Adobe’s New Vision: Away with The Box and Into the Cloud

[Cross-Posted from Beneath the Brand.]

As a sometime graphic designer, I’ve been a loyal user of Adobe products for many years. I’ve followed the company through their branding and packaging changes, from their unveiling of the Creative Suite in 2003 to the acquisition of Macromedia Flash in 2005, to the launching of the Creative Cloud subscription model last year. Now, it seems Adobe has decided to change yet again: they are tossing out the traditional retail box, and are switching to exclusively selling Creative Cloud subscriptions.

The decision to change to a completely subscription-based pricing model is a bold one, to be sure. Many customers enjoyed the Creative Suite and won’t be happy with completely digital software and subscription-based pricing. Adobe has let these customers know that Creative Suite 6 is still available for purchase, albeit without future updates, but they also emphasize that there will never be a Creative Suite 7. Adobe maintains that they have listened to their customers over the years, and that this change is the result of careful consideration of their customers’ demands.

There are a number of changes coming with the Creative Cloud. For starters, Adobe is eliminating material packaging altogether. This not only saves on production and shipping costs, but it also aligns the brand with “greener” technology. Additionally, it makes it more accessible — once you have a subscription, you can then download the programs onto any supported devices, which is an absolute necessity given the prominence of tablets, smartphones, and other mobile devices in today’s world.

Further, Adobe is rebranding the former Creative Suite applications (or “CS”) as “CC” products. This includes Photoshop CC, Illustrator CC, Dreamweaver CC, Premiere Pro CC, and InDesign CC. The programs are intended to be upgradable utilizing cloud technology: Once a customer has a subscription, they have access to updates as often as they are released, as long as the customer’s subscription is still active. This means that problems such as bugs or OS compatibility issues can be addressed as they come up, and updates will be released much more frequently. And of course, because this is all done through Creative Cloud, you won’t have to pay extra for hotfixes or upgrades.

The pricing models vary depending on your history with the company. For subscribers like myself, if you’ve purchased a CS 3 or later product, you can get the first year at $29.99 per month. Others who own earlier versions of the product can snag the complete version for $49.99 a month. Or you have the option to purchase a single-product license for $19.99 per month. For teams and companies who require special packages, Adobe has other options.

But what does all this mean for the brand? Well, for Adobe, this means regular revenue. Rather than the sporadic income they would receive with CS releases every year or two years, they now receive a monthly influx of revenue. This means they can spend more time addressing existing issues, developing better add-ons for the applications, and fighting the ongoing battle of software piracy.

And for Adobe users, this means they can have access to expensive software at a reasonable monthly rate. They’ll get better customer service and a better product in the long run due to regular maintenance. Another bonus? The more Adobe products you use, the better the deal becomes.

Obviously, I am a fan of this model. It’s green, it’s sleek and convenient, and for me, it’s a great investment. What do you think of Adobe’s changes?

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Announcing A New Late-Night Contender…Cap’n Crunch!

[Cross-Posted from Beneath the Brand].

Do you have a favorite cereal mascot from your childhood years? Growing up in the ’90s, I recall there being so many cereal mascots, so many jingles, and so many ways to tell adults that our cereal just wasn’t for them that it was nearly impossible to choose a favorite to represent our generation. We had Apple Jacks, Cinnamon Toast Crunch, Trix, and of course, Cap’n Crunch. While of course there are many others to bring up for nostalgia’s sake, there’s only one that I want to talk about right now, and that one is Cap’n Crunch.

I believe the last time I even thought about the Cap’n was when I swore he’d never lacerate the roof of my mouth with his dastardly crunch berries again (which, admittedly, was probably not all that long ago). But on April 23, the Cap’n himself took to Twitter and Facebook and made an announcement about some surprising new plans of his: He’s getting his own late-night talk show. Out with the old, and in with the new.

Of course you won’t see the Cap’n makin’ it happen in a lineup with the likes of Leno, Letterman, or Fallon. Instead, he’ll be showcasing his talents in an original YouTube series, The Cap’n Crunch Show.

The Cap’n Crunch Show is set to debut Tuesday, May 7 at 11:35 pm EDT, just like any other late-night programs. There will be a total of nine episodes, with a new one being made available every other Tuesday following the premiere. The content is directed at adults who have grown up with the cherished character, and is intended to be primarily tongue-in-cheek: the host will apparently discuss pop culture, social media, and interview animated celebrities from his giant cereal bowl with a little help from his pooch and first mate, Sea Dog.

In an effort to promote the mascot’s brand new image, Quaker has encouraged fans to interact with their host via social media. You can subscribe to his YouTube channelfollow him on Twitter, or like him on Facebook. Like many other brands, social media proves to be bolstering his campaign: He currently has about 270,000 likes on Facebook, and 14,200 followers on Twitter.

The brand’s new marketing strategy plays on adults’ nostalgia, creating a new bond between the character and the customer, and it springboards from popular social media platforms. It’s certainly an approach that has worked for other franchises that were popular in the past: think Transformers, My Little Pony, or even the new Kool-Aid manmakeover. Given that the ’90s revival theme is pretty popular right now, do you think the Cap’n will fit right in?

Netflix and Hasbro’s New Deal: A Solution to Kid-Targeted Advertising?

Cross-posted from [Beneath the Brand].

In 1984, the Federal Communications Commission made the decision to remove the limitations that had long been in place for children’s advertising — what kinds of commercials could be viewed during children’s programming, for example, or how many minutes per hour could be dedicated to advertising aimed at young kids — stating that the marketplace would determine what programming was best for children. Fast-forward nearly 30 years and there is still a dialogue going on about what actually is best for children.

