Tag: digital

Tech-friendly letter writing

By Akanksha Singh for Grok Nation

Imagine sending out an email to a friend, only to receive a digital handwritten note back. Handwriting correspondence, snapping a photo and sending it digitally is what I call “tech-friendly letter writing.”

Once upon a time, people sat at desks with inked fingertips and wrote letters with quills. Messengers delivered them on horseback. Such correspondence was so culturally essential that collections of letters from famous authors became a means of insight into their lives. Then came stamps. Then email. Tech-friendly letter writing combines the best of handwritten notes with the convenience of technology.

Plus you skip on stamps by taking a photo and sending it via email, text–faster and there’s some guarantee of receipt. But, that’s not to say I’m against “snail mail.” I’ve been writing letters since college. When I moved from Dubai to Montreal for university, I was lonely and homesick. I remember feeling elated when I sorted through my usual spam (pizza fliers, bills), and finding a letter in the mix. My roommate’s mother had sent it, along with an exam-season care package. It meant the world to me.

So, whenever I write someone a letter, I think of them looking through bills and fliers, and finding something that was actually intended for them, created with love and thought.

Before you knock the idea for being a waste of time, let me give you some background: I attempted tech-friendly letter writing after I read this article about a Jordanian bookshop owner who replies to text messages and Facebook posts with a picture of his handwritten response. Around the same time, I decided I wasn’t immune to the technology-induced dopamine reward loops just because I was aware of them, and that I was sick of being glued to my phone all day, being plugged into everything from my Apple Watch (FYI: we broke up) to my Messenger app.

We’re all aware that our connectedness has made us bad communicators, and that we’re too busy nowadays; tech-friendly letter writing is a good way to disconnect without losing connection.

Often, when I’m typing, I’ve noticed that I type as fast as –if not faster than– I think. Word vomit all the time. Handwriting, I’ve found, has been a great way to slow down, reflect on my day and just breathe. And not surprisingly, handwriting has several benefits for the brain, like increasing neural activity, helping us learn, and more. In addition, letter writing increases those benefits!

How to go about implementing it

  1. Pretty stationery + camera phone
    I’m one of those people who indulges in stationery shopping at Kikki K whenever life gets too real. Pretty stationery does make the whole experience more enjoyable for you and the person receiving an emailed letter. Beautiful stationery options we love here, here, and here.
  2. Get over handwriting perfectionism
    Since I was a child, I’ve always prided myself on having nice handwriting; the sort that people looked at and commented on for its prettiness, which I’d counter with, “Oh, that chicken scratch?” Truthfully, I’d learned calligraphy in school (the real sort, not the messy sort that’s trendy nowadays), and picked it back up when I learned Meghan Markle was a calligrapher (shameless girl crush; judge away). So when I started writing several letters a week and experiencing hand cramps, and produced genuinely messy handwriting, I did what most perfectionists do: I’d rewrite letters that were almost ready to go, minding my cursive and avoiding spelling mistakes best I could.
    It. Was. Exhausting.
    Eventually, the reality of it (time wasting, neuroticism) dawned on me, and I let myself have messy days. The whole point of this exercise was to be real, after all.
  3. Take the pressure off
    When I initially committed to this, I overwhelmed myself with the need to do it all the time.. I eventually realized that I was taking the fun out of what was supposed to be a relaxing exercise, and I was stressing myself out. Which brings me to my next point…
  4. Accept that not everyone or every situation is deserving of a handwritten note
    Set aside a time for correspondence, like the “old days.” I know there are certain people who are worth my time and the paper and ink it takes me to write a thoughtful note. I want to be thoughtful for said people.
  5. Commit for a significant period to see if it works for you
    Like all habits, this will take some time to cultivate. In fact, it’ll likely take longer–texting is just so damned easy. Schedule an hour, half an hour, or even ten minutes per week and stick with it. When I started, I did it for a month, then it became three months, and now we’re going on four. (This is coming from someone who has issues committing to a favorite color, much less a favorite band or tv show, can I add?)

If the letters are long and personal —and sent to someone I really care about— I’ll spend money on postage and mail them off. If not, I’d have typically written the letter or note in my diary, so it will stay there. So, I definitely hang on to everything, sentimentalist that I am!

