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April 02, 2009


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Gerry Chiaro

Bill and Brad,
Really..... read "How to think Deeply" (Zaltman and Zaltman, HBS). They would say you struggle with "depth deficit disorder.

My take --- The tree and the balloons are metaphors. Shortcuts to deeper brand meaning. The tree represents the choices one can make using any generic browser. What lives in/on this unique tree are not the obvious animals but represent imagination and surprise. It's also clever that the fox and thunderbird are names for Mozilla products.

The balloon represents rising above it all, not a singular balloon but several -- brand superiority and consensus.

Granted, others may see the effort differently and that;s okay -- but that is what I see in the branding effort from Mozilla -- and I like it.

Gerry Chiaro

Bill Aho

Well, it wouldn't be the first time someone has suggested I need to think more deeply. Zaltman and Zaltman have done some interesting stuff. The article referenced is from their book Marketing Metaphoria, which certainly suggests some unusual marketing approaches. For instance, after determining that women had a "like/hate" relationship to panty hose, one manufacturer put a Chinese yin/yang symbol on the package, to symbolize those emotions.

I like what the Zaltmans are doing recently with neuroscience, which will completely change the way that all marketers think about their business. (I'm just now reading Lindstrom's "Buy-ology," which is fascinating.

And I should add that SagePoint Consulting (www.sagepointconsulting.com) likes symbols and metaphors. Brad McLaws' new book, out later this year, is chock full of them!

But despite all that, my position on Mozilla stands. I don't think that just because you can find a meaning in a symbol it has a place in crafting a brand message--which should be powerful and focused. For instance, adding a gift-wrapped package graphic to Intel Inside would have made it worse, not better.

I do like a few things about the Mozilla approach--particularly the FireFox and the Thunderbird, representing their products. But I don't think those fit with the Mozilla dinosaur (as symbols or aesthetically) and I think some of the other stuff they throw in just muddies the water.

Adam Taft

I don't disagree with yours (and Brad's) sentiments on this. I think you're right.

However, the Mozilla Foundation is anything but a traditional organization. You are likely suggesting changes or ideas that don't even resonate or at all matter to them. This kind of stuff just doesn't rise to the top.

Open source development, in general, is this way. The things that matter to you are not very likely the things that matter to the developers, like it or not. There's a certain element of selfishness that occurs in the development of open software, and the contributors are the ones that get to decide.

In response, I am sure the Mozilla foundation would say something to the effect that they would welcome your contribution to their efforts. If you can create branding for them, then I am sure you'd find a welcome door.

Open source development is more like a church than a real engineering company. Companies like the Mozilla Foundation are of course quite large churches, but they still fundamentally exist in large part to volunteer or very under-compensated individuals.

Another thing is that the culture of open source development efforts tend to have strong reverence for the history of the project. In the case of the dinosaur, for example, this logo has been with the lineage of Mozilla for a long time (the original Netscape icon was a dinosaur). It's very hard for such an organization to throw away old icons like this.

Finally, open source projects have had a bent towards naming things based on animals. Don't know why exactly, but that's just how it is. Visit the Ubuntu project for the most obvious example. http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Ubuntu#Releases

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SagePoint Consulting

  • Bill Aho is a partner with SagePoint Consulting, which uses proprietary innovation processes to create products, services and concepts for businesses. SagePoint serves as an ongoing revenue-producing engine for companies, generating a steady stream of market-driven innovations that are financially attractive, operationally sound and built on strategic growth platforms.

Well Said

  • "I owe my success to having listened respectfully to the very best advice, and then going away and doing the exact opposite." --G. K. Chesterton
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