EJM Designs Limited Blog

Thursday, April 30, 2009

UK Not "Too Much" Big Brother

From the AP:
The British government said Monday it wants communications companies to keep records of every phone call, e-mail and Web site visit made in the country. But it has decided not to set up a national database of the information, a proposal that had been condemned as a "Big Brother"-style invasion of privacy by civil liberties groups.
Under current rules, British Internet service providers are already required to store records of Web and e-mail traffic for a year. The new proposals would also require them to retain details of communications that originated in other countries but passed across British networks - for example if someone in Britain accessed a U.S.-based e-mail account.

Quick recap: under current law, communications companies are required to keep info on web and email traffic in Britain for a year. New law says all phone is to be added as well as any communication even passing through Britain. And they think a centralized database would be overbearing? This is ALREADY Big Brother. They're placating some of the masses by requiring a phone call or email from the police as opposed to just having it there for them? And that's not to mention how ripe it is for stealing, losing, or abuse.

Does this sit well with you? How do you feel about information privacy and technology? I'd love to hear what you think.

Wednesday, April 29, 2009

The Breakdown of Marketing: My Personal Razor Experience

Bic Blue

When I was a young man I, like most young men, began shaving with what my father used: I started on Bic. It was disposable, it had 2 blades, and it was blue.

Gillette Mach 3

Then, about the time I started college, I received the newest technology in the mail: The Gillette Mach 3. This one had a metal handle, 3 blades, and you only replaced the top. Slick.

Schick Quattro

Then, a few year ago I came across Schick's Quattro. As you would imagine, we're now up to 4 blades on a non-interchangeable, proprietary system designed to get you to buy more blades. And the replacements were starting to get pricey, but I stuck to it for a while.

Gillette Fusion

Finally about a year ago I received from a friend or maybe even my father a free sample of Gillette Fusion (Onion article here). I'd heard about it before. It was orange, it was big, and it was 5 blades strong ...+ 1 precision trimmer! And I tried it. And it worked. And then I went to the store and realized exactly how expensive those replacement blades were running and wondered exactly what the difference in shaving was, as I had come so far.

And where have we returned?

Bic Blue

To the beginning, of course. The double blades of Bic give me a fine enough shave and I spend 1/5 of what I would replacing all those poly-blade heads. The shaving industry, from my perspective, has run the route of epic fail. Except for those guys making the plastic blue razors. I'm proud to say my father never left them. Wise man.

So do you have a personal marketing experience you'd like to share? What razors do you use? I'd love to hear from you.

Friday, April 24, 2009

Stock Photos: Yea or Nea?

iStock Kids Umbrella

I've recently been through a couple experiences that have made me question the use of stock images. A month or so ago I heard from one of my clients that they would not use stock images because of a recent study that showed that people are recognizing stock images. I took it under consideration, but still used (and continue to use) some stock images when helping my clients put their sites together. Then, two weeks ago, I was grabbing images from another client's suggested list when I saw the image above at iStockPhoto. My first thought was: [That first client] was right!

The above image, as mentioned, was pulled from iStockPhoto, as is obvious from the watermark. But as soon as I saw it, I recognized it as the home page (and some ATMs) photo of Fifth Third Bank.

They've recently made some changes to their home page, but I saw that kids with umbrella image on the ATM display no less than 2 days ago.

So what are your thoughts on whether or not people should use stock photos? At one level, people are not stupid; they realize that they are looking at idealized representations of what you are creating or selling. On another level: FAKE! And on a third and most realistic level, web budgets can handle a couple, professional stock photos. Can they handle a photographer?

I'd love to hear what you think. Hit me in comments.

Thursday, April 23, 2009

Adam Marschall Time Lapse: MO to NM

I've been unabashedly pimping my brother's journey from Cleveland, OH to Los Angeles, CA over the last week, and wanted to further show off his accomplishments with this video he posted. Hey, I'm a proud big brother. It's a time lapse from his dashboard of Day 2 of travel which was Missiouri to New Mexico.

