Saturday, August 1, 2009

Mozilla Firefox logo evolution

Congratulations to Mozilla as Firefox celebrates 1 billion downloads! I wonder how many of these fans noticed a subtle change in the logo though! Yes Mozilla made modifications to the existing logo of Firefox for the latest version 3.5. As fans all over the world debate and discuss the need for change and the changes itself, I have tried to understand the same in a larger perspective of logo evolution .

Brand Logo Evolution
Overtime companies have, let’s say, revisited their corporate logos & brand logos, trying to ensure that the logo is contemporary, conveys the required imagery to the target audience & reflects the brand identity ,the owners have in mind. Why so much for a mere symbol? A logo is a symbolic representation of the brand core, it is a powerful tool to communicate with the target audience and most important of all , it affects the consumer subliminally. Unless you are a hard core loyalist or a trivia quiz enthusiast, many people do not direct attention to the logo and decide their usage of the brand depending upon the logo. The colours and the symbols depicted in the logo ,affect you over time, (using my fav word again) subliminally and help build a strong brand connection.
See the pictures below and no prizes for guessing the logos :)
Despite them not being complete, it is instant recognition of the brands Nike and Coke. That is the power of a logo - Instant recognition, Strong connection and a Point of Differentiation. Now you would understand why companies spend so much effort and money in trying to achieve that perfect identification and nurture this over the years.
History of Firefox Logo
Coming back to Firefox - The browser that has managed to create a strong fan following and has stood the test of time (and Chrome ), was created by Dave Hyatt and Blake Ross and was first called Phoenix. See the first Firefox logo.

Funny for a browser isn’t it? Due to some trademark issues, they had to change the name, and chose Firebird to suit the logo. Probably the pull of the logo was stronger than the brand name itself. Trademark issues forced them to change yet again. This time they went for a complete brand make over and Firefox was born. The logo then as you see below was designed by Jon Hicks. What he thought while designing this could be read on his own blog over here.

Shows a fox in red colour with flames on its bushy tail engulfing Planet Mozilla– probably to share the brand vision of the widespread usage of Firefox which they have achieved today. This logo was released with version 0.8. The change came with Firefox 1.5 – the tail was made more yellow to reinforce the concept of flames / fire and contrast in blue colour increased to emphasize the difference between ocean and continents. The fox envelope around the planet is not a complete circle probably to demonstrate the open web concept. (This is what the logo means to me and might not be the intention of the company /logo creator).

For people who might be wondering why bother changing the logo when it goes unnoticed by most people. Companies usually change a logo very slightly below a threshold limit called as JUST NOTICEABLE DIFFERENCE (JND) in marketing terms. A change below JND usually goes unnoticed and affects the consumer in long run. Eventually he gets used to the new logo without even realizing that it had changed in the first place. Marketeers say revision of logos makes them more powerful. However it is important to retain the iconic elements of the logo. A company fears backlash with a drastic change in the logo, so the journey of a logo is normally a subtle one yet it emits powerful signals in the long run.
Was the change needed?
I loved the new Firefox logo though I felt it was probably too early to change. For those of who are dismayed that this work was not given to Jon Hicks the original designer, FYI - he works today for Opera. The new logo has several changes though they might not be visible on a smaller sized image. The first change is the wrapping of the tail around the sphere-much better in the new version, the continents have been made lighter almost like a water mark, so the emphasis is more on the firefox itself. The fill colours on the fox have been been made more subtle & less contrasting. To me this gives an impression of a more serious definition of the fox as compared to the previous one with amateurish strokes. Same with the tail definition as well. The new logo is more refined and more subtle as compared to the previous version which was wild. There is also a shadow ; I am unable to think of any significance to this though.
Firefox's Marketing still gets kudos
Such subtle changes , below JND and it took them 14 iterations to come up with the final version- meaning lot of money and effort spent. However the way the process of logo change was carried out was a good marketing exercise. Keeping in line with Firefox’s openness positioning , the process of redesigning the logo began in May and Alex Faaborg, Principal Designer on Firefox,put up the creative brief and important considerations on his blog. This is indeed a rare event. Mozilla even shared the agency and posted all the iterations for public to provide feedback on. This involving of fans in the logo redesigning process ( synchronized well with their brand promise of openness ) and also generate interest for the final logo and brought the already close knit community even closer.
See the picture below to realize the importance of logos in branding!

