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Thursday, November 17, 2011

Brand relevance - functional or imagery led.

Came across a google doodle today, as each one of us would have come across these doodles at multiple time.

What suprises me is that the google logo is quite amorphous, changing often and has not fixed form. I dont imagine Google to be in a specific font, form, colour, background or context. Dont even know if they would have invested in creating a brand manual.

What comes to my mind when I think google is its functionality, its benefits, its utility. Dont really care what it looks like. So a functional elements of the brand score over the aesthetics/brand look & feel.

Does it point to an emerging trend amongst consumers. Do we want brands to be functionally relevant, and dont want them to spend money to create brand image, so that you and me will pay for it subsequently.

Is that a trend, or is it only relevant to digital space.

Good through to start the day ?

Thursday, October 20, 2011

Balanced view about a visionary

This article in Mint by Sandipan Deb quite amazed me. It is a beautiful piece, which presents a balanced view about Steve jobs.

I use a lot of apple products and am impressed with the customer centricity steve had in designing his products, however I feel that we often get swayed way too much by the aura of a brand and not look beyond it.

I like the attempt of Mr.Deb in sharing few shades of grey from aura called Mr. Apple. I am sharing the article as is and thank Mr. Deb once again for sharing these viws

Not a Very nice man to know

Picasso only as the greatest painter of all time, and disregard the fact that he used, abused and discarded countless women throughout his life for work and pleasure?
Steve Jobs, by any standard, was a magnificently creative mind: visionary, iconoclast, transformer, creator of a massive global subculture of cool. No business- man's death has possibly ever seen such a worldwide spontaneous outpouring of grief and eulogy.

But was Jobs a “good man“?

Well, everyone now knows from his 2005 Stanford speech that he was an adopted child: his biologi- cal mother gave him away soon af- ter his birth. It is less well known that in 1977, when his live-in girlfriend Chris-Ann Brennan became pregnant, Jobs denied paternity, and demanded she abort the baby. When she refused, he threw her out. When the child Lisa Nicole was born and a DNA analysis proved that he was the father, Jobs still refused to pay child support, even though mother and child were living on welfare. It took a court order to make him cough up the cash.

Jobs' attitude towards relation- ships with friends and colleagues was often bizarre, unpredictable and selfish. But the story of Alvy Ray Smith takes the cake.

After being ousted from Apple in 1985, Jobs bought Pixar, a computer animation company co-founded by Smith. What Smith and his team created transformed computer animation and made Jobs his first billion dollars. But after years of working together, Jobs went insanely ballistic on Smith during a meeting for writing on a whiteboard. In any meeting, Jobs had the “ownership“ of the whiteboard, and no one could violate that rule. Smith, feeling utterly humiliated, quit, leaving behind all that he had built. Jobs had Smith's name expunged from Pixar's official history. Smith ceased to exist.

In 1996, Gil Amelio was appoint- ed CEO of a beleaguered Apple and was given three years to turn it around. He appointed Jobs as a special adviser. Immediately, Jobs managed to get a highly damaging story on Amelio done in a leading business magazine, which also said that it was time Jobs was put in charge. Jobs then organized a boardroom coup and ousted Amelio. In effect, the Apple board reneged on its three-year promise to Amelio, paying no attention to the fact that he had taken over a company with hardly any money in the bank and had built up a $3 billion cash pile in just one-and-a-half years. This money bought Jobs enough time to figure out his strategy for Apple. Jobs, naturally, made sure that the world believed he was taking charge of a pauperized firm.

Of course, what followed is history: iMac, iPod, iPhone, iPad.
But behind its “think different“ cool, Apple was using brutal business tactics. It bought the rights to SoundJam, an MP3 software created by a firm called C&G, then stole all the company's best developers, and effectively made sure C&G shut down. And the iPod was born (but then, Jobs, in a 1994 interview, had said that talent imitates, genius steals).

All Apple products became increasingly exclusionary: nothing it produced would operate on any other platform. In fact, in 2008, Apple sent a cease-and-desist letter to BluWiki, a non-commer- cial wiki provider, alleging that a discussion of how to get other hardware and software to interop- erate with iPod infringed Apple's copyrights. BluWiki sued Apple, which had to back off and retract. After Jobs' death, legendary software freedom activist Richard Stallman described him as the “pioneer of the computer as jail made cool, designed to sever fools from their freedom“.

In 2006, it came to light that Apple, while granting stock options to several employees, including Jobs, had been backdating them to correspond with lows in the stock price, so the grantees could make higher profits when cashing out.
Stockholders sued, and it was proved that Jobs had been aware of this. He and 12 others agreed to pay $14 million to settle.

Nearly all of Apple's manufac- turing is outsourced to China and there have been consistent allega- tions of inhuman working condi- tions--which have apparently even led to suicides--and total disregard for environmental safety.
Last month, the Institute of Public and Environmental Affairs, a Beijing-based advocacy group, told The Wall Street Journal that it found Apple “stubbornly evasive“ and said its refusal to discuss sup- pliers (Chinese factories manufac- turing for Apple) “can only be seen as a deliberate refusal of responsi- bility“ for environmental issues.

Also, of course, as we all know now, Jobs did not seem to have do- nated a cent to charity. But it was, after all, his money and entirely up to him what he did with it. What is more interesting is that he would very often not bother to drive around Apple's parking lot and would park his Mercedes in spaces reserved for the handicapped, sometimes parking badly enough to take up two spaces. Staffers stuck “park different“ cards on his windshield. Not that it improved Jobs' parking habits.

Yes, Jobs was not a very good person. But then, maybe one should only look at what a genius created rather than what he was.

Monday, October 10, 2011

Mumbai traffic - possible solution

Mumbai traffic solution.