Friends writing back made this wholly worthwhile: I even reached out to a friend I’d lost touch with (life happens!), with a handwritten apology, and she called and we talked like no time had passed. The biggest benefit for me, personally, has been slowing down to reflect on my thoughts as I’m writing them. So, yeah–it takes longer than clacking out an email or a long text message. But that’s the point.

Source: Martha Stewart

Monogrammed boxes
These elegant containers are perfect for jewelry, gift cards, and small items.

Materials:

  • Coloured card stock
  • Computer
  • Printer
  • Bone folder
  • Scissors
  • Straightedge
  • Glue stick
  • Heavy books

Instructions:

In a photo-editing program, create a 2-page document. On the first page, draw a picture box, and then import a box template, from a CD, centering it carefully on the page.

Draw a second picture box, and place it on the template where you want the letter to appear. Import letter from a CD, sizing it as desired.
Copy template and letter from first page, and paste onto second page in the same position.
Delete letter from first page; delete template from second page.
Print first page onto colored card stock. Flip card stock over, and print second page with letter on other side.
(For a white letter, draw a picture box on the second page larger than the template. Color in box, make the letter white, and print onto white card stock.)
Cut out along template’s outside edges.
Using a bone folder and a straightedge, score straight dotted lines. Score curved lines using a round plate as a guide. Fold along straight lines, and seal with a glue stick.
Let dry between heavy books. Fold along curved lines to close box.

Punch-out pizzazz
Whimsical iron-on shapes turn basic T-shirts and totes into one-of-a-kind gifts.

Materials:

  • Photo-editing program
  • Iron-on transfer paper
  • Paper punches or decorative scissors
  • Iron
  • T-shirts or tote bags

Instructions:

In a photo-editing program, import patterns.
Print onto iron-on transfer paper, following the manufacturer’s instructions. (For crisp printouts, use paper meant for dark fabric.)
Cut out shapes using paper punches or decorative-edge scissors.
Iron onto fabric, following the manufacturer’s instructions.

Memory DVD
Create a DVD full of memories for the favourite dad in your life.

Materials:

  • Blank DVDs
  • DVD labels
  • Digital images
  • Printer
  • Envelopes
  • Card stock
  • Ribbon

Instructions:
Share memories of your Dad by creating your own DVDs and DVD labels on a computer. Simply take one of your favorite pictures, and print the image on a sticky label designed to fit a DVD – it’s a small touch that makes the gift extra special. When packaging the DVDs, place them all into individual envelopes, and then take your chosen photographic image and print it on card stock to make a one-of-a-kind cover.

Custom treats container
Take holiday photo cards to the next level: paste an image on a small container and fill it with your Dad’s favourite treats.

Materials:

  • Small box
  • Red nontoxic acrylic paint
  • Paintbrush
  • Pencil
  • Card stock
  • Scalloping shears
  • Photograph
  • Craft glue
  • Scissors
  • Glassine
  • Favourite snacks (such as sweets, biltong and nuts)

Instructions:
Coat a small box, outside and in, with red nontoxic acrylic paint; let dry. Trace the box top onto card stock.
Draw a circle about 1/2 inch larger around the traced circle; cut out with scalloping shears. Repeat to make a second circle.
Print or photocopy a photograph, adjusting the color, if desired. Trace the box top onto the picture; cut out. Use craft glue to affix the photo to one of the scalloped red circles; let dry.
Affix that circle to the top of the box and the other circle to the bottom using craft glue. Line bottom of the box with glassine.
Fill with your Dad’s favourite snacks.

The dark side of blue light

By Sam Upton for Two Sides

There’s a question that’s been asked since the early beginnings of digital communication over 30 years ago.

That question has been the focus of many debates, discussions, articles and research papers, as well as arguments between billions of parents and their children all over the world. It’s preoccupied governments, academics, companies, organisations and brands, and will continue to do so for a long time to come. The question is simple: Is digital harming our health?

The amount of digital information that’s being created, consumed and shared every day is staggering. In just one minute of an average day, Google receives over 4 000 000 search queries, YouTube users upload 72 hours of new video, Facebook users share 2 460 000 pieces of content, and Apple users download 48 000 apps. By the time you will have finished reading this article, those numbers will have increased further.

