Yup, it’s another post about branding, and another post about eduID. Sorry 🙂
I’ve been having a lot of discussions recently with people about the ‘brand’ of eduID and that it causes some concern – mostly because of the word ‘brand’. I couldn’t agree more. I was thinking about it at the weekend and the closest thing I could get to what I see eduID becoming is 57 Varieties. 57 Varieties is perhaps best described as a slogan, but is instantly recognisable. It isn’t Heinz the brand, but refers to the number of Heinz products (and no Mum, not the number of flavours of Heinz soup!). It wasn’t even real or accurate, there were actually more products at the time and certainly more now – 5 and 7 were perceived to be lucky numbers. Heinz certainly didn’t want to create a NASCAR effect of all of the different products, but they wanted to give a sense of what they represented. I think eduID is exactly that.
So here is the image that we always use to show the problem:
What we want eduID to be is not necessarily an image or a brand or a NASCAR logo, but the word that replaces ‘institutional login / shibboleth / athens / uk federation’ on all of these screen-shots so we have some consistency of terminology and you know when you click on the 57 varieties of eduID exactly what you are going to get.
A few of the conversations I have had recently help support this. Rod Widdowson who is behind the excellent changes to the Shibboleth Discovery Service always says ‘the word login is already taken, and it means something else’. I think this sums the problem up perfectly. Nearly all of the examples you see on the image have a ‘login’ button and it normally takes you through to a purely local login process. We need something else to get us to our login processes.
Andy Powell and I have argued this through many a time, and his point is why not just get all publishers to use the federated Kantara NASCAR approach behind the word login, and just have one word, one link. The publisher’s own login could be one of the options in the screen of logos. Absolutely. That sounds great. I just don’t think it is at all achievable. I don’t think publishers will give up the ownership that links the word ‘login’ to a purely local login process. I don’t think all publishers can be influenced to that extent to change their interfaces, and even if they could it would take such a long time and such a concerted amount of funded effort in promotion (who has any funding!) that it isn’t going to help us. Publishers are also not just dealing with the federated approach. Where does the OED ‘BT click and buy’ login fit in with that? What about the CSA ‘my research login’? I think it is a much easier sell to go to publishers and say, where you currently write xxxxx, would you mind writing eduID?
Finally, Brook Schofield of TERENA and I have talked about the fact that he doesn’t like eduID as he thinks the institution is the brand, and not eduID. Again, I couldn’t agree more – which is why in the UK we have always tried to push the ‘institutional login’ terminology. However, you can’t get the brand of 200+ institutional customers on to the front page of a publisher’s website anymore than you can get 57 logos on the back of a bottle of ketchup. eduID is a slogan that helps you find your institutional brand.
So yes, I think we should continue to promote the great Kantara work and the good stuff being taken forward as part of the Shibboleth Discovery Service. That’s the user experience we are aiming for. I am, however, still convinced we need a slogan to help us on our way, to bridge the gap and to solve the user experience in the here and now.