Brand Traction : How to Make Your Brand Memorable - For The Right Reasons!

Posted by Lorraine Carter on August 07 2013 @ 08:00

When we talk about brand traction we mean ‘sticking power’ in the sense that customers really understand what a company’s brand is all about, what it stands for, its reputation overall and how relevant it is to their own lives. But we also mean ‘force’ in terms of being able to pull ahead of its competitors.


Brand traction is something that has to be cumulatively built up over time, be it service or product, through the relationships it has with its suppliers, staff, customers and the media.


Mcdonalds Im Lovin It


Relationships with the media are extremely important in terms of brand traction too, and not just in the promotional sense. Walmart and McDonald’s, for instance, are currently being ostracised in the States over their failure to pay what is perceived as a minimum wage. Starbucks and Amazon meanwhile are facing criticism over their failure to pay UK taxes.


Both of these issues will adversely affect the reputation of these multi-national companies to some degree, generate negative brand traction and compromise sales because certain consumers will boycott them on principle alone. No company wants to be known as the organisation that doesn’t pay its staff a living wage or reneges on its tax obligations.


Then there are the brands that have positive brand traction, who are memorable for all the right reasons. A major study recently by US research firm Added Value looked at the cultural traction of a number of the world’s largest brands, 160 brands over 15 sectors to be exact. They measured them in terms of four major metrics – how visionary they were, inspiring, bold and exciting.


Top10 Global Brands


This infographic shows the results in terms of the Top 10 Global Brands. The most rapid-changing and innovative sector in society at this moment in time, computing and technology, not surprisingly claims the top three positions.


Casualties were Facebook (remember its recent rows over privacy?) and alcohol brands which all suffered in terms of popularity due to what the study described as ‘a fall in cultural relevance.’ Absolut Vodka was the highest alcohol brand in the study.


Dove Models Real Beauty


In contrast, Dove with its 10 year long ‘real beauty’ campaign, where it dispelled media representations of idealized female beauty, was described as responsible and its brand traction positively increased as a result. It was also noted for its creativity.



In terms of the list then it’s clear to see that the brands which ranked highest were innovative, forward-thinkers and leaders in their field – they ‘dared to be different’ – none of them could ever be accused of being bland. All are distinctive, and we don’t mean this in terms of their logo or advertising jingle, but largely through the way in which they ‘see the world’, engage with it and endeavour to change it.


Amazon Logo 


Amazon is a brand which has gained huge traction in the field of cloud computing. The US Central Intelligence Agency recently considered dropping IBM (whom they’ve been with for years) in favour of the global company which initially made its name in the world of e-commerce as a global powerhouse. 


Meanwhile, in a desperate effort to achieve better brand traction last year PepsiCo engaged in an intense bout of brand building via a huge advertising and marketing spend (5.7 per cent of revenue). In North America they flooded stores with in-house displays and globally launched the Pepsi campaign ‘Live for Now’. With it came a new positioning statement involving the idea of ‘Now’, ‘as in the present moment’. Early figures indicate the campaign has been successful.



Runner and Olympic silver medallist Yohan Blake attempted to up his brand traction by emulating his fellow team mate Usain Bolt, known for his famous lightning pose, by creating a pose for his own personal brand. Unfortunately in his case the results weren’t quite so successful. In order to achieve ‘brand’ success Blake needs to develop his own distinct brand personality, different positioning, memorable message and authentic promise instead of trying to be a boring copy of something that’s already been successfully done, in effect ‘owned’ by another entity.


 Yohan Blake


At present Blake is endeavouring to grow his brand traction by imitating Bolt, through adopting a pose after a race, when really he should be trying to differentiate himself and show his own unique qualities. His ‘brand message’ should also be unique to make his brand credible. After all it’s what he stands for and the associations that come with the pose that will ultimately lead to stronger branding for Blake.


  • How much traction do you think your brand currently has?


  • Are there areas in which you perhaps, need to do a bit more work, in order to achieve more brand cohesiveness?


  • Where would your brand stand in the Added Value survey in terms of visionary, inspiring, bold and exciting?


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Brand Story : The Key Ingredients to What Makes It Compelling

Posted by Lorraine Carter on July 25 2013 @ 11:40

If you were asked to sum up your brand story in a valuable two minute radio sound bite or TV interview could you do it? If the answer is “NO” or you hesitate over your reply, then maybe its time to re-evaluate what your brand story is all about.


Is Your Brand Story

Worth Listening to?


Being able to succinctly articulate a compelling story around your brand, how it came in to being, what its all about, why it matters to your primary customers and where it’s heading into the future is crucial to your success. Stories connect people and your brand story is what gives it meaning and solidity, helps define its values, shapes its destiny and captures your customer’s imaginations, thereby attracting and engaging their ongoing interest.


A brand’s story isn’t a nice ‘add on’ for marketing purposes either. Rather it’s the foundations and inspiration for your marketing strategy – supporting the way you drive awareness and sales for your product or services and ultimately increase your business's profitability and growth. The more compelling your story, the more powerful your brand.


A great brand story can be unifying (for both customers and stakeholders), motivating and inspiring for your teams internally and give the work they do more direction and meaning, thereby enriching the environment in which they work, all of which filters through to the experience your customers have with your brand through your front line staff – your brand ambassadors.


Brand stories are never static either, they continue to develop over time in order to stay relevant and respond to customer demands and ever changing market dynamics.


 Ben And Jerrys Ice Cream

Image via Ben&Jerry’s


A great example, amongst many, of a brand with a very powerful story is Ben & Jerry’s Ice Cream. The tale of two young men who were determined to set up a company which would embrace sustainability and share prosperity (with employees and stakeholders alike) and, incidentally at the same time produce amazing ice cream, all of which hooked the imagination of the US public. Their story then went global and the rest is history.


Ben and Jerry’s aim today, they declare, continues to centre around finding interesting and unusual ways to improve the quality of life for individuals, produce top quality all-natural, wholesome ice cream and respect the environment at the same time…




Back in the UK, the well-known healthy fruit drink brand Innocent had a great story which, crucially, captured not only the imagination of consumers but journalists everywhere. Three Oxford educated students who wanted to produce drinks which would boost the nation’s health using only natural ingredients went on to succeed where many others had failed.



