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Original articles from ML Haynes.
 
The Top 100 Beloved Brands
In an exclusive for AdWeek, Christopher Heine recently shared the results of a global search to discover which brands consumers around the world love the most. Some of the high-post contenders may surprise you, maybe leave you a bit skeptical, but there’s certainly something to learn from this emotional measurement...

What is The Best Time to Post on Social Media?
According to web marketing firm Fannit.com, in addition to a number of other online resources, there are a number of “best times” depending on the network. And while we’d all like to have a fail-proof guide, there’s really only one way to guarantee that you’re optimizing your social media plan and process...

Designing for the Tablet User
It’s been a busy time the last few weeks if you’re designing functional apps and websites for mobile, and particularly tablet, devices. And while there will always be new operating systems and resolutions to chase, researchers at the Nielsen Norman Group recently reminded us that it is usability and the user experience that should be our constant challenge...

Logo Redesign: It’s What All The Search Engines Are Doing
First we heard that Yahoo! was heading into a logo redesign and that we’d get to witness the process through a 30-day “reveal” of the concepts and contenders. That ordeal peaked when the final logo debuted — replacing the previous, near-decades old mark — and we got a blow-by-blow description of a mad weekend full of Bezier curves and tilted exclamation points. Next we heard that Google had flattened their logotype, letting curious coders discover the “new” identity...

2013 Interaction Award Winners Announced
The winners of the second annual Interaction Awards were announced on December 6, 2012 and will be honored at the Interaction Awards Ceremony, held during IxDA’s annual conference, on January 29, 2013. A list of 75 short-listed entrants from 17 countries was reviewed and a group of 25 standouts — recognized for their excellence in interaction design — were chosen as the 2013 winners. Top winners will be announced at the event and in the class of: Best in Category, Best Concept, Best Student, Best in Show and People’s Choice Award.

The New New MySpace (or Timberlake’s Toy)
We’re finally getting a glimpse at the latest, pop-infused incarnation of MySpace. And if you’ve ever wondered what might happen if Pinterest hooked up with Instagram, well, you might want to see the love child yourself. It’s been almost year and a half: long enough to forget that a handful of dreamers and $35 million were going to resurrect the social media has-been. And long enough to watch the visual, particularly the photographic, take over the language of social and sharing.

It’s a Multiscreen World
“Today 90% of our media consumption occurs in front of a screen. As consumers balance their time between smartphones, tablets, PCs and Televisions, they are learning to use these devices together to achieve their goals.” This is according to Sterling Brands, a New York–based branding consultancy.

What to Charge for that Freelance Project? There's an App for That
If you’ve ever freelanced, done project work, or just picked up a casual job to make a little pocket change, you’ve come up against the question: What do I charge for this? Or maybe you’ve been quizzed by a prospective client curious about what you’d charge to deliver on their wish-list. Well, technology has, once again, come to the rescue and, not surprisingly, the App Store has what you need.

3 Tune-Ups Your Blog Needs Now
Clearly, constantly fresh website content is a traffic magnet. You’ve seen the reports and read the case studies. Just as clear, oftentimes painfully so, is the fact that creating that content is difficult. It’s certainly difficult to keep it up over time, long enough to truly have an effect. But what if someone could break it down for you and tell you how you could leap over that hurdle?

Top 10 Shopping Apps: Putting Brands (Literally) Into Consumers’ Hands
According to Nielsen, 45 million smartphone owners used apps in the Shopping/Commerce category, accessing shopping apps 17 times on average during the month of June this year. When nearly half of all American smartphone users are tapping apps to help make purchasing decisions, it's time to get in the Express Line and put your brand (literally) into the hands of your customers.

Dealer-Chic: Are You Ready To Deal?
For status-conscious consumers (and that’s all of them), making the most of discounts and deals is no longer considered cumbersome or even embarrassing, but simply smart. And in the quick-shifting consumer arena savvy consumers have more choice, higher expectations, and more control, while mature consumers have an ever-less reverential relationship to brands.

Snap a QR Code, Save a Polar Bear
Coca-Cola’s popular holiday mascots, the polar bears, will soon be selling soda to consumers around the world. For nearly a century, those big white salesbears have been charming us with six packs of celebration, and this year they’ve got a real treat for U.S. consumers. Wrapped up in a complex square of black-and-white code is a free iPad and trip for two to the Arctic. Oh, and a nice little donation to the World Wildlife Fund.