Sources for this information -
Lifehacker blog
Mozilla blogs
The new logo creator
Mozilla links
Firefox facts

Thursday, July 30, 2009

Self Branding and Integrated Marketing Communications

Prasanna in his CV describes himself as an amateur photographer and a web 2.0 enthusiast. In discussions and interviews, he brings forth his interests and talks about his SLR, his traveling hobby and his extensive presence on social media. However if I were to do a web profiling of Prasanna and match it with his CV or what he spoke about in the discussions , there would be several gaps . For Eg – a conspicuous absence on flicker, lack of a photo blog and omission from participating in photography competitions on Facebook, other web communities etc. What you see is a case of different or inconsistent positioning about oneself through various touch points.

This is not an exceptional issue. It is a case of several communications fired in the wrong way. Brands have made mistakes of not sounding integrated in their communications and the consumer is bombarded with different messages sometimes resulting destructive interference of message waves. Brand managers and companies are still grappling with nitty-gritty of Integrated Marketing Communications ( IMC). A consumer gets in contact with the product or brand through various means – bill boards, traditional and online media, brick and click stores and finally the service centres. Companies must use these various touch points to deliver a consistent message to the consumer and repeated bombardments would serve to reinforce the messaging. That Is the essence of IMC. Most of us analyse products, brands and companies under the microscope of IMC, but fail to analyse ourselves. Well, communications and marketing is not restricted only to brands. In today’s small web 2.0 networked world it is important to do some amount of self- branding as well.
Self branding is becoming increasingly important thanks to the freely available information. Every one has a brand identity, a positioning and a proposition to offer. Publicly available information, social media profiles, blogs, tweets, community membership etc. speak volumes about your personality traits. It is upto us to define it, channelize it to give a sharp clearly defined positioning. If Google can acquire information about you and classify you in one of their several consumer segments, so can people, followers and potential recruiters.
As I see it , there are 3 issues here, firstly the need to build a brand about oneself , secondly integrating messages on the web ( the ones your profiles are disseminating)and then finally integrating the online and offline messaging. Twitter gives you an excellent opportunity to build a tribe. Yes , a tribe which is a dream for any brand. You can showcase personality traits – both professional and non- professional through LinkedIn and orkut recommendations. It is important to put up a reasonably elaborate brief about yourself on LinkedIn and ensure it matches with your CV. Update both at the same time. Obtain recommendations from colleagues, managers, professors and other people and have a good mix to show variety. Google reader ( has started public sharing), StumbleUpon ,Twine etc help you share reads. “Judge a man by his friends and his books”.
Now let’s come back to things Prasanna could have done differently. Just suppose that Prasanna has a photo blog, with a good number of followers, is a part of say wildlife photography community on facebook/orkut and participated on those ubiquitous competitions on the web. He is active on Twitter and has a good number of followers and tweets about his interests and follows like-minded people. He has a gallery on flicker and his photos are tagged and rated high and the list goes on.
Web 2.0 gives us an excellent platform for marketing & branding ourselves. It is beyond mere social networking and according to me the best way to Integrated Marketing Communications.

Friday, April 24, 2009

Vodafone - Creativity unleashed

Being no cricket fan, I feel IPL is a waste of time. But being a marketeer I also feel its a great platform for marketing brands. Airtel ads have always been my favourite, but this time during IPL matches its Vodafone IPL alerts which have been the centre of attention!

Maybe its bye bye pug for Vodafone as they are now experimenting with new campaigns . Their latest VAS campaigns called IPL Alerts use ZooZoo characters. These ZooZoo characters scream, laugh, have really cute voices and so expressive. They have managed to cut across age groups and break the clutter. These Vodafone ads are reportedly the most watched ads on IPL.
(Source -
These ads have certainly matched upto the cuteness of the pug.
Watch my favourite ad here

What I liked about Vodafone or O&M ( O&M has been the creative agency for Vodafone) is that they have managed to develop a signature style , most of their ads can be easily linked to the brand. Also the hero in their campaigns is usually not the product. Initially it was the pug, then came Irfan Khan and now the Zoozoo characters.
Vodafone has also proved that you dont always need a high profile SRK, Big B to endorse your brand. A spikey or chika could also do :) ( Spikey and Chika are names of the pugs used). Vodafone was also the first one to use Irfan Khan as ambassador when the other brands were fighting for Big B or SRK's time. Frankly I think all the other brands managed to add to SRK and Big B's equity with their commercials and not vice versa.

