Tuesday, June 19

10 Things our Grandchildren will laugh at

I predict that in the in the year 2063 the following things will be found humorous by our grandchildren:

1. Wires
2. Coins
3. CD's
4. The Internet as a 'seperate thing' to the rest of your life
5. Facebook
6. Watches
7. Keys
8. Eyebrows
9. Petrol
10. LoveFilm  - The very idea that you would pay a monthly subscriptions to a service provider, and THEY would choose that kind of film THEY wanted you to see is mental. For example you might be in the mood for a Rom Com - WRONG "THE COMPUTER HAS SELECTED: THE KINGS SPEECH', or you might want to watch something with a bit of sustenance, WRONG "THE COMPUTER HAS SELECTED: THE HANGOVER PART 2'. It seems weird even today, that anyone would thing think that's a good idea, so, after year of trying to get round to it, we finally cancelled our subscription.

As a business model in 2012's multi touch, multi choice age, this seems preposterously outdated. Cancel your subscriptions now, before everyone laughs at you.

Or call 07738 175 614

Tuesday, May 15

In a 2012 Style

I'm not trying to be cool, but I don't even know what the Diamond Jubilee is, don't get me wrong I've got nothing against the Royal Family, if pushed I'd probably give them a 6 out of 10. I like Prince Charles, he appears alright, Harry's seems like a laugh, and Philip's is amazing, he seems to says all the right things at exactly the right moments.

Our relationship to the Royal Family through design is my issue here, I noticed this at the Royal Wedding betwixt the boring, balding brother and the girl who's sister won Rear of the Year, that, every single piece of marketing had a retro 50's style to it, from a street party paper cup in Tescos to a celebration biscuit tin in our local Garden Centre. 

The same thing is happening with the Jubilee, it's like as a generation we can't brand the Royals in a contempory style, we have to buck any current trends and hark back to Polaroid's of a golden age of street parties, loving our neighbours, and actual sunshine. Was it really so much better back then? What are we trying to achieve by never looking forward?

It's quite odd when you think about it. Will every major event in this prestigious families life be marked with 50's styled memorabilia? How do they feel about that? How will this affect the Antiques Roadshow in the future when every commemorative plate looks like it's from 1950 even if it was pressed in the year 4000? I guess that's what the experts are there for.

Consider the Olympics 2012 branding, here they created something contemporary, second guessing 2012 to develop a modern and dynamic mark. When you look at it now, it works perfectly as a piece of branding, created to work with sponsors, in a sponsor-lead environment. When it was released however it was so defiled, that The Sun hilariously got school children to design Olympic logos that looked like they were designed by school children. That's the face of modern design, and risk taking on a mass-market level today, ridicule. It's way safer to stick to something we know our auntie likes, rather than confuse her, and annoy the 'red tops'.

The bottom line is, it's frankly embarrassing that there is no such thing as a 2012 style, for designers living in these times, we've got nobody to blame but ourselves. It's ridiculous that even at a very commercial basic level like this there is no default design style which you can plaster on mass produced crap merchandise. 

Shame on me, shame on you other designers well done the 50's. 


Talk to Citizen about Branding, give drop me an email on ben@citizenstudios.co.uk, I'm actually not as grumpy as that post suggests.

Monday, April 16

Arrrrr Bisto, you patronising bastard

So the new Bisto advert wants us all to get together for one night a week, all sit at the table and eat 'proper' food, with a 'proper' gravy. Take a look below if you haven't seen it already.

Well guess what? Most people I know do that already, when they can, and Bisto is not 'proper' gravy, I've seen Karen make proper gravy, it's it's way too much effort, to bother with.

What really annoys me about this advert is its misguided attempt to make 'Britain better', by striking a simple concept into the homes of broken Britain. An idea so utterly inane it could only have come from a advertising executive, a concept so pointless and patronising that it comes out of nowhere, based on nothing but a whimsical notion of how much better life used to be, the idea that we'd all be happier if dad came home from work early and had dinner at the table.

Well fucking guess what, dad would dicking love to come home early and eat with his family, but he's busy earning the money for the morally engrossed gravy they're all busy eating. So don't make him feel bad for putting your shitty product on his own table, and not being there to enjoy it.

You know what Bisto, most people are sitting at the tables and eating 'proper' dinners, but if they're not, it probably, is because they've got something more important to do, it's because it's 2012, times are hard, people have to work when the work is and sometimes that's at tea time, so get off your high horse and stop preaching to England like you're some kind of moral compass for all families. Your a corporation that makes gravy, we don't need you to tell us what to do, we just need you to make some fucking gravy granules we can pour over our shitty teas.