The Worst Ad in America 2011
Hard to believe that a year’s gone by, but we’re back looking and laughing at 2011’s worst ads as polled and posted by Consumerist.com’s. That’s right, the second annual Worst Ad in America Awards have been announced and there are some surprises in the pack of winners. The ads populating (some may say plaguing) the television screens of this country have been rated and it ain’t pretty. What do you think? Would you stand up and claim these spots as yours?

The Two Biggest Drivers for Facebook and Twitter, Local Style
Roost, the social media marketing platform, released a new study of local businesses and the use of social media. Mining data from more than 10,000 Facebook and Twitter posts created by 8,000 small businesses from 50 industries, this quarterly report clearly shows that not all posts carry the same weight and that businesses and brands looking for local engagement would do well leveraging two big drivers.

Crowdsourcing Potato Chips
We’ve been crowdsourcing everything from the clothes we wear to the logos sewn onto those clothes, so it’s about time we have the ability to put our salty snacks through the same rigorous process of popularity and pop-science. The fine folks making Terra Chips — at least the fine European folks — are doing just that. Head over to Kreator and start putting together your “dream chip.” Ingredients, from soy sauce to smoke flavor, bananas to beer, appear on-screen in row upon row of images.

Do You Know the Life Span of Your Links?
Bit.ly, the URL-shortener service, recently surveyed links shared on social networks to determine the “life span” of links. As it turns out, links shared on Twitter lasted only half as long as links shared on YouTube. How did the researchers measure the longevity of links? They looked at “the amount of time at which this link will receive half of the clicks it will ever receive after it’s reached its peak.”

Adobe Muse — Back to the Future?
Adobe released the first public beta of its new web design application, Muse. Created by the team that developed InDesign, this tool promises to free designers from the hassle of code and return them to the joy of pure design. From the sound of it, these guys really love designers and understand that they’d rather not mess with pesky HTML and CSS. Well, that’s what they’re saying (over and over) in the promotional video. What do you think? Have you tried the new Muse?

New Gap Campaign Hits The Road, Caliente Style
The Gap is rolling out their new marketing campaign just in time for back-to-school in a style that’s more back-to-the-future. The campaign is the first major marketing push by Gap Inc. since a management shake-up in February ended with a new brand president, chief marketing offer, and ad agency.

Fueling Food Truck Fans
You know something’s gone mainstream when USA Today runs a piece, and food trucks are no exception. Foodies have known this for a long time. You know something’s hot when there are apps on virtually every platform, and apps for locating food trucks are also no exception. Tech savvy foodies know this as well.

Tweeting Your Way to a Time Out
The High Low — covering retail trends with a focus on e-commerce and the evolution of the fashion and apparel industry — recently posted “The 8 Biggest Twitter Meltdowns – Corporate Edition.” In this piece, the author asks if it might be worthwhile to put a brand, organization or corporate enterprise into 140-character chaos and suggests that the (oft-times viral) attention more than pays for the trouble in the twitterverse. Take a look at the examples below and see if you agree.

Not All Impressions Are Created Equal
Casale Media, a Canadian online advertising network specializing in site representation via display, recently published a brief quantifying the effects of page positioning, view order and frequency on online ads. "The Link Between Ad Placement & Performance" reports on the analysis of nearly two billion ad impressions over the Casale Media advertising network, MediaNet, in 1Q 2011. This study offers simple pointers based on the hypothesis that not all impressions are created equal.

Small Biz Goes Big
Merchant Circle, offering free marketing and social media tools to small business networks and local advertisers, recently surveyed small business owners on their overall business and economic outlook and ongoing advertising activities. While it’s no secret that these small businesses have evolved their strategies to include and optimize online advertising, it is surprising to see where their ad spend is located.

Think Local. Tweet Local.
Just when you think you’ve got your social media strategy down — constituents profiled, contingencies considered, centralized messaging plotted — REI pulls up the stakes and takes their show on the road. Well, they’re taking their show out to the 53 markets they have a presence in nationally.

Work Hard, Play Harder: What Virtual Gaming Can Teach You About Business
Much has been written in the last few years about gaming and the users that play, and how much we might learn about experience, usability, and strategy from perhaps the least obvious source. Game on! In a recent Mashable article titled, “7 Winning Examples of Game Mechanics in Action,” Gabe Zicherman suggests that “seven gamified innovations should inspire you to strategize via game analysis.” Here, some quick cheats point you to the starting gate. Read the entire post and see if there’s something to putting some play into your work.

