Category Archives: marketing

What are they thinking at BlackBerry?

Just last week I used the Canadian edition of the BlackBerry website. It gave me all the information I needed quickly and efficiently in a pleasing, professional interface and I was happy.

This evening I went to the site and saw this as the homepage: a rather static screen trying hard – and failing  in my books – at a lifestyle branding for BlackBerry.

Today BlackBerry is the leader in the smartphone market, but it’s obvious that the Android platform and iPhone are growing faster than BlackBerry. To protect their position and keep growing they have to do something.

But static and boring web interface? All I get to do is go left to right or right to left and click on user types like “The Shy Girl” or “The Power Couple” to see what BlackBerry device they should be using.

Apparently if you are The Shy Girl you use the BlackBerry Pearl. I wonder how all the BlackBerry Pearl users out there feel about that. “Hey, you have a BB Pearl, you must be the shy girl who texts a lot.” I mean how does that help someone gain status in their social circle? I was looking at getting the BlackBerry Torch, except now I am told that I am apparently broadcasting that I am part of The Power Couple! The truly powerful usually have little need to broadcast such things, they simply are and they act, so where does that leave me?

What are they thinking at BlackBerry? What’s the insight at work here?
Have they heard of video and all the really cool things they could do by integrating video into their site – or better yet, why not just keep it clean and professional until you have a great lifestyle brand idea that you can make work online? So many ways to advance a lifestyle brand, so much to learn!

NB: We just saw anther number 1, Nokia, do something about the threats to their leadership position: announcing a strategic partnership with Microsoft, for better or worse. Hope they will open up that platform widely so they can garner the creativity and imaginations of apps developers everywhere.

Logo evolutions

I enjoyed this brief, visual survey of global brand logos. It’s fun to see both what has changed radically and what has merely evolved, sometimes subtly, over the decades. The biggest changes in logo design in these examples are driven by shifts in the business or in its context. In that sense branding cuts both ways: brand designs do lead and they do follow trends.

Corporate brands are much more than the corporate name, even as wordmarks remain crucial for many brands and are likely more important the more local a business is. In any case, you will see several logos in that list that have become powerful enough to omit their company names entirely. Few do so because the image is the name, as is the case for Apple or Shell. With others you might wonder about the thinking or the research that led that decision.

This restaurant logo works

Many restaurants take a less than stellar approach to branding. From so-so logos to hard to understand web sites using way too much Flash to the super cool interior design overpowering what the kitchen actually delivers.

This restaurant does a great job putting it all together. Ceviche is a dish – raw fish to be clear – that comes in many forms and is very popular in various South American cuisines. Hot peppers are a feature of many ceviche dishes. The Peruvian version is particularly famous in part because the Japanese-Peruvian fusion cuisine has been making an international name for itself.

The logo expresses this core offer without any ambiguity and the typography and application are both fun and slightly out of the ordinary.

This restaurant is one of many we have seen that offer awesome Japanese-Peruvian dishes. The commonalities between the two styles of cooking centre on raw fish and the many artful and save ways to prepare it. I never had sushi that was as delicious as this. The service was great, the night was lovely and we sat outside ’til late.

Causa peruana sampler
Warm and cold rolls. Delicious fusion.

A Concept Restaurant

Palermo district in Buenos Aires.

When recessions or economic downturns hit, restaurant owners can turn to creative solutions to survive in such a tough-at-the-best-of-times industry. (You might remember some of this appearing in North America, too.)

I thought this pitch on the sandwich board that otherwise might tell me what the specials of the day are was well done:

“We give you food, drink and good service …  You pay what you want, without pressure and prejudice… enjoy yourself.”

The restaurant looked like a very fine choice for a great dinner out. It also looked like this was no longer a gimmick to keep people coming but an actual business model a la 2011.

Communicating on mountain sides

What are those symbols on the side of this mountain? How do they get there? Who puts them there? And why? We took both of these pictures in Ollantaytambo which is part of the Sacred Valley in Peru.

The Inka’s designers and architects modified mountains
to pay tribute to their gods. Ollantaytambo is a settlement
of the Inka’s elite from the mid 1500s. Find the
face in the middle left section of this image. Probably
represents an important god. (The dominant feature in
the middle are storehouses for the harvest)
Signage cut into mountains was a
common sight in Peru. This one
we spotted in the Sacred Valley. They
are usually political in nature and may
promote political ideas.
In Peru we encountered a variety of symbols cut into the mountain sides. These were often visible from miles away and usually served political purposes: they promoted a political party or candidates for mayor or parliament, for instance.
This form of ‘communicating’ reaches back a long time in Peru. For instance, even though the Inca Empire lacked a written language, it did not lack in scientific and communicative prowess. It designed its Sacred Valley outside of Cuzco, Peru to mirror religious aspects of the Milky Way as they perceived it. 


Election advertising in Argentina

I saw this poster wall in Buenos Aires, Argentina in January. The current president, Cristina Fernandez de Kirchner, followed her husband into the presidential role when he could not run again due to the country’s constitutional limit. He would have been eligible to run again after being out of office for one term (in contrast to the US system, for instance), had he not died in the fall of 2010.

Here the competitive positioning the opposition has chosen is “Thinking always about you” and the candidate’s signature. Now, granted I do not keep up much with daily political life in Argentina. But I am intrigued by the implication of this competitive positioning. It is a thoroughly positive line with thoroughly negative implications, thus, possibly portraying a real choice without the personal attacks designed to confuse and obfuscate that have become the mainstay of US and Canadian electioneering.

As an aside, love the light blue tie on white shirt – so easy to wear the Argentine flag and show a bit  of patriotism.

Pensando en vos siempre. Buenos Aires, Argentina. Palermo district.

Election advertising in Peru

Just as the Canadian parliament was getting back to work this week, the ruling Conservative Party released election ads for a day that were derided as a personal attack on the leader of the Liberal Party of Canada, and debunked as inaccurate – not to say lies –  on top of that. Of course, there is no election on in Canada  but that hasn’t held the governing party back from running ads year round that literally “brand” the competition as “American” and “just visiting”. In case you can see the irony in that.

This house is in a remote place called Janca Pampa that
 we visited in October 2010. Alcalde = mayor.

In any case, it reminded me of something slightly more quaint on the election advertising front:
I was intrigued with a particular form of advertising used widely across Peru and other Latin American countries. People let politicians or political parties paint part of their house in white and then add their political message – for a fee.

Painted houses as we know them in Canada, for instance, are rare in the Peruvian countryside, where most houses are still built using adobe construction. The political messages are usually very simple: mark your “x” in my box. They are also highly visual. In fact, political parties in Peru use highly visual references in their party logos as you can see on that page of regional parties in Ancash province of Peru.

These messages often stay intact for years. How exactly the payment schemes work I don’t know, for instance, do they use traffic studies to determine payment, are there per annum flat fees, where does the money come from to pay the local people?

Nonetheless, I hope you’ll enjoy this selection of Peruvian election ads. Note: when there was a key message beyond “vote for me” it usually was about “change”, “regional power” and “clean hands in government”. Pretty simple and tells you a few things about what some of the concerns of the people might be.

Nueva Era is also a regional party.
Here it promotes a
Mayoral candidate
Vote for the team with “clean hands”
ie not corrupt.


Moviemento Independiente  Regional Puro Ancash

Mayoral race marketing. The crossing
out refers to what people are asked to do:
Vote for me!