One major trouble that brands fall into in cases where the hero of the commercial is other than the product and the product itself plays a subdued part of the film, is that there is a danger of the hero becoming bigger than the brand itself. Let me explain . If we were to believe urban legend , then Coke created Santa Claus and then Santa become an independent entity, bigger than Coke itself and Coke had to abandon it. In case of Vodafone or Hutch , the erstwhile pug became very strongly associated with it. In fact the sales of pugs started increasing like never before. Nobody thought Hutch or Vodafone or whatever it is, could ever do without the pug. The brand did not matter only the pug did. But Vodafone successfully and very subliminally removed the pug from its campaigns. Initially Vodafone launched the pug and the girl campaigns and the "Pug representing the Customer Care" campaign. Experts and Ad pundits were convinced that the pug was here to stay. But Vodafone proved them wrong when they launched a series of campaigns without the pug and these campaigns again touched the consumers heart.
The ads brought out stories from each our school days childhood etc.
Vodafone has ensured that while its ads are endearing and has a strong message to convey through symbols or memories, the product itself is bigger than any of its ambassadors.

See the fountain pen chota credit ad here.

One more commendable thing about this service provider is the seamless integration through its journey of brands. Originally Maxtouch which became Orange, then Hutch and now Vodafone.
Each of the providers have managed to achieve a crossover between brand awareness, service offerings and commercials through a good execution style. With Orange , the company painted many a towns orange, Hutch coloured them pink and Vodafone washed them with its red colour. When I first saw the logo of Vodafone , I thought consumers are likely to confuse it with Airtel , but Vodafone has strived and managed its brand equity and logo very well and has managed to create a seperate identity for itself.

For now I 'm waiting to watch the next Vodafone Zoozoo commercial.

Saturday, March 28, 2009

New sales channels - traffic signal

Driving in one of the metros in India? Watch out of your window at one of those numerous clones of traffic signals and observe what happens for the next 30 seconds. A swarm of urchins, vendors intersperse into the traffic. For the next 30 seconds, each one tries desperately to make sales. Everything sells at the signal; right from green leafy vegetables, fruits, flowers, newspapers, magazines to huge artifacts . One might wonder why would anyone buy a huge painting or a bulky flower vase at a traffic signal, especially with Indian Marketeers believing strongly in the principle of touch-feel. But you see these items being sold. Once I happened to ask one of them whether these high involvement products do sell at the traffic signal and he said yes they do.

In Bangalore,I have seen women clean the leafy vegetables, what is called "Souppu" in Kannada, on the footpath by the side of the traffic signal and sell it when the light turns red. Originally what was the domain of the urchins has largely become a sales channel today. I was not able to find much on the history of when this started , but whoever started this. had a hell lot of creativity.

Now some analysis of a traffic signal from the point of view of a sales channel. With traffic congestion increasing at most cities, there is no dearth of consumers stopping by. You know there are consumers incoming at a particular rate, ( data collected from past , would differ according to time of the day and season). There is really no data about these consumers , no segmentation variables available but you do know generic products like fruits , vegetables and maybe some FMCG products can sell. Extremely perishable items like newspapers sell really well at signals.

So amidst the irritating cavalcade of vehicles, constant honking of cars and bikes, these vendors are able to break the clutter and catch the attention span of their customers. And they do know their customer well. The vegetables are neatly packed, and change is kept handy. Moreover the small time frame does not allow too much bargaining.

This is all fine for our daily goods, but what about a wall hanging or a vase or painting. There is immense scope to cheat.

And finally coming to the urchins. They are masters of emotional marketing. Usually accompanied by a baby , or a broken limb, they are able to convey their message to their customers who out of pity give them pennies. Again they play the volume game here. Within a time frame of 30 seconds, they know who to target, and exactly after how much time they should discard the first car and move on to a more promising next. Talk about optimisation of profits!

I'm still eager to know what all can be sold at a traffic signal in India, and whether this channel would continue to flourish.

Monday, March 23, 2009

Coffee shops galore

Walk through the streets of Bangalore and you will spot a minimum of three Coffee Day outlets. The Kormangala area near Forum has about eight if I am not wrong. Now in addition to CCD you can see Mocha, Gloria's etc.

Sitting in a tea shop , Tea Centre at Churchgate yesterday, I started thinking about coffee shops in general. I was sitting in a classy, plush ambiance exactly reminded me of Barista except for a much more classy and sophisticated appeal. And what's more the place was extremely reasonable , it was comparable to the Mocha beside , but the service and ambiance was so good, anyone would expect the rates to be as high as a ChaBar Leela , Blore.