Whopper Lust: Redefine Pay-Per-Click
You know you’ve asked yourself the question: Just how much is my time worth? If I had to figure out a dollar amount for each hour, for each half-hour, maybe even each quarter-hour or fifteen minutes… what would that amount to? What if someone told you that the USD wasn’t the only currency available?

Banner Ads Need To Be Better, Not Bigger
Rob Gatto, CEO of Pointroll (provider of digital marketing services for interactive advertising), recently posted an article on Ad Age’s Digital Next titled “It’s Not the Size, It’s How You Use It.” Provocative title? Yes, but perhaps not in the way that first comes to mind. If you’ve been tasked with creating effective online display ads you know that it’s not easy.

Viral Videos or Well-Disguised Advertising?
If you haven’t heard about the stolen laptop and the deadbeat dude that boosted it, you’ve been asleep this week. There’s a Tumblr page with blow-by-blow descriptions of the theft, the lack of help from the local cops and — wait for it — images of the thief taken with the on-board camera by an installed app built to identify just such a evil-doer.

Just Who Is Clicking Your Banner Ad?
Bizo, a business-to-business ad targeting platform, recently released data that highlights who in the business world is most inclined to take action when presented with an online ad. With access to third-party certified demographic data on more than 85 million business professionals online, Bizo found that those working in the Legal, Retail, and Software industries were most likely to do what an online ad asks them to do.

Carlsberg Crafts Beer with Ladies in Mind
Statistically speaking, beer is not the drink of choice for 7 out of 10 women. Nearly half of women would prefer to have a glass of wine, thank you very much. And while craft beers have been credited with making beer more popular with the high-heeled set, that industry hasn’t come close to bringing the number of women grabbing a bottle of cold brew to the men who claim beer is their number one drink (54 percent). Danish-based brewer Carlsberg wants to change that. They’re starting from the outside in with a beer they say is "intended for modern women and men, who appreciate a refreshing taste delivered in a stylish design."

Graffiti? There's an App for That.
If you aren't aware of the current infatuation with street art and graffiti, well, you have definitely got to get out more often. From Oscar-nominated "Exit Through The Gift Shop" to MOCA's "Art In The Streets" in Los Angeles, graffiti has taken a prominent position (again) in pop culture. But now technology enables all of us (with an iPhone, at least) to bring out our inner street artist. The San Francisco Arts Commission has tapped McCann SF to create a free iTunes app that lets graffiti artists tag their work using their iPhone. They can also share these techno-tags through email or social media share functions baked into the app. The Arts Commission hopes to support creativity while taking a chunk out of an annual graffiti clean-up cost of $22 million.

Gurus Get More Twitter Followers
Memeburn recently picked up and reposted a great piece by Dan Zarrella, award-winning social, search, and viral marketing scientist at HubSpot, that showcases both his research and the fact-based indicators for those who covet Twitter followers. As he notes, marketers key in on Twitter follower count as an indication of efficacy. After years of research, Zarrella has created a to-do list for those of us who seek the holy grail of increased follows. Of note, the importance of self-professed authority — see point #4.

They’ll Pay Your Mortgage If You’ll Live In Their Billboard
Well, it’s not that simple, really. Anaheim, CA based Adzookie would like to paint your house in a bright color palette, their logo, and the usual SoMe marks. You agree to have your house painted like a clown car and the advertising firm will pay your nut.

Getting Off On Mother's Day
Just in time for Mother’s Day, a reminder that it’s never a bad idea to step away from the laptop, keep the smartphone in your bag, and give your kids a hug. A real hug, not a “click-to-send” approximation. BFG 9000, a New York agency, was tapped by Momfilter.com to promote TheLogoff.

Facebook's New Social Ad Unit
Facebook recently launched Facebook Studio and now they’ll be publishing a “new social ad unit” developed by Leo Burnett Chicago and chosen as a part of a promotional contest sponsored by the social media platform itself.

Is Your Brand Working The F-Factor?
There’s no escaping social media and the rise of social commerce as the new marketing frontier. Trendwatching.com just released their latest brief on the influence of friends, fans, and followers on consumers’ purchasing decisions, and the sophistication and power of that influence. They call it the F-Factor.

Facebook Studio: Highlights, Help, or Hype?
If you’ve ventured into Facebook as an advertiser — social marketer, I should say — you know the hell that awaits as platform changes fly out from nowhere, guidelines vaporize before they can be found and apps that promise relief do little but confound your efforts. Well, you can rest now, weary Creative.