Children’s advertising has been blamed in the UK last week for everything from rising rates of childhood obesity to excessive drug usage and teen pregnancy. In America, we’ve seen a similar correlation drawn between media consumption (particularly “superfluous” content such as advertisements) and childhood obesity.

Needless to say, people are nervous about — and perhaps even fed up with — the effects of aggressive advertising on younger children.

So what’s a brand to do without targeted advertising? Netflix thinks they might have the answer in a tactic that’s a little more… subversive.

Everyone knows why Netflix can, at times, be preferable to cable television — there are no advertisements; much of its content is on-demand, streaming media; and full seasons of shows are ready to be watched all on one lazy weekend afternoon, whenever and wherever you like. And they already had a large selection of kid’s media to choose from: in 2012 alone, over 12 billion hours of children’s content was streamed through the popular media hub.

As of April 11, Netflix announced that they were teaming up with Hasbro to offer even more streaming kids’ content, adding shows such as “Littlest Pet Shop” and “Kaijudo: Rise of the Duel Masters.” They wanted to create an atmosphere where kids could stream content “unencumbered by aggressive advertisements or inappropriate material.”

But is it really uninhibited and “free” from advertising? With virtually unlimited hours of television right at their fingertips, children are easily able to cherry-pick what they deem most interesting to watch. Long gone are the days of waking up early on Saturday morning to catch a few hours of carefully packaged cartoons with the intermittent advertisement for Rock-Em-Sock-Em-Robots or a Skip It. Now, you can have whatever content you want, whenever you want it — as long as mom and dad still have a subscription to Netflix. And the shows certainly put activities and material items in them that kids will want to emulate or obtain for themselves.

So really, aren’t the brands themselves doing all the advertising? Hasbro is the classic staple for children’s entertainment, Netflix has become a monolith in on-demand entertainment, and your child can select their favorite shows with just the click of a button, learning of their desires through their favorite shows.

What do you think? Does this count as unwelcome advertising, or is Netflix on the right track?

5 Personal Branding Cues to Consider for Your Business in 2013

Cross-posted from [Beneath the Brand].

Let’s take a brief look at a successful personal brand that started off as something virtually unknown. Take Ray William Johnson, for example. He started out making videos for fun, but gradually amassed followers to become one of the most popular channels on YouTube. Now he is taking his brand to a whole new level — he announced recently that he’s starting his own production company! While there is no set formula for success like Ray William Johnson’s, there are a few tips and tricks we can follow to improve our representation of our brand and our visibility online.

1) Hone in on your skills. When you are trying to reach a wider audience, it’s important to recognize your strengths. For example, are you a talented speaker? Why not volunteer to be a guest speaker for your local community college? If you’re more of a writer, submit something to your local paper and send out samples of your work to your favorite blogs. Maybe you can guest post, edit, or even be a regular contributor! Are you good at teaching? Find out if you can instruct for a local adult education program — get to know people and network!

2) Use proper etiquette in everything you do. When you answer the phone or send an email, you’re still branding yourself. Do it positively. If you relay messages in an abrupt, rude manner, people will not perceive you as an open communicator or an approachable business contact. Do your very best to be courteous and considerate to others, and they’ll remember you and the brand you represent as a positive, rewarding experience!

3) Utilize word-of-mouth marketing. Tried and true, friends. Talk to your colleagues, coworkers, clients, customers. Nurture your crowd. When they ask questions or provide feedback — positive or negative — engage them. If someone is trying to cause problems or attack another one of your customers (happens a lot on Internet forums), moderate it. Make your space a positive one, and reserve room for constructive criticism. When you handle yourself in a professional and structured manner, people respect you as a manager and as a person. They want to participate in your brand, and they’ll spread the word for you!

4) Use social media. Be online. In 2013 there will be no excuse to not have a way for your customers to connect with you via social media. Promote yourself by using sites like LinkedIn, Twitter, Facebook, Pinterest, and YouTube. You don’t need to do all of the above, obviously, but choose a few of them and use them. Update them regularly, and connect with people who are similar to you. Consistency creates loyalty. I’ve heard people say that brand loyalty is no longer a thing, but I maintain that it still is. It’s just that the definition has changed a bit — it’s no longer blind loyalty to one of two major competing companies like so many businesses in the ’80s and ’90s. (For example: Coke vs Pepsi, Nintendo vs Sega, Ford vs Chevrolet, the list goes on and on.) Nowadays, loyalty isn’t defined as exclusivity to your business — but rather, by your company providing loyal services to your customers and employees, and of course to yourself. When you create a positive work atmosphere, your employees want to work for you, and do a better job at engaging your customers. The customers recognize and appreciate this. And by using social media, everyone can share their positive experiences in real time, which gives you more free, positive publicity!

5) Keep a line-up of projects. This is important. Have deadlines. Focus on bite-sized achievements. This gives you a variety of things to pull from for discussions, and you will always have something new to tweet, write, and learn about. You can easily connect with others on multiple levels when you have a constant workflow. Of course, there are a few don’ts as well: don’t overwhelm yourself, and don’t post about mundane things (save your Instagrammed lunch photos for your personal accounts)! But by breaking your habit of only posting when you have a major deadline due, you keep fans consistently in the loop. They’ll like keeping tabs on your progress!

These are only a few tips, but they are important things to consider for your personal brand and business going into 2013. It’s no longer enough to just put up a website and hope that the customers will find you. Be proactive, and find new ways to engage your audience on a regular basis. The hard work will pay off! Happy branding!