Archive for July, 2008

Small Business Branding Lessons from Big Companies

Wednesday, July 16th, 2008

As a small business owner and operator, do you think branding is something exotic and lofty, reserved for the big companies with millions to spend? Think again. Branding is every bit as relevant to the smallest business as to the biggest business.

Branding, defined as simply as possible, is the way you differentiate your business from your competitors. The purpose of branding is to create a connection between you and your customers. Ultimately the goal of branding is to build customer loyalty and trust.

As a small business owner, you know that your livelihood depends on customers that keep coming back. Long-term customers are the backbone of any business. You don’t live in a vacuum. You read. You watch TV. You even shop. You’re almost certainly aware of classic examples of branding, such as Nike, Apple and Starbuck’s and why these companies have been so successful from a branding point of view. You don’t have their resources, or their budgets. What to do? There are still many valuable lessons you can learn from the big boys and apply to your business.

The first lesson is simple: if customers are going to respond to your brand and be loyalty to it, they have to be able to recognize it. You will need to be recognizable. You no doubt have many famous corporate logos burned into your retinas. There are even some that do what they’re supposed to do—conjure the associations the company wants them to in your mind, and inspire brand loyalty in you.

You can’t afford to hire a top design firm to design your logo, but you don’t’ need to. The key component is to be recognizable. Nobody ever chooses one brand over another because of the company’s logo. However, what does work is building the link between logo, product and values. You need a logo. It doesn’t have to fancy, clever, pretty or well designed, but it needs to be on everything. It should be on every letter, every business card, every invoice, every advertisement, every newsletter, every blog, every sign… every piece of communication form your business, really.

Once you have a brand that people can recognize, manifested most simply by plastering your logo all over everything you do, the next step is equally simple—but not necessarily easy. You must know what your core values are, as a business, and allow them to inform everything you do. The simplest way to figure out what your message is, is to write it down. That’s right, make a mission statement. Enumerate your company’s values and principles, everything that guides how you do business. Write it all down.

Once you’ve written your core message down, you must focus on your core message. Read it, learn it, live it. Your core message must penetrate into, and emanate from, everything you do. You won’t need to share your mission.

Fei Lun Hai (Farenheit): Two Faced Fahrenheit

Sunday, July 13th, 2008

After months of postponing, the album is here at last!

The cover is impressive: almost A4 format and my version came with 2 cute plastic folders. Of course, you’re less happy when it comes to find a place where it fits, forget the Cd or DVD shelves!

1st disappointments, out of the 13 tracks, only 7 songs are really new….the rest are from the X Family and Romantic Princess’s OSTs.

“Xin Guo” (New Home) featuring SHE
This one isn’t a surprise, but I guess most of us will be more than happy to have a full and high quality version at last!
For those who haven’t watched the show, this song was the opening theme of Romantic Princess, starring Wu Zun and Calvin. The other songs of the OST are performed by Angela Zhang, and are all on her last album, Ang. 5.0. No OST CD was released, so if you enjoyed the show as much as I did, this song is a must have!

Cute and dynamic, it will definitely put you in a good mood….and might stay in your head for a day or 2, you’ll find yourself singing those simple lyrics without realizing it!

The lyrics are nice and funny, with some play on words, SHE’s and FRH voices are a perfect match, and the feeling is really different from “Xie Xie Ni De Wen Rou” (Thank You For Your Tender) (that has been criticized a lot).

“Wei Ni Chun Zai” (Exist For You)
Not my favourite…I’m not really fond of ballads. If you liked “Xia Xue (Summer Snow), this one is of the same kind. They sing in tune, and that’s enough for me! The music is nice but has no surprise, nor is catchy, the MV is going to make all fangirls drool, but it has nothing more.

“Bu Hui AI” (Don’t Know How To Love)
I was quite disappointed to find this song on the album. Ok for “Xin Guo” (New Home), but
“Bu Hui AI” (Don’t Know How To Love) and Chu Shen Ru Hua (Mystical) are already on the X Family’s OST so it makes me want to say « are you kidding me? »

Anyway, I just love this song; it has this little something special that “Wei Ni Chun Zai” (Exist For You) lacks. The feeling is deeper, and it can move you, and the tune is catchier… It is a relaxing song, still strong and intense.

Chu Shen Ru Hua (Mystical)
A “hard rock” song, powerful and loud, with lyrics that could remind you of “Wo You Wo De Young” (I Have My Young), yet much more implicated. It is still about “awaking” yourself, going forward no matter what, being proud of yourself, and showing it to the world. I like this kind of thinking, and I love rock, so no need to say I appreciate this song a lot.

Ti Amo
Another disappointing one… If you have seen some of Aaron’s live performance (http://fr.youtube.com/watch?v=yJdqCJGbXnk ) , you would expect something wonderful from this solo song, and that’s not the case. “Yuan Yi Bu Ai Ni” (Willing Not To Love You) on The X Family’s OST was not my style (too dramatic and “crying”), but at least it emphasized Aaron’s voice, that’s not the case for Ti Amo

This song would almost make you cry if Aaron’s voice wasn’t that close to being off tune.

Anyway, only the chorus will make you uncomfortable, the rest is really enjoyable, so although I just criticized, don’t skip the song before listening a few times to it!

This song still has a dramatic feeling, and will move you a lot, and the beautiful lyrics
Another remark, the girl singing the chorus is awesome, her voice is modulated, clear, and I really wish to hear more from her. She’s called “Liu Li Yang”, and I don’t think she’s famous yet.