Speak to Citizen about, not being patronising, gravy and swearing in blogs. Call to action of the year?

Or call 07738 175 614

Monday, April 9

The Ignorables

I've heard Pixar are making a new animation next year called 'The Ignorables', it's about a bunch of SMB's who have failed to grasp the basic concepts of Social Media, and who keep pumping out content so bland it makes them totally ignorable to their market.

It sounds really great, there's one company that doesn't even know that they're being ignored and continue to hammer their pointless message into the same pool of oblivious people, without ever recording how effective this is. It's like watching a bee smashing its face into the window over and over again as it tries to escape your house.

OK, assuming that you have 1000 followers on Twitter, this does not mean 1000 people are reading your message, it's just nothing like the case, although having said that my wife does treat her Twitter Stream like it's her email, and read everything that's on it every evening. (I've tried to tell her). It's impossible to say how many people are ignoring your messages but it's likely to be more than the people actually reading it. 

The same goes for Facebook, your Like count could be massive, but you don't know how many of those people have Unsubscribed to your posts. Let's be honest here, we've all followed a friends company, and then hid their feed once it started to get too busy. I know people have hidden the Citizen feed, once I posted a blog that mentioned a load of my friends, and none of them commented, but hey, I don't mind. There's not even a tear in my eye, it's just a bloody eye lash...

The big message of the Pixar movie is not to rest on your numbers, Social Media is no longer (it probably never was) a land grabbing numbers game. Nobody cares if you've got 10,000 Likes, you bought off FiveSquids, and out of the 20 real people in there, they all hid you, it means nothing to have 500 Followers on Twitter that ignore your Tweets. What you're looking for is small numbers of interested and relevant followers, focussed clusters of Likes from people relevant to your service that together give you a pool of real relevant contacts.

The Ignorables are making it harder for the rest of us, if they understood the importance of focus, there'd be more time, more focus and more clicks to go round for those who need and deserve them, and the people with really creative energy wouldn't have to shout to loud to get heard.

Or call 07738 175 614

Monday, April 2

Signature 'Penis Style'

Draw Something has breathed new life into what was a rapidly dying art form, that of the hand drawn penis.

Over the years we've all scribbled them into text books, scratched them into desks and drawn them on one another's foreheads, but in this new internet age, it's becoming increasingly hard to find a school boy with a decent signature 'Penis Style', and that's very sad.

Draw Something has over 10 million players generating 3000 drawings a second, and not all of them have cocks in them, (although I estimate 1 in every 3 has). The company behind the app are said to be making around $250k a day from the numerous revenue streams built into the game, and there's even a rumour it might be turned into a game show.

So how did Draw Something go from a standing start to a company that just sold for $200m? Yeah like I'm going to answer that, of course I have no idea, it's a combination of a brilliant idea and an excellent piece of design execution, but one of the unsung factors in it's success is it's Social Integration, in particular it's Facebook Log In.

Logging in via Facebook is a simple and effective way for new start ups to hit 1000's of potential users, it's being used increasingly and to magnificent effect, look at Pinterest, things can happen so quickly now that brands can tap in to new markets and the friends of those new markets, just by offering them the convenience of using their Facebook log in. It's great for both sides, the user doesn't have to bother inputting their details all over again, and the Brand gets instant exposure via your timeline.

Draw Something takes this one step further, and purposely misses out on key applications within the app, for example there's no function to chat to players, so I've played games where messages about the drawings have been sent through Facebook, as you're already logged in, it's no hassle. Brilliant thinking, and positively viral in the buzz that creates. There's plans to take this one step further, and with the next update you'll be able to share drawings onto your wall, so you can expect a swath of obscene drawings on your wall within the next few months.

The pace of the online industry is now so ferocious there's a new phenomenon every month, and keeping up is becoming as difficult as trying to figure out how to fit Pinterest into your life. Ideas will come and go, but don't lose sight of what's making all of this happen, and that's Facebook, it's becoming a launch pad for anything that's hip, and embedding itself in everyone's lives and the keystone to every new start up's launch strategy, it's turning itself into the Internet, and without it we might never have given our children a second chance to develop their own signature 'Penis Style'.

Or call 07738 175 614

Monday, March 26

Do you put your chocolate in the fridge?

Every Social Media book I've read this year is super keen to stress how important 'good content' is, and they all resist trying to explain what actually makes good content, in doing so they end up preaching to the converted, after all does anybody actually go out of their way to put bad content on their Social Media strategy?

