Reflection on Best Global Brands 2008

“Customers who choose to engage with their brands become loyal brand ambassadors, and the work they create is far more credible than anything we could say about ourselves.” – “The six laws of collaborative branding” by Jason Baer (page 7).

By allowing customers to interact with the brand, they have more of an interest in the brand and they will be more likely to recommend or mention the brand to an acquaintance. I think “ambassador” is a good word here. The customer does not define the brand – we still need the company to do that. But customers can be ambassadors for the brand and extend the reach of the brand beyond what it might other have.

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Examples of marketing

Examples of marketing that made you say “Wow” or “Huh?”. Look at different marketing blogs, choose one or more and sign up to follow them through this quarter.

1. Allowing readers of the Bellingham Herald to see a list of advertisements that ran in the paper and choose if they want to see them. People miss seeing ads in the paper when they only look online and some of them probably want to check out local ads. This gives them a way to do it and expands the ads that would normally run only in print.

2. Sarah McLachlan commercial to support Society for Prevention of Animal Cruelty. Plays “Angel” while showing video of abused or abandoned animals. Reaches out to get an emotional reaction.

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Brands and a dinner party

What brand(s) you would like to sit next to you at a dinner party and which brand(s) you would avoid!

Want to sit by:

1. Coca-Cola: Fun to be around, well-traveled, high social status, attractive

2. Amazon: Up-to-date on the latest trends, melding old and new technologies, social, DRM free

3.Google: Fun! Social,

4. GE: Sustainability focus, creative

5. Samsung: Latest technology, dependable

6. IKEA: Stylish, best Swedish meatballs

I would avoid:

1. Apple: snobbish, elitists, introverts, insulated

2. Ford: unsustainable business practices

3. Exxon: Unsustainable business practices, dishonest, not transparent


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Importing wmv files with Audacity

Audacity’s latest beta (Audacity 1.3.6) will let you import Windows Media Audio (wma) files. You will first need to download the FFmpeg support much like you must download the lame encoder to export in mp3 format. This is great news for those of us in education who have been using the inexpensive digital audio recorders that record in wma format. Now I won’t have to explain to students how to convert their files from a wma to a wav or aif file (zamzar.com) before they can import them into Audacity for editing.

The latest release also includes other features such as sound-activated recording.

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Seattle newspaper real-estate site leaves much to be desired

Newspapers have got to get their act together. NWHomes, operated by the Seattle Times and the Seattle Post-Intelligencer, has got to be the worst real estate site I’ve looked at. Brandon and I are going through our first house-hunting experience and we have been enjoying going through the real-estate sites taking virtual tours, mapping properties, filtering according to square-footage, number of bedrooms, bathrooms, cost, etc. I created a favorites list on Windermere’s site, and I can easily get in contact with one of their agents or the agent selling the house. To put it simply, Windermere offered an enjoyable experience.

Back to NWHomes: You can only select one area to search from the drop-down menu (I can select different cities to search on Windermere’s site). I clicked on open houses and didn’t actually get a list of open houses. What is perhaps the most frustrating is that the listings don’t even tell me what city the house is in. I have to map each property just to find out if it’s anywhere near where I want to live. Is it Seattle, is it Marysville, who knows? Here’s the kicker: When I got frustrated with the NWHomes site I decided to search the John L. Scott site via a banner ad at the top of the page. The link didn’t work!

Newspapers are struggling with declining ad revenue, both from commercial advertisers and from classified advertising. Having a site that doesn’t take into account the needs of the user is not a good way to boost advertising revenue. Newspapers have got to realize that classifieds online are different than classifieds in the paper. You can’t just group them into one category. Users have to be able to filter for a variety of preferences. How ’bout a little bit of usability testing?

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So many formats, so little compatibility

I have an mp3 player that came with a converter to convert videos from wmv to smv for the device. The problem is, most of the videos I want to save are either Flash or mpeg-4. I’ve been very interested in the iTunesU store lately. It allows the University of Washington community to share audio and video content and viewers can download it for free. Some of the videos were fairly long, but I thought would be fun to watch on the bus. For example, the UW Chamber Dance has a video of their dancing, which I would like to watch. I suppose I could probably find somewhere to convert the file. But it seems like so much work to first convert it from mpeg-4 and then convert the wmv to smv.

This isn’t technically DRM. This is more of a standards issue. I usually listen to Internet radio so I don’t download music. While I might consider paying to download a video to watch on the bus, most of the rentals are so restrictive that I wouldn’t be able to finish it in time – assuming the DRM didn’t prevent me from putting the video on my device. So my main experience with DRM is avoiding it.

I understand that companies want to increase their market share and they see proprietary formats as a way to push out competitors. But it’s so frustrating trying to sort out all the different formats and find a way to make this work on this player and that on another player.

I am often faced with a similar situation when students are using the Communication labs and are learning to use Windows Movie Maker to edit video. WMM will import avi files or wmv files. So inevitably students will ask how to make files that will work with Movie Maker. There are a couple web conversion programs that work, but it’s hard to keep track of everything and no site really does everything so it feels like a constant battle to get content to work on the player you need it to work on. Things would be so much simpler with standards.

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That’s Cloud Computing with a capital C – if Dell gets its way

I found this article interesting after Pete Grondal’s visit and his emphasis on cloud computing. Apparently the U.S. Patent and Trademark Office had originally given Dell preliminary notice to trademark “Cloud Computing” after its Cloud Computing Solutions. But now it appears they’re going back on that. Dell would probably have difficulty defending the trademark even if it’s approved, since the term seems to be taking off in popularity.

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