Business 2.0

Values-based branding

A lot of the work we do at Zumio focuses on achieving clarity of brand and business objectives. One of the phrases that’s popping up in my conversations is “values-based branding” and I wanted to just drop a short note here expanding a little more about what I mean by that.

To me, this phrase has a dual meaning. The first: in order to deliver a great experience to the people you are serving, you need to be clear about the type of experience you are are trying to create – not just in terms of the detail (i.e. what you do), but the overall feeling that you are intending people to experience when they interact with your organisation.

The second aspect can be summarised by this cartoon by Hugh Macleod (inspired the Hughtrain manifesto):

The market for something to believe in is infinite (Hugh Macleod)

Instilling a deeper purpose and mission when conceiving the brand (and I’m talking about more than lip service here – I mean truly engendering the values across an organisation through action, and not just “tacked on” as an afterthought) can have a big impact. First inside, then outside an organisation.

This is related to the concept of “thick” value that I mentioned the other day in reference to Umair Haque’s post.

I’m not saying you have to have a “save the world” clause in your brand values (although if you can authentically embed such a mission, all power to you). Just some sense of a deeper purpose that people can draw on and rally around when they need that extra inspiration to deliver a great experience.

Business 2.0, Design, Software & web applications

API opportunity

The other day I rocked up to Greater Union on George street with some friends to catch a movie. Forgetting it was “tight-ass Tuesday” there was a long line, so I thought “I’ll jump into OneTap Movies and see if I can buy tickets” – then I could jump the queue using their pre-purchased tickets line.

OneTap Movies is an iPhone application that uses GPS to find the nearest cinema, and then allows you to browse the movies and times for that cinema. You can even preview some movies and see ratings.

It’s a great little app, but it’s missing the killer feature: you can’t buy tickets – as I found out that night. (Certainly this is the case for my local cinemas.)

So I thought “I have a fully working browser on my phone, I’ll have a crack at the Greater Union site”. I quietly hoped they had taken the initiative to develop an iPhone specific interface, but I wasn’t banking on it.

I got to the Greater Union site and waited for the ~500k worth of media to slooooowwwly stream down (the home page rates an F using YSlow). The site also uses tables, which meant that the key interface component didn’t display until the entire page had downloaded.

I then started to use their JavaScript enabled interface, only to find that it failed at the first step – choosing a cinema.

So we waited in line, and by the time we got to the desk the session we were after had sold out.

A couple of things struck me in considering this short, but sad, tale:

  1. If the Greater Union site used web standards more efficiently I probably would have been able to complete my purchase in a fraction of the time.
  2. Buying movie tickets is the ideal application for an iPhone or mobile specific site. Greater Union, and other cinema chains, should be seriously considering a more tightly focused mobile-oriented site for this purpose, ideally targeting devices like the iPhone (but not restricting it to only work on the iPhone).
  3. If Greater Union had a web-services API for purchasing tickets (with a revenue sharing model for extra incentive for third-party integrators), then I suspect OneTap would have full purchasing capabilities built-in. This would mean referral revenue for Greater Union from applications they don’t have to build, as well as a better user experience.

Such an approach fulfils a couple of the key principles I outlined in my recent CPA presentation:

  • Leveraging the network: OneTap Movies includes user-generated ratings – but the personal utility (finding what’s on) is the primary focus of the app.
  • APIs: providing an API would potentially expand Greater Union’s market significantly through third-party applications. (This also relates to the “because” effect.)
  • Clip of sale: by revenue sharing Greater Union make more money, through increased referrals, while encouraging third-party developers to leverage the API.
  • Embraces mobile and geo-targeting: two concepts I mentioned as playing a significant role in future online apps.
  • User-centered, contextual design: mobile access to decide on movie attendance and purchasing tickets fits strongly with user motivations and wants.

So how about it Greater Union?

Business 2.0


These two posts landed side by side in my RSS reader today, and although on different topics, I thought they dovetailed nicely.

Seth Godin: Who answers the phone?: “Shouldn’t you be tracking in the finest detail what people have to say when they call in?”

Bruce Nussbaum: Loyalty: “For companies that build a very loyal base of consumers, it may be important for them to monitor the edges, where a few people are saying things that contradicts the majority.”

I found the point of intersection interesting…

Code, Software & web applications, Standards

Inline CSS emails at Campaign Monitor

The folks at Freshview have introduced yet another great feature to Campaign Monitor, their web-based email management system: Automatic inline CSS styles.

While there are tools out there that do this (most of which I found out about through the Campaign Monitor blog), having this functionality embedded within the tool itself makes it even easier.

While this probably only means something to developers, it actually will save clients a lot of money too – developers have to spend a lot of time maintaining and updating newsletter templates to get them working right in various email clients. This “one click” solution will make that whole process a lot easier.