And yes, that is actually a snowstorm at the end of the video. In New Mexico.


You can keep up with his LA adventures at the Cleveland to LA blog, and his YouTube channel.

Stink Digital - "Carousel" for Philips

One of the most amazing pieces of advertising I've seen. Ever. An ad, a film, a story, all in one single moment. And, of course, scary clowns. Thanks to riotpixel tweet.
Created entirely by Stink Digital, this new interactive campaign promotes Philips latest entrant into the television market, the CINEMA 21:9. Since the televisions 21:9 frame lends itself so readily to film, our friends at Tribal DDB, Amsterdam commissioned us to create a piece of filmed content that could hold its own with Hollywoods best. Director Adam Berg responded with an idea for an epic frozen moment cops and robbers shootout sequence that included clowns, explosions, a decimated hospital, and plenty of broken glass and bullet casings.

Wednesday, April 22, 2009

Tech Trip Back: Honeywell's Electronic Mail

Electronic Mail

Sometimes something simply related to technology is good enough for a blurb. And a laugh. This is an old Honeywell ad. Head over to BoingBoing Gadgets to see the full image with copy like this: "Electronic Mail is a term that's been bandied about data processing circles for years."

...and comments like this: "Many CEOs still see email like this."

Friday, April 17, 2009

Selling the Invisible

I'm reading a phenominal book called Selling the Invisible by Harry Beckwith. Quick read with constant nuggets of wisdom for anyone selling a service.
Your prospects feel like the jurors in case after case. Befuddled by the facts and often mistrustful of the parties offering those facts, these jurors look beyond the facts, to things like the shine of the defendant's shoes, the niceness of the defendant's attorney, and a dozen other irrelevant details.

Appeal only to a prospect's reason, and you may have no appeal at all.

Words to live by.

Thursday, April 16, 2009

My Brother, OH to CA - in MO

My brother is traveling from Ohio to California. Tonight he's hanging in Missiouri.

Check out his blog.

We all wish we could be there.

Live vicariously with me.

Wednesday, April 15, 2009

Election: More Than 50% Voters Used Internet for Election News

From NYT:
Researchers have now confirmed what was evident to most political campaigns last year — more than half of the voting-age public used the Internet last year to find out about, write about and comment on the presidential election.
Is this a surprise? Pew says that 85% of adults are online. Are they getting their news from the teevee or are they getting their news when they log on at work or home?

It's all online now.

Any ideas about how the online media helped or hindered education about the election? Hit me up in comments.

Tuesday, April 14, 2009

Branding, Um...am...pm.... BP: huh?

A month or two ago, I noticed that BP, known for its green/yellow flower "Connect" rebranding a couple years ago, had done something strange. They'd rebranded their stores and stores website with the following look:

Why would BP rebrand as though they were blind?


As a designer, this struck a sour chord with me. Why would BP, pushing the clean, airy green/yellow/white trio switch up their primary identity? And if they were switching up their primary identity, why in this direction?

The change strayed from their attempt at environmental and pushed oddly into already-established convenience. The orange-red of "am" pulls in Sunoco, Clark, and Speedway. The blue of "pm" also hits Clark, Sunoco, and Speedway. WTF?

I guess it wouldn't as bad if BP just wanted to melt into the mainstream of gas station convenience stores, but juxtaposed with the rest of their branding effort, the orange/blue design sticks out like an embarrassing stain, a desire to be the same in the middle of an effort to be different.

What are your thoughts on BP's convenience store branding decision?

Friday, April 10, 2009

Domain Hosting - What You Don't Know Will Cost You

I've spent some time discussing the sad state of affairs that exists because some people are simply ignorant about what it means to hire a professional and expect a professional website. Unfortunately, that ignorance of the basic day-to-day dealings of the internets can hit people in many different ways, one being Domain Name Hosting.

