’t I supposed to be slamming the name?!? Wait for it. What I like about the RebelMouse name is that it’s not Squidoo. Or Jugnoo (sorry Danny). Or ShooBooBeeLooBeeDoo… okay I made the last one up. But I had you going didn’t I? RebelMouse is at least a clever and memorable memory hook.  But…

The name isn’t helpful

Sorry Mouse. The name RebelMouse just doesn’t help people understand your product at all – not even as a metaphor. In my product naming work, I try to help clients understand the tricky balance between the descriptive qualities of a name and the metaphorical / iconic qualities of a name. Strong names need a bit of both. Not everybody has to be a “Facebook” or heaven forbid “Friend Feed”. There is room in our brains for strong metaphors like “Google” or “Apple”. And that’s not to say RebelMouse can’t become a household name. As I say, they’ve nailed the product so far. It’s just that it will have to work a lot harder than a Facebook or a Google to equate that name with their service.

What do you think?

Are you impressed with RebelMouse? Confused? Does the name work for you? Comment away!

Nov
15

Client snapshot: the rapid evolution of Versature business phone services

Sometimes, I’m just too good at my job…

A couple months ago, I got a call from one of Ottawa’s smartest tech  leaders, Paul Emond, CEO of Versature. And like a fool, I ended up pitching him on the idea of a quickie “elevator pitch tuning session” for his executive team. I’m not a fool because my company couldn’t help him. I’m a fool, because the session went so well, and I got so excited about Versature’s brand, that I broke every rule of consulting and solved all his problems at once…

Versature’s new identity – with a little help from the DenVan and Brandvelope Consulting.

Okay, I’m joking… mostly

It was actually an amazing little project, and I was really happy we nailed it – and gained a happy customer – so quickly.

NOV 16: UPDATE. And this isn’t just any customer. Congratulations Versature on being named Small Business of the Year by the Ottawa Chamber of Commerce last night!

Paul goes into much greater depth about what we did together in this glowing post on the Versature blog, so if you’re interested, do give that a read. But here’s the high view.

First a brief description of the process:

A month or so ago some of the staff and I had a mini-retreat to discuss Versature’s elevator pitch, or more generally, Versature’s story. We were led in our workshop by Dennis Van Staalduinen, whom I would highly recommend for work of this type.

We ended up getting a lot out of the experience, but for me the most exciting piece was that we were finally able to tie a lot of marketing pieces together that had been a little bit disjointed. Dennis did that with 4 little powerful words that will become part of our marketing materials going forward. “Business Phone Service. Evolved”.

Versature Telco Dinosaur ads - evolved by DenVan and Brandvelope

See what a difference a bit of evolution can make?

Later Paul talks about why he likes those little words so much, and why, for him, they form such a clean and efficient brand positioning line for Versature:

The words “Business Phone Service” succinctly tell the casual prospect what exactly Versature does… The last word, “Evolved” speaks volumes.

First of all, it’s a tie in to the dolphin and the main reason why we chose this particular animal – because the dolphin is the most highly evolved communicator in the animal kingdom next to humans. It’s also “evolved” because this definitely isn’t your parents phone system solution…. Versature offers a radically improved experience over what people have been used to. Finally, we like the fact that these words tie in nicely with our dinosaur campaign, which pokes fun at the traditional telco’s for being stuck in the dark ages.

Paul raves about the identity and marketing work that Hintonburg-based Ottawa design shop Northern Army put together for them – and he’s right. There’s some brilliant stuff there from Ryan Anderson and company. I love the Northern Army ads comparing telcos to dinosaurs – which I also humbly took a stab at re-positioning (example at right).

So there you have it, my business triumph and failure in one package

Again, mostly joking about the failure part. Much better to have a clear win on a project than drag it out for months and months. Even if that would also stretch out the billable time for my business. Ah well, I’ve always said I’m much better at my clients’ businesses than my own.

If you’re interested in replacing your old dinosaur phone system, check out the smart mammals at Versature (new logo coming soon to the home page).

 If you’re looking for an easier way to tell your story? Call me maybe.

But we can’t promise to take eons to help you out.

Aug
03

Exposing the naughty bits: 10 new Facebook features nobody was asking for

So yesterday, I accidentally exposed my naughty bits on Facebook. It was okay though, because it was a Private Group. You know. Members only. But to my shock and dismay, a new Facebook notice appeared out of nowhere that told me 55 people had seen my naughty bits. But only four had Liked them. You might think I’d want to know that. I Beg to Differ.

