News Archive - November 2015 View All

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The Making Of An Icon: How The Peace For Paris Sign Spread Around The World

November 27, 2015
In the wake of the horrific acts of terrorism that ripped through France on Friday, November 13, killing at least 129 people and injuring hundreds, an image with a message of peace has emerged amid the darkness and gone viral. It's simple, haunting, and has served as a tool for people across the globe to express solidarity. It has been shared across social media, displayed at vigils, and even scrawled on concrete in public spaces.

Jean Jullien, a 32-year-old French graphic designer and illustrator who created the image, says in a Skype interview that he was on the first day of vacation on Friday (at a location he declined to share), when he turned on the radio to a French station and learned of the tragic events. "I was deeply shocked, saddened, and confused," he says. "Because I’m an illustrator, drawing is my first natural reaction to communicate things in general."

Jullien took to ink and brush on paper and the resulting image is what he drew without any initial sketching. "I wanted to create a symbol of peace," Jullien says of the hand-drawn illustration that combines the Eiffel tower and the universal symbol of peace. "It was a raw reaction. It was the only thing I could think of doing and my way of expressing to all of my loved ones in Paris ... I was thinking about them," he says.

After posting the image to his social media accounts on Twitter, Instagram, and Facebook Friday evening under the caption "Peace for Paris," Jullien says it "instantaneously got out of hand and out of my reach." By Saturday morning, the artist realized just how widespread and symbolic the illustration had become. Rumors emerged early on that the work was by Banksy, which social media pundits quickly dismissed. Approximately four hours after it had gone live on Twitter, it had accumulated 16,000 retweets from Jullien’s personal Twitter account; after 24 hours that number had climbed up to 53,000 retweets. His followers on Twitter also sky-rocketed, going from around 8,000 prior to November 13, to more than 21,000. A few hours after Jullien posted the image to his Instagram account, Instagram shared the image to its 113 million followers with credit to the artist. After 24 hours, the post by Instagram had accumulated more than 1.3 million likes. Countless media outlets and celebrities around the world also have shared the image.

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Data Mining Reveals How Smiling Evolved During a Century of Yearbook Photos

November 27, 2015
Data mining has changed the way we think about information. Machine-learning algorithms now routinely chomp their way through data sets of Twitter conversations, travel patterns, phone calls, and health records, to name just a few. And the insights this brings is dramatically improving our understanding of communication, travel, health, and so on.

But there is another historical data set that has been largely ignored by the data-mining community—photographs. This presents a more complex challenge.

For a start, the data set is vast, spanning 150 years since the dawn of photography. What’s more, the information it contains can be hard to distill, often because it is too complex or too mundane to describe in words.

Today, that changes thanks to the work of Shiry Ginosar at the University of California, Berkeley, and a few pals, who have pioneered a machine-vision approach to mining the data in ordinary photographs.

These guys start with a relatively simple database—American high-school yearbook photographs dating back to 1905. These yearbook photos have been digitized on large scale by local libraries all over the U.S. and show full frontal photos of individuals in a standard pose.

Ginosar and co downloaded over 150,000 of these portraits. After removing those that were not full frontal portraits, they were left with some 37,000 images from more than 800 yearbooks from 26 U.S. states.

They then grouped the portraits by decade and superimposed the images to produce an “average” face for each period. This process revealed other “average” features for each period such as hairstyle, clothing, style of glasses, and even average facial expressions. The image above shows these averages for each decade for men and women.

The results make for interesting reading. A particularly striking feature is the evolution of smiling in yearbook photographs. Ginosar and co say that in the years after the invention of photography, most people adopted the same pose they would have used for a painted portrait—a neutral expression that would be easy to hold for a long period.

“Etiquette and beauty standards dictated that the mouth be kept small—resulting in an instruction to “say prunes” (rather than cheese) when a photograph was being taken,” say Ginosar and co.

But that changed during the 20th century, when photography became more popular. In particular, the photography company Kodak used advertising to popularize the idea of smiling in photos so that the images recorded happy memories.

