September 2013 - PS Insights


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Voyager 1 recently left our solar system. Far more successful than NASA ever imagined, this “little spaceship that could” is the first vessel to move to “infinity and beyond.”  It was launched 36 years ago with less technology than an iPhone and loaded with an 8 Track Tape system. But what an incredible technological accomplishment. Do you celebrate your breakthroughs when they occur knowing full well that they will pale beside the accomplishments in the future?


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A month ago virtually none of us knew the word “twerk.” Now, thanks to Miley Cyrus and the VMA’s, we have all been victimized by the behavior and the label. In August, Oxford Dictionary Online added the word to their lexicon. It is the meme of the moment as confirmed by the Lego construction of Miley and Robin, you guessed it, twerking in building blocks. Where do you discover the latest trends and how soon do you see them coming?


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We wrote a few months ago about our intern competing for Miss America. She finished in the top 10, but this posting from her we think says it all about the entire experience:

“This, I believe, is the best proof I have to share the power of the Miss America Organization. It has given me my dream, it has rewarded me with over $20,000 in college scholarships, it has honed my speaking skills, it has strengthened my self confidence, it has granted me the opportunity to network nationally… but it has also given me my best friend: a sister that I could celebrate success with on Sunday September 15th. There will never be anything as special as that moment.”

What dreams have you pursued that have enriched you forever?


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Once again, gentrification has ruined a neighborhood that had charm and character. Steve got off MetroNorth and walked across 125th Street last week…passing one national chain outlet after the next. Lids. Foot Locker. The Body Shop. (The ubiquitous) Starbucks. Even two Times Square-sized two-story food outlets: Applebee’s and Joe’s Crab Shack. National chains once shunned Manhattan. These days, they’re turning the city into a suburban outdoor mall. Which local favorite have you lost recently?


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According to an article in Fast Company, Google has killed its “20% time” policy. It was one of the most innovative ideas to come out of Silicon Valley…employees being required to work on something they were interested outside of their regular area of responsibility. It led to the invention of Gmail, Google Talk and a host of remarkable new ideas and products. The reasons for killing it had to do with the cumbersome internal processes that were bogging it down. So instead of fixing the problem—the internal processes—they killed the goose. Did you ever make the mistake of tossing out the baby with the bathwater?


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Apple’s App Store recently turned five years old. The entire US was also locked in a heat wave. So to celebrate their fifth anniversary Apple launched a free Where’s My Water? app. Pretty clever and customer responsive. What do you do to not just celebrate your milestones but to invite your customers to the party?


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EZPass is a great idea except when it isn’t. Too often cars bottleneck as they approach the toll plaza. No one knows where to go. Until now. We saw a huge new illuminated sign approaching the Whitestone Bridge that clearly directed cash customers to “Cash Outside Lines.” EZPass up the middle. Bottleneck solved. What signs do you provide to signal customer clarity and satisfaction?


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Paul just recently got a new TV. A Geek Squad branded VW Beetle drove up and two experts stepped out of the car, into the house, hooked up and mounted the TV on the wall. Everything about the brand encounter inspired expertise. It was the reason Paul selected Best Buy as the merchant for the sale. What are the tie-breakers you extend to make your brand the preferred choice?


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The name says it all. A plethora of information graphics have emerged on the business communications scene as a great way to telegraph and illuminate information in short form. Most of them have been vertical summaries of trends. But they’re now working their way into business plans and brand mapping. Are you using them? Are you developing new graphic ways to visualize information?


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There always were, and there always will be, people on the fringes and extremist points of view. In the past, we were largely exposed to them through the performance work of Eric Bogosian and Whoopi Goldberg. Sadly, the Web—from Twitter to Facebook to YouTube—now provides a broader platform for even the most extreme racism, sexism, homophobia, Nazi glorification, etc., etc. We understand the democratic appeal of S.G. Tallentyre’s quote, “I do not agree with what you say, but I will defend to the death your right to say it” (wrongly attributed to Voltaire), however, we still grit our teeth when bizarre or ugly views slip into the mainstream. They often get a disproportionate amount of attention. How do you process and deal with this kind of hyperbolic content?