Aishwarya Rao

I wasn't surprised that Microsoft came down a spot (to #3) in the Interbrand Best Global Brands ranking this year. If the value of a "brand" to its business is evaluated just like any other asset, surely the retirement of a CEO whose name was synonymous with the brand itself has to make a difference...

Now for a moment let us forget the ridiculous Microsoft-Jerry Seinfield commercials. And look at this one - Microsoft seems to have done an excellent job with the latest "I am a PC" ad. The idea is simple. (Given it is an outraged reply to Apple's PC user, the idea is not annoying at all). And it tells a story. A normal story that an avaerage person can relate to. A story even a Mac user would enjoy (without admitting it ofcourse!) with a smirk on his face. Yes, it is warm and real. (even with Bill Gates in it!)

I believe a communication like this is a guaranteed winner in this consumer driven world. Simply because it does not insult my intelligence. And it does not complicate things. Or overwhelm me. And also because it sincerely follows the most cliched and romantic theory taught in every brand management class -

Keep It Simple, Stupid!

Aishwarya Rao
2008 for me has undoubtedly been the year of travel. Beginning from New York, to New Jersey, Ohio, Miami, Orlando, Key West, Tampa, Houston, Austin, San Antonio, Mexico, Los Angeles, New Orleans and now Chicago!

I was at Chicago for the labour-day weekend and Fun refused to take a break. It began with a it-is-not-so-surprising-that-it-was-delayed AA flight at 11.30 on Friday evening. On the flight, I had loads of fun reading the palms of my co-passengers and surprising them with what I could say about their past...Lol!

On Saturday morning. We headed to the world renowned Art Institute of Chicago. While the museum itself did not live up to the hype around it, I was fascinated by the intricate work of the Thorne Miniature rooms that elaborately captured the decor of European, American and a few Japanese houses from the 13th century until the 1930's.

Our next destination was something that deserves an entire post being dedicated to it. It was the musical Wicked that transported every single person in the audience from the heavily ornate Oriental Theatre to a world of wizards and witches. It is by far the most amazing live production that I have ever witnessed. I can rave about the brilliance of the actors, their costumes, and the jaw-dropping eccentricity of the props and stage. I will reserve that for another post and tell you that Wicked was simply magical!

With an entire evening to ourselves we walked the green grass of the Millenium Park, enjoyed the architecture that dominates the Chicago skyline, clicked crazy pictures at the Cloud Gate sculptute (that resembles a drop of mercury), sat on the edge of the it-cant-be-more-blue lake and dined at Kan Zaman, a very beautiful Lebanese restaurant. The night was wasted in the happy lounges of Zed and Billy Goat Tavern on Red Bull and water...As they say even fun felt like resting after a long and tiring Saturday...
Aishwarya Rao

I am not sure if I am in love with everything Google ever manufactured in its labs. I use gmail, orkut, blogger, yada, yada and...Chrome! It excites me! May be not as creatively as Apple does...But in a very snobbish kinda way. I love the way we download chrome, discuss how Google is going to take over the world and look at that company in awe and a biting lip! 

While I am not certain if the simplicity, snobbishness and sophistication itself is creating an aura around the brand...I only know whatever it is, Google has this secret fan following and it only managed to strengthen it with Chrome..Those of us that suck up to its services and write articles on BusinessWeek that debate its recent Microsoftish monopoly games...

So you see, I can't comment on Chrome being open source or not...But I can say excitedly that I love the way the tabs open (they are cool), the way I can search in my address bar (it is making life less complicated) and I can access my favourite pages without bookmarking them! Reminds me of a class about "customer delight" long ago... (And no points for guessing that this is my first post using Google Chrome!)

Having said all this though, it is not like I am going to give up on /using Firefox so easily. Firefox has what marketers would call core competitive advantage. It has a reputation, a brand name and a strong and positive user experience that will not be easy to erode. In a very corny emotional way, I like the Mozilla's honesty better than Google's "Do no evil"! 

While I ought to wait and see how Google markets Chrome, the thought of a good-bad browser war certainly excites me...