What’s Up With That Tesla Logo?

Venture Beat: “Tesla’s logo is certainly not anonymous, but it turns out there’s more to it than may be immediately apparent. What looks like simply a stylized ‘T’ is actually a reference to the company’s products … The Tesla logo is intended to represent the cross-section of an electric motor, Musk explained to a querying Twitter follower.”

“Musk seemed to be referring to the main body of the ‘T’ as representing one of the poles that stick out of a motor’s rotor, with the second line on top representing a section of the stator. Repeating the Tesla logo in a circle, with the top of each “T” facing outward, does indeed create a reasonable facsimile of an electric-motor cross-section.”

“In this respect, it matches the logo of SpaceX, another of Musk’s ventures—which in this case designs and builds rockets, and contracts to send payloads into orbit. The stylized ‘X’ in the SpaceX logo is meant to represent a rocket trajectory, Musk said in his tweets. Both logos were designed by RO-Studio, a design firm based in New Jersey.”



What Makes ‘Snap’ Crackle & Pop?

The New York Times: “When Evan Spiegel and Bobby Murphy were undergraduates at Stanford University, they made an unconventional observation about what makes a social network valuable. Thanks to the rise of Facebook, most everyone believed that networks became exponentially more valuable by amassing more users. But Mr. Spiegel noticed that in real life, even people with thousands of acquaintances spent most of their time with just a few friends whose value outweighed a large number of looser ties.”

“So when Mr. Spiegel and Mr. Murphy created Snapchat in 2011, they inverted the social networking dynamic. Out of their Stanford dorm rooms, they made Snapchat as an app that would send disappearing messages and photos in a way that more closely mimicked the dynamics of a real world conversation. That would increase the appeal of Snapchat as a service that people used with a small number of good friends, they figured.”

“While online identity previously emphasized everything anyone has ever done, with Snapchat ‘my identity is who I am right now,’ Mr. Spiegel said in a 2015 video to describe the app:”


How Does IKEA Name its Products?

Quartz: “IKEA has a crack team of product namers, who assign names from a database of Swedish words. Bookcases are named after professional occupations (Expedit means shop keeper) or boys’ names (The bestselling Billy bookcase is named after IKEA employee Billy Likjedhal). Outdoor furniture are named after Scandinavian islands (Äpplarö an island in the Stockholm archipelago and Västerön is in Aaland). Rugs are named after cities and towns in Denmark (Ådum, Silkeborg), while bed sheets, comforters and pillowcases are named after flowers and plants. (Häxört or circaea lutetian is an herb in the primrose family).”

“The rules for naming were devised by IKEA’s founder Ingvar Kamprad, who struggled with dyslexia and had trouble remembering the order of numbers in item codes. The name IKEA itself is acronym for Ingvar, Kamprad, Elmtaryd (his family’s farm) and Agunnaryd (the village in Småland where he grew up).”

“To simplify inventory for its 389 stores around the world, the Swedish home furnishing chain uses the same name for its products in all its markets. The database is culled for words that may have offensive meanings in other languages—though sometimes things fall off their radar. In the annals of unfortunate IKEA product names: 2004’s Fartfull children’s workbench … Some products are given names that evoke their function. For instance, IKEA’s newly-launched bicycle is called ‘Sladda’ which translates to ‘skid’ in Swedish. In the kitchen section, there’s a spice mill called Krossa, which means to crush or grind.”


Walmart Luxury: $6.96 Wine Gets 95 Points

The Washington Post: “The label for La Moneda Malbec Reserva 2015 from Chile looks like nothing special, until you notice the small decal on the side touting 95 points and a platinum medal from Decanter magazine … So last fall, Walmart introduced the La Moneda Malbec into 577 of its 4,600 or so U.S. stores, priced at $6.96 a bottle.”

“They bring it into the United States through their importer to various distributors, who speed the product through the three-tier distribution network at minimal cost. Because the wine is going exclusively to one store’s various outlets, there’s no marketing cost to build the brand and fight for shelf space. (Though someone at Walmart was smart enough to enter the malbec into the Decanter competition and then market its triumph for all it was worth.)”

“Once in the store, the wine receives prime placement on the shelf — at eye level, or a coveted end-of-aisle display — alongside California chardonnays and merlots that also don’t have the store name on the label but are available nowhere else. National brands are often relegated to less-visible, harder-to-reach shelves.”


Quick Tour of an ‘Old Style’ Chicago Bar

WBEZ: “Why are there so many Old Style beer signs in the city of Chicago? Just on our own we counted 69 bars with Old Style signs, and there are likely more. You don’t run into the same plethora of Old Style signs in New York, or Los Angeles, or — I don’t know — Omaha … A lot of Chicagoans love these signs. There are photos of them all over Instagram and an entire blog devoted to tracking them.”

“Old Style was first brewed in 1902 by the Wisconsin-based G. Heileman Brewing Company, and became available in Chicago by the 1930s. But the connection between the brand and Chicago wasn’t really sealed until 1950, when Old Style started sponsoring the Cubs. Getting into Wrigley Field was big.” Beer historian Liz Garibay explains: “Here you are, sitting in this iconic place, in this iconic city, drinking this particular beer. People started to build a little more brand loyalty to it then.”

“The signs came about in the 1970s. That’s when Old Style began giving them out for free to bars they’d done a lot of business with, even paying crews to install them. It was a win-win: Old Style got to assert its brand, while bar owners got a bright shiny light to lure in customers. Other brands also handed out signs, but not nearly as many as Old Style.”


