Co-Branding: 13 Tips for Growing Your Brand Through Strategic Partnerships

Posted by Lorraine Carter on November 09 2015 @ 12:42

Why Co-branding?


Co-branding is defined as a partnership between brands. It typically works best when Brand A partners with Brand B, each with a different set of customers and brand associations of their own. As in the expression, “the whole is bigger than the parts,” co-branding can add value when synergy exists between the brands; it creates an emotional energy, starts conversations and creates buzz around both partners.



 Co Branding Multiple Examples 600px

Image via www.missvinc.com



What do the experts say about co-branding and the future? According to design experts in the field, co-branding is important as the path for delivering a one-of-a-kind product, for delivering something to the marketplace that is otherwise impossible without the contribution of both brands.[1]



 Virgin Master Card 600px

Image of Virgin Mastercard via Bloomberg.com



According to franchising experts, “co-branding offers the best of both worlds” by combining compatible concepts and leveraging efficiencies, often placing two brands under one roof for a win-win.[2] And, according to a trademark expert, “co-branding has great advantages provided there is trust and transparency between the partners,” suggesting a kind of pre-nuptial agreement is the way forward.[3]



Co-branding Means Endless Possibilities


In addition to brand revitalization, co-branding objectives may include getting more bang for the buck, growing market share, building audience reach and altering perceived positioning. Co-branding is primarily used an alliance of two brand partners, although there’s no rule against bringing three or more to the party.


In the definitive book published in 2000, “Co-Branding: The Science of Alliance,” the authors laid out the opportunity on page one: 


“...the term 'co-branding' is relatively new to the business vocabulary and is used to encompass a wide range of marketing activity involving the use of two (and sometimes more) brands. Thus co-branding could be considered to include sponsorships, where Marlboro lends its name to Ferrari or accountants Ernst and Young support the Monet exhibition...The list of possibilities is endless.”   



Co-Branding Sponsorships and Sport


Examples of co-branding strategy are all around us, particularly abundant in international sporting events. In a longstanding partnership that has kept the ball in play since 1902, Slazenger is an official supplier to Wimbledon, gifting 52,000 tennis balls for each tournament. Huge sums of money, strategically spent, presented Rugby World Cup 2015 Worldwide Partners in a lineup of Heineken, Land Rover, Duracell, Société Générale, DHL, Emirates, Canon, EY (Ernst & Young) and MasterCard.



 Duracell Sam Warburton Rugby World Cup 2015

Image via www.marketingweek.com and www.duracell.com




FMCG Co-Branding and Packaging

Co-branding in fast-moving consumer goods can provide delicious “Aha” moments. On your grocery store shelf, see a perfectly packaged example in Betty Crocker Brownies Mix boxes containing Hershey's chocolate syrup in a pouch.



 Betty Crocker Hersheys 600px

Image via flickr (CC 2.0, theimpulsebuy)



The partnership unleashed a succession of activities reaching way beyond the supermarket: Betty’s Big Bake Day at General Mills’ headquarters, recipe sharing among Facebook fans, events at Hershey World’s Pennsylvania theme park, cupcakes for the “Good Morning” television presenters to savor on-air and a road tour to launch a new lineup of 12 products for home baking. This multi-tiered co-branded campaign embraces a swathe of what Google marketers term “micro-moments,” from “I want to bake chocolate cookies” to “I want to win a trip.”



 Cobranding Betty Crocker Hershey 600px

Image via www.bettycrocker.com and www.hersheys.com




Nike and Apple Lead the Way


In 2006, the obvious connection between listening to music and going for a run partnered Nike+ iPod Sport Kit, a clever technological advance and a natural fit for both the shoe giant and Apple.



 Cobranding Nike Apple Packaging 600px

Image via Amazon.com for www.apple.com and www.nike.com



Having cut their teeth on co-branding with a Michael Jordan product line in 1984, Nike is one of the world’s strongest co-partners. And, Apple didn’t stop with footwear; co-branding continues to evolve in their product lines, such as Apple Music’s partnering with UK fashion retailer Burberry and its high-end collaboration with Hermès for the Apple Watch.



 Apple Hermes 600px

Image via www.apple.com



This special edition Apple Hermès watch offers both co-brand partners unique opportunities. For Hermès, it breathes freshness and modernity into a brand founded on tradition and heritage. For Apple it's a clear signal that it now considers itself to be a luxury brand fused with a formidable blend of design and technology, effectively elevating the brand and positioning it even further from its nearest competitors.




Positioning and Fashion Brands


Fashion, accessories, and fragrance are fertile grounds for a co-branding triangle (the third party is the person wearing the item or the scent!) A very interesting collaboration strategy with couture houses is being used by the Swedish mega-chain H&M. Specially created campaigns with Karl Lagerfeld, Versace, Stella McCartney, Alexander Wang and other celebrity designers underpins the chain’s statement, “High-fashion design doesn’t have to be a matter of price.”



 Balmain H M Ny Times 600px

Image via www.nytimes.com (Rob Stothard for The New York Times)



These limited capsule collection collaborations are massive brand investments, but H&M have been using them as to create high-street or mass market frenzy, media attention and as ruthlessly effective brand builders. The scene repeated in November 2015, when a Balmain fashion collaboration touched off pre-dawn queues of thousands outside H&M stores from San Francisco to London to Sydney. As a result, couture becomes more relevant and H&M gets a distinctive positioning with serious attitude — definitively separating the brand from its mass market competitors.



A Closer Look at Co-branding Pros and Cons


When co-branding is perceived as successful by consumers, it can drive price points upward. Three stunning examples are cited by Liddell in his article for FastCompany:


“The Doritos Locos Taco earns a 40% premium compared to Taco Bell’s regular taco. The Fiat 500 by Gucci sells briskly at a 52% markup over the base price of a standard Fiat 500. Online pre-orders for the original Nike+Fuelband sold out in minutes, and Nike’s equipment division reported an 18% increase in profits for the fiscal year following the product’s introduction. These are impressive numbers for what are essentially a taco, an iOS-powered pedometer, and a very small Italian car.”



 Fiat 500 By Gucci

Image via www.fiat.com



Top 7 Benefits of Co-branding


As a marketing strategy, co-branding earns strong recommendations for its scalability. Co-branding for small and medium-sized businesses can be equally productive as for the biggest brand names playing on a global field. Consider these tactical and strategic advantages:


On the plus side, co-branding can: 

1. Introduce products or services of one brand to customers of another

2. Represent substantial cost savings on advertising

3. Enhance the appeal of a product or service

4. Reposition brands with a more elevated appeal

5. Broaden a geographical market reach

6. Enable a small brand to punch above its weight and a larger one to focus on a niche

7. Alter brand perceptions permanently amongst a target audience through positive associations in what is known as the ‘spillover effect’



Top 5 Co-branding Risk Management Tips


Just like falling in with the wrong crowd can harm your reputation, co-branding with the wrong partner carries risk by association. Likewise, public perception about brands changes and endorsements can go sour, even without the drama of a superstar and a criminal offense. Readers may recall examples of O.J. Simpson former partnering with Hertz Rent-a-Car (1978) and Lance Armstrong’s former association with Nike. 


Without a budget for superstar endorsements or the resiliency of a big brand, small businesses must choose co-branding partners as carefully as they would choose a supplier.


It’s prudent to take these steps to reduce risk when co-branding: 

1. Identify partners with deep synergy

2. Collaborate with partners who reflect similar brand values

3. Choose brand partners that are leaders in their sector

4. Create programs with partners who best complement your brand

5. Retain full approval and refusal rights for all communications



Why Co-branding is Often Overlooked


First and foremost, you must protect your own brand. Smaller businesses often overlook co-branding for three main reasons:

1. Fear that the risks outweigh the positive

2. Wrongly thinking that opportunities will simply present themselves and

3. A lack of strategic brand vision


Nonetheless, when co-branding partnerships are strategically and tactically developed, they can be an extremely effective tool.



6 Tips for Co-Branding Success


These recommendations cannot be over-emphasized:


1. Research thoroughly, evaluate carefully and understand your partner’s corporate mission

2. Ensure there’s a win-win for both parties – that both brands will get a beneficial return on their investment

3. Protect brand logo and trademark integrity

4. Identify separate and joint objectives and target the ROI for each campaign

5. Develop a brand strategy plan and assign action plan responsibilities, with deadlines, to individuals

6. Communicate, communicate, communicate



Co-branding in the Digital Age


Our digital world is where storytelling meets online strategy. Have a look at the Facebook page of any small business to see customers who “liked” it. On a micro-level, that’s co-branding at work. Influencers for hire and brand ambassadors, some of whom boast followers in the hundreds of thousands, are the embodiment of contemporary co-branding on platforms like YouTube, Instagram and Twitter.


The ‘always-on’ aspect of social media connectivity provides opportunities for consumer interaction, contests, YouTube videos, Twitter chat rooms and more, often drawing on popular culture for inspiration.


In 2012, the #CokeZero007 campaign challenged commuters as they stepped up to a soda vending machine in an Antwerp train station to “unleash the 007 in you” for the release of “Skyfall,” the latest James Bond film. A music-rich YouTube stunt video, devoid of voice-over, has earned more than 11 million views.






In a 2013 surprise move, Google named their Android operating system KitKat, after a Nestlé brand chocolate bar, stretching even the most imaginative marketing minds about co-partnering possibilities.



Celebrate The Breakers Break 600px 

Image, Nestlé via www.independent.co.uk



Google-owned YouTube exploited the connection further in 2015 to link the platform’s 10th birthday and the candy bar’s 80th birthday. The message? Break open a yummy KitKat while enjoying YouTube’s most popular videos, curated for viewers’ break time.






For Christmas 2015, Burberry’s YouTube ad connects the dots between the 15th anniversary of “Billy Elliot” and a cast of stars including Romeo Beckham, Sir Elton John, Julie Walters and “Downton Abbey” actor Michelle Dockery performing ballet moves dressed in the trademark tartan cashmere scarves and signature macs. The co-branded message translates as “Cool Britannia.”






• What innovative co-branding partnerships have impressed you lately?


• Are short-term partnerships a good choice for small businesses?


• Could you use co-branding as part of your brand revitalization strategy?


• Do you have potential co-branding partners in mind for your business?


• Do you have clear objectives in mind for a potential co-brand campaign?


• What can be learned from co-branding mistakes such as Southwest Airlines and SeaWorld?


• Can brands insulate themselves from external forces and public opinion, such as the

  Greenpeace effect on ending the partnership between toymaker Lego and petroleum giant Shell?   




You might also like:

• Brand Sponsorships: The Best Brand Ambassadors Are Already On Your Payroll 


• Rebranding Strategy: Why Your Rebrand Must Embrace Storytelling


• Brand Differentiation: 30 Ways to Differentiate Your Brand


• Video Brand Strategy: Top 11 Tips for How and Why You Need to Use Video


• Brand Personality: Is Your Brand’s Character Big Enough to Compete?


• Brand Voice: Differentiating Through Your Own Brand Language and Attitude


• Humanizing Your Brand: Why It is Key to Commercial Success


• Brand Profiling: Top 6 Components to Creating a Strong Brand Personality



[1] Devin Liddell, “3 Reasons Why Co-Making is the Future of Branding,” FastCompanyDesign

[2] Kerry Pipes, “Co-branding Offers the Best of Both Worlds,” Franchising.com

[3] Ilanah Simon Fhima, “Trade Mark Law and Sharing Names,” Edward Elgar Publishing Ltd



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Brand Loyalty: 5 Key Steps to Building Your Loyal Fan Base

Posted by Lorraine Carter on November 03 2015 @ 09:05

“80% of your company’s future revenue will come from just 20% of your existing customers” according to Gartner Group.[1] This means that brands need to devote more attention to building a loyal customer base, and in order to do this successfully they must inspire trust.  


Given the number of recent scandals relating to brand ‘dishonesty, and the incredible ease with which the average consumer now acquires information online, it’s easy to see why trust has become such an important value. While many brands strive to inspire loyalty, and in the process develop their ‘customer’ brand champions, very few manage to do this consistently really well.


Here we take a look at the primary benefits of developing a loyal customer base, and some of the most effective brand strategies to do so, together with examples of brands who’ve managed to consistently inspire loyalty amongst their customers.



The 4 Key Benefits of Having Loyal Brand Fans


1.   Free Fan-Made Commercials and Other User-Generated Content

Loyal fans will often provide ample content for the brand they love, and this can be anything from testimonials and reviews, up to a commercial with high quality production values. Tesla, the leading electric car brand on the market, is an excellent example of how talented fans can contribute to a brand’s marketing strategy. Elon Musk has always had a notably different approach to marketing compared a lot of his competition, and in the process has managed to build a veritable army of loyal brand ambassadors.



Tesla Model S Red 

Image via www.tesla.com



A talented fan has even made a beautiful commercial, and this is not the first time something like this has happened – two years ago some fans from Evergeen Pictures filmed a heart-warming commercial likening Tesla’s product to a “modern spaceship”.






In both these cases, the fans were purely motivated by their love of the brand, or rather, what the brand stood for.



2.   Loyal Customers can Help Your Brand Adapt and Survive

It's a given that loyal customers are the backbone of any successful brand. If a brand authentically delivers on its promise consistently its more likely to be forgiven when the occasional hiccup occurs.


The revival of the Hydrox brand is a good example of how consumers will often remain loyal to the brand for decades, help it adapt to the times, and even help resurrect a brand that was near the brink of extinction.


Hydrox was actually the first cookie to feature a sandwich-type offering, with two thin chocolate cookies cushioning a creamy centre, despite the fact that most people in the world now associate this type of cookie with the Oreos brand. Hydrox had trouble effectively marketing their product over the years, and Oreos took the lion’s share of the market, but helped by a number of extremely loyal fans fuelled by nostalgia, they managed to apply a successful brand revitalisation strategy.



