Archive for March, 2012
As I saw on Mashable today, it’s Twitter’s birthday. Six years ago on March 21, the first fledgling tweet flapped out into the world (or at least to a fellow employee of Jack Dorsey’s at Odeo.) From that small step, Twitter exploded, a “side project” that has taken on a branded and cultural life of its own, with 500 million accounts (called “users,” which overstates their activity in most cases.) The power and influence of Twitter are clear, but the revenue model continues to struggle, and the system is clogged with crap. As an example, I have stopped trolling my Twitter feed because it is so full of junk, and use the site only as a research function to find interesting items on particular topics when the need arises. And my tweets are automated, feeding from other sources like Facebook and this blog.
My advice to Twitter as it enters First Grade this Fall? Start charging a fee.
Think about it. How many of those 500 million people might pay for staying active? If you charged $10/year, that’s a possible revenue pot of $5 billion. Let’s say 10% of users decided to pay for some form of upgraded service. That’s $500 million worth of revenue to grab.
Alternatively, you could charge per tweet using a micro-payments scheme. Set the price at a cent per tweet, with billing only starting when the balance due hits $10. That would mean most people don’t need to pay. The bill goes through the user’s mobile phone provider or to a credit card. (A great chance to mash-up with PayPal, don’t you think?)
Folks don’t have to provide payment information right off, but if the maximum free tweet limit is hit, payment must be provided to continue.
Twitter could also charge by follower volume:
- Free up to 500
- $10 for 501-1,000
- $20 for 1,001+
Installing payment requirements on volume users would also take one step towards uncluttering the service. There are people I follow who tweet daily, even hourly. These people are giving away advice to set themselves up as experts and stay top-of-mind. It is too much, however, and merely drives me to stop following them. My friend’s tweets are lost in the stream of junk, and I have to search on their monikers to find their posts.
Keep the service focused on users, not companies.
Surprisingly for a marketing man, I am not in favor of the company-based revenue model Twitter is trying to build. It admits that Twitter is promotional rather than informational and social. The original intent of the service was to connect people with their circles (Google is making a big push here, right?). Adding a small, easily paid charge to keep the service free of ads and promotion might help Twitter to retain its cache as a cultural phenomenon for years to come.
Everyone doesn’t need to tweet, and asking those who truly use the service to support it with subscriptions may be the most viable way to keep the project going. The New York Times is proving that relying on your biggest fans to stump up the cash for a higher level of service can work. Twitter should try it, too.
One of the great ironies of marketing is that the part that is the most fun – graphic design – is the least important in terms of making your marketing more effective.
This is true in spades for logos. Rejiggering or redesigning a logo that is serving its purpose has to be one of the biggest time-wasters in business. In fact, constantly tinkering with it is a BIG negative in what it communicates to the marketplace.
Logos are important as a representative for your brand promise. You should invest a basic amount to have a nice one designed. Here are some guidelines that small businesses should stick to:
- Keep it simple – Fancy frills don’t age well.
- Make it fit the product or industry se - Block letters, as an example, imply heft. Script letter less so. Script letters imply elegance, block letter less so.
- Make it clear – Include the company name or nickname. You are not going to spend enough money to make a pure design immediately recognizable. Note that IBM, FedEx, Xerox stick to their names as their logos. You should, too. It maximizes its value on a limited budget.
- Make it timeless – Don’t adopt trendy graphics, even if they make sense today for your market. You want to be in business for some time, and you want a logo that can go with you into the future.
No small business can afford to spend the millions of dollars needed to cement its logo in their marketplace as a short-cut to it brand promise. So spending time tinkering with the logo is a waste of precious time, energy and money.
Logos are the face of the company. They come to be a short-cut for consumers to your brand promise (think of what the sight of the Golden Arches automatically makes you do – Whether you salivate or curl your lip, those arches mean something because McDonalds spent billions making them an icon for predictable fast food.)
A Quick Case Study of a Company Overthinking its Logo.
A while back, Starbucks announced (unilaterally) that its logo was now iconic: It no longer needed the name “Starbucks” within it. Nor did it need the company name next to it. I disagreed. I felt Starbucks was deciding for the consumer that their logo had become as iconic as McDonald’s golden arches or American Express’ blue box, and pushing it onto their customers unnecessarily.
Now let’s examine one of the results of that decision:
In my own community of Castro Valley, there is a Safeway that has a Starbucks within it.
They just took “Starbucks” off the building and left the new Mermaid logo to fend for itself in attracting business. How attractive is this to you?
Now consider that a competitor, Peets, sits just thirty yards away in the same parking lot:
If you are pulling into this parking lot and thinking “I need a cuppa Joe,” which marquee is going to catch your eye? Where might you decide to buy your beverage and pastry?
Starbucks is going “cold turkey” on its move to a new logo, and I fear they are overestimating the business-drawing power of a logo with no connection to the brand name.
What do you think? Am I off-base?? Will Starbucks prove me wrong??? They certainly have the marketing budget to pull it off…
Any logo becomes iconic if presented often enough in a consistent manner (and the company delivers on its brand promise.) Which leads back to my original position: If any logo can come to represent you, why waste time and money creating more than a basic, servicable, classic logo?