is a 2007 Digital Marketing Award winner.

2007 Digital Marketing Awards
I am so pleased to learn that won a Certificate at the 2007 Digital Marketing Awards in the category of Website: Financial services.

The category is described as “Any site designed to promote banks, trusts, co-ops, investment brands, insurance, etc.”

The awards as a whole are described this way:

The Digital Marketing Awards represents the best of interactive marketing in Canada. The awards are produced by Marketing magazine, and judged by the industry. The mandate of the DMAs is to inspire many by rewarding few. Those few will be chosen for their innovation and creativity, and for leveraging the interactive environment to it’s full potential.

The jury is impressive, and includes my friend Michael Seaton.

It’s so nice to see doing good things in the community, while getting recognized by the industry. Feels good.

Future Shop is ready for 1997.

According to an article by Media in Canada, Future Shop, a leading retailer and e-tailer of consumer electronics with over 121 stores from coast to coast in Canada, has launched a new community forum to discuss electronics.

I know it’s difficult for companies to figure out how much to open up in these days when everyone’s collaborating online, but it seems like Future Shop has totally missed the boat.

Here’s their claim:

This is the space where Canadian technology enthusiasts and industry insiders (Future Shop Product Experts, Product Buyers and manufacturer representatives) connect to exchange and learn about technology, entertainment and the products and services available at Future Shop. It’s the perfect place for exchanging product information, tips, and of course, bragging about your new 62″ plasma display.

But when you poke around, there’s almost no collaboration, no meaningful interactivity. There are twelve buckets for information (Home Theatre, Home Office, Photo, Communications, iPod & MP3, Car Audio & GPS, Gaming, Movies, Music, Tech Services, Appliances and Off Topic) but they look and work just like bulletin boards did in the 1990s.

Why on Earth would they launch this now? A company like Future Shop could actually do something really interesting in this space and map out some new territory for themselves.

Imagine this: I go to the Future Shop Community Forum (or a someplace better named, like Gearhead Central) and what immediately surfaces are the people who have registered, my fellow gearheads. Their profiles have photos and are full of their latest gadgets, how they’ve customized them, their passions for the greatest camera packages, sounds systems, record collection, home theatre system, you name it. They can put all the tech specs and photos they want of their set-ups.

Then I rate the users and those who write posts that are useful or have systems tricked out in a completely innovative way will rise to the top and gain stature. Future Shop could leverage these brand enthusiasts and create a whole new relationship with them. Value is created for everyone.

It would be so on brand and would separate Future Shop as a company that “gets it” with this crucial niche of consumers. It could help with internal Future Shop product innovation, messaging, it could attract self-identified technology nuts and offer a great service just for them. If it was done right, Future Shop could become the A-list place to start when buying your latest gadget or peripheral.

What makes this missed opportunity so incredible is that Future Shop’s brand positioning is “Ask An Expert”. If they had started with that, it would have led them in a whole different direction: decentralizing what it means to be an expert. Blurring the lines between a Future Shop-employed expert and a whole army of lay experts ready to share advice and brag about their configurations.

They could have leveraged the power of crowdsourcing, and created a truly social place where technophiles could run rampant and connect over shared passions.

Instead they have this:

Online branding & Vancity.

One of the things I love about the Vancity brand is that it’s complicated, and therefore a challenge to express succinctly. Vancity is a credit union that uses its profits to give money back to its members and the community. Sounds simple in a way, but there’s a complication as soon as we have to express how we do it and what it costs.

The more money Vancity makes, the more money it can give to the community, and it gives money in a myriad interesting and meaningful ways. Many prospects and members want to know what all this good work will cost them; surely they must pay extra. This sentiment always strikes me as odd – no one expects to pay more at a big bank when their stock prices are high, and yet they’re returning profits in the form of dividends to the shareholders. It’s the same with us, except the money goes to something meaningful.

So all of this is to say that when we launch a new brand campaign, it’s always tricky to engage people around our mission in a way that rings true and feels like us, but is still entertaining and works as marketing.

This week we are launching our 2007 TV spots, outdoor advertising and our web site to promote Vancity. This microsite launched yesterday, and I think it does a nice job conveying our brand and who we are. I’m curious what readers think.

Vancity | We All Profit