Tobias HøgsbergMarketing change agent, and brand strategist with a strong understanding of digital marketing and transformation. I thrive in the interplay between creativity, media strategy, technology, and business. Always looking to create strategically founded innovative solutions that can help businesses grow, evolve and connect with audiences.
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Interesting post from Harvard Business Review highlights some of the keys to winning in this new era of empowered, engaged and networked consumers. One expression or buzz word I found to be extremely relevant was the idea of “Liquid Content”
Besides the excellent figurative language (makes me think of blended foods which are often easier to digest) it perfectly describes the challenge when developing contemporary creative content :
“Liquid content is creative work that is so compelling, authentic and culturally relevant that it can flow through any medium. Liquid content includes emotionally compelling stories that quickly become pervasive. Similarly, “linked” content is content that is linked to our brand strategies and our business objectives. No matter where consumers encounter it, linked content supports our overall strategy. When content is both “Liquid and Linked,” it generates consumer expressions and has the potential to scale quickly. An example of “Liquid and Linked” was our FIFA 2010 World Cup program, which was the largest-ever Coca-Cola activation in history. More than 160 countries used a common World Cup Visual Identity System, a pool of television commercials, and a common a digital platform. All were linked by the common thread of celebration.”
I recently came across this interesting graphic, when reading the magazine “Tid & Tendenser” (Danish magazine on trends and consumption). The graphic, created by Inglehart-Welzel, groups various countries in the world based on attitudes and values – A so-called “cultural map of the world”. It paints an obvious simplified yet thought-provoking picture of the world.
It becomes even more thought-provoking when you look at, which countries are grouped together. In the top right corner you will find the “Protestant Europe” which includes Sweden, Denmark, Norway, Finland, Switzerland and the Netherlands. These societies are characterized by values of “Self-Expression” and “Secular-Rational” values. Interestingly, the 6 mentioned countries can also be found in the top ten list of Gallup’s table of “The World’s Happiest Countries” http://goo.gl/RUQe . Hardly a coincidence. At least it stops me from questioning whether western societal fundamentals – such as relative wealth, freedom of religion, separation of state and church, and strong democratic institutions – play an essential role in a “happy” society.
Either that or there is something wrong with these surveys…
The above is just my personal simplified and inadequate analysis. You can read a more thorough analysis here: http://www.worldvaluessurvey.org/wvs/articles/folder_published/article_base_54
According to Mashable, Facebook is rolling out Sponsored Stories, a new ad format that turns your friends’ actions into promoted content http://mashable.com/2011/01/25/facebook-sponsored-stories/. The question is if these new promotion opportunities are harming Facebook’s relationship with users? I think they are moving dangerously close to crossing that fine line.
The problem from my point of view is that Sponsored Stories enables companies and brands to piggy bag ride on personal statement from one user to another – thereby making the user vouch for the brand. Your permission has been given at an earlier stage for example by accepting a custom app of a brand or when posting on the walls of a favorite brand. In other words, interacting with or liking a brand on Facebook suddenly comes with a lot more strings attached than before. As a user you can no longer as easily control your level of engagement with the brand.
According to the article the most noteworthy thing about the new format is that “The user defines the advertised content in Facebook’s format, not the advertiser.” – but who says users want to define advertised content to begin with?
In a recent column in Forbes http://bit.ly/gFv9af, Elizabeth Woyke asks that particular question “Is Microsoft suddenly cool?”. Her argument is that Microsoft is increasingly developing succesful products such as Windows Phone 7, Bing, Windows 7 and Kinect – all new and solid products that can challenge Apple products. In addition she argues that Apple’s iOS operating system (4.1) incorporates features that Microsoft has had for awhile (didn’t it use to be the other way around?)
Woyke’s argument for a new found coolness is in other words primarily based on the rate of innovation of the two tech giants – a debate, which I will leave to more qualified minds. However, the question is equally interesting when viewed from a branding and marketing perspective. For a long long time Apple has had a solid and succesful branding position as a challenger brand representing the anti-establishment – always in opposition to the giants of the industry. Who doesn’t remember the classic 1984 Macintosh commercial where it is basically spelled out, or the recent Apple vs. PC adverts. This position made Apple a coveted brand among the young, the tech geeks and the visually creative, who could identify themselves with the anti-establishment (coolness-factor)
But as the whole world is rapidly becoming Apple’fied it is becoming increasingly difficult for Apple to uphold this image. Apple products and the brand itself has become highly mainstream – and mainstream (in the long run) does simply not equal cool. The behavior of Apple management in recent years also indicates a shift in the values and personality of the brand. For example, Apple’s slightly embarrasing harsh reaction following Ellen Degeneres satirical poke at the Iphone http://engt.co/9wkeBQ, would never have happened 10 years ago. Furthermore, Apple is increasingly engaging in behavior often more likely to be associated with a market leader. F.ex. by taking advantage of their monopoly on certain products in ways that some might deem distortive to competition. Makes you think of…. well, Microsoft.
The question, however, remains whether Apple’s success and market leader-like behavior provides an opportunity for Microsoft in terms of coolness? Apple’s image might have entered a new path, but the overexposed hype and immense publicity associated with every single Apple product release, shows that it has yet to result in any significant coolness-loss.
Still, there is no doubt in my mind that Apple’s new image path – if continued -could become its nemesis. As Apple’s image starts resembling the Orwellian world they once stood in opposition to, a new “blue ocean” appears for a potential challenger in the industry. Whether, Microsoft can shift course, transform and obtain that position is highly questionable, due to the long history of the brand. Yet the aggresive and massive publicity of Apple, leaves room for Microsoft to maneuver under the radar, so who knows.
When it comes to coolness, it is difficult to reach the top, but it is even more difficult to stay on top.