Invariably all of us curse Mumbai for it's deteriorating traffic conditions. It does merit the treatment. Most of us curse politicians, auto rickshaws, best buses, roads and police in that order.

I too do the same. So much so for being a arm chair critic.

But what can I do besides that ?

Let me examine alternatives in front of me, which can potentially help ease out density of cars on road.

Option A) take a train. Ease of getting in and getting out of the train is a big deterrent and can be s potential bone breaker. Not to forget I am not getting younger, and the pain of getting a mode of transport from home to station and  office is a big stumbling block. Ruled out.

Option B) pool a car with colleagues. Don't know of colleagues who stay near, and friends who share the same work load/schedule. Not to mention the problems of. Not being able to discuss everything on phone when someone  known is am round. Ruled out.

Option C) buy a 2 wheeler. Exciting thought. A good reason to go in for that dream machine. Could be a Harley, or a home grown enfield. How about a scooty, works well with wife as well.  But thought of risking the monsters on road, and the daily commute, it's a scary thought. Ruled out.

Option D) hire a drive. At least I am saved the trouble of driving, and can focus on work, chat, even it takes care of drunken driving. Good thought. But am I in any manner contributing towards reducing traffic density. Not really. Contrary adding to costs and tantrums of driver. Ruled out.

Do I have any more choice?

I think I do. 

Just think of every corporate professional uses public infrastructure called taxis. My argument for usage of taxis is as below.

A) you don't get your vehicle on the road, thereby doing your bit of reducing traffic density.
B) you don't stress yourself by acting as a part time driver for at least 1 hour a day and braving those beasts on road, and giving your calf muscles a torture.
C) you avoid heartburn when some auto, taxi or SUV brushes past your priced vehicle and adds on to your things to do list on a weekend.
D) you can talk at length on phone, without being worried about cops.
E) you don't encourage creation of parallel economy of drivers who drive private cars v/s taxi drivers.
F) you can peacefully work on your tab or mobile device.
G) lastly you support livelihood of people have chosen to opt for taxi driving profession and not compete with them (though un knowingly) in the driving profession.

This may sound stupid or foolish soliton, but look around some developed countries like UK, Europe etc, where they levy congestion tax for private vehicles plying on the road. Your government can only create so much roads and bridges, they cannot overnight grow the infrastructure to keep pace with automotive (read private vehicles) growth rate. It's not practical.

I believe that depending upon budgetary considerations, each individual should encourage and use public transport and avoid creating a rat race of cars on road. Owing a car should not always equal to driving it to work,

Try it.

Thursday, September 29, 2011

Bad Manager's diary

During my working experience of a decade and half, I have worked with some good and some bad colleagues/seniors/peer. All have contributed significantly in shaping me. They have been an integral part of my professional grooming.

Today I came across an article which beautifully narrates what contributes to employees having a bad experience at work. Authored by Liz Ryan from Business Week, borrowed by ET, this note beautifully explains things which most of us (intentionally/un intentionally) say some point in time, and what they mean to your colleagues/juniors. Good read, and a special credit to Liz taylor for penning it down.

# 1 If you dont want this job, I'll find someone who does it :  disgusting thought, Why in the first place you hired the person. As much as it is employees job to do things, it is senior/employers job to ensure necessary support, motivation & hand holding is done. Threatening employee will never deliver anything.

#2 I dont pay you to think : Then go and hire a robot. I may not think on same lines as you do, and I do respect that there can be often only one right thinking, but I still have a right to think. Change in thought process can be brought by delivering results, leading by example, and not by stating such things.

# 3 No social networking /entertainment sites while in office : ???????? Utter dis respect for the fact that every employee is a human being, and hence a social animal. How can you expect them to grow when thier exposure level is being clipped. To draw a line between excessive social networking and hence zero deliverable is a noble thought. But rather insist on weeding out the bad crop, and not keep a blanket dictat.

# 4 Who gave you permission to do that : Have you hired slaves ? Or still worst dogs who cannot wag a tail till you dont ask them to. Only machines work that way, and machines dont have a brain. With humans you can excercise limited authority, and talk them through the fact that why they are not allowed to take few decisions. It can be an aspirational thing for them to earn that authority and perform.

#5 Drop everything and do this NOW: Why ?. Did you earn the right to change somebody's calendar, because you did not plan yours ?. Urgent revertals are fine, and should be used to enhance service capabilities, but dont make it a norm.

#6 Dont bring me problems, bring me solutions : Could be a good way to encourage your team to think creative and be self starter. But dont act as if you yourself dont know the solution. Encourage creative thinking, and put ideas which lead up to the solution.

#7 When I was your age, I did so many things : Please dont burden me with your legacy or lack of it. I dont care what times you went through, and this doesent mean I dont respect your ordeals. But what is the relevance of those things - today. Its a different day, its a different world, different times. Why dont we together tackle it and not together live in your past.

#8 In these times you're lucky to have a job at all : Dont act GOD. A self respecting person will fend, and get his livelihood. Any job is not bigger than self respect,  so please dont rub it the wrong way. You would rather control fools and egoists in your company by promoting someone who is humble, deserving, but dont act GOD.

#9 You are enjoying on my hard work/my money : So why dont your enjoy alone ? No successful enterprise is born out of ME ME ME syndrome. There is a cost of doing business and you got to pay that. Dont be a miser in thinking that I will earn but not pay, and if paying means it goes through your hard earned money, well you got to pay a cost for making more money.

About Me

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I believe in brands, and love to create one - Including myself.

Marketing & Communication space is where I earn,  Photography,Gadgets,Travel is where I spend.  Journalism, and making a change are my passion.