Posts tagged “name”

Postcards from Edge of Personalization

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.

ChittahChattah Quickies

  • [from steve_portigal] The Art of Design Research (and Why It Matters) [design mind] – [Lovely piece by Jon Freach on what design research brings to design and innovation.] And sometimes design teams don't have the patience to see the value in dragging out a study in an effort to make it scientifically or statistically significant. We're just not wired that way; we prefer to make and experiment and then analyze later. So what is research good for? 1. Learning about people's behavior; 2. Understanding and analyzing culture; 3. Defining context; 4. Setting focus…Design research is not "a science" and is not necessarily "scientific." It gives designers and clients a much more nuanced understanding of the people for whom they design while providing knowledge that addresses some of the most fundamental questions we face throughout the process. What is the correct product or service to design? What characteristics should it have, and is it working as intended? "The research" won't necessarily provide cold hard answers. But it will generate some good and feasible ideas.
  • [from steve_portigal] CBS Radio Tells Its D.J.’s to Name Titles and Artists [NYTimes.com] – [Tying together the fortunes of radio and record sales?] Last week the head of a major radio company felt compelled to instruct its programmers to identify more of the songs played on the air, by title and artist name…at some indeterminate point in history ­ the mid-1980s ­ song identification began to vanish from the air as programmers struggled to squeeze out anything considered “clutter.” “You were always conscious about the amount of talk you would put on,” he said. “But the truth is that people tune in and tune out, and it was probably underestimated at the time how much people really wanted that information.” For record companies, having a song’s title and artist’s name mentioned on the air ­ especially if new and unfamiliar ­ is crucial marketing…“At one point in our culture there were well-schooled retailers who could help people figure out what that song was, because they wanted to buy it,” said Greg Thompson, VP at EMI Music. “In this day and age that doesn’t exist.”

ChittahChattah Quickies

  • [from steve_portigal] DVRs Can’t Handle New Show’s Title [NYTimes.com] – [A UI edge case that wasn't designed for ends up becoming a mainstream concern. "What are the chances that'll happen?" comes true, and now workarounds must be created] It turns out that the search tools on some DVRs cannot find the new show, “$#*! My Dad Says,” because the symbols cannot be read. (Maybe some DVR developers could not foresee a world where TV shows would have a dollar sign in the titles.) Before the show’s premiere on Thursday, CBS released a viewers’ guide of sorts on Wednesday to help people program their DVRs accordingly.

