As 2014 draws to an end, now is the time to review,revamp, and update your branding strategies for the year to come.Successful branding is the key to driving business growth and profitability - and in 2015, it will be more important than ever to have a strong, thriving brand.
Building a strong brand is the undisputed key to success in today’s business world, and robust differentiation is an absolute must to build a powerful and compelling brand. There are many ways you can differentiate your brand. The skill lies is developing and applying the most effective brand differentiation strategyin a way that appropriately reflects your brand’s personality, values, promise, way of doing things and key characteristics.
Brands are not static, unchanging identities - the most successful brands live and breathe, evolving along with changing shifts in market tastes, trends and demands. Rebranding or brand revitalisation, when properly planned and implemented, can be a powerfully effective strategy for rescuing or reinventing a failing brand, jump-starting a stagnant brand, expanding your markets, or initiating substantial business growth. A rebrand may be subtle or evolutionary in nature, or it may involve radically transforming a product, service, or entire brand.
Have your sales hit a slump? Are hot new brands drawing your customers away? If your brand seems to have lost its shine, it may be time for a brand audit or brand health check. Brand audits are effectively a health check for your brand. These comprehensive, honest evaluations look at the overall effectiveness of a brand and its current position in the market compared with the competition, as well as pinpointing inconsistencies and weakness, and identifying potential areas for improvement.
Research shows that you have less than 9 seconds to engage your customer and close the sale. In a fast-paced and highly competitive world, packaging design has become one of the most crucial elements for communicating your brand and standing out from the competition. Your brand might be the best in its category, but without packaging that grabs your target audience, customers won’t investigate your product to find out more or see what’s inside.
Brand Naming is all about strategic rationale, not emotion and not politics. It's your first impression so it's critical you get it right. A good name is a compact easy-to-communicate piece of information. It grabs peoples’ attention and makes them want to know more and it carries a hugely significant portion of your brand recognition all on its own.
Creating a brand with an authentically strong character is central to your branding strategy success. Just as people can be larger than life, a brand’s personality can take on a life of its own. Creating a brand with an authentically strong character is central to your branding strategy success and effectively the decider between just another average price fighter or a truly magnetic and profitable brand.
A brand promise is what your company or brand commits to delivering for everyone who interacts with you. A strong brand promise describes how people should feel when they interact with your brand, how your company delivers its products or services, and what sort of character your company embodies. Is your brand promise authentically 'walking the walk'?
Amazon is one of the most recognizable companies in the world, occupying and serving more global regions than any other organization. While your company may not have the reach and capabilities of Amazon just yet, there are still several branding lessons you can take away from the mega-store’s strategies, positioning and brand management.
The company leader is the single most powerful influencer on branding, the visionary and voice behind the brand, particularly in a small, medium or large businesses (SMEs). Phil Knight, Sir Richard Branson, Maxine Clark and Johnny Earle are all very different visionary leaders behind their brands but they have shared characteristics - the secrets to their incredible brands success.
Which is your favourite?
• Do you have a preferred article from Persona Branding and Design that didn’t make the top 10 list?
• Which of these top 10 posts did you find most useful?
Feel free to share your thoughts in the comments! We love to hear from you!
Posted by Lorraine Carter on December 16 2014 @ 09:11
The Christmas season is an important time for any brand. In the UK, Christmas spending online is expected to reach more than £13 billion - an estimated 18 percent increase over last year’s online spend. What’s more, online spending and marketing typically increases retail and in-store spending, as more of your customers reach and connect with your brand through channels like mobile and social media.
At this time of the year, having a seasonal marketing strategy can deliver tremendous ROI for your brand. Customers love to see brands getting into the Christmas spirit. But just as with any branding strategy,it’s important to make sure your Christmas branding is authentic, meaningful, and engaging and most importantly – congruent with what your brand stands for.
Here are our top 10 tips on what to do - and what not to do - in order to bring the seasonal spirit to your brand and elicit a positive and profitable customer response.
