Stay classy – taking the higher road in brand & reputation building

stayclassyapple

When news reports of Samsung Note 7 devices exploding started landing, some competitor brands had a field day trying to troll Samsung.

This is, of course, nothing new in the highly competitive mobile devices industry. In fact, Samsung has been guilty of doing the same to its idol competitor.

Now, what did Apple do or say to Samsung?

Nothing.

That’s right – zip, zilch, zero… nada.

Apple said nothing; instead, it maintained the high road and didn’t kick its competitor while they were down (or attempt to take revenge for the many trolling incidences in the past). After all, the issue was a serious one – explosions are no small things and any injury to a consumer is one too many. What if a device had exploded in the hands of a child?

Then, I read today that an Apple iPhone 7 has “exploded”.

While investigations into the incident are ongoing, the news cycle has, well, exploded. Reading through the coverage, however, there isn’t much cynicism directed towards Apple (although, there’s plenty to go around in mobile devices sector especially in regards to one brand copying another).

Can you imagine how the news cycle and public backlash might be like if Apple had trolled Samsung during the exploding Note 7 fiasco, though?

Remember: Stay classy.

You never know when karma might come back to bite you in the ass.

Obsolescence Makes VCR Manufacturers Press Stop

The news that the world’s last manufacturer of Videocassette Recorders (“VCR”) will manufacture its last VCR has gone around the world. 40 years after the first VHS video cassette recorder was manufactured, Japanese consumer electronics company Funai Electric – the last known company making the devices – is ceasing production of its VCR products. The company cited declining sales and difficulty in obtaining the necessary parts as reasons to cease production. At its peak, the company sold 15 million VCRs per year, which has since dwindled down to 750,000 units in 2015 (Frankly, still an astonishing number! Who knew that three-quarters of a million people still bought brand new VCRs?!).

The news caught my attention for a couple of reasons.

Recorded Nostalgia

First of all, I was hit by a wave of nostalgia. When I was growing up, we had limited screen time (television, not tablet). My mother would record our TV shows during the week and we’d watch them during the weekend; after homework and revision, of course. Or that time when my friends discussed the first time they saw what was on the tapes dad had hidden away. 😉

I also remembered the “accessories” industry that sprouted around the VCR and VHS tapes. Who didn’t have some sort of VHS tape rewinder placed near their TV stand?

Remember these?!

Fast Forward To The End

Secondly, I was impacted by the fact that obsolescence has claimed yet another victim. Very specifically, it reminded me about the following clip from the movie, Other People’s Money, starring Danny Devito.

The bit when “Larry the Liquidator”, talked about obsolescence with the example of “the last company around […] that made the best goddamn buggy whip you ever saw” is especially powerful for me.

This company is dead.

I didn’t kill it. Don’t blame me.

It was dead when I got here. […]

You know why?

Fiber optics. New technologies. Obsolescence.

We’re dead, all right. We’re just not broke.

And do you know the surest way to go broke?

Keep getting an increasing share of a shrinking market. Down the tubes. Slow but sure.

You know, at one time there must have been dozens of companies making buggy whips. And I’ll bet the last company around was the one that made the best goddamn buggy whip you ever saw.

I turn to this scene time and time again whenever I think about my career or the brands I am working with (see: “Brands Will Last Forever… Right?” and “A truly innovative agenda and prepping for jobs that do not yet exist“).

Sometimes, it’s not just about product excellence or an endearing (even enduring) brand. Or, if you think about it from a career perspective – it’s not about your productivity or your personality.

It’s about whether you can successfully adapt to defend your place in this world.

Or, as General Eric Shinseki, former U.S. Army Chief of Staff puts it: “If you don’t like change, you’re going to like irrelevance even less.”

News sources:

Shell We Move? – Suumo

Image Credit: Suumo

This was making its rounds on social media – clearly, as a testament to the viral nature of project.

Suumo is the biggest real estate information agent in Japan. Suumo was looking to build brand leadership when its agency HAKUHODO Kettle Tokyo challenged the company to meet the needs of a very unusual customer – the hermit crab.

The resulting initiative was called, “Shell We Move?

The initiative was a collaborative between Suumo and Tokyo University of Marine Science and Technology to develop the perfect house for hermit crabs; especially since suitable seashells for hermit crab use were dwindling in Japan due to environmental degradation. The resulting solution was not only effective for the brand (increased purchase intention for the brand to 120%), it was also a useful and impactful, environmentally-friendly solution.

The alignment to the brand proposition was perfect – hermit crabs are famous for being the “masters of living,” who keep seeking the comfortable houses throughout their entire lives. Suumo was then poised to provide new comfortable houses for some of the most challenging customers in the world – and even turn them into unwitting brand advocates.

A short version of the case study (in English) can be viewed here:

A more comprehensive video case study (in Japanese, with English subtitles) is available here:

 

[Quote] The Brand Is Everything… – WildCATS 3.0

WildCATS-TheBrandIsEverything

As a comic-book fan, I never thought I’d take away a business lesson from comics – but here you go!

This came from WildCATS 3.0 issue 1, written by Joe Casey:

The brand is everything. It is both the information we want to communicate to the world and the information we communicate despite ourselves.

Love it!

(For a good analysis on the Casey’s under-appreciated run on WildCATS, read this: WildCATS 3.0: A Look Back at a Comic Too Far Ahead of Its Time)

 

The Shell Eco-Marathon Asia 2016

Shell Eco Marathon 2016

I just came back from my favorite initiatives Shell has when it comes to engaging young people for the future of energy: The Shell Eco-Marathon. This is my second tour of duty for the Eco-Marathon – a unique race about going farther, not the fastest; using the least amount of fuel.

Held in Manila from 3-6 March 2016,  over 100 student teams from 16 countries across Asia, Middle East and Africa, in the Philippines, from 3-6 March 2016, at a specially designed street circuit on the city streets of Manila.

It’s a truly unique and inspiring event – I’ve met some of the most passionate and intelligent young people Asia has to offer when it comes to science, engineering, innovation and technology as they stretch the boundaries of fuel efficiency in a real world urban environment.

I was especially impressed by Team UiTM Eco-Planet, who emerged as champions of the UrbanConcept Hydrogen Fuel Cell category for the third time in a row. This year, they debuted a 3-D printed car that was assembled from 120 individually-printed parts, with each part taking approximately 10 hours to complete. They told me they only had a small, office-sized 3-D printer, which meant that they spent over 1,200 hours printing the individual parts which was later assembled together when they arrived in Manila!

The other fun bit about the Shell Eco-marathon is the Energy Zone, which allows visitors to experience activities and games that explore the future of energy, cities and sustainability.

 

It was a really fun time in the Philippines, this year. I was very proud of our Malaysian students who swept four top awards – congrats to Team UiTM Eco-Sprint and Team UiTM Eco-Planet from Universiti Teknologi MARA (“UiTM”) Shah Alam; Team Eco-Voyager from Universiti Malaya; and Team Eco-Chaser from Monash University Malaysia!

I often say, when it comes to marketing and communications, it’s better to do “more showing, less telling.” Hence, I really think this initiative showcases Shell at its very best – especially when it comes to inspiring hope and challenging minds about the future of energy and mobility. I look forward to the next iteration of the Eco-Marathon in the next year!

More pics available here.

More info: