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Thursday, September 30, 2004

BrandCameo Spots Star Products
Will Coke get a star on the Hollywood Walk Of Fame?

I may be one of the few people that actually likes product placement in movies... Provided it's done WELL.

In my opinion, intelligent product placement can tell you more about the character and even help move the story forward -- but to work well, it should be *almost* invisible.

A character with an addiction to a daily dose of caffeine can easily turn into a taste for a Starbucks Double-Shot or RedBull. A rowdy college student who guzzles beer and then crushes the cans -- can just as easily crush a Budweiser can as a Coors Light can (although my favorite would be a Guinness!)

Of course, I like the stories best that actually incorporate a brand into a major plot point. When Tom Hanks was stranded on that island talking to a volleyball, we all knew he worked for FedEx.

With the rise of Tivo and other digital recorders, watch for brand integration to play an even more prominent role in television shows. They already use it to great (and less than great) effect in reality shows -- challenges featuring Mattel toys on The Apprentice, contests on Survivor where winners get Doritos and Mountain Dew, etc.

The Future: Television Meets Blogging
With the ability to instantly link to other sites and brands through hyperlinks, this entire blog entry was riddled with affiliate links in the context of the copy -- it's been a mass example of mass consumerism.

Interactive television will build on the concept of product placement and turn viewers into consumers with the ability instantly gratify their need for their favorit television star's apparel, cellphone, or choice of snack food. Combine it with a Dominos Pizza delivery mentality, and you could literally have the products delivered to your door in 30-minutes -- before the tv show ends!

Want to see more examples of brand integration on film?
Visit BrandChannel.com's newest feature BrandCameo.
NOTE: I use a Compaq computer, drink Diet Pepsi, have a Verizon cellphone and a Palm Zire. If anyone out there is in need of a little product placement of their own inside the BrainBlog -- all you gotta do is ask.

I'm sure we can reach a profitable agreement for both of us! ;)

Wednesday, September 29, 2004

Realizing the Value of Ideas
Another agency (finally) "gets it."
The Tom Peters website sports a "Cool People" section, wherein Tom and staff interview a pop business-culture celebrity. This time it's Kevin Roberts, author of Lovemarks: The Future Beyond Branding and CEO of advertising agency Saatchi & Saatchi (now touted as an 'Ideas Company').

Here's an excerpt from near the end of the interview.
Tom Peters: So you're way beyond acting just like an ad agency.

Kevin Roberts: Ahh, there's no future in that. Our dream is to be the hottest idea shop on the planet. I'm more excited about talking to you than I was hosting Squawk Box at CNBC recently. Talking to you guys is more exciting because you're at the ideas edge of the business. It's much more important to me that guys like you are talking about us than Time or the Wall Street Journal or BusinessWeek, and all that rubbish.

TP: How do you energize Saatchi & Saatchi to become the premier idea shop on the planet?

KR: We purchased them six years ago. We started off with a dream, which is to be revered as the hothouse of the world-changing idea. We changed our name from "ad agency" to "ideas company." Our focus is to create and perpetuate lovemarks. Our spirit is, "Nothing is impossible." We hire anthropologists, sociologists, misfits, authors, writers, creative people. And we've changed our compensation structure so we don't get paid fees or commissions; we get paid as a percent of sales. So we go to P&G because we handled $2 billion worth of Proctor business. We changed our whole compensation structure. You're not going to pay
me like an accountant or a lawyer, for time. You're not going to pay me a commission. It's really simple, man: I want a royalty on everything you sell.

TP: So then you see that as basically getting paid for ideas.

KR: Absolutely!

Getting paid for ideas... Wow, what a concept.
Saatchi & Saatchi are on the razor's edge of change -- NOT!

Joey Reiman (author of Thinking For A Living) sold his $100 million ad agency and founded BrightHouse in June 1995 as the world's first "Ideation Corporation."

And let's not forget Doug Hall, my fellow Ohio resident and author of Jumpstart Your Business Brain and Meaningful Marketing. Doug was Procter and Gamble's former Master Marketing Inventor. He left P&G in 1986 to start Richard Saunders International and the Eureka! Team (and later the Eureka! Ranch) a company solely dedicated to consulting and inventing ideas for licensing.