1. Don’t Just Slap on Some Tinsel and Call it Christmas
Great Christmas branding collateral incorporates the season in a meaningful way, and delivers a message that makes customers look forward to celebrating Christmas, it must touch them with appropriate emotional connectivity - preferably with the help of your products or services. But dropping Christmas-related items into your regular marketing without any particular reason or strong branding strategy simply makes things uninspiring and largely forgettable.
2. Do Have a Defined Reason for Incorporating Christmas with Your Brand
There are so many aspects to the Christmas season that failing to draw a connection to your brand with seasonal marketing should be inexcusable. Whether your brand platform emphasizes fun, heartwarming, luxurious, affordable, or timeless, there are endless meaningful connections you can make.
For online custom greeting card company Cardstore.com, one campaign highlighted their brand’s convenience. This video spot contrasted an overly enthusiastic Mum trying to package her actual family inside a Christmas card, with the convenience of creating your own custom cards online.
Another company that gets Christmas right is John Lewis. The upscale UK department store, which also owns Waitrose, has created powerful and heartwarming Christmas commercials that have really captured the spirit of the season and kept customers coming back to shop. In fact, this year’s adorable advert from John Lewis contributed to the groups’s record-breaking sales during Black Friday week.
At this time of year, an enchanting presentation is important to your customers. Shoppers want their loved ones to know that they’ve put some thought and effort into their Christmas preparations, and they’re drawn to festive packaging and cheerful or whimsical designs.
You can make your brand aspirational, fun, and desirable with limited edition Christmas packaging - or if you didn’t consider it this year, now is the time to include it in your brand planning for next year! You can also brand your online collateral such as your website and social media channels with Christmas themes.
Again, the key here is to make it meaningful and connected to your brand, without going over the top and obscuring your core brand messaging. Hershey’s is a well-known example of this, as they change their signature silver wrapper for Hershey’s Kisses to a mixture of red and green for the Christmas season.
For websites and social media, a simple banner change to Christmas greetings that aligns with your brand colours and themes can bring cheer to your customers and seasonal spirit to your brand.
4. Redefine Your Christmas Discounts
Christmas shoppers love a good bargain. But while deep discounts, clearances and blowout sales can move products, many are reluctant to take advantage of such heavily advertised specials. It can cheapen the experience of gift-giving, and the recipient may realise that they’ve just seen the item on sale.
A good alternative way to offer your customers added value, without devaluing your brand, is to pair products with a free gift, which customers can either keep for themselves or give to someone else. Some popular examples here include branded items like tote bags or mugs, trial sizes of products, or even small gift vouchers.
5. Make it a Mobile Christmas
Recent research from Nielsen found that 80 percent of UK Twitter users access Twitter on their mobiles, and for 70 percent, mobile is the primary means of access. More importantly, 94 percent of UK Twitter users engage with mobile commerce on their smartphones, and one-third of all online sales are now made via mobile devices.
There is a strong case for your brand to interact with your customers via mobile. In the midst of the Christmas shopping season, mobile branding and marketing allows you to connect quickly with customers and keep your brand top-of-mind while they’re shopping, either in-store or online.
The Royal Albert Hall took this strategy onboard for Christmas by creating an “Advent Calendar” for their Twitter feed. The iconic venue counted down the month of December by tweeting a series of historic facts that tied into the day - for example, on December 19 the tweet read: “Beach volleyball has been played at the Hall for a grand total of nineteen minutes” and included an image of beach volleyball at the Hall.
6. Make it Easier for Last-Minute Shoppers to Choose your Brand
Regardless of intentions, most of your customers will end up last-minute shopping for Christmas. You can create an inviting sense of accommodation for your brand by keeping customers informed of last-minute opportunities. Use your website and social media channels to highlight any extended opening hours for your retail location, shipping deadlines for orders delivered by Christmas, and special last-minute offers or deals such as free shipping upgrades.
