All posts in Branding and Identity

warbyparker770Fast. Cheap. Good.

We’ve mentioned this cliched business tenet before. You know how it goes; pick two because you certainly can’t have all three.

But stop. Why can’t I have all three? Why can’t there be a business that breaks down that barrier that limits and prevents differentiation within an industry? I may have found one that does. Warby Parker. Continue Reading →

rsiWhen you talk to Jay McMillan, founder of Royal Services, you can’t help but be inspired not only by his passion for his business, but by the passion he has toward yours! In an era where too many business owners are only looking out for their bottom line, Jay eschews the “what’s in it for me” mentality and serves to connect people. It’s refreshing to meet someone like Jay who realizes that business relationships are formed when you first seek to help someone other than yourself. Continue Reading →

Screen Shot 2012-07-30 at 1.01.44 PMThis is exciting. What you are about to read is the first installment in our “This is Working” series. What we’ve set out to do with the series is highlight entrepreneurs and their businesses. We’re not just looking to feature anyone with a tax ID number. Ideally, these are business owners who have something that really gets us excited here at SOZO / PIVOTAL. Our first featured company does exactly that! Continue Reading →

Me too. Or is it Me Two, as in number two. The second one to come along. The one that saw the opportunity and joined the party.

We roll our eyes at companies that follow closely behind the release of a new technology with their own twist on what’s hot. We cringe when a mobile phone comes out looking embarrassingly close to the one that, with much fanfare and success, preceded it. We laugh when Steve Ballmer marches out with a Zune, a Bing or whatever their new iPad-killer is now called and thinks we’re really going to buy stuff that’s clearly inferior once you get past the exterior shell that so closely resembles the market leader.

Here’s the bad news for companies looking for a short-cut — the consumer’s too smart. Me too products never go far because the people behind creating the copy-cat didn’t go far. They didn’t go far in their understanding of what made Product #1 so good. Their biggest mistake was not going far enough in understanding how their product could be better than Product #1. They looked at the hysteria, not the reasons behind the hysteria. If Microsoft wanted to come out with a new tablet, I better know by now why this thing is better than the iPad. If it’s going to cook dinner and clean the house, you better make sure I know that. Seeing a picture of something that looks just like an iPad is disappointing and the video only conveys a message of “hey, we can do this too.”

This is why me too is different than me two. In some fashion we all have some sort of me two in us. Is there really an truly original idea anymore? Aren’t all great products and companies spin-offs of some idea improved upon? It happens all the time. With the Walkman, Sony beat Apple to the portable music player market more than a decade before the first iPad was loaded with digital tunes. In fact there were other mp3 players before the iPod.

We all know the story. Apple made their product better. Facebook and Netflix did the same thing in their industries when they essentially knocked MySpace and Blockbuster out of business, respectively. They weren’t first, but they were better. Me two is about being better and in many respects it’s about catching your competitor resting on its laurels.

Chances are you weren’t the first. There’s likely competition out there that’s been hard at work a little longer than you. It’s not enough to go out there and form a company and say you’re going to do the same thing as the competitor. Too many people create their own company because they think they’ll just naturally do it better.  They overlook the fact that they must truly create and present something different than what we’re accustomed to. Otherwise, why bother? Why bother creating the company and why should the consumer bother switching over to you?

If someone has to ask you why you’re different than your competitor you’re already off to a bad start. But if they do ask, your answer—which is built into your brand and message—better be clear and obvious. Take a look at the Nest thermostat. Spend 30 seconds on the website and you’ll have no doubt why this thing is better than the traditional $30 thermostat in your house. Nest didn’t create the thermostat, it made it better and then it made sure you knew about it…quickly.

Every year, it seems, there’s a Super Bowl advertiser that regrets signing off on a spot that runs during the big game. This year’s Monday morning advertising quarterback is Groupon. Continue Reading →

News this morning that Borders has filed Chapter 11 bankruptcy and may be closing up to 200 of its stores is yet another defining moment in publishing and may forever be the true beginning of the end to the entire bookstore experience. Continue Reading →

Ahh, the Chrysler Super Bowl spot. I better get to this while it’s still somewhat timely. Where do I begin and how do I write this so it doesn’t sound like a negative piece? I can start by saying what I liked about it from a creative standpoint or I can begin by talking about how I really think it missed the mark. Oh well, I’ll just begin… Continue Reading →

Over the past couple years the North American International Auto Show has taken on a more low-key display of the cars and trucks. Gone were some of the over-the-top and impressive stages that showcased the various manufacturer’s product lines. Also missing from the floor plan was Porsche and a few other luxury badges that thought Detroit wasn’t worth including on their auto show circuit. Continue Reading →

Count me in as one of the few who actually thinks Starbucks’ new logo is great. I love it. I like how they boldly did away with the name, but didn’t touch anything else. I love how at first glance the iconic cup doesn’t really look all that much different. Continue Reading →

In sports it’s called being in the zone. In the creative arena we call it the “flow.”

However you refer to it, surely you’ve experienced the frustrations of not being able to get into that place where you’re free from distractions and capable of producing outstanding work. Continue Reading →