I recently visited my second-favourite Thai restaurant. I've been there before, but this time the experience was exactly $1 less rich. Here's why: they've raised their prices (which is fair given the economy) The food, decor and service are still excellent. But on the front cover of their menu there's a big sticker that says..."Everything is $1 more". Yes, it's a little amusing. And from a practical perspective, this sticker makes reasonable sense: why reprint the whole menu now, when we can re-price everything on the cover? But here's the rub: that sticker puts customers into value rationale mode. Is the food $1 better than last time? Nope. Did the restaurant redecorate? Nope. More staff perhaps? Nope. Is anything $1 better? Nope. So what am I getting in return for paying $1 more? The answer, of course, is a bitter taste. The Green Mango story (and brand) of cheerful service and fresh, tasty food has now been taken hostage by price...because my attention was drawn to it. It's these little customer experience moments that matter. Because your customer's relationship with you and your brand is a living, evolving relationship, even an invisible $1 can make all the difference.
We're working on a new client over at Polar and it's got me thinking about how design can so effectively position (or reposition) a product. There’s a design lexicon for meaning. When a brand is draped in a certain style to appeal to a certain audience, that style is created with a design vocabulary made up of colour, typography, composition, imagery and other elements. Good creative people can conjure a brand style that evokes many familiar emotional cues. Here’s an example…
What makes a luxury brand? What helps identify a premium product or service? I believe it is silence: a lack of audible or visual noise. Money buys insulation, and the wealthy, or wealthy-wannabes, will pay to filter out the world. A famous Ogilvy tagline says it all: “At 60 miles an hour the loudest noise in this new Rolls-Royce comes from the electric clock”. The more expensive a car, the more soundproofing it carries.
Luxury also means less visual noise. Compare Wal-Mart to the Holt-Renfrew shopping experience. One is fluorescently bright and colourfully merchandised, while the latter is visually quieter with neutral colour schemes and more nuanced incandescent lighting. Ever wonder why limousines are predominantly black? Or why the premium tier of many products are named as they are...Starbuck’s Black Apron, Coca-Cola Bläk, AMEX black Centurion card? Or why many upscale restaurants are candlelit? All the better to insulate and focus attention on you and your companion. Darkness removes distractions. It puts you in the spotlight. And it makes you (feel) more important.
Luxury is a very meaningful motivator. It enables freedom, personal validation, security, wonder, beauty, enlightenment and even redemption. A luxury experience, driven by careful brand design, creates moments that matter to you. And it begins with silence.
Just took the wraps of a new site for wordgeeks...and those who love to laugh at spam. Zip on over to www.spamhooks.com and enjoy a gallery of marvelously incomprehensible spam subject lines. There's something uniquely creative about the twisted metaphors and complex puns used to hook eyeballs by cunning spammers.
Of course, this is business too. Over 40% of Internet traffic is estimated to be spam, and a 2003 TELUS report guesstimated that even though typical response rates are around .005%, it doesn't take many 'customers' to make the whole enterprise very, very profitable.
Spam is nothing more than a firehose of direct mail, and the subject line is the headline on the envelope. While plenty are computer generated, every so often out pops a truly wellcrafted zinger. Many are just the literary equivalent of a car crash.
To mis-quote Tom Waits, spamhooks: "are a form of copywriting....just not for everyone." Yes, the site is safe for work browsing - Spamhooks of the transparently crude variety are best left unremarked. Enjoy the site, and check back for updates. Also, feel free to submit your own stumbled-upon spamhooks via the big red 'Submit' button.
There’s a humble little shawarma shop in my neighbourhood. The food is terrific, served hot, fresh and fast. It’s run by a (literally) young Turk who mans the front kitchen. Shawarmas get made up front on the grill, falafels in the rear kitchen’s deep fryer. He’s short and unibrowed, the epitome of swarthy, and in all of 25 visits, has smiled exactly once. Which is why he has sensibly employed someone to help with the customer service side of the business. That someone is a rotating pool of what can only be described as Very Hot Russian Chicks™. They never last more than a week, and are immediately replaced by another tall, bottleblond, Wonderbra-curvy and riotously overdressed PYT. Think sequins. In a shawarma shop. Hmmm. They pose defiantly behind the cash register, chewing gum and scowling delightfully as their boss angrily hacks chicken from the rotisserie and shovels it into a hummused pita. But that’s not the half of it. When I said it’s a humble shawarma shop, I only meant in size. There’s a well-stocked bar, lots of varnished dark wood, comfy tables, and a 46” plasma screen on the wall. This screen is used exclusively for music videos. Mostly of Bonnie Tyler. Yes, Bonnie’s back. The same big-haired husky-voiced Scottish lass of the 80s is right there in hazy stretched widescreen faux-HD. ‘Total Eclipse of the Heart’, ‘Have You Ever Seen The Rain’, ‘Holding Out for a Hero’, ‘Here She Comes’...and you thought she only had one hit? My little shawarma shop begs to differ. Thankfully the audio is always off. Finally, although open most nights until 9pm, the kitchen is always, always, always out of shawarma by 5:30. You could set your clock by the grim shake of the head the boss will throw at you. What would Bonnie think? I think she’d be outta there ‘Faster Than The Speed Of Night’.
I'm proud to have been a part of the development team on this incredible program....
TORONTO, Dec. 12, 2007 (Canada NewsWire via COMTEX) -- Kids' Health Links Foundation (KHLF), McMaster Children's Hospital (MCH) and TELUS today announced the launch of Upopolis, the first secure online social network for kids in hospital care.
Powered by TELUS, Upopolis.com provides the best features of social networking for young patients who often feel isolated when they're in the hospital. Upopolis will provide a personal profile, secure mail, instant chat, discussion boards, personal blogs and links to child-friendly games. The site also provides unique features to kids in hospital like a homework site to stay up-to-date with their schoolwork, links to kid-friendly health and wellness information, and connections to other children with the same condition.
The online support network was inspired by the hospital experiences of two teenaged friends, Christina Papaevangelou and Katy McDonald. In February 2002, Christina was admitted to the Intensive Care Unit at McMaster Children's Hospital with a life-threatening illness. Shortly after, Katy was diagnosed with cancer and had to be hospitalized for a long period of time, feeling disconnected from friends, family and keeping up with schoolwork. Sadly, Katy lost her battle with cancer. However, their friendship and common experiences inspired Christina to explore ways to help kids in care stay connected.
"Christina and I established Kids' Health Links Foundation to make a difference in the lives of hospitalized children," said Christina's father, Basile Papaevangelou, who is the chairman and founder of KHLF. Mr. Papaevangelou appreciated the care Christina received so much that he wanted to make a lasting contribution to health care for kids. "With our partners, McMaster Children's Hospital and TELUS, we are taking the first step in what we committed to accomplish: the launch of Upopolis, a Canada-wide program that enhances the lives of hospitalized children."