Friday, April 23, 2010

Free Idea Friday

Ideas are easy. Execution is hard. Every Friday I will share an idea that's been rolling around in my head that I have neither the time nor the where-with-all to execute. Remember, it's free, so take it for what it's worth. 

An ad for an icon
The classic Bic Cristal ball-point pen has always been my analog writing instrument of choice. I love it's simplicity, durability and lack of pretension. While using one the other day, I decided to create this ad as an homage. Enjoy.

Thursday, April 22, 2010

The 10% solution

Would you be happy with 20 million customers? Jim Koch would be. That's about 10% of the beer drinking population in this country.

Mr. Koch, president and founder of Sam Adams said in a Wall Street Journal interview that he always figured 90% of American beer drinkers didn't like his beer. And that's okay with him. He's managed to carve out a pretty good living selling less than 1% of the beer consumed in America.

Outside of brands like Coke and Budweiser, most companies can get by pretty well without appealing to large swaths of the population. You don't need everyone to love your brand to be successful. You just need to find enough people to make it worthwhile.

If you spend too much time trying to please the everyone else, you'll water down what makes your product special. (pun intended)

Wednesday, April 21, 2010

A paean to a dying art

Advertising is about communication, and everything on the page communicates: the words, the pictures, the layout, even the type.

Just 30 minutes north of me, is the town of Two Rivers (pronounced T'rivers), the home of the Hamilton Wood Type Factory, where typecutters and setters plied their craft for over 100 years. With the advent of the Macintosh and programs like QuarkXpress and InDesign, mechanical typesetting became obsolete, removing a whole layer of artisans from the craft of advertising.

Now I'm not one to be overly nostalgic and have embraced the efficiency and flexibility that computer technology has brought us. But it's nice to know the history of the craft and understand its evolution.

The factory, now a museum preserving the art and artifacts of wood type, is the star of a new documentary, Typeface, by Justine Nagan. Debuting last week at the Wisconsin Film Festival, the film is now making the rounds on the festival circuit and will soon be available on DVD.

If you're a fan of advertising, design, or just how things work, it's a pretty cool peek into the past.

Tuesday, April 20, 2010

Words Matter

I was reading about the latest salvo in the razor wars this morning and did a double take when I came across this quotation from Brad Harrison, a Schick brand manager:

“So instead of more blades, we’re providing a more lubricious, smoother, more comfortable shave.” 

Now I know what smoother and more comfortable mean. And since I majored in Latin way back when at the University of Michigan, I could take a stab at lubricious, since it's derived from lubricus meaning slippery, smooth, and deceitful.

That's where it comes from, but what does it mean today? According to Webster's, the primary definition of lubricious is: marked by wantonness; lecherous; salacious, and on its synonyms are: lascivious, libidinous, pornographic, obscene.

Does Mr. Harrison really want us to think that the new Hydro 3 is a dirty little razor that fondles our skin with salacious intent? While that might be an interesting marketing position, based on their creative, I think not.

My guess is he was looking for a word that is more interesting than slippery. The next time he should be more sedulous in his selection of product descriptors.

Monday, April 19, 2010

More isn't enough.

Even with today's crippled economy, we live in a time of plenty. Most people have multiple cars, televisions, video game consoles and some even have multiple houses (not always by choice).

But more doesn't make life better. Better does.

While we buy more, we're actually in search of products with better design and function, stores with better service, businesses that deliver a better experience. That's what keeps us coming back for more.

So when you're developing your new product or planning your business, don't just settle for more. Strive for better.