Does your Brand past the touch test?

I was talking to someone the other day about the concept of brand. He is near the beginning of his career in a technology business and I was trying to explain how a brand is the promise of performance and is about so much more than just a name or a logo.

This meant that the work that he would do on a business’s systems, though nothing in this case to do with their identity or communications, would still play a part in establishing that brand through the experiences people would have.

To help him visualise the concept I asked him what he thought of when he heard the name “Volkswagen“. He said all the things you would think – reliable, solid, well engineered etc. I then asked him what would be the first thing he would do if he sat in a VW car in a showroom. His answer was “I would touch the dashboard plastics to get the reassurance that the build quality was what I expected”. In other words how did the plastics feel.

But if the plastics didn’t pass this “touch test” would this effect his perception of the car and VW? Absolutely he replied. Enough to potentially leave the showroom? Absolutely.

So here is an intelligent, logical and technical individual saying that his perception of the VW brand would be materially effected by whether a piece of plastic that cost a few pounds was of sufficient quality to pass his “touch test” expectations.

A reminder that a brand is made up of a huge collection of, often, small experiences, all of which have to add up to that promise of performance and pass our own “touch tests” everyday.

Does your brand pass the touch test?

Spotify – mixer tapes made easy

Last Friday I spotted a tweet by Sally Whittle about a Spotify playlist she had created. I fancied some music to fill my afternoon and I was curious to see if I could get this whole sharing playlist thingamajig to work. Well I did and its brilliant! And Sally’s playlist was tops too :-) So I had a try myself and it was great fun. Sally has subsequently started a playlist meme and this has been continued by Jed.

Following my post last week about Twitter being fan mail for the 21st century this got me thinking how much easier creating this playlist and sharing it was than when I was a teenager.

Creating mixer tapes was an art and one that took a lot of time and effort. Every track had to be recorded from source (records in the main for me!) to the tape. So creating a 20 track playlist like mine cost money (the tape) and took around three to four hours allowing time for selection and recording. Remember you had to work out the order first, no ability to just move things around on a screen. Oh and I also had to own all the music!

Whereas on Friday it took me about 10 minutes and cost me nothing and I had the entire Spotify catalogue to choose from. True a few of the tracks I thought of using weren’t there but given that new ones are being added all the time this will get better and better I suspect.

I once had to create a five hour series of tapes for an 18th birthday party for a friend of mine. Took me an entire day. Would have taken about an hour I reckon on Spotify!

I realise that this isn’t really new in that the ability to create playlists from digital content speeded up the process a long time ago and that if you aren’t too worried about the legal issues you don’t need to “own” all the content. However the key differences with Spotify are first of all it is legal and second it is the ability to share your playlists so easily and so widely.

However the slight downside of this is that making a tape back in the day was such an investment of time it was a way of demonstrating how you felt about that special someone :-) Plus it couldn’t be shared very easily – yes you could copy it but it took time – so it was likely to remain personal to them. Post Spotify I suppose there is a danger that creating such playlists is now no different to a quick visit to the petrol station to buy a bunch of flowers when you’ve forgetten someone’s birthday!

Anyway it’s still bloomin’ great and though I haven’t been formally tagged in this meme I am going to be cheeky and join in so I tag Stephen, Mat and Shannon. Look forward to a lot of great tunes.

2009 – Client charity offer and webitpr becomes RealWire!

Time for that Christmas blog post. Some have analysed the PR industry’s prospects, others have considered trends in social media and some have produced excellent video cards, twitter page or facebook spoofs.

At webitpr we have been so busy with service and other developments that we haven’t had time to do anything quite as lengthy or creative. We have though made a commitment to send up to 10 releases for free each month next year for charities that our clients are involved in. As a treasurer of a local charity myself I think 2009 will be particularly challenging for these organisations and so we thought if people can’t help as easily with cash then perhaps we can give some time. Any client of ours who would like to take advantage of this offer just let us know.

Our other news for 2009 is that we will no longer be called webitpr. From the 2nd January 2009 we are changing the company name to Realwire Limited. Our service has gone by this name for nearly a year now and the company name change is being done in response to feedback from our clients to better reflect who we are and what we do – a real group of people helping them to get value from a wire service.

Nothing else is changing just our name – same owners, same team and same service.

I may find time to sneak away and write a few posts during the break, but in the meantime have a great festive period one and all.

Best Christmas song ever IMHO!

13 million readers and counting

No that isn’t my RSS subscriber figure :-) today is Blog Action Day and if I can post this in the next few minutes I will just get in under the wire. With over 12,000 blogs with far more readers than I – 13 million currently according to the site – having already posted some very in depth posts I thought I would just do a little research on the relative frequency of certain related terms in Google. I think the results tell a brief story about how much attention poverty is given.

A search for “poverty” in Google finds 60 million results. Sounds a lot until you compare it to the following:

money” – 950 million
credit” – 723 million
debt” – 149 million

Of course some of these references will be using the words in other contexts e.g. “it is to his credit”, but these results arguably still reflect the world’s priorities.

But perhaps there is some hope for us yet as a search for “greed” only finds 19 million results – so at least poverty has got that one beaten?

One down…but 3W to go!

Before I dive into the wonderful world of numbers I need to extend a thank you to someone. Today sees the end of something great and the beginning of something better. As has already been announced Stephen Davies, aka PRBlogger, is leaving webitpr to setup his own online communications agency 3W PR and I can honestly say I have never been so happy to see a member of the team leave. :) As Stephen himself has already said I have been excited about him doing this since he first mentioned it to me and I think it is great news for the North East business community that someone of his depth of understanding in this area is looking to invest in the Region.

Since our very flukey meeting in April 2007 we have been through a lot together. We have debated and discussed many topics both work and non work related at length. He has been a fantastic provider of insight and guidance to me and the company at large in our embracing of the Social Media News Release, our blog outreach and our general Web2.0 awareness. Including a rather amusing day making a video. He has played a key part in our recent double award winning achievements which has seen us named North East Digital Innovator of the Year and Lincolnshire’s Most Innovative Business.

We don’t see this as him leaving us though just changing the nature of our relationship. webitpr is very much a “family” and employment status is not a prerequisite for membership of that family and as his launch client, Stephen is most definitely still going to be part of it.

We wish him all the luck in the world. In a few years Stephen I am expecting the North East to be talking about you in the same breath as this guy! :)