CMO's Guide To The Social Media Landscape
Earlier this year, CMO.com released their second annual “CMO’s Guide To The Social Landscape.” Billed as an “up-to-date analysis of the rapidly shifting world of social media channels” this color-codified chart breaks down the most popular — and currently most effective — sites according to their value in: Supporting Customer Communication, Furthering Brand Exposure, Generating Site Traffic, and Enhancing SEO.

Organizing Your Next Web Project
The design and development of an online functional application — website, microsite, ad campaign, or social media initiative — comes with its share of headaches. Coming out the other side of a big project can leave you disoriented, disappointed, and despairing. So much can go sideways and keeping everyone informed and up-to-date with who’s doing what when is a huge task (big love to all my project managers out there, you rock!). Collaboration is your friend and the free tools available can help you enable everyone to play nicely.

Demi and Ashton Are Looking For A Few Real Men
Before you start getting yourself ready for some Twitter twistedness, you should know that the dynamic duo is not immediately involved. But you will find the Hollywood hotness of Bradley Cooper, Justin Timberlake, Conan O’Brien — even spicy Isaiah Mustafa — doing their good work for the DNA (Demi and Ashton) Foundation.

Web Fonts and 8 Online Resources for Designers
Christina Warren of Mashable recently shared this list of web font resources. Considering the speed at which type foundries, online libraries, dev kits and browsers are adopting the WOFF (Web Open Font Format), designers can now seriously consider life beyond Arial. The links below will help you learn more about the effective use of typography, read up on trends in typographic design, meet type designers and fellow type-lovers, and gather tips and tricks from the pros. First up, Fonts In Use features type at work in the real world.

Twitter: How Much Trouble Can 140 Characters Cause?
Twitter — and some very public Twitter mishaps — have been entertaining to read over the last couple of months. The most recent example is a Friday night tweet-fest and tirade produced by a Marc Jacobs Intl (@MarcJacobsIntl) intern who had time to post and pack before leaving the company.

In Email Marketing, Gut Checks Can’t Be The Ultimate Test
MarketingProfs’ “Get to the Po!nt” email marketing newsletter highlighted a recent edition of "Which Test Won." If you’re not familiar with this online resource, WhichTestWon.com is an independent publication with the goal of evangelizing best practices in marketing optimization — in particular through A/B and multivariate testing.

Random Acts of Kindness and Your Brand
For brands, increasingly open communications both with and between consumers (especially online) means that it's never been easier to surprise and delight audiences with Random Acts of Kindness, whether sending gifts, responding to publicly expressed moods, or just showing that they care.

Taking It To The Streets in Canada
The Canadian Tourism Commission launched an innovative online ad campaign last week that puts (virtually, at this point) travelers into Canadian streetscapes with a simple click. DDB Canada (the Commission’s agency of record) and Tribal DDB Canada — in collaboration with Google Maps and Street View — created a unique Rich Media unit that highlights key regions and activities in Canada, and is part of a much larger, integrated campaign.

Can A Print Ad Really Deliver A Test Drive?
Is it possible to show a car shopper what driving your vehicle is really all about? Can you put her behind the wheel and on the road? How about delivering a test drive within the confines of a print ad? Volkswagen, Apt, and Mobiento think so. And they have the print ad—and iPhone app—to prove it. Using Augmented Reality, the shopper/reader downloads an iPhone app and takes a test drive directly in (or over, as the case may be) print ads appearing in popular Norwegian magazines.

The Rise of The Citysumer – Part 2
In my previous post, “The Rise of The Citysumer – Part 1” we took a look at how the increasing consumption taking place in urban settings and “Citysumers” who play a critical role in how markets and brands act and react. These experienced and sophisticated urbanites will demand brands that show some personality, loosen up and embrace urban culture. Trendwatching.com, a leading consumer trends firm, notes that many brands are already delighting Citysumers around the world. Are there other success stories that you can share?

Type on the Web: Top 10 Dos and Don’ts
Last week, Simon Pascal Klein published his list of “dos and don’ts of web typography” at Design Festival. The new resource site—inhabited by some of my favorite Site Point web pros—is a great addition to any interactive designer/developer’s kit bag. What I found most useful in this post was not so much the new information that he was providing but the clear and concise way he laid it out.

