Corporate branding: The Bloomberg B-Unit

August 3, 2007 § Leave a comment

I’ve written a little about corporate branding in the past, but I recently stumbled upon a real gem. The Bloomberg B-Unit.

The BLOOMBERG B-UNIT™ is a state-of-the-art biometric security device that provides BLOOMBERG ANYWHERE™ subscribers with enhanced identity protection and gives access to the BLOOMBERG PROFESSIONAL service.

How awesome is that. A state-of-the-art biometric security device to see commodity prices? What about logins and passwords? Or if you want to get really crazy, digital tokens? This thing is pure branding, and I’m sure it works. Give a B-Unit to a commodities trader and he’ll instantly think more highly of the info he accesses with it.

Bloomberg B-Unit

Bloomberg is not new to the corporate branding game, and in some ways they may have even fallen prey to being too progressive with corporate branding…if such a thing is possible. Bloomberg terminals have rocked the colored keyboard since the company’s founding in the early ’80s. They’ve stuck with it, and to this day Bloomberg keyboards are lit up like Christmas trees. Meanwhile in 2007, no one else on the planet needs a colored keyboard except your kid cousin that is learning to play their new synthesizer. Not even the craziest ninja programmers need colored keys to keep their heads straight. But bond traders? They need a colored keyboards “to save time”. I’m sure the colored keyboard was the coolest thing since sliced bread when it hit the market in ’82…and the cutting edge bond traders that started using them back then still want the colored keys today. And get this…some of the keyboards even have thumbprint sensors too:

The BLOOMBERG® keyboard conserves desk space while providing extra functionality and it empowers the user with time-saving, customized keys. The integrated sensor utilizing biometric technology provides an added level of security.

Of course at the end of the day, the Bloomberg hardware and UI may look ridiculous, but they’re still able to charge $1,500 a month per user.  However, that’s a huge pricetag to be paying for data.  If I were Bloomberg I would ditch the colored keyboard, grab as many of those fat fees as you can, and keep on the lookout for competition moving in on your turf.

Corporate Branding 2.0

June 18, 2007 § Leave a comment

Jason Calacanis’ Mahalo is taking quirky, cheerful, do-gooder corporate branding pioneered by Google with their “Don’t be evil” moto and bright logo to the next level. The Mahalo name means “thank you” in Hawaiian. The corporate moto appears to either be “We’re here to help” or “Let’s do some good”. The colors of the whole site are pastel and covered with flowers. Calacanis is from Brooklyn and has been a pioneer of “fat blogging“. He certainly is not Hawaiian. He is, however, a PR wizard. You can be 100% sure that every aspect of the Mahalo corporate branding package has been carefully crafted. As I’ve posted before, I’m not optimistic about Mahalo, but Calacanis is about as good as it gets when in comes to getting press. He did an interview with freaking Al-Jazeera last week. It’ll be tough to tell if Mahalo’s branding plays a role in its success or failure, but it seems a bit forced to me. Surfing does sell though….

Branded e-commerce and WhiskeyMillitia.com

May 20, 2007 § 1 Comment

In the past two days, two people close to me have sent me links to WhiskeyMilitia.com. It’s a slick e-commerce site site targeting the Shaun White generation that follows the woot.com promotional format of putting one heavily discounted item on sale at once until it “sells out.”

About a week and a half ago I wrote about the Liberty Media purchase of Backcountry.com. Backcountry.com runs the extremely successful SteepandCheap.com, which also employs the woot.com promotional format. Backcountry.com also operates several “branded” outdoor equipment ecommerce sites (see Tramdock.com and Dogfunk.com).

Well, it turns out WhiskeyMilitia is a Backcountry.com site too. These sites are great examples of effectively e-commerce branding. Kids who like to think they’re skier punks (of which their are a surprising number) want to buy stuff from a site that looks like WhiskeyMilitia…overgrown kids like myself like to think we’re big mountain skiers want to buy stuff from a site that looks like Tramdock. Burton Snowboards has always done extremely effective branding within this same consumer group. Burton, just like REI, EMS, LL Bean, Columbia, Patagonia, Arcteryx and many other outdoor brands before it, was super popular its early years. However as many brands tend to evolve, the first wave of popularity was quite strong but it quickly waned when the mavens started moving to less mainstream brands. Burton broke the mold in this group and was able to quickly create several affiliate brands (R.E.D., Anon, B by Burton, Gravis, and newly acquired Channel Islands) which have helped Burton retain market dominance…through brands intentionally segregated from the mother Burton brand.

Backcountry has taken the effective woot.com promotional strategy and combined it with effective branding that is 100% within website design. Equipment ordered from Tramdock, Dogfunk, and WhiskeyMilitia all come from the same warehouse outside of Salt Lake City and in many cases the equipment is the exact same stuff, but the design of the site on which it was purchased makes a huge impact on the buyer. This type of branded e-commerce is certainly not limited to outdoor equipment retail and will soon become the norm on the web.

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