All this content consumption brings with it a host of potential health issues for the user. Anxiety, depression, addiction, isolation, narcissism, all are becoming more and more common, particularly amongst the young. And while the mental strain is certainly troubling, there are also physical issues linked to excessive computer use, such as vision impairment, neck strain, hearing loss and insomnia. While it’s undoubtedly a channel that solves a lot of modern-day problems, it also creates a few.

With the debate around the consumption of digital media getting louder, Two Sides commissioned a global survey in June 2017, which asked over 10,700 consumers in ten countries about their attitudes to digital and print media, and how worried they are about the amount of time they spend on digital devices. What they found was a clear concern about digital media and a desire to ‘switch off’ and enjoy print more.

When asked if they are concerned that the overuse of electronic devices could be damaging to their health, 46% of UK consumers agreed, while 47% agreed that they spend too much time on digital devices. While these results are intriguing in that they go against the modern assumption that people prefer digital, it’s when we delve deeper into the demographics that things start to get really interesting.

Looking at the different age groups for each question, you’d expect the younger demographic to be more at ease with digital, relaxed with their exposure to online media. But 74% of 18-24 year-olds stated that they spend too much time on electronic devices, compared to 48% of 35-44 year-olds and 29% of those 55 and over. Meanwhile, when asked if they were concerned that the overuse of electronic devices could be damaging to their health, 58% of 18-24 year-olds and 67% of 25-34 year-olds agreed.

With results such as these, it’s clear that people are becoming more and more concerned about the amount of digital content they consume. Social media, plus online video, news, shopping and reading take up a large amount of our day, an amount that’s increasing every year. The most recent IPA Touchpoints data shows that the average UK adult will spend almost eight hours a day consuming media – of that, 2.5 hours is spent on social media and a further 2.1 on the internet.

There are a number of reasons why people should be concerned about the amount of digital content they consume. The most obvious is that too much screen time at night disrupts sleep patterns. The blue light emitted by tablet, smartphone and e-reader screens suppresses the level of the sleep-inducing hormone melatonin, making sleep more difficult, which can lead to more serious health issues such as obesity and diabetes.

Harvard University neuroscientist Anne-Marie Chang recently compared the effects of reading on a light-emitting device compared with a printed book, and found a marked difference in the sleep patterns of the two sets of people. “Participants who read on light-emitting devices took longer to fall asleep, had less REM sleep and had higher alertness before bedtime than those people who read printed books,” she explains. “We also found that after an eight-hour sleep episode, those who read on the light-emitting device were sleepier and took longer to wake up.”

On a more anthropological level, neurologists have discovered that too much time spent online can rewire the human brain to prioritise sensation over thought, stimulating the reward mechanism and the production of dopamine – basically encouraging us to behave like gamblers. This mindset means that people addicted to screens are hard-wired to seek sensations and avoid boredom to such an extent that, a 2014 study for Science magazine found, many people would rather give themselves electric shocks than be left alone with their thoughts for 15 minutes.

But all is not lost. The adverse health effects of too much digital content can be countered by the simple action of reading a print publication. Indeed, it appears that the respondents to the Two Sides survey already know this, with 69% agreeing that it’s important to ‘switch off’ and enjoy printed books and magazines, a figure that doesn’t vary significantly across the age groups.

So print, which is kinder on our eyes, brains and sleep patterns, could be an effective cure for those suffering from digital overload.

To download the global report, as well as the Key Findings from the UK survey, go to www.twosides.info/Survey2017

85% of FNB customer interactions are digital

The vast majority of First National Bank’s (FNB’s) customer interactions are via digital platforms, with only 1.2% still happening face-to-face in branches.

This is according to Christoph Nieuwoudt, FNB consumer segment CEO, who says in 2016, FNB customers had over 10 billion interactions with the bank, of which only 120 million were face-to-face.

The bank says roughly 8.5 billion (85%) of interactions were purely through digital channels and the rest via point-of-sale (card swipes or online purchases) and ATM transactions.

“The number of FNB customer interactions has tripled since 2010, growing at more than 20% per annum every year, based on the growth in digital channels. Meanwhile, at branches, customers are making significant use of in-branch digital zones,” adds Nieuwoudt.
“One thing we can all agree on is that digital progress is inevitable.”

He says the implications of the use of technology by society are immensely profound, with terms such as “The Second Machine Age” or the “Fourth Industrial Revolution” being used to give this evolution a name.