ChittahChattah Quickies

  • [from julienorvaisas] David Brooks Defends the Humanities [NYTimes.com] – "Let me stand up for the history, English and art classes, even in the face of today’s economic realities. Studying the humanities improves your ability to read and write. No matter what you do in life, you will have a huge advantage if you can read a paragraph and discern its meaning (a rarer talent than you might suppose). You will have enormous power if you are the person in the office who can write a clear and concise memo. Studying the humanities will give you a familiarity with the language of emotion." [Brooks veers into strange territory with his idea of the Big Shaggy, but makes a compelling argument for how powerful an education in the sometimes seemingly-pointless Humanities can be in the world of business (a message well-received by the girl with a degree in Art History).]
  • [from Dan_Soltzberg] Does the Internet Make You Smarter? – WSJ.com – "The case for digitally-driven stupidity assumes we'll fail to integrate digital freedoms into society as well as we integrated literacy. This assumption in turn rests on three beliefs: that the recent past was a glorious and irreplaceable high-water mark of intellectual attainment; that the present is only characterized by the silly stuff and not by the noble experiments; and that this generation of young people will fail to invent cultural norms that do for the Internet's abundance what the intellectuals of the 17th century did for print culture." [Clay Shirky's article is peppered with great insights about the intersection of information-sharing platforms and culture.]
  • [from steve_portigal] Banana museum splits for new digs [SFGate.com] – The 17,000 items, everything from a "rare" petrified banana to a banana-shaped boogie board, was lovingly collected over 38 years by Ken "The Bananist" Bannister. The Bananist, who sells real estate for a living, kept it at his International Banana Museum in the Mojave Desert town of Hesperia. Plans are for the museum, listed by the Guinness Book of World Records as the largest collection dedicated to a single fruit, to reopen in January in this dusty town on the edge of the Salton Sea. Garbutt, who unlike Bannister was never much into bananas, is busy learning everything he can about the potassium-rich fruit that can be served in a variety of ways, including fresh-peeled, deep-fried or frozen and dipped in chocolate. He plans to open the museum next door to Skip's Liquors, which his family has owned since 1958. He says he hopes it will boost business there.
  • [from steve_portigal] G.M. Backtracks on Chevy Memo [NYTimes.com] – [The nickname, when authentic (we're looking at you "The Shack") is a powerful way of people to take ownership of a brand meaning. GM inadvertently unleashed some real passion around this issue] Responding to negative reactions to an internal memorandum discouraging use of the word Chevy, General Motors moved on Thursday to explain its strategy and to reassure consumers that it still valued the popular nickname for Chevrolet. The memorandum asked employees to “communicate our brand as Chevrolet.” For decades, Chevrolet and Chevy have appeared interchangeably in advertisements, and the Chevrolet Web site uses both terms. But after a strong public reaction to a report in The New York Times on the note, G.M. issued a statement on Thursday that said the memorandum had been “poorly worded.” The statement said that the memorandum reflected Chevrolet’s strategy as it expanded internationally, but that the company was not “discouraging customers or fans from using” Chevy.
  • [from steve_portigal] Angry clowns decry armed robbery by impostors [ajc.com] – [An interesting and surprising example of protecting brand identity] About 100 professional clowns who make money by performing on public buses marched through Salvadoran capital Thursday to protest the killing of a passenger by two imposter clowns. On Monday, a man was shot five times in the face and stomach when he declined to give money to two assailants dressed as clowns who boarded a public bus. No one has been arrested. The protesters — wearing oversized bow ties, tiny hats and big yellow pants — marched down San Salvador's main street in an effort to both entertain and educate passersby. Several held signs insisting that real clowns are not criminals. "We are protesting so that people know we are not killers," said professional clown Ana Noelia Ramirez. "The people who did this are not clowns. They unfortunately used our costume and our makeup to commit a monstrous act." (via BoingBoing)

ChittahChattah Quickies

  • Chinese Comedian Gets Laughs in U.S., But Puzzles People in China [WSJ.com] – Chinese-American comedian Joe Wong draws from his experiences as an immigrant to get the crowds laughing. China Central Television, the biggest TV network in the country, deemed his success in the U.S. curious enough that it dedicated a special program to him in December. The peg: He's the Chinese scientist who makes Americans laugh. While CCTV declared that Mr. Wong's success proves "humor has no boundaries," it concluded the program without showing any of his jokes. Mr. Wong's first live gig in Beijing, in late 2008, was "not successful," he says. In America, he says, it's funny to poke fun at yourself. But in China, there's no humor in misfortune. Back home, Mr. Wong's dad is among those puzzled by his success. Huang Longji, who lives in an industrial city near China's border with North Korea, says he is proud of his son, but a career in comedy isn't what the retired engineer expected for his son. "It's just like a black hen lays a white egg," he said.
  • Atlanta transit system MARTA changes “yellow” line to “gold” [Gold Dome Live] – Moving to tamp a controversy that has reached the national news, MARTA CEO said in February that the transit agency would change the name of its “yellow” train line, which goes to Doraville, home to a large Asian-American community. She said MARTA had never intended to offend anyone with the re-naming, which went into effect Oct. 1, along with other color names for the rest of the system, and that it was making the change out of “an abundance of caring for this community.” A MARTA employee who dealt with diversity issues warned the agency a month before the change that it could offend some in the Asian-American community.

