Category Archives: Digital Media

Going beyond RFID and QR codes: Augmented Reality

Recently, I attended the “InterACT! Conference” on behalf of Vibrant Graphics, where I was able to listen in on break-out discussions speaking of new, emerging trends and technologies.  Specifically, the focus of the conference was on social media, QR codes, and augmented reality. 

These technologies  have oftentimes proved to be very useful.  However, there are concerns of where this technology is heading.

 I know we’ve all seen it – people driving with not only their cell phones in hand, but also laptops in the passenger seat.  With the anticipated media-saturation of augmented reality, let’s hope this technology stays off the road!

 Augmented reality (AR) is the blending of the physical world with partially virtual computer generated imagery.   Augmented reality is ‘real time.’  For those who have not yet seen examples of augmented reality, here are four examples, each implementing AR in different, useful ways:

 iButterfly: allows users to ‘catch’ butterflies in the ‘air’ (virtual vacation): allows users to have an interactive experience when choosing their vacation destination.  In Los Angeles, you can have your name appear on the “Hollywood sign.”

Lego: allows users to interactively see how ‘the toy in the box’ will function

USPS: allows users to choose which box size is appropriate to ship their object in (the demonstration is at the one-minute mark in the video)

For example, USPS allows a user to print out a ‘marker’, which the user will hold up to his or her computer, and it will simulate which size of package the user will need in order to ship the object.  This also is very helpful for retail shopping, as consumers can virtually try-on the clothing.  Another helpful instance would be during furniture shopping: the user could print a marker, place it on the floor, and point his or her webcam at the marker.  The image would appear on the computer, and the couch would be virtually placed in the room. 

While it may be clearly helpful in several instances, has technology gone to far?   

The ‘privacy issue’ troubles many people.  Will there one day be a way that this will be used as facial recognition software on your iPhone?  How many people will share location data with programs such as Google Latitude (and who will have access these programs–criminals?).  Virtually anything can be scanned and scrutinized.  There is real-estate information available on the augmented iPhone applications, where the user is able to view available condos or apartments for sale or rent.  What if the whole world became a virtual e-bay?  Would someone break into your house to obtain an expensive artifact you were innocently trying to sell on eBay?

 Beyond the privacy concerns, how will children be affected?  In a commercial advertising the iButterfly application, children are shown trying to “catch” virtual butterflies with their iPhones.  In the year 1995 and below, children dreamed of doing something like this, or playing with objects that would “come to life.”  Now the child does not even have to think or utilize his or her imagination, because it is reality to them.  Will this take away imagination or critical thinking skills?

 With the emergence of new technologies such as this, there will once again be an even larger digital divide.  By 2012, 65% of phone owners are projected to own smart phones.  What if this leaves no room for the voice of the ‘have-nots?’

 These are just a few critical components to think about as we emerge into unchartered territory.  I could see a couple of reasons WHY Vibrant Graphics should utilize this technology.  For instance, this would be useful when customers place a personalized order and want to know how labels will look on a particular model.  How would you implement it in your life at or outside of work? What do you think about it?

Here are ten interested augmented-reality iPhone applications:


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Three Major Branding Blunders

Three Major Branding Blunders (And what your company can learn from them)

 1)      Seattle’s Best

Starbucks acquired the “Seattle’s Best Coffee” in 2003, and just last year they decided to rebrand Seattle’s Best Coffee to a “simpler, more contemporary logo.” Specifically, creators wanted to put a modern spin on the brand and turn it into a more universally appealing symbol.  

 Simpler is usually better, except in this case.  After just one week after the new brand launched, 68% of over 200 respondents said Seattle’s Best should try again.  Respondents’ feedback went something like this: “People have classified this new logo as looking like a bowl of cereal filled with tears, or even worse, a blood donation center.” 

 Seattle’s Best got one thing right, though.  They really got the public with their rebranding efforts.  Seattle’s best realized rebranding is more than just sending out a press release, it is interacting with people and showing people what you and your brand are all about. 

 “To re-launch the Seattle’s Best Coffee brand in some of their biggest markets, Seattle and Portland, they placed big red refrigerators throughout the cities filled with ice-cold lattes and mochas. Genius! This simple idea has caused a buzz both online and off. It also shows the public that just because your look has changed, your great taste and price hasn’t changed.”  (  In the end, Seattle’s Best had loyal customers stay with them, because the price remained the same and the coffee had the same great taste.  I believe this is in part due to the great marketing efforts and ‘gorilla advertising’ during the rebranding transition.           

 2)      The New Coke

This is a case where the product taste didn’t remain the same.  The second brand with a blunder is Coca-Cola, or should I say the “New” Coke?  What we can learn from this brand blunder: if it isn’t broken, don’t fix it!

 In 1985, Coca-Cola released a major failure of reinvention. “A small minority, about 10-12%, felt angry and alienated at the very thought, saying that they might stop drinking Coke altogether.” 

 People actually developed an emotional attachment to the look, feel, and taste of the brand.  People missed the old brand so much, Coca-Cola decided to reinitiate the ‘old’ taste and style.   Something we can all take away from this is: be informative and listen to your consumer’s feedback.  During the focus group, “participants liked the taste of New Coke, but were NOT told old would disappear.”  (  Perhaps if Coca Cola disclosed such a pivotal piece of information, the product would never have been close to committing brand-suicide.  Needless to say, Coke reverted back to the old formula which is now ‘Coke Classic’.

 Coca-Cola (Coke Classic) is in the lead today though, being within the top five brands on Facebook! 

