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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Sub-Branding: How Many Brands Do You Need To Get A Profitable Return?

Posted by Lorraine Carter on April 09 2013 @ 13:38

What happens when a successful brand fails to impact within a new market or market segment? When despite best efforts, the brand cannot make itself relevant to a new market? Is introducing a sub-brand the answer?


There are instances when sub-brands hold the key to expanding market share and broadening profit opportunities. However, sub-branding also runs the risk of jeopardizing the strength of the parent brand if implemented without due diligence and careful analysis.


Air Canada Rouge



Effective Sub-Branding Strategies


1. Entering Markets That Are Closed To The Parent Brand

Air Canada recently launched Rouge, a low-cost sub-brand airline created as a means to serve new market destinations that the existing model could not serve on a competitive basis. Air Canada’s original brand value structure would be compromised if the parent brand cut their prices and changed the quality of their value proposition. Rouge aims to be a proactive manoeuvre by the brand against new low cost carriers operating within Canada.




Disney releases Certified 18 movies under their Touchstone brand as doing so under the Disney name would be incongruent with the Disney brand identity and what it stands for; magic, fun, wholesome family experiences full of happy memories and happy endings!


2. Satisfying Segmented Customer Needs

Hoteliers segment their market by brand type and frequently introduce meaningful sub brands to serve new customer needs and enter new markets. By separating the hotels into sub-brands, Hoteliers can highlight the different value bundles offered under each brand. It provides clear distinction for the customers on the level of service to be expected from each sub-brand, providing an obvious choice for the business or luxury customer versus the family on a budget.


 Marriott Hotel Brands


3. Industry Norms

Sub-brands are part of the culture of some industries. Car manufacturers frequently release cars under sub-brands. This is particularly effective when each sub-brand has a particular focus and value proposition that does not overlap with other sub-brands within the family. Toyota’s Prius has a very definite brand identity and serves a focused target market. It allowed Toyota to create a leading position within the environmentally conscious market segment and made the Toyota brand more relevant with that customer group.


 Toyota Prius



Sub-Branding Risks

Sub-brands have been known to help companies thrive, capturing new market segments and introducing a parent brand to a wider audience. However sub-branding can come at a cost too.


1. Reduced Impact of Parent Brand

Establishing and marketing a sub-brand demands a considerable investment of capital and resources. In most cases sub-brands move resources away from the core brand, risking potential sales of the parent brand itself. The success of the Coors Light beer came at the expense of a loss in market share of the parent Coors brand due to the reduced marketing budget available to advertise Coors.


 Coors And Coors Light


2. Create Competition

Sometimes sub-brands can invite competition within a sector, creating obstacles that previously did not exist. American Express had established itself as the premium brand within the credit card market. Then it decided to introduce sub-brands: the American Express Gold Card and American Express Platinum. Suddenly it opened up the opportunity for competitors to launch their own products aimed at the high-end customer, forcing American Express to fight for its premium position.


 American Express Cards


3. Over Stretch Marketing Resources

As with any strategy, introducing a sub brand offers both pros and cons. The general consensus is that companies should operate with as few brands as possible to maximize the impact of limited marketing resources.


Marketing will appear weak and ineffective if it is spread too thinly. Economies of brand, strategic focus and clear efficient internal operations can often give the parent brand the support it needs rather than employing a sub-brand strategy.


While sub-brands can help to upscale or downscale a brand offering, without clear differentiation a sub-brand can cause real confusion with customers as to the value proposition and unique offering of each sub-brand.


Remember, if your core brand is failing to make an impact within a market there are other strategies that may serve your corporate goals. Identifying the possibilities at hand such as expanding core values, evolving the brand structure or reinterpreting existing brand values could have the desired effect and impact with your target customers. 


Before you explore developing sub-brands ask yourself this: how many brands do you need to get the job done?

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Guerrilla Marketing : Targeting One to Reach Many With Your Brand

Posted by Lorraine Carter on April 02 2013 @ 12:35

The concept of brands employing creative, innovative, and sometimes controversial tactics to generate buzz and demand attention is not a new one. However guerrilla marketing goes a step further.


By its very nature guerrilla marketing is about using unexpected tactics to generate maximum impact with as wide an audience as possible. Its success lies in creating a unique, engaging and thought provoking idea that connects with the target market and develops meaningful brand equity.