Saving The World From Tacky Greeting Cards
Like Etsy and Threadless — two game-changers that continue to inspire new online business ventures — Chirply is bringing new design-savvy and crowd-curated craft to the old world of greeting cards. As their home page proclaims, the brothers Gagan and Neel Palrecha hope to “save the world from tacky greeting cards.” And they must be on to something: only weeks after launching, nearly 100 artists have submitted designs, some of which have received hundreds of votes.

The Rise of The Citysumer — Part 1
Urbanomics—highlighted as one of 11 crucial consumer trends for 2011—is seen as a macro movement that will dominate the coming decade as more and more consumption takes place in urban settings. Those that will play a critical role in how markets and brands act and react, are defined by trendwatching.com as: Citysumers: The hundreds of millions of experienced and sophisticated urbanites, who have some level of disposable income and who are ever more demanding and more open-minded.

Safe Sex + Smartphones in New York City
The hopeless romantics went for chocolates and flowers. The lovestruck went for oysters and champagne. The singles went anywhere the other two were not. And NYC Health went mobile. The New York Health Department celebrated National Condom Awareness Day (also known as Valentine’s Day) by launching NYC Condom Finder, a smartphone app to locate the five nearest venues that distribute free NYC Condoms.

Why Do Consumers Unsubscribe, Unlike, and Unfollow?
You do all you can to engage prospects—craft a compelling message based on consumer insights, design a look and feel that supports the brand and aids in driving conversions, test and retest to ensure that efficacy is optimized. You get the opt-ins you’re looking for. You begin a campaign of communications. And then the “unsubs” come in and you’re left wondering what happened; why the “thanks-but-no-thanks.” ExactTarget, a global interactive marketing services company, recently uncovered the reasons for disengagement.

Sundance, Social Media, and Zombies
You might have heard about Kevin Smith’s industry-shaking auction. You might have seen shots from James Franco’s performance art based on “Three’s Company.” But did you hear anything coming out of Park City about a pandemic that turned film-loving hipsters into zombies? Playing off this year’s theme “Be Here,” festival participants—and more importantly, those who could not attend—had the opportunity to engage and immerse in Director Lance Weiler’s storytelling project, Pandemic 1.0.

International Brands. Universal Storytelling.
Inspired by recent best-of, top-ten, and year-wrap-up articles and blog posts, I wanted to share a sampling of international brands telling some great stories. These are not the beginning and end of great work (you won’t see the Old Spice or International Man of Mystery here) but there is a wonderful way of telling a story that makes these ads—and the brands they are speaking for—quite memorable.

Customer Experience in Dollars and Cents
Do something right and word gets around. Do something wrong and it’s like a wildfire whipped up by a Santa Ana wind. Sure, it’s always been this way, but now everyone’s connected 24/7 and if you haven’t told your Facebook friends about that amazing lunch this afternoon or the way they completely forgot your order at dinner tonight, you need to get on it.

Changing Online Business One T-Shirt At A Time
For the last decade, Threadless has been printing t-shirts. And creating community. And tossing the standard small business model on its head. Oh, and inspiring others with a passion to build on that dream, make it real, and introduce brands that matter. The history of this business and brand—called “the most innovative small business in America” by Inc. magazine—has been captured in Abrams Images perfect-bound book, titled Threadless. Big, bold, and beautiful, tee by tee, the author guides us along on an amazing journey, from the prototypical “office in a bedroom” to a warehouse that requires go-karts to get around.

iPad - 1; Creativity - 0
Much was made of the tablet’s, particularly the iPad’s, superstar status at the Consumer Electronics Show in Las Vegas. You can’t read tech news these days without some update from some brand name maker who has the next great tablet, maybe even a contender against the ubiquitous iPad. These gizmos, again particularly the iPad, ain’t going away.

Hyundai: The New Apple?
The North American International Auto Show launched this week (January 10–23), and Hyundai unveiled a new brand slogan: “New Thinking. New Possibilities.” In an effort to shift their value image to one of affordable-premium, the South Korean automaker—the world’s fifth-biggest—continues to move their brand forward.

Digital Advertising: Look Back, Leap Forward
Imagine you’re sitting around with a group of colleagues, taking a break and talking about what you’re working on, what you wish you were working on. The conversation is more freeform jam than academic discourse and one topic taps and turns into another. Your thoughts are going a mile a minute and there you are without something to jot down the gems that are whizzing by. I recently found myself having a similar experience with a small, inexpensive paperback book entitled, Digital Advertising: Past, Present, and Future. The collection of essays charts the past and predicts the future of “what we used to call the advertising industry.”

