The Technology Behind Modern Furniture Designs

These days, technological advancement is seen influencing our lives, adding cutting-edge technologies, brand new ideas & lasting materials to everything from mobiles to modern furniture that we use daily. It has resulted in more comfortable, durable & safer modern office furniture & made our lives full of luxury.

It is no secret that modern furniture has a great demand in the international market & a growing number of people choose it to give their homes or offices a contemporary look. However, some people are of the view that the modern office furniture lacks new technology & ideas & appears more like the conventional ones. This is not found to be true.

To their surprise, more & more furniture manufacturers are using cutting-edge technologies & special materials to produce revolutionary, sustainable & portable modern furniture in attractive shapes & sizes. Most of these furniture makers maintain their own websites. So, people who want to go for a remodeling in their home or office can start searching for them on web.

A few decades back, we don’t have enough option in modern furniture except a few common types of dining rooms, bedrooms & wall units. The technological advancement in modern furniture design has now given us the freedom to choose from hundreds of contemporary modern office furniture in different looks, materials & sizes so as to make our offices look more beautiful.

In earlier times, wood was highly used in the making of all kinds of furniture. Therefore the traditional furniture was too heavy, dull looking & was susceptible to water, light & other weather conditions. In an effort to increase the acceptability of conventional furniture, researchers introduced new furniture materials like plywood, plastic etch. The furniture makers have started using these materials in the furniture making & made the modern furniture light in weight & lovely in look. Even today, some of the furniture models are made of wood with plywood in the sides. This makes the furniture to cost & weigh less & look classic. The furniture designers often make experiments with the furniture supplies including materials, using a combination of glass, wood, chrome & steel in the furniture making process. Many are aware of the deteriorating global condition & want to use eco-friendly furniture designs. That’s why the furniture for gardens & terraces are made from recycled materials. This is not all as the furniture makers are largely using a mixed variety of materials to produce more reliable & durable products. Now, heavy plasma TVs can be kept on fortified glass made wall hangings.

Modern home & office furniture needs a fashionable look to draw the attention of more number of buyers. That’s why the furniture makers keep on working with different colors, styles, patterns & shapes to bring an improvement in its value & functionality. Such transforming & sustaining furniture assures to give comfort to normal buyers who don’t live in plush bungalows or apartments. It is the sophisticated technology that helps convert your comfy sofa to perfect bed. Due to this technology, you can now purchase a convertible & smart looking dining table with multiple moves to accommodate your whole family & friends whenever necessity arises. Have you ever seen a modern armchair which can get transformed into a nice looking lounge with just a button press? This is all the result of technological advancement in the furniture making & designing.

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5 Reasons It Pays to Have Passionate Brand Advocates

A strong brand can mean the difference between winning a sale or losing it, commanding a premium price or selling at a discount. While this has been proven time and again through research, many executives (maybe you?) still question the value of branding, especially at budget time.

Building brand equity takes a long-term commitment and consistent investments in intangibles like relationships and awareness. Because influence, affinity and advocacy can seem ethereal, it’s easier to allocate scarce financial resources to new equipment, facilities, hiring or technology.

Brand love is not something you can touch, hold or easily measure, but it does pay dividends just the same. Brand influence can differentiate your business from a host of competitors. The more passionate customers are about your brand, the greater the value gap between your business and others.

If you’re not sure how to know when customers love your brand, here are 5 telltale signs:

5 signs of brand love

Your most passionate brand advocates…

Tell all their friends about you. They’re vocal ambassadors for your brand, spreading the word because they want their friends and associates to share in the great experience of doing business with your company. Think of the last time you had a great meal at a new restaurant or played a spectacular golf course. Did you keep it to yourself, or share?

Want more of a good thing. When people trust your brand and enjoy the customer experience, and they look forward to the opportunity to connect again and again. The se customers eagerly anticipate the introduction of new products and services, like fans lining up to buy the latest product from Apple or a hot new game release.

Overlook your shortcomings. Every relationship has flaws and it’s inevitable that eventually there will be misunderstandings or a miscommunication. This might spell the end of a customer relationship for a companies with a weak brands or poor reputation. When you have passionate fans, small errors or missteps are forgiven. In fact, if you recover well, they’ll love you even more.

