Friday, October 29, 2010

The (Twitter) Empowered Consumer

I just got the upgrade to Adobe CS5 yesterday. Yep, it was a pretty sweet day—until Photoshop CS5 started crashing my computer regularly. I couldn't do anything. I had to constantly restart my entire computer and with a few deadlines looming, my patience with the program got really short, really fast.

After talking with IT, it looked like all I needed was some upgrades, so I managed to work around it yesterday afternoon to hit my end of day deadlines and planned to update first thing this morning. IT graciously updated my computer early this morning before I even got in. Unfortunately, it didn't do a thing.

By crash number four of the morning, I was royally ticked.

What did I do? Well I tweeted my frustration of course. My computer was restarting—again—so I pulled out my iPhone and let Adobe have it—hash tagging everything I could. I wanted anyone considering the upgrade to know this was a very bad potential issue. That and I knew Adobe would here it—if they were social media smart.

Well darned if a guy from Adobe hadn't responded by the time my Firefox was up and running again. Good job Adobe. He also managed to steer me, and IT, to some links that eventually fixed the problem. It still took some sweat and some cursing before it managed to work quite right, but throughout I was able to communicate with someone from Adobe. He even offered to get someone in touch to work through the problem when things were not looking good.

The customer service component of Twitter is quite the phenomenon. Seriously, if you aren't on Twitter, you really should be—just for this aspect if nothing else. And if you're a brand that's not monitoring tweets like mine, you really should be—it can quickly escalate. Just ask Motrin.

The best part about Twitter-style customer service is the timing, the lightening speed that you get in contact with someone—no phone menus involved. The first time I experienced it was at a local restaurant that had built its business with Twitter—they sponsor local Tweet Ups, etc. I'll admit, I originally went there since I'd heard so much about it on Twitter. Well, it was my first time there and my dessert really sucked—it was a giant cookie and it was completely overcooked and dry. I'm not the type to outright tell my waitress that the dessert sucked, but I did tweet about it. The response was immediate—like within a few minutes. Unfortunately I didn't check my phone until I was on the way home, but I was able to express my annoyance and clearly have it heard and got an apology and a sincere effort to keep me as a customer. It made me much more likely to return.

What's the moral? Twitter is fast becoming the best way for customers to interact with their brands. It brings the brands to a somewhat personal level—even if you're just tweeting back and forth with the brand name. They have a personality and if it's done right, it really can make you feel like a valued customer, no matter how ticked you are.

Monday, October 18, 2010

The Gap's Brand Boomerang

Original Logo
New Logo
A little over a week ago the Gap suddenly announced a new logo. A very generic logo that boiled down their iconic brand to typeset Helvetica and a blue box. I wasn't a particular fan—my immediate reaction was why? Why do this to your simple, yet effective blue box? A simple Helvetica typeset only improves a logo if it was hideous or too busy to begin with—and that was simply not the case here. All it does is make it extremely generic.

I intended to post about it immediately, though a busy schedule both in and out of work prevented me from really having time to collect my thoughts about it. As luck would have it consumers on Twitter and Facebook ranted plenty for me and shockingly, the Gap did an about face last Tuesday, announcing that they were ditching their new logo in favor of the old one. Thank goodness.

Of course, that was after they ran a crowd sourcing campaign to design their new logo. Crowd sourcing is a cool idea, but maybe not the right approach for your core brand identity—you get a lot of crappy logos. Check out Brand New's post on it, they highlight some of the pieces. And if you scroll down, they'll give you a taste of exactly how generic that new Gap logo really was—by applying the same treatment to a number of other iconic brands. It made me laugh.

Kudos to Gap for swallowing their pride and relenting that what was probably months of hard work was misguided and hated by their target audience (assuming the whole thing was not a big publicity stunt as some have suggested). It really is an interesting study on the power of social media in today's consumer market. Everywhere from brands to politics, one false move can create an enormous wave of bad publicity and anger from the people you're trying to please.