The Brands That Survive Will Be The Brands That Make Life Better
We interact with brands almost every moment of our day. From the moment we wake up, we're being bombarded with logos, advertisements, and products, all designed to make our lives easier but also to make us feel a connection to companies. But most of that work is totally meaningless: most people don't care about brands, and think that only a few positively impact their lives. More importantly, brands that are perceived as irresponsible or just creating products with no meaning are in danger of being severely punished by consumers.
An Ailing Asian Art Museum Adopts a New Attitude
“It’s kind of weird to be here,” said Sanjay Patel, a Pixar animator, standing on a stage Tuesday inside the Asian Art Museum. “Normally you would see Buzz or Woody or Mr. Incredible or Sulley or Carl from ‘Up.’ ”
Indeed, it was not apparent why the excitable Mr. Patel was reciting the names of his employer’s famous movie characters at a news conference held by the Asian Art Museum to promote its new artistic mission. But nonconformity was just the impression the museum hoped to convey. After 45 years of presenting mostly ancient art in understated settings, the museum, which teetered on the brink of bankruptcy less than a year ago, is now determined to “stand out by being bold,” said Jay Xu, 48, who became director three years ago and is the creative force behind the new direction.
Steve, Usability, and the Gradient Audience
I’ve been meaning to write about this for a while. The tributes to Steve Jobs, and this recent blog post from Ian Moss on usability studies in arts programming seem like a good jumping off point. The thing I’ve always loved about Apple products, and the thing I’ve sometimes found irritating about Apple products, is that they’re so damned usable. The amount of processor time on the original Macintosh devoted to the graphic user interface alone makes the point.
At the time, everyone thought this was an insane misappropriation of computing power. It turned out that it was a great decision, and the industry followed suit, but slowly and without the same usability standards – hence the endless jokes in the 90s about Bill Gates ruining productivity. Over and over again, Apple placed what looked like insanely huge bets on usability, and over and over again, everyone else followed behind, but without the same standards, and slightly later.
The Inside Story: 5 Secrets To Pixar’s Success
Recently at Jump, I had the pleasure of interviewing Oren Jacob, the former chief technical officer of Pixar, in front of a small group of invited guests. Oren shared a number of fascinating stories of what went on behind the scenes at Pixar during his 20 years there.
During his tenure at Pixar, Jacob helped the company grow into one of America’s most successful companies (all 12 of Pixar’s full-length feature films to date have been blockbusters!). You need only spend five minutes with him to realize he embodies everything we have grown to love about Pixar movies. He speaks passionately, shares emotional stories that resonate with everyone, and yes, he is quite animated (even leaping off his stool to emphasize a point).
Two Foundations Take New Approaches to Arts Engagement
Many arts organizations have tracked fluctuations in attendance rates during the economic downturn. Two separate funding initiatives, the James Irvine Foundation and the Knight Foundation, seem to have responded by saying, “Yes, changes have occurred. Embrace them.”
Flash Theater LA
Jon Lawrence Riviera described the audience participation phenomena by saying: “At some point, we're going to come up to [the] theater [and] it's [going to be] just like how people decide on who's the winner for America's Got Talent. We're going to have keypads in each theater and we're all going to decide how the play's going to end. At intermission, you press [a button]. There is something about the culture where they want to have control over what happens and I feel like at some point there's going to probably be some lever that people decide - does [this character] die or live? They're going to decide, so that they have a say in what happens."
Where’s Your Share Button?
Social share buttons allow users to share relevant information with their friends and associates. Many businesses don’t always see the value of the share button, but it definitely helps. The social share button is not about joining the social media bandwagon; it’s about getting relevant information to a greater number of people.
The Five Levels of Audience Participation
Our murder mysteries are meant to be fun and entertaining, but this means different things to different people. Occasionally, I will get a concerned caller who is booking tickets that wants to know what audience participation means. Will they be forced up on stage? What if they just want to sit in a chair all evening? What if they want to get their friend up on stage to be involved? What if they want to “star” in the show? What does it all mean?
Social Media's Impending Flood of Customer Unlikes
There's an old saying that carries renewed meaning these days: Give the people what they want. Brands are furiously creating profiles in social networks such as Facebook and Twitter in the hopes of building engaging communities with customers and giving people what the brands think they want. The main activity in this effort is to spur consumers to "like" and "follow" a brand's Facebook and Twitter streams. But are these companies developing effective campaigns to build engagement and give the people what they want? From where I sit, I'd say many are not. If businesses are unable to change course, a very real — and likely very painful — lesson lies ahead. Once-willing consumers will soon become reluctant to connect with brands or will completely sever social ties to brands once they deem the connection fruitless.
To Charge or What to Charge?
The debate over museum entry fees was reignited following the news that both the Museum of Fine Arts (MFA) Boston and the Museum of Modern Art (MoMA) in New York—already the country’s most expensive museums to visit—were both raising their general entry fees, from $20 to $25. Earlier this year, the Metropolitan Museum of Art announced a hike in its suggested admission, also from $20 to $25. The Art Newspaper surveyed 30 of the nation’s leading museums and discovered an ideological split, with some focusing on revenue generation and others stressing the museum’s role as a community—and free—resource.
The Four Classic Ways to Recession-Proof Your Brand
A recent study by the National Retail Federation found that "consumers are still pessimistic about buying." The study blames the economy. Brilliant. But really, whose fault is the current state of the economy? The government? The banks? Wall Street? Consumers? Retailers? Manufacturers? We’ve all had a hand in it for sure, but until companies focus on real innovation and bringing customer empathy back to their brands, I fear the markets will continue to be flat. Consumers will spend their money only on the things they must and only with the brands that are engaging and communicating with them on an emotional level.
Hassle Maps: The Genesis Of Demand
The executives behind some of today's most successful products and services--think Steve Jobs, Jeff Bezos, and Michael Bloomberg--all share an ability to experience the world through the eyes and emotions of customers. They use themselves as starting points, asking "What do I hate about this product or process?" They catalog every frustration, time-wasting complication, and source of uncertainty. Once they have created a "hassle map," an inventory of every difficulty associated with every step in the process of buying, using, and discarding of their products, they work ruthlessly to eliminate or minimize each one. The end result? Products that people love and competitors can't copy.
Venues, Artists, and Social Media: You're doing it wrong
This may be tough to admit, but very few people come to see a show at your venue strictly because of the venue. While engaging in social media as the venue is necessary, it is incomplete as a social media strategy because it fails to leverage the most important (and socially relevant) element of the show: The artist.
Stop Blogging – Start Thinking
Chances are if you’ve attended any seminars in the last few years on leveraging new technology, social media, and the mighty power of the Internet, you’ve been told that you and your business must blog. Chances are, you’ve also been told just how easy it is to start a blog and that a monkey can do it. Throw up a page of some kind on any of the popular hosted blog platforms (WordPress, Tumbler, Posterous et. al.), or hire a broke youngster via some crowd-sourcing firm who’ll gladly hook you up with a self-hosted blog for a price of a cup of coffee a day, if only because where he happens to dwell, your money still has a ton of value.
Photo Credit: Robert Couse-Baker
To Raise Money, You Have to Appeal to People’s Emotions
The fact is, emotions rule. Emotion dominates our decision-making. Reason is just a bit player. Neurologist and author Donald B. Calne tells us, “The essential difference between emotion and reason is that emotion leads to action, while reason leads to conclusions.” Or, as psychiatrist Carl Gustav Jung said, “There can be no transforming . . . of apathy into movement without emotion.”