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CharlesM

Member Since 02 Apr 2009
Offline Last Active Mar 13 2010 10:59 AM

Posts I've Made

In Topic: MDDHosting: An Ongoing Anthology

04 February 2010 - 06:51 AM

My 2 cents.

I think these proposed ideas are probably things that MDD is specifically looking to avoid.

1. I think any "eye-grabbing" graphics-driven changes to the MDD site would be a negative. If I were running a company like MDD - which offers services that are superior to the competition - then I would go for "mind-grabbing" instead of "eye-grabbing". This means text instead of images, like Mike said. As an intelligent adult, I am looking for a host's web site to give me the information I need to make an intelligent decision. Pictures are for kids, text is for adults.


If that's the case, then he could simply strip every last image off of his website, and go with a text-only approach. Pictures are not just for kids. Adults are human beings, and respond to visual stimuli as much as, if not more than, kids do.

2. My opinion about mascot-driven branding is that it is an insult to people's intelligence. The use of animal mascots (and mascots in general) is a classic branding technique used to promote commoditized and dumb-down products and services that appeal to the masses. Some examples in different industries:

Hosting - HostGator, SharkHost
Restaurants - McDonalds, Burger King
Investing - Minyanville


A classic branding technique, huh? Maybe there's a reason that it is a classic branding technique. You could also add to your list all sports team mascots, or even mascots of military organizations. The product to which a mascot is "applied" does not have to be a dumbed-down product or service. Furthermore, if you are trying to sell something to the public, then appeal to the masses is not an inherently bad thing.

The mascots for HostGator and SharkSpace are certainly not bad mascots. Of the two of them, I favor the HostGator more. I also think that the hawk mascot works very well for HawkHost. I like it more than the HostGator gator or the SharkSpace shark, in fact. What dumbed-down product or service are the folks at HawkHost selling, anyway?

3. With regard to MDD branding, I think that a viable branding campaign that could differentiate MDD would be for Mike to be the face of the company and to have his face and name on the banners since he has been a large contributor to the good customer service MDD clients have received. Hosting companies need to offer this kind of personalized experience, since hosting companies are dealing with very valuable customer assets. Hosting is a relationship-driven business yet it has never been treated that way.


He could use his own face or image, certainly. He would, in effect, become his own company mascot. Instead of a GoDaddy Girl, MDDHosting could have Mike, the MDD Guy. Maytag had the Maytag Guy, after all. You can label it whatever you want to, but it still serves the same function as a mascot. Colonel Harlan Sanders' image adorns Kentucky Fried Chicken signs.

As far as a relationship driven business is concerned, using himself as his own company's mascot or quasi-mascot will not be a determining factor in whether MDDHosting is a relationship-driven business, though.

In Topic: MDDHosting: An Ongoing Anthology

29 January 2010 - 12:25 AM

We don't rely upon mascots or amazing visual stimulus to sell our products - we rely on word of mouth created by our solid services and support.

Rather than paying a large sum of money to a graphical designer or to a marketing consultant we've always chosen to reinvest that money into the company to continue improving services and support.

I don't know many companies that have been able to grow as fast as MDDHosting in the hosting industry without spending money on advertising or marketing while maintaining a such a positive history and reputation.

While we do always appreciate criticism (it helps us improve) don't be offended if we don't implement every suggestion that you make.

Thanks!


I'm not offended, Mike. Word of mouth is generally considered the best form of advertising, although other methods of advertising can work well, also.

That said, not all graphical designers require large sums of money. Also, many web hosts use templates, and many standard template designs incorporate images that have more visual impact than the following images do on your site:

http://www.mddhostin...ges/plan1h2.png
http://www.mddhostin...ges/plan2h2.png
http://www.mddhostin...ages/plan3h.png


I like the following images:

http://www.mddhostin...mages/30day.png
http://www.mddhostin.../999updtime.png

The LiteSpeed image could be improved, a lot, but you likely are using an image that the LiteSpeed people came up with, if I had to venture a guess.

Out of curiosity, why do you use two different favicons, one on the main site and the other on the forums? Of the two of them, I like the one used on the main site, better than I do the one used on the forums.

Where mascots are concerned, you could keep the MDD logo that you have, and still incorporate a mascot.

In Topic: MDDHosting: An Ongoing Anthology

27 January 2010 - 10:12 AM

5. Related to item # 4, above, if a webhosting company does not have, or if it chooses to fore go, a mascot or a character as an integral component of its branding effort, there are other ways to approach the dilemma that this void creates in the marketing scheme.

One can incorporate "theme" or "concept," and use those abstract fundamentals as a sort of broader quasi-mascot writ large. An example of this, to illustrate the point, would be the Force from the Star Wars universe. The Force does not have a specific look or shape or size. There are things that the public at large has come, over time, to associate and to identify with this concept known as the Force, but in and of itself, it is an amorphous blob of abstract thought.

6. Regardless of branding, or lack thereof, there exists a visual element to web hosting companies' websites. In its current incarnation, MDDHosting's website makes little use of visual stimulus or "eye candy" to grab the site visitor's eye or to stimulate their interest. It is not a question of sheer number of images used. Rather, it is a question of actual images used. If one is selling something, then a question to ask is if visual impact is important to making sales? If not, then why does MDDHosting incorporate images on its website, at all?

