It’s one thing for a potentially deluded Silicon Valley entrepreneur like Elon Musk to develop a plug-in electric luxury supercar and say the game has changed. But when auto makers like Audi and Porsche jump onto the track… well, that IS a different game.
At the 2015 Frankfurt Motor Show both of these venerable German luxury auto makers revealed high-end electric-only prototype vehicles – the E-Tron Quattro Concept and the Mission E respectively. With a projected 300+ MILE range, both are a generation ahead of the BMW i8 and i3 electrics currently available. The Audi and Porsche concepts aren’t destined to hit showrooms for a few years yet, but the writing is on the wall.
Because the real challenge of electric vehicle adoption may have less to do with technology than it has to do with brands.
Elon Musk’s Tesla badge has been riding a big electric wave of amazing automotive press reviews (for the Model S sedan) and buoyant stock market excitement. But it’s still a car company that is has only been around since 2003. My Honda is that old. So it takes a definite early adopter mindset to sink 60 to 80 thousand dollars or so into one of their electronic rocketships.
Put a Porsche, BMW or Audi emblem on the side however, and potential buyers are suddenly reassured by decades of brand equity, resale value and prestige.
Even though these major automakers will be big competition for Tesla, it’s likely that Musk and his crew are high-fiving at the news. With these kind of commitments, the internal combustion luxury industry may have just validated the Tesla product and elected its brand as their leader.
Whether Tesla can hold that position remains to be seen.
The Silent Gardener is a BC company that usually likes to be as unobtrusive as possible. But when making their new video, Unicycle Creative decided to get under peoples’ skin a bit.
Opening with the dental-filling-shaking sounds of a Harley Davidson, the video asks a simple question: Ever want to just turn down the world?
The answer, of course, is to start in your own back yard.
In the Lower Mainland (Vancouver) market, there is a rich urban soundscape, including our share of audio irritants. There is also a strong appreciation for the beauty and general peacefulness of our surroundings. This strategy gives people an option to do something about their own personal ‘sound footprint’ by considering a quieter landscaping option.
Because The Silent Gardener specializes in commercial properties, stratas and green roofs, it was also important to show off some of their larger scale electrical equipment, including hedge trimmers and even a ride-on mower that can quietly cut acres of grass.
Yours truly illustrated and animated the video, and real life footage was shot by Jason Robinson of Sustainability Television. Vancouver sound studio GGRP provided the voiceover track and sound effects.
So what’s YOUR sound-pollution footprint? Do you own a motorcycle with straight pipes? Or do you wear soft-soled shoes in the yard so as not to disturb the snoozing squirrels?
According to a study by the Conference Board of Canada, consumers are starting to demand more local choices on their plates. Maybe that’s part of the reason chef Randy Jones’ Mile One Eating House, in Pemberton BC, has taken off. From local grass-fed beef burgers to Pemberton potato fries on the side, the Mile One recipe for success starts right in their own back yard.
So when Mile One expanded their operation to provide an open kitchen local market area, they wanted a way to celebrate the local bounty and show their customers just how much the Pemberton Valley has to offer.
Click for a closer look!
They commissioned a piece of in-store art showing as many of the valley’s features (and quirks) as possible in a huge illustrated Lorne Craig cartooned poster.
As a recreational property owner in the area for almost 20 years, I was able to bring some of my own local knowledge to the table, and work with the Mile One team to identify key farming and food production areas up and down the valley. Randy also had no problem having some fun with local identity, which makes the piece a little more edgy and entertaining.
Not only does the illustration work as a holistic local valley zeitgeist, it is also high-resolution enough that the Mile One marketing team can use its myriad characters for any number of branding and marketing projects.
Consumers indicate that some of their motivation for purchasing local food is to support their local economy and farmers. Many also believe that local produce is fresher than alternatives.
All good reasons to check out the Mile One Eating House, and have a look at what local character can really bring to the table.
The real thing, with a compostable to-go container!
It’s hard to believe, but there may actually be a more wasteful process for improving Metro Vancouver’s transit system than the one proposed by the Mayor’s Council. And if the NO vote carries the day, we’re all going to get to see it first hand. And pay for it.
How can that possibly be?
Let’s begin by understanding that saying ‘NO’ is not a plan. In fact, it’s not even really a YES / NO situation. A more accurate wording choice would be, CONTINUE / RESTART.
Ah, but what about the no-tax-better-plan website? Certainly THAT offers a plan? Well, if you really read it, not so much. It’s more like 90% tax protest and 10% vague concept put forth by a group of ‘everyday people who live across our great region’. A fine example of grassroots democracy, to be sure. But it’s FAR from the debated and agreed-upon priority list pushed through the painful filters of political reality by the region’s Mayors.
Therefore, a NO vote really means ‘Back to the Drawing Board’. And we all know how that plays out. Committees, studies, delays and infighting. Kaching, Kaching, Kaching. All while we watch construction, land and opportunity costs rise, and congestion get worse.
So if you really want to change Translink, improve the plan and make things better, vote YES. Then get on a committee. Go to public meetings. Write letters. Hold our leaders responsible.
But PLEASE don’t vote NO and waste even more of our money on a restart none of us can afford.
Leave it to a Canadian entrepreneur to solve a problem that has plagued hockey for as long as the game has been played. ‘Bio-Jock’, a new line of single use, compostable hockey pads, is being developed by Vancouver businessman Ian Schraeker with the assistance of the UBC Sports Medicine Clinic and Solid Waste Services of Metro Vancouver.
“The stinky hockey bag is an unfortunate icon of our culture,” Schraeker says, “We are going to change all that. We now have the technology to make hockey protective gear as biodegradable as paper towels.”
