Kodak is one of the oldest and most established global brands. It is also one of the most focused, having consistently delivered photographic films and paper since George Eastman started the business in 1888. The old brand is moving through one of the most radical technological revolutions ever seen in the industry: the fast-paced transition from chemical to digital photography.
In the last decade, Kodak (EK
) has sometimes struggled with innovation but a visit to Kodak.com shows the brand is starting to distinguish itself.
Although Kodak might be a corporate elephant, it is no dinosaur. Rather than resisting change, it is embracing it. With bright yellow Kodak workstations in many photo stores, consumers can download their digital camera, crop and frame their pictures on a screen, and get "Kodak Quality" pictures in less than an hour. The price is competitive with the chemical film process, and often lower than the price per picture of printers. Whereas Wal-Mart, a large retail chain, prices its one-hour digital photo service at 19 cents a print (store pick-up), Kodak's website advertises an aggressive 15 cents (store pick-up or mail).
We would expect Kodak.com to welcome us with bright colors, such as the saturated red and yellow derived from the corporate identity. A visit to Kodak.com reveals, however, a rather traditional corporate portal. The website attempts to address a large spectrum of different constituencies, from consumers to hospitals and investors. The result is rather bland, if nevertheless clear and uncluttered.
Consumers can't miss the 15-cent price advertised right in the middle of the screen in an orange dot (the ever effective bull's eye). It is not entirely clear from first glance whether the site itself sells pictures, but it does and it does it well. Kodak EasyShare Gallery is an e-lab that allows uploading, storing, sharing, editing and buying of digital pictures. Perhaps the toned-down approach to selling the feature is an attempt to calm outcry in the network of independent photo labs.
Once "Easy Upload" is installed, which is done painlessly, digital pictures can be uploaded at the tip of a mouse with a mere drag and drop. During our review, the system did freeze unexpectedly and crashed our Internet Explorer browser, which reminded us that the technology is still in its infancy. The pictures that had already been loaded were properly saved on Kodak's server, and could be edited with ease. The usability of these advanced features is indeed excellent. It is possible to crop, resize, zoom in and out, add frames of all sorts, and much more. Although the system is remarkably fast and responsive, we found that there are still too many steps and screens.
Kodak.com is much more than the "Gallery" (which appears to be the nickname of the feature we've just described). The website shows a great deal of consistency among the departments, even though the content and the audience might be dramatically different.
Kodak also makes good use of artistic photos, which is obviously in line with its brand offering but also helps lighten the bland corporate impression of the front page.