Jun
18

Sports branding: Senator’s arena becomes Canadian Tire Centre. Sigh.

Another stadium re-branding: we’re more than just tired.

So you’ve heard about the Ottawa Palladium? How about the Corel Centre? Scotiabank Place? Well forget about them all. As announced this morning, Ottawa’s professional hockey stadium is about to change its name for the fourth time since 1996.  

Your name here

The good part…

Stadium Brand names - sponsorship

Percentage of 111 stadiums for the “big four” professional sports leagues: NBA, NFL, MLB, and NHL

Okay, I’m a branding guy. So I get the naming rights game. I’ve been part of board room decisions around JetForm park, and I worked at Corel during 1996. Big brands will pay a LOT of money to get their moniker on the side of a stadium, and into the mouths of fans and broadcasters. And that’s all good.

And we could choose a much more embarrassing corporate partner than Canada’s iconic automotive / hardware / electronics / now grocery brand. We could have a “Sleep Train Arena” like the NBA team the Sacramento Kings, or “Dick’s Sporting Goods Park“, the home of the Colorado Rapids soccer team.

And it sounds like the Senators ownership team actually chose this partnership:

Senators owner Eugene Melynk said of the discussions leading up to Tuesday’s official agreement. “The possibilities kept growing and growing and growing. They made up their mind pretty quickly. After that, they moved so fast. In the end, it’s very extensive. You’re going to see a lot of big changes.”

The annoying stuff…

Here are a few reasons this name change is annoying to me – and if Twitter is any guide (and it is) – it’s annoying many other Ottawa fans as well. Yeah, we’ll get used to the new name. Again. But before the anger dies, some thoughts on stadium branding.

  1. Another name: it’s hard to really develop affection for a brand – any brand – if it keeps changing its name every few years. I had just gotten used to saying “Scotiabank Place”…
  2. Generic corporate blandness: 86 out of the 111 stadiums for the “big 4″ professional sports leagues have generic brand names. That’s 78%. A massive majority of hard-to-differentiate place names. Try this test: tell me where the Pepsi Center is. Minute Maid Park. Gillette Stadium. See? They could be anywhere.
  3. Back to “Centre” again?  The word “Place” wasn’t exactly rocking anyone’s world, but I counted: 17 out of the 30 NHL teams play in a building called “The <Brand Name> Center” or “Centre”. That’s more than 56% of teams in the same league calling their building the same boring thing!
  4. Lack of emotion: Distinctive names aren’t just more interesting and unique, they are durable. San Francisco sports fans demanded the return of “Candlestick Park” after 3M, then Monster.com bought, then abandoned the naming rights.  That’s a strong brand!
  5. You can be creative: Scotiabank also sponsors the Saddledome in Calgary, or as they call it “Scotiabank Saddledome”.
  6. Palladium is a strong name: and this is the kicker. We once had a strong, completely unique name for the stadium, and it’s still used as the street name for the stadium itself. There is no other Palladium in North America. And “Canadian Tire Palladium” isn’t so bad is it?

But enough about me: what do you think?

May
16

Social media infographics: fight data fudge!

Data fudge is everywhere. But it seems particularly rampant in infographics shared on social media.

Okay, I love really good charts and graphs – and nerd out about elegant infographics like ones I grew up with in National Geographic, or those shared regularly in FastCoDesign.  But no matter how pretty the picture, what about the data shared in the random infographics I regularly see in my social streams?

Case in point. This week, Jim Dougherty shared this  Infographic, questioning the infographic’s data and particularly this statistic: “90% of all organizations use content in their marketing”. Hmm. Really?

Fight the fudge!

So I decided to do some digging. And before I knew it, I’d created an infographic of my own…

How to spot data abuse in infographics -FUDGE

Here’s some advice based on only one data point: one awfully skewed statistic in a recent Demand Metric infographic.

Links:

Apr
15

Technology brands: hey “Cloud” product names: QUIT IT!

Dear brand managers: please get your heads out of the “cloud”.

Okay, I get it. The word “Cloud” is hot right now on planet Software Development. All the biggest online players in the world – from Google to Microsoft to Apple to Adobe – are launching “Cloud” versions of their software. But using the word “Cloud” in a product name for a software brand? I Beg to Differ.

View from 30,000 feet: Ice Cream Castles

So, my brand manager friend. Before we talk clouds, give this song a listen: Both Sides Now, Joni Mitchell.

Hear that? Joni’s talking about clouds – your favourite topic! Now, she’s talking about old fashioned air-clouds not cool Internet clouds.  But listen when she describes them as “Bows and flows of angel hair/ And ice cream castles in the air”. See? She’s like you. She agrees that clouds are really, really cool.

And from way up there, those awesome, baroque cloud swirls look kind of like what the concept of “Cloud” software looks like to you technology brand managers, and especially the product developers you usually report to.

It’s a magical fairy tale kingdom of Internet-delivered goodness that just makes so gosh-darned much sense.