New Starbucks Logo: A Siren Sings
“Looking Forward to Starbucks Next Chapter” is the title of Starbucks’ Chairman, President and CEO Howard Schultz's blog post for January 5, 2011. Preparing to mark 40 years selling coffee and lifestyle (my word) in Seattle, the US, and the world, has made Howard even more excited to share what future plans the brand has in store. Be prepared for more food, more localized in-store experience, more booze, and less logo. Yes, you read that right—less logo.

Digital Driving Hits a High Note
Ford announced it has installed its SYNC system in more than 3 million Ford and Lincoln vehicles. Introduced in the fall of 2007 and billed as a “communications and entertainment system,” this technology connects the vehicle to the driver’s mobile phone and MP3 player (in more and more cases these are one and the same) and in the future will enable the vehicle to become a WiFi hotspot.

Visualizing Social Media Data
Mathew Ingram recently wrote a piece on GigaOM about the statistical differences between Facebook and Twitter users. In his post he includes an infographic, created by online agency Digital Surgeons and shown below, that gives details on demographics and activities for both platforms.

Slim Brands Beef Up for New Year
While most of us are still grazing on an abundance of holiday leftovers and sticky sweet goodies, the $55 billion dollar weight loss industry is gearing up for New Year’s resolutions and the “diet season” of 2011. Two biggies in that industry—Weight Watchers and Jenny Craig—have both announced that they’re launching innovative and industry-altering programs. We’ll let our collective loss, or gain, be the proof in that pudding. You may have already caught Jennifer Hudson, Weight Watchers pitchwoman with a total loss of 80 pounds as of this fall, showing off her “new” body.

TED Creates Online Advertising Competition
Challenging the creative community to create and submit “Ads Worth Spreading,” the TED organization hopes to raise the bar for online ads with its first call for entries. Online campaigns created during 2010, specifically January 2010 to January 2011, are eligible, but organizers have asked for never-before-seen work and are looking for video in particular.

Worst Holiday Ads of 2010
They’re at it again. The Consumerist polled shoppers, asking for the worst holiday ads this season, and shoppers did not disappoint. The submissions came in. The top five were determined. The votes have been tallied and the winners have been ranked in order. Which holiday ads brought out your inner Grinch this year? Would you have sacked the same list? #1 Hyundai: Hipster Holiday. Good-bye, Dude. Hello, Pomplamoose. A shameless slice-and-dice with YouTube music-makers and post-modern tunes that’ll drive you off the couch and to the mall instead of the auto dealer.

11 Crucial Consumer Trends For 2011
trendwatching.com, a London-based, independent trend firm, recently published their December 2010 brief detailing consumer trends for 2011. They choose to examine eleven trends, which I’ve abbreviated and commented on below. See how these trends impact your brand today and in the future. Are you already taking advantage of these changes?

Ad Age’s “Biggest Viral Ads of the Year”
Ad Age recently published this year’s Top 10 viral ads, and to no one’s surprise, Weiden & Kennedy’s work for Old Spice is at the top of the list. What is surprising is year-to-year increase of views within the list; 2010’s Top 10 ads come in at slightly more than 320 million views, a 63% increase over 2009’s Top 10. The publisher notes that this year was another breakout year for web video, highlighting the increasing influence of social networks and the ease of sharing across platforms.

Putting Tweets Under the Tree This Holiday
Ever tire of the same old holiday gift wrap? Ever wish there was a way to crowdsource your good tidings and cheer? Ever find yourself thinking, "If only I could do all of my shopping in 140 characters or less?" Tweetwrap to the rescue! The Barbarian Group launched Tweetwrap this week as part of a three-part campaign for Samsung to promote the "boosted" RF510 laptop. The agency delivered an application that allows users to design their own unique gift wrap using five fun patterns, five tweet threads, or a thread of their choosing. Users can choose to “keep it” by downloading a JPG to their desktop, or “get it” by purchasing a roll of the wrap (free to the first 3000 orders).

Ikea’s Fashionably Social Campaign
Ikea and agency, Forsman & Bodenfors of Sweden, are at it again as they reinvent their annual Ikea Wardrobe campaign. I recently posted on the group’s creative campaign to sell kitchen appliances via coffee table cookbooks; in this campaign they’ve turned everyday household storage into fashion show knockout. Garderob which means “wardrobe” in English, was the hook for a media blitz announcing the annual campaign, the design competition that fed the event, the website that promoted that competition and the four-day event that showcased the 25 designers chosen to compete in the final fashion spectacle.

