Advertising, Behaviour, Brands, Communications, Marketing

Information Gaps

It doesn’t happen often enough, but once in a while it’s nice to discover a new blog that keeps you interested. So if you haven’t been to Jeff Monday’s blog yet, Mondaydots you should. To summise, Jeff explains sometimes complex theories simply. Which is good for people like me, who have the attention span of a 4 year old.

One of his most recent posts is on information gaps.

In his words: “It works like this: when we come across something new that is not explained by our previous knowledge or experiences, an information gap is formed. If you are a designer, creator or communicator, understanding how to use this gap will have great rewards.

It amazes me how many new product developers, marketers, and advertisers create the wrong sized gap. They either create a “me too” product or service which creates an information gap that is too small and uninteresting. Or they let their engineers and creatives add wild, bloated, and unnecessary “features”, and create a huge information gap that inspires fear over the size of the gap and size of the of the learning curve”.

I love this because it’s so bloody true. I know I keep using Apple analogies here [sorry] but they are very good at introducing new technologies that create medium sized information gaps, the iPad being it’s latest example. It’s like a laptop but different. It’s like a netbook but different. It’s like a magazine but different. It’s like your Mac book or iPhone but again different in some way.

At the other end of the scale you have Microsoft creating information gaps that are too small with minor product iterations (Natal excluded) and Google are arguablly creating ones that are too big like Buzz and putting everything in the cloud [100% stolen/inspired by Wired]

Then there are those that create information that are so big you can’t compare it to anything.

Think of Internet service providers and telcos banging on about how many gigabytes I can get. Now I know 1 isn’t much and 150 is a hell of a lot more than 1, but what does that actually give me? How many movies can I download? How much talktime can I get on Skype?

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Brands, Marketing, Strategy

A challenger mentality – not just for the little guys

Will wrote a great post a few weeks back that amongst other things highlighted how Adam Morgan’s challenger theory from his book, Eating the Big Fish, is largely misunderstood. This week has shown that you don’t have to be the little guy to be a challenger, it’s all in your mentality and the way you behave – my case in point? Microsoft. It’s about time, but this week has seen them get some balls.

1 – Microsoft Office moves online

2 – Microsoft plan on opening retail stores nest to Apple

3 – Microsoft is voted UK’s number one consumer brand

4 – Bill Gates is producing some fighting talk

And then the ‘challenger’ doesn’t seem quite so David anymore

1 – Apple responds to Microsoft ads with legal action

2 – Apple blocks Palm Pre’s iTunes synchronisation

I like a good brand fight.

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I’m a PC and I have a soul….oh and a beard

Seeing as I started following the wiggle and the robot I feel like I should at least keep going, even if I am slow off the mark on getting to post about the ‘I’m a PC’ ads. But I actually thought this was a pretty smart move by Microsoft and genuinely liked where this went. I get this a bit more than the Gates and Seinfeld spots and whilst it wasn’t ground breaking, it does feel right.

It’s a thoughtful piece, not a revolutionary we are changing war cry. I like the fact Microsoft is standing its ground and reframing how people feel about it. It’s as if Microsoft hasn’t just made it OK to admit you use a PC, it actually gives you an air of substance and depth over a Mac user. They have been blinded by the lights, popular culture and slick designs where as the PC user has just got on with their meaningful existence and got great stuff done.

Apple has had it very easy over the last few years doing a number on Microsoft with very little response, so it’s good to see them add another chapter to the story.

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Seinfeld & Gates # 2 Introducing the robot

I still haven’t managed to work out where this is going but the fact that the robot has come out so soon after the wiggle is a good sign in my opinion – it means there is loads more context and super cool moves to come. It still feels like Microsoft are simply just trying to humanise the beast, that’s the company not Bill Gates and warming people up for a narrative with many strands. I kind of like the fact that the core strategy isn’t arguably visible yet and people should be wondering what the hell they are trying to do. I think a big obvious reveal would have been exactly that, obvious and expected. My money is on Gates dropping the moonwalk next.

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Seinfeld and Gates – is the wiggle just a sign of things to come?

Apart from Gates’ little booty shake at the end it didn’t really do much for me apart from humanise Microsoft a bit. I am however withholding judgment on this until I see how the story plays out. Let’s be honest it was never going bring back the love straight away. Anything too cool it would have been accused of emulating the Apple brand, anything too funny or confrontational it would have been accused of copying Apple’s ‘PC and Mac’ ads.

I think this is a long haul journey that’s not just about being a funny ad or undergoing a shiny makeover. It’s arguably one of the hardest, most complicated briefs in the world and isn’t just about a battle with Apple. I’m optimistic it’s going somewhere a bit more interesting and I can’t wait to see Gates putting a bit more oommph into it. The little tease. Softly, softly catchy monkey.

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