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AOL: Calling all Sad Bears

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I was puzzling over this recruitment ad for AOL that was posted on a billboard near my agency's building in the tech-heavy SoMa neighborhood.

Is this how the new brand image of AOL is going to be expressed?

If so, I guess we're going for a mix of upper and lower case and some new punctuation, which is OK, although it adds some complexity. For instance, does this mean we should start pronouncing it ay-ohl? Or, more properly, ay-ohl period? Or is that ay-ohl dot, as in dot com?

And what's with the sad bear on the circus bike? Are they looking for a very particular personality type in their employees? Should happy monkeys be advised that they need not apply?

Sure, we're all feeling a bit melancholy, given the economic situation and all the disasters and wars and all of that in the past few years, but really, it doesn't have to be worn on a corporate sleeve in such lugubrious fashion. Even in the case of a lugubrious former high-flyer brand such as Aol.

My last complai…

Border-line Crazy

The news today that Borders Books will close their doors has particular poignancy to me.

From nytimes.com:

At its peak, Borders was seen as the more brainy and cool of the large book chains, holding onto the college-town culture of its roots. In the 1990s, that image began to fade as the chain expanded wildly and helped snuff out many mom-and-pop independent stores.

The company’s troubles can be traced to a series of strategic missteps, executive turnover and a general failure to keep up with an evolving retail climate. Borders was hurt by pressure from Amazon.com, Barnes & Noble and big-box stores likeWal-Mart that began selling large numbers of best sellers.


As a student at the University of Michigan School of Art in Ann Arbor, I frequented the original Borders on State Street. It really was the quintessential college experience: A quiet, woody-shelved place where there were stools for reaching high shelves or sitting for hours to read, uninterrupted by staff. This was the 80s, s…

Four Emerging B2B Brand-Building Technologies

From BtoBonline.com:


In the report, “Emerging Technologies B2B CMOs Should Watch in 2011,” Forrester analyst Jeff Ernst recommended CMOs explore online content curation to bolster thought leadership; listening platforms to gauge customer sentiment; brand advocate platforms for spurring word-of-mouth; and appointment scheduling applications to engage potential customers who are ready to buy.


Even though only the third item is identified with branding, I believe all four of these tactics can be part of a comprehensive strategy for brand leadership in the online and social media spaces. 


Especially interesting is the last entry – appointment scheduling apps – as it gives prospects a significant feeling of control over the sales process. This alleviates some of the friction that naturally results when a sales call is received at an inopportune time. 


Even if the prospect may be interested in the product or service, poor timing of such a call can not only negate the sale, but damage the brand …