(originally written for a piece published last year)
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Definitive products, inevitable brands
(Guest Column in The Drum, 1.3.2013: ‘Ketchup is ketchup, so why does the Heinz brand mean so much?’)
Ketchup is weird, Malcolm Gladwell observed a few years back. It is served alongside mustard, but while mustard is a highly diverse product category, ketchup, as we all know is, well… ketchup.
Yes, it is, essentially, a type of tomato sauce, but it isn’t part of that highly diverse category either. Tomato sauce lives by a completely different set of rules.
So if ketchup isn’t like mustard, and it’s not a type of tomato sauce, what is it then? Ketchup is ketchup. Ketchup is weird. Ketchup is magic.
And Heinz is its magic brand.
Yet Ketchup is not the company’s only magic brand. Heinz dominates the Baked Beans category too. There are few definitive products in our world today, and far fewer still where one brand owns two of them. Maybe Apple has managed to achieve this with the Mac and the iPhone (with two product brand names), but you may struggle to find other examples in the mainstream world (Coke and Diet Coke are variants so don’t count).
Both Heinz Baked Beans and Heinz Tomato Ketchup are operating in ‘categories of one’. Competition isn’t fighting Heinz through differentiation; it is forced down to copycatting. Heinz, with its dominant presence and rich, long heritage is just too strong.
From a design perspective, Heinz marries its definitive products with brand identities that are textbook case studies in the long-term management of iconic brands.
If it ain’t broken, don’t fix it. Tend to it. It’s this custodian mentality that keeps these definitive brands alive and well. Continue reading
UKGC – custom gaming PC building service review
So, I don’t think I’ve ever written a review on this blog, but I think this time it is well deserved and also a nice example of the difference good customer experience makes…
So here goes:
About 18 months ago, I decided to indulge myself and get back into gaming. I started the process by making the terrible (and apparently common among adult gamers getting back into the habit) mistake of buying a gaming laptop (and nothing less than a souped up Alienware 11mx !). About a year later, I still had the best laptop I’ve ever had, but being unable to upgrade the graphics card (or pretty much anything) meant performance with new titles began to suffer.
The hidden treasures of Amazon 1-Star reviews
I was inspired by this review of Orwell’s 1984, that came trough the lovely B3tards:
Do not buy this book if you’re expecting to find out anything at all about 1984, as this writer seems to have been living on a different planet…Orwell completely fails to capture the uplifting vibe that was the pop explosion of the summer of ’84… maybe he lived in Norwood.
So I immediately thought “I wonder what else is out there?” So went through some random favourite classics, and look what I found…(highlights added)
On Slaughterhouse 5:
This book is a complete waste of time. It is so difficult to read as it jumps back and forth in time. There is no great climax and the stories within just seem to be included by the author to bulk it up.
Childrens crusade? HA! Childrens book more like!
This "novel" was the worst "piece of literature" I have ever read. If you can spare yourself from the agony of reading a hundred or so pages about an old man and a fish, than do so. This book brought the worst period of my life to a dramatic climax. I was more miserable reading this book than when my wife divorced me and my parents disowned me. I now have no one but at least I don’t have to read this book anymore. Thank you god.
I read this as my first Hemingway,and I have to say that it was thoroughly underwhelming. The characters just hang around drinking, and saying things like ‘What rot!’. The dialogue is comical and unrealistic, and you have to ask yourself what exactly happened when you get to the end. The answer? Nothing. Lack of plot is usually mace up for by interesting character development and interplay, but all we have here is a group of rich conceited fops, gracing Europe with their presence. A waste of time.
“What has your cult done for you lately?”
I’m reading Tina Fey’s book “Bossypants”, it’s quite light, but also funny, smart and human as expected, and contains many gems.
“In most cases, being a good boss means hiring talented people and then getting out of their way.”
I agree. This way has proved itself for me when working with design teams as well as, a long time ago, when I was hiring my team at IOL (Many have done exceptionally well in their careers, such joy…)
“Almost everyone [women] first realized they were becoming a grown woman when some dude did something nasty to them.”
Sadly accurate. So far the book is full of feminist observations that while not ground-breaking, are well articulated, heartfelt, opinionated and a joy to read from someone so bang in the heart of mainstream.
Last one, on the cult-like experience of studying and practicing improv comedy:
“Studying improvisation literally changed my life. It set me on a career path towards Saturday Night Live. It changed the way I look at the world, and it’s where I met my husband. What has your cult done for you lately?“