7. Help Customers Find the Perfect Gift with Your Brand
Many a Christmas shopper struggles to find the right gift for the right person. One inexpensive and effective Christmas branding strategy is to put together a seasonal gift-giving guide, showing which of your products make the best gifts for certain people. For example, UK clothing retailer ASOS has created a Christmas splash page that groups gifts into fun categories like “Me Me Me,” “BFF,” “Cheap ‘N Cheerful,” and “Beauty Booty.” The page includes a few short YouTube videos that offer further gift-giving tips and tricks for shoppers.
8. Consider Christmas Vouchers to Extend Brand Loyalty
It can be difficult to choose the perfect gift - that’s why more shoppers are turning to gift vouchers that let recipients buy whatever they want. Offering branded gift vouchers or gift cards is a great way to increase visibility, strengthen your brand platform, and increase profits - an estimated 61 percent of gift card holders spend more than the amount of the card when they make a purchase.
Gift vouchers give your customers an additional way to interact with your brand, and also introduce your products or services to new customers who receive your gift vouchers as Christmas presents.
9. Reach out to Your Current Customers
The Christmas season is an opportunity to increase brand loyalty by reaching out authentically to your current customer base. It’s the perfect time to do something unexpected and pleasantly surprising for your customers - reach out with a small gift or freebie, hold a VIP night, or organize a special Christmas event for your most loyal brand supporters. Demonstrating appreciation for your customers’ patronage helps to ensure that they’ll remain loyal to your brand, and they’ll remember the gesture fondly.
Canadian airline WestJet deployed this strategy in a big way in 2013, treating 250 of its customers to a Christmas miracle. As passengers boarded their Christmas flights, they were invited into a booth to “tell Santa” what they wanted for Christmas. The passengers were recorded and viewed by airline employees at the destination airport, who raced out to buy all the gifts the passengers had wished for - and had them waiting when they arrived at their destination.
WestJet uploaded a video of the campaign to YouTube, and it promptly went viral. Currently, the video has more than 37 million views.
10. Get Festive on Facebook
In order to engage with your brand authentically, your customers need to know that there are real people behind the brand. One of the best ways to accomplish this during the Christmas season is to show your Christmas spirit on social media channels like Facebook. Post photos and video of your staff, your office or storefront, your corporate Christmas party, your involvement in the community and giving back together with other seasonal events that your customers might like a glimpse into.
And whilst using social media, don’t forget to be social! Engage your audience with interesting conversations that are relevant to your brand, or share your Christmas sentiments with favourite quotes, inspirational photos, or interactive question and fill-in-the-blank posts such as “All I want for Christmas is [blank]; how about you?”
Christmas branding doesn’t have to be complex or expensive to be successful. No matter the size of your brand, you can engage in authentic, meaningful seasonal strategies and initiatives that preserve your brand values, story, and loyalty without devaluing the core of your brand amongst the Christmas mayhem.
So, what do you think – how will you integrate Christmas into your brand strategy?
• How can you dress up your brand collateral for the Christmas season in a meaningful, relevant way?
• What authentic connections can you draw between your brand and popular Christmas symbols, values, or traditions?
• How are you maintaining the authenticity of your brand amidst the rush of the Christmas season?
• Are you reaching out to your current customers with Christmas rewards to preserve brand loyalty?
• Can Christmas shoppers clearly find the right products or services for the people on their gift lists, and identify last-minute shopping opportunities from your brand?
• Are you engaging your audience on multiple channels during Christmas, including mobile and social?
Feel free to share your thoughts in the comments. We’d love to hear from you!
Posted by Lorraine Carter on December 09 2014 @ 14:46
Building a strong brand is the undisputed key to success in today’s business world, and robust differentiation is an absolute must to build a powerful and compelling brand. Brand differentiation is the means by which your brand is set apart from the competition, by associating a superior performing aspect of your brand with multiple customer benefits.
In terms of branding, differentiation can relate to any combination of the following from the physical characteristics of your product or service, to the emotional response your brand triggers, aspects of its presentation, its price point such as very high or very low, your brand story, and even the customer experience of your brand as a whole.
There are many ways you can differentiate your brand. The skill lies is developing and applying the most effective brand differentiation strategy in a way that appropriately reflects your brand’s personality, values, promise, way of doing things and key characteristics.
