Thursday, February 28, 2013

Scent Branding Boosts Sales and Customer Loyalty

Hunter Communications recommended reading from:
Fast Company

Link to article:
Smell the Love: How the Scent of a Brand Creates Close Connections
ScentAir is a company that helps businesses use scent to boost sales, link stores to a desired theme, or create a business' brand identity. Their Director of Fragrance Development, or "smell guru", shares a bit of his firm's history and approach to scent branding in an interview with Fast Company.

Excerpt; "You worked at International Flavors and Fragrances and a few other companies before moving to ScentAir. What’s your job there?

I select and interpret the brand messaging from our customers, and translate that into what their fragrance should be. I talk to customers--sometimes they give me a big brand book, or sometimes they just send me a website--and recommend what I think would fit. I interpret what fragrance will work for their customers: Something traditional? Modern? Trendy? With a nice fragrance, customers may linger longer, and lingering longer can turn into brand loyalty.

There’s a particular vocabulary to the world of scent. I’ve heard you use the words 'billboard,' 'thematic,' 'ambient,' and 'branding' to describe different approaches. What do they mean?
'Billboard' means you put a fragrance into the air, and that’s something they’re specifically trying to sell. So a Ralph Lauren store sells a line of fragrances, and we might put that into the air. 'Thematic' means, with a company like REI, for instance, they may have a mountainscape, and we’ll put a woody type fragrance. Or they may have camping equipment, and we’ll put a campfire smell. 'Ambient' is when a business just wants their customers to come in and feel comfortable. Maybe they want to take away any musty odors in the store.

'Branding' is the most complex. If you think about JW Marriott, they have a very defined brand: luxury without pretense. They gave us a big brand book, and we had multiple meetings with them. I had to develop a scent that would work in their big, 'great room' type lobbies that in some cases have restaurants. I had to develop something I thought was going to work, not clash, and hit home the brand message.

You’re the Don Draper of smell branding?
I have little vials of fragrance with blotter sticks. I start to describe the notes and how it works with the brand. I say, Let’s find the perfect fragrance for you: we’ll put a little vanilla in back here to get some more comfort, or some citrus on the top here to get some more energy. These types of discussions."

Wednesday, February 27, 2013

Are Digital Interfaces Moving away From Faking Real-World Looks?

It's NOT an appointment book, it's a calendar APP!
Hunter Communications recommended reading from:
ReadWrite

Link to article:
Forget Skeuomorphism: The (Digital) World is Getting Flatter

Apple, for one,  has been notorious for making digital interfaces and icons imitate items from the "real" world (i.e. pictures of note pads, wood-textured ebook shelves, etc.). But the pendulum has swung, and Windows 8's Metro flat tiles are becoming a new paradigm of flat and utilitarian design in the digital world. Will the future world be flat or skeuomorphic?

Excerpt: "Computer interface design is all about metaphors: That's not really a window or a desktop or a menu you're using… it's just a clever approximation of the real-world items sketched out on the screen. One designer's examination of those kinds of conventions in user interfaces on desktops, smartphones and tablets may give us a glimpse into the future look of the devices we use.

The concept of approximating real-world tools and interfaces on the screen is known as skeuomorphism, according to Sacha Greif, a French computer designer who currently resides in Osaka, Japan (which sounds much cooler than, say, a Hoosier living in Indiana).

Greif recently wrote a compelling essay called "Flat Pixels," which explains skeuomorphic design versus the up-and-coming trend of flat design. Greif lays out a great primer explaining what skeuomorphic design actually is, using the example of how many on-screen calculators are designed to look. Usually, just like their physical counterparts, even down to the 'C' key in some cases.

This is a type of design that I have commented on before to my students, only I didn't know until I read Greif's article what this design concept was called. In my case, when I explain the interface of Microsoft Excel or LibreOffice Calc, I describe for them the old spreadsheet books that accountants used to use, and how the modern-day spreadsheet applications mimic that with rows, columns, cells and worksheets.

Skeuomorphic design, by Greif's definition, attempts to mirror the physical functionality of a tool, even replicating physical items or characteristics that are no longer used all that much. Greif mentioned 'radio buttons,' which is, if you'll pardon the pun, a hot-button for me, because of the blank stares I get from my undergrads when I mention the term in class.

When was the last time anyone even saw an actual radio button? I can't remember my last time using one, though I miss the satisfying 'ker-chunk' I'd hear when tuning into WLS-AM as a kid in the car. Yet, even in 'modern' interfaces like Office 2010, radio buttons are still all over the place.

Greif highlights elements of skeuomorphic design as opposed to the rising trend of flat design. In flat design, typography and minimalism take center stage over the functionality of real-world objects. Greif cites Windows 8's Metro interface as a strong example of flat design and indeed, he might hopefully find our own design here at ReadWrite somewhere on the flat end of the design spectrum."