 Redbull F1 London


With guerrilla marketing it was often a case of the simple being the most effective. Despite a huge marketing spend at their disposal, Red Bull gained substantial exposure by choosing to adopt guerrilla tactic for their F1 London campaign; exploiting the impact of placing the extraordinary within the ordinary.




So too did McDonalds China with their McNuggets campaign.




Historically guerrilla marketing was typically viewed as a publicity stunt, with brands looking for maximum impact for minimal spend. The potential exposure and reach generated from online viral campaigns now however, has resulted in a new breed of guerrilla tactics being used by leading brands.


With greater understanding of digital metrics, brands are starting to accept the real impact that a virally successful guerrilla campaign can play on brand development. Viral success amounts to far more than greater brand awareness. The right campaign can tell a story and introduce the audience to an element of the brand personality sometimes lost in traditional advertising.


KLM are a brand who have a history of creating engaging guerrilla marketing campaigns. 




With a strong social media presence in place, the brand has recently engaged in social heavy guerrilla campaigns that utilize social media data to executed targeted guerrilla campaigns to maximum effect.


KLM are the poster brand for social business. Their interaction with fans on twitter is a testament to how to develop brand image and build relationships using social media. Their willingness to engage with their fans has resulted in some incredible activities.




A recent guerrilla campaign by KLM took social involvement with fans to a new level. Over the Christmas period, KLM looked for passengers who checked into their flights on Foursquare and tweeted about waiting to board, did a little social media research to find out more about them, and then surprised them at their gates with personalized gifts. The campaign was filmed by KLM and soon went viral. It helped communicate the brands commitment to customer service, build positive brand associations, and spread brand awareness as well as a little holiday spirit.




In contrast, stress was the desired emotion of Nivea’s latest guerrilla efforts. While not as personally invasive as KLM’s airport gift campaign, Nivea too preyed on individuals to maximize viral attention. Using a variety of mediums the brand sought to play on customer stress and fear to create a context for their latest deodorant product. While KLM’s stunt was about developing brand equity through positive brand connotations, Nivea’s campaign was an obvious product push.  




What both campaigns highlight is the impact that personalized guerrilla campaigns can have on the wider audience. While traditional guerrilla tactics get attention, it is not necessarily from the right target audience. By targeting individuals, the brands manage to involve all their target customers through social media sharing the experience of the campaign victims; smiling with KLM, squirming with Nivea!  The use of actual customers draws the audience to identify with the people, the situation and evokes a genuine emotional response.


While some campaigns can be complex and costly to execute, the real success of modern guerrilla marketing, is to create great content, in the right context that sparks conversation and genuine emotional engagement.


Here’s the question, what kind of creative guerrilla marketing campaign, targeted at individuals but grabbing mass audience attention, could you leverage to increase genuine brand affinity with your target customers?


Have you even considered guerrilla marketing as part of your brand strategy?



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Brand Scandal: What’s Your Response to Controversy?

Posted by Lorraine Carter on March 29 2013 @ 17:10

The recent horsemeat crisis may be producing some of the most amusing jokes of the last few months, but the implication for brands on losing consumer trust is certainly no laughing matter.


This latest consumer scare is less about the ingredients themselves and more to do with the level of trust we place in the hands of our food providers. With reputations built upon customer’s trusting the information provided, it begs the question, can brands built on trust withstand this level of breach in customer confidence?


 Tesc Beef Lasagne 20


The horsemeat scandal may be affecting the food industry but it is a wake up call to all brands. In the case of the horsemeat crisis many of the brands under fire were not intentionally misleading their customers.


The food industry has become so highly concentrated and globalised in recent decades, and supply chains have become so long that there is an increase in the points at which the integrity of the chain can break. 


This is not to say that the brands were void of responsibility. With an industry based on the traceability of the product, the promise of transparency and accountability lies with the parent brand. 


 Horse Meat Burgers


Few businesses are in complete control of all elements in their supply chains. Out sourcing is common, and indeed necessary, in most industries. Companies can rarely control all elements affecting the reputation of their brand and this makes it is increasingly important for brand’s to have a response strategy in place, incase a crisis hits.


The real indication of a brand’s ability to bounce back and rebuild consumer trust lies in their response to the scandal.



