Courtesy of gapingvoid.com
As I trawl through my RSS feeds this week, the following posts caught my eye.
The first is this fascinating titbit in Branding Strategy Insider which noted how Chinese adopting Western names are using more unique monikers to make themselves stand out from the usual Toms, Dicks and Sallys. They include a young lady who calls herself Vanilla Wang, an artist working on wood-block prints who is renamed Colour Zhao, and a Beijing video editor called Thunder Wang. The rationale behind this is to give greater significance to their names and to also make themselves more easily remembered from the seas of Johns and Janes – a legacy of the traditional Chinese emphasis of according meanings to names.
I suppose this is a case of globalisation carried to extremes, infusing cultural practices in the East with the naming conventions of the West!
Hugh MacLeod, highly successful cartoonist of the Gaping Void blog, highlighted the significance of Social Objects and how these can be leveraged on successfully. He wrote about Jyri Engstrom’s (Jaiku’s founder) five principles of social objects, and how these apply to his business:
1. You should be able to define the social object that your service is built around. These should then have a unique URL or other forms of reference that can be linked to or tagged with.
2. Define your verbs that your users perform on the objects. For instance, eBay has buy and sell buttons. It’s clear what the site is for.
3. How can people share the objects? Make it easy for them to distribute to their friends in turn.
4. Turn invitations into gifts. Things that motivate viral behaviours are normally those that provide some value to their receivers.
5. Charge the publishers, not the spectators. Much of the virtual world gaming model centres on charging advertisers with “products” or “services” available for purchase, as opposed to gamers.
Through these principles, the creation of social objects – be they cartoons, widgets, applications, designs, photographs, videos and so on – can be monetised by their originators and leveraged on by corporations to reach their end consumers. This is a possible win-win arrangement for developers of intellectual content on social media platforms. Great content alone isn’t enough unless it encourages sociability.
Church of the Customer shares an interesting piece on Twittering for customer service. A distressed Jackie Huba had her tweets answered by an AT&T representative – the company appeared to a better service provider online than on the phone apparently. In her own words,
“Twitter is the killer app for customer service. Companies can discover aggravating service problems by using a variety of tools to listen on tweets mentioning their name. A response can be nearly immediate.”
This could be good advice for anybody keen to increase their customer service standards and making themselves more accessible, 24 by 7, through a variety of channels. Apparently, AT&T has 23 social media channels on blogs, Facebook, Twitter, Flickr, Posterous and so on!
Finally, drawing from the Japanese and Chinese art of ink and wash painting, Garr Reynolds of Presentation Zen shared that sometimes using too many colours could be distracting in presentation slides. Drawing on lessons from the monochromatic art of Sumi-e (Japanese brush painting), he wrote that “much is expressed through a combination of empty space and monochromatic strokes that range from the extremely light gray to black”. The 8 lessons in design from Sumi-e which bears remembering are as follows:
1) More can be expressed with less.
2) Never use more (colour) when less will do.
3) Omit useless details to expose the essence.
4) Careful use of light-dark is important for creating clarity and contrast.
5) Use color with a clear purpose and informed intention.
6) Clear contrast, visual suggestion, and subtlety can exist harmoniously in one composition.
7) In all things: balance, clarity, harmony, simplicity.
8) What looks easy is hard (but worth it).
What a refreshing lesson in advertising aesthetics and design! Often, by trying to be all things to all men, we may end up with too much clutter that does nothing for our potential customers.