Postcards from Edge of Personalization
August 2nd, 2011
Not so long ago it was commonplace to receive junk mail that attempted to make a personal connection by including your name or other salient facts in the body of the pitch. But they were always outed as inauthentic by the multiple printing processes, as your name would show up in ALL CAPS, or in a different type face, or a different ink color. As printing (and other back-end) processes become more sophisticated, that has basically gone away and now the pitch looks perfect.
New York’s Eventi hotel (a Kimpton property, known for their extra attention to detail in customer service) is going the other direction, with hand-written welcome letters to their loyalty club members. However, they bungled the task; instead of the warmth of a personal note, they reveal the simulated fakery. Let’s pretend I didn’t watch the check-in staff shuffle through a pile of identical envelopes to pull out the one with my name on it…the note itself is written by two people, using two different pens! The handwriting is different, and the thickness of the ink is different. One staff member is asked to write a bunch of blah-blah-we’re-so-glad-you’re-here notes, maybe weeks in advance? When they are preparing for that day’s guests, someone else adds the name at the top.
It’s odd to see the signs of the mechanized system’s shortcomings rearing their head in what we’d expect to be a personalized, hand-crafted alternate.
Semantics of Skin
November 18th, 2008
A recent ad for Blackberry, showing every bit of the otherwise neutral device covered in imagery that references the richness of the life of someone who uses it. Evoking the strongly the aftermarket skins that enable a similar sort of customization. The ad is using the visual as a metaphor but it’s actually quite close to a product that other firms make to address the relative monotony of consumer electronics products.
June 16th, 2008
I’m seeing a lot of these lately on rear windows of minivans and similar larger family-sized vehicles: icons that represent every member of the household (including pets).
Seems like a new example of personalization; an untapped bit of car real estate, and a new message to publish (who are the – writ rough – people in our household).
I wonder if this is more common among Hispanics and/or the churchgoing. Any ideas? Do you have one of these? Where did you hear about it? Where did you get it?
January 15th, 2008
It’s fascinating how most successful products lead to an ecosystem of supporting products. The Crocs fad has provided the fan-base to support charms, little decorations that attach to the holes on the shoe’s surface and let the wearer further establish their individual identity within the trend of people who have established a unique identity by wearing Crocs in the first place.
Acknowledging that following a trend has a very different meaning in Japan, we bring you the Crocs family, who we saw on a bus in Kyoto, each with their own charms.
In addition to aftermarket personalization, many trends also generate a safety backlash meme (iPod muggings, anyone?). In Taipei, it’s dangerous to wear Crocs on escalators.
Manufacturers like Apple are very savvy about creating/controlling their aftermarket, but I wonder about the backlashes. Are PR people planting those stories or doing damage control or not realizing their significance?
Update: Karl Long on the Crocs backlash (safety and others) here