Exposing the naughty bits

Like me, Facebook has been exposing its naughty bits lately. And yes Facebook, they were Seen By many. And not all of us Liked them.

You see, Facebook has this odd way of suddenly adding “features” to its site and mobile apps with little or no warning or explanation. They just appear. And some just make you scratch your head. Now, let it be said: I’m not the type to just complain about change, because some Facebook updates are brilliant, and actually useful things – like Tagging, which appeared in late 2009 to much joy and thumb-upping. Or user friendly names for users and pages. Or Pages themselves. Or Groups. All good.

And some are structural revisions like Timeline – which was disorienting and caused some ripples when it appeared. But largely this kind of change make sense as a step in the evolution of the platform, so the furor died down. And I for one, became a fan. Because Timeline was helpful.

But then there are the others, the “features” that appear suddenly and randomly, but don’t seem to serve any real purpose, and actually hurt Facebook’s usability and simplicity. Or even worse, increase the sense that Facebook is being sneaky or Big Brotherish. So without further ado:

Ten Facebook features we didn’t need

1) “Seen by” in groups

This is the one I mentioned above. Where Facebook tells you how many people have supposedly “seen” your post in a group. And then, if you hover over the “Seen By” message, it tells you who saw it, and what time / date.  I say supposedly, because it’s unclear either a) how Facebook defines “seeing” – i.e. is scrolling past something “seeing” it? or b) why that is even important or relevant information – i.e. to anyone but the most anally retentive admin?

Weird. Creepy. And makes users feel like they are losing a little bit more control over how they interact within a group. Just a bad, anti-social idea.

2) Find Friends Nearby

If you hadn’t heard of this one, it was a mobile feature Facebook tried to introduce quietly that was designed to instantly find friends in the vicinity based on mobile GPS location data. But then, when it rapidly caused a privacy stink, Facebook killed it the same day because it was too obviously creepy-stalkerish, even for Facebook.

3) Your picture in other people’s ads (a.ka. “Sponsored Stories”)

Thanks to Maddie Grant from Social Fish for this one.

This one has been making the news lately because of a just-settled, then un-settled, lawsuit.  Here’s what Facebook officially says about this “feature”. Basically, because you “Liked” something – say OB Tampons – your photo can appear in an OB Tampon ad in my stream. Again. Creepy. And in this case, feels unethical too because Facebook is using people’s faces without permission to endorse products and make money.

4) Facebook e-mail switch

From Shinyshiny.tv

Do you remember back when Facebook wanted to revolutionise the way we message one another by giving us all @facebook.com email addresses? Yeah it was pretty “meh” and no one really cared. Well now in an attempt to make our Facebook inboxes more relevant Zuck and the gang have got rid of your regular email addresses and replaced them with a Facebook one.

Again, silly, creepy, and bad strategy.

5) Editing comments

The problem here is not that you can edit your typos and screw-ups. You could do that (kind of) for a while – but it was time limited, so you could make small changes if you were quick, but after a while, they became permanent. Which worked.  My problems are 1) the bizarre “edit” history thread  that tracks your edits forever, and 2) that they didn’t aply this behaviour consistently – as  Techdrink points out.

But here’s what you can’t do. You can’t edit your comments on the Comments Box plug in used by many websites like TechCrunch (and even TechDrink at one stage). You can’t edit your comments on mobile where it would arguably have been infinitely more useful (isn’t that right, auto correct!). And you still can’t edit original posts!

Also, there is the potential for abuse. Say I post a comment that says “I like kittens!” and 520 people “Like” it. I could then go back and write “Kill all the kittens”, and it would look like all 520 people were secret kitten murderers as well.

The “Ticker”: oooh look! Another place to see Farmville requests!

6) Sidebar “Tickers” – all those bloody right hand sidebars.

Back when I first saw them last August, I thought the new sidebars were kind of cool and an interesting addition to Facebook. That is, until they actually appeared on my Facebook screen, constantly moving as they scroll by, and created an exponential increase in the clutter and “Wall of Noise” effect you get from Facebook.

Gah!!! Again, it made me feel less in control of Facebook. Not good for Facebook!

7) Facebook messages popping up like chat requests

(Thanks to Dave Harrison for this one.)

Yeah. That. We didn’t ask for that one either. It sucks because we could ALWAYS tell when we had a message through that little red icon at the top. But you could ignore it until you actually had time to look. Now it’s in your face and you feel rude if you don’t answer immediately.

