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Showing posts from May, 2012

When Ants Swallow Elephants

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Ants are small. But they are remarkably strong for their size. They are also able to adapt to almost any environment, including the man-made one. Elephants, on the other hand, are remarkably strong but not in direct proportion to their size. In fact, they have innumerable weaknesses due to their prodigious presence, and can only survive in an environment that is kept intentionally free of human intrusion.

What, oh what does this have to do with branding?

In mergers & acquisitions, a lot of time and effort is spent in valuation of the business assets of the company being acquired. Almost always the company with greater tangible assets (the elephant) is acquiring one of lesser (the ant), which makes obvious business sense.

The bigger company then goes on, in an almost perfunctory manner, to swallow, digest, and eventually eliminate the brand of the smaller company that has been acquired.

This does not always make the most sense. What if the smaller company actually has far more poten…

Reactive Robotics and Your Love/Hate Relationship with Brands

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I attended an event at Swissnex the other night where robotics researchers Oussama Khatib from Stanford AI Labs and Aude Billard from the Learning Algorithms and Systems Laboratory at the Ecole Polytechnique Féderalé de Lausanne displayed the latest in their research into reactive robotics. I came away convinced that once our machines are able to learn and respond to changes in their environments, it will be us who will have to learn to adapt to a whole new world in which certain brands that we rely on for affirmation or association may disappear as they lose relevance in a reactive robotic world.


I'm talking about our machines: Our cars, our appliances, and our tools. The things we currently command but which are going to be literally taken out of our hands.


The Google self-driving car is perhaps the most obvious. Almost every automaker is heavily invested in developing highly sophisticated, reactive vehicles. California lawmakers just passed a bill making driverless cars legal on …