“The reasons for the growth and migration of volumes to digital are obvious as almost every customer knows they can do basically any payment transaction, account or card service function and get most products…via the FNB app, online or cellphone banking,” he says.

However, Nieuwoudt says this does not mean branches will go out of business. He notes branches and branch personnel are no less critical than before, but their role has changed from performing transactions to re-focusing on sales and advising customers on how to bank.

“In spite of the powerful digital technology, today the bulk of banking consumers still want to talk to someone when opening a new account and even for most product categories.

“Additionally, consumers often need help with the new technology, even just to get going and start using it.

“In most cases, branches can be much smaller, but with more room for digital zones and self-service devices such as ATMs and ADTs (deposit-taking machines). This journey is not unique to banking – virtually every sales or service business is or will be going through some elements of digital transformation.”

Nieuwoudt also says that today only a very small percentage of credit decisions are made by people – rather statistical models are used to make fully automated decisions instantly at low cost and with accuracy not achievable by a person.

“This means your risk profile and behaviour determines your loan size and pricing. Importantly, technology has helped reduce fraud loss rates for card and digital transactions,” concludes Nieuwoudt.

Source: IT Web

My Office News launches

My Office magazine unveiled its new direction at a launch breakfast at the Bryanston Country Club in Johannesburg today.

My Office News will provide both members and readers with a variety of new digital offerings.

The breakfast was opened by shop-sa chairman Hans Servas, in which he introduced the morning’s guest speaker: Matt Brown of Digital Kung Fu.

Brown set about explaining what digitisation is and how it will impact businesses across industries, which is discussed in detail below.

After the talk held by Brown, Rob Matthews of My Office News presented an outline of the product offerings.

Matthews outlined the advantages of digital, which include reduced cost to advertisers; flexibility to change artwork; broader coverage; speed of publishing; and better metrics (regarding delivery and readership).

“My Office is getting 6 000 unique visitors a month, with over 21 000 visits. The majority of the readers are in the Gauteng area, with an above-average concentration in the Western Province. These visitors spend in excess of three minutes on the site.”

The newsletter, sent out once a week on Wednesday, is received by more than 5 000 people with an average of 99,5% delivered and an open rate in excess of 25%.

“We are aiming to grow the database by 8 000 by the end of the calendar year,” says Matthews.

Digitisation and disruptive technologies

The changing digital environment
Digitisation is the conversion of something non-digital into something digital, disrupting it using digital technology.
“When it comes to digitisation, experts are clueless,” says Brown. Many great minds have missed some of the largest technical inventions of the 19th, 20th and 21st centuries. Examples of this include Western Union brushing off the telephone, and the head of IBM questioning the validity of the personal computer.

Drivers of disruption  
The drivers of disruption in the evolution of media include:
Consumer pull – a growing number of people willing to use the product
Technology push – more people are connecting to technology than ever before
Economic benefits – the benefits of going digital are now exponential

‘Digital’ is more than marketing
When digital arrived in South Africa, major advertising agencies bought out smaller ones in order to bring advertising in-house.
In the 1970s, WPP, OmniCom and IPG had traditional companies. Now the most forward-looking digital agencies in this century are Google and Facebook – technology companies.

The six Ds of Digitisation
The process of digitisation is rapid – so rapid that it is now exponential. The six Ds show a road map of rapid development that results in upheaval.

  • Digitisation – when something is presented in ones and zeroes it becomes an information-based technology subject to exponential growth.
  • Deceptive – digitisation can be deceptive in its initial period because growth doesn’t seem that fast, but it soon picks up speed.
  • Disruptive – the digital technologies disrupt existing industries because they outperform them in both effectiveness and pricepoint.
  • Dematerialised – major devices of the 1980s (such as a boom box and a telephone) have been are now in one device – the smartphone. Separate products become one product.
  • Demonitisation – this occurs when commodities (such as vinyl record stores) are made accessible via technology (such as iTunes) and thus become worth less or even free.
  • Democratisation – this is where the marketplace explodes. As more people join the digital world, technology becomes available to more people to use.

In 2000 6% of the world’s population connected to the Internet; 66% of the population will be connected by 2020. Companies like Google seek to democratise technology and connect the world with projects such as Google Loon.

