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When is a newspaper article finished?  Well, maybe never.  I’m was reading today about Apple’s new educational releases, e.g., iBooks 2, iBooks Author, iTunes U, in The NY Times paper paper and wanted to save the article to my OneNote document.  (Not many people know about Microsoft OneNote — but should.)  Anyway, in order to save the article I went to the and while lighting up the URL noticed the article, first published at 10 A.M., had been updated at  9:02 last night.  Now that update may have made the paper paper but it may not. So why read the paper paper which may have old, perhaps, less than accurate news? The reason is the form factor.

When the accuracy of the content in news reporting out-weights the form factor (user interface, e.g. paper vs. screen, vs. Siri) the war will really be over.   

But back to the first question. When is a newspaper article finished?  Will publishers be interested in changing stories in a year because they know it to have inaccurate info?  Will it be legal to do so? If it’s on the web and accessible, shouldn’t it be the truth?  Now there are some more things to nosh on.  Peace!

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Brand Diaspora

Pronounced “dayh –AS –por-ah,” the word refers to any group migration or flight from a country or region. I first started using “diaspora” in conjunction with the word “brand” when working as a planner for an agency on Microsoft. 

As a planner and seller of technology goods in a market dominated by Microsoft for many years, you couldn’t help but bump up against them. Envy them. Be angered by them. And use them contextually. The Microsoft ethos made it into many a brief and marcom plan.  Grouchos, for instance, was a target I created to refer to Microsoft haters who loved open source and were repelled by all things Microsoft. A planning rigor I developed called “brand spanking” was the result of this people’s willingness to discuss and spank market leaders.

One of Microsoft’s biggest failings over the last 15 years and one which has impacted brand value is something I call brand diaspora.  Microsoft’s brand and sub-brands have been allowed to meander, disperse and diffuse from the homeland. And in many cases they’ve gotten lost.

As I look at all the product and service names, naming extensions, release numbers, calendar years and portfolio reorganizations my head spins.  From a company that invented the first software suite, Microsoft Office, a brilliant naming convention, we’ve seen quite a perplexing mishmash: Windows Live, SkyDrive, Office 2007, Office 2010, Office Live, Office Web Apps, Live@Edu, Office Live Small Business, Live Meeting, OneNote, Office 360, Windows Azure, Windows 7, Windows 7 for Mobile, Outlook, Exchange, Access, Publisher, Office Professional Plus, Sharepoint, Communications Servers, Windows Server Hyper-V, Windows Live Mesh, Hotmail, Outlook Express. And that doesn’t scratch the surface.

I actually love the good things Microsoft has done for the world. And it’s natural to pick on the overdog, but technologists, with all their 1 and 0s, have never been great at branding and brand planning. Brand Diaspora is one sad result. Peace.

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Inside every huge piece of stone is a beautiful sculpture.  Or not.  Upon every blueprint is an architect’s rendering of an amazing building. Or not. On every canvas… okay, you get the idea.

It’s the same way with brand planning.  Any knucklehead with a pencil or keyboard can ask executives, customers and thought-leaders questions. Anyone can fill up a OneNote document (cool Microsoft product) with lots of words, links, quotes and data.  But what makes a great brand plan is what is left at the end.  And how it is organized and integrated. And what can be acted upon for the good of the brand. 

I call this process the boil down.  I like to cook and the metaphor about making a rich sauce through the reduction process works for me.  No matter what you name your process, when going from the massive (discovery) to the reduced and pungent, it is the final product that makes the successful brand planner. Branding is an organizing principle. Most CEOs, CFOs and CMOs know what makes a brand tick; they just can’t always decipher or decode the promise. Not in words consumers can hold dear. Or that employees can understand and live by.  But when a brand planner presents the boil down to C-level execs and sees that sparkle in their eyes — the sculpture is done. And properly conveyed and packaged a brand plan can work for consumers and employees.  This isn’t like approving an ad campaign, this is business strategy… in poetry.  Peace



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