Category Archives: Cool Companies

Generic Brand Video: In less than 3 minutes, every global corporate t.v. ad

Here is a wonderful video that captures every trope of early 21st century company brand messaging:

(ht DC/DZ)

Really, there’s nothing much to add to it, the video says it perfectly.  Much more perfectly, in fact, than my previous post about stock photography, which covered many of the same themes, albeit in a rambling, needs-to-edited-down-to-one-third-the-length-draft-blog-post sort of way.

Yeah, my friends, you know I love the meta-humor.

Also: The “Generic Brand Video” makes me realize that portraying diversity through a sequence of stock images is only slightly better than trying to do it with a single stock image.  In the end, if it looks like stock photography and if the ratios of skin tones are just a little too calibrated, than, yeah, it’s inauthentic.

Perfectly Balanced Ratio of Skin Tones

A client recently pointed me at a banner in their office that advertises their learning academy for employees.  She noted that all the people in the photograph were employees of the company, including her boss.  In other words, it was an authentic picture.

In the never-ending arms race of novelty and fashion in corporate aesthetics, expect to see more and more images of real life employees being featured in company ads and marketing materials.

..and expect to see more and more employees who are stock photo quality.




Negotiation Skill: Leaving Some Value on the Table, or, Why Facebook’s IPO Failed

In any negotiation where parties must continue to interact and maintain a relationship, there is a hard cost to being overly competitive.

When you squeeze out every bit of potential value for yourself and leave as little as possible on the table for the other party, as Facebook did with the public, you shoot yourself in the foot.

Measured in reputational costs, brand value, and now, actual legal costs, the “smartest-guys-in-the-room” approach of the FB team backfired.

This is not a question of perfect hindsight: More than enough pixels and ink have been spilled over the FB IPO already. There are probably books and documentaries currently in the making about it. I only include it here in this blog (where I try to avoid being yet-another-armchair-quarterback on current events), because this is a worthwhile lesson to consider for a topic that I facilitate training in: Negotiation Skills.

Bottom line: $38/share and a boost in the initial offering size, done at the last moment, was a greedy move.

As the old saying goes,

“Pigs get fatter, hogs get slaughtered.”

Yes, I think FB could become the next Amazon rebound-and-quadruple story, from a stock pricing perspective, once the revenue generating potential of its platform is unleashed (FB Travel? FB Banking? FB Healthcare? FB University?)… and yes, there is a ton of liquidity out there searching for even a modest return on capital. Nevertheless, the FB guys outsmarted themselves. Some of the lead investors made out like bandits, but now the company as a whole has to deal with the costs… and that’s a double whammy for the holder of FB shares.

So another point to be gleaned from this:

Be aware of any misalignment between the people who are DOING the negotiating, and the people FOR WHOM they are negotiating.

As with anything, only time will tell for sure how things work out, but for now, there’s blood in the water.

Liking is Not Enough

“I wish there was a ‘Dislike’ button for this.” 

That statement has become almost a cliché on Facebook comment threads.

Yet, in the years since introducing the “Like” button (and having at least one baby named after it), Facebook Inc. has resisted making that move, sticking with its unidirectional vector, a powerful postive stroking mechanism that has addicted hundreds of millions of people. The market capitalization of that addiction –as Facebook goes public this month —  is estimated at $100 billion.

What’s ‘Like’ Got to Do With It?

According their SEC filing this past Wednesday, Facebook’s 845 million active monthly users generated an average of 2.7 billion Likes and Comments per day during the three months ended December 31, 2011.   In addition to last week’s SEC filing, on Friday the Pew Internet and American Life Project released a research report about Facebook, with the overarching message that Facebook users “get more than they give,” which is an unsurprising finding in a micro-economy of positive reciprocation.

Facebook Inc.’s mission statement is “To make the world more open and connected,” and in order to do this, it has developed a toolkit of psychological triggers that get its users sharing their thoughts, feelings, opinions, whereabouts and other personal data in exchange for the creepy feeling of being watched by a machine and its targeted advertisements.

As Facebook grows and runs the treadmill of Wall St. earnings reports, it will need to continue to build ways to engage its users, which ultimately means finding more ways for them to engage with each other and share as much of themselves as possible.

Taking it to the Next Level

“I wish there was a ‘Like’ for your ‘Like.”

Ah, another emerging Facebook cliché, aka,  “I want to reciprocate the stroke you have given me,” aka, “thank you for your life-saving kindness.”

