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Philosopher, Henry David Thoreau, described by Updike as 'so perfect a crank and hermit saint', is renowned for having said, 'I had three chairs in my house; one for solitude, two for friendship, three for society.'
Even in the simplest places chairs are ubiquitous. And well-designed chairs can change our everyday experience of life for the better.
Thanks to designers such as Prof Richard Snell at the Birmingham Institute of Art & Design, the Midlands continues to play a noteworthy role in chair design.
Now here is a mystery.
Why are there no soaps set in the Midlands? London has East Enders, Manchester 'Corrie' and Liverpool has 'Hollyoaks'. We don't even have any of the constructed reality programmes set in the Midlands like 'TOWIE, 'Geordie Shores' or 'Desperate Scousewives'.
I have no idea why this is, though not sure it's much of a loss. But did you know that watching the soaps is can help build strong brands.
All this week in The Mailbox there has been a celebration of the Midland's great design heritage and of the region as the home of some of this country's great brands-Jaguar, Triumph, Land Rover, Aga, JCB and even Marmite. If you haven't already been to this celebration get down there quick.
In my job I spend a lot of my time trying to design and develop brands. I don't do the creative work on brands but instead it is my job to come up with the underlying definition of the brand. I try to define what it is going to stand for; the promise it is going to make, and to try to keep, to its customers; and how it should present itself to its market. Someday it is my hope that the brands I am working on will feature in an exhibition of great brands.
It took me a wee while to find inspiration for my first blog but I found it in a place not renowned for its inspiring qualities.
And from this unlikely beginning, the intention is to provoke debate and stimulate thinking on the business of marketing and the marketing of business. Hopefully you will enjoy sharing and discussing my views.
Last week I had to leave Birmingham for the delights of London. Fortunately this gave me the opportunity to travel with my favourite train company and to meet up again with the people working there who make travelling a real pleasure.
Twenty-seven minutes before mainstream media broke the news of Whitney Houston's death last Saturday the story was on Twitter.
The news was first tweeted by @ajaDiorNavy, with a mere 14 followers at the time, who's "Aunt Tiffany", an employee of Whitney's, found the diva dead in her bath. An hour later it had been re-tweeted 2.5m times.
It's been a bad couple of weeks for TripAdviser, as the Advertising Standards Authority started investigating allegations of endemic Astroturfing on the famous hotel review website.
"Astroturfing", in an online context, does not mean the replacement of a lawn with synthetic grass, but the attempt to artificially create "grassroots" opinion on review websites in order to promote products or services.
The recent financial disaster at UBS brought another UBS story back into the news. Back in January a detailed dress code guide for UBS staff was leaked to much hilarity.
There was also advice on how to apply body lotion and perfume, on not eating garlic and not to have tattoos.
This was held up as an example of an organisation obsessed by detail and interfering in its employees lives.
A "fondleslab", for those not down with the kids, describes any portable touch screen device so beloved by its owner that it is incessantly fondled in public.
I swapped the faithful fag packet and lighter combination (which served a similar social purpose) for an iPhone a few years ago, but now, to keep down with the kids, I need an iPad 2.
Chris is MD of social media strategy company Friend Digital
If you enter a Sustainability/CSR/Environment competition and lose, you should ask for a review of the judging process, plus a refund for the time and money spent for the application.
Over the last thirty years, the corporatisation of sustainability has led to a multitude of annual events. During these events, media publishers, trade associations and other professional event organisations aim to present awards to the greenest companies. Similarly, rankings of the Top 100 Green Companies are now common features of the annual calendar. Yet, no one seems to question the biases and problems of these often costly (for the losers) PR exercises.
I feel the need to make a case to support PowerPoint as I think it has a bad press - even beyond it having been spawned by the universally used and equally unpopular Microsoft.
The main benefit I see is that PowerPoint forces you to arrange your thoughts in a logical sequence - although you can easily shift things round if you change your mind during the design process.
Most of all though, it makes us be BRIEF.
As an academic, I am surrounded by colleagues who are immersed in their subject. For many years, if you asked me to tell you in 5 minutes what my PhD was about, I couldn't tell you.
Now I can (at emergencies, fire commanders focus on four key factors when making their decisions...). PowerPoint is great at making you do this.