Archive for November, 2010
We truly are sheep, just following each other from one pasture to the next. Someone told us all that content is king and we need to write to establish ourselves as thought-leaders. And the more we write, the more we will be rewarded by Google in its organic search placements. After all, Google rewards sites that generate lots and lots of relevant content. We all bought it. And we all thought, “Heck, I can write.” So we got busy, excited that we now have this opportunity to share our great untapped wisdom with the world. We blog and we post. We update and we tweet. But there are some things that really have to be said.
We can’t ALL be thought-leaders!
To be a leader, you need followers, and in this context, that means readers. And with the millions of blogs and newsletters and Twitter posts, it would take a hundred years for one person to read what has been posted in a single day.
Everyone should NOT write!
Just because everyone can write, doesn’t mean everyone should write. We can all sing, but not everyone should sing. We may all dance, but not everyone should dance. And so it goes for writing. If you can’t write a complete sentence, form a coherent thought, spell—or at the very least, use spell check—then you really need to stop. You will be doing your brand more harm than good.
We do NOT all have something interesting to say!
Blabbing on and on does not prove that you are thoughtful. What’s going on today online reminds me of Steve Martin’s quote from the movie Planes, Trains and Automobiles. Admonishing John Candy’s character for his incessent talking, he says, ”When you’re telling these little stories? Here’s a good idea – have a point. It makes it so much more interesting for the listener!”
Not all Websites SHOULD be found!
You’ve bought into the SEO mindset. You’ve generated more content than any person could read in a lifetime, all appropriately keyworded to maximize search results. You’ve loaded up your site with so much information, you need a room full of servers to host it. You’re getting lots of hits on your Website. But then what? What happens when they get there? Are you communicating clearly and simply who you are and what you do?
In today’s world, it doesn’t seem to matter so much what you say, as long as you say a lot. What company’s truly need is clear, concise communication. Whether blogging, posting, or generating content for your Website, keep in mind the advice of Wilma Roby when she said, “An essay should be like a miniskirt: long enough to cover the subject, short enough to be interesting.”
Now, If I could only be sure someone would read this. Maybe I should go back and insert a few more keywords.
While visiting family recently, I brought up the story about the new Gap logo debacle. (In case you haven’t heard, the Gap recently presented a new logo on their website that was, to be kind, very poorly received. In a failed attempt to recover from this, Gap then announced a contest to design a new logo. It was open to all, and didn’t offer any monetary compensation. During our conversation, I was taken aback by one comment in particular — Why do they need a new logo, we all know who they are and what they’re about anyway? I responded as best I could at the time, but for some reason, the question kept gnawing at me.
The Gap may have had a perfectly good reason. I don’t know the specifics. But its decision raises a very good question. Why should a company — particularly one that is well-known, enjoys a good reputation, and continues to offer the same kinds of goods or services — look to change their logo or even their entire brand, even if the logo is not outdated and is still representative of the company’s direction?
There are several good reasons why would a company might change its logo, even if things seem to be moving along nicely. On a practical level, the logo may not work well across mediums. This can be particularly true if the logo was developed before the advent of the web and mobile applications.
Internally, a new logo and brand can reinvigorate and add cohesion to a company’s workforce that has grown complacent. It can also reinforce the principal that everyone is working for the betterment of the company — not their department or group.
Externally, a new logo can reintroduce a company to its customer base. It can announce to the world that it is not standing still, but rather, it is a vital, forward-looking organization.
Companies with ideas of being acquired may want to polish up their look to be more attractive to investors, since a brand says a lot about what an organization is, what it stands for, and how professional and organized it is.
The ramifications of changing a logo should be considered long and hard before any decision is made. It doesn’t seem that the Gap did that, because if they had, I don’t think they would have changed course and ultimately reversed their decision as quickly as they did.
Amazon has stirred up quite the controversy. Some is the result of the world we live in. But much of it is its own doing. Amazon’s online bookstore was selling copies of the book “The Pedophile’s Guide to Love and Pleasure”. When someone posted a blog asking how they could do such a thing, their response was:
“Amazon believes it is censorship not to sell certain books simply because we or others believe their message is objectionable. Amazon does not support or promote hatred or criminal acts, however, we do support the right of every individual to make their own purchasing decisions.”
Let’s admit that it is seems harder today than it has ever been to determine morals and right from wrong. And it must be harder still for to determine what pieces of literature are acceptable and which should be censored. After all, some of the greatest literature ever written has been banned at one time or another.
But let’s also admit that certain things smell, well, let’s say odious enough to know that they aren’t acceptable. Period.
And speaking of smelling bad, Amazon’s stated high principles smell to high heaven. After all, Amazon was accused last year of removing books with gay and lesbian themes. They didn’t seem to have a problem then of censoring materials. That is, until boycotts were threatened. It didn’t take long for the books to reappear. Amazon blamed a cataloging error for that one.
Second, it’s funny how their belief in the right of people making their own purchasing decisions vanished when it became apparent that those purchasing decisions weren’t going to include Amazon.
Let’s not be fooled — principles were never involved in either of these cases. Money was. And we understand that because Amazon is a business. And in a business like Amazon’s, this can be hard to do when you’re bound to make some group unhappy depending on what you do or don’t do.
But a business, and a brand, needs to be built on a set of principles and actions that people can believe and trust. Anything less makes you look like a greedy liar.
So how Amazon get out of its mess? It doesn’t. It would have been smarter to avoid it by learning their lesson last year and establishing a policy on what books it will or won’t include on its shelves, and how those decisions are made. And then posting it clearly on their site. I checked out their site today, and there wasn’t a hint of it on their home page.
As for me, at the very least, my Kindle is going to be placed on a shelf for a good, long while. I might even exercise my right to make my own purchasing decisions — elsewhere.