Artificial intelligence
Intelligent machines that can behave like humans has become the next frontier. Many major companies have invested R&D money in this field.
Currently, we think AI is “dumb”; just embryonic technology that is used in “personal assistants” on platforms such as iOS (Siri), Amazon (Alexa) and Microsoft (Cortana).
There are three types of AI:

  • Artificial narrow intelligence – such as Google Maps, this type of AI can do only one thing at a time
  • Artificial general intelligence – this is what we see in current levels of intelligence found in humans
  • Artificial super-intelligence – this level of AI is far more intelligent than all humans combined – and this could ultimately see the end of humanity. Examples of this power has been evidenced in robots that can beat poker players and predict Supreme Court decision outcomes.

Changes in banking
Banks will soon become outdated if they don’t want to adopt digitisation technologies such as BitCoin and Blockchain. High bank fees and the cost of employing humans will render the old systems obsolete. Examples of this have already occurred in the taxi space. Taxi drivers protested the arrival of Uber – so Uber decided to roll out self-driving cars. And Uber drivers then protested

Unlocking value with data
Sensors are being implemented in jet engines to measure data that is returned to data analysts who attempt to reduce risk and improve efficiencies. The sole purpose of this is to learn where money can be saved, streamlining companies and generating value from data.

Businesses must accept reality
“Most businesses refuse to accept the inevitable,” says Brown. “People think that things aren’t broken so why fix it? But if they don’t consider changing, they may be left behind.”
Businesses need to ask the tough questions so they can get the right answers.
“Companies need to bend with the wind. If they are to exist in the future, they need to be agile and change to adapt to the market.”

Consider what will put you out of business and start strategising about how you will address the problems that haven’t become problems yet.

Matt Brown is the CEO of Digital Kungfu, a digital business consultancy that specialises in helping companies accelerate innovation and disrupt traditional markets by enabling them with new ways to do business that serve their customers more effectively and responsively.

Everyone is online, so why aren’t you?

We’ve been told for nearly a decade now that this is the digital age – a golden time of instant information.

Smartphones, tablets and desktops are everywhere and the role of traditional media and content sharing has rapidly changed in the age of the internet-driven 24-hour news and social media sharing.

A global trend, South Africa is on track and seeing rapid changes in how readers consume information.
The days of mass-market print publications are declining and we are looking at a new era from print to digital and beyond.

According to We Are Social’s Digital in 2017 report, an average South African spends a significantly longer portion of their day engaging with digital than with any other medium.

Effective Measure’s November 2016 statistics, based on 331,042 online surveys completed by local internet users, reveal the same trend when comparing digital to print or even radio and TV.

Nearly everyone is online. For the consumer, we can take news anywhere with us in the world and are connected to and by technology throughout the day. Digital media also allows companies to reach the right audience at their convenience and create lasting experiences with customers. Having a finger on the digital versus print pulse allows a company to transform itself in step with consumers’ changing habits.

“There’s no doubt that it’s time to fully embrace the digital age” says the CEO of AutoTrader South Africa, George Mienie. “We launched our magazine in 1992 and our website in 1998, and it was in 2008 that we realised our magazine had a shelf-life. The internet was developing so fast, and the possibilities of what could be done online were so vast.” AutoTrader, the number one motoring marketplace in South Africa, is one of the businesses who have made the transition from print to digital successfully. This week they announced they had printed the final issue of their magazine & are fully digital.

To put the power of the internet into perspective, compared to the 1,4 million magazines AutoTrader sold in 2006, in 2016 the website had over 50 million visits, and the company sent over 3 million leads connecting serious car buyers and sellers. One magazine could host 8 – 10,000 cars in total. Today 68,000 cars are listed at any one time on the website.

The move from print to digital should never be taken lightly and should be right for your company. The journey from analog and print to digital can be hazardous, regardless of what industry, technology, product, or service your company is in. Just ask industry giants like Kodak or Financial Times who also struggled for years in transforming. AutoTrader’s full digital move was a result of 10 years of research and monitoring of changing consumer preference.

“We put it in our car buying customers hands … by creating two unique sets of telephone response numbers, one printed in the magazine and the other on the website. We then knew whether our users were responding via the magazine or the website, and through tracking it month-by-month we could see how quickly their preference was changing,” says Mienie. Tracking changes in customer behaviour is key for online success. As the only niche vertical that is transparent with the sellers contact details they have seen that consumers want to be more and more anonymous with more than 50% of car buyers taking the address of their site and going directly to a dealership without calling or mailing first.