Image via Telegraph.co.uk


Their commitment to their cause and brand ethos couldn’t be faulted. Their packaging was simple and amusing yet full of character – and their social media channels (they were early adopters) reflected the same brand story and personality traits too. They had energy, enthusiasm and innovative marketing techniques to capture their core audiences attention.




Interestingly their brand has been bought over by global giant Coca Cola yet that move hasn’t dented the brand’s success. Innocent still continues to sell under the ‘wholesome goodness banner’ brand story and to this day it still continues to resonate with their customers. The brand was powerful enough in itself that it didn’t matter who owned the company. Their brand ethos and customer base had already been established to such an extent that the smooth take-over was hardly noticed. The brand has become a living entity in its own right.


Historically Innocent’s engagement with consumers began even before they’d launched. Following a busy day selling fruit drinks at a festival, the three owners asked their customers there whether they thought they should start up in business. The rest is history and a very successful and profitable one at that.


Lego Logo 


Lego, another long established and much loved Danish brand, with a compelling brand story too used a series of amusing YouTube vignettes in their video The Lego Story which they used to re-tell their brand story when they celebrated their 80th anniversary last year. It tells of their inventor, the company’s values and the commitment to their product both in terms of quality and the education of children around the globe.



The story of women’s underwear brand SPANX is very much connected with its founder and owner, the former sales trainer and stand up comedienne Sara Blakely. Her story of being unable to find tights she liked, then inventing her own, resonates with every woman who has a bulge or two to hide (at least the first part does!). This ‘everywoman’ even had her mum draw the design for the original prototype.


 Spanx Leggings Packaging

Image via themagicknickershop.co.uk


Today, proceeds from every pair of SPANX sold go towards the Sara Blakely Foundation which helps women in underprivileged parts of the world start up their own businesses through education and entrepreneurship.



Some re-occurring themes, worth reflecting on when reviewing elements of your own brand story, have appeared in each of the powerful brand stories mentioned above – however they must be authentic and real!

  • Share what you care about to engage your audience emotionally
  • Localize wherever possible in order to speak directly to local communities and create engaging connections
  • Encourage individuals to make your brand their own and become your brand champions


When creating your own brand story, be absolutely clear on what you want to communicate and why it’s important to both you and your core target audience. This should centre on who you are, why you’re doing it, why it’s important - so customers care, and what differentiates your brand from your competitors. To be truly engaging it must evoke strong emotions in your audience and ooze personality!


Your brand story must consistently underpin everything you do within your business, be the filter through which all your communications and brand strategy flows, influence the way in which you interact with your customers and shape the experiences they have through every touch point of your brand.


  • What’s the ‘truth’ or ‘inspiration’ behind your brand story?


  • What’s significant about your brand story compared to your competitors?


  • Have you considered how to consistently communicate your brand story and brand values through your fully integrated brand strategy?



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Branding for Women: 80% Plus of FMCG Buying Decisions Are Made by Women

Posted by Lorraine Carter on July 09 2013 @ 08:12

At least 80 per cent of household buying decisions today are typically controlled by women, especially in the areas of fast moving consumer goods. The question is, are you developing and marketing your brand effectively to this dominant ‘wallet controlling’ audience? Is your brand positioning, story, values and offering resonating with their needs? Are you capturing and holding their attention or have you overlooked their buying power?


And just in case you were breathing a sigh of relief because your brand isn’t in the FMCG category, don’t get too comfortable or complacent either. US marketing expert Marti Barletta points to an old report by the Automotive Service Councils of California way back in 1999 which showed that even then, females influenced 80 per cent of all car purchases and in 95 of 100 cases had the final say when purchasing decisions were being made where couples were involved. In addition, an article in Business Week (2004) showed women bought two thirds of all cars sold and influenced 80 per cent of sales. I mention these old stats for my more sceptical readers because female purchasing power has continued to grow year on year, and even more so relative to this older research.


Surveys into consumer electronics have likewise shown that women spend just as much as men on ‘gadgets.’ However females tend to buy at a later stage in the process with the early adopters of technology being men. Women tend to buy once ‘the problems have been straightened out,’ said Barletta.


 Nokia Lumia 1020


Multi-national electronics brand Nokia started marketing to women after realising more females than men were buying smartphones. The brand’s senior consumer insights manager Elizabeth Southwood told Marketing Week last month: “We were aware of technology brands alienating women with their tone and messaging but also of the fact that increasing numbers of ladies were adopting smartphones which has now overtaken men, 58 per cent to 42 per cent, as well as other tech.” 


As a result the phone giant ran a female focused promotional campaign named Remarkable Women in which they gave a community of career types - and generally busy women who’d overcome a whole series of obstacles in their lives - a Nokia Lumia. The inference was how much having a phone would help make their lives so much easier. A whole community was set up around the promotion, launched earlier this year in the UK, and is continuing to gain momentum.


Remarkable Women


Image via Remarkable Women (Facebook)


Research has also shown that not only do women tend to make most of the spending decisions in the household, for both everyday and larger items such as furniture, their decision-making process as a rule tends to differ from their male counterparts. That’s because women prefer to go into secondary considerations such as other brand options as well as features, benefits and price. Men, on the other hand tend to be more focused and judge whether or not it satisfies their primary consideration i.e it plays music and looks good.


 Office Max Logo


US stationary company Office Max earned themselves a precious CNN news spot when they decided (like Nokia and its smartphones) that their target market was the wrong gender emphasis. They changed from a more male to female marketing focus and stocked up on ‘prettier’ products such as coloured folders - while at the same ensuring there was more variety in most ranges (remember, women like to ‘weigh up’ the choices).


Unilever’s anti-perspirant Axe initially marketed a limited edition fragrance to young men until it discovered around one quarter (500,000) of its social media followers (Facebook and Twitter) were female. There followed a marketing push towards the fairer sex (along with a ‘refined’ product). The following are adverts for the same brand but marketed at different genders.



