Posts tagged “stores”

ChittahChattah Quickies

  • [from steve_portigal] Ont. parents suspect Wi-Fi making kids sick [] – ["Proving" something is causing health problems is tough; but our willingness to believe with full certainty is powerful. We see this perception as a barrier to adoption in many categories of products and services.] A group of central Ontario parents is demanding their children's schools turn off wireless internet before they head back to school next month, fearing the technology is making the kids sick. Some parents in the Barrie, Ont., area say their children are showing a host of symptoms, ranging from headaches to dizziness and nausea and even racing heart rates. They believe the Wi-Fi setup in their kids' elementary schools may be the problem. The symptoms, which also include memory loss, trouble concentrating, skin rashes, hyperactivity, night sweats and insomnia, have been reported in 14 Ontario schools in Barrie, Bradford, Collingwood, Orillia and Wasaga Beach since the board decided to go wireless, Palmer said. "These kids are getting sick at school but not at home," he said.
  • [from steve_portigal] Budgets Tight, School Supply Lists Go Beyond Glue Sticks [] – [A cultural reframe moment; retail is there] Schools across the country are beginning the new school year with shrinking budgets and outsize demands for basic supplies. On the list for pre-kindergartners at McClendon Elementary in Nevada, TX.: a package of cotton balls, two containers of facial tissue, rolls of paper towels, sheaves of manila and construction paper, and a package of paper sandwich bags.Retailers are rushing to cash in by expanding the back-to-school category like never before.Now some back-to-school aisles are almost becoming janitorial-supply destinations as multipacks of paper towels, cleaning spray and hand sanitizer are crammed alongside pens, notepads and backpacks. OfficeMax is featuring items like Clorox wipes in its school displays and is running two-for-one specials on cleaners like gum remover and disinfectant spray. Office Depot has added paper towels and hand sanitizer to its back-to-school aisles. Staples’ school fliers show reams of copy paper on sale.

FreshMeat #20: Pun Americana

FreshMeat #20 from Steve Portigal

               (oo) Fresh
                \\/  Meat

Anecdotal evidence indicates FreshMeat causes happiness!
Cute ideas about putting a friendly face on a brand
Recently, I gave a presentation about conducting user
research in other countries (in this case, Japan). I
explained the phenomenon of “kawaii” (cute) – a prevalent
design aesthetic that cuts across age and gender. Most
people will recognize “Hello Kitty” as an example of
Japanese cuteness, but in North America that’s simply a
toy-like brand for young girls. In Japan, many businesses
will use a cute image as the “face” on their organization,
in order to present themselves as friendly, inviting, and
of course, non-threatening.

But kawaii is everywhere in Japan. The police use a kawaii
character as their mascot. Stores sell dustpans, tazers,
and dish brushes that are anthropomorphized with eyes and
a mouth.

Some quick examples here and here.

Anyone designing products, brands, services, etc. for the
Japanese market needs to at least be aware of kawaii,
and so I emphasized this to my audience.

One person spoke up and reminded us of the characters that
western companies created to personify their brands,
especially in the 50s and 60s. (For a great collection
of these mascots, check out the book
Meet Mr. Product: The Art of the Advertising Character

It was a provocative comment, because in my fervor to
describe the ubiquity of kawaii imagery in Japan I had
forgotten about something similar in our own culture. Kawaii
is a powerful style of communication (and perhaps mode of
thought) in Japan, and it manifests itself in many ways,
one of which is cute characters to personify a brand, and
of course, the Japanese are not unique in putting faces on
brands. Point taken.

Later, I began thinking of other ways that we create
inviting brands in our culture, beyond the usual
tools of designing logos, retail experiences,
environments, web sites, etc. I realized that in the
shopping mall we’ve got a new, unique form of
Americana/Canadiana/etc…the pun-brand.

Just for groans, check out these names of mall stores:

My Favorite Muffin
Once In A Blue Moose
Northern Boarder
The Athlete’s Foot
Foot Locker
Romancing the Stone
The Stitching Post
Between the Sheets
Humphrey Yogart
Close Encounters
The Hotdogger
Banana Republic
Asian Chao
Bare Escentuals
Bead It!
Bubble Gun
Corda-Roys Originals
Sox Appeal
We’re Going Nuts
Deck The Walls
Pops Corn
The Nutty Bavarian
Soul To Sole
Whole Addiction
Time Zone
Finish Line
Site for Sore Eyes

Okay, take a deep breath! Starts to get a little
painful there, doesn’t it? Notice that sometimes
it’s hard to “see” the pun; when the brand has
established itself so well (i.e., Foot Locker)
it becomes a new “thing” rather than a clever
combination of words. It also seems that the
pun-brands that have been more successful are
(relatively) subtle – I don’t ever see Humphrey
Yogart going national (estate litigation aside)
because it’s just too broad. And some pun-brands
don’t work unless you already know what they are
selling (i.e., Whole Addiction is a body-piercing
concern…get it??).

Obviously, being punny is not enough. Like
any face being put on a business, a thoughtful
approach that is executed well and considers the
audience is essential. The Foot Locker brand
consists of more than the name, and it all
works in harmony. And let’s not forget the
Foot Locker mascot, called The Striper! (see
him here)

A great article about kawaii can be found here and there are a ton of kawaii links here.

Nice piece on visual puns in advertising is here.


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