Brand Republic have a piece today on Booz Allen Hamilton's report on the importance of Web 2.0 to companies. (Both the above links say pretty much the same thing. For more you need to be a BR subscriber, or purchase the BAH report.)
With a few notable and laudable exceptions, not many design companies seem to have embraced Web 2.0 yet.
But I had a thought recently that perhaps in fact, they, or rather more accurately their clients, have been keeping blogs for years and years, without realising it.
Because isn't a company's 'Annual Report' a kind of blog.
But instead of being written a few paragraphs at a time, a few days a week, it's designed, written and published as one big wodge, (technical term) every 12 months.
Yes I know the primary role of an Annual Report is a statement of the company's financial position, but don't designers also see it as a showcase for the company to strut it's stuff, an opportunity to enhance an image with the public? Isn't it a interaction, an initiation of a conversation with it's stakeholders, isn't it a big glossy ad in disguise?
Isn't a blog many of these things too.
An Annual Report written in slow motion.
So why shouldn't the Annual Report be superseded by the Weekly Corporate Report.
That way it'll never be out of date. You can use aggregate Web 2.0 tools to mix and mashup the data depending on your specific interests. You can integrate lots of these new tools; Director's reports on YouTube, AGM realtime blogging, live stock market feeds, instead of a few glossy shots in the printed version you could have hundreds of positive brand shots on Flickr, or a mini-social network of Directors and key people on LinkedIn, etc.
Of course, the traditional, printed Annual Report will be with us for a long time to come, and this post is just a flight of fancy. But there are many tools out there that would indeed enhance shareholder, consumer and employee relationships.
And I think design companies (and of course ad agencies, and web developers) could be using the new Web 2.0 tools more, for the benefit of the brands they represent.
And of course in time they will.
But for now at least, it seems that they are mostly happy to play the game of 'You first'.
I didn't actually realise I was writing for the Sunday Times of course.
When I published this post earlier in the week, I thought I was just writing it in my blog, but yesterday I got tipped-off by text from an advertising pal at Golley Slater, who'd seen it appear in the paper.
Maybe there's a button in the Typepad interface I'd overlooked? A button called 'Publish in the Sunday Times Ecosse section, as well as my blog.'
Whatever. But it's nice to know your blog's being read.
And of course, I'm not sure what the going rate is per column inch for journalists fees nowadays, but I feel sure the Sunday Times accounts department will be issuing a cheque at this very moment.
Every month or so, me and the Missus decide we don't actually like the Sunday papers we actually buy and often butterfly between many different ones over the course of the year. (At some time or other we proclaim just about all of them to be crap, then after a while we miss them, then skulk back to the 'comfort' of previous titles.)
Anyway, The Observer is in favour right now, and I've become quite a fan of the Food and Music monthly sections,
Although next month I'll probably forget this, be reading the Sunday Telegraph, or worse that once famous institution, (but sadly no more in my book), The Sunday Times. Then muttering to myself, I'll realise it's Food Monthly Sunday in the Obs, and leg it down to the newsagent, as fast as my Weekend Velour 'Leisure suit' will allow me, muttering some more.
So this week in the Observer, I see they are promoting a film, sponsored by Audi, hosted on the newspaper's web site, and shot at the Michelin starred L'Enclume restaurant in the Lakes. So I decide to give it a butchers.
(I often read magazines and newspapers with the laptop to hand, I find following up on the urls with stories a very satisfying way to consume print nowadays.)
I like the film and concept a lot. It's well shot and edited, you get some good poncey food chat, and the packshots of the Audi aren't forced down your throat, so it's win, win, win in my book.
Audi win because they integrate themselves somewhat with 'Technology' food, (and of course the growing 'technology' of traditional print media barons becoming broadcasters via the web).
The restaurant get a fee plug/10 minute glossy 'commercial'.
And the Observer gets some sexy content, and presumably some sexy sponsorship revenue, courtesy of Audi getting their hand in their pocket.
Also, I'm stretching credibility I know, when I wonder about the additional possible spin-off from the connection between Michelin and Audi, but I'll mention it anyway.
Plus the fact that it get's blogged about providing a bit more Google-bait for all 3 collaborative brands.
L to R: Pete, MD, (that's Managing Director, not Medical Doctor), from BlondeDigital, Gerry, CD, (that's Creative Director, not Compact Disc, I think, but he does go on and on ;-)) from the Leith Agency, Nev, Web Dev, and Gordon, Graphic Designer, both from Whitespace, Andy Hyde, from, er, Andy Hyde, (sorry Andy didn't get your company name or url) but I do know your area of interest is health and education in the era of Web 2.0. Paul Stallard, Head of Leith Thinking, (not sure if that means he has a head full of leithal thinking, probably, or he's THE head of Leithal Thinking. Last but not least, (or first but not last if you're from the Far East, and go Right to Left, James, Motion Graphic Designer, Whitespace again. (Oh do shut up and get on with it Mike. Ed.)
Topics covered Trams, the quality of mountain biking down the road in Peebles, QR codes, (Andy had a couple of stonking ideas on how they might be deployed in schools), how kids blogs impacted on literacy, Triathlon, the legendary Les Watt, public service advertising, washing your hands, the new Mother PG Tips work, how to make money in an era of UGC, reduced media spend, tight budgets, undercutters, old school remuneration models, etc. All done and dusted in just over an hour. Phew!
Oh, and we also discussed how wonderful the staff are at Centotre, with one nameless coffee morninger actually using the phrase 'eye-candy'.
(And he was only talking about one of the waiters.)
I hasten to add, the waitresses and managers too, are absolutely fabulous.
So all in all, another cracking coffee morn.
Which was either a great way to start winding up the week, or a lovely wind down to the weekend.
And thank you again to the truly terrific Centotre for the fantastic coffee, unbeatable bacon rolls and faultless hospitality.
One of the things this little widget does, is, (incidentally, is it a widget, or a mobile app? Dunno, probably both,) once you've photographed that little black and white barcode on steroids, it'll fetch an rss feed and adapt the content for mobile devices, which is cool.
A bridge between web and mobile content, it's being used in Japan for music downloads and for promotional offers.
I have no idea if it'll work on my phone, but I know a few people of extreme geekiness who can help me find out, and if so will report back.
Don't quite know why, but I find all this hugely exciting!
Having never been quite bowled over by mobile phone cameras in general, using your moby as a scanner and decoder, makes much more sense to me. And perhaps the applications for this technology and by extension for brands will be killer.
Oh, and one final thing, the graphics on the Mobile Life site downloads section, rock:
ps. BlackBeltJones was/is waaaay ahead of the game, with a post about semacode/QR as far back as last May.