Friday, July 25, 2008
As I have mentioned before, I have been working with graphic designers on an update of our logo, website, and marketing materials. As part of this effort, I have been working on defining and clarifying the Bee Documents brand.
By "brand" I mean the characteristics that make Bee Documents unique. What makes us different than Microsoft, Apple, OmniGroup, Delicious Monster, Panic, or anyone else? This is a marketing question because the marketing should communicate and reinforce the brand to customers who are learning about Bee Documents.
However besides marketing, the "brand" question is also important, even more important, for other reasons. It can serve as a guide for choosing new products to develop, employees to hire, features to prioritize, and more. A strong brand is not just about perception, but also about reality. For me, the "brand" serves as a goal and guide, a representation of the way I want to do business as well as the way I want others to think of the company.
With that said, here are four pillars of the Bee Docs brand to which I gave a lot of thought and presented to the design team working on the new logo:HUMAN TOUCH
First and foremost, I want Bee Documents to be about people. The people who use the products, the people that make the products, students, teachers, artists, film makers, professionals, parents, writers... The list goes on and on.
Sending out hand written thank you notes is an example of an effort to make a human connection to customers. The new website will feature customers and their work as much as our product. We'll continue to seek out ways of bringing humanity, human relationships, and human contact to the center of our brand.
Not enough software companies focus on people (I include my own in this criticism). I do have to give a shout out to Plasq though who gets this more than anyone else I've seen. Their customers are featured all over their website. Their team has also been very thoughtful and encouraging in communicating with me personally, even before I won any awards etc... Props to Plasq. Patagonia and U2 have also been inspirational for me in this regard.NATURE INSPIRED
I believe nature contains the very best examples of design both in form and function. So many tech companies look to other tech companies for inspiration and it shows in their products and marketing. I hope to look to nature for inspiration and I want people to feel that connection when they use our products or encounter our marketing.ARTISAN
What I mean by "artisan" is products that reflect the designers point of view, a distinct character, and a connection to a specific culture. In other words, the opposite of generic or anonymous. Artisan products don't seek to please everyone but they are made and consumed with passion. To me artisan also implies a relationship between producer and consumer (see Human Touch).CINEMATIC
Apple has been encouraging developers to be "Cinematic." This is a challenge that I embrace. Not only do I want our marketing and products to be cinematic, I also want to enable our customers to be cinematic using our products. To me, cinematic means excitement, motion, sound, storytelling, and expression in a highly visual medium.
So those are big goals! I believe our work so far has reflected these characteristics but that it will be a continuous journey to reflect them even stronger. Some of these characteristics have been part of my brand thinking since the beginning in 2002 ("Nature Inspired"), some are newer ("Cinematic"). I'm sure the brand will continue to evolve as we learn and as we grow.
Thursday, July 24, 2008
Last month I read "Rebel without a Crew: How a 23-Year-Old Filmmaker with $7,000 Became a Hollywood Player" by Robert Rodriguez. I was totally inspired!
The book is mostly journal entries from the making and promoting of El Mariachi. It also contains advice from Robert Rodriguez on how to be a filmmaker. It can be summarized as stop waiting for permission and just do it! For me, his recollections of making his own movies as a kid using to VCRs with pause button totally bring back memories of doing the same.
Writing book reviews always seems awkward to me (you should read the book rather than my review), but I wanted to spread the word on this book. Whether or not you are interested in film, if you have ever had an idea for a creative endeavor perhaps you will be inspired by Rodriguez's story and advice as I was. For example, every Indie software developer should have a copy of this book.
By the way, I have decided I should start sending complimentary Bee Docs' Timeline licenses to people who's own work has been inspirational to me. Does anyone know how I can get a license to Robert Rodriguez? If so, please send me an e-mail and let me know: Adam at BeeDocuments.com. Thanks!