The brand’s target market however was still young men – they had simply expanded it to include young women. Axe’s head of strategy Jonathan Bottomley explains: “You can’t be a successful youth brand today if you’re not co-ed in your approach, this is a generation where guys and girls are friends and like to hang out in groups.”




The world-renowned brand regarded as the so-called bastion of male toughness Harley-Davidson did an ‘about turn’ several years ago when they introduced the SuperLow – a lighter bike suitable for women - in an effort to capture the market for females and first-time riders. They also held ‘women only’ in-store safety nights twice a week in 650 Harley dealerships. Today women make up around 12 per cent of sales for the Harley-Davidson company (in the past it totalled two per cent).


Harley Super Low 2011


The above examples demonstrate that it’s essential for the majority of brands today to include women in their marketing and overall brand strategies. Not only do women make up 50 per cent of the population but, in most cases, they are also the gender with the greatest influence in consumer purchasing decisions.


Brands need to ensure they are gender balanced at the very least, and not alienating women, at the expense of men and vice versa.


  • Do you know the percentage ratio of male to female consumers for your brand and have those figures altered over time?


  • Do you market more towards women or men and if you were to do a ‘gender switch’ what different messages would you use to engage that particular group?


  • If you currently only sell to the one sector could your product or service be adapted to appeal to both?



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Humanizing Your Brand : Why It is Key to Commercial Success

Posted by Lorraine Carter on June 26 2013 @ 15:31

Brands that want to succeed in this increasingly ‘always on’ social media-driven world are advised to start showing more of their human side and stop hiding behind a faceless corporate entity. By that we mean you need to consider changing your marketing focus from ‘what’ your brand is to ‘who’ it is.


Customers are increasingly sceptical of ‘faceless entities’ and ‘automated response’ companies which means that brands need to work much harder to authentically interact with their target audience, actively participate in conversations, respond to their customers needs and nurture those relationships if they want to be viewed as an honest company which is sensitive to their customers needs and the world at large.


Brands that engage in charity work, social contribution or form their own fund-raising endeavours are nearly always looked on a lot more favourably too. Include a little humour in the mix, even if you’re poking fun at yourselves, and you are starting to create a more humanized brand.



Patagonia Displays Honesty

The global outdoor clothing and gear company Patagonia are honest in their dealings with customers by showing the real effects that the manufacturing of their clothes and products has on the environment and communities. The environment matters to them and their target audiences. It’s at the heart of what their brand stands for.


 Patagonia Footprint Chronicles Tracking The Environmental And Social Impact Of Patagonia Clothing And Apparel


They’d like to have a lower or neutral carbon footprint, but viable manufacturing costs or processes don’t always enable them to have as low a carbon footprint as they would like. By being honest with their customers via the Footprint Chronicles section of their website the message is: “We’re not great but we’re working on it.” This ensures they remain true to their brand promise and avoids any future negative press ‘revelations’ as the company has already publicly declared their record isn’t what it they’d like it to be – yet!




TOMS’ Kindness Builds Customer Communities

A brand which has received huge publicity and goodwill towards it due to a reputation for being ‘kind’ is the company TOMS. The trendy outfit is seen as mixing commerce with charity due to the fact that for every pair of shoes sold a second pair is given, free of charge by the company, to a child living in poverty. Not only that but the brand has now declared that for every pair of glasses they sell they will help restore eyesight to a needy child.


 Toms Logo


The fact TOMS has a massive social networking community (nearly 2 million friends on Facebook alone) and that many of these fans have become active brand ambassadors, shows that a company which is perceived as kind through carrying out charitable works (and, crucially, knowing how to promote these works) can be very profitable too.


 Toms Shoes



The more good works TOMS carries out, the more their community loves them and feels inspired to help and promote them even further. An example of how they promote their good works is this very-watchable video which was recently uploaded to the company’s Facebook page.



Toms 1for1 Sunglasses 



Make Customers Laugh and They’ll Be Positively Predisposed towards Your Brand

Everyone loves an endearing joker, don’t they? Well, if the joker is funny they do. Brands such as YouTube, Honda and Proctor & Gamble certainly managed to tickle a few when they each released April Fool’s videos this year.

YouTube announcing they were closing for a break (of ten years) and running a final contest at the same time was particularly ingenious and even a bit believable.




Honda’s in car hair cutting machine HondaHAIR was witty and er, believable!




However many thought Proctor & Gamble with their bacon mouthwash (guaranteed to kill 99.9 per cent of all germs) had lost it. The one thing all three brands did have in common however, was that their spoofs were very funny and made thousands of consumers warm to the brands.


 P G Bacon Mouthwash


Humour works for brands because sharing a laugh is a 'naturally human way' for building camaraderie with customers. And it works online too! There’s so many ways to make your customers laugh online – through uploading photographs on Facebook, Twitter and Pinterest, sharing amusing posts, and pointing them towards comedy YouTube videos.


Reveal the Humans Behind Your Brand

Another way to humanize your brand is to show the real ‘humans’ - your staff, whether that’s congratulating them for running a half marathon by uploading their photo onto the company Facebook page or congratulating them for a significant achievement at work.


It could also include sharing a photo of them modelling or demonstrating a new product on Twitter or talking about one of your new services on YouTube, provided of course this is congruent with your brand culture! Identify your staff as ‘real’ people and customers will begin to see your brand in more human terms rather than as just a faceless entity. It also means that if something does go wrong in the future they’re far more likely to be sympathetic and forgiving when they already ‘know’ the staff, the real people behind the brand.


In summary, brands that promote human qualities tend to be far more successful because customers will warm to them, they're more 'likeable'. Fundamentally whether your brand is B2B or B2C, people buy from people. It also makes sense that individuals are more likely to purchase from someone who is ‘just like them’, such as sharing the same sense of humour or has similar charitable inclinations than a stranger (a faceless corporation) that they don’t know or really care about.


• What are you doing within your brand strategy to 'humanize' your brand and make it more attractive, referable and trustworthy for your target audience?


• Is your brand contributing to society, doing good work that you’re currently not communicating to your customers?