Is Your Brand in Your DNA?
I recently read a blog post by Tony Hsieh, CEO of Zappos, in which he discussed the shifting nature of brand building, the importance of chemistry and culture in creating a successful brand and company, and customer service as the ultimate brand experience. Deeper insights and entertaining history can be found in Hsieh’s book, "Delivering Happiness: A Path to Passion, Profits and Purpose," but this short passage prompted me think about our role, as marketing agents, in creating and activating brands for our clients.

Another Social Browser Crashes the Party
A new browser -- built with social networking at the forefront -- has come on the scene, and the folks from the “Netscape Mafia” are banking on the explosion of social media and our insatiable desire to be constantly connected through those networks. A group of Netscape alumni founded and financed RockMelt, the company, and the release of their new browser comes 16 years after Netscape introduced the first commercial Internet browser.

Ikea's Creative Bakes Something Sweet
Inspired by high fashion and Japanese minimalism, Forsman & Bodenfors created not only a desire for the brand’s products (specifically kitchen appliances) but a beautiful cookbook and fun mobile app. When tasked with promoting the home furnishing’s spatulas, bowls, and the like, this creative team turned what could have been another oh-look-how-they-shot-those-tongs exercise and instead delivered something memorable and measurable. The “Homemade Is Best” campaign’s foundation is a 140-page cookbook that looks like nothing we’ve seen before.

New Chevy Ads Could Use Some Gas
The wait is over -- the new work from Goodby, Silverstein & Partners for Chevy is here and aired during Game 1 of the World Series. I must admit I was more interested in seeing what GSP did for the brand than I was in how Chevy launched its "green" Volt or reinvigorated other lines.

Will Users Embrace the New Face of MySpace?
MySpace recently began a complete overhaul not only to its visual identity and interface, but also to its positioning and focus. The transformation is expected to finish at the end of November, but site visitors now can see what's in store through promotional copy content, screen shots, and videos spread across the home page and site like early holiday gifts. Mashable posted a quick introduction and overview and promises to do more in-depth review and reporting over the next few days. I'll be watching this closely as well, but not for the obvious reasons.

Threadless Reaps What It Sews
Recently, I discovered a new statistical feature that took a look at one of my favorite brands, Threadless, and noted some interesting, and illuminating, statistics. The 10-year-old company, based in Chicago and thriving online, is a one-of-a-kind business and brand -- a savvy social media player, a technology and crowdsourcing innovator, and a specialty retailer. According to Advertising Age's Matt Carmichael, Threadless’ success “is largely credited to its thriving online community, which submits designs for T-shirts and then votes on which ones get printed and sold.”

The Gap's Great Marketing Gaffe
The denim-clad world did a 180 last week, and somewhere a designer weeps for what could have been. A simple logo redesign turned ugly, and consumers had plenty to say (and tweet) about it. If you missed the death and rebirth of Gap’s iconic blue square, here’s a quick recap (pictures will not be shown out of respect for the still grieving; links, however, will be abundant).

Crowdsourcing: Fab or Fail?
Much has been written about the recent redesign and retraction of Gap’s new visual identity. What hasn’t received much attention, relatively speaking, is the attempt by Gap to harness the energy and redirect it via crowdsourcing. Only days after Bill Chandler, VP of corporate communications, described the new mark as “a more contemporary, modern expression” he was expressing doubt and corporate’s new thinking could be found on the brand's Facebook page: “We love our version, but we’d like to see other ideas.”

Apple's a Winner Any Way You Slice It
Apple Inc., the company, is poised to be the most valuable company in the world. Second to Exxon, Apple, according to the word on the street, could very well be the largest company in the world based on market capitalization before the end of this month. And when the maker of our iGadgets sits atop the S&P 500, it will be a marker of the company’s import to the market, the shifting economy and consumer behavior. Apple, the brand, is not positioned in such rarified air this year. Interbrand’s “Best Global Brands 2010” ranks Apple in the No. 17 spot, a 37 percent increase over last year’s showing.

The Worst Ad in America
The nation's leading not-for-profit consumer advocacy organization and subsidiary of Consumers Union, the publisher of Consumer Reports, and ConsumerReports.org recently announced the winners of the “Fast Forward” Award.