If your brand fundamentally lacks sufficient personality or is very undeveloped then maybe its time to consider a brand audit or maybe your brand could benefit from some revitalisation or proper development of its character and brand profile using a process like our Personality Profile Performer™ system.
Your decisions must be made strategically so they are the most relevant to your particular products, services, or business goals - the ones that will strengthen your brand platform, and be most relevant and attractive to your customers - thereby increasing their loyalty and indeed referibility - so ultimately you can grow your bottom line successfully.
Here are 30 ways to differentiate your brand from your competition, many of which we employ, amongst others not listed here, when developing our clients brand strategies.
30 Ways to Differentiate Your Brand
1. Price Differently
Varying the price of your products or services from the competition can be an effective differentiation strategy. You can be either the economy bestseller with a low price, or a premium brand with a high price - such as Starbucks, which prices coffee higher to increase perceived quality. In fact, many brand differentiation strategies can help you charge and receive a premium price.
2. Mine a Niche
Niche products or services have built-in brand differentiation, and the marketing for them should reflect that niche. A good example is GoPro, which makes body-mounted video cameras and markets them to athletes.
3. Be the Expert
If your brand is the best at something in your industry, you can differentiate by focusing on your expertise. Domino’s Pizza provides differentiation through its expert home delivery and 30-minute guarantee.
Your brand collateral can be a key aspect of differentiation. A memorable, instantly recognizable brand identity that’s not typical of your industry segment or category can be very effective at adding differentiation. For example, Johnny Cupcakes, a unique apparel company in the US, sells its branded t-shirts with a baking theme, including both the way in which the clothing is merchandised and the packaging in which you purchase your clothing – ovens, bakers shelves and cake boxes! You can read more about Johnny Earle's strategy, the founder, here.
Image via www.johnnycupcakes.com
6. Use a Mascot
Brand mascots can be powerful differentiators, especially if you want to bring a sense of humour to your brand perceptions. American Insurance company GEICO has created massive success with its mascot - a talking lizard that has nothing to do with insurance, but still makes millions of people believe there’s something different about the company.
Image via www.geico.com
7. Heritage and Provenance
Brands can differentiate through strong associations with their country of origin. Many UK brands are noted for a timeless, classic appeal, brands from Switzerland are often associated with craftsmanship and precision, and German brands are viewed as reliable and well-engineered.
Innovation can be a key brand differentiator. This type of distinctiveness is common for tech brands - Apple is synonymous with innovation, ease of use and enhanced life experiences, SalesForce captured a largest market share with an SaaS-based CRM. But innovation isn’t limited to technology: FMCG brands can also differentiate with innovative packaging and/or different product solutions such as O’Egg and their liquid egg products and white shell eggs.
Offering your customer something entirely new is a great way to differentiate, and you may not have to change what you’re selling - just what it’s called. Tyson Foods - the world's second largest processor and marketer of chicken, beef and port - began selling chickens that were much smaller than average. The product might not have caught on if they’d called it “miniature chickens,” so they marketed them as “Cornish Game Hens” instead.
Image via www.tyson.com
10. Be the Underdog
A lot of customers love a good underdog story and will connect with you through your ‘David and Goliath’ brand story. Emphasizing your brand’s humble beginnings can help you differentiate, especially if your competitors are focused on being the biggest and the best. Successful founder stories with an underdog aspect include Nantucket Nectars’ “only a blender and a dream,” and Amazon CEO’s Jeff Bezos launching his “everything store” from his garage. Sir Richard Branson has launched the Virgin brand into multiple sectors with a ‘David and Goliath’ strategy – challenging the perceived big guys and the status quo - as the ‘customers champion’.
Image via www.virgin.com
11. Make it Convenient
Convenience can be a big brand differentiator. Something that makes life easier for your customers will make you more desirable than the competition. Amazon is the obvious example, but other brands, such as Stamps.com, have banked on differentiation through convenience and won.