If your brand were a person how would you describe their qualities? Now consider how you could amplify those qualities in your brand strategy to make it more human and attractive to your target audience.


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Nostalgic Branding : Is It Right For Your Business?

Posted by Lorraine Carter on June 20 2013 @ 08:35

Looking back can be a profitable forward thinking strategy for many brands, with careful due diligence and appropriate application. Nostalgia often evokes positive emotions such as warmth, security and a sense of comfort in the familiar.


These ‘feel-good’ associations can then be successfully transferred to your brand. Nostalgic brands are somehow seen as more ‘authentic’ and truthful – a brand that can ‘trusted’ in its genuine and well-rooted provenance. A sense of continuity and stability in a world of fast paced change, transience, increasing consumer distrust and instant gratification.


Some brands such as Coca Cola already have a rich heritage of nostalgia they can drawn on, which is guaranteed to catch the imagination of older consumers. Conversely they also appeal to a younger age group, which wasn’t even born first-time around but still love the products for their now-fashionable nostalgic look.


The success of the relatively new make-up brand Benefit is a good example of ‘nostalgic branding’. Their entire range has a 1950s faux-vintage feel and is aimed at a market of 20 to 30-something females.


Benefit Makeup 600px


In these tougher post-recessionary times, evoking a time period where life was apparently better, in some respects, can be a very successful move. In fact many brands leveraging this kind of strategy have exceeded expectations and impressively boosted their ratings, according to the Brand Power Index (BPI). This quarterly ratings tool highlights companies who have grabbed audience attention using both traditional advertising and social media channels.


One of these brands is Herbal Essences who played on their original 1980s TV adverts to win a 27 per cent increase in brand popularity. To enhance the nostalgic feel their ‘new’ campaign kept the original packaging of the Shine and Smooth range.



In a short video Microsoft Windows listed what they considered the big trends of the 1980s and 90s and explained their script with the succinct tagline “You grew up. So did we.” This resulted in an 18 per cent rise in popularity on the BPI scale.



The California wine company Sangwine set out to evoke a late 50s and early 60s nostalgic feel with its minimalist new labels which were designed with the popular colour palette of that time - mustard yellow, turquoise and brown in a strong colour blocking style.


Sangwine Retro 600px


Tesco’s Mr Nicecream range again infers more innocent, happier times with its distinct signature turquoise and sweet pink packaging and use of evocative typography for a new range of ice cream sandwiches, cones, toppings and sauces. While avoiding all the typical clichés it reminds older consumers of a period when ice cream was bought from a much love ice cream van which called to their local home street, ringing a bell or playing a tune to announce its arrival, rather than getting it from the local supermarket, and the almost diagrammatic illustrative style of the fun cartoon character is set to appeal to a younger consumer.


Tesco Ice Cream


Vintage Branding : What are the Advantages?

  • It can create an attractive feel-good emotional connection and a strong sense of reassuring familiarity with consumers
  • Vintage style packaging can have unique distinctions which help it stand out from ‘modern’ contenders simply because it’s different to its more contemporary counterparts
  • The vintage look of some brand packaging can appeal more to certain target consumers, especially an older generation, who identify it with perceived ‘better times’
  • Younger consumers can view nostalgic branding in a ‘popular’ light
  • There’s no need to re-educate the consumer on what the brand is all about or stands for (provided it still has relevance) as the older generation know from first-time round and they’ve passed it on to their offspring. How many of you buy brands because your mother did?


Of course a nostalgic branding strategy doesn’t suit all companies. Reviving a brand line is all very well but today’s consumers expect more than just the original packaging or taste. A food or drink, which was popular in a bygone era, may not fit with today’s nutritional requirements, taste preferences or have the same relevance today.


It must also be noted too, that a brand’s ‘personality’ has to fit within the nostalgic context in which it’s placed e.g Hovis is a long established brand viewed by many consumers as a nurturing brand so nostalgia in this context has relevance. There’s no point trying to use nostalgia as part of your brand message if it’s incongruent with your whole brand offering. Is there room in your sector for another vintage style product? Or is it already over-subscribed and in order to differentiate itself it makes more sense for a brand to take an alternative approach?


It’s also important to look at the whole idea of nostalgia in a broader cultural and consumer sentiment context. For instance, once the recessionary sense of uncertainty and anxiety reduces and consumers start to feel more confident and forward looking again, while seeking out the ‘next big thing’, will reverting to a nostalgic branding strategy still remain relevant or have the same appeal?


When a Nostalgic Brand Fails

The owners of roadside café brand Little Chef finally admitted defeat last month when the company was put up for sale. A family – and truckers – favourite for more than 55 years the restaurant chain underwent a rebrand back in 2004. Fat Charlie (the iconic plate-wielding chef) was slimmed down and the plate removed. The product and service, however, remained much the same. And yet the nostalgic brand seemed to fit in with societal changes where thousands of Britons were cutting costs and holidaying at home.


Little Chef 600px


Last year in a last ditch attempt to improve sales innovative chef Heston Blumenthal arrived with a new menu and customers such as Victoria Beckham and Eric Clapton. The product changed, but it wasn’t what consumers were looking for. Little Chef is a sad lesson in the need to correctly assess both market sentiment and consumer needs before launching into any type of re-branding exercise – whether nostalgia related or not.


• Does your brand have enough relevant heritage to capitalise on a ‘nostalgic brand strategy’?


• If you are considering using nostalgia as part of your brand strategy, which era would your brand be most suited to?


• How crowded is the market place currently for nostalgia brands within your sector?

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Limited Editions Packaging : Why They Work

Posted by Lorraine Carter on June 11 2013 @ 07:52

Most of us at some point in our lives have probably been triggered to make an impulse purchase (or at least considered purchasing) one of our favourite brands solely because of the packaging.


There’s a high probability too that the particular brand packaging in question was of a ‘limited edition’ variety. Brands tend to investment considerable effort into limited edition products and, as a result, the packaging design typically has even greater impact on its target audience.