8) An iPhone mobile app (and other mobile apps) that really suck

(Thanks to Jon Aston for this one)

Okay, this wasn’t a feature they chose (I hope), but it’s one of my biggest sources of Facebook frustration. I’d love it if they pulled every engineer from the useless projects above and assigned them to fixing their wonky, slow mobile apps. And maybe letting us tag people and do other basic stuff? Huh? Please?!?!

9) People who complain about every new feature on Facebook.

(Thanks to Shelly Kramer for this one)

I agree, in that this annoys me too. But I’d also argue this is actually a “feature” of how Facebook rolls stuff out. By changing so frequently, radically, and in many cases with a tin ear for how the changes may be received, they are constantly shaking the platform. Which makes people feel unsteady.

1o) <Add your own Facebook feature here.>

What do you think? Are we being fair to Facebook? Do they deserve the constant criticism? Please share your pet peeves, your faves, your tirades or praises in the comments.

Jul
31

#KloutBomb: how to game the social media gamers

Hey kids! Tired of the same old influence metrics? You know, boring stuff like intelligence, expertise, relevance (ho hum) – the stuff your grandpa used to figure out if people were worth listening to?!? What if there were a system that let you make anybody look influential about anything online? Well there is, and it’s called Klout! (And we Beg to Differ.)

That’s right kids! On planet Klout, I’m a Unicorn expert!

Wait Dennis, when did YOU become a unicorn expert?!?

Well, funny story. I never did. And I barely ever even discuss unicorns – apart from this one blog post. But I was young!

No, my Klout page says I’m influential about unicorns because I’ve been hit with a #KloutBomb.  Other folks playing #KloutBomb (like Jeff Esposito or Amy Vernon – both excellent targets by the way) told Klout I was influential about Unicorns, and so, like magic, I am!

And sure, all of this *may* just show how hollow and game-like the whole Klout ranking system really is. But rather than railing against it, opting out, parodying it like Klouchebag by the brilliant British wag Tom Scott, or even taking a measured thoughtful approach (yawn), why not just game the Klout game for pure, deviant fun?

And here’s how you can play #Kloutbomb too!

  1. Go to a friend’s Klout page – preferably not one of those stuffed shirts who actually takes their Klout score seriously. On second thought, yeah, especially one of those! I recommend Jeff Esposito. He adores getting a good #Kloutbomb!
  2. Click the “See All…” link that appears under “Influential about (X) Topics”. This will take you to their Topics page.
  3. Give them +K. If they’ve already gotten a #Kloutbomb, you’ll see odd and humourous topics like some of those shown at right. If so, just click on the “Give +K” button to add to their score and bump up the #Kloutbomb topics in their list. You get five +K points to give out for every day you visit Klout, so don’t blow them all in one place!
  4. OR: You can add new topics by clicking on the “Add a topic”. So for example, today I gave Jeff a new topic: “Fabricated Rubber Products, Nec (Rubber Toys, Except Dolls)”. But note, this costs you five imaginary Klout bucks, so you can only do this once a day.
  5. Announce your #Kloutbomb to the world by Tweeting under that hashtag.
  6. Then, please let Beg to Differ know! Share your favourite #Kloutbomb topics in the Comments below.

Important caveat:
Keep them 1) clean and 2) as obviously ridiculous as possible please!

While it might be fun to tag your boss with “Masturbation” (yes it’s really a topic), this is the public Internet, so don’t be a total jerk or commit professional suicide. Or if you do, just don’t tell them we sent you.

Jul
27

Random stuff I learned at SocialMix 2012

So yesterday, I had the priviledge of meeting a bunch of my online heroes in real life at the Social Mix 2012 conference in Toronto. And while stuff is fresh in my mind (okay not *fresh-fresh* after a *few* post conference beers), here are a few things still bouncing around the old coconut.

Photo by Gini Dietrich of me (left) and Geoff Livingston (right).