PLUS, all the independent "idea guys and gals" who've made creativity their stock and trade. I've personally been busting ass on this paradigm for over 10 years.

While it's always exciting to welcome a new member to the "getting paid for ideas" club, let's not forget there were others here first. And really, do you want to hire the people who were the first to see the light, or those who've been standing around in the dark all this time?

"He who laughs last -- probably didn't get the joke."

Tuesday, September 28, 2004

Mass Customerzation
Customizing a Customer's Consumer Products
I don't think it's an accident that the words Customize and Customer are so similar. Ten (or more) years ago, when the first digital printing presses were rolled out, I felt this was the direction EVERYTHING would go -- personalized products, printed and manufactured on-demand.

As time goes on, I begin to realize that I'd barely scratched the surface of possibilities.

Everyday new businesses offer completely custom 'one-off' products that are truly made to order. I've collected some links to old favorites, as well as some fun new stuff, below. If I've omitted any of your favorites, please add them to the comments section at the bottom of this blog entry.

I Blog, therefore I am
The ultimate on-demand website. You can be up and running within minutes, spreading your opinions and ideas through your own virtual soapbox. There are many blog sites from which to choose, but TypePad and Blogger are at the top of the list.

One-Man Company Store
CafePress has been offering custom stores that individuals can setup to sell hundreds of items, or just ONE of any number of completely custom imprinted products. This past year, CafePress began offerings BOOKS and CDs among the dozens of other items available in their online stores.

MYscream Cones
eCreamery was featured in yesterday's entry. Just read below for more info on this company that offers completely custom blended frozen treats.

These things just won't go away. People LOVE them. How about a custom-created bobblehead? Whoopassenterprises.com offers this service. You choose from standard bodies, but the head is custom sculpted from a photographic reference.

Museum art prints
Is your child the next Monet? Van Gogh? Does your fridge not do the little Rembrandt's work justice? How about getting your kid's artwork reproduced on a
museum art print? You've seen these formats before -- now you can own Junior's work in the same style.

Personal Pop-Art
While it's too late to have a custom Warhol, you CAN get your photographic prints in a Warholesque style at

From Pop-Art to Soda-Pop
Jonesing for a custom-cola? Jones Soda now offers MyJones, case-quantity bottles of their beverage with custom photo labels. Perfect for weddings, tailgating, etc. It's a brand-name product that is willing to alter their branding in the name of customerzation. They've even patented their MyJones process!

Custom Computers
This isn't your father's iMac. These computers from
AVA sport custom metals, candy finishes, chrome, wood, leather, suede -- even 24kt gold! They ain't cheap, but take a look at the link -- they certainly seem to qualify as one-of-a-kind pieces of art.

Customize your ride
GG Bailey offers a little customerzation for your vehicle -- have your floormats designed in your favorite colors or team logo. You can even have them monogrammed.

Talking postcards from
Mousse Shop allow you to record a custom greeting on a voicechip before mailing it to your penpal. The message can be up to 10 seconds long and you can re-record over an existing message the same number of time. You're also able to insert a photo -- a perfect way to send baby's first words to the grandparents.

Stamp of Approval
Word is quickly spreading about these wonderful items --
personalized photostamps. I actually wonder why it's taken the post office so long to implement this feature -- they're right on top of things with the USPS website and the ability to print postage directly from your computer -- why did it take so long for them to come up with the idea to add a photo? The cost is ridiculous. They currently charge more than twice the cost of a first-class stamp, but the service is offered through Stamps.com, a licensed vendor for the USPS, so I expect it may be awhile before your neighborhood post office offers this item for sale among their standard supplies and service.

Super Me!
And finally... one of my favorites. GentleGiant Studios offers the ultimate customerzation for an old comic book collector like me -- a
custom action figure! Gentle Giant is the same company that makes action figures for The Matrix, Spider-Man, Star Wars, and Lord of the Rings. They do a full body scan and handpaint the figure. It comes complete with a heroic accessories and is encased in a plastic display box, just like the action figures at your local toy store.