ChittahChattah Quickies

  • Book Two (started in 2006) – As digital technologies become ever more prevalent, we believe it is inevitable that the primacy of the physical book will fade, and the art forms traditionally associated with it will be radically altered also. But in what ways will the stories that we tell be affected by the ways in which we recieve them, and what new forms will arise? We don’t have the answer, but we’re looking forward to finding out.
  • A company’s sense of identity – who we are – nice parallel to my recent article on organizational empathy – Apple dropped the word “computer” from its name in January 2007, soon after it introduced the iPhone. Likewise, Fuji Photo Film shortened its name to Fujifilm in 2006, when sales of its photography products slipped to less than one-third of total revenue.

    These moves symbolize fundamental shifts in how these companies see themselves and how others perceive them. In short, they signify a change in identity.

    How a company responds to today’s tumultuous technological and competitive landscape depends greatly on how it defines itself or, in some cases, redefines itself.

    Questioning a company’s identity, whether or not it results in change, is something that every organization should do.

ChittahChattah Quickies

  • A thoughtful consideration (that could have so easily gone curmudgeonly) on the changes in how (and how much) we consume art – Cameras replaced sketching by the last century; convenience trumped engagement, the viewfinder afforded emotional distance and many people no longer felt the same urgency to look. It became possible to imagine that because a reproduction of an image was safely squirreled away in a camera or cell phone, or because it was eternally available on the Web, dawdling before an original was a waste of time, especially with so much ground to cover.
  • Michael Pollan on the cultural shifts revealed by themes in food-related TV entertainment – The historical drift of cooking programs — from a genuine interest in producing food yourself to the spectacle of merely consuming it — surely owes a lot to the decline of cooking in our culture, but it also has something to do with the gravitational field that eventually overtakes anything in television’s orbit…Buying, not making, is what cooking shows are mostly now about — that and, increasingly, cooking shows themselves: the whole self-perpetuating spectacle of competition, success and celebrity that, with “The Next Food Network Star,” appears to have entered its baroque phase. The Food Network has figured out that we care much less about what’s cooking than who’s cooking.
  • Nine Reasons RadioShack Shouldn’t Change Its Name – Best one is " RadioShack has problems beyond any issues with its name." Also they did already change name from Radio Shack to RadioShack.
  • Radio Shack: Our friends call us The Shack – Do they really now? More proof that you can't simply declare yourself cool. Promo or overall rebranding, it reeks of inauthenticity.
  • Understand My Needs – a multicultural perspective – A Japanese usability professional compares the norms of service that retailers provide in Japan with those elsewhere (say, his experience living in Canada), and then contrasts that to the common usability problems found in Japanese websites. Culture is a powerful lens to see what causes these differences, and how usability people can help improve the experience.

ChittahChattah Quickies

  • Chicago's Sears Tower is now Willis Tower – Willis Tower was to be introduced to Chicago by Mayor Richard M. Daley and others on Thursday during a public renaming ceremony hosted by Willis Group Holdings. The London-based insurance brokerage secured the naming rights as part an agreement to lease 140,000 square feet of space on multiple floors of the building, and has said it plans to bring hundreds of jobs to the city. The 110-story skyscraper has been known as Sears Tower since it opened in 1973. Its original tenant, Sears Roebuck and Co., moved out in 1992 but its sign stayed. The company's naming rights had expired in 2003, but it continued to be called the Sears Tower. A real estate investment group, American Landmark Properties of Skokie, now owns the 1,450-foot-tall building.

ChittahChattah Quickies

  • American Airlines' 'Nerd-bird' flights between San Jose, CA and Austin, TX to end – The flights of mostly electrical engineers, computer programmers and other tech-savvy passengers have been run by American Airlines daily since 1992. Because the recession has cut sharply into business and other travel, American has announced it will discontinue its twice-a-day nonstop flights between the two tech centers as of Aug. 25.
  • Derivative (or, if you prefer, rip-off) book titles that capitalize on other successful books – Ultimately, the best locutions are those that credit quotidian, trivial objects with earthshaking influence, like “Cod: A Biography of the Fish That Changed the World,” by Mark Kurlansky. The more obvious the significance of the subject, the less successful the title. After all, where’s the element of surprise or wit in “A Man Without Equal: Jesus, the Man Who Changed the World”?

