Tuesday, April 7, 2009

Target's seven steps to innovation - a roadmap for any brand's success.

The seven steps to innovation practiced by Target Corp. could be put to use very effectively by just about any brand or organization seeking excellence, growth, relevance and resonance with its audience...

1. Observation. Keeps you close to the source and helps accurately identify the white space that exists in the market - the problems people want solutions to, but may not even know it yet.

2. Imagination. The unique ability of the human mind and spirit to envision possibilities as yet unimagined and unrealized. Imagination is an intuitive process that generates ideas.

3. Creativity. Using originality to defy habit; defying convention to achieve greatness. Creativity channels imagination and begins to propel ideas on their road to realization. This one is not as easy as it looks. Everyone thinks they're creative, but few really can step outside the box of convention. 

4. Great design. Here's where Target stands head and shoulders above the other mass merchandisers. Great design has inherent beauty, but it also delivers a fun experience and must always be functional. it's the practical side of innovation as well as the aesthetic.

5. Simplicity. The challenge of innovation is to approach highly complex problems in the simplest fashion. Not every innovation requires a radical paradigm shift; big leaps have come from very simple ideas. Further to this point - think about it - few of the things that have become timeless - cultural icons, works of art, architecture, etc. - are complex. That's why my approach to advertising creative has always been - the simpler the better. And why Mr. Ogilvy said "K.I.S.S."

6. Speed. Businesses must be able to turn on a dime, like never before, to react to ever-changing market trends. Consumers - they are a demanding bunch. They know what they want. They want it now.

7. Collaboration. Innovation is a team sport. One person might have a brilliant idea, but it takes a whole team to distill and execute it. Collaboration is the process that distills wild ideas into marketable innovations.

Thanks to Michael Alexin of Target and Biz941 magazine for featuring this in their April issue.

Monday, April 6, 2009

I expect much better from Nissan

Remember when Nissan was a real innovator? When their TV ads for cars like the 350ZX and Maxima made your pulse quicken? When their launch of the new jelly bean-shaped Altima back in the mid-nineties was the envy of the industry? Well if you do, this will make you quite nauseous indeed.

As reported in the NY Times 4/5/09, with the auto industry on its ass, Nissan's apparent solution to excite the young car buying public is a new box called the Cube. I refer to this car as a new box because it has been, no doubt, inspired by Scion's original box, the xB. Back to the Cube, the marketing geniuses At Nissan have chosen to forego the "car" label and call it a "mobile device." Borrowing all kinds of terms from Web 2.0 - type technology, the folks at Nissan have apparently lost track of the simple fact this is a car. I seriously doubt if anyone will want to risk attaining "dork of the year" status by actually referring to the thing as a "mobile device." Can you imagine any self-respecting, iPod-toting twenty-something saying, "come on gang, let's all pile into my mobile device!" Okay, maybe George, our IT guy, but he's actually just a myth, and therefore will not be purchasing a car anytime soon.

Sorry Nissan, you're just playing catch up ball here, and all that Web 2.0, "let's appeal to the young folks" gimmickry  is not going to sell a single box - sorry, Cube!

What marketing sins have Nissan committed here? Borrowing technology terms to advertise a car and a shocking lack of originality in the name of the thing are just the beginning. And have you noticed what this thing looks like? What dorks.

Sunday, April 5, 2009

Now you can follow this S.O.B.

If you want to follow Smith On Branding, just click on the little Follower Gadget in the upper right of the blog. It's fun, and might just be good for your reputation.

Computer screens surpass radio as second most common media activity.

Here's a media quicky - the average American is exposed to 61 minutes of TV ads and promotions a day. Some may think that amount seems excessive. Others, like me, would say it falls short. Adults are exposed to screens - TVs, cell phones, GPS devices, for about 8.5 hours on any given day, according to a study released by the Council for Research Excellence, an entity created by Nielsen Company.

A couple of findings that won't be very surprising - TV is still the dominant medium for both media consumption and advertising, and computer screens have now surpassed radio to take over the number two spot. Print media ranks fourth.