Top 3 Tips to Mitigate Brand Crises


1. Crisis Reaction

Recovery from a scandal begins with a phase of greater accountability from the brand. Apologizing to your customers and acknowledging you have let them down is an important step in rebuilding the trust lost.


In the wake of the horsemeat scandal Tesco released an apology in all major national newspapers as well as online. Included in the full apology was the following:


'We have immediately withdrawn from sale all products from the supplier in question, from all our stores and online. If you have any of these products at home, you can take them back to any of our stores at any time and get a full refund. You will not need a receipt and you can just bring back the packaging. We and our supplier have let you down and we apologise.'




2. Internal communication

It is not just customers who are affected by a break in trust following a scandal. Employees have a sense of ownership of the brand they represent. They are often the very people who feel the greatest sense of betrayal when something goes wrong.


Communicating with staff during a time of crisis is critical to brand survival. Employees are often customer facing and the main communication channel between the brand and angered customers.


Employees who have an understanding of the brand’s position, who have been kept informed of the actions been taken by the brand to react to the scandal are best poised to alleviate customer concerns and reinstate trust. Employees who believe in the integrity of the brand, and their commitment to doing the right thing can help to rebuild a brand to a position of strength.


 Lance Armstrong


Before Lance Armstrong’s public confession of guilt for doping offenses he met with staff at Livestrong, the charity he helped found, and apologized for letting the staff down and putting the Livestrong brand at risk. He said he would try to restore the foundation's reputation, and urged the group to continue fighting for the charity's mission of helping cancer patients and their families.


 Livestrong Wristband


Tesco have a website dedicated specifically to internal communication with their staff. As part of their crisis management the brand has kept their employees well informed as to the companies actions regarding the horsemeat scandal and how they are responding to customers in a piece called “What we found, What we are doing”.



3. Taking Action

An apology is meaningless unless swift, visible action is taken to right the wrong and acknowledge customer concerns.


In 1990 Perrier water voluntarily withdrew its product worldwide, some 160 million bottles, after an isolated incident in a plant in North Carolina found traces of Benzene, a carcinogen, in several bottles.


 Perrier Mineral Water 600px


Despite the incident being identified as a mistake in the filtering procedure and effecting only a small number of bottles, the brand’s worldwide response was instrumental in alleviating consumer concern and maintaining trust. Thirteen years later and the brand’s reputation has emerged stronger than ever.


Kevin Clash was the voice and puppeteer behind Sesame Street’s Elmo; a character deemed to be responsible for a significant portion of the company’s profits from merchandise and affiliate products. With over 23 years in the job, Clash was seen to be instrumental behind Elmo’s success. It was believed that Elmo’s mannerisms were a projection of Clash’s sensibilities and that it would be impossible to have one with out the other.


 Sesame Street Elmo


When allegation of Clash’s past sexual relations with minors emerged Clash was forced to resign in order to preserve the brand. The potential concern of parents was seen as a greater risk to the brand than the loss of Clash.


Safeguarding your brand from crisis starts by being proactive and doing your due diligence when it comes to managing suppliers, hiring employees, and choosing brand representatives.

Surviving a crisis is about accountability, transparency and positive action.


• Is your brand strong enough to stage a comeback if crisis hits?


• Do you have a robust and well thought out brand crisis management plan?


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Employee’s Online Reach: Are You Leveraging Yours To Grow Your Brand?

Posted by Lorraine Carter on March 20 2013 @ 13:32

Twitter followers, LinkedIn profiles, Personal Blogs. Employees are now spending time developing and nurturing personal and professional brands of their own. From communicating about personal interests, or professional expertise, employees are quickly establishing themselves as knowledgeable voices in the online space.


 Social Media At Work


Whether encouraging the employee to promote the brand through their personal profiles, or developing a co-branded approach where the employee is promoted as representing the brand, having an employee with a significant online following can offer leverage to a brand looking to further its reach in the market.

 Employees And Social Media


Top 5 Reasons for Leveraging Your Employee’s Online Reach to Grow Your Brand

Does your Sales manager have more LinkedIn connections than your company profile? Does your Marketing Manager have more Twitter followers than your brand? Employees that have developed a strong public identity can offer numerous benefits to a brand if that reach is harnessed to promote the brand and its values.


1. Reach

An employee that has amassed a large online following instantly opens up the possibility of widening the audience reach of the brand online. They have established themselves as an influencer and if they use this power to promote the brand it can impact on brand awareness and image. 