Look forward to a future together. Like lifelong fans of pro sports teams, customers who love and trust a brand anticipate a long-term relationship. Even if they don’t know what’s coming next, they have faith that from season to season or version to version, you’ll deliver on your commitment to meet their needs and expectations.

Make sacrifices to be with you. Committed brand advocates look purchased from your company as an investment. They will save up their money, giving up other things to do business with you – even if it costs more. They don’t mind stretching a bit to realize the benefits, and their advise others to do the same.
All these things points to some real bottom line benefits. You can measure brand value when it translates into:

Reduced customer churn
Shorter sales cycles and more efficient forecasting
Premium pricing and improved margins
Higher customer lifetime value
Waiting lists for new product releases
Improved marketing ROI
I could add many more items to this list but instead, I’ll challenge to you the think of your own. How does having a powerful, cohesive brand improve your business? Are you enjoying the benefits of passionate customer advocates?

Joey Sargent, principal of BrandSprout Advisors [http://www.brandsproutadvisors.com/], is a strategic consultant helping organizations maximize their market impact. Joey’s fresh perspectives and keen insights merge traditional marketing with digital strategies to build brand awareness, engage customers and increase market share.

Drawing on 20 years of global leadership experience in branding, strategy and communications, Joey merges traditional marketing with digital strategies for optimal growth and enhanced ROI. She has worked with companies ranging from start-ups to the Fortune 500, including UPS, PGI and BellSouth (now AT&T).

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Why Faceless Technology Requires More Contact

What does your best customer look like? Are they blond, dark haired, tall or short with a light or dark complexion? I ask this question because we often don’t know what our customers look like. Some might argue that it doesn’t matter. I would agree that in many cases, it doesn’t matter.

I was in a hotel lobby a few months back and a person shouted my name. I turned around and didn’t recognize who the person was. They knew me and my brain churning didn’t come up with a name to match the face. As it turned out, I had met this person several times and had lunch with him a few years ago. Yes, it was almost embarrassing; I finally remembered who he was.

Why Customers are Faceless

Customers don’t come into our businesses like they used to. They use the internet or the telephone which creates a faceless image of our business. If we want to awaken our brand and image, we must put a face to our business. This can be a picture or a logo creating a brand.

One of the reasons I use my picture in all my selling materials is to create a strong brand image for my clients. I want them to remember me and my company logo. This is my brand. It’s important to create brand awareness, so people know what you represent whenever or wherever you meet them.

On a completely separate occasion, 6 months ago, I attended another conference. This time, I had never personally met anyone from this group. None the less, there were several people who walked up to me and introduced themselves. They recognized me from my picture on my website and the company logo on my shirt. Hurrah! I had accomplished my goal of creating a brand.

Giving Customers a Face for Business

If you and your best customer took the same elevator, would they recognize you and know who you are? Would you know what they looked like?

Unfortunately, many businesses and salespeople are faceless to their best customers. This is a sad commentary when we have so many image branding tools we can use. Image branding technology tools can solve a faceless image. We just need to apply the image and branding technology that reminds our customers who we are. The more consistent and frequent our communications, the deeper we brand our clients with our image.

Consistently use your logo, brand or photo on all your communications.
Create a memorable tag line for your service or business and use it consistently.
Balance your communications, so customers know your voice, image and signature.
There are only a few ways to make a memorable impression. When we blend and balance our communications, we become more noticeable. One of my favorite technology branding tools is brand mail. It applies a consistent image to all the emails I send. This matches the website, business cards, stationary, and my shirts. Businesses and salespeople must adopt a “remember me” attitude. If you are not branding your company communications, how will someone recognize you?
It is impossible for us to recognize customers we never meet face to face. This is understandable. However, if they don’t recognize us, and they are a top customer, we have an image problem.

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Branding Technology is the Same But Different

Branding is a word which is often perceived as the preserve of arty creative types paid too much money to come up with simple, even simplistic ideas. Moreover, with regard to firms which produce technology goods and whose focus is mired in the complexity of features and engineering, brand management is often very low on the food chain. However, the brand is as vital to any technology firm as it is to all firms, places, people even.