Stuff I learned at Social Mix 2012:

  • Danny Brown and his team at Jugnoo throw a mean conference – and on pretty short notice from what Jugnoovians Lindsay Bell and Hessie Jones tell me. They put together a top notch group of speakers with a great venue and a great cause to make one really memorable event. Congratulations to all, and to Hessie’s question: “should we do this again?” YES!
  • Danny has a great accent (“rogue with the brogue” they called him), but despite that handicap, he’s a brilliant communicator, and all-around great human. Imagine a heavy Scottish accent while Danny says awesome, off-the-kilt stuff like this:
  • The biggest, and most pleasant, surprise of the day was Tim Burrows who manages social media for the Toronto Police Force. Yup. A cop. Talking social. And he’s a brilliant, self-deprecating speaker who demonstrates how focusing on your core brand values allows you to do your job better, respond to a crisis fast, and win back jaded hearts and minds for the forces of law and order. Deeply inspirational.
  • Gary Vaynerchuk owns the stage. It was my first time seeing him live. But I’d seen video, so I already knew that he swears a lot, and that sometimes he says stuff that really pisses me off: like “What’s the ROI of your mother?” But the thing is, in person, you still get pissed off, then realize a moment later that he actually does understand, care, and is keenly aware of Return On Investment in his own business. So yeah, he pokes sticks at lots of sacred cow nests (huh?), but he’s such a great performer, that you still end up in the palm of his hand.  That’s his shtick, and it works.

“Marketers ruin everything.” Gary Vaynerchuk

  • Gary’s actually at his best when he’s “off-shtick”. Yesterday, we saw him deftly handling questions yesterday from the three kinds of fans he seems to attract (1. sycophants, 2. brown-nosers, and 3. sycophantic brown-nosers), but he spikes their loaded suck-up questions back at them, and then riffs out a series of long, cogent, scary-smart ideas.
  • Gini Dietrich and Geoff Livingston are superstars and nice folks, who can lead an engaging off-the-cuff session. Yesterday they free-styled on their book Marketing in the Round. Which is hard, because they’re still in the middle of a long and (from the sounds of it) arduous tour. But even so, they made some time for a riotously fun evening out afterwards That’s Gini’s picture of me (left) and Geoff (right) at a downtown pub.
  • Geoff is a scary, scary man. In a totally cool way. One might almost call him punk. Almost.
  • Susan Murphy is spooky-good at networking. Not that I’m impressed by – or jealous of – social media “A-listers”…. no really! But holy crap my Ottawa friend Susan Murphy is good friends with a whackload of them! Including Gary, who never struck me as a huggy dude, but he veered out of his way on the way out the door to run up and give Suze a massive bearhug.
  • Matt Hixson from Portland Oregon is a smart cookie, and his company Tellagence is onto something with the idea of intelligently mapping and predicting social connections based on people’s real influence in specific interest areas. That’s all I can say… okay, it’s all I understand. But stay tuned. There’s cool stuff to come from this company.

“I don’t care about your friends or followers. I care about relationships you build – in context.” Matt Hixson

  • Apparently I have a very loud laugh. But the origin story? Not so interesting…

Updated: check out their sites

Jul
09

How to speak Bizbabble in one easy step: DON’T!

Try your customer’s language instead: it’s called “Human”

Last week, I was excited to hear that Mitel, founded by Ottawa high tech stalwart Sir Terry Matthews, had released a revolutionary new product. So as a loyal Ottawa geek eager to talk up the new device to my network, I hastened over to Mitel.com to find out more. I found this instead. And I Beg to Differ.

I call it “Bizbabble”:

“Bizbabble”: (n) a set of words arranged by well-meaning business communicators in such a way that they look like they should mean something to a human of average intelligence, while utterly failing to actually help anyone understand the thing being babbled about.

Now I mean no disrespect to the good marketing folks at Mitel. I’ve been in their shoes, and I’ve written my share of Bizbabble myself. It’s really hard to communicate well while also navigating the minefields of engineering jargon, business politics, investors, analysts, and more.

But the experience reminded me of this story. And I’m speaking here as someone on the outside who wants to help them get the message out. And to do that, I first need to understand.

10 little words

Let’s go back a bit and read the words above again: “Next-Generation Multimedia Collaboration in the Personal Office Meeting Space”. Now tell me, dear human of above average intelligence. What is this thing? What does it do? Who is it for? Is it something you want to know more about?

The best I could do was “some kind of high tech thingy that helps people collaborate” but I had no idea whether it was a conference phone, a projector, a wireless hotspot, or a mini computer, and I had no clue what a “personal office meeting space” was. A home office maybe?

The words don’t help. And neither did the press release, the product name (“UC” stands for “Unified Communications” not “ulcerative colitis” which came up first on Google) or the the (almost impossible to find listing on) the corporate site.