2. Influence

An employee that establishes themselves as an online expert in their field can give credence to a brand by tweeting as a representative of that brand. It influences customer perception of the brand, positioning it as leader in the market, and can generate new leads for the business through online conversations.


3. Brand image

Employees can make the best brand champions. If they love what they do, and they love what the brand represents, they are often eager to share their enthusiasm with the world.  Employees who vocalize their love for the brand on their social media channels give the brand message a powerful and authentic voice.


Social Media Relationships


4. Relationship Building

Many brands use social media as a tool to build relationships with their customers. Co-branded twitter handles like @ikeasupport_claire help develop a real human connection between the brand and their customers. This touch point connection can be critical in developing a meaningful and lasting relationship with customers.


 Recruitment Through Social Networks


5. Recruitment

Co-branded employees who use their personal profiles to promote their company can help attract high caliber like-minded people to the company and increase your valuable talent pool.



Top 5 The Risks To Your Business and Your Brand

Employee’s online activity can be a complement to a company’s own brand image. But there are implications of giving employees license to represent the brand in their personal or co-branded profiles.


1. Clash of Values

For every positive tweet sent by an employee about your brand, there are likely to be several other messages that represent the values of the employee. It is not up to your customer to distinguish which message reflects the brand values and which are solely belonging to the employee. Harnessing employee’s online reach for the benefit of brand must first ensure that the values of the brand and employee are closely aligned.


2. Miscommunication

There is a danger that an employee who feels they are representing the brand communicates sensitive internal information that should not be for public viewing. You need to ensure you have very clear company policy with regard to your social media guidelines and a brand risk management strategy in place.


3. Time and Productivity

Updating social media is a time consuming process. Employees who feel that they are doing the brand a service by promoting work using their personal profiles might also feel entitled to update profiles during work hours, reducing valuable productivity.


4. Internal Resentment

There is a risk that resentment between employees can fester regarding social media use at work. How to you distinguish between the employees that are allowed to update personal profiles during work hours because it benefits the brand, and those who cannot because the value of doing so is not as significant to the brand?


5. Intellectual Property Rights

Possibly the biggest consideration of leveraging co-branded employee profiles is the argument over who holds the ownership rights to the profiles and their followers.


A sales Rep who works for a company for five years may amass a huge number of connections on LinkedIn; connections which are essentially a form of customer lists for the company. If that employee leaves the company who has rights to that profile’s list of contacts?


 Phonedog Logo


Noah Kravitz left his former employer PhoneDog in October 2010 on good terms. The company then sued him for $340,000 for the 17,000 followers he kept after he left the position, valuing each follower at $2.50 per month over a period of eight months.

Kravitz told the New York Times that PhoneDog told him he could keep his followers, as long as he continued to Tweet about the company.


A judge in the USA dismissed a lawsuit by a former employee of Edcomm who claimed that the company illegally accessed her LinkedIn account after she left the company; changing her password and preventing her from accessing critical contacts. Even though the account was created under the employee’s own name, the judge’s ruling gives leverage to the argument that social media content created at work belongs to employers.


Although these rulings give some power to companies in relation to intellectual property rights, the matter is still very much in the grey.


Companies need to have very specific social media policies relating to the social media activity of employees in the workplace. 


Depending on corporate culture and risk tolerance of your company, you might want to embrace the business benefits of co-branded employees.


Opting for tight limits on work related social media might be the better bet when it comes to controlling your brand and managing risk.


• Does your company have a well developed policy regarding who owns what online?


• How do you distinguish between a personal online activity and one that represents the brand?


• Does your corporate culture support co-branded employees communication?



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Brand Curiosity! Is It The Most Irresistible Way To Woo Your Customers?

Posted by Lorraine Carter on March 13 2013 @ 13:38

When it comes to attracting customer attention sometimes a little information goes a long way. Feelings have a critical role in the way customers are influenced and few are stronger than the pull of curiosity.


 Rules For Success


Curiosity occurs when there is a gap between what we know and what we want to know. For brands, this offers significant power when influencing customers because the drive for knowledge is not only a key motivation in the decision making process, it's also instinctual.



