Six of the Best: Sticky accelerators, iPad jokes, phone book forts and more edition ~ Brand Mix

Saturday, January 30, 2010

Six of the Best: Sticky accelerators, iPad jokes, phone book forts and more edition

Steve Jobs took center stage this week for yet another attention-grabbing launch announcement. There was enough bated breath to temporarily reverse global warming. All the hoopla! gave Toyota a little bit of cover in what was still a disastrous week for the company. While all this was going on, Facebook went all Doppelgänger on us.

1) My Pad or yours: What's up below deck? (Landor's blog)
By now, more has been written about the iPad than anyone could read in a lifetime, perhaps more than the 16 GB base model could even store. And the jokes started flowing too. Sample: "Will the 16-, 32- and 64-gig varieties be referred to as 'light,' 'regular,' and 'super'?" But, as Hayes points out in this post: "After the jokes and puns are lobbed ... is anyone confused about who brought us this modern marvel, what it does, how it will likely be used, and whether it’s probably just affordable enough?" Hayes thinks the name is "pretty nigh perfect" and I agree.

2) Learning from Toyota's Stumble: Harvard Business Review
While Apple was having another great week, Toyota was having perhaps its worst week ever. The problem of the sticky accelerator went from troubling issue to absolute calamity as it had to recall 8 million cars globally and stop making eight models until it can fix the problem. There's been plenty of speculation about the potential short and long-term damage to Toyota's reputation. This post from Steven Spear puts the blame on the current problems on too- aggressive growth as Toyota got caught up in the race to be #1.

3) New Solutions Emerge - Apple, Amazon, Netflix, YouTube, Hulu: The Phoenix Principle
Adam Hartung hammers away, week after week, driving home his message that companies get in trouble when they lock-in to their success formulae and stop looking for ways to reinvent themselves. This week, he brought in evolution to help make the case. He explains in this post that people generally misunderstand evolution. They think that change happens slowly but that's not how it works. What really happens is a few members of a species will be different from the others--they will have short tails when most have long tails. These short-tail members will not do well while having a tail is important. But, if conditions change, and suddenly, say, there's a new predator who catches its prey by the tail, then the short-tailed members of the species will become dominant. Very quickly. Companies that drive out all of their short-tailed thinking and leave no room for rapid adaptation, these are the ones that will one day find themselves in trouble they can't get out of fast enough.

4) The Coffee Question: Fritinancy

Nancy Friedman takes her readers for a trip back in time to the heyday for MJB, one of the many coffee companies founded in San Francisco (Folgers and Hills Bros are two of the others.) In Old Oakland, there's still a "MJB Coffee Why?" ad painted on a house, a relic of a curious campaign for the brand launched exactly 100 years ago. These days, MJB is barely hanging on, driven off the shelves by stronger competition. As a former MJB brand manager (and someone who shares the same initials), it's sad to see this old brand fading away.

5) Charlie Brooker - How To Report The News (via brandflakesforbreakfast)

Brilliant! A step-by-step guide on how to put together a news report that looks like all the rest. Perfect for the UK, not that far off for the U.S. either. Report includes "obligatory shots of overweight people with their faces subtly framed out" and the "wry sign-off."

6) Let's build a giant fort with them: Indexed
Just what I was thinking when I noticed our unopened phone book sitting there all shrink-wrapped and unloved the other day. Will they ever stop printing these things?

That's it! Back soon with more stories from the world of brand strategy (and vaguely related areas). More thoughts and comments also available on Twitter (@martinjbishop).

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