April 27, 2006
Nerd Branding
Posted by Victor Fleischer

Here in Boston for the Oracle/MasterCard and Bloggership conferences, I'm staying at Equation"The Hotel at MIT."  It's a Doubletree hotel (which is itself a Hilton hotel brand), but here it's quietly branded and tricked out for the nerds.  Wifi everywhere.  You can print documents, like your powerpoint slides, to the front desk.  Sleek modern furniture.  A robot in the lobby.  And the bedspread has a bunch of equations on it. I love it.

One lesson I learned from the branding talks yesterday is that modern branding is more about creating a set of mental associations rather than direct pitches.  When universities dumb down their marketing, Brand U-style, I wonder if they're underestimating their audience and damaging their long-term image.  It's not the crass commercialism that bothers me so much as the ineffectiveness and transparency of the efforts.  They should mimic Google, or Apple, or Pixar, or The Hotel at MIT.  At least it would be more fun.  Doesn't everyone think equations are fun?

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