This is about the most expensive item on this list, but it is by far the coolest -- You better believe that if I had the big-bucks required, there'd be an "IDEA GUY" action figure on my desk!

Monday, September 27, 2004

Custom Creamery
eCreamery puts the "I" in ice cream
Ever peer into the freezer at the latest offerings from Ben & Jerry's and just KNOW you could create a tastier concoction of ice cream? Now's your chance to put your money where your cone is.

eCreamery creates specialty frozen desserts that are customized to your specifications. They offer a huge library of exotic ingredients (Avocado? Cardamon??), as well as all the old favorites (Toffee! Peanut Butter Cups!!) -- and the opportunity for you to create something totally original.

It's not cheap. Their minimum 4-quart order will run you just under $90 with shipping (they also charge an additional $5 per topping after the first two) -- but it's a cool idea and an excellent example of the extreme customer-customization that continues to capture our imagination.

Tuesday, September 21, 2004

Chess' Checkered Past
Those random moves aren't so random
I'm a big fan of chess. I learned to play at a young age and have had a lot of fun playing games with my younger brother. We used to play a version we called "To The Death" -- meaning we'd play beyond Checkmate until you took every single one of the other players pieces.

Then there were the classic battles of Good vs. Evil that took place between my art school buddy when we should have been working on our projects. The white and black chess pieces represented Good and Evil (respectively) and much mockery would be heaped upon the loser.

None of my current batch of local friends seem much interested in Chess, (maybe they just don't know how to play) and I miss the challenge. Computer versions and online gaming doesn't offer the same feel as the physical board in front of you, and actually removing a piece you've captured. (To say nothing of mocking the loser or the mental anguish of completely psyching someone out with game-playing trash-talk.)

I guess that's why I enjoyed Hugh MacLeod's GapingVoid.com post today -- learning what might be the reasoning behind the movements of the chess pieces makes me hunger for a real-live game!

Monday, September 20, 2004

The Limits of Innovation
Innovator-As-Hero vs. Innovator-As-Bureaucrat
Excellent article from Carleen Hawn at Fast Company magazine on Apple Founder Steve Job's vision (and lessons learned) on creativity in business.

There's an insightful comparison in the article between Apple's innovations and those of Thomas Edison:

"...most economically valuable forms of innovation often aren't the tangible kind. Instead, they are forms of innovation that we might belittle as less heroic, less glamorous: the innovation of business models. Don't think innovator-as-hero; think innovator-as-bureaucrat. Even Edison--who held 1,093 patents (more than anyone else in U.S. history) and who invented such doodads as electric light, the phonograph, and the motion picture--fared pretty badly when it came to choosing business models. He waged and lost one of the world's first technology-format fights, between alternating and direct currents. And he abandoned the recording business after, among other things, insisting that Edison disks be designed to work only on Edison phonographs. Sound familiar?"

Here's a side bar from the article...
Getting Innovation Right
If Apple teaches us anything, it's that effective innovation is about more than building beautiful cool things. A few thoughts for innovating well in your own shop:

1. Not All Innovation Is Equal
Technical innovation will earn you lots of adoring fans (think Apple). Business-model innovation will earn you lots of money (think Dell).

2. Innovate for Cash, Not Cachet
If your cool new thing doesn't generate enough money to cover costs and make a profit, it isn't innovation. It's art.

3. Don't Hoard Your Goodies
Getting to market on time and at the right price is vital. If that means licensing your idea to an outside manufacturer or marketer, do it.

4. Innovation Doesn't Generate Growth
Management Does If you covet awards for creativity, go to Hollywood. Managers get rewarded for results, which come from customers.

5. Attention Deficit Has No Place Here
Every innovation worth doing deserves your commitment. Don't leap from one new thing to another. If your creation doesn't appear important to you, it won't be important to anyone else.

Click this link to read the entire article.

Friday, September 17, 2004

Friday Name Day - Part Three
Once again into the naming breech we go
It's weird. These naming links have been popping up on my radar lately -- just in time for posting on Fridays. Strange. I'm thinking I'll do it one more time (next Friday) and then leave off once we enter October.

