Scarlett of Suburbia

Field Notes from The Motherhood


May 2008

Marketing in the Nude

Why not use the power of social media to REALLY learn what people really think about your brand?

This handy little app called Brand Tag throws up logo and asks you to define it in one word.  It’s creator, Noah Brier, calls it an experiment in brand perception. Part rorschach test, part zeitgeist, this tool gives a manager the tag cloud of brand attributes that is, quite frankly, brutally honest (if you happen to be the poster child for horrible customer service). On the other hand, even halo brands like Whole Foods have a few ‘undesirable’ qualities (look at the size of the cloud around the phrase, “whole paycheck”).

Based on the tag cloud results, here are some other brands that could use an increase in their strategic brand spend this year:

Cannondale — definitely loved by a select few who can afford the pricey ride, it seems to suffer from some larger scale recognition issues that other luxury brands (Louis Vuitton, Bentley) don’t seem to have, although they each respectively have some other issues to deal with!

NBA — one of the most prevalent tags is Michael Jordan, who retired more than a decade ago!

Suburu — seems to be suffering a brand identity crisis between “rally / motorsport” and “lesbians”

BlueCross — when the words that leap out are: death, evil, rip-off and scam…it’s probably time to invest money in marketing.

Zappos — simply put, stands for shoes…for the 37 people who have heard of them (and love them like me!

Go play, add your brands and post your comments about which brand caught your attention (and why).

<Hat tip: Ken Burbary>


Your Web Site is Your Canvas

Ever thought about the interactive landscape in a literal sense?  Where the web site is more like a landscape painting you might see in a museum?

Check out UK electronica group Goldfrapp’s web site. Whether the home movie clips that play immediately are authentic or artificially created (much more likely the case), the fact that it takes up every pixel of the screen immediately grabs the visitors attention. The clips are terrible — deliberately so. The camera wobbles, the lighting is too dark, the film is overexposed at points, the screen is pixellating at points and the subject is self-absorbed in her own exploration. Which is precisely what makes it so watchable.

The navigation information is pushed to the bottom or upper left corner, leaving a clean, unobtrusive viewing experience. Goldfrapp, centered at the bottom of the frame looks more like a signature, reminding me of a true canvas brought to life with interactive components: video, color, music, text, and so on.

The site eloquently exemplifies the philosophy of Jakob Nielsen (another Brit and web design legend in my book, although not all share my opinion):  all designs work in three main ways: visceral, behavioral and reflective.  The visceral level is the way the site looks.  You can love it or hate it, but either reaction means the design is working.  On the behavioral level — actual use — the site also scores pretty well. Information is straight-forward and easy-to-find.  As for the reflective level — what does it say about the brand (or in this case the band)?

Speaking of indie bands & web sites, check out the artists on the Ghostly label. If you are a design geek like me, there is a marvelous variety of web site landscape inspiration.  And the music is great too.

<Hat tip to my buddy, Dan Sicko for the info on this hot indie label.>

What Happens in Vegas…

I’ve been awake since Wednesday chasing 65-year old divorced Grandmas around Las Vegas casinos.

Odd as that sounds, it’s part of an original approach to understanding consumer behavior.  I’m working through a fascinating experience called Camp Organic as both observer and participant in the surreal surroundings of Las Vegas.  Exceptional experiences are grounded in understanding the decision-making process and psychological baggage each of us has acquired through our lifetime.  Camp Organic is a a three-day ethnographic exercise to help people truly understand and experience customer empathy firsthand.  Will post more on the process and debrief after I’ve completed them later on today.

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