May 26, 2006

If a ‘Logo’ is considered sacrosanct in the Marketing Bible…does that make Google blasphemous?

Something this evening reminded me of a discussion I was part of - in which my client’s marketing team intensely discussed the packaging of a new brand. Of all the things I heard that day, one thought etched out of the cacophony and remained in my memory since then.

What sparked off the discussion was how the brand name would (or rather should) feature on different product variants which had varying pack sizes. The hour long discussion came to a close when someone, presumably whose word counted a great deal, said that the taller packaging would have to be discarded. There was silence in the room…as much had already been invested in developing the prototype and testing a new shape would mean that they would have to go back to the drawing board – the resultant loss of time could prove lethal for a new brand. However….these words echoed in the silent board room

The manner in which the ‘Brand Name’ is displayed HAS TO remain uniform no matter what. It is our message to our consumer. We cannot be seen sending out such diffused signals.

I never questioned that thought…until today when I sat up suddenly and thought about what Google seems to have done with its branding. We have all become used to seeing cute inclusions every once in a way. What creates more excitement around these doodles is the fact that they do not appear at predictable intervals. So one fine groggy morning when you open your browser you see something different that cheers you up.

I am not sure what the motive was behind creating these holiday logos or whether they was any serious motive at all or whether it was all done in the spirit of being ‘fun’ ‘cool’ ‘refreshing’… ‘anti establishment’…but what I find most fascinating is how they have so simply done away with something that’s was considered so fundamental to branding.

So what sort of signals do changing logos send to the consumer? Well, the way Google has gone about bringing about these changes so seamlessly only goes to show that changing logos do not necessarily translate to different messages as long as the organization is consistent in communicating their over all philosophy or values. At least as a consumer, I did not notice a perceptible difference in the last 6 – 7 years or maybe I was just slow in my reaction to this issue. The message I get when I think about it consciously is that – here is an organization that challenges pre-defined ways of doing things and also more importantly an organization that is not ‘in-ward’ looking.

It’s a greater marketing sin in my mind, to keep these basic elements intact but have a portfolio of brands / products that are taking off in different directions.

Will the ‘logo’ by and large still be considered immutable or will we see more organizations experimenting with their branding elements in the days to come? It would be interesting to watch.

You can see their archive of holiday logos here. The site even has some even created by Google Fans though I never liked any of the latter.


May 23, 2006

Was Einstein a Qual Researcher too ?

Found this quote by Albert Einstein...which was like music to my ears!

I have had this discussion ad nauseum with fellow researchers from the other side of the fence (read quant) and sometimes very senior researchers in the rank...try to emphatically argue how its futile to judge the effectiveness of one discipline by a yardstick designed for another. No matter what, there will always be people ranting about the 'subjectivity' of qual research and questioning its validity and reliability, disregarding the fact that that the beauty of qual research is not in 'proving scientifically' that people behave in a certain way bringing to the fore some of the complexities of this behaviour. What would we achieve by just understanding that 8 out of every 10 people who shop at a super market purchase on impulse without understanding

- what goes through the mind of the person who grabs a bar of chocolate at the till or
- why they picked up 20 $ worth of stuff that was not on their shopping list and did not even realise it untill they reached home.

Many a times I fight tooth and nail when confronted with this issue but on some occassions when i dont see any sensibility at the other end...I just say a silent prayer 'Forgive them lord for they know not what they say'


May 19, 2006

9 reasons that make blogs a serious market research tool

1.That consumers do express opinions about their experiences surrounding products on blogs

2.That other consumers read these opinions and to a certain extent trust these messages more than they would trust marketing messages since these come from an independent source and not the marketer

3.That opinions on blogs are unsolicited, spontaneous expressions by the user and there is a greater likelihood of finding the truth here - about what users think about your brand – than you would find in a focus group

4.That the immediacy of this medium is unbeatable. Blogs tend to be updated frequently…once in a few days, sometimes even several times in a day and there is a greater likelihood of finding immediate responses here than you would if you’d commission a research project

5.That once an opinion is expressed on a blog, it spreads very very quickly

6.People are more honest about their beliefs and opinions on this platform since the medium lends itself to protecting the identity of the blogger many a times. There is a greater likelihood of finding brutal criticism against your brand / product that you would not find within the contrived research setting

7.That information found on a blog about your product / brand - is not information in a vacuum. You can freely read the bloggers opinions / beliefs about other issues expressed on his / her blog to draw conclusions about what the person values in the larger context – without causing him the inconvenience of incessant interrogation.

8.That even if you will not read this information…may be your competitor will

9.That it’s there…up for grabs…easily and freely accessible and searchable!

Some food for thought….

Opinions on blogs are a gold mine of information since this medium has not been exploited enough yet and therefore it gives access to unedited, spontaneous thoughts (almost like a blogger’s stream of consciousness). As marketers start looking at blogs more seriously and bloggers become aware of this, would there be a tendency to post postured and socially correct responses even on this medium. Would the feeling of ‘being watched’ come in the way of a spontaneous expression of though!

And what about the intellectual property on such an opinion? Could marketers ‘freely’ and ‘without permission’ use information available on blogs to their commercial advantage?

research method, qualitative research, blogs and market research,