Tuesday, February 26, 2013

Llyn Foulkes Hammer Museum Show Uses LA as Inspiration

Foulkes 'Last Frontier' construction recalls Sepulveda Pass
Hunter Communications recommended reading from:
LA Weekly

Link to article:
How L.A. Neighborhoods Influence Llyn Foulkes' Retrospective at the Hammer Museum

Artist Llyn Foulkes has lived in LA since coming to Chouinard Art Institute in the late 1950s, and since then the neighborhoods he has lived in and loved has become a part of his art.  A new retrospective at the Hammer Museum shows the influence that the topography and landscapes of LA's unique locations has had on Foulkes art through the years.

Excerpt: "The major retrospective of Foulkes' work now on view at the Hammer Museum is a long time coming. (His last such exhibition was nearly 20 years ago at Orange County's Laguna Art Museum.) That it was organized in Los Angeles reflects the importance of the artist to his hometown and vice versa. Foulkes' particular experiences in the city as a place to live, breathe and make art are part of what give his work its visceral punch and its convincing edge. Seeing his paintings and constructions, you may well glimpse Los Angeles in an altered light.

Foulkes came to L.A. in the late 1950s, first by way of a rural, mountainous town in Washington state, where he was born and raised; and then via the war-ravaged cities of Europe through which he traveled in his two years in the Army.

Thanks to the G.I. Bill, Foulkes landed at Chouinard Art Institute — L.A.'s premier art school, which was located downtown before it merged into CalArts in 1970 — and he excelled in painting and drawing courses, winning several awards.

He married young and lived in Eagle Rock, which like today offered more affordable and spacious living spaces, and a chance for Foulkes to explore the neighborhood's craggy areas. He also would travel up to Chatsworth, in the northwest Valley, spending time among its peculiar natural rock formations.

It wasn't long before both locales showed up in his paintings. Works such as Geography Lesson (1960-61) and Geographical Survey of Eagle Rock (1962) reflect some of Foulkes' earliest forays into representational imagery — his student work had leaned toward abstract expressionism — and they demonstrate the artist's method of applying paint to canvas with soaked rags. The result of this technique, entirely Foulkes' own, is a texture that exists somewhere between crumpled paper, jeans, animal hides and the mottled surfaces of rocky peaks. It transforms a simple mountainside into a lush, evocative, even sinister apparition."

Monday, February 25, 2013

Photo of the Week: Oscar Preparations

Photo of the Week
As Hollywood prepares for the Oscars, formerly known as the 85th annual Academy Awards. Academy workers prepare Oscar himself for his own unveiling on this evening's red carpet. Below, watch a youtube presentation of all our Hunter Communications photos of this year's awards preparation in Hollywood.


Academy Awards Seeks Younger Image with Rebranding

Don't call them the Academy Awards
Hunter Communications recommended reading from:
Brand Channel

Link to article:
Oscar is the Word: Academy Awards Officially Rebrand Show for 2013

This year the 85th Academy Awards will be presented from Hollywood, as usual, but don't expect to hear anyone call them by that name. The old official name sounded too, well, old and official. So along with hiring Seth McFarlane to add a hip young edge to the show's usual stale banter and creaky comedy, the organizers have officially renamed the ceremony the Oscars.

Excerpt: "This year, the 85th Academy Awards takes on a new name with a younger tone, 'The Oscars.'

'We're rebranding it,' Oscars co-producer Neil Meron told The Wrap.'We're not calling it"the 85th annual Academy Awards," which keeps it mired somewhat in a musty way. It's called "The Oscars."'

Still pursuing a younger demographic despite the failure of James Franco and Anne Hathaway as co-hosts in 2011, the Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences publicist Teni Melidonian said, 'It is right for this show, but we could easily go back to using "Academy Awards" next year.'

'It'll be like the Grammys,' Meron added. 'The Grammys don't get a number, and neither will the Oscars.' The awards show hit a ratings high of 55 million in 1998, the year of Titanic, but have been on a decline ever since.

'There's been criticism in the past about The Academy being very stuffy and mired in tradition, but I think what we're doing... is kind of blowing some of the cobwebs and dust away and allowing this to really be relevant,' said Meron.

The Oscars appointed Family Guy creator Seth McFarlane as host this year on the heels of the 'hipper, shaper-tongued,' Golden Globes, which spiffed up their brand image this year with Tina Fey and Amy Poehler as co-hosts."