Hydrox We Are Back 600px

Image via www.leafbrands.com



In fact, they were going back to their roots and using the old recipe, so they needed help from their fans who still remembered that signature taste. Some consumers even had decade-old packages in their freezers, which they donated for use in taste tests. That level of loyalty is what keeps a company in business during periods of uncertainty. The question here is, what are you consistently doing with your brand to inspire devoted brand fans?



3.   Loyal Customers Engage in Word-of-Mouth Advertising and Give Referrals

Word-of-mouth advertising is probably the oldest form of marketing known to man, but it has immense power even today, as witnessed by the success of Coconut Bliss. It started out as a small ice cream company with simple core values – they offered dairy-free organic ice cream, with coconut milk as the main ingredient. Their first customers were friends, then friends of friends, and, eventually, thousands of people from all around the country.


It was their personal approach to marketing, and that core of loyal consumers that quickly led to significant growth. Most of this initial growth was due to word-of-mouth advertising and referrals from very impressed consumers. Loyal customers tend to be quite vocal about their preferences, and are one of the best sources of referrals.



4.   Loyal Fans are Less Likely to be Influenced by Your Competitors

When customers become emotionally engaged and start feeling like they are as much a part of the brand itself as they are consumers, a tribe mentality is born, which makes your loyal fans less susceptible to competitors’ marketing efforts. This can be seen in famous brand rivalries like Apple vs. Microsoft or Coca Cola vs. Pepsi, where customers who choose one brand over the other exhibit fanatical or cult like levels of devotion.



The 5 Proven Strategies for Inspiring Brand Advocacy


1.   Create an Antagonist

Some of the most successful brands in recent history have managed to build a veritable army of loyal fans by demonizing the competition or providing their audience with a common “enemy” to fight against. Apple and Tesla are good examples of this. In Apple’s case, it was a sense of elitism that helped them rally a core following of loyal fans under their banner. People who placed their trust in the brand eschewed Apple’s main rival, Microsoft, and even showed disdain for the competition and their “followers”.


Tesla took a somewhat different approach, focusing on the eco-friendly aspect of electric cars, which motivated consumers to take a stand against cars powered by fossil fuels. Tesla was painted as a green, caring and technologically innovative brand. Their route to market was also different and disruptive, yet very much liked by their customers, compared to the more traditional 'car dealership' business model. They soon became a brave underdog in the eyes of the public, a car brand with sound moral and ethical values, and one that symbolised progress.[2]


By developing distinguishing factors which are emotionally engaging between two groups, you can effectively inspire not only loyalty towards your group, but also abject disdain for the other group. This all harkens back to research performed by psychologist Henri Tajfel, which has inspired many an entrepreneur to utilise social identity theory to their advantage. 



2.   Establish Effective Two-Way Communication on Social Media

By solely posting promotional content on social media, you fail to utilise the full potential of this powerful tool. Listening to what the consumers have to say and engaging them in conversations allows brands to perform effective market research and enhance customer experience, but most importantly, it helps establish personal connections.


Companies like Nike, Starbucks and Xbox have effectively used social media for both promotion, and as a means of enhancing the quality of their customer service.[3]


Nike and Xbox both have two separate accounts on Twitter, each with its own distinct purpose: a main account used for providing users with updates and for promotional purposes, and another dedicated solely to customer support. The alternate account allows consumers to ask questions or voice their complaints, and a dedicated team responds to all inquiries in a timely fashion. This inspires trust, helps resolve issues quickly and makes customers feel respected and appreciated.  



Nike Support On Twitter



As we have seen with celebrities like Kim Kardashian, who took social media by storm, it is also important to build a strong online presence on a number of different networks. Ms Kardashian is active on a number of social media networks, and posts diverse content on a regular basis. These accounts are populated with content related to all the different aspects of her brand personality – from fashion, to fitness and pregnancy topics. People can find updates about her daily life, beauty product reviews, and hear her opinions on current affairs and pop culture news.


As of late, a number of celebrities, including Howard Stern and Lady Gaga, have focused on creating unique media hubs for their brands.[4] These hubs are essentially websites, valuable brand assets controlled by the brand, that offer a behind-the-scenes look into their lives and allow these celebrities to post a large amount of exclusive brand collateral content, including videos, images, updates, guides, etc. Owning a unique platform like this enables brands to communicate with their consumers in a very direct manner. 



3.   Inspire Word-of-Mouth Marketing by Improving Customer Experience

A good way for a brand to differentiate itself is go above and beyond when it comes to providing the best customer experience. No one is perfect, small problems occur all the time, and customers can sometimes have complicated questions and unusual requests.


However, if you can effectively address all inquiries, and go beyond the call of duty when it comes to making your customer happy, you will gradually build a solid brand reputation with a strong customer base of brand ambassadors. Zappos is a great example of how a brand that focuses on exceptional customer experience and word-of-mouth marketing can become incredibly successful.






Of course, user experience is strongly influenced by the quality of your customer support, so your brand needs to invest in this aspect as well. Customers love to share stories of good customer service experiences on social media.



4.   Make an Emotional Connection by Developing and Leveraging a Strong Brand Personality Relevant to Your Primary Customer

When we talk about your brand personality this is about developing the overall characteristics of your brand, what it stands for and the way it expresses itself through using a process called brand profiling. In conjunction with this overall concept you can also develop an actual character that expresses your ‘core brand personality, characteristics and values’ by using a character that’s representative of your brand.


Quaker Oats had great success promoting their Cap’n Crunch brand online several years ago, and it was in part due to their consistency in portraying the Cap’n. His unique personality and vocabulary were a relatable extension of the brand used to express of the overall brand characteristics and values, and all faithfully represented in every Tweet. [5]


The Quaker Oats social media team did a good job of consistently staying ‘in character’ using a ‘brand voice’ that appropriately expressed their brand, and the mascot of their brand in the form of Cap’n Crunch, all of which regularly engaged their followers successfully. They provided insights into their mascot character’s past, asked and answered questions, and even had some fun during the “International Talk like a Pirate Day” by voicing Crunch’s disdain for pirates.



Capn Crunch Twitter Account



This strategy enabled their brand to stay relevant, accumulate over 40,000 followers on Twitter, and connect with their audience on an emotional level. Past research has shown that consumers who feel a strong emotional connection to a brand are far more likely to develop a high level of trust in the brand, which leads to long-term commitment.


One of our key objectives when working with our clients is to develop a deep rooted understanding of their customers, particularly in terms of their needs, wants, loves, hates and aspirations using tools such as brand audit health checks, research and buyer personas. It’s only when you really understand your primary audience that you can develop a solution that meets and exceeds their needs emotionally, functionally and rationally. If you don’t address all these key ingredients through your brand profiling, brand strategy and brand collateral you’re unlikely to succeed long term or achieve the necessary brand loyalty required for your brand growth and success.



5.   Reach out to Influencers

Influencers with a large active social media following can become incredibly potent brand ambassadors, as their audience places great trust in their opinion. In fact, research has shown that an astounding 92% of consumers focus primarily on referrals coming from someone they know, and in 81% of cases these referrals where found on the web. A few lines of text praising your brand from a social media influencer with a large and loyal following can garner a lot of positive attention. In a sense, reaching out to an influencer can be likened to hiring a spokesperson who is willing to work pro bono. However, in addition to having a reputable voice to spread the word about your company, back and forth communication with influencers enables a brand to convey genuine authenticity.



Guide To Finding The Right Social Influencers 600px 

Image via www.blogkissmetrics.com



When an audience knows that the ‘spokes’ person, be it an actress or a renowned blogger, isn’t motivated by financial gain, the brand mentions and endorsements on social media are a lot more natural and respected. We can turn to Cap’n Crunch for some excellent advice once more – when famous rapper Ice T tweeted about having the Quaker Oats cereal for breakfast, the Cap’n immediately responded by thanking him for choosing “his” cereal and showing support.


This, in turn, lead to another tweet from Ice T, where he expressed his excitement about being contacted by the Cap’n himself, which was retweeted a large number of times by both the rapper’s and the brand’s followers. Something as simple as this can generate a good deal of social media buzz, and help a brand earn some additional credibility and acquire new customers.


However, you do need a comprehensive brand strategy when reaching out to influencers, so feel free to utilise some of the basic tips outlined in the video bellow and give us a call or drop us a line.   






You might also like:


• Rebranding Strategy: Why Your Rebrand Must Embrace Storytelling


• Brand Profiling: Top 6 Components to Creating a Strong Brand Personality


• Brand Sponsorships: The Best Brand Ambassadors Are Already On Your Payroll 


• Brand Management: Top 10 Tips for Managing Your Brand Reputation


• Brand Differentiation: 30 Ways to Differentiate Your Brand


• Brand Voice: Differentiating Through Your Own Brand Language and Attitude


• Humanizing Your Brand : Why It is Key to Commercial Success



So, what do you think?


• Have you developed and leveraged a strong brand personality that stands out or a clear antagonist?


• Is your brand approachable on social media and do you answer your customers questions?


• Have you identified what really matters to your customers and what’s your brand doing to create an emotional connection with your target audience? Do you need to give your brand a health check on its performance?


• Have you identified who would be relevant influencers within your brand sphere and made an effort to reach out to those influencers to build social connections?



[1] Alex Lawrence, Forbes, Five Customer Retention Tips for Entrepreneurs, November 2012

[2] Tamara Rutter, USA Today, “Why Tesla has the most loyal customers”, September 2014

[3] Brittney Helmrich, Businessnewsdaily.com, “10 Companies That Totally Rock Customer Service on Social Media”, December 2014

[4] Brooks Barnes, nytimes.com, “Coming Soon: Celebrity Web Networks From the Media Company Whalerock”, February 2015

[5] Socialmedia.org, Quaker Oats: Hitting the High Seas of Social Media, presented by Barbara Liss, September 2011, https://vimeo.com/29063976


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Colour Psychology: Cracking the Colour Code for Profitable Branding

Posted by Lorraine Carter on October 27 2015 @ 07:45

Colour is incredible! From rainbows to coral reefs and from bluejays to goldfish, throughout the natural world, the phenomenon that we call colour is a vital source of stimulation and communication.


When translated to the human sphere, its enormous power adds huge impact to communications, opinions, recall and emotional connections. In fact when used correctly, colour can be used as a pivotal tool to substantially influence purchasing decisions, be it product or service.


   Colour Emotion Guide




Leveraging Your Brand with an Exciting Red or a Trustworthy Blue


According to research from Canada’s University of Winnepeg, “Impact of Color on Marketing”, people make a subconscious judgement within 90 seconds of their initial viewing, and that up to 90 percent of the assessment is based on colours alone. [1]


“Exciting Red and Competent Blue”, published by the Journal of the Academy of Marketing Science, explains that colours influence how consumers view the personality of brands, looking at the impact on purchase intent. [2]


The University of Loyola, Maryland, reveals that colour increases brand recognition by up to 80 percent, while KISSmetrics says, “85 percent of shoppers place colour as a primary reason when they buy a particular product.” [3]






Studies done by the internationally recognized Pantone Color Institute® indicate that “consumers are up to 78% more likely to remember a word or phrase printed in color than in black and white.” [4] They cite that colour combined with text, as in a logo, impacts readers with the trifecta of getting better recall, recognition and attention -- all good news for the brand story.



Colour Infographic 600px 




Creative Violet, Peaceful Green and Bold Red


Certainly, nobody would have thought to suggest to masters like Paul Gauguin and Vincent Van Gogh that colours don’t really matter much. Mark Rothko’s canvases, devoid of subject matter, convey their message solely through powerful use of colour, such that “Violet, Green and Red” (1951) was worth $186 million just 63 years after the canvas paint dried.  


    Violet Green And Red By Mark Rothko

“Violet, Green and Red” - Mark Rothko, 1951, Wikimedia Commons, public domain



We know that colour is important in our daily lives. We live in a world of colour. Comments such as, “What colour eyes does the baby have?” and “Let’s buy a red car” or “That shade looks good on you” are commonplace statements. Most of us have favourite colours and feel better when we wear them.


What most of us don’t realise is how much impact colour has on all of us subconsciously, or how much it can be used to influence us in the hands of a knowledgeable master.



World Authority on Colour


Pantone® is the world authority on colour. Each December, their U.S.-based Pantone Color Institute issues a hotly-awaited Pantone Colour of the Year, meant to influence fashion runway collections, interior decor and yes, even car manufacturers. In 2015, for example, “a naturally robust and earthy wine red” called Marsala (#18-1438, to be precise) got the annual nod as top pick for stylish nail lacquer, neckties, table napkins, wall paint and more.


   Pantone Color Of The Year Marsala 2015

Image via www.pantone.com, Marsala 2015 Color of the Year - Pantone®



Colour Strategy in Brand Success


But, your company logo and your product line is far more complex than an accessory. Clearly, when a company manufactures products, designs a brand logo, buys staff uniforms, develops new packaging designs and invests in advertising, there will be no opportunity for a 12-month cycle to accommodate trend-setting changes.


Choosing a business brand palette is not about a designer’s preference, your favourite colours or anyone else’s. Brand colour choices are long-term decisions and it’s a critical identifier and influencer on the perception and personality of your brand. Colour is also widely credited with influencing purchase decisions.


Case-in-point, most people know where this box comes from even without seeing the sterling silver jewellery it contains. Somehow, it wouldn’t quite do if the box were red.



 Tiffany's Box

Image via www.tiffany.com



The colour wheel makes your business go round and round. It speaks to your customers. It differentiates you from your competitors. It is bold and discreet at the same time. It’s interactive.


   Colour Wheel

Image via www.pantone.com



Change a signature brand colour and you’ll see how wrong it can feel:



 Starbucks Dunkin Donuts Colour Swap

Image via Fast Company Design, Paula Rupolo: Starbucks / Dunkin Donuts



It’s worth noting that Harley-Davidson is aiming to grow their 12 percent female market share with a sleek black model, not a sparkly pink one.