For technology firms to achieve sustainable and long-term competitive advantage a volte face is required with regard to how they position their products whilst they jockey for position in a crowded market. The short-term gains afforded by a myopic focus on technical specs and the scant regard paid to the emotional resonance which really gets people to buy your stuff means that many tech firms will not survive much more than the next ten years let alone successive generations.

The rule is that we buy on emotion and justify with logic. The logic is important and any help we can get to articulate that is helpful, but the real deal happens at gut level. Any firm worth its salt needs to have a clear idea of what this emotional stuff is, which really sets you apart and can be the lode star which assures customers of the consistency of the quality you offer.

The following describes the different considerations which are necessary for the successful branding of technology goods – and that is a whole lot more exciting than it sounds. The pre-supposition is that tech goods are branded differently to more common-or-garden consumer goods. Net, there are indeed important differences in the way one should develop, manage and nurture a technology brand as opposed to a common consumer product or service.

Consider those which might immediately spring to mind: Google, Apple, Cisco et al versus Quaker Oats, South Western Trains, De Beers’ diamonds. All are household names. The former are the winners in the tech universe which have successfully traversed the divide from tech firm to broad-consumer brand.

Essentially, the challenge for technology companies is both to sell to groups of consumers on the strength of features and at the same time establish the firm as a recognised company brand name which cuts through the incredible complexity of technological change and renders our purchase choice to buy (their products and services) a no-brainer – we just buy yours! It’s such a noisy and confusing world out there. For instance, many of us find the purchase of a mobile phone an obstacle course to translate the plethora of features into a simple choice: this phone or that? Oh hang on, what about that one?

It seems that mobile phone sales staff themselves are at odds with the marketing collateral they are required to display (“what do all those features really mean?” People ask themselves), which while it makes good sense to them, doesn’t help to sell the phone – beyond shoring up the image and credibility. So it helps, but not explicitly. The successful salesperson realises that mostly they only need to translate this stuff about memory etc into benefits in order for us to make our decision and walk away a satisfied purchaser. Remember: we buy on emotion and justify with logic. The brand name becomes a guarantee of quality, reliability and performance.

Consider Apple as an example of a brand which successfully cuts through the complexity of the market and gives us consumers an anchor of stability. Therefore, the battle for mindspace is as relevant to technology firms as it is for any other. Sustainable competitive advantage demands it.

Time is a potent factor. There is a definite rapport between the sophistication-level of the component parts of a product (Cisco’s products are packed full of hi-tech components); the speed of change in the industry; and the way the product is subsequently branded. Consider how technology/IT products evolve very quickly; porridge oats stays essentially the same. This speed of change has crucial implications for the way you would seek to build/develop and manage the brand.

Some might think that this is at odds with what branding is fundamentally about – building consistency. Not so, it’s really about considering technology branding as being on a different time-scale, where time moves much more quickly: all brands change and alter according to the change in their environment. So your data-mining app is the hare to the tortoise of porridge oats.

Taking this as an example, although Quaker Oats still adheres strongly to its original value set, today’s consumers tend to buy it because of Quaker Oats’ fit with consumers’ more “modern” values around health, lifestyle, simplicity and assurance in a complex world – rather than on 400 year-old Quaker attitudes, values and precepts. Would you buy this porridge because it reminds you that “truth is to be found within us, not handed down by authorities outside us” or because of the simplicity of the product, and even the way it renders a complex, confused world simpler, more grounded, more honest even. Perhaps these are not so very far from Quakerism than at first glance they appeared. By contrast, the latest i-phone is selling well based on the changes in the feature set which have evolved over the last 12 months, to the extent that it is designed for uploads – in sync with the speed of change – so that you yourself become the change: you are empowered, dynamic, at-the-top-of-your-game; another great reflection perhaps of the brand you want to project to the world and definitely resonating at an emotional level.

The faster the speed of change in the market and the greater the complexity of components that can be recognised by the consumer – or certain groups of consumers such as early technological adopters – then the more convoluted the job of managing the brand.