Friday, February 22, 2013

Free Wifi Adds Value (and Wealth of Info) for Shopping Centers

Hunter Communications recommended reading from:
Media Post

Link to article:
Second Screening: The Retail Experience

Free Wifi for customers is a perk pioneered by Starbucks and McDonalds, but the trend is spreading through the shopping center industry. Besides the perceived value for consumers, wifi provides usage patterns that can be studied and quantified to study the moves and motivations of shoppers.

Excerpt: " 'The main reason any mall is deploying WiFi is as an amenity to keep [visitors] there longer,' says Joseph DeStasio, manager of business development, Boingo Wireless, which is helping six of the largest mall chains in the U.S. manage WiFi at 30 locations. Well, I imagine, WiFi at the mall is likely to be the thing that keeps less willing spouses-in-tow from complaining about the long stay, if you ask me. But it also makes the mall the port of entry for connected users and the place where the owner can develop loyalty programs that one mall chain claims are associated with visitors who spend 50% more than non-members.

But according to DeStasio, mall owners are especially curious about where their own visitors go both physically and virtually while they are in the mall. Boingo anonymizes and aggregates user behaviors across the WiFi traffic. For an individual big-box retailer and for a shopping center, understanding where shoppers go while in venue could be invaluable in unearthing your real competitors in the showrooming duel as well as identifying potential partners. But DeStasio says that owners are also interested in understanding from access-point triangulation and other geolocation tricks where their own shoppers are going in the mall and for how long. 'Over time we develop heat mapping and paths of travel,' he says. For the mall this data provides feedback about the value and relationship of the various tenants.

Boingo is also working with Wendy’s as it rebuilds its many locations to aim for the fast casual dining market. Brandon Meyers, manager of business development at Boingo, says the presence of WiFi at Wendy’s is itself a part of the rebranding, signaling to customers its transition from quick fast food to the casual category. 'WiFi gives the customer another reason to stay,' he says.

It also opens up a new path of brand engagement with the customer. Getting the visitor to download the Wendy’s app and engage with the MyWendy’s rewards program are table stakes. They have already observed that customers do the expected things over the connection, social media look ups and check-ins. But there is a lot of app use, he notes, which suggests the connectivity provider has an opportunity to serve certain kinds of behaviors. “The in-store experience is where we are headed,” he says. Wendy’s already installs TV flat screens in the rebuilt venues, but mobile connectivity can be used to underscore the entertainment ethos."

Thursday, February 21, 2013

Pantone Reveals Ten Top Colors for Fall 2013 Fashion

Hunter Communications recommended reading from:
The Daily Mail UK

Link to article:
It's Not Even Fashion Week Yet, but Pantone has ALREADY revealed the colors for Fall 2013 



Even before the runway shows of New York Fashion week, color experts at Pantone have released their report of the ten top colors for this fall, complete with a description of each shade and why it fills an essential need in the current zeitgeist.

Excerpt: " Just ahead of New York Fashion Week, the global authority on color, Pantone, has revealed the top ten colors for fall 2013, with Deep Lichen Green - a mix of khaki and olive - topping the list.

Explaining the concept behind the fall Fashion Color Report, the company's executive director Leatrice Eiseman told WWD: 'If you ever walked into the forest or the woods when the leaves have fallen, there is such a gorgeous melange of color.

'This palette reflects those wonderful fall colors but at the same time there are colors that bring a certain sturdiness and structure.'...

The company also enlists the help of well-known and influential designers 'to survey them on what colors and themes they will be including in their fall fashions.'

Even technology can influence the next season's color trends, like the availability of new textures and effects that have an impact on color.

Other influences include 'the entertainment industry and films that are in production, traveling art collections, hot new artists...and other socio-economic conditions.'

The tones for next season are mostly neutral, with Vivacious - a vibrant fuchsia - and Koi - a tangerine hue - adding pops of bright color.

Acai, a deep purple the color of acai berries, is second on the list.

And green proves to be a fixture for fall 2013, with three unique shades - including Pantone's official Color of the Year, Emerald - coming in at number three."




Wednesday, February 20, 2013

Metro Tries Boosting Ridership With Faster Commutes

Hunter Communication recommended reading from:
Curbed

Link to article:
As Gold Line Ridership Plateaus, Metro Looks to Add Speed

Los Angeles' successful Metro rail system has leveled off ridership increases on its Gold Line Extension to East LA. So now the transit agency is looking into ways to make trains more attractive by increasing speed of commuting along the East LA route.

Excerpt: " The first strategy to increase ridership on the extension is to get the train moving faster. The GLEE includes an underground segment with two subway stations in Boyle Heights, but the majority of the six-mile extension runs at street level and must interact with street lights (it also moves pretty slowly as it curves over the 101 on an elevated bridge). 'Metro is working with City of Los Angeles Department of Transportation (LADOT) to look at the potential for increasing speed on the MGLEE and Expo Lines. This will include possible adjustments to traffic signal timing at key intersections. A simulation of full signal pre-emption was conducted on the Metro EXPO Line. Part of the analysis included identification of minor intersections where full signal pre-emption would be useful in increasing speeds. The list of intersections has been provided to LADOT and follow-up meeting is scheduled on January 10th.'