In principal of course they're right. good content has to be the driving force behind all of your social media, successful engagement with your customers doesn't happen by bombarding them with product information, deals and idle boasts about how amazing you are, it comes from stories, in which customers can react, find themselves, and comment on.

Here's what I mean, I've got 2 Facebook accounts, my personal and my Citizen Page, comparing the numbers on this, I have over 700 Likes for Citizen and around 300 Friends on my personal account, but activity levels on my personal account exceed the Citizen page probably 10-fold. Here's an example;

Recently I posted a great logo I did for Colour Films, and managed to get about 2 'Likes' and no 2 comments out of it, now compare this to a question I asked about 'chocolate being refrigerated' that got over 20 comments and a bunch of 'Likes'. What this demonstrates is people don't care about how great you are, but they are comfortable engaging in something they've got an opinion on. If I'd have posted the logo with a question 'just created this, do you like it' it probably would have had more traction than just bragging about how good I thought it was.

Pretty basic stuff I know! Ask your audience question, that's Social Media 1.0, but what's interesting is how this demonstrates that it's essential for brands to appear human. People don't want to comment on or talk to a brand page that has no personality, that is all about the work, and that doesn't have the time to engage people in off topic and seemingly trivial subject matter. Why should they? There's nothing in it for them, people have more choices and less time than ever before, so don't cry if they don't give a shit how good your logo is and they'd much rather watch a monkey going backwards on a pig.

The creation of good content is a mystery, it can't be identified in a way you explain, it's about so many different factors. It's about responding to events, posting at the right time of day, reacting to arguments, being flippant, being reactionary, being stupid or opinionated and just not sounding like a made-up idea, of what you think your customers perceive as 'professional'.

Brand pages need to be about the people that run them, increasingly I'm considering just being my brand page, why should they be separate things? I 'am' what I do, and admittedly I'm not sure I want my customers to see all of the photos of me on Facebook, but more importantly, I do want my brand to be a living breathing thing, something with stories and something that people want to have in their lives. If you do this right it doesn't matter what your product or service is,, forget about selling all the time, make connections that people can carry with them, refer, develop and eventually use.

Now, I always put all my chocolate in the fridge, how about you?

Or call 07738 175 614

Monday, March 12

The future of retroism

You go up to any 15 year old interested in taking photos, and show them a few of your most treasured Instagram shots they'll probably tell you, you've got a shit camera. They have no reference point for the Instagram style, to them it just looks like you've taken it on a whack Nokia mobile phone, and they're laughing at you, then taking a photo of you in the kind of high resolution you used to be able to see in before you wore contacts. To them retroism is incredibly gay, they want photos so clear you can see the stitching on their oneseys, and it makes sense, the technology is there, why wouldn't they.

Let's be clear, I'm not attacking the app,  Instagram is by far my favourite app, it's amazing, and I'm not the only one who thinks so, since it's launch in 2010, it's already got over 27 million users worldwide. Personally, I love everything about it, the icon is amazing, the app functionality is life changing (bit much), and the filters on the photos are so great, I actually feel sorry for the people that have dedicated their lives to taking genuine Polaroid pictures that have a 'retro vibe' to them.

The secret of Instagram's appeal lies within our craving for nostalgia. This gateway from the present to the past gives us the fascinating ability to look at how our photos might have appeared if they came from a different generation, and we fall in love with them instantly, because that feeling of nostalgia is so potent that we have an instant emotional connection to it.

In 2012 the memories buried deep in our heads, only survive in yellowed, bordered, slightly blurred old photos, but they're reborn every time we publish a photo on our Instagram stream. As a proposition for Instagram it's untouchable, to be able to offer this human connection is something that supersedes the incredible technology behind the app and creates something beautiful.

What I find interesting is that, surely, this is only relevant to a generation that grew up in the non-digital photography era, to children of the 70's, to people that have seen and loved the references that these filters take inspiration from, so what happens to next for the app? How do they continue to be relevant and grow their market share from a constantly evolving and increasingly youthful market? How will they attract a generation who aren't interested in making their photos look 'shit'?

The challenge for Instagram is to encourage a new generation of users to embrace the style, and then inspire future generations to connect in the same way we have, pulling that strand of nostalgia back through the ages. It's a massive shift in the way people think, and a complicated strategy to pull off, so how are they going to do it?

Seriously, I have no idea, sorry if you were reading that hoping to find out, I was kind of hoping you might be able to shed some light on it, if not, let's sit back and see what happens.

Or call 07738 175 614