Whatever the reason, smiling has become much more prominent. “These days we take for granted that we should smile when our picture is being taken,” say Ginosar and pals.

And the data backs that up. The team developed an algorithm for determining the degree of lip curvature in the photographs and this showed a clear trend in increasing smile intensity over time.

The data also reveals another trend. “Women significantly and consistently smile more than men,” they say. This is not a new discovery—indeed it has been discussed for decades.

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Makes U Think

What to Do with All the Business Cards from Your Last Conference

November 17, 2015
Business travel should be about relationship building, but so often the stress of dealing with logistics and the anxiety of meeting a whole whack of new people keep it from being an effective way to connect, especially at conferences. Using social tools can focus your on-the-road time on the people you really want to get to know.

This is my seven-step strategy for using social media to turn conference introductions into ongoing connections:

Step 1: Before the conference, install a business-card-processing app on your smartphone. If you’re an Evernote user, your best bet is to use Evernote on your phone; when you use Evernote to snap a “camera” note, you’ll have the option to select “business card,” which means Evernote can create a contact note from the card and offer you the option of connecting via LinkedIn. Other options include WorldCard (iOS, Android, and Windows Mobile) or FullContact Card Reader (iOS and Android). What you want is an app that can scan business cards with a camera, convert the card to contact information, and offer you social network connection options.

Step 2: If you meet someone and hit it off, connect right away. If you’ve made a new pal and your pal is on Twitter, send your pal a tweet from your smartphone right then and there, before you lose one another’s business cards or Twitter handles. I like to take a snapshot of me and my new pal and tweet it to him or her along with the hashtag #nicetomeetyou. That way I can see all my new pals in one place. This is a great way to keep track of and in touch with new contacts without feeling as if you need to add them all to LinkedIn.

Step 3: At the end of each day (or failing that, the end of the conference), take the stack of business cards you’ve accumulated and lay them out on a table. Take a photograph of the entire collection. Then pull out all the cards for people with whom you hope to have further contact. Make this your “keeper” pile. Throw out the rest of the cards. If you’re an Evernote user, add the snapshot of that business card pile to Evernote with the title “met at Conference X.” Now if you’re ever wondering where you met someone, an Evernote search will bring up a snapshot of his or her business card in context. (Depending on how many cards you collect, you may need to take several photos so the resolution is good enough to make the card text readable.)

Step 4: Use your smartphone’s business card scanning app to capture all the cards in your keeper pile. Open the app and view the contact card for each person in your keeper pile.

Step 5: Use your business card app’s social networking function to send each person a LinkedIn connection invitation. If anyone is also a Twitter user, click the Twitter handle on that person’s profile so that you can view and follow him on Twitter. If you want to establish a LinkedIn connection with someone senior or well known, consider writing a personal connection request reminding him or her that you enjoyed meeting at Conference X and would like to stay in touch. You can’t do that from within Evernote’s card scanner, so you’ll need to log into LinkedIn to send that personal request.

Step 6: If there are people in your keeper pile that you’d like to follow up with within the next month or so, send a personal note to their email address saying how much you enjoyed meeting with them and (if appropriate) suggesting when or how you’ll follow up. You may even want to suggest setting up a next meeting or call. These messages are a good use of your time on the flight home: just queue them up and hit send when you land.

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Makes U Think

A Better Way to Calculate the ROI of Your Marketing Investment

November 13, 2015
Traditionally, marketers calculate the ROI of a marketing investment by measuring how much sales increased in its aftermath. This is a blunt metric: maybe the consumer had a different interaction with the brand that influenced them. Or maybe they had an intrinsic preference for the brand and would have made a purchase anyway.

Today the situation has changed. Marketers have access to data that allows them to track individuals’ various interactions with a brand before their purchase, and better understand what role each interaction — and individual preferences — played in the eventual sale.