But back to the Gold Line--Metro is looking at Indiana/First Street, Mission/First Street, Alameda/First Street, and other intersections for possible traffic light pre-emption. 'Indiana/First appears to be the primary challenge in the afternoon, with a 5-phase signal cycle with 30-seconds attributed to each phase. The time variance travelling through this intersection can result in up to a 2 minute difference in arrival at Union Station. A simulation test on the MGLEE will be completed by January 25 to identify specific signal phasing improvements. Upon completion of the testing, we will meet with LADOT and/or Los Angeles County Public Works Department to review findings and determine actions going forward.' "

Tuesday, February 19, 2013

Old Spice Remarkets to Mid-Twenties Man

Hawkridge, from Old Spice's Wild Collection
Hunter Communications recommended reading from:
The New York Times

Link to article:
A Man, Not a Scent, That Conquers a Room

Old Spice has tried to shed its grandfatherly image in recent years.  But after targeting college-age men with its high-powered competition for AXE body sprays, Showtime, Swagger and After Hours, the brand is turning down the volume with two lighter lines aimed at men later into their twenties.  The Fresh Collection and the Wild Collection are derived from natural, outdoorsy scents, and are marketed with commercials of young men conquering not just women, but intimidating and dominating the other men in their world.

Excerpt: "Old Spice, introduced in 1937 with a colonial theme, still uses a clipper ship in its logo, and has plotted new courses in recent years. Over the last decade, it has dedicated progressively less marketing to its original scent, which may remind many of their grandfathers — an association that can turn creepy when the person wearing the cologne stirs romantic urges.

Instead, in humorous popular campaigns featuring actors like Isaiah Mustafa and Terry Crews, it has promoted numerous new, stronger scents meant to appeal to younger men, with brawny names like Swagger, After Hours and Showtime.

While those scents, which are available in products including body spray, shower gel and deodorant, have sold well, the brand acknowledged in 2010 that they were too intensely scented for some consumers and introduced a lighter line called the Fresh Collection, with scents including Fiji and Matterhorn.

Jason Partin, Old Spice brand manager for North America, said that the Wild Collection was also aimed at men who might have wrinkled their noses at the company’s other offerings.

The scents were developed to 'bring in guys who think right now that everything in our lineup smells the same' and 'who want scents to be more subtle,' he said.

At the same time, as the advertising campaign makes clear, the scents are not meant to project that their wearers are wallflowers, but rather, that they are men 'who want to be viewed as manly, seductive and maybe a little intimidating,' Mr. Partin said."

Monday, February 18, 2013

"IKEA Effect" May Blind Business into Favoring Its Own Projects

Hunter Communications recommended reading from:
NPR

Link to article:
Why You Love That IKEA Table, Even If Its Crooked

We may think we are laboring on a project because we love it and believe in its worth, but a Tulane University professor thinks we have it backward.  We love the projects BECAUSE of the labor we have put into them and treasure what we ourselves build.  He calls this the "IKEA effect" and warns that it can blind managers into hanging on to bad projects they have invested time and effort into.

Excerpt: "Have you ever spent a couple of hours working on a craft project — or a presentation for work — and then fallen in love with what you've accomplished? Do the colors you've picked for your PowerPoint background pop so beautifully that you just have to sit back and admire your own genius?

If so, get in line: You're the latest person to fall victim to the Ikea Effect.

The name for this psychological phenomenon derives from the love millions of Americans display toward their self-assembled furniture (or, dare we say it, their badly self-assembled furniture) from the do-it-yourself store with the Scandinavian name.

'Imagine that, you know, you built a table,' said Daniel Mochon, a Tulane University marketing professor, who has studied the phenomenon. 'Maybe it came out a little bit crooked. Probably your wife or your neighbor would see it for what it is, you know? A shoddy piece of workmanship. But to you that table might seem really great, because you're the one who created it. It's the fruit of your labor. And that is really the idea behind the Ikea Effect.'

Most of us intuitively believe that the things we labor at are the things we love. Mochon and his colleagues, Michael Norton at the Harvard Business School and Dan Ariely at Duke University, have turned that concept on its head. What if, they asked, it isn't love that leads to labor, but labor that leads to love?