Initial prototypes use waste material from sugar cane production called ‘bagasse’. It’s moisture-wicking, renewable, and has a shock-absorption rating to match that of closed-cell urethane foam. Schraeker says testing in simulated game collision modelling should be completed at UBC this month. Composting tests are also underway with the ‘used’ equipment at Metro Vancouver’s compost test facility.
So when will these pads be ready to cut the locker room funk at a local arena near you?
“We’re starting with the smallest, but most critical piece of gear,” Schraeker says, “The jock contributes more molecular stank per gram than any other piece of hockey equipment. So we plan to be into complete manufacturing of those by April 1st 2016. But until testing is complete, we don’t recommend anyone try composting these at home. You wouldn’t want to grow carrots from that dirt.”
How many times has this happened to you: – you arrive at the grocery store and realize that you have left your growing stack of reusable bags at home AGAIN, and short leaving a trail of loose carrots and dented tomato sauce cans leading to your door, you are forced to capitulate to the shame of plastic bags.
It’s not your fault. It’s all about triggers. This is just one of the theories in the bestselling book Contagious, Why Things Catch On, by Jonah Berger. The author contends that the strongest mental triggers reminding you to take your bags don’t occur until you get to the store – and by then it’s too late. If you want to remind people to bring bags, this activity should be related to (and triggered by) something at the beginning of the shopping experience. (Like making the list, for instance)
Unicycle Creative designed a large, robust recycling bag, featuring animated characters that represent a wide variety of take-backs. There’s also a cheat-sheet on one side panel, and links to the London Drugs info site greendeal.ca on the other.
The idea is that consumers will be reminded to take their recycling in to London Drugs, just as they prep for their shopping trip.
The bags (which contain recycled content and themselves are recyclable) have been rolled out over the course of the first quarter at London Drugs events and special occasions. So far, anecdotally, they have had a great visual impact.
So next time you have a reminder for people, consider the power of triggers, and focus on keeping them relevant and immediate to the heart of your audience and their stages of participation.
Oh, and if you want any illustrated triggers as well, let me know.
Marc Stoiber is a force of nature. I almost said freak of nature, but I didn’t. Not sure why, because he’s that, too.
Not only did he build a dazzling career, drinking with the world’s creative elite and working on brands that would make Don Draper salivate, he threw it all away in a mid-life bid to create the ultimate green agency (sound familiar?) sold it to focus on a career fostering innovation, then threw all THAT away to go surfing in Bali for a year and write a book.
But try as I might, I can’t do anything but admire Marc, and heartily recommend his new book ‘Didn’t See it Coming’ for anyone interested in the creative mind, our messed up planet and the Venn diagram intersection of those two irregular shapes.
In a tight 144 pages, Stoiber takes us through an honest look at the changing advertising business, a glimpse of future-proofing and a side-track of Zen and the art of brand self examination before opening the door to a world where failure is beautiful, secrecy is a myth and REAL design matters.
A few quotes:
“In high school, the career counselor asked me what I imagined myself doing for a living. I said I didn’t know, but I saw myself getting off an airplane in a good suit.”
“While big brand executives tinker, garage entrepreneurs invent bullets that will take those brands out of commission.”
“The Stupid Curve… we’ve been flooded with amazing devices, toys and tools…and you’ve been sentenced to life as a newbie, feeling perennially stupid and incompetent.”
Tasty and even relatively easy to digest.
If you’re at all curious about what’s coming up on the horizon, read ‘Didn’t See It Coming’. You won’t look back.
While compiling the most recent Unicycle Creative Demo Reel, I found myself observing the stylistic threads running through this rube Goldberg-like compendium of collected works. Is this a good thing? Should a branding firm cultivate a ‘style’?
If a client looking for a brand is like a family shopping for a sofa, it stands to reason that they should search within a range of companies that match their personal preferences, based on their history, values and personality.
If however, a brand is more like someone looking to have their car repaired or updated, they might seek out a reputable mechanic, and rely on them to make the right recommendations for that particular model and its needs.
In ‘Dimensions of Brand Personality’, Stanford School of Business Marketing Professor Jennifer L. Aaker breaks down basic personality traits into the ‘Big Five’: Sincerity, excitement, sophistication, competence and ruggedness. How would these facets of brand personality apply to a branding firm?
Sincerity is key, as trust is paramount when offering up your corporate underbelly for delicate brand surgery.
Excitement is a definite requirement, both for getting buy-in internally and for keeping energy levels up throughout what can be a long-term process.
Sophistication may or may not be required in the final product, though a refined process will certainly help.
Competence is probably desirable trait number one, as throwing money at an incompetent branding process is generally a recipe for a pink slip.
As for Ruggedness, the tenacity to push through the difficult stages of brand discovery and stand up to the constant corrosion of mediocrity and the temptation to take the ‘easy way out’ certainly requires a log-cabin-building type of fortitude.
I welcome any and all thoughts (from all personality types) on the elements of branding style – and obviously, any character traits observed in our own Unicycle Creative offering.
Well it has been a pretty well-assembled year here at Green Briefs and Unicycle Creative. To celebrate, I made this fun little card with my family, showing how all the pieces of 2014 clicked together (more or less) to create a pretty awesome set. Many best wishes and gratitude to all my readers, clients and friends who make being in this crazy business such fun. See you in the bigger, better 2015 set!
If you want a closer look, click on the image to download a PDF.
*’If I was King I’d Make the World Out of LEGO’ is actually the title of a blog I wrote for Sustainable Minds a few years back, imagining a completely standardized and upgradable world. Ahead of its time, perhaps… Read the original here.