Stepping to the Plate With a Viral Power Hitter
In Jack Neff's recent article, “Cracking Viral Code: Look at Your Ads. Now look at Old Spice,” he posits that Procter & Gamble’s grooming business may have hit upon the mother lode and cracked the viral code. With stats highlighting the domination of P&G's men’s grooming business on the video boards, it appears this just might be the case. The Old Spice/Isaiah Mustafa spots, together with Gillette/athletes spots, have rocketed P&G up the Visible Measures chart with a whopping 82 entries. As he points out, “Of those, 62 ‘brand weeks’ were for Old Spice, 20 for Gillette.”

Creative Stimulus: A Call to Redesign the Dollar
The Huffington Post recently reported of a contest to redesign the dollar bill. "The Dollar ReDe$ign Project," according to organizer Richard Smith, is a way to “rebrand the US Dollar, rebuild financial confidence and revive our failing economy.” It's no small task and not particularly convincing if the comments are any indication. However, seeing the amount of creative energy expended, the solutions shared, and the rationale underpinning these submissions, many clearly believe in the power of a good redesign effort.

Online Creative Community Colors Outside the Lines
COLOURlovers, an online community of folks who love all things color and creative, has put together a comprehensive color study of the top 100 websites. Not satisfied to simply rank these sites in numerical order, the team there created -- and kindly shared -- an infographic that tells an interesting story. The bottom line: If you’re aiming for the top, you’d best be blue.

The Sweet Rebranding of High-Fructose Corn Syrup
The Blue Man Group got us excited about computer chips. Ellen sells us water with a little something extra. Now, the fine folks at the Corn Refiners Association would like us to reconsider what goes inside all the sweet stuff that we consume. In what Joe Weisenthal of Business Insider calls a “genius branding move” for the trade group, they are determined to rename High Fructose Corn Sugar.

Google Delivers Search Engine Optimization in an Instant
You’ve researched keywords. You’ve filtered phrases. Your on-page and off-page content and metadata are optimized. And your site’s ready to pull out and ahead of the competition. High ranking is within reach, and glory is yours for the taking. Then some unknown -- with a name that starts with a capital “A” -- shows up before you’ve even had a chance to take a breath.

Rebranding Really Begins and Ends With the Consumer
Last week, I found myself following links on rebranding and reading more than a few blog posts, articles, and white papers on the topic. Having recently completed a successful rebranding effort with a well-known and -respected nonprofit, I was (and still am) interested in the stories of other professionals who have made it out the other side, so to speak. I’m curious about the lessons learned, and I’ll admit I take a strange pleasure in reading about the hiccups and the heartache that frequently seem to happen. I came across an agency blog and a post by an author who appeared to be a regular contributor and from the mug shot might have been an agency principal. I prepared to read a short entry on “ReBranding” -- the variations on the spelling of this popular term could be a post all on its own -- and thought I’d found something worthwhile.

Five Reasons Small and Niche Marketers Should Like Facebook
The numbers are impossible to ignore: More than 500 million people are active on Facebook, and those folks are prospective customers not only for big brands but for the small and niche brands that can -- and should -- engage in this space.

Barnes & Noble: Bookmark This!
Hearing the news that the world’s largest bookseller, Barnes & Noble, was putting itself up for sale gave me pause. The ensuing drama among board members wrangling for position gave me a laugh. Here’s a brand -- not to mention an entire retail sector -- in distress. I’d like to suggest that someone, be it new owner or old management, should consider these three points and questions to re-establish and reinvigorate a brand that’s far from irrelevant.

Badass Brand's Black-and-White Creative Leads to Gray Results
The new integrated campaign for Dickies launched via online video “tough tests” last week. This initial offering -- the first round of work from Goodby, Silverstein & Partners -- shows 874 Work Pants taking a beating, literally, as they’re ripped apart by squealing choppers, torn and shredded by massive wrecking balls, and rolled down a meticulously groomed hillside. Each black-and-white clip is a combination of the old “don’t try this at home” instructional film and “don’t try this with stuff you’ve paid decent money for” product demonstration. Taking what has been a staple of skaters, surfers, hirsute tradesmen, and wannabe rockers, the GSP team brings this brand to the hard core. You know those guys and gals: the ones with the biker chain clipped to their belt loop, the steel-toe boots, and the compostable lunch bag in their recycled rubber messenger bag.

Social Media Meets Bumper Sticker Wisdom
It’s funny how things come to you at the oddest times and in the strangest situations. I’m getting used to it, but ideas and solutions can still strike me when I least expect it. I had one of those experiences recently, as I worked to find the Holy Grail of “selling social” to clients -- and even colleagues -- who aren’t there yet in understanding the how and the why of it. If you pitch pixels, you know what I’m talking about.

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