In a series of experiments, they have demonstrated that people attach greater value to things they built than if the very same product was built by someone else. And in new experiments published recently, they've discovered why it happens: Building your own stuff boosts your feelings of pride and competence, and also signals to others that you are competent. There is an insidious element here: People made to feel incompetent may be more vulnerable to the Ikea Effect. On the other hand, Mochon has found, when people are given a self-esteem boost, they appear to be less interested in demonstrating to themselves and to others that they are competent."

Friday, February 15, 2013

LA Second in the Nation For Traffic Congestion

Hunter Communication recommended reading from:
Los Angeles Times

Link to article:
Traffic Congestion in US Remains Steady: LA Area is Second-Worst

Drivers in LA and San Francisco (cities tied for second-worst in traffic congestion) spend an average of 61 hours a year stuck in traffic, far more than the national average of 38 hours.  The good news is, as bad as that sounds, it isn't getting any worse.

Excerpt; "According to the just-released 2012 Urban Mobility Report out of the Texas A&M Transportation Institute, automobile commuters in urban areas are delayed an average of about 38 hours a year in the U.S. in trying to get to work and other destinations because of traffic congestion.

That average delay, according to the institute, has remained about the same for the last couple of years. Of course, this is not much solace to commuters.

'The statistics do not include meetings you might miss, or having to replace the dashboard or padded steering wheel because of frustration we take out on our cars,' said Bill Eisele, a senior research engineer with the institute who co-authored the report.

The delays in congested areas of Los Angeles and Orange counties were -- no surprise -- far worse than the national average. Those commuters spent an average of 61 hours per year in traffic congestion. That was not the worst among urban areas. That dubious honor went to Washington, D.C., with an average of 67 hours stuck in congestion for the average auto commuter.

The L.A./Orange and San Francisco areas were tied for No. 2, followed by New York, Boston, Houston, Atlanta, Chicago, Philadelphia and Seattle."

Thursday, February 14, 2013

New Google Enhanced AdWords Bets on Mobile Devices

Hunter Communications recommended reading from:
Tech Crunch

Link to article:
Google's AdWords Update: Are Desktops the New Fax Machines?

Google is one of the world's most successful companies, and one of its most forward-looking.  So its announcement that Google AdWords' separate platforms for mobile devices and desktop environments have merged, with a new emphasis on mobile computing, means that the mobile/desktop convergence has already happened.  And that Google is betting that mobile will play the dominant role.  Smart observers wonder if this means that desktop computers are becoming an obsolete technology like the fax machine. Advertisers are deciding whether to just freak out, or start slitting their wrists.

Excerpt: "When AdWords was developed, people only worried about ads delivered from websites to people sitting at a desk in front of a computer. No one cared about phones, tablets were not on the market, and notebooks weren’t useful Internet devices unless they were connected to a wall, just like a desktop.

Over the last 10 years, the variety of devices and interfaces has increased dramatically, and AdWords has evolved to keep up, adding features, and offering campaign managers more options and ways to manage campaigns.

The problem is, like any IT project gone awry, it’s gotten out of hand. Ask any developer 'Is it possible?' and invariably, the answer is 'Yes but…' In Google’s case, whatever was requested usually got built. AdWords evolved like a really inspiring dev version of a Frankenstein experiment, built to address all the possibilities asked of it.

But on Wednesday, Google addressed this problem and changed the landscape when it announced it had to move on, even if we weren’t ready; the AdWords platform couldn’t continue to scale to add more device types and options ad infinitum. So, they took an ax to the options, and simplified everything into a campaign management interface called Enhanced Campaigns.

Few companies in the world consider the future the way Google does. If you take a long-term perspective, Google’s Enhanced Campaigns launch may indicate their belief that the decline in desktop search — first seen in October 2012 – is going to become an even stronger trend."

Wednesday, February 13, 2013

New Parisine Font Designed for Transit LED Signs

Hunter Communications recommended reading from:
Creative Design

Link to article:
Type Design Helps Parisians Catch Right Bus

Typography projects often includes challenges, but type designer Jean François Porchez had a special set of constraints when he was assigned to revamp the fonts used for Parisian transit signs and bus displays.  The limited resolution of LED displays and the difficulties of passengers reading a fast-moving display on a passing bus made his work extra challenging, and the rewards extra practical to everyday lives.

Excerpt: "If you've used public transport in Paris in the last 15 years, you'll be familiar with type designer Jean François Porchez's work. The RATP (Régie Autonome des Transports Parisien) is one of the biggest and most efficient urban transport networks in the world, with 10 million passengers using the Métro alone every day. In 1996, it briefed Porchez to update Adrian Frutiger's iconic Univers-based font created for the Paris Métro which was inaugurated in the 70s.