Porky Lights: The Beatlemania of Diet Sausages

The Guardian: “Look out of your window and you may notice we’re living in the midst of the sausage equivalent of Beatlemania – supermarkets selling out as slimmers bulk buy, arguments in the aisles over the last box.”

“Launched late last year, Porky Lights were not an immediate success, selling just 2,000 units a week. Then dieters’ club Slimming World decided to award the Porky Light just half a ‘syn’ on their points table – by comparison, regular bangers are five syns. Slimming Worlders soon realised that, at a 10-times multiple, swapping-out bacon for Porkys meant that the full English breakfast could become a human right rather than an aspiration. Surrey-based manufacturer G White’s reckon it is now shifting 170,000 a week, and supply remains tight.”

“The notion of a diet sausage may appear confusing, but the basic idea has been around for a while. ‘It’s just that most of them aren’t very nice,’ explains Chris Price, managing director of G White & Co … Price is reluctant to talk about exactly what in the manufacturing process makes these different, admitting only that: ‘It’s a third-generation family business. So, these are flavour profiles we’ve had access to for years, and this one seemed to fit.’ Price assures us the key ingredient remains pork, but at 78 calories apiece, the other ingredient may well be voodoo.”


Punch Line: Even Bad Jokes Project Confidence

The Wall Street Journal: “Telling a joke—even a bad one—may help leaders be perceived as more confident and competent by co-workers. That is according to new research from a trio of scholars from the University of Pennsylvania’s Wharton School and Harvard Business School.”

“In one test, participants were asked to rate individuals who gave testimonials about a fictional service that removed pet waste from customers’ yards. The person who made a joke in their testimonial was rated as more competent and higher in status by the study participants. In a similar experiment, participants were also more likely to choose joke-tellers to lead a group in a task.”

“Even jokes that fall flat have a payoff. Study participants read straight and joke responses to the common interview question, ‘where do you see yourself in five years?’ Some transcripts showed that the interviewer laughed after the candidate responded with a joke—’Celebrating the fifth anniversary of you asking me this question’—and some didn’t. Participants who read the transcript with the failed joke rated the teller as highly confident. (Inappropriate jokes, however, don’t appear to burnish the teller’s reputation.)”


DeMille-mania: Tight Shots Tell Different Stories

The Wall Street Journal: “Once used sparingly to heighten drama and engage audiences, tight shots have grown more abundant and more extreme in recent years, many film experts say. New technology has helped make close-ups a common tool, changing not just how movies look but how actors perform and stories unfold.”

“The popularity of close-ups speaks, in part, to a changing entertainment landscape. Filmmakers know more of their work will live online, especially as streaming services enter the movie business, and they are aware that wide shots won’t always translate as well on computers and phones. Close-ups are tempting because they’re easier for people to see.”

“Close-ups can open new avenues for storytelling. In Arrival, the 2016 film about a visit by alien spaceships, editor Joe Walker helped reinvent a tight shot of Amy Adams in a nightmare sequence. Originally, the scene was shot so Ms. Adams would appear to be looking off screen at her co-star, Forest Whitaker. On impulse, Mr. Walker and director Denis Villeneuve cut to an enormous alien crouching in a corner instead of Mr. Whitaker—a shocking moment made possible by tight framing that never showed what Ms. Adams was originally looking at.”


Crowd Cow: The New Digital Slaughterhouse

The New York Times: Crowd Cow is “an online service that sells whole cows from small ranchers, divided into manageable orders, usually about 10 to 12 pounds, and delivered to homes as frozen, vacuum-sealed cuts … Rather than putting its own brand on the meat it buys, Crowd Cow advertises the beef’s producers and allows them to tell the stories of their ranches on its website.”

“Joe Heitzeberg, the chief executive of Crowd Cow, which has sold nearly 200 cows online, founded the company with Ethan Lowry. He said their idea was to teach the consumer about the particulars of each ranch.” He explains: “We’re saying it’s like microbrews and wine. There are differences. We want you to understand the differences.”

“Most of the beef on Crowd Cow and similar websites is grass-fed, which research has shown has higher levels of healthful omega-3 fatty acids … While even large commercial cattle operations now sell grass-fed beef and many supermarkets stock it, some consumers prefer the beef they get from small producers online … Much of its beef comes in variety packs: A recent sale from Step by Step Farm in Curtis, Wash., featured a $69 package that included four eight-ounce flat iron steaks, two 10-ounce chuck steaks and two pounds of ground beef.”


Domino’s Dominates: Bigger Than Google

Quartz: “Domino’s pizza was once known as the pie with a cardboard crust whose sauce tasted like ketchup. In 2010, its then-new CEO, Patrick Doyle, decided to own those badges of dishonor in a series of surprisingly candid ads … According to Harvard Business review, facing the brutal criticism and revisiting its pizza recipe that year was partly why the CEO was able to rewrite Domino’s market history with the kind of turnaround story that investors love.”

“Doyle’s dedication to remapping the company’s delivery systems with new tech solutions was the other, and perhaps more influential, factor that led to rallying stock price. (The stock was trading at just under $9 per share in 2010; it’s now above $160.) … Charlie Billelo, an analyst, tweeted: “Two revolutionary companies went public in the summer of 2004. These are their returns…Google (Alphabet): +1,555% Domino’s Pizza: +2,401%.”

“Last year, Doyle said he believed Domino’s was one of the top five e-commerce sites in the world, and reported that more than 50% of Domino’s global pizza orders were digital. At the same time, clever gimmicks— allowing customers to order pizza by emoji, for instance—have given Domino’s a fresher image. Recently the company made the world’s first drone delivery. (Only available in New Zealand, for now.)”