   Harley Davidson 2015 Street 750

Image via www.harley-davidson.com



London-based colour and design consultant Karen Haller says, “When you use the right tonal harmonious colours, your brand's message is communicated quicker to the brain than words or shapes as they work directly on our feelings and emotions.” 


It doesn’t have to be beige.


Test yourself. We’ve scrambled the colours, their interpretation and one famous example of use in branding. Can you make 10 proper pairings? (Answers are found at the bottom of this post.)


Colour Pairs Quiz




Colour Strategy at Top Brands


Apple brought colour into a marketplace where colour had not been seen before. Steve Jobs introduced colourful iMacs in tangerine, blueberry, grape, strawberry, and lime followed by indigo, flower power, and blue Dalmatian. By the summer of 2000, the first snow white iMac was a thing of beauty. [5]






Apple was the first to say about computers, "It doesn't have to be beige” -- in the course of which brand packaging helped the company recover from a two-year loss of $1.8 billion to become the world’s largest public company, top in tech and the most valuable brand on earth. [6]


  Colours I Macs 600px

Image via www.apple.com




Ketchup is red, right? Unless it’s green. Heinz sold more than 10 million bottles of its EZ Squirt Blastin’ Green Ketchup in the first seven months following its introduction in 2000 -- because kids wanted it. That’s $23 million in green ketchup sales because of a simple colour change.



 Heinz Ez Squirt Ketchup

Image via www.fastcodesign.com, Heinz



And then, they over did it somewhat by introducing purple, pink, orange, blue and a rainbow mystery colour. No quite so appetite appealing! Mums hated it, especially when kids mixed them together on the dinner plate. Some 25 million bottles later, the party was over and all but the original were withdrawn. Colour matters and ketchup is red again.







Bright red with elegant white script, the best known logo in the world is considered to be Coca-Cola, which is little changed since 1887. When, in the mid-1980s, Coca-Cola made their first product taste change in a century, they also changed the cans’ packaging design to emblazon them with Coke lettering. They wish they hadn’t. Within three months, Classic Coke was back on the shelves as Coca-Cola. Brand marketers say it was a classic mistake to mess with Coca-Cola’s iconic red and white brand packaging design.



New Coke 1985 1987 

Image via Wikimedia Commons, public domain, Coca-Cola




Where can you go without running into the Golden Arches? McDonald’s introduced them in 1960 to be seen towering above roadside establishments as America took to the nation’s newly-built highways. Why are the arches golden yellow? See how they stand out in this photo of McDonald’s logo seen against the blue sky. The arches rise from a field of red, very much considered the colour of choice for fast food brands including KFC, Wendy’s, Burger King, Pizza Hut, Domino’s Pizza and more. That’s it...a simple ‘M’ shape with happy yellow and energetic red, meaning “Stop here now”.


   Mc Donalds Golden Arches 600px

Image via Wikimedia Commons, public domain, McDonald’s



While colour preferences are personal, it's universally understood that yellow means sunny and happy, while red translates as fiery and attention-grabbing. Whether a message is transmitted subliminally or overtly, the importance of colour in brand strategy cannot be overstated.


Since colour choices impact every aspect of a commercial enterprise, brand owners should aggressively re-evaluate that choice throughout their brand's strategy, logo, brand collateral, packaging design, web design, product development, advertising and so on. Has your brand's colour palette been selected with the right intent and applied to best possible effect? We're here to help ensure that the answer is emphatically "yes".  




You may also like:


• Brand Audit: Tips for Determining Your Brand’s Health – Can it be Improved?


• Colour in Brand Strategy: Colour Psychology and How it Influences Branding


• Creating New Brands: Top 10 Tips for Brand Success  


• Brand Profiling: Top 6 Components to Creating a Strong Brand Personality


• Rebranding Strategy: Why Your Rebrand Must Embrace Storytelling


• Brand Differentiation: 30 Ways to Differentiate Your Brand




What do you think about the use of colour in branding?



  • Would you like to know more about how colour selection makes a significant difference in consumers’ intent to purchase?


  • Do you suppose that consumers (or just designers) are influenced by Pantone’s Color of the Year?


  • On brand design, have you considered whether your brand’s colour palette is a good fit with your product or service?



  • How did you score on the answers to the colour matching quiz for brands?






Yellow = Optimistic, positive, cheerful / Veuve Cliquot e.g. Cara Matches

Blue = Trustworthy, dependable / Facebook e.g. Wavin

White = Simplicity, purity  / Apple

Green = Growth, freshness, natural / Starbucks e.g. Connemara

Pink = Youthful, energetic, playful / T-Mobile e.g. O’Egg White Eggs

Brown = Honest, simple, down-to-earth / M&Ms e.g. McConnell’s Gourmet Smoked Foods

Purple = Nostalgic, royal, sophisticated / Cadbury e.g. Massey Bros.

Black = Elegant, luxurious / Guinness e.g. La Moulière

Orange = Trendy, fun, approachable / Easy Jet 

Red = Bold, powerful, exciting / Coca-Cola e.g. Tilley’s Confectionary



[1] http://www.emeraldinsight.com/doi/abs/10.1108/00251740610673332#

[2] ink.springer.com/article/10.1007%2Fs11747-010-0245-y

[3] https://blog.kissmetrics.com/color-psychology

[4] http://www.pantone.com/pci

[5] http://lowendmac.com/2005/which-imac-is-it-low-end-mac-guide-to-g3-imacs

[6] http://www.telegraph.co.uk/finance/globalbusiness/10002790/The-worlds-biggest-companies.html?frame=3293648

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Brand Household Names: 7 Lessons Learned from the Best Performers

Posted by Lorraine Carter on October 19 2015 @ 19:20

The top 200 U.S advertisers spent $137.8 billion on campaigns in 2014, an all-time high. Although this advertising expenditure sometimes translated into major returns on investment, there were other cases where a well-intentioned campaign turned into public relations nightmare at worst, and made consumers raise their eyebrows dubiously at best.


Below, we'll take a look at some of the great household brand campaign successes and the shortcomings of others that reportedly didn’t quite deliver on expectations, plus discover the lessons that can be learned from each of them.



Best: Apple’s "Shot on iPhone 6" Campaign Apple is known for its memorable campaigns

This one was different because it focused on how creative people could be when using Apple’s products. The campaign used images and videos captured by iPhone 6 users worldwide.






This approach gave laypersons exposure in dozens of countries, [1] while high-quality imagery drove home the point that Apple has technology to help people get great results even if they aren't "professional" photographers and videographers.



Honma001 600px

Image via www.cultofmac.com, Photo: Satoshi Honma/Apple



Lessons Learned:

The campaign scored points by highlighting the brand’s user base [2] rather than the brand itself. Also, it capitalized on inspiring people through gorgeous, captivating visuals. When working with our clients, we’ve often found the most powerful results are achieved when giving consumers the freedom to use a brand's products to the fullest.



Best: Dove’s Campaign for Real Beauty

This campaign’s messaging defied stereotypical ideas of what’s beautiful. [3] Unlike the previously mentioned Levi's campaign, this one did use images of genuinely curvy women. One goal was to debunk the belief that only thinness is pretty. It also broke through barriers by showing women with wrinkles, which are usually shown as a characteristic to minimize, not highlight.



Dove Models Real Beauty

Image via www.dove.us



Furthermore, Dove expanded the campaign to suggest beauty should be a source of self confidence, not anxiety. Through print ads, billboards and TV commercials, the brand showed a level of realism that’s rare in advertising.






Lessons Learned:

Sometimes, it’s worthwhile to take bold steps in advertising. This campaign was undoubtedly polarizing, but there's no denying it helped broaden ideas what constitutes beauty. Furthermore, the ad we linked to above became the most watched of all time. [4] As we often remind our clients, when you're aiming to make an impact, do it in a way that resonates by being relatable.



Best: Patagonia’s Worn Wear Campaign

Marketing campaigns usually encourage people to buy products. This one, however, emphasized repairing clothing to avoid having to buy new items.


Patagonia also offered recycling centers and clothing exchanges [5] so other people could benefit from items once an original purchaser finished using something. Additionally, Patagonia released a short film online that was nearly 30 minutes long and contrasted strongly with the consumerism culture of Black Friday.






Lessons Learned:

It's sometimes worth going against the grain and doing the unexpected. Initially, it may seem like the actions of the brand are counterintuitive because they offer alternatives to buying things. However, they obviously showcased the long-lasting quality that is common to Patagonia items. Through user profiles collected on a Tumblr page, [6] first-hand accounts demonstrate how some people have had their Patagonia gear for several years or more. Image via



Wornwear Patagonia 600px




This evidence reinforces Patagonia as a reliable brand that is well able to meet and indeed exceed the expectations of its primary target audience. The brand appeals to people who embrace the "rugged" lifestyle, consequently it makes sense in terms of their values that those individuals would appreciate long lasting and dependable attire, values which are intrinsically core to Patagonia’s brand values too.


When developing any brand strategy or campaign, research, develop your buyer personas and pay careful attention to your primary target audiences’ core values together with their needs, wants, loves, hates and aspirations. If you want to develop a brand solution that resonates with your core audience and they find truly compelling then you need to understand them intimately. Patagonia did this well by emphasizing the hardiness of its clothing, and making a surprising anti-consumerism gesture that got noticed during the festive season.



Best: Nike’s Just Do It Campaign

According to USA Today and Business 2 Community, Nike’s tag line was inspired by similar last words ‘Let’s do it”, used by a convicted murderer. [7] This enduring tagline has been phenomenally successful for decades because it’s short, simple and easily understood.


The campaign encapsulates an entire lifestyle and urges people to go beyond perceived limitations. Also, because the tagline is so concise yet powerful, it's easy to use on all brand collateral.


Lessons Learned:

This campaign has stood the test of time because it speaks to concepts that resonate with people regardless of their fitness levels, activities of choice, and so on. Also, the brand enforces the idea there are many types of athleticism a person can display. Being an athlete doesn't always mean winning gold medals.






The campaign also proves there's no need to be lengthy when hitting your point home. In fact, the brevity of this campaign is undoubtedly partially why it has been such a powerful force in advertising for so long [8]. As we often remind our clients, having a punchy, bold tagline can work much better than a lengthier message that’s unlikely to be so easily remembered.



Unintended Outcomes: McDonald’s and #McDStories

This Twitter-based campaign was supposed to encourage consumers to reminisce about their best experiences at McDonald’s. It was only intended to run for a day, but within about an hour, executives realized the conversation wasn’t quite going as planned. That’s because it was largely hacked by malcontents who wanted to talk about why they disliked the restaurant.


However, the #mcdStories hashtag represented only two percent of the overall mentions [9] of the brand that day, so the while the campaign according to Business Insider didn’t go entirely to plan, the McDonald’s #meetthefarmers campaign also run on the same day performed much better. The Daily Mail, a UK publication, captured some tweets showing why the #mcdstories campaign resulted in some unintended consequences for the brand. [10]


Lessons Learned:

Take steps to control the conversation as much as possible, but be aware that on a platform like social media, the tone of messages can get out of control very quickly. When things start to go wrong, respond proactively. McDonald’s have good contingency plans in place and responded quickly by pulling the campaign thereby minimizing any potential damage.



Unintended Outcomes: Levi's Curve ID Jeans

To promote its line of Curve ID jeans, Levi's launched an advertising campaign with the tagline, "Hotness Comes in All Shapes and Sizes.” When designing the jeans, the brand analyzed 60,000 body scans and came up with three basic body types. However critics allegedly grumbled that all the models used for this ad campaign were skinny, and therefore, they didn’t think fully representative of the people who would be buying the jeans. [11]






Lessons Learned:

Since Levi's implied these jeans were made for people of many body types, yet apparently showed pictures that indicated something that didn’t entirely reflect anticipated expectations, some consumers became discontent. This is one reason why it's so important to create brand personas that accurately reflect your target audience so you can develop authentic messaging that speaks to the core of what makes your brand special and consequently relevant to the customers you want to attract most.



Unintended Outcomes: Groupon’s 2011 Super Bowl Advert

Social deals website Groupon reportedly got unintended outcomes when it aired an advertisement where actor Timothy Hutton began by somberly talking about the human rights crisis in Tibet, but quickly changes tact by discussing how Tibetans “still whip up an amazing fish curry,” and that Groupon makes it possible to get Himalayan food at a discount.






The advert was part of Groupon’s nationwide advertising campaign, and it was used along with other spots that spoofed causes people deemed important. According to the New York Times, it drew criticism from viewers because many argued the advert was making light of a serious problem. [12] Groupon did have a webpage that enabled people to donate to the spotlighted charities but unfortunately it wasn’t mentioned in the commercials.


Lessons Learned:

Sometimes, attempts to be funny can be interpreted the wrong way. If striving to use post-serious humour, [13] maybe consider approaching it in ways that avoid poking fun at those perceived to be vulnerable.




Key Takeaways to Consider:


In conclusion, here are some key points to keep in mind when developing the details of your brand strategy, be they large or small campaigns.


  • Control the conversation as much as possible, and know when to call a halt if a campaign isn’t going well


  • Make sure images or models used reflect the true or implied meanings of your brand messaging


  • Be careful that attempted uses of humour don’t appear insensitive, minimize the hardships experienced by societal groups, or try to overshadow the worthiness of causes that people care about


  • Experiment with giving users the freedom to ‘sell’ your products by demonstrating the things they can achieve with them


  • Consider boldly reshaping established stereotypes in ways that provoke thought and inspire positive changes


  • Brainstorm ways to go against the grain by promoting your products through methods that might seem counterintuitive — provided the strategy reflects your core brand values


  • Realize that being simply relatable, emotionally compelling and to the point can offer a significant return that might help your brand dominate the market for decades



As you can see results vary greatly even when advertisers have their sights set on success. Given some consideration these points should help you avoid mistakes while also helping you create brand strategies for powerful campaigns that help strengthen your brand reputation.