The marketing to the early adopters of technology brands, requires brand managers firstly to emphasise the new feature set and allow these early adopters to articulate how these enhance performance whilst enabling them to live a tech-lifestyle better. Brand managers must then move the onus of the brand onto the benefits: to highlight how your life will be enabled. This shifts the brand towards the larger body of the market, who buy the tech product based on benefits and the more emotional twang which resonates within us. This latter area breaks away from apparently purely physical or visible functionality and drifts into the fuzziness of emotionality. That is not to say that early adopters of technology live dispassionate lives in Geekdom. Throughout the A-Z of technology brand management, these buyers are conscious of the exclusive club-like status that ownership of one brand or another affords them just as much as technophobes sport nice shirts and say “I don’t do technology”: so, I can be the geek with the latest phone and I am still unconsciously aware of the message this sends out to my world, as much as the mainstream adopter who accessories their look with specific technologies. Ironically then, mobiles have become the most obvious fashion differentiator.

Technology firms fight to differentiate themselves just as much as any other firm. The thing about your competitors which is rather galling for all producers these days is that your competitors can imitate your functionality in a nano-second. But what they can’t imitate are the emotional vibes which your brand resonates with. If you can establish this in the minds of people – whilst maintaining the performance and functionality which is expected of you, then your chances of competitive advantage are more greatly enhanced.

Long-term competitive advantage requires a marriage of vision and technology. It is imperative that tech firms have a means to differentiate themselves. Technology firms can be side-tracked by the speed of change themselves and so need to take pains to dream about their vision for themselves several years down the road; several generations even. A differentiation trajectory enables tech firms to maintain a weather eye on long-term vision whilst scrutinising new features. The firm chooses a unique path for the brand vision which, over time, serves to put distance between you and your competitors. Apple’s “usability and superior customer experience” have served to inform the product design and differentiate one from the other and others as well. This is analogous to all firms and even individuals: successful people have a strong vision for themselves. There is nothing to say that this vision cannot change. Indeed it must change in most cases. But your vision serves as a stake in the ground, a place to aim for and this functions to drive the innovations inside the company forward by giving everyone a measure of success; a language to communicate inside and out; and an expectation around how features in new products evolve and are positioned. The vision makes choices compelling and renders the choice easy. Simply put, the vision becomes the brand.

Sony Ericsson has sixty three phones in its current product range. They are called things like K320i or W710i or C702. Meaningless to the uninformed. But ultimately very meaningful in the context of the house brand. They are highly-differentiated from LG and Samsung – other potent brands. The consistency that Sony Ericsson can achieve comes from its most deep and core values which are sublimated in the purpose “energising people’s experiences”. This is the anchor and the anchor chain runs right through the business to all those phones above: they must be the embodiment of the core values. Thus, the core values function to screen ideas and at the same time provide a bar that product developers must stretch to reach in their designs and the myriad functionality they choose to include: they say to themselves “okay, is my feature set hitting the hot buttons that the vision describes and if not then how can I achieve this?”

The brand is therefore both a force for generating sales to external customers like you and me as it is a force for consistency and a highly-motivating shared vision inside the business.

Another consideration is around how typically many tech products actually bundle several brands into one: so-called Ingredient Branding. So Intel Inside is Intel’s core technology which, when integrated into other lesser known brands, has the power to sell the latter to great effect. It might though be cripplingly expensive for the host. Intel will sell your product, but at a price.

Conflicts of interests caused by ingredient branding are extremely prevalent. Vodaphone trying to strong-arm Motorola with a Windows Mobile operating system. Less contentious has been LG’s alliance with Prada containing Flash Macromedia, Scheider-Kreuznach lens – marketed at the time as “the first complete touch interface”. Here the halo effect was perfect – coming out at the same time as the film The Devil Wears Prada.

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The Five Dominant Models of Branding

What’s the best branding strategy for your company?

The answer is, it depends.

The latest thinking in the field of branding (which first began to emerge as a true field of study back in the early ’50s) identifies five branding strategies that reign supreme in today’s corporate world. Although each strategy can be successfully employed by companies offering very different products and services, they all seem to work best within fairly narrow parameters that pertain to the industry, product or service and market being served.

