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Today, I just paid 70,000 VND for a bowl of “Cam” fish noodles (Bún cá Cam) (the average is 35,000- 60,000 VND). There is nothing “disruptive” in the product or store that can rationalize that price. The store locates in a small, unknown street. The room is air-conditioned like other stores in the same areas. Nothing unique with the decorative style. But just one small (but decisive) point: there is a story about that “Cam” fish in the noodles, which is Da Nang’s specialty and transported fresh to Ho Chi Minh city.
I can’t figure logically why I happily paid for that price, because if you put me in a blind test, I won’t be able to tell the difference between fish. I didn’t pay that extra for the Cam fish, or the noodles or the store atmosphere. I paid for the “fresh Da Nang’s specialty” story.
People pay the perceived value, which is formed by a story. The story makes a product/ service a brand.
A T-shirt is a product. A T-shirt worn by Cristiano Ronaldo is a brand.
A piece of paper is a product. A piece of paper that is authorized by the government as the official currency becomes a brand.
Hold on, aren’t we using “brand” (money) to pay for “brands”? And we are paid for our “brand” (expertise) ?
There is no point in finding meaning in Brand Communication Assets, simply because consumers don’t care.
Why does this cow appear in the beer ads? Why not?
Why use a chicken as an ambassador for a milk brand? Why not?
Why use this no-meaning name for a brand name? Why not?
It’s not uncommon for marketing consultants to preach the need for a meaningful logo, something that communicates by itself from day one. Ries and Trout used to argue that brand names like ‘Head and Shoulders’ were much better than meaningless names like ‘Pantene’ or ‘Vosene’. We marketing people tend to take our brands, and logos, very seriously and tend to assume that consumers do too, but this is misguided out-of-touch thinking.
Brands, and their distinctive assets, identify – that’s it. They (potentially) ensure that people know it is you, not someone else advertising. They allow people to repeat-buy you, to see you on shelf.
Consumers rarely stop to think about whether the logo looks nice, trustworthy, or conveys any other connotation. Few people (outside of the marketing industry) ponder….
- Why America’s largest most famous burger chain has a Scottish name ?
- Why one of Australia’s largest banks is named after…
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The creative world is a chaotic world.
For those who think it is just a poetic portrait, it is true and untrue. True in terms of its fanciness, but untrue for what they don’t know the pain people suffer behind the scene.
In the creative world, everything just gets …creative. Out of the norm.
For those who think there is a creative process, it is true and untrue. True, because there’s actually somehow a process. But untrue, because I wonder whether that “process” should be called as a “process” at all.
Creative process is an exploratory process fuelled by emotion and pop-up thinking, or another name, unconsciousness. What is crazy about this process is that they don’t have one process. Imagine a road where everyone can go left or right, forward or backward in whatever direction they like. Imagine a 2-D world, someday turns 3-D, then 4-D. If we try to make sense in a 4D world, it’s beyond our conscious thinking ability.
Back to 2016, Equinox, with Wieden + Kennedy New York, launches a series of Print, Digital, OOH campaign. The theme revolves around “commitment”, by which they mean not just exercise commitment, but also a variety of aspects in life, such as women’s rights, sexuality and life choices.
This campaign portrays the exact brand idea of Equinox: an obsession for commitment, as explained by Equinox CMO Carlos Becil:
“Equinox is about commitment, we are obsessed with it, and we challenge our members to know who they are and what they want. It’s not just about fitness – it’s about life. The concept of commitment is bold, incredibly powerful, and it’s real, especially in a world today where commitment is lacking.”
Let’s explore these beautifully shot fashion-style ads:
What I love about this campaign and the brand itself is its extremity and obsession, which is an appealing character for a luxury brand. Whether you will love or hate it, there will be no middle opinions. Added to that, these ads do not stop at being promotional ads, but also advocates for the right, the trend which we are witnessing from many popular recent campaigns.
“It is the responsibility of advertising to communicate modern times and social issues,” Klein said in a statement. “This campaign addresses today’s issues and social commentaries, which is a powerful approach instead of portraying people as superficial objects with no narrative.” – W+K
Job interview questions are terribly designed. This is what I realize after conducting several qualitative research interviewing customers.
The most terrible job interview question of all time, I believe, is “What are your strengths and weaknesses?” The reason is strengths and weaknesses are relative and happen in context. Most people ignores context of things. A person might think oranges are great for dessert, but a no-no for breakfast. Similarly, what situations are you putting me in when asking about my strengths and weaknesses? Are you asking about the situation when I pitch to the clients or the negotiation moments or the working-alone office time?
The even more terrible question than this is specifically tell us to “Name your 3 strengths and 3 weaknesses”. The mindset of this question is strengths and weaknesses exist separately, not as a whole. This is like seperating the yin and the yang. (Many people thinks yin and yang are different things, like female is yin and male is yang. This is dangerous thinking. Yin yang always co-exists.) This is similar to the conversation with our friends or family members about their personalities. “You have a very tough character.” This is not enough, because I don’t know in what context you are tough, in what context you aren’t tough and to how much extent.
Research questions must designed to meet the objectives. General, misleading questions such as “strengths and weaknesses” don’t do the job, because it is too open-ended. Just like research questions, job interview questions should be tunnel-shaped. They must be able to tune in the mindset/ thinking/ capabilities of the candidates.
The next interview questions I hate similarly is situational interview questions. “What would you do if you discovers that a man who has a relationship with your boss’s ex-wife is having an affairs with your bigger boss’s sister in the CEO’s office room?” Those kinds of situational interview questions are terribly wrong. It does not yet provide a complete situation. It’s like practising martial arts and thinks if a person throws a punch in this technique, I will defend and attack like that. It’s bullshit because there are so many variables to think about. A punch of a tall, strong person will be different from a short, weak one; a punch of male will be different from a female; or that same punch technique but two people standing on different terrain. So many variables we can think of to take account in. No way, there’s no way to spot out that situation, the exact description of the situation, everything. Again, situational interview questions do not mention about the context, which can vary widely.
To end this blog post, I would like to quote Dave Trott in his “Creative Mischief” wonderful book.
“Context isn’t everything. It’s the only thing.”
Ask in context. Answer in context. Think in context. Do in context.Feel in context.