You might also like:


• Rebranding Strategy: Why Your Rebrand Must Embrace Storytelling


• Brand Strategy: 6 Lessons Learned from Tourism Queensland, One of the Most Successful Branding Campaign’s Ever 


• Brand Voice: Differentiating Through Your Own Brand Language and Attitude


• Humanizing Your Brand: Why It is Key to Commercial Success


• Brand Profiling: Top 6 Components to Creating a Strong Brand Personality


• Brand Differentiation: 30 Ways to Differentiate Your Brand



So what do you think?


• How do you think the #MyMcDsStories brand strategy could have be done differently?


• Why did Patagonia’s anti-consumerism brand strategy work so effectively and how could you apply similar parallels to your brand?


• What are some actionable brand strategies you can take to ensure your brand messaging and brand tone of voice appropriately reflects your brand?


• Can you recall some instances where offbeat humour worked well to engage its primary audience and consequently helped the brand increase its success?


• Which factors helped Dove, a brand arguably most well known for soap, be able to make such a broader impact on opinions about beauty?


Feel free to share your thoughts in the comments below, we’d love to hear from you.


[1] David Pierini, http://www.cultofmac.com/, “Photographers Thrilled with Exposure from ‘Shot on iPhone 6’ Ad Campaign”, June, 2015

[2] Will Burns, http://www.forbes.com/, “New iPhone 6 Advertising Campaign From Apple Puts The Focus On Our Creativity, Not Theirs”, June, 2015

[3] http://www.dove.us/Social-Mission/campaign-for-real-beauty.aspx, “The Dove Campaign for Real Beauty”

[4] Nina Bahadur, http://www.huffingtonpost.com/, “Dove 'Real Beauty' Campaign Turns 10: How A Brand Tried To Change The Conversation About Female Beauty”, January 2014

[5] Meagan Clark http://www.ibtimes.com/, “Anti-Black Friday Movements Gain Traction With Patagonia Clothing Swap”, November 2014

[6] http://wornwear.patagonia.com/, “The Stories We Wear”

[7] Jeffrey Martin, http://www.usatoday.com/,“After 25 years, 'Just Do It' Remains Iconic Tagline”, August 2013

[8] Bob Hutchens, http://www.business2community.com, “Just Do It” Turns 25: Nike & The Most Profitable Tagline Of All Time”, September 2013

[9] Gus Lubin, http://www.businessinsider.com, “McDonald's Twitter Campaign Goes Horribly Wrong #McDStories”, January 2012

[10] Hannah Roberts, http://www.dailymail.co.uk/, “#McFail! McDonalds' Twitter Promotion Backfires as Users Hijack #McDstories Hashtag to Share Fast Food Horror Stories”, January 2012

[11] Stephanie Soderborg, http://blog.sfgate.com/, “Levi’s Curve ID Campaign Falls Flat with Critics”, February 2012

 [12] Stuart Elliott, http://www.nytimes.com/, “Groupon Ad on Super Bowl Rated a Miss by Many Fans”, February 2011

[13]  Marshall Kirkpatrick, http://www.readwrite.com, “Why Groupon's Super Bowl Ad Was So Offensive”, February 2011

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Brand Recall: 8 Strategies for Building a More Profitable Brand

Posted by Lorraine Carter on October 05 2015 @ 13:50

82% of all high level corporate executives in the US stated that their customers had higher expectations of their companies than just three years before, 60% of executives found it difficult to please their customers, and 42% stated that consumers are using social media to shame their company into meeting increased customer demands, according to a Lithium survey.[1]


Obviously there is significant room for improvement in the marketplace amongst brand owners. Building a powerful brand is challenging, but consistently providing a great customer experience is central to any successful brand and consequently the quality of recognition, recall, referral, repeat purchase and overall brand affinity achieved amongst your primary target audience.


A positive brand exposure and customer experience is essential for developing brand trust and significantly improving brand recall, as a recent Macquarie University study has shown to be the case for durable goods. It is important to note that the study also revealed that advertising had significantly more influence on brand recall than merely personal experience for Fast Moving Consumer Goods (FMCG).


In order to improve brand recall in an oversaturated modern market, brand owners need to adopt highly effective and proven brand strategies. Here we share with you eight of the most important strategies, with several examples of both large brands and smaller emerging brands utilizing them to great effect.



Top 8 Brand Strategies for Enhancing Customer Recall and Affinity


1. Invest in Developing Your Brand Profile, Proposition & Purpose

The process of increasing brand recall begins with intelligent brand profile development. Your customers need to be given a reason to choose your brand over other similar options. When we work on creating a brand proposition for our clients using the Personality Profile Performer™ System, we ask them to answer a number of seemingly simple questions: 

  • What purpose does your brand serve? What’s its Big Why?
  • What unique benefits do you offer that can improve your customers’ lives?
  • How would you define the idea or proposition behind your brand in a single sentence?
  • What kind of personality, messaging and tone do you envision for your brand?

The results of this initial brand profiling process sets the foundations for all future branding decisions and communications strategies. Defining what your brand stands for may not seem complicated at first glance, but these essential questions that you need to answer play an instrumental role in determining your future success, or lack thereof.



2. Create a Strong Brand Story Which Your Primary Audience Can Relate to

The most successful brands have a deep understanding of how their primary audience thinks. They know how to entice their consumers through creative storytelling, and they do so using sophisticated story creations processes like our Story Selling System™. By telling a compelling and engaging story about the company’s history, its philosophy and core brand values, you can create a positive association between your brand and the ideals that your target audience holds dear.


To truly understand the power of a good narrative, one need only look at Apple’s success in establishing themselves as a brand for forward-thinking and discerning individuals, who aren’t afraid to go against the grain and value quality and performance above all else.






Over the years, Apple has done a magnificent job of keeping the “rebel genius” narrative alive, and has proven to be a highly effective branding strategy. The reason it works so well is that it appeals to people with a specific mindset that transcends gender, race, age and generational differences. The story of Steve Jobs – a talented young man with an idea who overcomes adversity and ultimately builds a corporate empire – is compelling enough that it saw a movie adaptation starring Ashton Kutcher.


There is yet another biographical film, aptly named “Steve Jobs”, scheduled to come out later this year. While not every brand has the budget or influence to finance multiple Hollywood movies, Apple’s masterful storytelling can serve as a source of inspiration and a valuable guide for any aspiring brand.   


A great brand story is your primary means of developing an emotional connection with your audience, and a fundamental way to inspire trust through its relatability. According to a 2012 Nielsen study[2] 58% of all online consumers worldwide trust the information on company websites and other owned media, and 50% trust the information they receive in emails that they have signed up for on company websites. There is always a compelling story behind a successful brand, but it must be carefully developed and told in the right way.  



3. Brand Audit, Research and Look for Gaps in Your Competition’s Brand Strategy

A brand audit health check can be viewed as a diagnostics tool, a way to evaluate your brand’s awareness, customer perceptions and the effectiveness of your current brand strategy. It can point out any problem areas, potential outside threats and new market opportunities. A thorough review of your business and marketing plans, your communications and brand collateral, your internal and external audiences helps provide your company with a clear perspective on the most effective brand strategy and business structure. 


To build a powerful brand, a company needs to be aware of and tracking what their main competitors and other industry leaders are doing. Another important piece of the puzzle is developing an understanding of your primary audience. Market research is key to acquiring deeper knowledge of the preferences, needs and behaviours of your target demographic together with developing buyer personas for each of your audience types. This knowledge will enable you to develop highly tailored brand strategies and exploit gaps in your competitors’ brand strategy.


For a good example of a smaller emerging brand exploiting a serious weakness of a much larger and well-established competitor, we can turn to Made Eyewear. Warby Parker had already become extremely popular, with many smaller companies attempting to copy their products, when Made Eyewear started gaining some traction in the market.



Made Eyewear 600px

Image via www.madeeyewear.com



However, the emerging brand had something that their competition didn’t – they owned and ran their own lens company in China. This enabled Made Eyewear to produce quality products at incredibly low prices, which in turn enabled them to offer unprecedented customization options through which each individual customer could express their own sense of style. Made Eyewear had the ability to engrave the stems, as well as mix and match different colour lenses and stems, to create a truly unique pair of glasses – and offer customers the ability to try out multiple frames with prescription lenses at prices that no competitor could match.






By controlling the entire process from how the moment the product was made to the moment it reached the customer, they were able to find a competitive edge over much bigger and well-established brands.



4. Invest in Great Brand Logo Design

Creating a great brand logo is about much more than merely designing a small image that will feature on your products, website and promotional material. When our clients come to us with a brand logo design request, they are usually looking for an expert to help them develop their brand identity. We find a lot of companies struggle with defining and articulating their brand’s proposition and purpose together with answering the questions outlined in the first item of this brand strategy tips list. A good logo serves the purpose of crystalizing your brand’s message and its core values, and allows you to communicate these to your audience with maximal efficiency.






Your logo should be appropriate to the market and your primary audience, and it needs to be unique and highly memorable. It is the first thing that will come to people’s minds when they think about your brand, so it plays an important role in recognition and brand recall.


By simply placing their brand logo in the upper corner of their YouTube ad, Libresse managed to improve their brand recall by an astonishing 300%.[3] Even the viewers who only watched the ad for a few seconds before clicking away were noticeably affected.





There are numerous aspects of effective logo design that should be considered – things like the choice of colour and shapes can have a profound effect on how the brand is perceived. You can delve deeper into colour psychology here and here to found out how colour psychology influences brand strategy.      



5. Humanize Your Brand and Engage Employees as Your Brand Ambassadors

Brands that make an emotional connection with their target audience achieve the greatest success. Despite the fact that many people believed that technology would eventually cause us to become isolated, social media statistics seem to show the complete opposite to be true – humans are social animals, and we have a strong desire to involve other like-minded people in our lives. Our brains are wired for face-to-face interactions, and consumers tend to trust word of mouth significantly more then other marketing strategies.[4]


Statista Social Network Facts

Image via www.statista.com



The level of trust that the general public feels for companies has dwindled over the past decade, but there is a way to reach out and earn some of that trust back – engaging your employees as brand ambassadors. As this Edelman global study has shown, consumers are highly receptive to brand promotion efforts coming from company employees.



Edleman Trust 2015 600px

Image via www.edelman.com



You can turn your employees into brand ambassadors gradually. Making social sharing an integral part of everyone’s workday is an effective way of nurturing brand advocates.[5] Apart from this, you can further humanize your brand by being highly receptive to consumer feedback, offering various perks to your loyal customers and providing exceptional customer service.  



6. Eliminate Factors that Jeopardize Your Brand Reputation

When building a brand it is also important to identify all the potential reputation risks that could undermine or destroy your hard earned reputation and nullify all your marketing efforts. We won’t cover all the details or get overly technical in this paragraph, as it is quite a vast topic, but we will provide some insight into the basics.


If we set aside things such as common security threats, e.g. corporate espionage and cyber-attacks, the number one reputation risk are social media blunders. Even the largest brands in the world, with impressive online marketing budgets, keep damaging their reputation with inappropriate comments, hashtag misuse, and attempts at exploiting tragedies.[6]  


A brand must have a preventive approach to reputation risk management, i.e. companies should strive to discover and eliminate potential risks, rather than try to deal with the fallout after the damage has been done. This can be done by focusing on a thorough exploration of all factors that can jeopardize your brand reputation by high level executives, regularly scanning the internet for potential risks and enforcing a strategy of proactive reputation risk management.



7. Reach Out to Your Target Audience Through Social Media and Build Connections

We have already mentioned that engaging your employees in social media sharing can help you create a powerful team of brand ambassadors that the public will trust, but social media can be utilized in an even more direct way – to connect to your target audience firsthand.


This approach has many advantages:

  • Consumers provide you with useful feedback
  • Loyal customers are given a behind-the-scenes look at your brand
  • You can organize giveaways and offer additional content
  • You can enhance your customer service
  • By encouraging social sharing, your loyal customers become your brand ambassadors


Social media can be used to help you tell your brand’s story in great depth, and you can make your consumers and products themselves a part of the narrative. The British luxury department store Harrods offers excellent customer service through open social media communication, and their efforts, such as their immensely successful “Twenty Ate Days” campaign that focused on promoting each of the 28 different restaurants within their store, have yielded impress results.[7]


There are a multitude of different social media platforms which your brand can leverage to build it’s own unique online strategies for improving brand recall – e.g. posting “How to” videos and reviews on YouTube, sparking conversations with consumers on Facebook and so forth. The skill lies in choosing the platform most suited to your product or service and your primary target audience. 



8. Be Consistent in Your Brand Strategy

Even though some companies revamp their brands every few years, household names like Nike have remained true to their core brand values, mission, promise, logo and slogan for a long time. They adapt their campaigns and brand strategy to suits evolving market trends but their fundamental brand DNA remains unchanged. They stay focused on the essentials – they market their shoes to athletes and pride themselves in a high level of sports performance.






Your branding must be consistent to be successful, i.e. grow from the same core brand philosophy, values, mission, promise and focus on a consistent brand voice and messaging, together with consistent quality brand collateral design across all your touchpoints, both on and offline.



You might also like:


• Rebranding Strategy: Why Your Rebrand Must Embrace Storytelling


• Brand Profiling: Top 6 Components to Creating a Strong Brand Personality


• Brand Sponsorships: The Best Brand Ambassadors Are Already On Your Payroll 


• Brand Management: Top 10 Tips for Managing Your Brand Reputation


• Brand Differentiation: 30 Ways to Differentiate Your Brand


• Brand Strategy: 6 Lessons Learned from Tourism Queensland, One of the Most Successful Branding Campaign’s Ever


• Brand Voice: Differentiating Through Your Own Brand Language and Attitude


• Humanizing Your Brand : Why It is Key to Commercial Success


• Brand Strategy: 7 Winning Components of a Market Leading Brand Plan



So, what do you think?