In response, Porchez created Parisine, a customised font family which pays homage to Frutiger's creation, but with a slightly more feminine feel that's as sexy and elegant as the city itself. Parisine was extended in 1999 to a full family of 12 fonts for all wayfinding and directional sign systems and maps. Parisine Office was added in 2005 for advertising and internal and external communication. In 2006, Parisine Pro was launched, an updated version which includes small caps and is available to all users.

This month sees the introduction of Porchez's latest work for the RATP – a version of the font to be used on LED panel signage for Paris's buses.

The RATP wanted to optimise visibility on their bus fleet and to make it visually coherent with the Parisine font family, a complex brief with several challenges.

Firstly, the LED displays used can only handle a one-size-fits-all font with no measured spacing between letters. The maximum letterheight on the buses' front panels is just 18 centimetres. Secondly, the low resolution of LED lighting combined with the roll-sign and flip displays previously in use caused great problems for passengers with impaired vision. In addition, Parisian bus termini often have excessively long names such as Mairie d'Aubervilliers or École Vétérinaire de Maisons-Alfort. Finally, according to Porchez, there was no way to produce a working prototype; the design would have to go straight from printout mock-ups to implementation."

Tuesday, February 12, 2013

Apple Gets US Trademark for Store Design

Hunter Communications recommended reading from:
Los Angeles Times

Link to article:
Apple Granted U.S. Trademark for its Retail Store Design

Clear glass storefronts, large rectangular panels, oblong tables running front to back, multi-tiered shelves on the side walls, it all doesn't sound that distinctive.  But put these and a few other design elements together and you have a trademark retail "look" that now belongs to Apple, according to a recent decision from the US Patent and Trrademark Office.

Excerpt: " The Cupertino, Calif., company's "clear glass storefront" design, complete with 'large, rectangular horizontal panels over the top of the glass front,' received trademark status last week from the U.S Patent and Trademark office.

The trademark covers the store's interior furniture and fixtures as well, including the floors, lighting and shelves. It also covers the store's 'Genius Bar,' where customers go for technical support.

'There is multi-tiered shelving along the side walls, and a oblong table with stools located at the back of the store, set below video screens flush mounted on the back wall,' the trademark description reads.

Apple originally applied for the trademark in 2010 but was rejected twice before finally being approved, according to ifoAppleStore.com, an Apple Store news site."

Monday, February 11, 2013

RIM Rebrands With Familiar Blackberry Name

Hunter Communications recommended reading from:
WIRED

Link to article:
RIM's Blackberry Rebranding is Much More Than A Name Change

Ten years ago, Blackberry owned the smartphone segment.  Then came the Iphone and Android, and by 2013 the brand is a shadow of its former mighty self.  Now in a "Hail Mary" pass, Research in Motion has changed its corporate name to reflect its most famous (and maybe resurgent) product.

Excerpt: "It’s out with the old and in with the new as RIM rebrands itself with a new name, a new operating system and a new phone. It’s a bold step for a company that made several missteps after ruling the smartphone segment and believes it must start over from scratch with new products and a new brand.

By changing its name and launching an excellent operating system that runs on impressive phones, BlackBerry is doing more than writing a new chapter. It’s starting a new book. The importance of this cannot be overstated as the company that once defined the smartphone segment struggles to remain relevant in the era of Google and Apple.

The new attitude was evident from the moment CEO Thorsten Heins took the stage in New York to finally launch the long-awaited and delayed BlackBerry 10 operating system and Z10 and Q10 handsets. Before he got down to the business of pitching his products, Heins took a moment to praise the employees in the crowd and thank founder and former CEO Mike Lazaridis for his hard work. Formalities completed, Heins announced, 'From today on, we are BlackBerry everywhere in the world,' rebranding the company before Lazaridis was back in his seat.

The rebranding accompanies the release of the operating system and phones that RIM … er, BlackBerry desperately hopes will turn the company round. It’s a Hail Mary pass for a company that held 44.5 percent of the domestic market in 2006 but watched that slip to 8.4 percent in September because of Android and Apple. BlackBerry must turn things around quickly if it is to survive. It looks promising at this point. BB10 is quick, it’s stable and it’s packed with cool features. The Z10 is a nice bit of hardware. But none of this will matter if BlackBerry can’t get consumers excited and make them forget the missteps and mistakes of the past five years."

Friday, February 8, 2013

Victoria's Secret Meets to Discuss "Survivors' Bra"

Hunter Communications Recommended Reading from:
Technorati

Link to article:
Online Survivor's Bra Petition Catches Victoria's Secret's Eye

When breast cancer survivor Debbie Barrett and her daughter Allana Maiden presented an online petition to Victoria's Secret asking the retailer to support breast cancer survivors with a "survivor's bra" for women who wear a prosthetic, they had no idea how far up the corporate structure their plea would reach.  Soon, the VP of communications for Limited Brands, Victoria's Secret's parent corporation, was flying the pair to Columbus to discuss their idea and visit an Ohio State cancer research center financially supported by the company.