    Some of the more unlikely candidates endowed with superhuman powers by authors include “Tea: The Drink That Changed the World,” “Mauve: How One Man Invented a Color That Changed the World,” “Banana: The Fate of the Fruit That Changed the World” and “Sugar: The Grass That Changed the World.”

    The tricky part is gauging just when the magic wears off. “Essentially it works until it doesn’t work,” Mr. Dolan said, “and you hope you’re on the right side of that line.”

ChittahChattah Quickies

  • Vermont's first IHOP gets permission to go beyond standard franchise menu and offer Vermont maple syrup – “You can’t open up a Vermont pancake shop without Vermont maple syrup,” said Sam Handy Jr., who is the restaurant’s general manager and whose family owns the franchis
  • Symbols of pot-subculture on the threshold of the mainstream – The significance of April 20 dates to a ritual begun in the early 1970s in which a group of Northern California teenagers smoked marijuana every day at 4:20 p.m. Word of the ritual spread and expanded to a yearly event in various places. For fans of the drug, perhaps the biggest indicator of changing attitudes is how widespread the observance of April 20 has become, including its use in marketing campaigns for stoner-movie openings (like last year’s “Harold & Kumar Escape from Guantánamo Bay”) and as a peg for marijuana-related television programming (like the G4 network’s prime-time double bill Monday of “Super High Me” and “Half Baked”). Events tied to April 20 have “reached the tipping point in the last few years after being a completely underground phenomenon for a long time,” said Steven Hager, the creative director and former editor of High Times. “And I think that’s symptomatic of the fact that people’s perception of marijuana is reaching a tipping point.”
  • Chinese government database doesn't recognize all the language's characters, creating 60 million edge cases – New Chinese government computers are programmed to read only 32,252 of the roughly 55,000 Chinese characters. At least 60 million Chinese with obscure characters in their names cannot get new ID cards — unless they change their names to something more common. Since 2003 China has been working on a standardized list of characters for people to use in everyday life, including when naming children. A government linguistics said the list would include more than 8,000 characters. Although that is far fewer than the database now supposedly includes, the official said it was more than enough “to convey any concept in any field.” About 3,500 characters are in everyday use.

I Need Flunch

Came across Flunch when I was in Paris.
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I guess it’s popular enough that two of their locations (above) are on the same block. I was amused at how ugly that name is in English, though. Flubber biscuit? Definitely not appealing to my culturally-based linguistic sense.

namespace iNcursion

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Not quite sure it’s really a new story, but still amusing/disappointing to read about the lower case leading i and its incursion into branding and naming

Just about anywhere consumers look, they will find products, brands and other commercial offerings that begin with a lowercase “i,” inspired by popular technology names like iMac, iPhone, iPod and iVillage. [Which of these things is not like the other? Although the article later points out that iVillage came before iPod — SP]

A contest sponsored by the Friendly’s restaurant chain, for instance, is called iScream. A television show that made its debut Tuesday night on ABC is titled “i-Caught.”

Other examples include iWireless, a line of prepaid cellphones available at Kroger supermarkets; iCare, a brand of liquid hand sanitizers; iBoxer, underwear with pockets for MP3 players, sold by the Play division of Intimo; and i-Report, video clips contributed by viewers of CNN and visitors to the cnn.com Web site.

“It’s a nice strategy for borrowing some equity” from the better-known i-brands, said Michael Cucka, a partner at Group 1066, a consulting company in New York specializing in corporate identity and branding.

“It seems to work because you’re associating yourself with the idea of trying to be cool,” he added.

“But when you start to do what everyone is doing, you start to lose the power of borrowing that equity,” Mr. Cucka said. “And perhaps the more people who do it, the less cool it becomes.” [Umm, yeah, can you say “i-played-out?” — SP]

The piece also acknowledges the earlier trends for e-names and even u-names.

iPhone – More than Talk!

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Cisco and Apple were in a dispute over the ownership of the iPhone name. There was news that a deal fell through right around the time of the announcement. One might assume this is Cisco raising the stakes a bit, trying to push Apple to make it all go away. Because this is certainly confusing the issue.

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