Exclusivity Rewards Loyal Customers

However limited edition packaging isn’t always appreciated, as MAC executives discovered when they launched their Wonder Woman range in spring 2011. This was in collaboration with DC Comics who owned the rights to the cartoon character. The MAC range included lipsticks, eye shadow, nail polish and blusher ranging from €6. to €35.


Mac Wonder Woman Promo

Image via Flickr and Bruno Boutot


The look was bright, dynamic (like the character herself) and, some said, ‘tacky.’ Many of the brand’s followers didn’t approve of the MAC Wonder Woman packaging, believing it cheapened the MAC brand (which is seen as a quality cosmetics leader with a trendy, younger customer base). Other fans defended the brand saying they loved the “fun, funky look.” As a result the controversy received lots of varied opinions and comments on websites, social media and blogs – all which, of course, greatly stimulated brand interest even further.


Mac Wonder Woman Range

Image via Cult Beauty


MAC executives built up a significant amount of pre-release excitement and anticipation by sending samples to leading beauty bloggers and magazines. Each product in the limited edition range was supported with a detailed descriptions, ensuring plentiful coverage for its target audience to read about.


All this pre-launch activity ensured the Wonder Woman limited edition lipsticks, blushers etc. generated lots of online traction thereby making them easy to find on search engines and consequently in retail outlets too when finally released. Cumulatively this integrated pre-launch marketing strategy raised the MAC Wonder Woman limited edition range profile and stimulated greatly increased interest to potentially purchase.


In an effort to gain further traction for their limited edition packaging, MAC also initially limited the collections availability. The Pro Members on the MAC website were given access to the MAC Wonder Woman goods 12 hours before anyone else – thereby increasing the range’s exclusivity even further. MAC limited edition products have been known to sell-out within two days. The MAC Wonder Woman range was no exception.


Feel-Good Associations

Beefeater Gin chimed into the London zeitgeist last year when it launched a limited edition bottle aimed at celebrating the capital’s stupendous year with the Olympics and the Queen’s Diamond Jubilee.


Their new bottle, coloured pillar box red, celebrated London’s ‘inner eccentricity’ the company said, by showing glimpses of London life inside the outline of a beefeater to reflect the city’s vibrancy and diversity. Pre-orders for the bottle were the highest the company has ever received, which is a testament to its success as a limited edition range.


Where Beefeater really excelled with the limited edition brand packaging was in associating their brand with the ‘feel good and success factor’ that was very much an integral experience of London at the time. Beefeater is a London brand and by amplifying its association with key London characteristics around a significant event, Beefeater executives hoped that customers would associate the Beefeater brand with a happy occasion in their lives, and one which brought to mind the feeling of success as well as celebration.


Beefeater London Limted Edition

Image via Packaging of the World


Reinforcing Brand Identity

Another association which enhanced a brand (also a drinks company) was that of film director David Lynch and Dom Pérignon. The arty and cool Californian-based movie maker designed new ‘ghostly’ labels for the brand.


Dom Perignon By David Lynch Vintage Champagne


Image via Harvey Nichols


According to the brand’s website, the two have much in common. A spokesman for Dom Pérignon said: "The worlds of Dom Pérignon and the one of David Lynch have many points in common: mystery, intensity, commitment, time, the constant reinvention of the self, and above all, absolute faith in the power of creation."





So Why Does Limited Edition Packaging Typically Sell So Well?

Apart from the above ‘success/feel good’ associations (Beefeater) and creating demand through exclusivity (MAC), limited edition brand packaging can also reaffirm to its target customer that he or she has made the right brand choice. Limited edition packaging tends to be of a higher and more eye-catching quality than the standard packaging for the brand, which in turn makes it look even more enticing and, importantly, more exclusive and thereby making it more sought after.


Limited Edition Packaging Can Be A Test For Permanent Packaging

And what happens when a limited edition brand is just too popular to remain a one-off? Ask Coca Cola. Such was the popularity of the drink giant’s exclusive diet coke design that it decided to resurrect it a year later and make the bold and more minimalist design its standard Diet Coke can format.


The design enlarges then crops the original Diet Coke logo which makes it more eye-catching on shelves, according to the company’s executives.


Diet Coke 

Image via CreativeBoysClub.com



It Can Result In A Whole New Brand Campaign Strategy

Kit Kat wanted to ensure its limited edition white chocolate bars were never forgotten – and managed to boost its free publicity quota as a result.




The Australian branch of the chocolate firm said they were preserving a piece of the brand’s history by saving the last 50 bars and handing them over to illustrator Mike Watt. He then proceeded to melt the bars down and form pictures from the gooey chocolate moulds using a knife. The process makes an interesting video and the final pictures were uploaded onto Kit Kat’s Facebook page leading to increased social media interaction, which in turn also boosted the company’s SEO endeavours and the Kit Kat brand profile.


Kit Kat White Final Fifty Posters Tiger

Image via Feel Desain



Limited edition brand packaging can have multiple advantages when used effectively to leverage a brand, not to mention of course increasing sales and profitability. It can also add greater perceived value to a brand’s existing core product range by making customers feel like they’re receiving something ‘really special’ with an added extra. It doesn’t just increase brand impact in the market, but it can also create an even greater demand for products by marking them with an exclusive tag, which its target audience consequently finds irresistible.


• What kind of limited edition packaging could your brand consider?


• Could you tie your limited edition packaging in with an appropriate significant event or occasion to amplify its significance?


• Who in your current target audience would be extremely attracted to a limited edition range of packaging for your brand?



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Rebranding : How To Do It Successfully and Avoid Pitfalls

Posted by Lorraine Carter on June 06 2013 @ 20:30

One of the world’s biggest brands - Coca Cola - has done it eleven times, albeit in a largely evolutionary manner, since selling their first sugar-laden fizzy drink in its now-iconic bottle. Thousands of other very successful well knows brands have also done it over the decades. It’s a critical and strategic part of all successful businesses regardless of size, be they global giants or much loved more local national players. If a brand wants to stay relevant and connected then rebranding is an essential part of its continued success.


The degree of change in rebranding can take many forms from a gentle evolutionary update to a radical overhaul, the decisions for which are driven by strategic business objectives. Done correctly, whether evolutionary or radical in nature, rebranding can have a hugely positive impact on the bottom line, and be responsible for driving a significant increase in a business’s profitability.