Excite Curiosity to Grow Your Brand and Drive Sales

Utilizing emotions constructively can be key to increasing sales. California Pizza Kitchen created a campaign that engaged the customer by tapping into their natural curiosity. The “Don’t Open It” Thank you card was a coupon campaign with an interesting twist.


Customer’s received the card with their receipt. The card contained what they would receive on their next visit. It could be a free desert or $50 voucher for example. However they could not find out what exactly they would receive until they brought the card unopened with them on their next visit. If the card was opened before they returned to the store for their next purchase the prize inside became null and void.


 California Pizza Kitchen Thankyou Card


The intrigue is built around the promise of something of value. Teasing with the list of possibilities is critical to arousing curiosity. The success of the campaign was built around building curiosity but guaranteeing something worthwhile as the reward.



Use the Unexpected to Gain Attention

Red Square Agency did a test campaign using Facebook Ads to examine the pull of curiosity on customer behavior. They created four Facebook advertisements. Three were real advertisements, the fourth was a picture of a large grey-haired cat called Cous Cous with the tag “This ad features a cat: it has nothing to do with Red Square Agency but we hope you will click on it anyway”.


 Cous Cous Cat Advert


After a month, Cous Cous had received twice as many clicks as the other real advertisements. The success of Cous Cous was credited to the advertisement exciting curiosity with the audience. Whether those click throughs translated into meaningful sales or merely attracted attention is not clear. What the campaign did highlight was that sometimes it is the unexpected that can trigger the desired response with customers.



Invoke the Pull of the Unknown

All marketing communication strategies involve a certain level of intrigue; just enough information to make it interesting. When customers are teased with a hint of what is on offer the draw of curiosity can be irresistible. 


Steve Jobs 


During his time at Apple, Steve Jobs became the master of exploiting natural curiosity to the company’s advantage. Jobs would hint at a product demo, would leak a product proto type and then Apple would embargo all official information between the demo and the release.


 Apple Customers Queue Ny


By the time the product was released the world would be a buzz with bloggers and Apple loyalists interpreting and speculating as to the latest features and design. This practice consistently sees Apple receiving expressions to buy reaching far into the millions before their products are even released.




In October 2012 Sony released a series of mysterious advertisements called “The Arrival”. With no information or hint as to whether the ‘arrival’ referred to a game or to a new Sony product, the internet became awash with speculation.


Customers and critics alike generated an unprecedented level of attention sparked by curiosity and driven by expectation. It's not clear what Sony were releasing but either way, they certainly had people's attention.


Pushing information at the customer gives them the tools they need to make an informed decision during the purchasing process. However sometimes withholding critical information can invoke the pull of the unknown, and draws the customer to actively seek information putting the power back in the hands of the brand.

  Curiosity Teaser Advert


Use curiosity to your advantage, as part of your brand strategy, by limiting information and leaving something to the imagination.


• Can you invoke the pull of the unknown with your customers?


• Have you leveraged the irresistible pull of ‘curiosity’ to underpin some of your marketing campaigns?



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Why Align Your Brand to A Worthy Cause?

Posted by Lorraine Carter on March 07 2013 @ 13:55

The benefits to worthy causes or charities of partnering with big brands are obvious. Charities, such as Oxfam, use partnerships with commercial brands as a media platform and an opportunity to get its message out to the public.


 M S Oxfam


Partnering with Marks & Spencer allows Oxfam to tap into the huge influence the M&S brand has over consumers. Being able to promote their message among that captured audience via this kind of partnership is immensely beneficial to the charity and their work.


However partnerships of this nature can be mutually beneficial to both the charity and brand alike. It bequeaths the commercial brand with a deeper meaning and offers another opportunity for engagement with their customers on a different emotional level.

 Building Partnership


It can also become a significant part of the brands social contribution policy. Without wishing to sound cynical, tying up with a worthy cause or charity can be a winning formula for brands sensitive to the current climate and worth serious consideration as part of your brand strategy.



4 Top Reasons Why Brands Should Engage in Cause Related Marketing


Whether sponsoring charitable activities or committing to donate profits to a worthy cause, the benefits to brands in aligning themselves with good causes are significant


1. Build Brand Awareness

Building partnerships with charities can make a sustainable difference to the cause but it also enables the brand to raise awareness with a wider target audience. Sponsoring a charitable activity often coincides with providing the brand with significant visibility of their logo and products with an engaged and receptive audience. It also provides a platform for brands that are looking to reposition themselves in the market, and change customer perceptions, with a great opportunity by aligning themselves with the right charity associated with the desired target market.


