Friday, January 6, 2012

This is not a Kodak moment

Where did it go wrong for Kodak?

Their company was founded on incredible technical innovation that met a huge consumer need.

They continued innovating throughout their history.

They were consistent advertisers, developing memorable emotional pitches that drove their market share to near monopoly status. In 1976 they sold 90% of the film and 85% of the cameras in America.

They leveraged their expertise into new categories like videotape and memory cards.

And while they may have been a little late to the party, it wasn't as if they ignored the digital revolution. In 2005, four of every ten digital camera's sold in the U.S. was a Kodak. They developed the first camera/printer dock, the first WiFi enabled camera, in 2006 they introduced the smallest 10x optical zoom camera.

And now, just six years later they stand on the brink of bankruptcy while Nikon and Canon continue to sell on the high end, and every smartphone and tablet has a camera function.

This is a tough one to figure out, but here goes.

They were too busy listening to what people said and not actually understanding what they really wanted.

Kodak built their business on preserving memories. Yet, while most people have albums and keep some pictures for the long term, today photography is really about sharing moments.

Yes, we can still go back and look at our pictures. But in the main, photographs are no longer meant for albums or frames. We're happy to take a quick shot of questionable quality and then hit share button, uploading it immediately to Facebook, Photobucket or Twitter so our friends can see what we're up to now.

Kodak missed that. While they engineered ever more elaborate cameras and sensor systems designed to improve the image quality, the market was running the other way fast.

So now another great American brand is disappearing. And I for one, will miss them.

Thursday, January 5, 2012

It's good, but is it original?

Is it a case of plagiarism or coincidental creativity?

After universal praise for the ad featured in yesterday's post, my friend Gene shared this cover from the 2005 Nada Surf album, The Weight is a Gift.


Unless I travel to Brazil and confront the creative team – which wouldn't be easy given my level of proficiency in Portuguese – we'll never know.

Here's my take.

The illustration styles are similar. The color palette is the same. In both illustrations the only lit window is the second from the left.

Coincidence? I think yes.

While the styles are similar, they're not that unique. There are a lot of freehand pen and ink cityscapes out there.

As for the cool blue tone of the evening light, I don't think the illustrator for the album invented that convention.

Yes, the images are similar. But this wouldn't be the first time two people have hit on the same idea years apart.

After all, ABC just aired the show Workin' It about two cross-dressing men working trying to earn a living in the big city 30 years after Bosom Buddies went of the air...

If it's plagiarized, at least the Corre Cutia ad is good.

Wednesday, January 4, 2012

Simply brilliant

When your target is literate and understands the concept of metaphor, you can do a lot more with your advertising.

Or as this ad demonstrates, less.

This insightfully concepted, beautifully illustrated ad for Corre Cutia Bookstore in Brazil captures the universal benefit of a great book in one simple visual. Just as important, it communicates why Corre Cutia is different from big box book and toy sellers.

From what I can gather of the google translation of their website, Corre Cutia was founded by psychologists who wanted to provide a fun and nurturing environment that also sold books and toys.

I hope they are successful, if only because it means we'll get to see more ads like this.

Thanks to Andy Wallman for the tip on this one. If you want to see a hi-rez image of the ad, go here.

Tuesday, January 3, 2012

Tools and talent aren't enough

I've been engaged in an interesting conversation on Twitter this morning on the value of tools in the innovation process.

What makes conversations online (and  thus on Twitter) so interesting, is that the positions are usually black versus white. "I'm right. You're wrong." It's hard to get a lot of subtlety into a 140 character post. Especially if you want to throw a few hash tags on the end.

In response to the question "If we reduce innovation to a set of tools, do we kill it?"

My answer was simply, "Yes."

This of course led to responses (mostly sellers of innovation tools) that argued tools were an essential part of the process.

Of course, they're right. You can't build a house without a hammer. But if you want to build an architecturally significant house, you need a great plan.

In any endeavor the magic comes not just from having the tools and knowing how to use them. It's the vision behind the project that make their application special.

Every artist can mix paint and put a brush to a canvas, but it took the genius of da Vinci to create the Mona Lisa.

Every programmer knows how to code an app, but it took the twisted vision of Peter Vesterbacka to create Angry Birds.

Every blogger can use a computer, but few attract the daily readership of Seth Godin.

It takes more than tools and talent to create a masterpiece. It starts with a vision. A mindset. A mission. That's what separated Apple from Dell. That's what drove Google past Yahoo! Unfortunately, that's what's lacking in most innovation programs today.

Monday, January 2, 2012

The era of opportunity

What does opportunity look like?
  • An entrenched market leader that's taking its customers for granted
  • A throw-away comment from a friend about how his cell phone could work better
  • A new application for an existing technology
  • A forum where everyone has a voice
  • 100 million bored smartphone users
  • Depressed real estate prices
  • An engaged Facebook, Linkedin, or Twitter network
  • America's obesity epidemic
  • A freeway at rush hour
  • An outdated power grid
  • The 10% unemployment rate
  • Low interest rates
  • A tight money supply
  • Gridlock in congress
  • Information overload
  • Media fragmentation
  • The end of the 9 to 5 workday
  • A pink slip
  • Communitarianism
  • Escapism
  • Personalization
  • Globalization
  • Altruism
  • Vanity
Opportunity is everywhere for those who are willing to look, listen, think, and act.

Welcome to 2012, the era of opportunity.