Nor, unfortunately, did the slickly produced little product site , which spends most of its space talking about why the product is important, but very little about what the heck it IS! And that’s the key thing anyone looking at a new product wants to know!

So here you go Mitel. I solved your problem.

If I were advising Mitel on how to position and describe this product, I’d start with a simple formula:

  • 1) Tell us what is in terms most ordinary humans are already familiar with.
  • 2) Tell us what makes it special or different from the things we’re already familiar with.
  • 3) Do it in a way that people will remember – in this case by surprising them.

So, for example, here’s what I would say their product is after reading a bunch of materials (that said a whole lot less):

“The <insert better name here>
is a conference phone on steroids.”

(Pause. Sound of crickets…)

I could go on of course, but now it’s your turn:

What do you think? Does that help? Or am I hopelessly out of touch? Any examples of simple, helpful corporate communications – especially in very technical or jargon-laden fields? Weigh in below!

Jun
21

Surface impressions: Microsoft just nibbles the Apple.

Microsoft tries to challenge the iPad.  But scratching the Surface, Microsoft wants you to compare them apple-to-Apple. We Beg to Differ.

I finally had a chance to see the video of the much-hyped “secret” launch event for Microsoft and look into the branding and positioning of even more hyped new tablet.  Now, I’ve never touched the actual product, but just skating on the surface here, a  few impressions.

Reinventing the reinvention

The format of Microsoft’s presentation seemed oddly familiar to me, like deja vu, or a vaguely remembered movie. And here’s why. Read Write Web did a beat-by-beat comparison (embedded below) of the Surface launch with the epic launch of the iPad by Steve Jobs.

And you’ll never guess who comes off looking like an innovator and who comes off like a copycat:

Just keep swimming. Just keep swimming.

Tough day on the Jobs: Steve Sinofsky’s “somebody’s gonna get fired” face.

In the clip above, you see a brief moment where Microsoft  Executive Steven Sinofsky goes pale, tightens his lips, and sprints for the podium to grab a back-up tablet after the machine he’s holding completely freezes. Here’s a blow-by-blow of that excruciating moment from UK’s Daily Mail.

Now, as someone who’s done presentations for major consumer product launches (remember CorelDRAW 8?), and had to skate through crashes in the middle of your prepared schpiel, I have great  sympathy for what this guy is going through. Particularly since my screw-ups weren’t documented on YouTube for later dissection.

But this ain’t Palookaville. This is Microsoft (remember Windows 98?). So when the stakes are this high, you have to wonder how unstable the machine is to crash at that moment.

The name and brand strategy

I’m having a lot of trouble wrapping my head around the name. Maybe because it’s a two-dimensional metaphor – and most of the product shots are three-dimensional, and because Microsoft can’t seem to make up its mind whether this is a tablet (just a “surface”) or a new kind of lightweight quasi-laptop.

This confusion seems to be baffling even the most enthusiastic reviewers:

Microsoft is clearly straddling the uncomfortable divide between the old world of mice and keyboards, where it dominates, and a future ruled by touch screens, where Apple and Android devices prevail….

Surface splits the difference between a standard tablet and super-light laptops such as Apple’s MacBook Air or ultrabooks that run Windows.

So what is this thing? I’m sure a new category descriptor like “power tabs” or “laptabs” will emerge. But Microsoft could have helped us – and themselves – by figuring that out ahead of time.

Microsoft’s brand mangers also can’t seem to make up their mind whether it is a “Microsoft Surface” – like “Microsoft Word” or “Microsoft Comfort Mouse” – or whether “Surface” is a standalone brand with “Microsoft” as a lower visibility endorsement- like X Box. If it’s the latter, the Surface name is too weak to be memorable, and not distinctive enough to create a solid new product category to stand against iPad.

The wordmark is pure Apple minimalism as well, and the design of the Surface’s paper-thin launch site could easily be straight off Apple.com. Except that Apple actually tells you something substantial about their product.

And that’s the real problem with the Surface (and the substance of this product). Microsoft should have spent less time playing the Apple game (which they will never win), and more time playing the Differ game.

But, my fellow brand-watchers, what do you think? Am I being too hard on this little West-coast start-up?
May
01

Happy May 1 Ontario! Electricity just got more expensive (again)!

Brandvelope client EnergyMobile launches new mobile app

Disclosure: This is an article about a client’s product, so we may be a wee bit biased. But we can also get you a free pass, so read on!

Our house. Big power. Lacking cents.

