Sunday, October 28, 2007

Second Life - Hype or not?


Wipro announced its presence on Second Life this week. This site arouses mixed emotions among casual technophiles and geeks. Some knock it as overhyped and unlikely to every succeed, and others as the next big thing. I belong to the "older generation" - it is unlikely that I will ever get addicted to Second Life. But I think it has amazing potential as a communication tool - you can see buildings in 3-D, control your interactions, and chat with pals in any format you like - voice, text chat. Unlike some other social networking sites, in Second Life you can have clearly defined corporate territories and people wander in voluntarily because they need information or you have some cool goodies (did I mention that the wipro site offers t-shirts to visiting avatars?) You can restrict access to your site too.

In many ways Second Life is like a new, improved web where sites are in 3-D animation with super-improved navigation and communication features.

Yes, like all pioneering technologies it may or may not stand the test of time. It may go the way of the early search engines or net browsers. But those who have figured out how to benefit from Second Life will emerge stronger in whatever is the next phase of that evolution.

Around 9 years ago when a friend introduced me to google I thought it was cool, but not essential to my life. Now, not a day goes by that i don't use it in business and personal life. I hope Second Life lives long enough to become ubiquitous, but if not, there will be a Ninth Life to take its place!!

Saturday, October 20, 2007

a logo is a logo is a logo. or is it?

I dropped off the blogging scene because I didn't think anyone read the stuff I wrote!

Amazing how when you stop writing all your friends go to read your blog and come back to you with the news that it is as dead as the dodo. So after a hiatus I am back. Ok, I've been pushed into running a blog on the corporate website, so hey, what the heck, may as well do one on my own too.

Over the past couple of weeks have been doing some thinking about iconic vs illustrative vs logotype logos. If you are looking to create a logo any time in the near future, you may want to keep this in mind. In my time I have worked with a number of logos...and you can never find a marketer who is happy with the one they inherited!!! So let's discount the aesthetics and talk about practicality, and since marketers are always cash-strapped (or believe they are!), the economics.

Logotypes - these logos are typically simple and just unique renditions of a text name. Examples are google and infosys and ibm. Mostly hand-lettered for uniqueness, these allow you a lot of freedom to play around and evolve your creative style. google is a brilliant example of that. these are also usually the most economical to maintain - and interestingly, one of the world's most successful investor firms, berkshire hathaway has a logotype.

Iconic logo - though logotypes are the easiest to do and often the cheapest, most marketers and CEOs want a nice visual representation of their brand identity. Examples of iconic logos are Intel, Dell, Cisco, Doordarshan, iGATE Global, Nike. These make business cards and stationery stand out, but are more expensive to create and later to execute. why expensive to create? that's because if you want to register your logo in the US or India, you have to undertake a legal search for uniqueness and if your icon looks like anyone else's in the same or related industry you can't use it. given that people have been making iconic logos for years and years most of the simple graphical representations are already taken. depending on how complicated your icon is you will have to spend more to get your t-shirts and visiting cards to be true to the reality ie better quality printing, special colours, and embroidery not printing on t-shirts

Illustrative logos - these are the most unique but also the toughest to create and maintain. Examples are Apple, Wipro, Hartford Insurance, Jaguar, Camel cigarettes, Ferrari. On the plus side, they are amazing tools for visual reinforcement - you see a jaguar you think of the car, you see the horse you think of ferrari. The reasons they are difficult to create are that you need a talented graphics artist to create a representation that is unique yet doesn't look like kindergarten art. They are also far more expensive to reproduce accurately - all the difficulties explained in my previous para get multiplied for these logos.

So, what logo is best for you?

If your business is new or you don't have a clear view of your brand identity, (or if you don't have a marketing manager to lovingly reproduce your logo) go for either a logotype or simple icon.

If you are an established business with a clear view of the desire aesthetics go for an icon. If you are passionate about the visual representation of your brand and are willing to invest in it you can go for an illustration. Another good reason to use an illustration is if your service expects to have (a) mass appeal eg Deccan Air's Common Man cartoon (b) appeal to a youthful audience eg Kidzee, Max ice-cream (c) lend a warm touch eg Air India's maharaja,
Illustrations are not used as much as they used to be mainly becuase they raise the complexity of production.

Taglines are often bundled with a logo, but they are a whole different blog posting

What do you think? Which are your most effective logos?