To clarify: I'm talking about where the name of your website lives, not where the website files themselves are hosted. Yes, those can both be in the same place, and yes you can get ripped off on web hosting, but we're focusing on Domain Name Hosting. Web hosting is a completely different beast.

In the last month, I've run into two separate clients who sent me a copy of their domain name hosting renewal statements. These hosting companies were Domain Registry of America and Affordable Multimedia. Both of these companies were charging between $25 and $30 per year to renew the domain name. If I had not intervened, both clients would have unknowingly paid 3x what they should have.

Affordable Multimedia's email was especially pernicious. It stated that if you let your domain name lapse, it would be suspended and require an additional activation fee.

[Mini-lesson: What happens when your domain name expires
Nothing. When your domain name expires, it immediately belongs to no one and can be purchased by anyone. Which means that if Affordable Multimedia's email is true, what they are actually doing is sniping, or purchasing your domain name as soon as it is expired for the express purpose of holding it ransom for extra money. They are also counting on the fact that you don't know what actually happens and do not understand that this is unethical. But now you do.]

To be clear:
You should never pay more than $10 per year to own your domain name (as long as they're .com, .org, .net).

Now, I'm not fancy enough to endorse for a profit, but I will call out three names that I've had experience with in the past that will not rip you off: godaddy.com, eNom.com, and namecheap.com. For an added (corporate) layer of credibility, GoDaddy and eNom are the referral sites Google Apps lets you choose from if you want to buy your own domain name through them.

I'm sure readers have their own good and bad experiences. Please share your + and - companies in the comments!

Thursday, April 9, 2009

I Don't Patronize Bunnyrabbits!

While making my monthly trip to delete spam from a near-defunct AOL account, Walmart accosted me with a gigantic bunny.

AOL Killer Bunny

This, of course, occluded the story of a 3-ounce chihuahua named Tom Thumb who - at last report - was reasonably put off.

We've seen obnoxious ads blocking our reading of just about everything on the web for years now. And the simple act of writing about how annoying it is does what the ad itself could not: add a layer of promotion to the target.

So where does that leave the conversation? To we stifle it because it just gives them more attention, or bring further attention to it in a deliberate attempt to chastise the perpetrators of these annoyances? What are your thoughts?

Friday, April 3, 2009

Who's Afraid of the Big Bad Tech?

Aside from the obvious terror of the internet (or someone's basement RAID array) becoming conscious and, therefore, potentially Skynet or a sad accident between a IEEE 1394 interface and a corpse populating the world with zombies (and, by proximity, the internet, creating ZombieSkynet), what reason is there to be afeared of technology?

For some, it's called Wii. Wii Fit, that is.

Yeah, that's the Japanese version, just for kicks

Granted, the Wii instills fear in many people for many reasons. Hardcore gamers tremble at the thought of friends and families gathering in the living room to laugh and exercise with an intriguing but admittedly imprecise user interface.

While there are arguments for Resident Evil 4 and Metroid Prime 3, the Wii Fit is an argument against why computers should gain the ability of sentience (like this lovely comic).

Wii Fit made me fat. It's true. I never thought too much of the mild bulge around my mid-section, but when I stepped on the Wii Fit, I found I was barely Overweight and flinching to Obese. And I'm a reasonably-fit, albeit heavier-than-i'd-like person.

And then I tossed it off, said I was too good for Wii Fit. But there it was, under the coffee table, begging me to do the age thing again, begging me to be weighed. And after a month or so, I did it again. And, by a twitch, I hit Obese.


No. Stop. It's not the Wii's fault. It's me. I knew. I've known for a while. But I ignored it. And I ignored it. And then I couldn't. Who wants to be fatty-boom-ba-latty? Who wants a computer to tell you you're Obese?

Not me.

C'mon Wii Fit. Bring it. I'll take breaks for Wii Sports boxing. But only that. Then back to the balance board. Stretch. Bounce. Games. Yoga.

Even if you're sporting a T-800 memory chip under there, it only serves to make me better to fight the robot (or zombie) Armageddon.