Tuesday, 26 June 2007

Ten Years On

So today is the last day of Tony Blair's premiership.
The question is, who has aged more in the last ten years, me or him?!

Monday, 25 June 2007

Al fresco

Al fresco working, a stone table desk in Puglia, Italy.

Friday, 15 June 2007

I am on holiday....

....which is always a good place for ideas.

Thursday, 14 June 2007

small success stories

From yesterday’s FT a couple of nuggets on small business

Small best for flexible hours” is the unsurprising conclusion of a report from the Chartered Institute Of Personnel & Development. The study reports that the “tight labour market has created intense competition for talented and motivated people and this has been helped by the informal and flexible nature of flexible working arrangements. Employees who feel able to balance their lives and outside work are much more likely to go that extra mile as their part of the bargain”.

With fewer rules, smaller business can of course afford to be more flexible. And you don’t need HR departments or HR policy to enable such flexibility: it’s just about common sense pragmatism of small business owners.


Elsewhere, the paper reports on the UK Fashion Export Awards where small brands such as Pistol Panties won accolades for their commitment to international trade. Pistol Panties is a lingerie and swimwear brand; founder Deborah Fleming started the company three years ago cutting designs at her kitchen table. She took her designs to Selfridges who took the lot and sold out in a week. The brand is now sold internationally and won an award for deploying its limited financial resources to clever marketing.

Which reminds us that you don’t need big budgets to have marketing success; just a good brand and damn good ideas.
Talking of big budgets, there has been a lot of controversy over the newly unveiled logo for the 2012 London Olympics. I'm not a fan but perhaps in 5 years time it will look fantastic: maybe it is an idea ahead of its time?
The FT reported that London's Mayor Ken Livingstone said the public would come to accept it. "It is a logo. It is not the meaning of life or a secret code that will identify the bloodline of Mary Magda-lene. It is a logo that will grow on you," he said.

Which is all well and good.
“Yeah, but it did cost £400,000” reminded my wife.

Tuesday, 12 June 2007

A few small ideas make a big difference

I am staying at London's The Hoxton Hotel. Now here is a hotel that is prepared to be refreshingly different, with a stack of good ideas:
  • normal price 'phone calls, no rip-off rates
  • free wi-fi, computer terminals
  • you can rent rooms during the day as "private offices" for £19 - somewhere to chill out or work between meetings
  • snacks and provisions at the hotel reception are at shop prices
  • you get a free breakfast bag hung on your door in the morning - if you want a decent breakfast then you can upgrade to the restaurant

Nothing amazing but some good sensible ideas that give the Hoxton its edge and make it stand out from most hotels. And that make it a good place to stay....

Tuesday, 5 June 2007

good, simple, ideas

Some ideas take stacks of resource.
Big budgets.
Huge teams of experts.
Brainstorms, Blue Sky days.
Focus groups. Market testing.
Others are frankly, bloody simple but none the less effective.
At ohm we’ve always been fans of the ‘bloody simple’ school of ideas.

Our “Say Ciao” concept for Benetton is a good example of that.
Benetton London were looking for an initiative to reinforce the brand’s Italian credentials.

The idea: “Say Ciao” a strapline that sat across point of sale, advertising, window displays, on staff badges.

No big pitch. No big report full of analysis and focus group feedback.
Just one simple – yet really good – idea.


Monday, 4 June 2007

Keeping it small...

ohm is such an evolving and malleable entity, few things are a certainty. But here’s two things I know:
1) We’re small
2) We’re virtual

Sure, we are small. A micro business with a core team of 3 plus several handfuls of designers, web developers, video producers, photographers and illustrators for project delivery. And we are virtual. We don’t inhabit a single space: ohm is not a bricks and mortar business; we work from serviced offices, coffee shops, studios and home offices all over the place. We have a single hang out at The Hospital where we get together every week.
I’m a firm believer that ‘small is beautiful’ when it comes to creativity of ideas and results: small units are great at devising effective and successful ideas. Get too big and you lose focus. And a fact that big business recognises: many big corporations have leftfield satellite operations which act like start-ups in order to have the enterprise and innovative to stay progressive.

Even Disney, the world’s largest purveyor of entertainment has divisions like this. The current issue of Fast Company tells the story of one such division in Disney’s TV businesses. Disney’s Digital Media Team focuses on “speed, collaboration and gumption”. “I see us a Silicon Valley start up within a big company” says Albert Cheng, Exec VP of Digital Media at Disney ABC Television Group. This division has a mission to “break some rules” and take risks in order to succeed.

And the 150-person department is certainly virtual; spread across different operations in three cities, in five buildings alone in LA. And this attitude helps the business stay progressive and fresh.

150 people is not small in our terms, but in the context of Disney’s 133,000 headcount, yes 150 is small. Richard Branson also advocates the merit of small business units, in his autobiography he talks about his desire to break up group companies when their headcount exceeds 50 as beyond that organisations get unwieldy.

Whether 150, 50 or 3 - at ohm our ability to devise and deliver successful ideas is about keeping it small. Big ideas from a small team.