Choosing the best strategy for your company, then, depends on matching the parameters of your product/service and market to the appropriate model.

Keeping in mind that entire books have been written on the individual branding strategies, here’s a quick snapshot of each one:

1. Mind-Share Branding. Success in this category requires owning and consistently expressing a set of abstract associations that customers relate to the product or service. However, the perceived benefits of buying and using the products (i.e., consistently low price, great selection) are very real to the customers. As the company consistently expresses the “brand DNA” through each and every transaction, it becomes firmly entrenched in the customer’s mind as the only choice in this product category.

Interestingly, mind-share branding works equally well at opposite ends of the product spectrum. Functional and low-involvement product categories (such as Tide, Southwest Airlines and Wal*Mart) and complicated, high-involvement product categories (such as Dell computers) can both prosper under a mind-share brand strategy. At each end, however, the goal — and primary benefit — is to simplify the buying decision for the customer.

Good reads: Positioning: The Battle for Your Mind, Differentiate or Die and The Disciple of Market Leaders

2. Cultural Branding. Cultural branding is probably the most American of all branding strategies in that it uses cultural icons and “brand religion” to establish and sustain a brand myth with which individual consumers can passionately identify. The focus is not so much on the product or service as it is on the relationship between the cultural icon and the product and the brand myth that the consumer buys into. The most successful brand myths address acute contradictions in society that touch people at a very deep level.

Culturally branded companies run the gamut from home décor, fashion and automobiles to food/beverages, entertainment/leisure and social movements. What kind of person responds to cultural branding? It’s the meek, mild-mannered accountant who buys the Harley Davidson hog in order to unleash his “inner self” on weekends. It’s the budding playground hoopster who just knows that he will never reach the NBA unless he wears Nike Air Jordans. It’s the thirsty consumer reaching for an ice-cold Coca Cola because “it’s the real thing.”

Good reads: How Brands Become Icons and The Culting of Brands

3. Emotional Branding. Want your customers to consider you a friend rather than just some faceless entity they buy from? Then aim for the emotional branding strategy. Here, the goal is to build deep interpersonal connections with each individual who interacts with the brand, so that you end up with a relationship partner rather than a customer.

Emotional brands have real personality. They are often expressed through a character or persona (Mickey Mouse, Ronald McDonald) that appeals to people of all ages. Emotional brands work best with services, retailers and specialty goods — such as Disney and Starbucks — where the company can tap into powerful emotions and create compelling experiences that evoke strong loyalty to the brand.

Good reads: Emotional Branding and The Experience Economy

4. Viral Branding. Thanks to plenty of media buzz, viral branding has rocketed to the top of the charts as the latest brand strategy of choice. However, the fact that the media has embraced it does not mean that all companies should. As the name implies, viral branding works by spreading the word through “brand viruses” such as influential spokespeople, early adopter customers and other forms of grass-roots marketing. Accordingly, it achieves the best results with new fashions, new technologies and premium and super-premium brands that eschew mainstream markets.

Viral branding appeals to people who see themselves as cool, hip and fashionable. It attracts those who get a charge from “discovering” a new brand and leading the vanguard of early brand advocates. Who stands out in the viral branding category? Google, Hotmail, Absolut Vodka and Vonage are names that immediately come to mind.

Good reads: Tipping Point, Spreading the Idea Virus, The Anatomy of Buzz and The Influentials

5. Sensory Branding. Singapore Airlines and Kellogg’s Cornflakes in the same branding category? Hard to believe, but true. Sensory branding takes the focus off the product or service itself and puts it squarely on the sensory experience it creates for the consumer. Hence, this category includes a broad and a diverse range of products and services, from fashion, cosmetics and high-end retail to automotive and travel/hospitality.

Sensory branding goes beyond the ordinary to create a full connection with one’s environment through the senses. We’re talking full-on sensory engagement here! Not just with the over-stimulated senses of sight and sound, but also connecting with touch, taste and smell. In some categories, the buying experience (how, when and where the product is purchased) helps to create the brand. Here the brand doesn’t really begin until customers actually use the product or service. The end result is an experience so full, rich and satisfying that customers refuse to consider any other brand.

