Posts Tagged ‘relationships’
21st November 11
Posted in business models
Author: Sarah Eno (@enoism), Brand Planner, BBH Zag
It’s nearly impossible these days to conduct any relationship entirely offline. Professional relationships are managed on email, Linkedin, and blogs; brands develop robust relationships with us through online loyalty schemes; friendships are built and maintained through Facebook, Twitter and Instagram, to name a few; and more and more people are meeting their romantic partners via online dating sites.
So I suppose I shouldn’t have been particularly surprised the other day when I came across a set of start-ups in the area of online relationship management for couples. These businesses claim to help us keep the spark alive, monitor our relationship health and generally be happier together by using their online services. Here are a couple in detail:
- Tokii claims to be ‘the world’s first relationship management platform’ with a suite of products designed to ‘proactively improve relationships’. Couples can use the ‘tradingpost’ tool to trade things like washing the car for a backrub, monitor each others mood through the ‘moodmeter’ and spice up their relationship with fun, interactive games.
- The Icebreak helps couples keep their love lives fresh and fun through a game-like platform where couples score points by sharing moments from their day, answering ‘icebreaker’ questions and working together to improve their relationship health.
In many ways, these businesses signal a natural progression to complete management of relationships online. If most of our relationships are blossoming online, why not throw our romantic ones into the digital world as well?
Whether I’d personally use the service or not (undecided, at best), I have to admire the Zag-like thinking behind these businesses. They’ve identified an opportunity area that appears ripe for brand invention – you can see how by looking at the idea through these three key principles of brand invention and innovation:
Principle #1. Meet a consumer need
If romance is blossoming online (Match.com claims 1 in 5 relationships start through online dating), people will need a safe place for their relationship to develop digitally. Consumer need? Tick.
Principle #2. Go where the money is
Online dating is a growing business, as is the booming business of divorce. A digital service that helps keep the spark alive and maintain relationship health in the time between meeting and potential divorce could slot right in to this open space and scoop up all those struggling couples. Money? Tick.
Principle #3. Piggyback on existing behaviours
Self-tracking and the gamification of everyday activities are both hot behavioural trends currently connecting our ‘real’ and ‘virtual’ worlds. Tokii and The Icebreak both feature metrics and statistics that chart the health of your relationship over time and track improvement. They also reward you for improving your relationship with points and physical rewards, making working on your relationship like a game. Existing behaviours? Tick.
It’s not easy to find open spaces for brand invention and I’d argue that these two businesses have managed to do just that. Well done.
But perhaps there’s a bigger, moral question that has to be asked: There’s now a brand called Eulogy in the UK which aims to bring death and mourning into the online/social sphere; there are countless online dating brands to help you find love; online brands help couples throughout the process of marriage counselling and divorce; and now we can manage our romances online too.
So, are there any areas of private life that should remain private and untouched by brands?
20th July 11
Posted in Friendship
The launch of Google+ brings once again the opportunity/chore to categorise our real world and digital relationships into some sort of meaningful schema. It’s the social media equivalent of copying out names and numbers into a new address book (remember those?) and analysing the probability of ever needing that contact again.
Is the person I spent a night with drinking at a conference and discussing our children a friend, an acquaintance or a co-delegate? Where do colleagues fit in on my relationship map? And what about the person who I’ve never met in ‘meat-space’ but correspond with regularly in conversation on twitter/flickr/facebook? Do I need to worry about circling someone as a ‘Social Media Maven’ rather than a ‘person who does cool stuff? (Answer: Yes)
“Create around one at least a small circle where matters are arranged as one wants them to be.” – Anna Freud
It will always be hard to put people into broad categories because, well, we’re all special and unique flowers, man. But questioning the nature of online friendship is an exercise worth revisiting every now and again. As the lines between online and offline blur we’re going to need to find new ‘friendrank’ algorithms. So, while code can reveal to us who we communicate with most often, it can’t tell us who we care for. Right now I’m categorising ‘friends’ as people I am genuinely pleased for if something good happens to them and ‘acquaintances’ as those whose news I am merely interested in.
This is as far as I’ve got with my Circle Schema and is subject to change – I’d love to hear your strategies in the comments below.