(Source: itsafunnyaccord, via jacki-leen)

Comm 296(10)- Signature Aestheticism

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What is your signature style?

The term “personal branding” gets tossed around a lot- how it is very important to differentiate yourself by expressing your individuality. When you hear personal branding, you most likely associate it with Comm 299 and job-hunting. More interesting to me at this point is personal branding in the fashion sense.

I came across a short video on the British designer Michael Wolff on BrandChannel where he talks about brand management. Although he didn’t specifically touch on the topic of personal branding, the video focused on footages of his colourful palette in his clothing, cups, markers, and umbrellas. His simple style with pops of colour here and there, coupled with an intricate map of wrinkles on his face really is telltale of his personality and character. 

For me, I am especially drawn to the design of buttons on my clothing. I like to think that my buttons have a part in defining me in some way. 

What defines you?

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Comm 296(9): Simple

Sometimes all it takes to make a powerful statement is to go back to the basics.

There is a saying that goes “Simple is best”. More and more often, we see design of buildings, products, websites, and user interface, to name a few, simplified and approached with minimalism. This leads to my point that:

The birth of simple design seems to stem from a society that is continually growing with complexity.

Take for example Apple’s products. Steve Jobs understood the importance of clean design and simplicity to its consumers. Apple is so successful because it streamlined sophisticated functionality with minimalist ease of use. From pioneering the click wheel to a single home button, Apple redefined “user friendly”. By taking design and “user friendly” to a new level, people now use Apple’s interface as a benchmark for those two qualities.

It is with this observation that I disagree with Marc’s blog post. He argues that invention gives birth to need, not the other way around. However, I say that innovation of design (or as Marc calls it, invention) is a result of existing needs and wants. As illustrated in my example, Apple thrives because it capitalized the growing need for simplicity combined with exceptional performance. Innovation emerged as a result of a need.

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Comm 296(8): Jewels at Christie’s

Elizabeth Taylor


The late Elizabeth Taylor’s jewels have been scheduled to be auctioned off at Christie’s soon. It’s interesting to see the belongings of a deceased person become much more wanted and well known after the owner has passed away. Such an example is Van Gogh: his paintings were not extremely popular nor did they sell well (if at all) during his lifetime; however, when he died, his paintings suddenly become widely coveted and were able to sell for sky high prices- Van Gogh’s “Irises” painting was auctioned off at Sotheby’s for $53,900,000 on Nov. 11, 1987 in New York.

Elizabeth Taylor’s jewels were already famous when she was alive, but only among people who knew her personally or had exchanges with her. Now, the whole world knows about the impressive collection of jewelry, especially her favourite, the 33-carat Krupp diamond. As a commenter noted, “it sure would be nice to have a chance to own one of her pieces”.

Comm 296 (7): The four P’s- Place, Place, Place and Place

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We learned recently in marketing class that distribution is one of the most overlooked strategies in retail. Loopt, a new smartphone app that is being unveiled over the weekend at the South by Southwest conference may fix that missing gap. While it seems like another knockoff of Foursquare at first, don’t be so quick to dismiss it. If you’re into discounts, this new app uses the location service on your phone to deliver you “push” notifications of businesses nearby who are offering deals. Simply present the coupon to the business and you’re done.

No more strategic planning of how or when you’re going to redeem that Groupon you bought last week due to impulsive shopping habits.

During the initial test phase, the app will have only a few partners, but much hype is building up because these location-targeted ads seem to offer both business and consumers a better version of social-couponing. If you own a restaurant and have empty tables for the night, attract locals by immediately sending them a coupon for the evening! If you want in on this new and upcoming trend but do not have a smartphone, there is good news for you—for users of AT&T, there is a program called ShopAlerts which deliver location-based deals to your phone via text message.

In today’s marketing world, it’s no long good enough to just be present, you have to be at the right place at the right time. Location-targeted ads effectively use context to drive consumers to make decisions they wouldn’t normally think of making.

If you’re interested in learning more and Loopt before its launch this weekend, check out:

Comm 296 (6): What’s your favourite Ketchup?

When you think of ketchup, what brand do you think of? I think of Heinz. 

Heinz Co. is definitely the leading brand of tomato ketchup in Canada and the US. With their strong company name, they’ve established themselves as global leaders in the staple condiments section of ketchup and mustard. Recently, they’ve launched a new ketchup packet design— the “Dip & Squeeze”.

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Not gonna lie, this actually got me slightly excited. Not only can you squeeze ketchup out of the packet like a traditional ketchup packet, but you can also treat it like dipping sauce and dip your delicious fries into the little tub without making a mess on your plate. I think the package redesign is great, albeit a little slow to develop on Heinz’s part, since there have been dipping sauces in dipping containers long before.

What does this mean?

Perhaps gone are the days of squeezing ketchup packets into little paper containers. In a way this design is more environmentally friendly (yes, we get to save trees), and a point of differentiation for Heinz’s. With this new package redesign, Heinz has placed itself on a pedestal in the monopolistic competition scene. 

According to a ketchup enthusiast (who knew there was such a thing?) on news.CNET, “This is progress. I think the world is becoming a better place”.

Happy customer: +1

Comm 296 (5): Targeting the Bieber Fever


On Tuesday I was at Shoppers browsing through the magazine aisle, when I noticed two issues of Us Weekly- one with Taylor Swift on the cover and the other with Justin Bieber. These two magazines caught my attention because they both solely featured JB or TSwift, with “6 hot posters inside!”. What caught my attention even more was the price- $11.95 each. 

Us Magazine is a good case study on how a company employs STP analysis.

