Brownstone Blog

Monthly Archives: June 2011

Come to Cloud 9 Thinking

News of the launch of Apple’s iCloud service has dominated technology and mainstream news over the past week. Not only for it allowing the ‘laundering’ of illegal music downloads, but for elevating ‘cloud’ technology into the mainstream.So, for the uninitiated, what is cloud and how will it effect how we communicate and above all do business?

‘With mobile phones now out-selling computers and smart phones now more powerful than the computers we coveted just five years ago, the move is towards one device from which you can access your information from anywhere in the world. The information is kept on a remote or viral server – know as a ‘cloud computer” Dave Jabbie explains. ‘Businesses are used to storing their information on a server – an actual physical box. ‘Cloud’ computing is the ability to store and deliver a resource on demand – such as iCloud for storing and downloading music. The advantages to business is that with cloud you pay only for what you use – whereas in the past you bought an expensive piece of hardware – a server – that could end up either not being up to the task and requiring an upgrade or else be far in excess of your needs – thus costly to run. Cloud does away with all that.’

iCloud ushers in the start of mainstream convergence – the one device from which you access all your stored information everything from documents, projects, information, photos, videos etc from anywhere – all stored on cloud. ‘Virtualization – which is another term for ‘cloud’ means that as far as businesses are concerned, their information is always accessible, always available,’ Jabbie says. ‘Unlike an actual physical server which can go offline or need down-time – during which time your customers cannot communicate with you and may not be able to access your website.’

But what does this mean for businesses seeking to communicate with and interact with their customers? What opportunities does ‘cloud thinking’ offer?

‘When thinking of web development and digital marketing, advertisers need to start to future-proof their strategies by starting to think of how their web site, digital or social media campaigns are going to be designed to be accessed by these ‘convergence’ devices. The idea of someone accessing your site by sitting in front of a computer monitor is fast becoming obsolete,’ says Jabbie. ‘Not only have we got to think about how a page displays on a hand-held device, the concept of convergence means that your customer could be viewing your information on a TV monitor – thus requiring higher resolution. What we are going to see emerging from this are apps and mobile sites for specific hand-held devices, and then an entirely different solution for display on large, HD screens.’

The future? ‘Eventually you will be able to design ‘smart’ sites and apps which recognise the device and adjust their resolution and display accordingly. Cloud storage allows for the cost-effective hosting of variable, smart solutions,’ says Jabbie.

Full convergence is some way off but device such as PlayStation, iPad and smart phones point the way with iCloud now providing a mainstream, commercial consumer service.

‘Cloud allows companies to offer a wider range of services to their customers while convergence allows their customers to access those services from any device, anywhere. ‘The smart money’s on those companies which are not only taking advantage of the cost effectiveness this offers but are thinking of the myriad ways they can connect and build relationships with their customers via their convergence solutions. iCloud is just the beginning,’ Jabbie states.’We are going to see Cloud products emerging that offer their users the ability to download, cache and store all their information – all in the one place. The vendors of these ‘Super Clouds’ will create massive media outlets capable of generating huge amounts of revenue – both in terms of paid-for services and in advertising space. The next generation of media barons will literally be sitting on Cloud 9.’


What’s your tribe?

What’s your tribe?

Yes, we know that sounds like a really bad pick-up line from the ’70’s. But for today’s businesses – especially those undertaking any kind of digital, social media or web-based marketing, then knowing your tribe is the key to your success.

In the past, marketing and consumer research has traditionally thought of consumers as individuals who were broken down into groups ranked by socio-economic status. However, despite this segmentation, consumers were thought of as individuals within the group rather than the group itself. With the advent of the internet the consumer tribe has been born and the focus has shifted from the individualistic to the concept that groups of people influence and exercise choice in the marketplace. Another way of looking at this is to see it not as the individual consuming your product or service which defines their lives – but as the activity of sharing the product or service for the group defines meaningful social connections. In other words, your tribe creates your brand experience for you.

It’s a brave new world for both agencies and their clients as both have to grapple with the concept that the USP (Unique Selling Proposition) is dead for most brands, and trying to sell products or services this way is pointless, wasteful and archaic. Instead of competing on USP or price, savvy advertisers have realised the only way to engage with their clients is to participate with them rather than broadcast a message about perceived benefits. In the digital realm, this means creating and/or accessing communities of shared interests in a particular product or service – known as a digital tribe.

These ‘tribes’ are defined by who they hang out with on the web and via their mobile devices. So – if you know who your ‘tribe’ are, you know where they are hanging out and can aim your digital strategy towards them via the things that interest them. Taken another way – while it’s important to know your product it’s now just as important to know your customer. Forget defining them by socio-economic group and start defining them by their interests. In the past, advertising functioned on the ‘one to many’ approach – the print, television, radio and even early internet campaign that in reality was nothing but a scatter-gun approach. Fire enough rounds across enough ground and you’re bound to hit some game. As we’re now aware, this is now being replaced with a ‘many to many’ approach where entire ‘communities of interest’ are created and communicated with, a task made easier with the advent of social media such as Facebook and Twitter.

However, because people often belong to more than one community or ‘tribe’ this brings new challenges when it comes to leveraging one’s budget – along with the fact that by definition, tribes are nomadic and digital tribes are no exception. The trick is to know ones tribe and which communities they are interacting with at any given time.

