Old writing, but still timely:
Why Branding Is the Next Essential Startup Competency
Love this quote:
In Silicon Valley, we tend to believe that better products win markets. It’s atypical to overhear a conversation at Blue Bottle Coffee or at YCombinator about brand building – brand attributes, values, positioning. Instead, our exchanges focus more on technology and more recently, design.
But over the next several years, marketing, branding and positioning, all under-appreciated disciplines in the valley will become markedly more important. As barriers to entry continue to fall driven by cloud technologies, competition among startups will increase and the startups that reach their target customer bases with the best messaging, building the most effective brands, will win.
Along with 9 million other people, I’ve been watching “The Roosevelts” on PBS. The insight into the motivations and experiences of two of great American leaders is fantastic. So is Ken Burns’ perspective on streaming video:
One of the ways we abolish the cacophony of noise and the information deluge is to binge watch, which is how streaming video is allowing us to control our content. When I met television critics this year, none of them complained that “The Roosevelts” is 14 hours. At every juncture of my professional life critics have said no one will watch long historical documentaries, but now they realize that people are starved for 14 hours of content, whether it’s “Orange is the New Black” or “House of Cards.” The same laws of storytelling apply—if it’s a good story, it’s a good story. Mine just have to be based on fact. I can’t make it up.
Millions of channels, loads of screens, lots of conversations, and we’re still starving for content that brings us together. Check out the rest of the interview:
Ken Burns on “The Roosevelts” and American Leadership
via Harvard Business Review
Good insight here into the role of brands when consumers have too much of a good thing:
In fast food for example, consumers fed up with feeling they might have to discipline themselves about portion control, are now asking brands to do it for them – and recalibrating offerings in the process. Super-sizing is out. Miniaturizing is in. Small meals, small drinks, small treats … great for the brands, because proportionately consumers are paying more per mouthful for the privilege of having less mouthfuls. And great for the consumers because they feel they’re doing something that’s good for them.
The very clear message: if your brand is competing in a “more is more” scenario, sometimes the wisest thing you can do is make the case for less, not by pointing out why people should abstain, but rather by developing an offering that still feels desirable and yet also seems more responsible.
Brand Strategy And Brand Habits
via Branding Strategy Insider
I’m fascinated by bro culture, the bromance, even the brogrammer. Bros seem like modern day versions of the suburban office worker, only they don’t know it. This piece in the Times peaked my interested. It’s good writing on how adult men are portrayed in modern American culture:
The bro comedy has been, at its worst, a cesspool of nervous homophobia and lazy racial stereotyping. Its postures of revolt tend to exemplify the reactionary habit of pretending that those with the most social power are really beleaguered and oppressed. But their refusal of maturity also invites some critical reflection about just what adulthood is supposed to mean. In the old, classic comedies of the studio era — the screwbally roller coasters of marriage and remarriage, with their dizzying verbiage and sly innuendo — adulthood was a fact. It was inconvertible and burdensome but also full of opportunity. You could drink, smoke, flirt and spend money. The trick was to balance the fulfillment of your wants with the carrying out of your duties.
The desire of the modern comic protagonist, meanwhile, is to wallow in his own immaturity, plumbing its depths and reveling in its pleasures. Sometimes, as in the recent Seth Rogen movie “Neighbors,” he is able to do that within the context of marriage. At other, darker times, say in Adelle Waldman’s literary comedy of manners, “The Love Affairs of Nathaniel P.,” he will remain unattached and promiscuous, though somewhat more guiltily than in his Rothian heyday, with more of a sense of the obligation to be decent. It should be noted that the modern man-boy’s predecessors tended to be a lot meaner than he allows himself to be.
The sociologist in me says bro culture probably stems from larger forces in society like changing roles for women, an aging population, and technology as a means of defining identity. It’s hard for bros to figure out how to relate to others, so instead they revert to adolescence, or get stuck.
The language could be a little simpler, but this is on point.
The Death of Adulthood in American Culture
via The New York Times