Segment Attractiveness:
After Us Magazine identified the different segments of the magazine readers market, they decided to target the mass of teenybopper Justin Bieber fan girls because the company recognized that their selected segment was profitable (young girls find great utility from obtaining collector’s edition posters of their idols, and therefore are willing to pay a premium for those goods), substantial (JB’s fanbase is huge and definitely worth the attention of the magazine company), and responsive (see profitability). Overall, this segment of young girls is a formidable force because they have enormous spending power.

Targeting Strategies:
It is evident that Us Magazine employs a differentiated targeting strategy- differentiating between the Justin Bieber fans and the Taylor Swift fans. However, it can also be argued that Us Magazine uses a concentrated targeting strategy as well because Collector’s Edition magazines featuring special posters mainly attracts young girls aged 12-17 (also known as teenyboppers) who like to collect posters and other special merchandise associated with idols. So it could be said that no matter which celebrity Us Magazine decides to create a Collector’s Edition magazine for, they are creating it with only the market segment of young girls aged 12-17 in mind.

Instead of dedicating 6 whole pages to Justin Bieber or Taylor Swift, Us Magazine sought to position themselves as THE magazine that dedicated an entire magazine to your favourite teen celebrity. Their point of differentiation is to take out variety and aim for specialization on celebrity news and gossip. Instead of creating a magazine that includes a collage of idols, Us Magazine created a magazine that will let you indulge in your chosen celebrity desires- an entire magazine dedicated to just one idol. 

Us Magazine must have faith in their marketing strategy because they were confident enough to charge $11.95 for the magazine. That’s twice the price for a regular Us Magazine. Will this new product line of Collector’s Edition magazines be a sustainable advantage for the company? Or will it not be long before another competitor rides the special edition magazine wave?


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First respectable-looking pasta made by me! (Taken with instagram)

First respectable-looking pasta made by me! (Taken with instagram)

Comm 296 (4) Darth Vader meets Das Auto

Volkswagen created a very cute ad to be played during the Super Bowl. The ad features a kid in a Darth Vader costume trying to call upon the Force throughout her house. Many comments on the video were along the lines of “That’s so cute! I’m definitely going to buy a VW”.

With this content in its advertisement, Volkswagen has used many segmentation bases. 

This ad was played during the Super Bowl, and features Darth Vader of Star Wars. Clearly it was meant for an American audience who grew up with Star Wars. 

Young/middle-aged adults who grew up watching Star Wars and kids of those young adults who grew up hearing about Star Wars through their parents. This ad targets the tradition of Star Wars that runs in a typical American family. By doing so, it’s possible that VW hopes for parents to buy a VW for their child’s first car, or for that young adult to purchase a VW to replace their current vehicle.

Star Wars was cool. Reminiscent of the past and and the “good old childhood days”, this ad might lead people to believe that owning a VW is owning a connection to the past.

After all these years, people are still loyal to Star Wars. Volkswagen hopes to project that Star Wars loyalty to their brand.

Even if you are not a Star Wars fan, the little kid’s cuteness and clumsiness will get you smiling.  

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Comm 296 (3): Crystals

If it’s got Swarovski crystals on it, the price tag doubles in price. At least.

Take this example:

Available only in Japan, the iRiver Hello Kitty Swarovski crystal-studded limited edition mp3 player is on the market for a modest whopping $229.99. It is 2GB, with no display screen, and can only play music. Compare that with the iRiver Hello Kitty mp3 player (exact same functions but without Swarovski crystals) which is selling for $60. That’s almost a 4-fold increase!

To put the extravagant price into more perspective, for $20 more, you can purchase the latest iPod touch, 8G with video recording and wi-fi capabilities, along with many more features described on the Apple website.

The iRiver Hello Kitty mp3 player; with only a small fraction of the capabilities Apple’s iPod touch, how can the Hello Kitty mp3 player sell for almost the same amount of money? 

My fellow blogger Fion Lee’s blog post #3 touches on how diamonds help fulfill the Esteem level of Maslow’s hierarchy of needs. Swarovski crystals are very similar to diamonds in that respect. Crystals themselves are not hard to find; with the right climate, crystals can form rapidly and easily. Crystals are precision cut by machines, which means that not very much labour is needed. So why are Swarovski crystals so coveted? The answer is because Swarovski has worked hard to market themselves as producers of the world’s clearest crystals with brilliant sparkle that is incomparable to other brands. With such a value proposition, along with limited editions and raised prices, consumers view Swarovski crystals as a luxury good. Owning Swarovski crystals will bring wearers self-confidence, status, recognition, and attention.

Focusing on the Strengths and Opportunities of a SWOT analysis, we can see why Swarovski is successful in selling its products at such a high price:

Its use of high quality machines to produce precisely cut crystals, its use of special metallic chemical coatings for that brilliant shine, and its successful delivery of its value propositions to customers.

Focusing on the market where the limited edition Hello Kitty mp3 was introduced, the Japanese population love Hello Kitty. The Japanese culture also likes cute little dainty things that are easy to carry around or that look good as accessories. Lastly, they love shiny things (example: the jewel-encrusted nail art that is very popular there). Swarovski identified these trends in the Japanese market and capitalized on those opportunities to create a product that satisfied those desires, that also helped create a stronger sense of identity with its brand in an Asian market, all at a relatively low cost.

Win for Swarovski? I think so.

And if you thought crystal-studded Hello Kitty mp3 players were badass, check out the twin Mercedes-Benz cars displayed at the 2010 Tokyo Auto Salon, each encrusted with 300,000 Swarovski crystals. Ladies and gentlemen, sunglasses on.

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