  • Why wouldn’t people want the latest version of their software delivered by magic from the heavens?
  • Why wouldn’t they want to switch from buying boxes of plastic disks to online subscriptions?
  • Why wouldn’t people want to store their personal files in the wondrous land of “feather canyons”?
  • Why wouldn’t people LOVE such a super-convenient, and low-cost method of delivery?

Why indeed?

Which explains why every Silicone Valley dog and his app-development team is moving towards the cloud. And they’re so excited, they’re adding the word “Cloud” to every product name in sight. Just a few examples: Adobe Creative CloudApple iCloudMicrosoft Cloud ServicesRackspace Open CloudGoogle Cloud Platform.

Salesforce logo clouds it up

One of the ugliest logo mashups in history. Or, the reason neither Sales-people nor techies should manage brands.

Or how about SalesForce.com? They love the word “Cloud” so much, they named all three of their most-promoted products “Sales Cloud,” “Service Cloud,” and “Marketing Cloud“. They even changed their logo (at right) so you couldn’t miss their cloudiness.

All for love of those amazing clouds…

View from the ground:  rain and snow on everyone

But as Joni said, clouds look very different when they are looming over your head: “But now they only block the sun./They rain and snow on everyone”. Funny, but that describes how I feel when I look at a name like “Adobe Creative Cloud” or “Sales Cloud”.

Think about the product name “Sales Cloud” by Salesforce for a moment. Salesforce.com virtually invented the market for Internet-subscription software for business – or “software-as-a-service” as we used to call it in high tech board rooms. Customer Relationship Management was the first “killer app” and it made Salesforce into a household name.

But Salesforce.com never needed to say “Cloud” before because they were all-cloud, all the time: cloud storage, cloud subscription, browser-based cloud usage.

So check out this copy from the “Sales Cloud” section of their site.

Get started with the world’s #1 CRM sales app: Improve sales productivity, boost win rates, grow revenue. With Salesforce Sales Cloud you get all the CRM capabilities you need to connect with customers…

Funny, in the olden days, they would have just said “Subscribe to Salesforce.com”. Because that’s their real product name. It’s not a cloud. It’s a subscription.

The problem with clouds? They’re bloody CLOUDY.

So let me say this once and for all: the cloud is not a software product. It’s not a place. And it’s certainly not a thing I can buy. It’s that murky Internet space between me as customer and you the vendor. And so it’s not something I want to focus on, it’s something I want to see through to the real value for me on the other side. And if you’re doing your job as a brand manager, you’ll use product names that help me understand – and buy – your stuff.

Thanks Joni.

Feb
13

Tweets in space: Col. Chris Hadfield takes Social Media into orbit

Suddenly, the cold wastes of space seem a bit more human again.

If you aren’t following Canadian astronaut Col. Chris Hadfield on Twitter, Facebook, or through the Canadian Space Agency YouTube channel, go, now, and follow this man. Share his stuff. He’s doing more to inspire a generation of star-struck kids than anyone since Neil Armstrong or that Russian dog.

The quote and the photo are from Canadian Astronaut Col. Chris Hadfield's magnificent Facebook stream.

The quote and the photo are from Canadian Astronaut Col. Chris Hadfield’s magnificent Facebook stream.

When I shared the Facebook update above, my old college buddy Lloyd responded with this:

Commander Hadfield is the best thing to happen to the Canadian space program since they put a bottle opener on the end of the Canadarm.
And it’s true… except for the bottle opener part (note to Space Agency – get on that!). But in thinking about it a bit more, I responded with this.
Actually the best thing to happen to space exploration period Lloyd. He’s the most articulate, personable, plugged-in astronaut ever. And he’s just so golly-gee-whiz THRILLED to be doing what he’s doing. It’s a nice change from the boring old business-as-usual.

And more importantly, he’s a storyteller. He’s a creative guy who shares his photos, his songs, and the wonders of weightless living with this incredibly, engagingly geeky, enthusiasm. It’s clear that he loves his job – and okay, that part is easy; he’s an astronaut after all. The thing he does better than anyone is bringing us along for the ride –  and making us fall in love with space all over again.

But as great as all of that is, I wonder: How far beyond Canada’s borders is Col. Hadfield’s social media brilliance reaching? I’ll put the word out to some social media analytics gurus for their thoughts – updates to follow.

In the meantime, below are two of my favourite Candiana moments from the growing space canon of Chris Hadfield -with William “rocket Man” Shatner and a space jam with the Barenaked  Ladies.

What are your favourite Hadfield moments? Please share links in the comments!

UPDATE Feb 13:  So it seems pretty clear that Hadfield hasn’t broken out as an international phenomenon yet. I received this update from my friend, the digital monitoring ninja Mark Blevis. Of 120,934 tweets mentioning @cmdr_hadfield (Feb 1-today).

Update Feb 14: Well, after some back and forth with Mark, and Twitter input from Commander Hadfield’s son Evan, Mark’s blog post provides some more numbers  that  confirm Hadfield hasn’t reached the “Justin-Bieber-sphere” yet.