If you’re like me, you prefer not to think about electricity. Or how much you’re spending on it. But a few things have conspired in my life to make power use a real “hot wire”:

  • 1) Three growing kids. Suddenly, our house has gone from 2-3 loads of laundry per week to 8-10 loads and climbing. That’s a lot of power, and it ain’t cheap.
  • 2) Increasing daycare costs. With three kids in daycare, we’re having to penny-pinch like never before, so suddenly “invisible” costs like food, water, and energy bills are in the spotlight as places to save some money.
  • 3) Ontario time-of-use metering. For non-Ontario folks who haven’t encountered this, rates for power are cheaper during hours considered “off-peak” for a given time of year – basically, an incentive to wash your potty-training toddler’s pee-soaked socks (yes I said socks) late at night or really early morning.
  • 4) Me being an idiot. As I said, energy has never been a top-of-mind concern for me, so I have no idea what a kilowatt-hour means, and I can never remember what time the price changes, or how much money I’m actually saving.
  • 5) Carbon footprint. Last one, but it’s got to be on my list with a seven year old daughter who is becoming militant about making sure polar bears don’t have to swim too far. And while time of use isn’t about using less energy per se, it turns out there are lots of easy things all of us can do to save energy, money, and hopefully, save polar bears without using giant polar water wings.

So we’re trying to save energy, but we need help

That’s why it was so cool to work with Tim Johnson as he developed, refined, and launched this iPhone app (at right). Because it’s really designed for, well, me – and people like me, who want to save energy, but are too busy or forgetful to get into the right habits without help.

Basically, like Tim’s other business Energy Insight (also a Brandvelope client) it’s about making Energy concepts easy to understand and giving people convenient tools to help them do the right thing without getting a degree in electrical engineering.

Here’s the basic idea of Powercents from an Ottawa Citizen article yesterday:

Called Powercents, the smart-phone app by EnergyMobile Studios of Ottawa is billed as a tool to help Ontario consumers make better decisions about household energy use.

“The best way to do that is with good, simple access to information that is not clouded by any specific agenda,” EnergyMobile founder Tim Johnson said.

The main screen is all about Time of Use, and helping you see what the rates in Ontario are right now, and how soon they’ll change, so you can plan a bit better.

But even better, as you can see at right, there are lots of charts to help you understand exactly how much money you’re saving with big power hogs like dishwashers and laundry machines.

So check it out!

You can buy it yourself from the iPhone store. It’s $1.99. And let us know what you think.

Or, get it for free! If you’re one of the first five people to retweet or Like this post, (and you live in Ontario) I’ll send you a code for a free download.

Jun
02

Steve Jobs announces “the greenest Apple product ever”

Another revolution from Apple? This one’s alive.

Just when you think the god-like product development powers of Steve Jobs couldn’t go any further, he launches a product that creates life itself. Let the hyperbole begin!

Behold: the ChiaPad.

“I really cannot say enough about this latest miraculous, life-affirming, intuitive, and super, super green device, so I will continue to say it for the next 3 .5 hours.”
Steve Jobs at the ChiaPad unveiling

The new device is a joint project between Apple and Joseph products – makers of the classic Clapper and Chia technologies.

The shell of the device looks like an  iPad made of fired clay. But that’s where the similarity ends, because inside, the operating system is pure Chia.

Says Jobs: “You just add water and watch your content grow! It’s that easy.”

Apple officials were quick to dismiss as “fuzzy headed” the critics who have called the device a “closed ecosystem” that can only grow plants approved and sold by Apple.

And they also insist that while the ChiaPad might seem similar to several other devices on the market, the red clay is actually terracotta, and definitely not adobe.

“This changes everything you thought you knew about touch-sensitive herbal neo novelty technology,” says Jobs in the Webcast of the launch.

His demo was of course greeted with rapturous self-flagellation by Apple fans worldwide and long lineups at Apple stores, even though the product does not actually ship for several months.

Other features:

  • Herbal, organic and fully biodegradable.
  • Rain tolerant for true cloud computing.
  • Familiar interface for millions of iSod users.
  • Clap on. Clap off.
  • Thousands of apps available like Herb 2007 office suite, iMow, and Farmville – Monoculture Edition.
  • Battery cannot be removed, and don’t even mention Flash.
  • If you order NOW, we’ll throw in a second ChiaPad at no extra charge along with Ginsu Knives, a new ChiaPhone (data plan not included), and a Chia Head Steve Jobs (right).