Blog | Ben Resnikoff 03.13.17

What’s on My Desk?

Work anywhere long enough and you accumulate a special kind of detritus...

...Pens abandoned by absent-minded coworkers; Yankee Swap gifts too ridiculous to use, yet not stupid enough to toss; logo-festooned mugs that hold more dust than drinks; a drawer full of business cards... But at PJA, you wind up with a few more unexpected items jockeying for position on your desk.


(Corning flasks, old and new)

Take the clear plastic container at the bottom of the photo. It may not look the part, but this flask with cap set at a jaunty angle is a major advance in cell culture technology over the old one at the top. The traditional Corning flask – the workhorse of culturing for decades – is flat at the bottom and trapezoidal at the top. But the new one, you’ll notice, is lightly pointed at the bottom and rounded at the top. Why? The new shape makes it easier to harvest cells with a scraper. Those small changes were enough for Corning to spend oodles of cash to conduct focus groups, retool the manufacturing line and create a marketing campaign. I’m sure it wasn’t cheap, but Corning did it because that’s what innovative companies do. They keep looking for ways big and small to make things better.


(TE EV connectors)

Then there’s this collection from TE. To those in the know, the orange signals these connectors are Electric Vehicle compliant. Why? A normal internal combustion-engine vehicle uses a 12-volt battery. Tesla batteries, for example, pack a walloping 375 volts. Trust me, you definitely want the right wiring when increasing power thirty-fold. But anybody can make fatter wires to handle higher loads, so what’s the innovation here? Think about the two most important issues for EVs: safety (it’s always #1) and range. For safety, TE created good ol’ 170M3418 (all the way on the right) – a no-tool disconnect that allows mechanics and emergency first responders to isolate the battery pack and eliminate the risk of shock or fire. Range took a little more thinking because it’s totally dependent on weight. And since EV batteries are more than twice as heavy as the engines they replace (not to mention the electric motors), the weight is going to have come off somewhere. TE, leveraging knowledge from the aviation industry, knew how to take it out of the wiring. They can reduce the amount of wiring in the car to help ensure you get home from grandma’s on a single charge every time.



(Mimecast glasses and bus wrap)

Which brings us to the glasses. They may just be typical Chinese-made novelty sunglasses – but there’s some innovative thinking behind them. The “Snap Out of It” campaign PJA created for Mimecast starts to promote a brand role above simply selling cloud security services. Mimecast sees themselves as educating business users to the reality that connected companies can never have absolute security. The best they can hope for is cyber-resiliency – making it harder for others to get in, and easier to recover if/when they do. It’s a pretty new way of thinking, and not the first thing you’d expect from an industry that’s usually all about locking it down.

The reason I’ve lumped these things together (aside from the fact that they’re all on my desk) is they all prove the importance of a believable brand role. Corning isn’t just pumping out labware at the lowest possible price. They’re helping the world become healthier by making it easier for scientists to discover new medicines. Likewise, TE is helping drive the connected world by reducing the size and load requirements of anything that deals with power, data or light. These companies stand for something that gets people excited – and makes them want to get involved.

At PJA, we’re deeply interested in branding for change. We love to reframe conventional category wisdom in a way that lets brands take on new meaning and helps buyers make better decisions. If you want to discover a way to activate prospects and get them talking about the things your company believes in, shoot Greg an email. There’s still plenty of room on my desk for innovative stuff. And it doesn’t even have to be orange.

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