In Topic: MDDHosting: An Ongoing Anthology

27 January 2010 - 12:33 AM

It does help to have a mascot or something other than some letters as a logo which is something I've been thinking on for a long time however I've not come up with anything as of yet to represent MDD that isn't either a server or some letters :)


That was a topic that I wanted to post on earlier, today, but time constraints here at home did not allow me that luxury.

4. I suppose that it all falls into the category of "branding." HawkHost is a good example, I think, of how a mascot or character is beneficial to that web host company. Their hawk mascot is an animal, but is decked out in the attire of a superhero, of sorts. Their mascot conveys a visual message to the prospective web hosting customer who browses HawkHost's website.

HostGator has their alligator mascot. Sharkspace has their shark mascot. These are just a few that come to mind off the top of my head. I think that what it boils down it is that it is inherently easier to build brand utilizing such characters as there, compared to just using letters (some letter combinations work easier than others in building brand).

The letters "MDD" in MDDHosting are probably Mike's initials. That's all fine and dandy, but such textual indulgences do not come without a price in other ways - such as where the issue of mascot or character is concerned.

I really think that most any animal or creature could function well as a web hosting company's mascot. I think that the critical issue is not so much what animal or creature that you choose for a mascot, but rather, how you choose to depict and utilize that animal or creature.

In Topic: MDDHosting: An Ongoing Anthology

26 January 2010 - 10:22 AM

1. When I created this thread, I gave it the following description:

Thoughts, Input, Feedback, Suggestions, Criticisms, Morsels, & Tidbits


However, the forum index that displays the individual thread description (http://forums.mddhos...hp?showforum=10) cuts off the last half of the word "tidbits." As such, I would ask Mike of MDDHosting to edit the thread description to read the following, instead:

Thoughts, Input, Feedback, Suggestions, Criticisms, & Tidbits

I tried doing a full edit of the posting, just after I posted it and noticed that the forum software in use here had cut off part of the thread description, but I did not see a way in the editor to actually edit the thread description, myself.


2. In hindsight, things often can seem to be rather obvious. However, a few days ago, while clicking on links in forum users' signatures in the WebHostingTalk forums, doing a little casual browsing and exploring about web host companies, I ended up doing a little off-the-cuff research on the affiliate programs of several different web host companies. It wasn't a planned activity, by any means. Rather, it is one of those things that just sort of happened.

Anyway, one of the comparisons that I ended up doing, on that particular occasion, was a comparison of the affiliate programs of SharkSpace and MDDHosting. The problem that I encountered was that, after exploring the SharkSpace affiliate program and affiliate banners a bit, I decided to go and compare what they had and were doing for their affiliates with what Mike at MDDHosting was doing - but then I couldn't readily and handily find the affiliate info for MDDHosting.

As I said already, in hindsight, things can often seem to be rather obvious. Eventually, I finally noticed the Affiliates link at the bottom right portion of pages on the MDDHosting website. The irony in it, though, was that I came to the MDDHosting website on that occasion for the specific purpose of checking out and learning about MDDHosting's affiliate program - yet that link at the bottom of the pages was not so obvious to me that it just stuck out and grabbed my eye. I am curious as to how effective that Affiliates link is in attracting the attention of those who might not be looking for it?

That link is placed in close proximity with the Privacy Policy and Terms of Service links on this website. Those things tend to be dry and boring reading. Perhaps it might be wise to make the Affiliates link stand out a bit more. A web host company's affiliates program should be an exciting thing, shouldn't it? Wouldn't it be desirable for one's affiliates program to be viewed as an exciting opportunity? If so, then how does the current link at the bottom of the page initiate and imbue that feeling upon a visitor to the MDDHosting site, before they ever make it to the Affiliates page of the site?

It was just something that I thought about, and wanted to share it with Mike.


3. I think that SharkSpace web host does a better job of incorporating their namesake creature (a shark) into their affiliate banner images than they do of incorporating that very same creature into their website, particular where their site's front page is concerned. I found a visit to their site's front page to be notably underwhelming, even as I thought that their affiliate banner images were some of the better ones that I have seen for web host companies who have affiliate programs.

SharkSpace makes it much easier for a visitor to their website to find (or just stumble across) their affiliate program banner images, than MDDHOsting does. Even as I type this message, it is a pain in the ****** to locate MDDHosting's affiliate banner images. Searching the MDDHosting forums for the search phrase "affiliate" yielded the following message:

Unfortunately your search didn't return any results.

I did manage to track down some "buttons" here: http://forums.mddhos...p?showtopic=133

I know that I've seen an affiliate banner for MDDHosting, before. Or, at least, I thought that I had. Despite several minutes of trying, this morning, I am unable to track it down. That, to me, in and of itself, denotes a shortcoming in MDDHosting's affiliate program. Are MDDHosting's affiliate banners all tucked safely away in a steel vault, somewhere? They sure aren't located on the Affiliates page of this site.