The missing dimension in on-street parking
Local authorities face the challenge of enjoying revenue from parking fees, while also needing to tackle congestion and pollution caused by cars. Metered on-street parking is missing a dimension that could help square the circle.
How much is my Starbucks coffee?
Today’s quiz question. How much is my Starbucks coffee if the price shown behind the counter says £3.55? (Here’s a clue… it’s not £3.55.)
When is an e-bike not an e-bike?
Fires caused by batteries on e-bikes have been grabbing the headlines. But the headlines don't tell an accurate story, and are spreading a misplaced fear of e-bikes. Here's one way to fix it.
Stop buzzing in!
Buzz in if you know the answer... or you think you know the answer... or you have the answer to a question you think I should have asked. ‘Buzzing in’ has become an increasingly annoying phenomenon we are all having to suffer and navigate around.
Dear J Salmon… wish you were here!
J Salmon, Britain's oldest printer of postcards, went out of business in 2017. Did the sun really need to set on this 137-year-old company?
Don’t be a pain in the asterisk
The word asterisk comes from the Ancient Greek ‘asteriskos’ meaning ‘little star’. But while some asterisks really are helpful little stars alerting us to informative footnotes, others have a darker side!
Anyone for talk tennis?
Have you noticed how more and more of the audible communication that vies for our attention is taking place in a tennis-like fashion? Rather than the full message or story being delivered by one person, two take it in turn to serve us sentences.
Why food banks should BOGOF
Food banks have been in the news a lot. As has the bad guy of supermarket marketing tactics, the Buy One Get One Free deal. It’s time the two walked down the aisle together.
Meet the hermit crabs of branding
Hermit crabs are remarkable – and famous for their use of shells that once belonged to other creatures. Some brands are similarly inclined, taking on what others have left behind – and sometimes making better use of discarded ideas than the original owner.
Don’t let data lead you astray
A decision this week by Parkrun, the folk behind the free 5km runs that take place up and down the UK each Saturday, reminded me of Donald Rumsfeld’s famous 2002 statement about “known knowns, known unknowns, and unknown unknowns.” Having clarity about what you do and don’t know is a priceless thing when it comes to assessing data and making decisions based upon it.
Do you know who your customer isn’t?
Someone's review of an app I wanted was scathing. The app was pointless. The app was a con. The app made their life more difficult, not easier. The app should be avoided at all costs. I read the review, smiled and happily installed the app, even more certain it was the right one for me.
Trick or tree?
It’s said that the Inuit people have 50 different words for snow, and the Sami have 1,000 words for reindeer. This abundance allows subtlety and precision – something lacking in our culture where trees are concerned…
Horseless carriages and engineless cars
In a way, Uriah Smith was the Elon Musk of his day. In 1899 he launched the Horsey Horseless: a motorised carriage with a life-sized model of a horse’s head attached to the front. Over a century later, it seems Tesla had the same train of thought…
RIP Bob Gill
Legendary designer, illustrator, writer, teacher – and one of my heroes – Bob Gill passed away on 9 November, aged 90. Bob co-founded Fletcher Forbes Gill back in the ’60s, which went on to become the internationally respected agency Pentagram.
Fireworks vs bonfires
As anyone who celebrates 5 November knows, fireworks can be an impressive and varied (but often brief) spectacle, while bonfires provide a longer-lasting (but less dramatic) attraction. Brands can be very similar.
How to win a war of words
A war of words has been taking place on the sides of a bridge over the A46 near Bath. The white team and the grey team have been slugging it out for months. So far, the white team are way ahead. If the grey team want to strike a winning blow, they need to change tack... and colour.
We rely on and trust calculations done by computers, such as adding up the cost of the items in an online shopping cart. But it's important to know when the numbers in front of us don't feel right, figure out why they might be wrong, and what the brand in question is trying to do (or get away with).
Confounded and cursed!
5km into a 15km bike ride in an unfamiliar forest in the North Pennines, the waymarkers that had been regular and reliable suddenly deserted me. The outcome was two important factors to consider when planning communication.
Where’s your courtesy car?
Some car dealers and workshops see courtesy cars a necessary but unwelcome cost. But enlightened garages see them as a potentially wonderful marketing opportunity. And therein lies a lesson for us all.
We invited some local estate agents around to value our house. Contrary to the popular stereotype, all were nice folk. The extremes of their approaches highlighted the some of the elementary traps many businesses fall into.
Please drive carefully
When entering villages, housing estates and other areas where people live, you are often greeted by a request to ‘Please drive carefully’. But with accidents, injuries and deaths on such roads rising, is this what we should be asking people to do?
Don’t butter me up!
I was 18 and studying for my A-levels. One Saturday, I turned up for my part-time job at the local superstore and got called into my boss’s office. I came close to being fired as the previous week I’d made a mistake. A very, very big butter-based mistake...
Since when was this a good idea?
A few years back, I noticed an increasing number of businesses adding the likes of Since 1952 or Est. 2001 under their logos. Since then, every brand and his dog seems to have decided that displaying their ‘date of birth’ is the thing to do.