Archives For January 2011

“New and improved” is timeless. Taking the best attributes of a thing, or a service, and making it better is what Vince Lombardi would call blocking and tackling. You should look to your business’ best product or service or attribute, or the best piece of a product or service or attribute, and make a big ol’ list of improvements. Web and app developers are in continual “make it better” mode. Apple is always building a better version of their existing awesome things. Take what your customers love about you, and give them more reasons to feel the love.

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Asking the right questions can help you solve business problems and enhance your creativity. Today, ponder exaggeration.

He’s baaaaack. This time The Old Spice Guy (Isaiah Mustafa) has yet another incredibly excellent script, but the typical props and effects that help him sell the heck out of something are gone. This spot has no sight gags, no effects, and really, no selling.

I think he’s saying look out for cool coolness and new ads that will lead up to Super Bowl Awesomeness.

If Progressive were to make an ad saying “look out for some upcoming Progressive ads” earth would get hit by a bad karma meteor. But Wieden + Kennedy does such a great job with this campaign, that Earth will not be hurled into blackness by bad karma. And if this is the opening volley to a big blitz where Old Spice out Old Spices Old Spice, well, we’re ready.

George Him was a designer whose work spanned over 50 years from Russia, Poland, Germany, and England to Israel. He partnered with January Lewitt, and teamed up in London, making posters for the war effort. In later years, George pursued advertising, children’s book illustration and animation, and January went down the fine arts path. Here’s a look at some of Him’s, and Lewitt-Him’ work.

Here is a great site with lots of his work.

When designers today go retro, it seems like Him’s style is part of the canon they are borrowing from. He summed up his passion for pushing art thusly:

I belong, I suppose, to the leading graphic artists of my generation, and my name was internationally known in the days when individuality in graphic design was valued – an attitude by now long forgotten. All that is left for me today – apart from carrying on with my work, – is to preach the old gospel of design based on art, and not on market research, to the growing generations of students.

vit·ri·ol (vĭtrē-ōl, -əl)
n.

    1. See sulfuric acid.
    2. Any of various sulfates of metals, such as ferrous sulfate, zinc sulfate, or copper sulfate.
  1. Bitterly abusive feeling or expression.

It’s been a great couple of weeks for new tools for social networking. Here are a few I’ve been digging lately.

RockMelt is a web browser that integrates your Twitter, Facebook, and RSS feeds, so as you surf the web, updates come to you in real time. The updates that pop up can get a bit annoying, and the browser’s search capabilities are limited, but it is a pretty slick way to stay connected.

Pinterest is a social networking site that lets you share cool things you find on the web, or in the real world. You can “pin” your find onto a board for all to see, or “re-pin” something that someone else pinned. It’s got a bee-u-ti-ful design focus, and has a smooth interface. Pretty cool for the aesthetically-driven folks.

Quora lit up the world this week. It’s a simple Q & A site. You ask questions, the world gives you answers. It allows you to follow, and be followed, like many social apps. Yahoo Answers and Google searches (and Google-to-Wikipedia) are probably it’s biggest competitors. But the instant connectivity to experts could help Quora break out. It looks like a lot of tech and web developer folks are having the most engagement so far. Some big names have been asking, and answering questions. This could be extremely powerful, as you could develop a network of category experts to be your personal reference resource 24/7.

The Mac App Store was launched this week. This is big. It allows you to download apps for your Mac, basically the same way as downloading apps for your iPhone or iPad. The Apps here are much higher-priced than iPhone and iPad apps, but then again, your Mac uses a lot more muscle. This will change how we view our Macs. Only a couple of days in, and I’ve gotten a couple of productivity and business apps that I know will fundamentally alter how I interact with my computer. That’s saying something.

The rumor mill says Yahoo is going to kill Delicious, the terrific bookmarking site, which is yet another bonehead move by Yahoo. Facebook is sending signals that it’ll go public. The big boys are trying to kill RSS (good luck with that one). And my damn HootSuite and TweetDeck apps for iPhone have been crashing a lot lately. I hope stability updates are coming.

Are there any category-killers here? Quora’s ability to build an expert network gives it a great chance of being a big deal. Apple is reporting 1 million downloads on day one at the App Store, so it looks like that will be a big deal, which is no surprise because lately everything Apple has made has been a big deal. It’s what they do.

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Film. Expensive, bulky equipment. Waiting days for your pictures to get developed. When I took  photos and sold camera equipment in a photography store in the 1980’s, the stuff required to see your family Thanksgiving photos was a lot different. In hindsight, it was lousy.

Many a customer would pay for their photos, take a quick look at them, and frown a great big frown, having gotten only a few good shots out of each roll. Errors could result in a bunch of abstract shots of your lens cap, or your kid’s surprise photoessay with 24 blurry shots of a dog’s nose, costing about $13 in film and processing. Some folks got pissed. Some cried. I learned the amazing emotional power that comes with people’s personal photos.

Then technology changed everything. First, one hour processing rocking the photo business, and our expectations as consumers. Then “Grandma cameras” popped onto the scene. Grandma cameras were what we called the first point-and-shoot, automatic everything cameras that were so easy to use, even Grandma could do it. The day the Grandma cameras went on sale, the old bulky SLRs started to fade away, and the masses were given more creative license.

A couple of decades later, photography has (thankfully) evolved into the simple, less expensive, more creative, awesome thing that it is today. The evolution and democratization of picture taking gave birth to new businesses and industries, and many photo-related companies failed to evolve, and died.

In 1981, the ability to improve your image ended the second the shutter opened. Today, it’s not just taking the photo, it’s how you manipulate it after you take, be it on a laptop, iPad or iPhone. The results you can get in 2 minutes today used to take much more time, more money. Creativity was almost exclusively in the hands of professionals.

Would Facebook be worth $42 billion (oops, I mean $50 million) today if it didn’t have photos? No way. The easy, cheap photography tools and processes in 2011 have democratize creativity. You can thank your Grandma.