Good read: Brand Sense

Choosing Your Branding Strategy

As an avid student and practitioner of branding, my experience is that all strong brands can usually be linked to a clear focus on one of these models. However, while it’s usually best to focus your branding efforts on one model, aspects of the other models can be used to strengthen a brand.

For example, the mind-share model of branding tends to rely on the sight and sound senses. But it’s fairly easy to add a distinctive touch or smell from the sensory model to strengthen the brand.

Regardless of which strategy you choose, building a strong brand depends upon applying the appropriate model to your product category, the unique circumstances of your customers and your market. I hope I’ve given you at least a good start in identifying which model is right for you.

Get your free whitepaper: The 10 Biggest Technology Marketing Mistakes… and How to Avoid Them [http://www.brandingthecomplex.com/ASKEzineArticles.html]

Rod Whitson serves Townsend as President and Chief Brand Strategist. Townsend is expert at helping organizations with innovative products and services develop differentiated, compelling value propositions. Townsend is the largest integrated marketing agency in Southern California. Rod has personally led recent branding engagements with Intel, BAE Systems, Merck, DowPharma, Marsh & McLennan, and the University of California system. He has also worked with a host of successful and not so successful early stage technology and life sciences companies. Since Townsend’s founding in 1993, it has helped clients create market valuation in excess of $80 billion.

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Project Risk Management and Assurance

Why do so many organisations embark on high-risk projects without demanding robust project assurance?

Projects fail for many reasons. Recent global studies indicate that inadequate risk management is a common cause.

Successful project managers aim to resolve high levels of exposure before they occur, via systematic risk management processes.

Many projects are inherently exposed to myriad risks and are often significant in scale, complexity and ambition. Delivering large-scale projects can often be adversely impacted by a bias towards being over-optimistic.

Imperfect, insufficient or inadequate data increases exposure that often results in over-estimating benefits and under-estimating costs.

Managing macro and micro-level events related to achieving project deliverables, whilst balancing the needs of many stakeholders, has become increasingly important.

Assessing risks at both portfolio and work-stream levels helps increase confidence that risks are understood.

Projects are often prioritised relevant to their levels of perceived exposure and one has its own risk profile.

Project Risk Management

Project risk management focuses on identifying, analysing and responding to project events.

It should be designed to systematically identify and manage levels of uncertainty and potential threats to delivering project objectives successfully.

Risk management processes should be iterative throughout a project’s life-cycle and embedded in project management planning and activities. Smaller projects often require minor work and periodic monitoring.

Complex projects need formalised processes to analyse, manage and report risks.

Good reporting relies on clear descriptions of all exposure, their impact on the projects, and potential costs for mitigation and inaction.

This helps ensure project personnel understand the potential impact risks may have on projects’ success and have prepared strategies to minimise negative consequences.

Problems occur when there is limited visibility of risks at project and portfolio levels or approaches to risk-management are ad-hoc and inconsistent.

Further problems can arise when risks are identified but recorded at a very high level accompanied by highly subjective risk ratings, rather than being the result of more substantive risk assessment.

When these problems arise, an organisation would benefit from clearer, more formal and wide-spread processes for capturing and monitoring risks.

Project and Portfolio Risk Assessments

Project and portfolio risk assessments should be undertaken to understand their risk profiles and associated threats in achieving business objectives.

Assessments should identify the action plans to address the risks identified and allocate executive responsibility to manage them. Additional risk assessments should be carried out on selected projects (perhaps by prioritising them by value or complexity).

Risk management processes should be on-going and monitored throughout a project’s life-cycle.

Regular risk reports would provide Project Sponsors, Senior Responsible Officers and Steering Groups with better visibility of projects’ risk profiles.

Whether you’re responsible for overseeing or managing a project, robust project assurance will help you address the risks that threaten its success.

Mark Gwilliam FCCA CA is the founder and Director of Business Advisory Services.

From humble beginnings, the firm has grown from strength to strength.

It has matured from a small accounting and tax services practice to one that helps small business owners, entrepreneurs and executives navigate complex challenges; including strategy, risk management and internal audit, managing shared-service centres and operations.

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