Equally, a poorly thought out rebranding strategy can pose serious risks to your business resulting in loss of credibility, brand equity and the hard won brand asset value which you’ve painstakingly built up over the years. Successful rebranding must be given careful thought, research and planning to ensure the successful results desired.


To give you some further insights into both the ‘hows’, ‘dos’ and ‘donts’ of rebranding we’ve included some examples in this article, which will provide you with some direction, if considering rebranding in your business. Disasters and successes are both learning tools when analysed from an informed perspective, there are always invaluable lessons here for us all!



Top 3 Reasons to Rebrand

1. Brand Evolution : Over Time We’ve Changed…

Sometimes a company moves on but its brand doesn’t. In other words, it doesn’t represent what that business ‘stands for’ or does any more. This was the case with American Airlines when its executives felt they needed to rebrand earlier this year. The rebrand included a complete re-evaluation of what the brand stood for, and how it was perceived by stakeholders, both internally and externally in the market.


Evolution Of American Airlines Logo

Image via Lost Press Marketing


Part of the rebranding process included an update of its visual icon, the brand identity, which hadn’t seen much change since its introduction back in 1968. Its important to note that brand logos are a shorthand way to remind us of a brand’s relevance, associations and reputation in the market and are a by-product of all a company’s brand building efforts over time. They are the visual aid or trigger that reminds customers of all the emotional and rational reasons of why they love (or in some cases dislike) a brand but they are not the ‘brand’ in themselves, merely the visual identifier.


When American Airlines analysed its brand logo in the context of what the brand stood for now in the current market, the old symbol wasn’t seen to meet current needs or communicate the core brand message any longer. America’s number one airline needed a more streamlined and vibrant visual image to represent the brand in its full context. They also wanted to let go of what they termed the ‘bullying emphasis’ they believed old logo represented, according to one senior AA executive:


“The old identity was slightly skewed to a more powerful American image. We needed to move it to [what we call] ‘American spirit,’” he said.  “That’s the side of America people really, really love. People have huge love for the eagle, but not necessarily the eagle in the downward position potentially attacking someone.”




2. Reputation Management : Negative Brand Sponsorships…

Brand sponsorship of significant high profile events, causes or people such as celebrities can reap immense rewards, through the association for the brand. Equally it can also cause reputation risks too, if for example the person concerned suddenly becomes embroiled in a publically unacceptable behaviour or expresses a controversial opinion or becomes aligned to something which is the opposite of what your brand stands for.


A simple example from the USA is a Missouri restaurant owner who’d named his restaurant after a Missouri basketball star (Albert Pujols). When Albert Pujols left the Missouri St. Louis Cardinals to play for the Los Angeles Angels suddenly ‘Pujols 5’ wasn’t the go-to restaurant in town anymore. In fact, it became the opposite, the owner received numerous cancellations, his premises were vandalized and a police cordon had to be set up to deter further damage. Sales dropped a whopping 75 per cent and it seemed as if the business was about to go bust. Indeed customers are filmed saying they doubted it would survive even a year.


A radical rebrand became critical to the fundamental survival of the business. In fact the rebrand required a complete name change to ‘Patrick’s Restaurant & Sports Bar’. The restaurant re-established itself successfully in the market with the rebrand and most importantly, in the minds of its target market, enabling the business to grow again profitably.


Unfortunately, in the case of US family-run firm ‘Ms & Mrs’ their brand wasn’t just broke but demolished – thanks to a much-anticipated promotion in a TV show which turned out to be a definite brand breaker as opposed to booster. The presenter on the ABC talk show, mispronounced the name of their company to Mr & Mrs. 


 Mr And Mrs Emergency Kit


Image via Audrey Lifestyle Magazine 


As a result, all that much-looked forward to thousands of dollars worth of free publicity and increased sales for the firm (it provides a variety of ‘emergency personal care kits’ for for all sorts of occaions) never happened.


That wasn’t the only time the name had been mispronounced. Vloggers had accidentally altered it too or even had trouble saying it in the first place. Enough was enough. It was time to do something. So the family rebranded and changed their brand name. In order to avoid any confusion, they chose a new name completely different from the original and became ‘Pinch Provisions’.


 Pinch Minimergency Brides Kit

Image via Pinch Provisions


They also did a brilliant pre-name change video – using humour to make fun of themselves (and no doubt endearing themselves to thousands more customers in the process). 





3. Brand Name Translations : Bad Interpretations

One of the key guidelines to brand naming is ensuring the name and its tag line translates appropriately across different languages and cultural boundaries. Sometimes this consideration has been overlooked resulting in unfortunate connotations or interpretations when translated into foreign languages, such as the following examples:


A sports drink in Japan, produced by Otsuka Pharmaceutical Co and aimed at replacing electrolytes lost in sweating is named Pocari Sweat (which we reckon wouldn’t go down well in English-speaking countries).


Pocari Sweat Ion Drink


In Germany the computer Commodore VIC-20 had to be renamed to the VC-20. The reason for this is that VIC in German would be pronounced fick which means (well, in English you’d put a ‘u’ in place in the ‘i’).


The American SciFi channel wanted a new text friendly name. Unfortunately they choose SyFy which in many countries turned out to be slang for syphilis.


Online marketing company PinCrusher used to be known as PinBot – until they realised the word ‘Bot’ didn’t have particularly good connotations (being associated with as a web crawler). It could also be extremely confusing considering their business was internet based and involved the selling of a Pinterest app…


Rebranding isn’t something that can be taken lightly. It needs to be strategically driven and supported by considerable market research to find out what’s working, what isn’t. Most importantly new potential rebrand approaches should also be ‘tested’ and researched, before full development and launch to market, to get feedback and ensure target audience ‘buy in’. Make sure you find out and know where and why to keep the good stuff, and bin the out of date or compromised, to ensure your rebrand launch is successful and increases your profitability.


• If you’re considering rebranding do you really know what works well for your brand and what aspects of it could do with a revamp?