Excerpt; "With the online response it didn't take long for the petition to reach the desks of Victoria's Secret's parent company, Limited Brands.

According to ABC News, Tammy Roberts Myers, vice president of external communications for Limited Brands, reached out to Maiden and Barrett, flying them for a stay in Columbus, Ohio and a visit to their headquarters for a meet-and-greet. While there, they also visited Ohio State University's Comprehensive Cancer Center, which is an ongoing recipient of donations from Victoria's Secret, to continue breast cancer research.

'We were just blown away,' said Maiden after the visit to Ohio. 'I didn't know what to expect meeting someone so high in the company. I thought it would just be a pat on the back — "Good job, we can't do it." It was amazing. I do think that [Victoria's Secret] is interested in figuring out how to do this.'

Although the company won't say whether or not they've agreed to follow through with the Survivor's Bra line, I think it's a safe bet that with their ongoing interest in supporting breast cancer research, they'll see this is the perfect public awareness and fundraising campaign."

Thursday, February 7, 2013

Swedish Design Firm Gives Fresh Look to 7-11

Redesign brings back 7-11 retro look
Hunter Communications Recommended Reading from:
Co.Design

Link to article:
Rebranding 7-11 With a Bold, Retro-Nostalgic Style

Stockholm was the site of 7-11's first European location, so it is fitting that a local design firm took on the task of giving the chain a fresh new identity there.  If the rebranding is successful, some of its retro-nostalgic look may find its way back to the US parent.

Excerpt: "Unlike ornery New Yorkers, most Swedes have never had major moral beef with the steady colonization of 7-Eleven in their cities (well, for the most part). In fact, Stockholm was the location of the convenience mega-chain’s first European location back in 1978. So when the Swedish arm of 7-Eleven invited BVD to take on a rebrand last year, the goal wasn’t to tone down the corporate identity of the chain, as it might have been on this side of the Atlantic.

Instead, the Stockholm-based studio dove into 7-Eleven’s 80-year-old graphic identity, embracing and amplifying its most distinctive elements. At the core of their reimagined brand is the company’s green-and-orange pinstripe pattern, which has fallen out of favor in the past decade or so (perhaps because it’s more likely to remind us of Clerks than good coffee). 'The iconic stripes are the take-off point of our design,' BVD partner Rikard Ahlberg told Co.Design. 'We used them in a new and more modern way, creating a strong recognizable graphic signal that works in a busy environment.' Alongside the new patterns, Ahlberg and his team resurrected 7-Eleven’s old typeface...

For BVD, scrubbing the interiors of brand identity wasn’t an issue--in fact, the idea was to turn up the volume. They redesigned the kiosk components to include a gigantic “Kaffe” sign done in the distinctive lettering, and turned everything a deep hunter green. It’s a bold move, especially considering the attendant cultural cliches about whitewashed Scandinavian design, but it works: the interiors look warm and busy."

Wednesday, February 6, 2013

Eight Retail Giants WIll Close the Most Stores in 2013

Best Buy leads the list of troubled chains
Hunter Communications Recommended Reading from:
24/7 Wall Street

Link to Article:
Eight Retailers That Will Close the Most Stores

The current stubborn economic pinch, combined with the continued success of online shopping, has targeted many older retail giants harder than most.  This year, such names as Best Buy, Barnes & Noble, Sears, JC Penney, Office Depot, and GameStop are on top of the list of chains  forced to downsize this year.

Excerpt: "It is the time of year again, when America’s largest retailers release those critical holiday season figures and disclose their annual sales. A review of these numbers tells us a great deal about how most of the companies will do in the upcoming year. And while successful retailers in 2012 may add stores this year, those that have performed very poorly may have to cut locations during 2013 to improve margins or reverse losses.

For many retailers, the sales situation is so bad that it is not a question of whether they will cut stores, but when and how many. Most recently, Barnes & Noble Inc. decided it had too many stores to maintain profits. Its CEO recently said he plans to close as many as a third of the company’s locations.

Several of America’s largest retailers have been battered for years. Most have been undermined by a combination of e-commerce competition, often from Amazon.com Inc. and more successful retailers in the same areas. Borders and Circuit City are two of the best examples of retailers that were destroyed by larger bricks-and-mortar competition and consumers transitioning to online shopping. These large, badly damaged retailers could not possibly keep their stores open.

Currently, the best example of a struggling retailer is J.C. Penney Co. Inc. The department store chain’s third-quarter revenue dropped more than 26% year-over-year, and its same-store sales fell by about the same. With J.C. Penney’s e-commerce sales slipping by an ever greater amount, it was left with nowhere to go for bottom line improvement other than deep cost cuts."