• Is your brand message clear, and in keeping with the preferences of your target audience?


• Does your brand have a compelling story that connects with people on an emotional level?


• Is your brand logo a worthy representation of your core brand values and your brand message?


• Are you making an effort to humanize your brand and reach out to customers on social media?


• Do you know what factors can negatively affect your brand reputation, and do you have a comprehensive brand risk management strategy in place?



[1] Lithium (San Francisco), “Corporate America Under Pressure From Consumers' Rising Expectations (Press Release)”, June 2015

[2] Nielsen (New York), “Global Consumers' Trust In 'Earned' Advertising Grows In Importance”, April 2012

[3] Think with Google, “Libresse improves brand recall by 300% with logo placement”

[4] Kimberly A. Whitler, Forbes, “Why Word Of Mouth Marketing Is The Most Important Social Media”, July 2014

[5] Sandy Gibson, SocialMediaToday, “Cognitive Dissonance: Why Social Sharing Creates Employee Advocates”, February 2013

[6] Eric Samson, Entrepreneur.com, “10 of the Dumbest Social Media Blunders Ever”, June 2015

[7] Businesscasestudies.co.uk, “Increasing Brand Awareness Through Social Media Communications (a Harrods case study)”

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Rugby World Cup Branding: 5 Ideas You Can Learn From Big Brand Marketers

Posted by Lorraine Carter on September 28 2015 @ 07:55

At the early Olympics, every four years triumphant athletes were lauded by having sponsorships called out (family name and native town), odes written and likenesses commissioned. These ancient versions of mass media frenzy were designed to create buzz and sing the virtues of the victorious. Today, major sporting events continue to represent big opportunities for ambassadorships and sponsors, since everyone loves a winning athlete.


As the world’s third-biggest sporting event, attracting an audience of 4.5 billion, brands of all sizes have jumped on board. Three thousand years later, what can we learn from the contemporary interpretation of getting one’s brand behind huge sporting events such as the Rugby World Cup?



Note that brand strategy in 2015 requires the “softly, softly”, more authentic and transparent approach for even the most hard-core rubgy fans. Here’s what we mean by that:


1. Humanizing Your Brand (case study Duracell)

2. Developing Influencers (case study Heineken) 

3. Adding Values (case study EY)

4. Thinking Locally (case study Land Rover)

5. Using How-To (case study Canon)



Humanizing Your Brand: Duracell’s Powerplay

First and foremost, you want a battery that lasts; not much else about a battery is terribly important. But, how do you know when the battery is about to die? Unlike smartphones, there’s no indicator screen -- unless you’re using PowerCheck technology, uniquely found on Duracell batteries since 1996.


Duracell re-positioned #PowerCheck within the rugby event framework, capitalizing on an ideal opportunity for Duracell to emphasize both power and strength. A two-pronged approach, to put a face (and physique) to the brand, enlisted Wales and British Lions captain Sam Warburton as the muscle-bound ambassador for a digital, in-store and PR campaign featuring footage from previous Rugby World Cups.






On the 2015 World Cup rugby pitch, #PowerCheck technology is used to help to track players’ performance indicators, combining rucks, tackles, carries and turnovers won during each game, rewarding those who “stay stronger for longer.”



 Duracell Sam Warburton Rugby World Cup 2015

Image via www.marketingweek.com and www.duracell.com



Alex Haslam, senior assistant brand manager for Duracell UK & Ireland, told Marketing Week the sponsorship will continue in future years and become part of the brand’s long-term brand strategy. Haslam said, “We know we’re not going to own rugby as a brand, but we’ve created something totally ownable. No other brand is talking about power and longevity.”






Actionable Branding Tip 1

How can I humanize my brand? The Duracell brand strategy can help smaller brands because it’s totally scaleable. Community events, county championships, school fairs, local youth sport clubs, charity fun runs and tournaments all present opportunities for associating your brand with local heroes and teams. Sponsor T-shirts, donate the local juniors’ kits, donate printing services, provide snacks and beverages for break time. We can help you find a great fit for your brand message in connection to a well-respected event, just like Duracell did.



Developing Brand Influencers: Heineken’s Heads or Tails

Former England captain Will Carling is a rugby VIP. Heineken is a big beer brand. People watch the rugby while drinking beer. Everyone gets that...but, there’s more to a tie-up than hiring someone like Carling to hold up the famous green beer bottle with the red star for the camera.


Heineken thought out some ways to get armchair fans involved with star rugby brand ambassadors to enhance the spectator experience, even to the extent of getting 48 fans onto the actual field to open matches, creating untold positive reinforcement for Heineken.


The campaign, “It’s Your Call” was created. Consumers find a unique code on the inside of special Heineken promotional packs or on a coin card given out in pubs when buying a Heineken during the promotion. Up for grabs are thousands of official Rugby World Cup 2015 merchandise prizes and the chance to flip the coin at Rugby World Cup 2015 matches.






To further emphasize “experiences, not just sponsorship,” Will Carling includes coin toss winners in video interviews with top rugby stars, while consumers are invited to live tweet at the rugby legends.   


David Lette, premium brands director for Heineken UK, told Marketing Week, “The key thing for us is how we drive the association in a unique and experiential way for consumers.”



 Heineken Rugby World Cup 2015 600px

Image via www.marketingweek.com and www.heineken.com




Actionable Branding Tip 2

Can a smaller brand develop influencers? Absolutely. Heineken created evangelists-for-life by rewarding ordinary consumers and small brands can, too. Influencers don’t need to be famous. Your brand’s evangelists are your satisfied customers, and they’re happy to enter competitions, provide testimonials, attend events, sample new products, appear in videos. Just begin the conversation with them and press “record.” We’ll show you how to create effective videos within budget.




Adding Values: EY (Ernst & Young) Connects the Dots

Appointed as the official business advisor for the tournament, professional services firm EY (Ernst & Young LLP) targeted a B2B opportunity outside the consumer sphere.



 Ey Teambuilding And Leadership Rugby Worldcup 2015 600px

Image via www.ey.com



Homing in on good sportsmanship values like leadership, motivation, performance and teamwork, EY connects the dots to resonate with their client base. Via exclusive seminars and publishing interviews with highly regarded rugby personalities, EY stays relevant while shining a light on their brand’s appointment.






Comments from proven winners in the world of rugby come from Katy Mclean, England women’s captain; Sir Graham Henry, former coach of New Zealand’s All Blacks; and Sir Ian McGeechan, former Scotland and British Lions player and coach, on topics such as “Lessons in Leadership: Rugby to the Boardroom.” It’s a perfect fit for B2B.



 Ey Sir Ian Mc Geechan Rugby World Cup 2015 Leadership

Image via www.ey.com



Tom Kingsley, sport and sponsorship director at EY, illustrates the tie-in, “On a daily basis we are asked by our clients about how to compete on a global stage...

Rugby World Cup affords us the opportunity to explore some of those issues because it is the coming together of 20 elite rugby teams all with one aim -- to win on the global stage.”



Actionable Branding Tip 3

We’re a B2B brand, but small: Smaller business can mirror EY’s content marketing strategy by creating white papers, blog posts, newsletters, webinars, videos and other B2B marketing initiatives that deliver meaningful information and added value to clients and prospects. When there’s a trending event, connect to it through content. We’ll show you how hashtags are your workhorse and a strongly developed brand content strategy can help you punch well above your weight. 




Think Locally: Land Rover Drives the Message Home

Fact: every sports hero and Olympian began as an amateur. Land Rover plucked “from the grassroots to the greatest stage” as the theme for their local-to-global storytelling campaign using the hashtag #WeDealInReal. The brand recruited 96 enthusiastic mascots aged 7-13 from 11 amateur rugby clubs around the world, representing each competing country to run out with their nation’s team.



 Land Rover Smallest Rugby Team In The World

Image via www.landrover.com



People are drawn to inspirational stories. Among the videos created to support the campaign, the biggest hit is titled, “Land Rover Rugby Ambassadors visit the World's Smallest Rugby Club.”






“It speaks to the heart of the game and I think it also speaks strongly to the brand about being authentic and genuine,” Laura Schwab, UK marketing director at parent company Jaguar Land Rover, told Marketing Week.






Actionable Branding Tip 4

Great idea, but we’re not a global brand. Small brands are perfectly positioned to drive Land Rover’s concept forward. As a mascot for the Welsh Rugby Union, pint-sized 8-year-old Finlay Walker at Llanharan RFC and a Hampshire local rugby club were not too tiny to garner attention from Jaguar Land Rover. Every brand can -- and must -- tell their own authentic brand stories one person at a time. We can help you identify and create the best story opportunities using our Story Selling System™.




Using How To: Canon Says You Can


Idea #1: Spot yourself in the stands? Official sponsor of the tournament, Canon is producing a series of 360-degree images capturing the entire stadium during major matches. In a clever interactive twist, fans are encouraged to tag themselves in the crowd via social media.



 Canono Fan Tag Rugby World Cup 2015

Image via www.rugbyworldcup.com



Idea #2: Exclusivity rocks. Canon offers amateur photographers who post the best rugby shots to shadow a Getty Images photographer at a RWC 2015 training session. The shots get featured on the official RWC website photo gallery. Who knows what special moments might be captured?



Rugby World Cup Fan Pics 600px 

Image via www.rugbyworldcup.com



Idea #3: How-to tips. Self-proclaimed “massive fan” Bear Grylls, intrepid adventurer, is joined by professional rugby photographer Dave Rogers to demonstrate angles, shutter speeds and more tips for capturing great shots like Rogers’ famous Jonny Wilkinson drop kick in Sydney from 2003.






Cyprian da Costa, brand communications director for Canon Europe, said that images play “a vital role in capturing the unmatched excitement and emotion of global sports.”



Canon Rugby World Cup 2015 600px 

Image via www.rugbyworldcup.com




Actionable Branding Tip 5

How can Canon ideas help my brand? By turning your brand marketing approach on its head. Years ago, a big brand idea around a huge event would have focused on “Canon can...” rather than “You can...” Take a second look at all your brand’s content and brand collateral, adverts, tag lines and social media to re-position everything with an emphasis on your brand seen through the eyes of your audience, not your executive boardroom. We’re here to help.



We’d love to know what you think about how to scale these five big brand approaches to fit a smaller brand size.


• Have you successfully humanized your brand? Do you need to re-evaluate this as part of your rebranding strategy?


• Are you using event tie-ins in your brand content marketing strategy?


• Would you like to know more about hacking trends?


• Have you shot and posted a library of how-to videos?


• Are you telling compelling stories about your brand? This is where you might want to consider brand profiling using a system like our Personality Profile Performer™ combined with our Story Selling System™ to help you develop a really compelling and distinctively different brand.


• Is CSR part of your brand strategy? Does your brand support a school, community program or charity drive?



You might also like:


• Rebranding Strategy: Why Your Rebrand Must Embrace Storytelling


• Brand Personality: Is Your Brand’s Character Big Enough to Compete?  


• Brand Sponsorships: The Best Brand Ambassadors Are Already On Your Payroll 


• Brand Voice: Differentiating Through Your Own Brand Language and Attitude


Video Brand Strategy: Top 11 Tips for How and Why You Need to Use Video


• Humanizing Your Brand : Why It is Key to Commercial Success


• Brand Profiling: Top 6 Components to Creating a Strong Brand Personality


• CEO Brand Leadership: How Does Your Leadership Impact Your Brand?



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Millennial Branding: 6 Ways Your Brand Can Appeal to Millennial Customers

Posted by Lorraine Carter on September 22 2015 @ 09:22

Millennials, the newest generation of influential consumers (also known as Generation Y or Gen Y), spend more than $600 billion dollars annually with spending power expected to reach $1.4 trillion by 2020, (or 30% of US sales) according to Accenture 2013 research.


While these statistics might sound like ‘gold bullion’ for many brands, in our experience often smaller companies and organisations struggle to develop their brand strategy in a way that relates relevantly to this fast changing group of buyers.


Millennial consumers are a very fluid constantly moving target with multiple devices overflowing with content clamouring for their attention 24/7. However don’t be too daunted, once you really understand this discerning customer properly and tailor your brand to really meet their needs, you can, like many others tap into this incredibly lucrative market.




Defining the Millennial Customer


A Millennial is generally defined as someone who was born between the years of 1980 and 2000, according to multiple online sources, including an article, “Oh, to Be Young, Millennial, and So Wanted by Marketers,” by Hilary Stout for The New York Times.


Millennials, on average, have around seven electronic devices that have the ability to access social networking, the internet and even television. While there are exceptions to this statistic, as there are in any demographic, 55 percent of these Millennials are using their devices to connect to videos several times a day, where a large majority of brand engagement takes place. Six out of ten Millennials feel losing their car would have a less negative impact on their lives than losing their phone or computer.





Due to the fact that almost half (45 percent) of Millennials admit that brands are a key part to their lives, recognized brand names are very important to this specific consumer when deciding to purchase something. They are a multi-device connected group and consequently research their brands thoroughly on multiple fronts before deciding to make a purchase. Their decision-making processes are influenced by some very sophisticated criteria coupled with social proof from the opinions of their peers online.


Goldman Sachs clearly explains what a Millennial consumer is and how this demographic can potentially change the economy, in a video published on YouTube in May of 2015: “Macroeconomic Insights—Millennials: Changing Consumer Behaviour.”






6 Key Brand Attributes Important to the Millennial Customer


1. High Quality Products and Services

The number one, most important characteristic that a Millennial looks for in a product is quality. If a product or service does not seem worth the time or the money to the Millennial, they’re unlikely to invest in it. This consumer will buy high quality premium brands but only once they’ve thoroughly validated its credentials.



