The enemy has changed. It’s no longer simply your business competitor. You’re up against a substantially more scientific reality – our inherent lack of ability to multi-task!
We may indeed believe we’ve mastered the skill of multi-tasking, but have we really? Are you able to send a text message while you’re in a meeting, while at the same time engage in the conversation and also take in what’s being said? Your instant response is undoubtedly a resounding ‘Yes’, but in all likelihood the truth is an unfortunate ‘No’.
Let’s try a simple experiment. It will only take a minute. Begin by visiting here. Then, when ready, simultaneously read the following clause while listening to my speech. When you’re done, I’ll get you to answer a few simple questions.
81-year-old Tahakasa Omi, a Japanese grandma of four, had spent her day excitedly anticipating the arrival of a package from Do-Co-Mo. Do-Co-Mo, the largest operator of mobile phones in Japan, if not the world, had spent the last two years developing a concept for people just like Tahakasa Omi. It’s not hard to understand why. Japan has the oldest population in the world – and it’s a market worth an estimated $120 billion.
Tahakasa Omi’s package didn’t contain a flashy new mobile phone – what arrived was a picture frame. With a simple click on the side, the frame would immediately connect to the nationwide Do-Co-Mo mobile network and in turn connect with Omi’s four kids. The moment one of her children took, say a photograph of a grandchild, they could press their ‘Grandma’ button, and within a few seconds the photo would appear on the frame in her living room. The 1,200km physical barrier separating her and her children, seeming to vanish in an instant. And, by the way, the picture frame was free.
But this is far from the full story, since there’s more than pictures appearing on the screen. The Do-co-Mo invention is the latest in an ongoing stream of initiatives from mobile operators from Japan – all seeking to explore new advertising channels.
Let me ask you a difficult question: How on earth would you build your brand on a canvas smaller than a matchbox? What if you could use only one color (say black on a green background), you had no scope for graphics, and the consumer was paying for every second it took for you to send him or her a commercial message?
Welcome to the new world of m-branding. Now, more than ever, creativity and discipline are needed for preparing a branding platform. Why? Because everything is telling us that the WAP-enabled (Wireless Application Protocol) cell phone will soon be bigger than the World Wide Web we know today.
"Soon" is three years from now, according to AC Nielsen. Do you believe this? I do. Just think back to 1995 when the World Wide Web was born, and then think about the criticism the Net weathered at that time. Yet look at the Net's onward growth today.
Knowing how fast this next branding revolution could arrive, you'd better be ready and start preparing for wireless branding. Excuse me for comparing this with a cigarette brand, but I can't stop thinking about Silk Cut, an English cigarette brand which, in the '80s, prepared for a government ban on cigarette commercials for all media.
Some time ago, I checked into a hotel in Hong Kong. The receptionist handed me a bunch of business cards. They weren't the hotel's business cards but my own, complete with my phone and fax numbers and contact details while staying at the hotel. It was a gesture that kind of made me feel special.
I know we can all be cynical and see through this ploy, but it works.
Time after time, when evaluating what makes service unique, I conclude it comes down to two simple factors: attention to the individual and a personal twist. Whether we admit it or not, we all love particular attention, to be treated as unique human beings. Especially these days, when corporate inattention so often makes us feel more like statistical details than people with names.
A while back, I wrote a post on how important it is to personalize a brand's dialogue with the customer. One assumption was the more personal we make our brand's voice, the more effective communication becomes. Well, a reader from Holland, Erwin van Lun, contacted me to tell me the assumption has been proven.
Dutch marketing journal Tijdschrift voor Marketing published some hot-off-the-press data showing the personal touch can be even more effective than anticipated.
Is perfect branding really the best way of building brands? Up until recently this might have been true. Asking Martha Stewart fans they would have agreed with me. Year after year the ever-perfect Martha was dishing up one perfect decoration advice after another. And yes they were really perfect – but repeating this session decade after decade made one mistake look so much more dramatic than if the brand Martha would have conducted mistakes, purposely or not, through the years just like us “ordinary” human beings.
And this brings me to the point. I’m a big believer in the fact that the ultimate brand is like a real person. Needless to say no brand hardly reaches a stage where people perceive it as being a real person, but the fact is, that the more human components we associate a brand with, typically the stronger the brand is.
The times where I’ve been most amazed about a brand have often been where it did something human. Where the service was extraordinarily good – and had a “real” human touch. The cases where the emails I received as a reply on my question sent either in anger or just in curiosity – reflected that a real person, of real human blood – actually were answering my email. But not only that – that the writing – reflected that this person had the authority to be a true individual, either in the tone-of-voice, the writing style…you name it. You see as customers we expect a brand to deliver on expectations. It’s a minimum standard to expect a brand to answer back, often within 24 hours. But if the reply is everything but standard, if it had that special “glimpse in the eye” it added extra brand equity to my brand – perhaps making it my favourite brand.
But making this possible requires a human behaviour.