Now what is the difference between a CCD, Barista, Mocha, Costa Coffee, Gloria's etc?

According to me, CCD caters to the extremely discount segment, right at the bottom. CCD if for all and sundry. The service is abysmal, most Bangalore CCDs bring the cheque at your table with your coffee even if you have not asked for it!! So much so for their tagline " A lot can happen over coffee". CCD has increasingly started playing the volume's game. They need fast moving crowds, but this would affect their customer base and brand in long run. People do not go to coffee shops to drink mere coffee, they go to spend time and if CCD does not allow that , then I really do not know what is their value proposition. The only compelling reason for me to enter a CCD would be their Green Apple Soda!

Barista has always been my first love. Since college times we as a group would flock to the St Marks Road Barista ( now HRC Bangalore), play pictionary, scrabble and other games. Now Barista conjures memories of several friendships, all over a cup of Hazelnut cappuccino. Barista is a place where people can simply read their fav book at peace, have an official meeting, kill time if you are running early between appointments, and hang out with friends. Barista never drives out people. They have an extremely loyal customer base and slightly more upmarket as compared to a CCD. Barista allows me to customise my drink if I need more HazelNul flavour in my cappuccino, while CCD charges me if I ask them for more green apple squash in my soda! That was surely pissing off!
Barista provides most comforts of a 5 star coffee shop at a reasonable price. Plus I love their standees and merchandise. Barista also follows a consistent positioning though I must admit their service delivery is not consistent. Some Barista's have a self service thing while others serve at your table. When I asked them about this, the store manager said Barista is slowly moving towards serving at the table because CCD does that. Well... mebbe but I think Barista should not take any parity with CCD because their whole strategy, TG etc are very different.

CCD follows a cluster strategy like Starbucks, where incremental sales would compensate for the cannibalisation. Barista opens it outlets carefully ensuring enough footfall would occur. Once Barista has opened its outlets, CCD opens several outlets nearby.

Coming to Costa Coffee- premuim pricing, more for the youth, plush ambiance , and more variety on their palette. Pricing is the only difference which filters out crowd and ensures a more homogenous segmentation. I did not like the place at all and thought it was extremely over priced for no extra service at all.

Mocha has differentiated services for its loyal customers, based on membership and gives a very different ambiance. Primarily aimed at youth and groups. It is not a place where you would go on a solitary outing. It is for socialising and hanging out.

Gloria has matched Costa Coffee on its price points and has all the POPs. It is still a recent entrant and let us see if they modify its palette.

Waiting for some tea chains to come up in this tea drinking nation, but until then Barista and coffee shall remain my first love.

Thursday, March 19, 2009

Twitter goes Freemium.. and finally:)

Twitter has become a buzz word , where once having 1000 odd followers would have gotten brands to chase you as influencers today you would need 20k+ followers. After deferring attempts at being acquired, and being constantly questioned by press, media, experts etc... Twitter finally has unveiled premium accounts and that is the title of my post.

Let me explain what Freemium means. Free + premium = Freemium. In Web 2.0 world , these are the new business models followed. Organisations struggle to build a base of loyal customers, a sort of cult following. In fact the valuation of any company in web 2.0 world would be as follows

Value = Customer base * Customer Lifetime Value.

So to have a higher valuation you would want to enhance either your customer base or increase lifetime value ( CLV).

So the mantra is like this, offer a vanilla service free on the net, get customer hooked onto it and then when your customer base has become substantial , add in more features to the vanilla service and charge a premium . LinkedIn, Flicker etc have gone the premium way. Why forget gmail. Gmail also has a freemium business model. Now Twitter has finally entered the arena.

So coming back to twitter. Twitter has just unveiled its premium account types. They came in 4 categories each differing at the level of extra services and the rates you pay. An obvious service they could offer with premium accounts was extending the word limit, because most tweeters feel restricted with the word limit. Now each of the four levels have differing word limits. One thing I had not thought of for premium accounts was that buying each package gets you random followers. Some packages also offer random celebrity followers and embellishments.. Now it seemed absurd to me when I read it first. I sincerely hope that would a rumour. If not then Twitter would probably lose it hard core fan following and would ultimately lead to brand dilution. Also a recent thing I noticed on my twitter page, nowadays there are ads to promote twitters own products like twitter search, widgets etc. Twitter definitely has a long way to go!

Read the complete article here.

Monday, March 2, 2009

Measuring online influence

Good read to follow up on my prev post. Measuring online influence!