Watch... I won't be able to come up with a naming link next Friday, the last Name Day of the month!

Onto the naming fun:
ReadyMade Magazine is one of my favorite, weird, publications. They are home improvement/craft projects for the creatively ecletic mind. Their most recent issue offers a do-it-yourself worksheet for naming a band.

While it's mostly tongue-in-cheek, there are actually a couple of pretty good exercises for name generation! I've actually used something similar to exercise #4 at Doug Hall's Eureka Ranch, and what oh-we're-so-clever-dot.bomb HASN'T failed miserably at #5?

Thursday, September 16, 2004

Creativity Co-Op
IdeaCradle enables open-source funding of ideas
Interesting discovery today via Peter Lloyd's Heads-Up newsletter.

IdeaCradle.com was conceived by Brad Sears, a web developer living in Toronto Canada, in order to fund additional projects by his favorite band, Swervedriver. It evolved into an effective, community-based way to raise funds for any kind of project.

By building a community for supporters, IdeaCradle enables democratic control from project planning to implementation. IdeaCradle empowers supporters to find and register others through on and off line means.

At it's core, IdeaCradle's main function is to create and manage co-operatives. Once the fundraising process is complete all supporters become members of a co-operative. The process gives a tangible result to supporters.

VERY cool.

Wednesday, September 15, 2004

Screwing Up a Brainstorm
How to turn your tropical storm into a light drizzle
There's a great article on lousing up your idea-generating efforts posted on my buddy Chuck Frey's Innovation Tools website.

It's called "Six Great Ways To Ruin A Brainstorming Session" by Paul Sloane.

InnovationTools has quickly become one of the best websites on the art and science of creativity. Chuck's Link Directory alone is sort of a mini-Google on all things creative.

Definitely worth a look for any fans of ideas and innovation.

Tuesday, September 14, 2004

Buy Your Dream
Job for 7¢ Per Day
Norm Needs New Life on 'Net
One of my favorite comic strips over the past couple years has been "The Norm." I'm not certain of the particulars, but for some reason The Norm creator (Michael Jantze) has decided to end his relationship with King Features Syndicate.

Rather than completely abandon his characters, which given the independent lives and personal histories he's developed for each of his primary characters, would be akin to killing them -- Jantze's wife Nicole (and the template for Norm's wife Reine) has taken to the internet in order to grow the already existing roster of paying subscribers to the website. The Jantze's are also looking for sponsors for the cartoon website, offering banner ads and newsletter blurbs in return for specific donation amounts.

The goal is to earn enough funds to continue creating new content for both the daily internet readers and develop independently published projects, like The Norm archive collections.

Checkout The Norm online -- if you like the content and feel you'd enjoy reading it everyday, or if you just want the thrill of helping a person to continue doing what he loves to do -- join the list of suscribers. The basic subscription rate is only $25 for a full year (that's less than 7¢ per day) of stories and strips.

I know this kinda sounds like one of those Sally Struthers "Feed The Children" commercials, but if 7¢ per day can really help someone live their dream -- don't you think it's worth it? If you could do anything YOU wanted to do by asking a few people to kick in 7¢, wouldn't you have to at least ask?

This membership drive only lasts three weeks (until October 31st), after that -- the future of The Norm is unknown.

As a kid, I always wanted to be a cartoonist. It's looking like that's not going to happen anytime soon, but if I can help another person continue doing that to which I aspire -- he's got my 7¢.

I hope he'll get yours as well.
Become a member of The Norm site today.

Speaking of living your dreams --
One of the things to which I aspire, is rubbing
elbows and working with people I think are "cool".

I've been fortunate enough to have had the opportunity to add a lot of admirable and accomplished people's names to my 'list', and luckier still to watch that list continue to grow.

This week I learned that the BRAINBLOG has been added to the blogrolls of both the immutably incredible Laura Ries and the inestimably WOW-ish Tom Peters.

Rubbing elbows with people this cool is gving me calluses. Thanks for adding me to your lists.

Monday, September 13, 2004

Ideas Inside
Apparel and Paraphernalia
I've been hanging on to this design for a couple years now. I use it as my computer wallpaper and on my personal notecards. I always figured if I tried to sell it on t-shirts or something, the logo-police might track me down.