 3)      Tropicana

You haven’t really seen a Tropicana advertisement, have you?  Me either.  Yet, we all know the Tropicana box, with the straw-in-orange logo.  That wasn’t always their logo though – At one point Tropicana shied away from the traditional orange with a straw in it.  This new brand looks like something you would buy generic, at a dollar store (but the price was definitely NOT lower)!  Consumers stated that if the price would have been lower, they may have transitioned easier in adapting to the new rebrand.

 With Tropicana having such a great brand identity and logo that is instantly recognizable (even without the Tropicana name), it does not make sense why Tropicana would rebrand.  In rebranding, Tropicana lost a tremendous amount of brand equity.  I know a number of people who were not able to find Tropicana in grocery stores due to the change in trade dress.   Many described the branding efforts as “making it more difficult to distinguish among the varieties of Tropicana, or differentiate itself from other orange juices.”  ( For example, with the new all-over orange color, customers find it difficult to pick out the “heart healthy” orange juice, since the text is hidden by the bright color. 

 This obviously changed the performance of the brand power, and resulted in loss of equity.  After the package redesign, sales of the Tropicana Pure Premium line plummeted 20% between Jan. 1 and Feb. 22, costing the brand tens of millions of dollars ( Shortly after, Tropicana ditched the new design.

 There is a lurking trend that these re-brands above have in common:  the corporations behind them underestimated the emotional attachment consumers had with the original packaging.  For instance, think of how we have all come to know and love the Coca-Cola bear and Coca-Cola Santa holiday promotions.  They are near and dear to our hearts.  IF you choose to rebrand, you must do the research and discover what your customer’s needs really are.  Lastly, re-affirm to the public that your new brand is of the same impeccable quality and value.

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From Gutenberg to Zuckerberg

Gutenberg from:

As I watch my 80-year-old grandmother attempt to figure out how a wireless computer ‘mouse’ is relevant to the workings of a computer, I wonder if a complete shift to the digital landscape is truly plausible.  A while back, I researched how students in Milwaukee, Wisconsin choose to keep themselves updated on worldly news.  A shocking 80% of students claimed that the most informative outlet was the good ‘old’ newspaper.  According to a study completed by OnCampus Research, 74% of US college students still prefer to use a printed textbook while taking a class(, 2010). 

This is a highly significant in the current digital climate; with today’s MTV culture having an attention span of three seconds or less, this may prove that people still want credible, well told stories (instead of a Tweeted update).  The question is: will people choose information over visuals?   The four reasons listed below confirm PEOPLE STILL LIKE PRINT!

1)  Major paper-based publications have seen steady business

According to Vanity Fair Publications, people do choose quality content over iconic visuals.  “[Vanity Fair] print circulation (both newsstands and subscriptions) is emphatically up at a time when everyone tells us it is supposed to be down.”  Consumers may appreciate the tangible aspect of the information, or the fact that many articles written in print are less biased as those on the web (which, let’s face it, many exposed articles tend to be highly opinioned and sometimes fabricated).

In a 2006 study conducted by the Direct Marketing Assocition (DMA), the DMA found that when it came time to generate orders, 60% of orders came from printed catalogs, 24% by retail settings, and only 9% of orders were obtained using the internet. (, 2010).  This may be proof that tangibility can result in further brand recognition.  For instance, if you have gotten a magazine, chances are there may be a sale or coupon insert that you may hold onto.  Having something like this in your hand is easier than trying to remember to print out the coupon and travel to said store.

 2)  Digital gate-keepers are not always credible.  is an example of this – would you take a piece of information from Wikipedia and site this as expert advice in a research paper (when the article could very well have been written by a 12-year-old boy)?  Probably not.

 There might be a link between education and the computer, but does the digital revolution guarantee excellence in learning? According to Artbox Creative research (2010), “B-to-B magazines were viewed by prospects as trustworthy and objective, websites were seen as the place where they received timely information, and trade shows were viewed as the place for interactions and to improve their awareness of alternatives.” People do still find value in print.

 3)  There are digital disadvantages

The Kindle, for instance, is a fairly new product on the market and allows one to download books for free, from the public domain.  Printing Industry guru, Frank Romano, said, “It is a mistake to assume that electronic content will eventually replace books.”  Like Napster, Kindle faces several challenges – these works that are now able to be downloaded for free are sure to become protected instead of being openly shared.  In addition to protected resources, many universities such as Syracuse and the University of Wisconsin-Madison are discontinuing use due to complaints from organizations that advocate for the blind.

 As the costs of digitalization decreases, there becomes less of a ‘digital divide’ and more people have access to various learning platforms.  However, as many consumers are able to use social media outlets to expose relevant information. Mitchel Resnick of The Massachusetts’s Institute of Technology understands that there is a difference between having access to online forums and being fluent in online applications.  Resnick compares online fluency to language fluency: can you say a couple of words in German, or do you REALLY know the language?    

4)  Print + digital = lasting impressions

It is difficult to have a ‘stickiness effect’ with just online advertising.  With digital news being oversaturated, it is simple to dismiss advertisements and stories.  With print, there is a higher ROI since many magazines are distributed over and over.  For example, if you are in a doctor’s office and are waiting over 20 minutes for an appointment, you will most likely take a look at a magazine nearby.  That person might take the magazine home, and pass it on to their friend, and so on.  Sure, this person might be able to send a link to somebody, but not everybody opens every email with the high amount of spam.  Print is more personal, and not an attack on your inbox.  Print is lasting.

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