Archive for May 30

Information on the go – the move to mobile

The concept of the web in your pocket is far from a new one – WAP and iMode have been available on feature phones since before the turn of the millennium – but the advent of the smartphone, and fast 3G and 4G data networks, have resulted in a fundamental shift in how people find and consume information. And if you’ve noticed family members, colleagues, or fellow commuters poking at a portable screen of some sort, you’ll probably not be too surprised to learn that mobile makes up at least 10% of all internet traffic, and it’s growing fast.

Understanding how mobile changes an audience’s experience – and expectations – of your content is a challenge that many publishers are still catching up with. Some publishers, such as the BMJ Group, have developed Apps that act as windows onto their content, allowing subscribers to access information on the move; however, libraries and publishers alike frequently run into administrative roadblocks when trying to cater for remote users, as Judy Luther discusses on the SSP’s Scholarly Kitchen blog.

A large part of the challenge in adapting content for mobile is the myriad hardware configurations that your customers are likely to be using. Device-aware site designs that automatically display for visitors using a mobile device might be ideal for pocket-sized screens, but impractical on a tablet; responsive web design overcomes such issues to provide an optimal viewing experience on any screen size but can make for higher testing and design overheads; and platform-native Apps can play to the strengths of individual devices, but can be very expensive to develop and support.


Our upcoming TBI Masterclass, Going Mobile, looks at ways in which the rise of mobile will affect how your customers interact with your content. For more details, and to register for what is quickly becoming our most popular Masterclass session, click here.

Brand new start required?

When Sir Alex Ferguson resigned, did an important part of the Man United brand go with him?

You know the United brand. Even if you have only a passing interest in football (no pun intended), you know the United brand. It’s Munich, it’s heritage, it’s success, it’s togetherness, it’s Best, it’s Cantona, it’s bravura Red Devils, it’s Glaswegian mettle.

Manchester United is one of the most successful brands in the sporting world, with a reach and level of customer engagement that many a multinational would give an arm and a leg – maybe a whole centre forward – for.

Yet the club crest hasn’t changed fundamentally since 1970, and the essential club colours of red shirts, white shorts, black socks, were established in 1902.

People get hung up on the visual dimensions of brand. Dare we change the logo? Have we got the colours right? Is the typeface too funky? But the visual expression of a brand is only the tip of the iceberg. There are more important factors influencing the customer perception of an organisation or business brand.

Customer experience counts for a lot more. Credibility and authenticity come from delivering what you promise.

There has been a lot of comment on the new logo adopted by ITV – you’ve seen it with varying degrees of intrusiveness sitting in the corner of your TV screen. It met with ridicule in some quarters when it was unveiled, praise and acclaim in others.

It was part of a move to show coherence across the ITV channels. ITV Group Director of Marketing and Research Rufus Radcliffe, who led the in-house rebrand, commented on the launch:

The rebranding of ITV will allow us to further cement the relationship in viewers’ minds between our shows and the ITV brand that produces and broadcasts them.

We now have a consistent identity across everything that we do, all rooted in our positioning as a media brand that is at the heart of popular culture. 

The brand roll out is actually part of a five-year transition plan for ITV. Fundamental to that is an emphasis on better programming. Good programming might be a subjective call, but the buzz on social media and in print, radio and TV, is that the like of Downton, Broadchurch and recent comedy and light entertainment shows, signal a return from the mediocre for the broadcaster.

That all-important ‘delivery’ again.

In the end, what you do is more important than the visual identity. When Coca Cola changed the recipe for Coke it was a brand disaster. When the FedEx guy was seen on YouTube ‘delivering’ a TV by chucking it over a fence, it was a brand disaster.

So the truth is, the major risk to the Manchester United brand is that they stop winning. That’s what the customers want. That’s what the team delivered for 25 years or so. The major risk to the ITV brand is that they don’t continue to raise their game and live up to their promises.

The brand is a lot more than the logo. It’s why you’re in business, what business you are in, how you treat your customers, how you treat your employees, how you pay your taxes, how you invest, the quality of what you deliver, the value you add for the customer.

Getting your brand right means knowing your audience and understanding their needs, not just changing the logo. That’s why infamous stories about how a new logo for a major multinational ‘cost £1m’, misrepresents what a rebrand entails. That logo is just the visible manifestation of a process that may have cost £1m, but which would have had them look at the core values and business practice of the organisation.  Your brand, hand-in-hand with that understanding will help you make business decisions. Is Messi the right player for us? Is a surreal, edgy comedy right for prime time Sunday viewing?

A good brand will even help you through the squeaky bum times.

Oh, and it doesn’t have to cost £1m!

What gamification means for your audience

Increasing audience engagement is a perennial challenge for societies and publishers. An invested audience is more likely to cite a work or renew their membership dues, but with people’s time fragmented by a seemingly endless number of information sources, it can be harder to capture their attention with your content or increase their involvement in society activities.

Gamification, the process of using game design theory and tools to engage your audience and address everyday problems, is an approach that’s ideally suited to building audience investment. A generation of new customers and staff have grown up hand-in-hand with electronic entertainment that speaks directly to what motivates us, providing feedback on progress and challenging them to reach that next milestone. And from social to mobile, the way we interact with the web makes introducing those familiar elements into business and consumer contexts ever more relevant.

Gamification has been applied in a wide variety of scenarios, from health and fitness community Fitocracy, to productivity applications such from Salesforce. Consumer brands like Nike have embraced gamification with the Nike+ initiative, and it’s even being used to motivate self-directed learning through the Kahn Academy. The success of gamification methods such as these has led analysts to predict that 70% of the world’s top businesses will be managing at least one gamified platform by 2014.

Getting gamification right requires a deep understanding of why and how your audience is engaging with a system, process or community. It’s not as simple as simply bolting on a points leaderboard or a badge system – for gamification to work in the longer term, it needs to be designed to complement the underlying task or system, hence incentive models such as LinkedIn which drive you towards an ever-more complete profile, or the coding Q&A community Stack Overflow, which awards engaged users with both special profile badges and access to additional features on the website.

Gamification is an exciting area that fascinates us here at TBI. We’ll be talking through some of our experiences of how it can benefit learned societies and scholarly publishers in a forthcoming TBI Masterclass – you can register here.