• Have you researched your target audience to test brand sentiment and get feedback both at the beginning of you rebranding project and again at an advanced stage of development to test your new positioning/concepts etc.?



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Socially Empowered Employees: Are They Key to Building Your Brand Online?

Posted by Lorraine Carter on May 29 2013 @ 10:20

The demand for Community Managers has steadily increased over the last five years and, with the rise in social media as a business driver, it’s not hard to see why. As brands began waking up to the power of collaborating with online social communities, the role of the community manager was seen as the strategic backbone to a social business.


 Community Manager Job


Community Managers not only manage the online voice of the brand through social networks, they are equally responsible for being the voice of the community to the brand. Their role combines building brand awareness, adoption and customer relationships through online conversations, with careful collection and analysis of customer feedback and online habits.


Some companies have been employing community managers for years, others are exploring it for the first time, but a trend is emerging that might make the current role of community managers slightly less significant.


 Socially Empowered Employees


Socially Empowered Employees

Big brands have become more noticeably proactive over the last twelve months in encouraging their employees to be active on their own personal social networks for the benefit of the brand (they are employed by). The theory behind the strategy is that every employee can become an ambassador for the brand. If you are asking why you would allow or encourage your employees to openly represent your brand, read on…


Top 5 Reasons for Leveraging Your Brand Through Your Employees Online  


1. More Eyes, Ears & Hands

Online content that gains attention and drives traffic is hard to create. In many cases the best content just has to be done in the right moment. Look at what Oreo achieved by tweeting their Superbowl message at the just right time. Having one community manager limits the time and potential reach of your brand. There is not always time to seek approval or listen to the concerns and feedback if the responsibility is left to just one person and an opportunity can pass by within minutes. Empowered employees can not only represent the brand online, they can connect with customers at the right time and collectively build online communities that drive meaningful brand equity.


 Oreo Dunk In The Dark


2. Humanize Your Online Brand

One of the most integral parts of social business are the employees in the company itself. In an offline world, employees often humanize the brand experience. They make the customers feel like they are doing business with someone they can relate to, and not just a company that wants their money. Having multiple online representatives extends the brand personality online and gives social business an authentic voice.


 Humanized Social Brand


3. Trust Is The Real Social Currency

Trust is one of the hardest attributes to come by in the business world.  Building strong relationships has become almost more important than transactional communication. If trust is the social currency of the social media age then building strong relationships between employees and the marketplace at large can make a real impact on sustainable sales. Employees who are empowered to represent the brand online can be valuable effective participants in building trust and enhancing brand image.


 Social Whisper


4. Your Online Brand Deserves A Real Voice

Authenticity and transparency are key to building a strong online representation of any brand. Using automated social media engagement tools instead of actually conversing with customers online can kill the value of social business and negatively effect offline sales. The benefits of socially empowered employees to represent the brand and act as brand advocates can’t be underestimated. 


 Socially Empowered Employee Teams


5. Your Employees Are A Reflection Of Your Company, Your Brand

If you are afraid of what your employees would say about you online then you need to question if the real problem lies not with the employees but with the company itself. Are there internal issues that would reflect badly on the brand? Have you a poor corporate culture? Are you hiring the wrong people? In that case the problem then is not what the employees might say, but what the company does.


 Social Media Management


Community Managers will still have a role to play in a future of socially empowered employees. Their guidance is needed to direct, measure and strategize how the general workforce is and should be using social media to reach the customer.


In order to achieve a tangible business objective, socially empowered employees need to be trained and motivated to represent the best interest of your brand online.


When this is achieved, employees who are trusted with the responsibility of your brand’s online reputation can create greater online content that inspires, that informs and that ultimately adds value to the conversation and consequently your brand. Mobilizing rather than muffling your employee’s online activity might be the key to growing your business in the year ahead.


• Have you considered how you could adapt and leverage your employees social reach for your brand online, within your social business or online marketing strategy?


• Do you need to audit your company’s social media policy and train your staff, with clear guidelines, in how best to represent your brand online?

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Brand Expansion: Give Your Customers What They Want!

Posted by Lorraine Carter on May 10 2013 @ 11:55

If we learn nothing else from the fast food and drink industry it is that complacency has no place in the business world, even among global brand leaders. A trend has emerged whereby large fast food and coffee retailers are expanding their brand model into new areas in order to capture new market opportunities and extend their customer offering.


Listen To What Your Customers Are Saying

Often, an expansion of an original brand offering is the result of a brand trying to remain relevant to the customer and their ever evolving tastes. 


Starbucks, arguably the largest and strongest coffee retail chain in the world recently began rolling out a new concept for the brand: Starbucks Evenings. This expansion of their original strategy sees the coffee giant expand their offering to alcoholic beverages along with small plates of artisanal food.


 Starbucks Evenings


The concept is a response to customer feedback calling for more options to relax in store in the evenings. Starbucks’s expansion of their food and beverage options aims to create a new occasion for customers to visit their stores. By engaging with the customer, Starbucks captured valuable insight into the changing needs and behavioral trends of their customers and expanded their brand offering accordingly.



Increasing Loyalty and Increasing Revenue

The success of McCafe demonstrates McDonalds ability to listen to customers and a willingness to make them happy. The brand identified that their customer’s were coffee drinkers but went elsewhere for their coffee purchases, as McDonalds coffee was deemed lesser in quality. McDonalds responded in steps; first by introducing 100% Arabica beans for their coffee to produce a better quality coffee and provide credibility as a quality coffee provider. Then introducing Iced coffee to the menu before launching the McCafe brand expansion.


 Mccafe Selection


By listening and responding to customer feedback the brand succeeded not only in enhancing the brand experience for their customers, but through the expansion of their brand offering, McDonalds succeeding in capturing a valuable share of the coffee market.



Expanding Your Brand To Strengthen Its Positioning

Progression is important for any brand and Starbucks Evenings aims to evolve and enhance the brand experience based on what the customer are telling them.