Online has also enabled the company to empower buyers and sellers to a remarkable degree, and in a way the magazine never could. Through financing, insurance, history checks, buyer and seller validation, geographic location services, and a dedicated content hub that houses motoring news, reviews & videos.
For this company it was a clear way forward to say #ByeByePrint and move forward as fully digital, to aid them in reaching their company goal – for a user to be able to conduct an entire sale, online, perfectly.

CNA’s next move

Embattled Edcon company CNA has taken a new tack in a bid to generate revenue and keep customers coming through the doors by opening a Digital pop-up store on one of its larger premises in the Cresta Mall in Johannesburg.

A recent article by Hilton Tarrant for Moneyweb highlighted the plight of CNA:

CNA has become an awkward appendage, made more clear when one reads the Edcon financial statements. The group’s retail division is split into two segments: ‘Edgars’ and ‘Discount’. The latter is Jet and Legit, while the former is everything else, including the foreign brands it has launched in the country, like Topshop, River Island, and T.M. Lewin.

And then there’s CNA. Edcon CEO Jürgen Schreiber told Business Day that it’s considering the sale of “non-core stores”. There’s a lot of “non-core” in Edcon, including Boardmans and possibly Red Square, but surely CNA is first on that list?

Truth is CNA was never enough of a book shop to be a book shop. Or a toy store to be a toy store. Or a stationery outlet to be a stationery outlet. The only thing it was ever really good at was being a news agent. The huge variety of magazines available on its shelves was unmatched. But it’s 2015. Traditional news agents are either extinct or on the endangered list.

A foray into mobile phones and laptops seemed to be one bright light a few years back. But CNA never carried the breadth and depth of product to make it an obvious must-stop.

Perhaps CNA has revisited this idea with its new digital pop-up shops.

My Office magazine is moving into the digital age, leaving print media behind in favour of an online platform.

As of May 2017, My Office will no longer be a print magazine. Exciting times lie ahead as we keep abreast of technology.

Digital media is the new frontier as the number of Internet users crest 3,42-billion – 46% of the global population. In South Africa, spend on the consumption of digital media is expected to rise to 49,6% in 2019, ensuring digital revenues will account for the majority of market share as early as 2020.

shop-sa chairman Hans Servas has issued the following announcement:

Times are a changin’
The board of shop-sa and the publishers of My Office magazine, IT-Online, have decided that the time has come to take the bold step and move into the Digital Age.

It was agreed that the print version of the My Office magazine can no longer keep up with the fast-paced information and technology age.
Needless to say that cost of print, distribution issues and revenue, played a part in the decision.

The final edition of My Office will be published in April 2017, after almost a century of serving the stationery and office products industry.

The exiting news is that from May 2017, a digital version/combination of the already successful My Office newsletter and a revamped Web-site will be launched.

Members and the industry at large will be able to access news, product information, forthcoming events and much more, instantly and continuously.

Advertisers will have ample opportunity to market their brands and products via this exiting medium.

After all, 3,4-billion users globally can’t be wrong!

Here is to the next 100 years!

Hans Servas

Chairman

 

Differentiate with digital

Digital presents a powerful opportunity for brands to differentiate themselves against competitors. We’ve all heard the stories of great digital projects and wonder how we could create the same traction for our own brands. In our quest to thrust our brands into the digital era, we have found it to be more difficult than we initially anticipated.

The trouble is, brands who are unsure of the value of digital choose a copycat approach to digital marketing. They hear of something that worked for someone else and copy it. Choosing to copy others rather than create new opportunities results in a saturated market of ‘the same old’ digital tactics.

We see it all over the place, in social media, as brands and agencies adopt the same ideas over and over again. Even in the mobile apps market, brands are too quick to jump in fast and end up with smaller and smaller returns from their online efforts. We need to make the copycat approach public enemy number one.

The copycat approach comes when:
• Brands aren’t sure of who they are
• Brands are chasing speed to market over innovation
• Brands are afraid of failure
It’s become my experience that brands who succeed in digital know who they are, they make sure their digital ideas match their overall strategy and they are brave. They’re even a little crazy, in a good way.

So, it seems fairly practical that we could apply a simple process to getting out of a copycat approach and I’d like to unpack this a bit more.