I think it’s a good thing Facebook has resisted the thumbs up/down mechanism used by other websites. Facebook’s ‘Like’ is not about voting and ranking things… most of the time.  The main purpose of having the ‘Like’ alone, with no ‘Dislike’ alternative, is to keep things cheerful, to keep people coming back for more.  If you want to hate on someone, or even commiserate with someone, you’ve got to do it in a written comment. If you’re not willing to make the effort of typing, Facebook only allows for positive expressions of recognition.

That’s why I think Facebook should add a ‘Love’ button.

You see, Facebook has already well on its way to achieving its mission of warm-and-fuzzy world domination.

Step One was:  Get them addicted to cheap and easy social validation.

Step Two should be:  Spread more love.

There isn’t enough love in the world, and Facebook could be the catalyst for improving on that.  Yes, some users may indiscriminately upgrade all of their ‘Likes’ to ‘Loves,” and that would say something about their temperament… but what’s the problem with that?  Why should these passionate souls have their hearts bleed out in a lukewarm bath of ‘Like’ness?  Give them the heat they desire.  For the rest of us, we can reserve that extra little bit of ‘Love’  juice for special moments.

Two levels: ‘Like’ and ‘Love.’

Above that, then yes, you’ve gotta bother to write something in the comments.

Something like, “OMG LOLOLOLOL”


aha, someone’s already done it… “The Love Button” browser plug-in by Malcolm Randall… kind of like rose tinted glasses for Facebook that you can choose to wear:   and!/presslove?sk=info

..and as I think about it some more, could it be that Facebook has changed since its carefree days of youth? Perhaps what the cautionary tale of ‘Poke’ (and its jump-the-shark app alternative, ‘SuperPoke’) teaches us is that the exchange of love is not a core function of Facebook?

Making Fun (out) of Bad Presentations

This video was posted onto YouTube seven days ago by the folks at Growing Leaders:

Within a mere seven days this “Every Presentation Ever: Communication FAIL” video has garnered over 178,000 views — that’s good publicity for an organization that does good work. It’s easy to understand why people like this video… what’s a bit harder to understand is why two of my friends have already tagged me with it (HT DavidC and GilY).  It may mean that my friends know what I do for a living… and/or it may mean they know that I sometimes preface my prefaces with a preface.

What I like about this video, apart from its painfully-true-to-life humor, is its high level of craft in the details.  Not every gag is pointed out, not every joke verbalized… it invites you to take a closer look and discover things on your own… and that’s exactly what makes for a good presentation.  Am I over-thinking it? Sure, why not. The video wins because it calls out the bad behavior without modeling it.

Looking for something simpler but also funny?  (Oh you weren’t? Well here it is anyway.)  Here’s a classic bit by Don McMillan called “Life After Death by PowerPoint:”

Pandora and Blogging: Train the Trainer

One of my Pandora stations has become so well-groomed that it (almost) always plays a song that I enjoy, even songs that I haven’t heard before.  I’m reaching the point where I willing to toss out my hoard of mp3s and surrender to Pandora’s algorithm. 

I’ve also noticed that, every so often, the algorithm tries something a bit outside the range of the songs played to date. 

If I give that a “thumbs up,” I quickly see the results in subsequent songs, as the algorithm expands the range of genres played on my personal radio station.  

If I give that new song a “thumbs down,” Pandora stops and pauses.  

Then the Pandora plays one of the “seed” songs from the earliest days of starting the algorithm — a song that I truly can’t hear enough times — and so I get my dopamine hit and forgive the algorithm for its minor deviation.

Who is training who?    At first I thought I was doing a good job “training” my Pandora station to play “good” stuff… but with its targeting of my brain’s reward system as part of its cybernetic interface, I started to wonder about that.

In my early days of blogging I would write about random things like this — Internet memes, current events, cough drops — but more and more I find myself leaning into the convention of “blogging on a topic,” or taking what could be an off-topic post (e.g. “Pandora is cool”) and connecting it back to what I typically write about (“Pandora is a metaphor of the… blah blah blah”).  Ask any social media guru and they’ll tell you that to be a good blogger you have to make yourself synonymous with a particular area of expertise… because the vast Interwebs readership you’re trying to create wants to know where to go to have a particular conversation. They’re looking for an “authority.”

Really?  Do you want to have a relationship with someone who always talks about the same thing?    

Or maybe it’s okay, as long as it’s a variation on a recurring theme.

Thumbs up, Pandora.  Keep playing.

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