If this all sounds daunting, it doesn’t have to be. ‘A good digital agency has its finger on the pulse of the social zeitgeist in these on-line communities,’ Brownstone’s Dave Jabbie explains. ‘It’s incredibly exciting and at the end of the day, there’s huge opportunities out there to direct these tribes via promotions or other on-line tactics, back to your own company’s website and then keep them there.’

So, how does one interact with or even find these communities in the first place? ‘There are key sites where they hang out,’ Jabbie continues. ‘Sites such as The Huffington Post. Gamer sites like Addicting Games. There are music sites, coding sites – the list goes on and on.. But these communities are massive. If you can direct even a small proportion of users to your website or Facebook page the rewards can be enormous.’

But as usual it’s finding the right fit. Your offering has to resonate with the tribe – which is why you need to know which tribe you belong to in the first place. Brand definition plays a part in this – know thyself first and then you can define your brand ‘experience’ and then how this will enhance that of your tribe.

‘Once we move away from the notion of just selling units of a product and instead embrace the concept of how the experience of the product can enhance our tribes lives, then we are in a position to create demand.’  Jabbie believes that marketing to tribes is in fact th digital equivalent of thetown market. ‘In the past if you had a product to sell you’d set up a stall in the town square. You’d take your product to the tribal market. This is the digital eqivalent of that – it’s about figuring out where your consumers are and taking your content (products) to them.’

Competition Results

The votes ended up being really close with just 3 votes difference between Against the Grain Initiatives and Magic Solver.

We had some great reasons for voting, I have attached a few of these below for you to have a look at.

The final count was as follows: Against the Grain Initiatives in at first place with 82 votes, Magic Solver coming in at second with 79 votes and Campkins coming in third.

Quotes from votes:
MS: ‘Having reviewed your blog post for your competition, I’d like to suggest Magic Solver as the most likely to do something “really big” as a result. Cool concept by the way – getting each of the finalists to tell everyone about it, thus making us all identify you as a web design company worth winning from!’

MS: ‘A really EXCELLENT and successful young company – worthy of an award for entrepreneurship as well as design and creativity.’

MS: ‘Magic Solver should really win the Brownstone Design competition.
The company is great and deserves all financial support for making
so many people happy with their great applications.’

ATGI: ‘Against the Grain initiatives is an innovative, ethically sound and newsworthy business with excellent PR and growth potential. I have to say that I cannot think of a more worthy winner of a professionally designed web site than Graham Haynes and his crew.

Best wishes – and here’s hoping that an email can make a difference to help a worthy venture.’

ATGI: ‘I vote for the Against The Grain Initiative – I feel Against the Grain should win the £3500 branding competition to have a professional web site built for their new social enterprise to train and employ homeless and ex homeless people. I know the people behind Against the Grain and feel they have the skills, knowledge, experience and personal skills to succeed with their enterprise which will make a huge difference to a very vulnerable and marginalised client group and they need the web site to help succeed with what they are doing and be able to publicise some very innovative and excellent work.’

ATGI: ‘One charity and two businesses … charity for me (is anyone going to vote differently?)

To confirm – Against the Grain Initiatives gets my vote.

The competition is a great idea.’

ATGI: ‘I also worked with homeless people for a number of years, and realise the obstacles faced when trying to integrate into the community. Providing housing is not the only solution – a long-term sustainable answer is needed to solve the problems and ATGI are the first to come up with a realistic plan.

I know that they are unable to achieve their full potential at the moment, as they do not have the funds to build a website and spread the word, advertising themselves to clients and contractors alike.

The prize money offered by yourselves in the branding competition would enable them to complete their website, reaching potential funders, housing providers, and contractors who wish to fulfil their social responsibilities by employing people who would otherwise not have a chance to contribute to our society.

Please give ATGI your consideration, when deciding to whom this should be awarded – their work is unique, and could provide a template for other organisations across the country to provide a resolution for the problem of long term homelessness and benefit dependency.’

ATGI ‘Excellent concept working with professional people to include individuals that need support in order to encourage a focus and sense of well being to peoples lives.

This organization is well deserving of support and financial help in order to continue the works in progress.’

ATGI: ‘I would like to vote for Against the Grain Initiatives
They have worked so so hard over the past year to make this an up and coming idea they would really benefit from your help’

ATGI: ‘I totally support the ideology and aims of Against the Grain and I know that their organisation is doing something exciting and new and of great value to people who are often and easily written off and marginalised. A professional website would be an excellent bonus to the execution of this fantastic venture.’

ATGI: ‘I have just seen the competition you have going and see there can only be one clear winner. Although I do see the importance of camera equipment and iPhone apps, I believe that including, promoting opportunities, and sustaining the lives of people to be a slightly higher priority.

I’m sure the retail camera shop must be turning a profit to maintain overheads on two locations (City Centre Cambridge) and could find their own marketing budget.

I may be a little bias, as I work in social care. It’s so encouraging to see that there are opportunities for the people I support everyday to have a chance to support themselves with the help of companies like ATGI. They are obviously the most deserving, and being not-for-profit, see this as an amazing and possibly the only opportunity for them to have access to the services you provide.

Just think, with your support, ATGI could get more contracts and employ more people. Then all ATGI’s employees could buy an iPhone and a camera, and all three companies win!

My vote is for ATGI’

ATGI: ‘I am writing in support of Against the Grain Initiatives who are offering a truly innovative opportunity to long term homeless people, enabling them to leave the benefit cycle, the hostel environment and the inability to earn a sufficient living to be independent.‘