In short, we could apply this three-step approach:
• Become one with your brand
• Align your digital objectives to the overall strategy
• Be brave
Easier said than done!

Become one with your brand

In life, our confidence in who we are helps us become a stronger, better version of ourselves. Most emotional intelligence programmes will help us highlight our strengths rather than focus on our weaknesses. In other words, to be better and stronger we need to focus on what makes us different from everyone else, instead of focusing on how we can be like everyone else.

Branding is the same. Focusing on understanding your brand should clearly articulate what makes you stand out from the crowd. Why do people buy from you instead of your competitors? This understanding helps build your confidence as a marketing manager in making the right decisions for your brand. It helps you be bold with your strengths and eventually aids you in becoming an even stronger brand. Without a strong understanding of your identity, you won’t have the strength to make an impact.

David Aaker provides a Brand Identity Model that helps brands work out who they are and what is important to them. It’s a great model to get a deep, tangible understanding of a brand. In short, the model defines brand equity as a collection of Brand Loyalty, Brand Awareness, Perceived Quality, Brand Associations and Proprietary Assets.

If you haven’t done this Brand Identity work before then I would encourage you to give the Aaker Model a spin.

Alignment

I really like Aaker’s Brand Identity Model because he helps marketers make the next step, from brand understanding to digital alignment. In his article, “The Four Faces of Digital Marketing”, Aaker helps marketers apply digital to their brand identity. The four faces of digital that he describes show you how to apply digital to your brand:
1. Support the product offering
2. Amplify other brand building channels
3. Extend the value proposition
4. Create digital brand building channels
With a clear understanding of the brand, you should be able to apply the four faces of digital to identify unique digital experiences that will help you stand out.

So, when looking for the power of digital for your brand you can reframe these faces of digital into these questions:
1. How can digital help me enhance my product offering?
2. How can digital amplify my other brand building channels?
3. How can I use digital to extend my value proposition?
4. Can I create my own digital brand building channel?

Be brave

Any marketer who is afraid of taking a calculated risk will never receive the reward of truly innovative marketing. Marketers are like entrepreneurs and innovators. They need to research the opportunities, paint a picture of the future, build innovative consumer engagements and then take the leap. They need to back themselves and the research they’ve done.

I remember reading that the best entrepreneurs had low risk profiles. They had just spent enough time working out every possible way something could go wrong and they had a plan. They reached the point in their research that they knew it would work and they knew how to make it happen.

Marketers who think like this are the marketers who will show bravery and lead brands in becoming stronger versions of themselves with great, purposeful digital solutions that their customers love.

By Mike Saunders for BizCommunity

For many industries, information flow has seen a remarkable transformation from paper media to digital in order to save time, space and money. Not to mention digital media tends to be more organised than paper-based information. Paper companies have not backed down to the industry threat, however.

The paper industry’s activism in the mutual fund space

“When the government planned to make it easier for mutual funds to quit mailing investors billions of pages of reports each year, the paper industry got involved,” says Andrew Ackerman of the Wall Street Journal.

According to the WSJ writer, American Mutual funds spend over $300-million every year for paper in order to send investors hundreds of millions of reports every year. Many of these densely written packets are tossed out and unread.

Last year, in order to save time and money, Securities Exchange Commission regulators began proposing a digital solution, not requiring funds to send hard copy reports to their investors. As part of the justification, only “24.5 percent said they would request a mailed hard copy” if the switch occurred according to the WSJ.

The paper industry strikes back

“The push for “logical progress,” however, was not progress to everyone, as the American Forest & Paper Association and the Envelope Manufactures Association teamed up to stop the proposal, added Ackerman.

The two paper groups jointly funded the Consumers for Paper Options group while rallying retirees and consumer groups “decrying what they call the government’s rush to digitalise,” says Ackerman.

“Millions of our fellow Americans will be left out in an information desert,” Rep. Bruce Poliquin, a Maine Republican leading the pro-paper faction, warned on the House floor July 6, according to WSJ.

In the end, the paper industry’s activism prevailed and the chairman of the SEC commission, Jo White, decided to drop the plan. White noted the plan had drawn “considerable attention,” and planned on a formal announcement this autumn, says Ackerman.

By Andrew Efimoff for www.benzinga.com

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