I have been deeply inspired by Colville since I was introduced to his paintings in grade nine by Mr. Ross at Confederation High School. My teacher was a die-hard fan of strictly realist art and had little time for abstraction or “fakery”. But still, he loved Colville and praised his work loudly as an example of the triumph of realism.
I loved it too, but for the opposite reason. I loved how Colville could take “realistic” scenes and elements, strip out many key details like shadows and blemishes to focus on simple forms, and create this mythical, dramatic, and often creepily ominous moment. Every Colville painting made my head spin with stories and questions. Continue reading “Farewell to a fearless storyteller. Alex Colville”
In the next two weeks I’ll be starting two new versions of the Applied Social Media in Business class – the one week Accelerated version starting on Monday, and the seven week evening program starting Tuesday, July 2.
The Applied Social class is all about studying and developing real world social media case studies. We try to help our students understand in practical terms how social fits into real world workplaces and business strategy situations. From customer service to research, content marketing to old-school promotional marketing, small business to agencies to big brands. We try to cover a mix.
Another stadium re-branding? Sigh. Here we go again.
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.
The good part…
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.
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”…
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.
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!
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!
You can be creative: Scotiabank also sponsors the Saddledome in Calgary, or as they call it “Scotiabank Saddledome”.
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?
Data fudge is everywhere. But it seems particularly rampant in infographics shared on social media.
Okay, I love really good charts and graphs – and I often 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…
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.
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?
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.
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.