I've decided this qualifies as a PARODY, and I'm hoping that fact will insulate me from the hordes of greedy lawyers.

All I can say is act now -- this stuff is available for a limited time. You can only buy it until I receive my first 'cease and desist' letter.

Saturday, September 11, 2004

Brand Personalities -- Election Edition
Dubbya is to Dunkin Donuts, as Kerry is to Starbucks
Interesting (and kinda funny) study from branding firm Landor Associates, share results of presidential product match-ups.

I first learned of it through Brandon Uttley's Brand On! blog, but I'd be really interested in seeing the same data collected for the vice-presidential candidates...

Cheney is to Metamucil as Edwards is to Red Bull?

Friday, September 10, 2004

A Friday by Any Other Name
Last Friday it was People names -- this week it's all Business.
Many times clients will ask my opinion of company names they've created, and although there are plenty of books on the subject and a variety of opinions available, I've always wished there was a collection of basic truths to which I could refer them -- now there is.

In a recent Origin of Brands blog entry, the lovely Laura Ries shared "The 9 Keys Naming Success." This set of keys unlocks the basic principles to successfully naming a company or product -- read them , learn them, keep them on a keyring to which you can constantly refer.

The 9 Keys are listed below, but you'll have to visit Laura's blog for the full descriptions. Be sure to bookmark the entry or save a copy to your computer -- it's a great list.
  • Key #1: Short
  • Key #2: Simple
  • Key #3: Suggestive of the category
  • Key #4: Unique
  • Key #5: Alliterative
  • Key #6: Speakable
  • Key #7: Spellable
  • Key #8: Shocking
  • Key #9: Personalized

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Monday, September 06, 2004

The virtual libraries of Amazon customers
When I visit friends, I enjoy browsing the shelves of their book and music collections. I inevitably find items that I'd wanted to read or hear and never got around to it, or forgot the title the next time I visited my favorite media store.

Finding a book or music title on the shelf of a friend is the best way to find new material to enjoy -- it's why I like Amazon.com's "Listmania" feature. I can easily find people who seem to have enjoyed the same books or music that I already own, and from their public lists posted on Amazon, I can find other titles they enjoyed as well. Sometimes they even list WORST items, and I know to avoid those titles at all costs!

I used Amazon to create two lists of my own -- one on CREATIVITY and one on SELLING.

If you've created a Listmania on Amazon, please leave the link in the comments section of this blog post -- I'm always looking for recommendations from friends.

PS: One of the first books listed on my SELLING list is Jeffrey Gitomer's new title, "The Little Red Book of Selling." This book now surpasses his first work "The Sales Bible" as my all-time favorite book on selling.

If you buy Gitomer's new book from Amazon.com tomorrow (Tueday, September 7th) and email the order confirmation to redbook@gitomer.com, you'll receive a bunch of free stuff, including Jeffrey's never before seen "Little eBook on Follow-up", half-price registration on an up-coming seminar, and additional ebooks, reports, and articles from 15 other experts on branding, customer service, networking, and personal development.

You could also win a full hour, one-on-one, phone consultation with sales-guru-Gitomer himself!

Definitely worth the $13 you'll pay for the book, don't you think?
Only on September 7th!

Friday, September 03, 2004

Hot or Not? Blame Your Name
Survey says sexy is as sexy sounds
My buddy Peter Lloyd just posted the latest edition of his Heads Up! newsletter, and it features a link to a Nature.com article about researching the appeal of names vs. sex appeal.

I wonder if this could be done on a site like Amazon.com with book titles and cover art? It would truly be an experiment about judging a book by its cover.

Thursday, September 02, 2004

Library of Unwritten Books
Matches nicely with my days of unpublished posts
Sorry for the lack of recent posts -- lots of stuff to write about, just haven't had much time to get them down on paper (down on pixels?).

I've been saving this link to an article about a Library of Unwritten Books for awhile, and since I've gone a stretch without writing anything myself, it seemed especially appropriate.

Click here to join ideas4u
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