This approach, called “attribution modeling,” allows companies to attribute appropriate credit to each online and offline contact and touch point in a customer’s purchase cycle, and understand its role in the revenues that ultimately result. A good attribution model should show, for example, precisely which ads or search keywords are most associated with actual purchases.

Developing an attribution model is a gradual process. You can’t get there all at once. There are four key stages in the journey:

Stage 1: Prepare your data

You can’t have any kind of attribution model without data around touch points and outcomes. Many companies collect this data but often store it in different databases and in ways that make comparison difficult. Once companies can access and analyze data around touch points and purchases, they can detect patterns and are ready to apply simple attribution models. These involve applying rules of thumb, such as “give all credit to the last point of interaction” or “give equal credit to all points of interaction with the customer before a purchase is made.”

They may sound simplistic, but even simple rules-based models can deliver immediate results. This was the case at one company we recently advised. Only after considerable efforts to get data for each touch point aligned in one repository could the company begin to figure out sensible rules of thumb to guide marketing investments. It began by simply allocating resources to each touch point as a direct function of its marginal ROI. Even this rather rough and ready approach sharply improved the company’s overall marketing ROI.

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Makes U Think

Why SImple Brands Win

November 12, 2015
The greatest brands make life simple. Think Google, Amazon, or even Dunkin’ Donuts. They cut through the clutter by delivering what consumers want, when they want it, without hassle. By simplifying customer experience in a complex world, these brands win customer loyalty, which drives business results and creates value for shareholders.

For the past six years, Siegel+Gale has published its Global Brand Simplicity Index — a study based on a survey of thousands of consumers from around the globe — that ranks brands according to their perceived simplicity or complexity, and the overall simplicity rating of a brand’s industry. This year’s index, derived from the responses of more than 12,000 consumers in eight countries, provides a definitive measure of which brands excel at providing simple experiences – and reveals rising brands that could threaten these incumbents.

It also confirms how simplicity can drive performance: a portfolio of the publicly traded companies in the global top 10 brands has beaten the average global stock index by 214% since we first started conducting the study in 2009, and this year’s top 10 continues the trend.

Let’s look closely at the 2015 top 10 brands in the U.S. Each fulfills a consumer need quickly – sometimes instantaneously — and with minimal friction.

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5 Reasons Why Web Design is Important to Content Marketing

November 11, 2015
When visiting websites, one of the first things we do is to appreciate (or judge) their look. A website’s lay-out and design greatly influences the interest of the visitors, as well as their initial engagement with the brand. A visually-appealing design is irresistible and hard to leave. The longer people are on your website, the better your chances are at converting them into buying customers. It is also equally important that your website is easy to navigate so that it will be convenient for your visitors to browse through the pages.

If you’re looking into giving your site a facelift, you need familiarize yourself first with the value behind a good web design. This way, you’ll be able to strike a balance with design elements you’re going to use. Listed below are five reasons why it’s crucial that your website has an appealing and navigable layout.

Visuals are processed faster by the brain.
A good web design tends to be more effective in catching people’s attention and engaging them. This is because the brain processes visuals 60,000 times faster than it does text. As such, if you want to make an impression, your best bet would be dressing up your website in a design that doesn’t just resonates with your brand but also appealing to your target audience’s sensibilities.

If, for instance, you’re selling on your site products that promote health and wellbeing, you can consider painting your website shades of green as this color symbolizes life. You can also use quality photos of people that represent health and energy. Using appropriate images, along with evergreen copy, will help you communicate your brand message effectively.

Visuals aid in your clients’ learning.
It is said that 65% of readers are visual learners, a significant statistic that you can take advantage of. Visual learners are those who learn best with the help of visual aids such pictures, charts, and diagrams, and that they have the capacity to recall what they have observed and can follow drawn or written instructions.

While it is still important that you cater to your all of your readers’ learning styles as much as possible, having a visually-appealing website will give you a good head start. Apart from your web design, your site’s pages are optimized for visual content such as hi-res images, videos, and other materials that you may make available for download. By offering content in different formats, you get to serve a variety of readers and appeal to their learning styles.

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