“Ai De Wang Dao” (The Royal Of Love)
My 3rd recommended song. Poppish and happy with a little bit of rap, this song still is relaxing; I’d even say it has a little taste of Reggae! Another one to put you in a good mood, what more to ask for?

“Xin Li You Shu” (Numbers In The Heart)
Funny tune, and the jumpy feeling hides their vocal weaknesses, and although I usually disapprove this kind of mix, the classic music in the background, in fact Pachelbel’s Canons, (a quite famous piece, here’s a link for those who do not know it: http://fr.youtube.com/watch?v=6wpPk8qk3uQ ) makes a nice effect. The Canon is remixed during the rap part and at the very beginning, or maybe they wrote a similar tune, I can’t tell, but it gives a certain consistence to the song.

What I’m really waiting for now is to see the MV, want to know why? Just get a look at this…
http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=-uNjWZmBcDc

“Ming Bai Xiang” (Understand Fragrance)
For this one, just check what I wrote for “Wei Ni Chun Zai” (Exist For You), they more or less the same IMO. I could describe the feeling as bubble gum…sticky, thick, and not really tasty in the end!

“Zhi Hai You Wo” (At Least Have Me) and “Yi Wan Ge Kuai Le” (One Hundred Thousand Happiness)
Too simple, without much surprises… lacking some harmony, but compared to the average, they’re good ones! Those songs also show the gap between the members, Aaron’s and Calvin’s parts are really smooth and quite beautiful, whereas the 2 other’s are quite jerky and lack emotion. Those 2 are still pleasant, fine songs and they’re all perfectly in tune, so let’s not complain too much!

“Xiao Xiao Da Ren Wu” (Small Big Guy)
Ok, to put it in a nutshell, how am I supposed not to explode when I hear them rapping « Mickey Mouse »? And if you add this techno-ish music….well have you heard of the Chain Saw Massacre? That’s more or less how I react to this song! It is just too self-righteous…

“Xin Guo” (New Home) (Male dormitory version)
As weird as it may seem, FRH can replace SHE without much trouble! Okay it’s a little less cute, and some of SHE’s parts have been replaced by rap, but I really think this song is one of the good surprises of the album.

Conclusion: the look of the album (almost A4-size, with wonderful classy pictures) is a perfect comparison to the band itself: great looks, but not much inside.

I can’t tell what is the 2nd face (Shuang Mian), because the style/level is similar to their debut album.
I was expecting some progress in their singing over the year, and some outstanding songs, with catchy yet complex tunes, and in the end, apart from the songs featured in their dramas, which don’t leave much new songs, the rest is quite average, and not much improvement in the singing.

Nothing is up to the levels of “Zhi Dui Ni You Gan Jue” (Only Feel For You) or”Wo You Wo De Young” (I Have My Young), which had nice beats, and were a bit innovative and fresh.

With the group’s popularity, not really base on their singing, we can still expect this album to be a hit, but they did not disserve it.

If you really want to buy a nice boys band CD, and can only buy one, try 5566’s!

Have Questions About Interior Decorating? Get Answers Here

Friday, July 11th, 2008

Whether your home is full of clutter, or you’d just like to get a new look, this is an article you will want to read. Interior design has the potential to be an overwhelming subject, but with adequate knowledge, you will be amazed at how really simple it can be to perfect the look of your home.

One thing that you must remember when designing a room in their house is to create a mood.Think about that specific mood and stick with it when choosing items for the room.For instance, if you want to achieve a calm mood, choose colors that are soft and warm.

A great interior planning tip is to use a variety of patterns and textures in every room. These textures help to enliven the look and add interest to otherwise boring items.

It can be detrimental to start a project when you have dried up. This will lessen the anxiety and stress levels when designing your new space.

Many people have opinions with regards to interior design, in which you must listen to with an open-mind so you can discard the unnecessary information. You can create a space that you will like living in if you trust yourself and your own personal tastes.

When working on the room of a child, use the child’s perspective when furnishing it. It is important to remember that children won’t be seeing their room the same way you see it. You should ensure all of these items accessible to your children. Try to look at things from the child’s perspective and eliminate any potential hazards.

Keep up with the newest style trends in home design and make sure your home’s interior decorating. You wouldn’t want your home to look out of date and behind the 1970’s with outdated decor. Look at other people’s decorating and get inspiration from them.

If you have hard floors such as concrete, stone or concrete, the use of stylish area rugs will make your room seem cozier and warmer to your feet. Rotate your rugs as the seasons change to incorporate a fresh and tear evened out.

Make each and every room with your style. While it should appear nice for company, you have to live with your decisions. If you have a particular style of decor that you like, get to it!

Don’t be afraid in getting creative when you are going to paint a room. There are a lot of tutorials that you can go online that you how to create some wonderful designs in the home. Being creative with wall paint could make a room from dull into an inspiring one in no time.

It is not necessary to place all your seating facing toward the furniture pieces towards the television. You can use this space to read or have some coffee with an old friend to catch up.

A group that has more than three of a similar nature in it is a collection. Three pictures is an example of art work are considered a collection. Group collections together into an interesting look that will serve as a fascinating conversation piece.

An excellent tip to help give you interior design ideas is to watch TV specifically related to homes and Garden on television. There are lots of amazing shows on this channel that can show you some popular ideas and teach you can make them a reality in your own home.

There’s no need to feel overly nervous about the idea of interior decorating. When you know what you must do, it is much easier to change the look of your house. Keep this advice in mind and begin making use of it today.