2. The Power of Recommendation

Word-of-mouth is still one of the most powerful marketing tools on or offline. If a Millennial is happy with a product or service they’ve used, and the brand has consistently delivered a great customer experience, they’ll share this positively on a global scale. Fifty three percent interact with brands online they care about and tell others.


Conversely if a brand has let them down or failed to meet its brand promise they’ll also articulate their discontent verbosely. Thanks to social platforms, such as Twitter, Facebook and Instagram, Millennials are constantly sharing their latest purchase with hundreds, and sometimes thousands, of followers. This is especially the case if a Millennial owns something that is trending. These posts do not go to waste, either.


Dan Schawbel in his Forbes article states: “33 percent of millennials rely mostly on blogs before they make a purchase… [they] look to social media for an authentic look at what’s going on… especially content written by their peers whom they trust.”



3. Personalization, Partnerships and Co-Creators

Millennial consumers are vocal and speak their minds freely about products or services online. If brand owners monitor and track this online traffic it can provide them with invaluable insights and data enabling them to quickly address any issues and use the information garnered to inform new product development solutions specifically tailored to meet the needs of this very influential group.


Individuality matters to Millennials and they like to express themselves through personal style clothing. In fact 40% have gone beyond clothing to express their individuality with tattoos.


Brands offering customization and bespoke individualization are ahead of the game already. This will become an increasingly important trend for this audience, as evidenced by the success of Chipotle.


Millennials want to be treated like partners, not just purchasers, that’s why brands like Pinterest and Etsy have been so successful. 60% believe organizations should offer more ways for customers to share opinions and 40% want to co-create with brands. This provides brands, products of services, with incredible opportunities to engage this willing group and tap into them for their creativity.



4. Social Responsibility

Even with high quality products, great customer experience, good ratings and convenience, brands still need to offer more to their Millennial buyer. For this particular type of consumer, it is very important that they feel like they are making a difference and they will actively purchase brands which are seen to be ‘giving back to the community’ for the greater good in some way.


Six out of ten millennials feel personally responsible for making a difference, and because of this, an incredible 90 percent of these consumers actively purchase brands associated with a cause. More than half of the Millennial consumers will abandon a brand if they disagree with the company’s ethics.


By having the full-history of any brand available at their fingertips, Millennials collectively care about how even the smallest of their purchases can affect those across the globe. They are frustrated with statutory entities and Government and want to solve social problems through entrepreneurial solutions.



5. Life is an Adventure

Many Millennials feel that it is important to experience new things on a regular basis, as 70 percent want to travel to all seven continents, 75 percent enjoy food from cultures that are not their own and Millennials are two and a half times more likely to adapt to new technologies than older generations.


Often, this wanderlust spirit inspires Millennials to look for excitement in their everyday lives, which is why 60 percent of this generation considers themselves entrepreneurs and optimistic, creative thinkers.


This attitude is what pushes Millennials to have the desire to be not only a patron, but also a part of the brand that they are supporting. Affinity groups form within the Millennial culture, as it is a large, broad generation. Those with similar interests, tastes, achievements and circumstances often come together in order to work towards a common goal, which is what the Millennial consumer likes to see in their brand, as well.



6. Making an Important Statement

In this reenergized push for equality, inclusivity and diversity, Millennials appreciate a brand that is not afraid to make a statement against discrimination. Millennials will actively support brands that authentically make equality, inclusivity and diversity part of their brand culture.


This video, “Millennials On: What Cause Would You Dedicate Your Life To?” produced by 20 to 30 demonstrates the wide spectrum of causes that the millennial generation cares about, which coincides with social responsibility, sharing similar interests and making an important statement.






Brands Who Have Done It Right


There are many examples of brands, small and large, that have successfully made all these key Millennial attributes core to their brand culture. Starbucks is a great case in point. In this video, “Starbucks CEO Howard Schultz on Social Responsbility,” genConnect lets Schultz explain how Starbucks remains socially responsible through success.





Apple is brand that has earned the loyalty of their Millennial consumers not only for their great product quality but also for their support of (PRODUCT)RED, which supports the fight against AIDS, Tuberculosis and Malaria and their corporate sociality responsibility programmes relating to the environment, education, accessibility and inclusion and diversity.


Other large corporations famous for their corporate social responsibility and high quality products include: TOMS, Coca Cola and Ford, all of which we’ve mentioned in previous articles.





A brand does not need to be a global Goliath either to be an attractive and successful brand targeting Millennials. Take the Lokai brand, for example. They sell one bracelet that contains water from Mt. Everest and soil from the Dead Sea to represent the extreme highs and lows in life, to remind the wearer to live a balanced life.


Millennials love the brand story, sentiment and authenticity of the bracelet as evidenced by the almost one million followers it has on Instagram alone. The brand’s website also demonstrates its CSR credentials too in that they donate ten percent of net profits to their charity partners, thus encouraging Millennial consumers to purchase their brand on multiple levels.



 Lokai Bracelet

Image via www.mylokai.com




Millennials Advocate for Their Favourite Brands


When a Millennial consumer loves a brand, their loyalty is clearly evident. They are great brand champions actively engaged on their multiple social platforms.


If you get a Millennial customer onside, consistently meet and exceed their needs, deliver on your promise with a great brand experience they will become some of your best sales ambassadors.


A good example of this is when both the Sony PlayStation 4 and Microsoft’s Xbox One were released at the same time. Millennial consumers who are also “gamers” had already decided, long before the release of the consoles, which one they would be purchasing because they were loyal to either Sony or Microsoft’s brand.


Debates broke out across the internet over the PS4 versus the Xbox One because the consumers were so loyal to their respective brands. The day the consoles were released, each company sold an outstanding number of units, thus causing Millennial gamers to flood social media with photos and posts about their latest purchase, proud to be a part of a group of people with similar interests.



Brand Loyalty with Millennials


I think once you’ve reflected on some of these key brand attributes mentioned you’ll agree Millennial consumers have such a formidable, and largely growing buying power, that it’s critical to integrate all the elements mentioned, amongst others, if your brand wants to harness the dollars/euros/pounds of this lucrative audience. Take the time to really research and understand your Millennial customers both in terms of their needs, challenges, loves, hates and aspirations.




3 Actionable Tips for Your Millennial Brand Strategy


Consider using some of these tips to integrate into your Millennial brand strategy:


1. Develop really strong buyer personas for each of your different Millennial customer types and their relevant affinity groups. You need to know your audience intimately if you want to tailor your brand for success.The outputs from this work will then provide the much-needed direction for developing your brand profile, using a system like the Personality Profile Performer™. Collectively the outputs from both of these will then provide the direction for the development of your brand strategy, brand collateral design briefs, integrated marketing strategy and so forth.

2. Tailor regular communications with your Millennial customers using the platforms most preferred by them for your brand. For example they like regular email provided it includes really high quality, useful information, which is individualized to their specific needs. Remember even if they don’t immediately buy from you their opinion counts amongst their peers, family and friends.


3. Develop opportunities for collaborative input from your Millennial customers. They want to be involved and a brand strategy developed to include their co-creator spirit provides brands with incredible opportunities to develop unique solutions, be they products or services, which their audience really wants. You might never find out or come up with these NPD ideas unless you include their early input. Make sure you test your prototypes, product or service, with Millennials too.


You might also like:


• Rebranding Strategy: Why Your Rebrand Must Embrace Storytelling


• Millennial Branding: Creating Brands to Appeal to Teens and Young Adults   


• Humanizing Your Brand : Why It is Key to Commercial Success


• Brand Profiling: Top 6 Components to Creating a Strong Brand Personality


• Brand Voice: Differentiating Through Your Own Brand Language and Attitude


• Creating New Brands: Top 10 Tips for Brand Success  


• Brand Audit: Tips for Determining Your Brand’s Health – Can it be Improved?


• Rebranding: How to Make it Through a Rebrand and Emerge Stronger


• Brand Audit: When the USA Took the Branding Bull by the Horns


• Brand Naming: Top Ten Methods for Brand Name Creation   


• Brand Differentiation: 30 Ways to Differentiate Your Brand 


• CEO Brand Leadership: How Does Your Leadership Impact Your Brand?



So what do you think?


• Does your brand personality and profile appeal to what is most important to the Millennial consumer?


• What aspects of your brand strategy can you improve on to attract more loyal Millennial customers?

• Having read these facts about Millennials, does your brand need a complete revitalization or rebranding strategy to ensure its long term success?


• Can you re-evaluate your brand using a brand audit and consider how best to contribute to the causes that are most important to the Millennial customers?


Feel free to share your thoughts in the comments, we'd love to hear from you. 

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Video Brand Strategy: Top 11 Tips for How and Why You Need to Use Video

Posted by Lorraine Carter on September 16 2015 @ 17:30


The Romans said, “Veni, vidi, vici,” meaning "to come", "to see", and "to conquer". Two millenia later we say, “Video, video, video” in conquering digital marketing frontiers. Your brand’s one, three and five year brand strategy plans should reflect the fact that video content is an increasingly a powerful, indeed essential tool for both small and larger businesses.



You Tube 360 600px

Image via Google / YouTube



Orabrush is a great example of how a small start up brand can capitalize on video to achieve outstanding results. They’ve built a small brand from humble beginnings to worldwide distribution using YouTube videos exclusively. In fact they’ve had more online viewers then P&G Crest and every other brand in the oral healthcare sector combined!





If that’s peaked your curiosity then you might want to checkout some more of our key insider tips and brand strategies below for promoting and growing your brand using video.




Top 11 Video Tips: How to Use Video to Promote Your Brand


1. Video is Increasingly Essential for Search Rankings


Remember, Google owns YouTube, so YouTube videos rank high in Google search results and help your brand’s authority for better positioning in internet searches. Smaller brands and newer websites can rank higher on YouTube than on Google, which is no small thing, since YouTube is the world’s second biggest search engine, above Bing and Yahoo.


At the same time, YouTube is the world’s third largest social network, behind Facebook and Twitter. Bottom line, YouTube is an awesome boost for your brand’s profile on the web and an essential part of your brand strategy.[1]


The icing on the cake? Seven in 10 people said they view brands in a more positive light after seeing interesting video content.[2]



2. Long Live Video!


Among the knock-your-socks-off statistics in circulation, research from Salesforce[3] indicates that:


  • The average consumer spends 88% more time on content with video


  • People are five times more likely to click on content that contains video


  • Video is shared 1200% more times than links and text combined


  •  A landing page with video gets 800% more conversion than the same page without video


  • Video will be 74% of all consumer internet traffic by 2017, up from 59% in 2012


  • The average lifespan of a video is four years


  • More than 50% of smartphone video viewers use video to help them make product decisions[4]



 How To Incorporate Video 600px 

 Image via www.salesforce.com



3. Social Media Platforms Support Video


Done right, video can be accessible, fun, fast, distinctive, different, memorable... and affordable... as a way to reach new and existing customers. In short, the research indicates that video drives engagement, and we already know that engagement drives sales.


A proliferation of startup platforms dedicated to video have sprung up: Snapchat, Vimeo, Vine, Meerkat and Periscope. Older platforms once devoted to photos have now enhanced with video capability; Instagram and Pinterest make it easy to post and share, allowing smartphone users to record video, upload it or stream it live. Other established platforms such as Facebook, Twitter and LinkedIn have introduced video content to their publishing capabilities.


The video leader is indisputedly YouTube. As of 2014, 900-plus YouTube channels had at least a million subscribers each. While the video sharing giant has already turned 10, there’s no question it will be a sensation in its second decade.



4. Yes, Video is ‘Affordable’


The key ingredient of great video content is authenticity, not expensive production techniques. When business owners and their enthusiastic customers speak directly to audiences, the personal authentic connection a brand makes outranks flashy filming, casting and costly voiceovers.[5]



5. Best Practices for Small Budgets


We collected 5 top video tips from a few experts:


  • Timing is critical and 60-120 seconds is ideal. – Filmmaker Peter Bragiel, In Transit, Los Angeles


  • Create a bank of photos and videos -- they don’t evaporate as quickly as some content does. - Andrew Smith, Chief Funster for Tourism Australia


  • Don’t be intimidated by the process; you don’t have to be an expert. - Susan Wilson Solovic, best-selling author of “It’s Your Biz”.


  • For inspiration, look at your top 10 Google searches and answer those questions with your video.  – Shaun Aukland, Google, San Francisco


  • Too much to cover? Break it up into several bitesize videos. - “It’s So Miami” by the Greater Miami Convention & Visitors Bureau



6. “How To” Videos are the Most Popular


Perhaps you recall the old jokes about pitches and promises made by used car salesmen. Now, the rules of the game have changed and hard selling is a car crash waiting to happen. Today’s best practice in content marketing is to bring your brand to life, be authentic, tell a story and share inside tips. Avoid a sales pitch. Explain how to do something.


Searches for ‘How to’ videos went up 70 percent in the first quarter of 2015, according to Google.[6] They’re the best way to share useful information with viewers, which they will be more likely to share with others. Imagine if the used car salesman were to create a video explaining the best way to wash a car or to maintain interior leather seating...that’s the kind of video that will attract views, interest followers, build your reputation and increase customers.



Case Study: How To Tie a Bowtie


When Columbia, South Carolina wanted to promote to holidaymakers, they targeted the destination wedding market. Instead of featuring brides and grooms in wedding venues, the visitors bureau created a how-to video on bow tie instructions that has attracted more than 3.1 million views on YouTube. As the number one instructional video on the subject, they have produced an evergreen video with an astronomical return on investment, and never ending shelf life. 





7. Aim for Shareable Videos


You want people to share your video for the widest possible reach, so knowing what to put in and leave out is important.


What are the top three factors that make a video shareable?

Creative directors say:


1) The Unexpected - Show the audience something they didn't fully plan to see. ‘Surprise and delight’ isn’t new, but it is golden. 