Tuesday, February 5, 2013

New Fitness Classes Focus on High Heels

Hunter Communications Recommended Reading from:
Wall Street Journal

Link to article:
Workouts in High Heels Really Pump It Up

Some fitness classes promote healthy and safe habits.  And then there are those that recognize our bad habits and focus on harm reduction, making us stronger and safer in the bad things that we are going to do whether they are good for us or not!  New classes across the US aim to empower women to be secure and safe in their high heels.  Kamilah Barrett, "So You Think You Can Dance" alumnus, started the trend with her "Heel Hop" classes in Beverly Hills.

Excerpt: "Some strappy, others colorful, sophisticated, chunky, or wedge-style, the heels are required footwear for this class—Kamilah Barrett's 'Heel Hop' workout.

'I'm not a heel person, but it kind of got me out of my shell,' said Saadiqa Muhammad, a first-time attendee from the San Fernando Valley. 'Having those heels on brought out something extra.'

That's the idea, according to Ms. Barrett, 34 years old, who developed Heel Hop to target the muscles that support a 'relaxed' stance and fluid movement in high heels.

'Heels are really a sport,' she said. 'If you're spending so much money on these heels, why not know how to work them?'...

The Crunch Fitness chain of gyms offers classes called 'Stiletto Strength,' which require attendees to 'bring your own heels.' The class aims to strengthen the legs, abdominals and back to support posture in heels. It also incorporates an aerobic portion where students 'go into "work it girl" mode,' the company says.

There are others who teach versions of high-heeled exercise, such as Stiletto Fitness in Kansas City, Mo., and Vegas Stiletto Fitness, which offers instruction in Denver, Las Vegas, St. Louis and several Texas cities."

Monday, February 4, 2013

Starbucks Betting on Drive-Through Sales Growth

Hunter Communications Recommended Reading From:
Business Insider

Link to article:
Starbucks Preparing for Seamless Orders

Starbucks intends to increase drive-through service throughout the chain.  Currently a third of locations feature drive-throughs, and 60 percent of future Starbucks will be built with them.  Part of the reason is that the Seattle-based coffee chain seeks to integrate its mobile application with in-car computer and navigation systems in the future, allowing consumers to order from their cars while driving, then picking up at the drive-through.

Excerpt: "The coffee chain is building more drive-thrus with deeper motives than competing with McDonald's or Wendy's, said Brian Sozzi, chief equities analyst at NBG Productions.

'Starbucks intends to lay the groundwork to tap into the next round of technological innovation from inside the automobile (and who knows, maybe prepare for an iCar),' Sozzi said in a note to clients.

About 60 percent of the new stores opening in 2013 will have drive-thrus, the coffee chain said in an earnings call last week. Only one-third of existing Starbucks stores have one.

New technologies could make ordering seamless, according to Sozzi.

'Obviously Microsoft’s Sync in-car technology pioneered, but in many respects it has been surpassed by newer offerings in luxury autos,' he said. 'Over the next few years, these in-car touchscreen control panels are very likely to include capabilities to order food items from local chain establishments that boast drive-thrus.'

Both consumer and business would benefit from the ordering system."

Friday, February 1, 2013

Meoww! Google Executive Shreds Facebook as Outdated

Hunter Communications Recommended Reading from:
PC World

Link to article:
Google Exec Rips Facebook as Social Media Net of the Past

On the heels of a recent survey that ranks Google+ as the world's second most popular social media network, the gloves are coming off in the company's rivalry with Facebook. At a November Business Insider's Ignition conference, Bradley Horowitz, a product VP for Google+, claimed Facebook is becoming outmoded, as users are becoming annoyed with clumsily-placed advertising getting in the way of intimate social contact.

Excerpt: "'We're trying to make a product that's ergonomic for the way our attention is wired. We don't think current social products really do that,' he said. 'When you and I are having a conversation, the least opportune thing you can do is have some guy with a sandwich board run between us and try to sell me a sandwich. I'm trying to connect with someone and communicate in that sacred space. It doesn't matter if I like the sandwich... That is the wrong moment to dangle a sandwich in front of me.'

Google, according to Horowitz, is trying to be more holistic about its ad presentation.

'The [proposition] that you're sort of jamming these ads and agendas and sponsored things into user streams is pissing off users and frustrating brands, too,' he added. 'That's not the way the real world works.'

Google is more focused on generating revenue by taking information, such as friend recommendations, from its social network and placing that information into users' search results, Horowitz said.

The interviewer asked if the intention of Google+ is to make Google search better and more relevant.

'I think it's to make them more effective, and by effective that means more useful to users and more useful to brands,' Horowitz answered.