Charitable partnerships can make the brand more accessible to a wider audience particularly if the brand engages in an experiential marketing campaign. It also enhances a company's credibility and provides an opportunity to educate the public about their products and services. Product sampling is also a great opportunity to attract new customer attention and commonly used by brands sponsoring charitable sporting activities.



2. Corporate Social Responsibility

Engaging in a strategy of corporate social responsibility through charitable partnerships displays a brand’s desire to make a positive contribution to social issues in the community.


It can also have a positive effect on the internal culture of the organisation. Charity partnerships provide the potential to boost employee engagement, and subsequently improve morale, as well as raising awareness among staff.


 Corporate Social Responsibility


HSBC has ties with environmental charity Earthwatch and sends employees to visit projects. 'It is good for motivation and makes employees more likely to stay with the company and become effective brand ambassadors,' says Nigel Pate, head of environmental partnerships at HSBC.


It can give a sense of purpose and involvement to employees. It highlights the importance of nurturing the strategy to support not just the corporate image but the wider stakeholders too. There is a sense of corporate pride amongst employees at being associated with a project that makes a positive impact in their world.



3. Differentiate the Brand from Competitors

Aligning your brand with a positive cause engenders a more caring image with customers. In markets where the variances between individual brand offerings becomes blurred, associating your brand with a significant social issue or charitable cause can give your customers a new reason to pick your brand over competitors in the market.


It is a way to communicate something about the brand that is beyond price, product or service. Brands who partner with charities or champion significant social issues often benefit from a boost in sales because, given the choice, customers are more likely to buy a brand that supports a worthy cause over a competitor who does not.

 O Egg White Eggs Icograda


O'Egg is a great example of an Irish brand with modest resources which has aligned itself with 'Action Breast Cancer'. They operate in a market with weak brand differentiation and yet the O'Egg White Egg product in its bright pink packaging is very much targeted at a female audience. The cause has a very obvious relevance to its target market which has helped raise brand awareness and benefited the cause too.



4. Boost Brand Equity

Championing a social issue or engaging with charities is a worthy way to boost brand equity and invest in a little feel-good-factor. Aligning marketing activity with cause related issues enables brands to build a reputation with their target market and build an emotional connection can help strengthen brand loyalty.


Linking brand support to significant social issues or charities creates an emotive response alongside goodwill. Customers feel they are extending the value of their purchase to include a worthy cause investment and are more likely to be repeat purchasers. 


Flora Womens Marathon Dublin


Flora’s support of the woman’s mini marathon shows their customers that as a brand, they care about what their customers care about. They recognize their customers concerns and actively try to support them. Brand loyalty is strengthened and brand equity is boosted when the customer’s affinity with the brand extends beyond the product itself. 

 Red Products 


(RED) is an example of a long established initiative encompassing the support of some of the worlds biggest brands who have each committed to supporting charitable initiatives in Africa. Each brands dedicates a (RED) product in their product line to the cause.


 Red Brands



How to Beat the Cynics

For cause related marketing to work your customer must feel differently about your company and brands as a result of the association. The partnership must be relevant to the target customers in order to be trusted. The Nissan Leaf brand alignment to the issues of global warning, and its threat to the environment, is a great example of brand cause marketing, all of which is very relevant to their eco sensitive core target audience.




For the most part customers know that sponsorship of charitable causes or championing a significant social issue is not a form of corporate altruism but a strategic business move. Consequently brands need to be upfront and transparent as to the corporate motives behind the association. 


Partnerships must prove its credibility with customers before making any kind of direct product links. For this to be successful the commitment to the aim of the cause must be sincere. Long-term commitment is needed to create a degree of trust, and show that the partnership is more than just an add-on to other marketing activity.


Arts and charities sponsorships are cheaper than sports sponsorships and can generate profit and brand equity while boosting corporate social responsibility credentials and employee engagement.


In an uncertain economic climate where consumer trust in major consumer brands has been damaged, partnering with a worthwhile cause could be the best investment you make in your brand strategy in the year ahead.


What local, national or global cause could you authentically align your brand with, that would be congruent with your core brand values, relevant to your target audience and genuinely make a difference – show that you really care?


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