2) The Cool Factor - What does sharing this video say about the person who shares it? Does it make them feel like an insider, does it make them come off as a boring professor or does it show them off as the life of the party?


3) The Emotional Quotient - Pulling at the heart strings works, but funny is far more shareable.


   I Want To Do Moments 600px

Image via Google / YouTube, Think with Google



Case Study: Volkswagen Passat Old Wives’ Tales


When Vokswagen wanted to overcome objections to diesel vehicles, they came up with this brilliant campaign of six falsehoods shot down by three octagenarians. Here’s one:






8. Bring Testimonials to Life


Those written testimonials on your website are great. Turn them into a video by inviting customers to upload videos of themselves using your product or services. Alternatively, interview people at your place of business. There are lots of directions you can take this idea for brand evangelists-in-the-making, which has the built-in benefit of shareability by all those you feature.



9. Take Viewers Behind the Scenes


Film ‘A Day in the Life’ or introduce staff members or take a sneak peek into your  warehouse. If you serve coffee, have the barista demonstrate making a cup. If you operate a nursery, make a video about propagation or seasonal window boxes. If you sell furniture, explain how to spot quality construction. Add the personal touch and help potential customers decide they’d love to do business with people like yourselves.




Case Study: It’s So Miami - South Beach


When the Greater Miami Convention & Visitors Bureau wanted to show off their city, they decided on locals for a look around. You won’t find a hotel lobby featured in this series covering real people in real neighborhoods. Take a moment to watch and listen to Morgan to experience what a day in the life of a South Beach local feels like. A caution to viewing audiences: it will make you jealous.






10. Position Yourself as an Expert


Use video to provide commentary on news or information about your industry to build your reputation as a thought leader in the space. Are you an estate agency? Talk about tips for selling a home. Are you a grocer or a restaurant? Demonstrate some great-tasting, nutritional recipes. Are you a fashion boutique? Illustrate the hottest trends for next season or how to update looks in your current wardrobe. 



 Your Brand Is The Star Google

Image via Google / YouTube




11. Incorporate Music


Audio is 50 percent of your presentation, so use music to convey the mood you want your audience to feel so you sound as good as you look. We’ll help you with obtaining royalty-free music clips ready for use by small businesses. There’s no need to spend a bundle.



Case Study: Volvo Trucks Epic Split Feat by Jean-Claude Van Damme


As much as we admire this video, and with the deepest respect for both the feat and the 80 million views since 2013, this is precisely what your small to medium-sized company does NOT have to achieve. Watch it and marvel.






“Within five years, YouTube will be the biggest media platform of any, by far, in the entire world.” - Jeffrey Katzenberg, CEO of DreamWorks Animation at VidCon in December 2014.[7]


You might also like:


• Rebranding Strategy: Why Your Rebrand Must Embrace Storytelling


• Brand Strategy: 6 Lessons Learned from Tourism Queensland, One of the Most Successful Branding Campaign’s Ever


• Brand Voice: Differentiating Through Your Own Brand Language and Attitude


• Millennial Branding: Creating Brands to Appeal to Teens and Young Adults   


• Humanizing Your Brand : Why It is Key to Commercial Success


• Brand Profiling: Top 6 Components to Creating a Strong Brand Personality


• Brand Differentiation: 30 Ways to Differentiate Your Brand


• Destination Branding: The Key Essentials for Success


• Brand Strategy: 7 Winning Components of a Market Leading Brand Plan



We’re here to help you with your video branding strategy and content creation.


• Is video a part of your short-term and long-term content brand strategy?
• Have you already created a YouTube channel for your brand?
• If so, does it need additional content and better attention for search engine optimization?
• Does your website have a video on the landing page, or one that needs a refresh?
• Would your staff love to get involved in a brand video and become one of your brand champions?
• Would you like us to show you how to create affordable video?


Feel free to share your thoughts in the comments, we'd love to hear from you. 


[1] Juan Jose Mendez, “How to Make Your Video Rank Number One on YouTube (Case Study)” on JeffBullas.com

[2] Axonn Media (London), “Video in Content Marketing”,

[3] Salesforce, “7 Ways to Incorporate Video Into Your Marketing Campaign”, June 2015

[4] Google/IPSOS MediaCT, “Brand Building on Mobile” study February, 2015

[5] Chris Trimble, Axonn Media, The Guardian, July 30, 2015

[6] “I Want-To-Do Moments: From Home to Beauty”, Think With Google, May 2015

[7] The New Yorker, “Hollywood and Vine”, Dec. 15, 2014 



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Brand Sponsorships: The Best Brand Ambassadors Are Already On Your Payroll

Posted by Lorraine Carter on September 08 2015 @ 09:40

What is a Brand Ambassador?


Not everybody can be called the greatest tennis player of all time. However, with 17 Grand Slam trophies in a professional career beginning in the last century, Roger Federer has the most impressive endorsement portfolio in sports.



 Moet Roger Federer Web Site

Image via www.moet.com



His grace under pressure and winning smile positions him well for a brand ambassador role adding exponentially to his USD 93 million in prize money for hitting the ball. Luxury names like Moët & Chandon, Nike, Rolex, Wilson, Credit Suisse and others align their brands to Roger Federer’s brand for a win-win providing USD 40 million annually to the tennis star.






Brand Champions in the Workplace


The beauty of this strategy is its scaleability for small and medium-sized businesses. You don’t need a big budget to gain endorsements. As evidence, look around in any downtown -- people are wearing T-shirts, caps and carrying totes emblazoned with corporate brands and college names.


   Stanford Apparel

 Image via Stanford University Catalogue



The best and proudest brand ambassadors don’t cost millions; they’re on your staff. Frankly, no one is more invested in seeing the company successful and the brand well-liked than the people who work in its name.



Managing Brand Risk


The flip side, of course, is managing risk. Businesses of all sizes know that the impact of social media on a brand’s reputation is an everyday reality. As employees are sharing more and more online, the divide between our personal and working lives becomes ever more narrow. That’s all the more reason to nurture and protect your brand from the inside out.


You can probably name a handful of ways that you already strive to ensure that your employees are fully engaged as champions of your brand. It’s not too difficult to think of new ways all the time...in fact, your employees can probably make great suggestions, too.



Sharing is the Key – 5 Tops Tips to Developing Your Brand Ambassadors


Here are five no-cost and low-cost ideas borrowed from big brands for developing your employees as brand ambassadors. We think they go a long way for small- and medium-sized businesses. Training and sharing is integral to every brand strategy for developing and supporting your employees as the stellar brand ambassadors they should be -- and would like to be.


1. Sharing Your Brand Story


Follow the example of Nokia in ensuring that new employees are onboarded with a welcome to the company that presents its proud history. Every brand has an inside story, even if it’s a newly founded enterprise and staff want to know about that history, rather than find it out at a trivia quiz night.


Nokia employees can answers questions like these:

Q: What is the first thing that Nokia manufactured?   A: Rubber boots.

Q: When did Nokia sell their billionth mobile phone?  A: In 2005 in Kenya.



 Nokia Staff Tweet

Image via www.twitter.com



We realize that no customer will ask a Nokia employee for these random historical facts. Yet, they’re representative of the mindset at Nokia. Management educates employees about customer service policies, provides notifications about product rollouts and then shares the logon to Nokia’s customer-facing Twitter accounts as part of the company brand culture.



2. Management Shares Internal Communications


Engaged employees build strong brands. An employer who does a good job of keeping employees informed is one which deepens employee activism in a positive way, say 81 percent of employees surveyed by a leading global public relations agency, Weber Shandwick.[1]


   Employees Brand Activism Infographic

Image via www.webershandwick.com




Employee brand activists defend their employers against criticism, they visibly engage, they lean in both online and off. This is nothing new; it’s human nature. In a 2006 whitepaper produced  for the Society for Human Resource Management, Robert J. Vance, Ph.D., states, “The greater an employee’s engagement, the more likely he or she is to ‘go the extra mile’ and deliver excellent on-the-job performance.”[2]



3. Employees Share External Communications


Ivory towers are so yesterday. The Weber Shandwick survey indicates that 21 percent of employees in companies of 500+ employees are brand activists. We can imagine how much higher that percentage may be in smaller companies. And importantly, customers like it that way.






As Eric Nystrom, director of social media and community at Dell points out, “customers are really interested in connecting with empowered employees who are the subject matter experts, not brand spokespeople or brand marketeers.” 


   Dell Social Media Cert

Image via www.dell.com




Even big brands with thousands of employees like Dell and Adobe are providing employees with a voluntary certification program to recognize them as qualified to engage in social media and community activites on behalf of the brand. The Dell Social Media and Community University creates brand ambassadors out of staff through value-added training courses leading to enhanced confidence and a consistent voice for the brand. What happened at Dell?[3]


• More than 16,500 Dell employees enrolled in 28 unique courses

• Since 2010, 8,800 employees in 55 countries have become certified

• Online negative comments about the brand dropped 30 percent

• Every day, 25,000 conversations about Dell take place



4. Sharing Between Personal and Corporate


Buy into the principle of personal plus corporate, not personal versus corporate. Your employees may wear a uniform like those working at the Apple Genius Bar and at Ritz-Carlton Hotels -- but the individual must not be stripped of their own personality. “Think consistency, not conformity,” suggests a Forbes contributor to the leadership series.[4] 


When it comes to making exceptions for outstanding employees, make them. And share that decision.


When Rocky Mountaineer head office found out that 19-year veteran train manager Janice Bondi was about to depart on a cross-Canada rail journey which meant missing a Mother’s Day tea at school with her 4-year-old, this is what they did about it.






5. Share the Two-Way Street


It’s great when you have incorporated these tips into your company brand culture. Remember, it’a a two-way street. What do your employees think? You’ll want to gather their suggestions -- keeping in mind that a company-wide meeting in a formal setting isn’t necessarily the best way to do that. Consider a suggestion box, develop other channels, create an open door policy, recognize employees of the month, have a company day out and look into other ways that positively reinforce. There are lots of ways to develop and reward your brand ambassadors, beginning with asking what will resonate for them.


   Suggestion Box

Image via Lindsay Bremner, flickr CC 2.0



You might also like:


• Humanizing Your Brand : Why It is Key to Commercial Success


• Brand Management: Top 10 Tips for Managing Your Brand Reputation


• CEO Brand Leadership: How Does Your Leadership Impact Your Brand?


• Rebranding Strategy: Why Your Rebrand Must Embrace Storytelling


• Brand Profiling: Top 6 Components to Creating a Strong Brand Personality


• Brand Voice: Differentiating Through Your Own Brand Language and Attitude


• Brand Differentiation: 30 Ways to Differentiate Your Brand 


• Creating New Brands: Top 10 Tips for Brand Success  


• Brand Audit: Tips for Determining Your Brand’s Health – Can it be Improved?



So, what do you think?


• Have you developed a first-day brand welcome and induction programme for your new staff?


• Do you have an employee recognition programme in place as part of your brand strategy? Is is congruent with your brand profile and culture?


• If so, is it one that employees are happy with or does it need brand revitalisation or tweaking?


• Are your employees empowered to use social media on behalf of your brand? Have you given them the requisite training and developed your brand policy and risk management strategy?


• Do you offer employees and family members cool looking branded T-shirts or other appropriate brand collateral they’re proud to use or wear?


• Do you have a suggestion box for employees and is their input actively encouraged?


[1] Employees Rising: Seizing the Opportunity in Employee Activism, Weber Shandwick, 2014.

[2] Employee Engagement and Commitment, Society for Human Resource Management, 2006.

[3] www.slideshare.net/dellsocialmedia/infographic-social-media-and-community-university-at-dell-24818308

[4] Three Steps for Transforming Employees Into Brand Ambassadors, William Arruda, Forbes 

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Limited Edition Packaging: How to Use it as Part of Your Brand Strategy

Posted by Lorraine Carter on September 01 2015 @ 11:40

Store aisles and eCommerce pages are packed with products sold in limited-edition packages that are intended to drive increased sales. However, industry data publicized by Nielsen indicates that as much as 90 percent of new limited edition packaging designs don’t have the desired effect—and in some cases, may even hurt brand equity.


On the other hand, to a faithful collector of a favourite DVD series or dedicated brand loyalist, limited-edition packaging can be a compelling reason to purchase a new or alternative version of a much desired product as soon as possible. Indeed, it could be argued that the entire concept of limited-edition packaging is meant to urge consumers to open their wallets on the spot. Waiting too long could result in disappointment.


Below, we'll look at several case studies, along with the associated benefits and downsides. This information could help you decide whether limited-edition packaging is a great brand strategy decision that will lead to outstanding results—or whether it’s likely to incur more costs than benefits.




Limited Edition Packaging that Promotes the Concept of Scarcity: Special Monopoly Sets Offer Real Money


Sometimes indicating that a product is a limited-edition item only available for a short period of time is enough to stimulate sales. Interested buyers can quickly recognize that there’s a relatively small number being made, and that fact makes them want it more.


Those items are frequently prized by collectors, and in other cases, people just desire them for the novelty value. Hasbro, manufacturer of the popular game Monopoly, successfully used this concept of scarcity to market the game via a specially packaged limited edition version.


    French Monopoly Real Euros

 Image via www.mashable.com, Patrick Hertzog/AFP 



To celebrate the game's 80th anniversary, 80 versions of the game that were sold in France came with real money. In most cases, the genuine currency was mixed in with fake bills. However, one of the packages came entirely with spendable real euros. The benefit of this approach is that it appeals to people who might already want to buy the game for nostalgic reasons to reminisce about their childhoods by playing this classic game. Plus, since only 80 game sets of this sort were made, the scarcity factor drives up the perceived brand value.


For many hopeful customers, the act of opening a Monopoly box to see if it came stocked with real spendable money was probably something akin to when Charlie Bucket of Charlie and the Chocolate Factory anxiously ripped open the candy bar wrapper to see if it contained the coveted golden ticket that allowed him and a select group of others admittance into Willy Wonka’s magical candy-making site.