 Starbucks Evenings Twitter


While this expansion of the brand is being communicated as being a customer-centric strategy, the move serves a dual purpose. Not only are Starbucks aiming to satisfy the evolving needs of their loyal customer base, the expansion of the brand experience leaves them less dependent on the increasingly competitive coffee chain market. If the expansion is successful, the brand will enjoy a stronger position in the minds of their target customers and be less susceptible to the effects of direct competition from other coffee chains.



Expanding Customer Perceptions

The Starbucks move might look like the brand is deviating from its core business, but the strategy is not unlike that undertaken by McDonalds when they first introduced breakfasts to their menu. The brand identified an untapped market in the breakfast sector and then worked to change customer’s perceptions of the brand as a plausible breakfast provider. Years later, and McDonalds has redefined the market as a profitable route for fast food brands.




McDonalds are a great example of a brand that constantly looks for fresh ways to expand the brand to increase growth and market reach. Without deviating from their core brand values, McDonalds has expanded the brand into unlikely avenues and succeeded in exploiting previously untapped markets in the fast food industry.


 Mcdonald 2010 Weekday Breakfast Special


The brands latest move McDonalds “Nocturnivore” is a response to changing customer habits and potentially lucrative unexploited dining times. Just as Starbucks is trying to open up a low-traffic daypart with alcohol sales, McDonald's is testing a "Breakfast After Midnight" menu for the relatively untapped "fourth daypart" — between 2 and 5 a.m. The "Nocturnivore" menu and campaign is promoting late-night dining of not only dinner but also breakfast items. Less than 1 percent of total fast-food traffic comes in during those hours, but 1 percent is still 1 percent.


 Mcdonalds Nocturnivore2


Sometimes the market share we need can be created rather than earned. Listening to our customers or redefining markets can open up huge possibilities for new revenue channels, new market relevancy or market repositioning.

• What could you do with your present brand offering to expand your current reach beyond the obvious status quo and grow your market share?




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Brand Heart: Are You Bringing Your Brand To Life In Your Work Space?

Posted by Lorraine Carter on April 18 2013 @ 13:22

Hearing someone say they work at Google seems to have the same effect on every listener regardless of their industry background...Wow!


Google Green Dublin 


It’s a true testament to the Google leaders that they have created a reputation of being such a desirable place to work, but lets face it, it’s not just because of the type of work carried out there. With unique, fun, quirky, often bizarre office interiors, which include slides, video games and ski-gondolas, Google lead the way in a trend to change the traditional view of what a corporate office should look and feel like. There is method to the supposed madness.


 Google Office Slide


Google, Facebook, Airbnb and so many of the newer global companies, along with a few of the longer established, understand that the culture and physical experience of your company is a huge part of your company brand. They understand that it is the people and living experience internally behind the brands that help to dictate how the brand is perceived externally.


 Google Ski Lifts


An office is far more than walls, desks and computers. It’s a recruitment tool, a second home and a place to inspire those who work within. If a leader’s job is to get the best from their employees then part of that responsibility is creating a space that motivates people to make the most of shaping and growing their brand.


 Facebook Office Pan


If you care about company culture and authentic brand experience then the office space matters. It is an important part of how the employee views their work. But flashy spaces, open plan offices and bean bags are not for everyone. A place without quite spaces can be just as ineffective as grey cardboard cubicles. There are certain elements however that will provide triggers to employees and customers alike about the company culture that may need to be addressed.


 Facebook Office Photo


• Collaborative Space

You don’t have to be a creative company to have a need for a collaborative space. If people arrive into the office, go to their desk and stay there until the end of the day then the company is not maximizing the benefits that come from employee interactions between the company thinkers and innovators. A dedicated collaborative space that can be used for informal interactions can make employees more comfortable to contribute, to share opinions and develop new ideas.


 Google Hq Zurich


• Brand Ambassadors

Employees are your brand ambassadors. Creating an office space that reminds them each day of what they and the brand are trying to achieve can be a powerful motivator.


Mindvalley Kuala Lumpur Malaysia 


• Reflect Your Core Brand Values

If sustainability is an important ‘value’ underpinning your brand, then this should be communicated using internal triggers as well as external communication. Using and promoting recyclable materials within the office for example ensures that those working to build the brand understand that the company genuinely believes and lives by the values they promote. You are authentically living that brand value and reinforcing it everyday in what you do.


Education First Lucerne Switzerland 


• Recruit The Best

Google and Facebook offices are designed not only to serve current employees, but to attract the best talent. They use their office space to communicate the type of culture they promote internally and to attract ‘like minded’ people who can fit within that culture and become part of the brand family. Both understand the needs of the people that work for them and have been hugely beneficial to the organisation, as employees reciprocate with high levels or productivity and efficiency.


 Vocus Beltsville Maryland


• Create Customer Cues

PR and advertising can support a strategy that communicates a brand’s vision and values, but that can be destroyed at the workplace if the office space doesn’t align with the promise of your brand message. If your brand communicates a sense of community or creativity, but your offices are comprised of people working separately behind closed doors what kind of message does this send to your customers? Internal triggers and experiences can make a significant external impact. Even reception rooms and meeting room names can tell a story that reflects the brand. Think about your customer’s brand journey. How would your offices influence the customer’s perspective and experience of your brand?


 Airbnb Conference Room Mushroom Cabin In Aptos California


Company culture is not something that can be created from blueprints. It is something that is shaped by the people working within. Leaders can influence it, they can coax and enable the desired type of brand culture but even the well intentioned leader can inadvertently establish dysfunctional workplaces by creating a workspace that is at odds with the brand values and messages the employees are working to shape.


Google may have developed a reputation of a fun, goofy place to work, but what it really signifies is a deep understanding by its leaders, that the environment can play a significant role in creating the balance needed to promote problem solving and creativity in an industry that demands both.


If you can’t glean clues about the brand or the people behind it from walking in the door of the office you could be in trouble. Get your office ‘on brand’, and it could play a valuable part in supporting your innovation, productivity levels, marketing mix and consequently profitability coupled with long term success. 

• What do you think of some of the world's 'coolest' offices?


• How does yours compare? Is it 'on brand' or congruent with what your brand stands for?


• Does your office space encourage collaboration, innovation and creativity?


• Does your office space reflect your brand culture?



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