Limited Edition Packaging Designed to Leverage Core Brand Messages: Scotch Magic Tape


Scotch's Magic Tape is very popular because of the way it seems to disappear onto paper after applied. The brand has even developed a dispenser so people can only use one hand to put the tape in place.





A few years ago, German company Kolle-Rebbe designed packaging that contained mirrored panels inside to create the illusion that the Magic Tape package was empty, even though it was holding five rolls of the adhesive. The special tape package even won a CLIO Award, which is the equivalent of an Academy Award in the film industry, but instead honours design, advertising, and communication professionals.


The box design promotes the brand's "invisibility" benefit, and is an unconventional idea that makes people take notice when surveying available adhesive choices. That’s true even if they are not already familiar with what makes the tape stand out from competitors. The branding message indicates that Magic Tape makes paper tears “disappear”, because it patches them up so clearly. Plus, as already mentioned, the tape’s material is made to blend into the paper after it’s applied.



 Scotch Tape Magic 3 M

Image via www.packworld.com and 3M



Furthermore, it was said that the decision to include green as the primary colour in the box’s design was a nod to a commitment to environmental sustainability. While that may be the case, it can also be strongly argued that the vivid green shade is already well-known to consumers.


There are many varieties of Scotch products, but the Magic Tape always has a green packaging design. Choosing to use any other colour when designing the “invisible” box could possibly have caused unnecessary confusion, and perhaps meant shoppers would have mistakenly overlooked the product when visually scanning store shelves.


This is a great example of how a limited-edition package can reinforce the brand message in a way which is both aesethetically 'on brand' and functional in its delivery, and we’ve had similarly favourable results when helping our clients combine aesthetics with functional benefits and practicality.




Limited Edition Packaging that Relies on Star Power: Michael Jackson Pepsi Cans and "Bad" Album 25th Anniversary Campaign


People around the world were devastated when Michael Jackson, the “King of Pop,” passed away. Pepsi had been a long-time partner of Michael Jackson, and that loyalty continued after the pop star's death.


In 2012, the beverage brand launched its first global campaign to honour the artist, releasing limited edition Pepsi cans in over 20 countries. The packaging retained the brand’s usual blue background, but featured Jackson in a range of typically dramatic poses that were highly recognizable, consequently drawing instant attention from consumers.


  Pepsi Michael Jackson 600px

Image via www.marketingmagazine.co.uk



To further stimulate demand, Pepsi also tapped top music stars of today to pay tribute to the artist in relation to the 25th anniversary of the Bad album. That piece of work was the seventh studio release from Jackson, and is repeatedly cited as a major influence on today’s artists. The performances were heavily viewed online and served to reinforce the concept that Jackson is one of the few artists who can boast timeless appeal across generations.


This campaign had value to music collectors, and also helped stimulate the desire in diehard fans to buy products relating to the deceased artist. Because Pepsi had to strike a deal with the managers of the late artist’s estate, the campaign undoubtedly required a significant amount of logistics. However, the challenges paid off, especially in terms of brand visibility.







Limited Edition Packaging That Supports a Charity: Bottle Green's Stylish Drink Bottles to Fight Breast Cancer


Bottle Green sells unusual flavours of sparkling water and thereby caters to a niche market. In 2011, it developed a set of limited edition bottles that were available in the UK. The containers supported a charity called Fashion Targets Breast Cancer and featured images of stylish women. The bottles had strong onshelf impact, and were atypical to the category, which undoubtably drew the attention of their primary target audience.



Bottlegreen Csr

Image via www.packagingoftheworld.com



More importantly, that effort was part of the brand’s dedication to corporate social responsibility, and reflected a continual effort to support causes that fight breast cancer. Research indicates that when customers are presented with two similar brands in the same category, the one that supports a clear CSR activity, charity or ‘gives back’ in some way for the great good, will typically be the preferred purchase and have higher sales than the one that doesn’t. Similarly the Bottle Green CSR campaign likely helped to strengthen awareness of the brand’s charitable heart. When working with our own clients, we tend to strongly agree that a target audience feels more compelled to buy something if it aligns with a charitable cause.


Interestingly enough, unlike some brands that are sold in connection with fighting breast cancer, the range doesn't feature a dominant pink hue. However, the arresting design of the women’s faces is very powerful. Presumably, it was more than enough to encourage customers to pick up the containers and read them more closely to get the story behind the aesthetics.




Limited Edition Packaging That Leverages Premiumisation


Luxury brands often use limited-edition packaging as part of their premiumisation strategy for adding perceived value. Oscar de la Renta is one strong example of a brand that has done this successfully—but in this case, so-called “brand evangelism” is just as important, or even more so, than actual sales numbers.


In 2011, Oscar de la Renta launched the first-ever sales initiative that was completely contained within Facebook. The brand offered a solid perfume variety of its scent Esprit d’Oscar, which was packaged inside a wearable ring and sold with a price tag of $65. After a consumer bought a ring, he or she was encouraged to share that news via Facebook. Therefore, in the space of a few seconds, awareness of the product could theoretically spread to thousands of people or more, plus make a person feel special about being among those select few who were able to snag a ring before it was too late.


  Oscar De La Renta Facebook

Image via http://wwd.com, www.oscardelarenta.com



On the day of its release, one extremely eager evangelist found she was not able to access Facebook while at work, and was so concerned that she contacted the brand to inquire about the likelihood that the rings would be sold out before she could get one. Ultimately, a brand representative agreed to put one aside for her.



Oscar De La Renta Ring 

Image via http://wwd.com, www.oscardelarenta.com



Perhaps the most valuable aspect of this case study is that people were not able to access the purchase page for the limited-edition product without first liking the brand’s Facebook page. Before offering the limited-edition ring, the brand tested that strategy by offering free samples of the perfume to people who liked the Facebook page. In just one week, the number of likes grew by 40 percent. Furthermore, 5,000 people agreed to fill out feedback surveys.


The limited-edition ring created a win-win situation: customers got the chance to order something that had built-in exclusivity, and the brand’s marketers built their databases of interested consumers.




Limited Edition Packaging Compromises Product: Halo 3 Video Game


Early versions of limited-editions of the Halo 3 had faulty hubs in the packaging that did not consistently hold the discs securely in place. This meant many people opening the packaging with the intention of starting to play the game, found that the discs had become loose during shipping and consequently were scratched, resulting in the brand owner Microsoft having to offer replacements to its customers.



 Halo3 Packaging

Image via http://www.dailytech.com



Despite this initial issue, Halo 3 ended up being the top-selling title of its time. It sold a total of $170 million on release day, and more than 1.7 fans decided to splurge on the $70 limited-edition version.





This is a good example of how limited-edition packaging must be properly tested to ensure they are fully functional as well as aesthetically eye-catching. The brand’s reputation didn’t really suffer as a result of the packaging problem, and neither did early sales. However, it’s important to remember that many brands don’t have the built-in advantage of such a large and dedicated fan base.


Those players were so eager to become immersed in the latest Halo release that the faulty packaging might have momentarily frustrated them, but it almost certainly wasn’t enough to cause the consumers to think twice about buying another Halo game or recommending them to friends. In this case study, the other inherent benefits of the game outweigh the issues with the packaging.




Packaging That’s too Bulky, Which Makes Storage or Merchandising Difficult: The Simpsons Box Sets


Boxed TV series sets are perpetually popular gifts, and great ways for TV fanatics to indulge themselves by being able to watch favourite episodes at any time. It’s not unusual for boxed sets to have holographic portions, fold-out sections, and other embellishments that aim to add aesthetic brand value. However, in the case of boxed sets for FOX’s animated hit, The Simpsons, the quest to dazzle possibly went a bit too far.



 Simpsons Packaging 3 D

Image via http://www.tvshowsondvd.com



The DVDs were packaged in boxes with three-dimensional facial features from popular characters. However, this limited edition packaging feature made the DVDs very hard to store because the more bulky packaging required extra shelf space when stored alongside other DVDs. Eventually, the manufacturer announced it would also be possible to buy a version where the three-dimensional parts could be removed, making the front of the box flat for easier storage.


The Simpsons brand has a very strong established fan base so it’s very unlikely that viewers would elect not to buy the DVD sets just because they had a bulky design. However, by making the decision to also offer a version where the three dimensional facial features could be removed, the manufacturers had to incur extra overheads, which potentially cut into increased profits.


We frequently caution our own clients that it’s crucial to perform a brand audit or extensive research around the feasibility of a limited-edition packaging strategy from multiple perspectives before proceeding to brand design or production. A lack of research, proper prototype testing or unchallenged assumptions can incurr unexpected costs which eat into a campaigns profitability, or worse, cause it to run at a loss, so please do your homework before your invest in your limited edition packaging!




Limited Editions Packaging Delayed Shipment of Product: Batman: Arkham Knight Game


A special YouTube channel was created to stimulate demand for the Batman: Arkham Knight serial superhero game. However early adopters didn't get entirely what they expected when they enthusiastically purchased the game online following a teaser campaign with video clips from scenes of the game.





Gamers who pre-ordered the limited edition of the Batman: Arkham Knight game from Amazon UK received an e-mail saying there was an unspecified problem with the packaging, which meant those shoppers would get their physical goods nearly three weeks later than expected.


Because many people specifically pre-order limited-edition goods to get them on or before the official release date, this announcement undoubtedly caused some disappointment. To compensate, Amazon UK said it would provide download codes so people could play the games on the release date, even without having their physical goods.


Unlike the above instances of packaging issues, this example probably caused more logistical headaches than financial ones. The availability of download codes meant that even though buyers couldn’t immediately enjoy the tangible goods they were promised when pre-ordering the limited edition, they could at least play the game on time—which was probably a sufficient compromise for many customers.


What’s unique about this case study compared to the others we have examined is that the limited-edition packaging not only caused hassles for the manufacturer, but also for a retailer.




What We Can Learn From These Case Studies


As the above examples demonstrate, there are many advantages to using special edition packaging as part of your brand strategy. Specifically, it usually works best when:


  • The limited-edition package is produced in extremely small quantities. This helps give items exclusivity and inceases desirability as consumers make dedicated efforts to buy them.


  • The packaging leverages and enhances the product’s branding, but still has design elements that are familiar to consumers thereby strengthening brand affinity.


  • Unusual packaging design details are integrated, but not at the expense of outweighing functional use or practicality or by becoming excessively costly or difficult to ship, store or merchandise.


  • Pop culture references and/or celebrities are leveraged through brand collaboration or joint venture to increase the perceived value of a limited edition package.


  • The special edition packaging is designed in support of a charitable cause. It’s especially helpful when endeavours like these align with a company’s already-established commitment to corporate social responsibility.


  • Items featuring limited edition packages are sold solely through social media, and people can only make purchases after first interacting with the brand’s social media page in a designated way. This approach can theoretically help a brand gain traction on social media, connect with people who might not ordinarily use social media except to buy the products, and assist with building a database that’s populated with customer feedback and contact details.




However, limited-edition packaging can also be very cost- prohibitive, to the point where profitability is undermined if not properly researched and tested. That scenario is more likely if:


  • Proper testing is not carried out in advance to ensure the elements of the limited-edition packaging performs well functionally and aesthetically. That should include taking steps to see if the packaging can withstand the rigors of being shipped around the world.


  • The limited-edition packaging is too ‘ordinary’, so it doesn’t resonate strongly enough with its primary audience. In some cases, this may mean the packaging only seems valuable to people who have proven that their brand loyalty is so deep that they’ll buy a limited-edition package even if it’s not really all that special or very eye-catching.


  • Packaging details are very complex and overly elaborate. Sometimes, focusing too much on the artistry can mean practical and functional needs get overlooked or undermined.


  • It becomes evident that the production time for a limited-edition packaging will be longer than expected, meaning the products won’t be distributed on time to meet customer expectations or launch timelines.




The Final Limited Edition Packaging Brand Strategy Takeaway


If you decide to use limited edition packaging as part of your own brand strategy then its important to ensure you blend all the functional brand essentials with the brand aesthetics, while remaining true to your core brand values and positioning.


You should also ideally conduct research, not only to test your prototype but to ensure there is actually a market for your limited line that will be attracted to your special limited edition packaging, and if you aren’t sure, weigh up the costs of doing a very small batch test of special packages. These precautions can help make your limited-edition packages much more successful instead of turning into marketing decisions that eat up profits, undermine your brand and frustrate customers.



You may also like:


• Packaging Design: How to Make it into an Irresistible Customer Brand Magnet


• Brand Differentiation: 30 Ways to Differentiate Your Brand


• Rebranding Strategy: Using Premium Repositioning To Increase Profitability


• Brand Personality: Is Your Brand’s Character Big Enough to Compete?


• Creating New Brands: Top 10 Tips for Brand Success


• Brand Management: Top 10 Tips for Managing Your Brand Reputation


• Humanizing Your Brand : Why It is Key to Commercial Success




So what do you think?


  • Do you agree with the claim that the Scotch Magic Tape packaging was green to promote environmental sustainability, or was that message just being broadcast to urge eco-minded shoppers to buy the tape?


  • Is the approach of offering a limited edition product solely on Facebook, as Oscar de la Renta did, a worthwhile brand strategy, or do you think it might be missing an opportunity with interested customers who’d perhaps like to purchase the items, but don’t use Facebook?


  • Do you think it’s more effective to showcase corporate responsibility by using packaging design that’s very obviously made to support a charitable cause, or is the “less is more” tactic used by Green Bottle a clever one?


  • In cases where smaller brands want to use pop culture references for broader brand positioning, but don’t have the resources to consider global stars like Michael Jackson, what other possibilities could they explore?


  • While developing limited edition packaging, how important is it to get input from consumers about the features they would like to see? What do you think is the best way to acquire that information? Should you reward participants in return for their feedback?


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