Image via www.amazon.com
12. Consistently Over-Deliver on Customer Service
With all other factors equal to your competitors, consistently superior customer service and exceeding expectations can differentiate your brand. Online shoe store Zappos commands a premium price tier because of their outstanding customer service, including free shipping and free returns.
Image via www.zappos.com
13. Stand Out on Shelves
Really strong brand packaging can be an obvious and effective differentiator, in fact it can make or break your brand. If, for example, you use black packaging for your butter like Rachel’s Organic Butter, your brand will be distinctive amongst all the yellow, red, and green packs.
Image via www.rachelsorganic.co.uk
14. Tell Your Unique Brand Story
Every successful brand has a compelling story behind it. Fully developing and emphasizing your brand story can help you differentiate, be core to your brand DNA, and reinforce the personality, promise and values of your brand. Creating irresistible brand stories is a key part of our brand profiling service when working with clients to help them create and build the personality of their brands, using our Brand Story Selling System™.
15. Solve a Universal Problem
If your brand addresses a problem everyone can envision or relate to, you’ll achieve brand differentiation. TOM’s shoe brand took on the issue of children in need, by donating a pair of new shoes to a child for every pair of shoes purchased. This not only massively differentiated the brand, but emotionally engaged its audience by making corporate social responsibility live within the heart of what the brand stands for and created immense customer goodwill and brand loyalty.
Image via www.toms.com
16. Appeal to Emotions
Your brand can stand out by delivering an emotional experience that’s associated with your product or service. Coca-Cola capitalizes on emotional appeal by branding their products as happy, implying its the maker of joy and harmony. Everything Coca-Cola does from a strategic branding perspective is to associate the brand with ‘happy occasions’.
17. Be (Relevantly) Shocking
Aligning your brand with shock value can help you differentiate, but use this strategy with care. The outrage you can generate from a shocking brand should be directed in a positive way, toward your brand and what you stand for. Italian fashion brand Benetton’s has used shock campaigns multiple times over the years to raise brand visibility such as with their “Unhate” campaign, which managed to anger the U.S. government, the Vatican, and many other organizations - but was a hit with customers.
18. Change Your Customer Experience
If your industry is known for a certain type of experience, you can differentiate by making your customer experience different. GEICO succeeded in the insurance industry, which often uses serious approaches and scare tactics, by creating a whimsical and fun marketing strategy with talking animals. Southwest Airlines injected quirkiness and enjoyment into the cookie-cutter world of travel.
19. Make it Personal
Personalization can help you differentiate your brand. Allow your customers to make your products their own through interactive buying experiences, higher levels of customer service, and digital marketing strategies like retargeting and pre-targeting that offer the right products, to the right people, at the right time.
20. Link to an Occasion
Another way to differentiate is to build up your brand’s association with a particular occasion or celebration. Cadbury’s is synonymous with Easter, De Beers is equated with Valentine’s Day, and Christmas (in the United States, at least) can’t happen without the Macy’s parade and Coca-Cola virtually invented the big red suited man at Christmas along with a multitude of other 'happy occasions' throughout the year.
21. Personify Your Product
A slightly different strategy from brand mascots, brand personification involves creating a “character” that represents the characteristics of your brand. Green Giant vegetables has done this successfully with the Jolly Green Giant, while Keebler snacks are personified through the Keebler Elves.
22. Give Back
Modern customers, most notably Millennials, love to get behind a brand that gives back to the community. By emphasising corporate social responsibility (CSR), you can differentiate your brand and get an edge over the competition such as O'Egg's support of 'Action Breast Cancer Ireland'.
23. Go Green
By the same token as community generosity, more of today’s customers are concerned about the environment. Differentiating through green packaging, green manufacturing, or even environmental charity can help your brand stand out.
24. Break Away
You can differentiate your brand by moving away from the conventional wisdom surrounding your industry and delivering an opposing viewpoint. Odour control brand PooPouri accomplished this by abandoning discretion in their marketing and embracing all things poo – with lots of toilet humour.
25. Redefine Your Product Use
If your products can accomplish more than one thing, the alternate use can help you differentiate your brand. As an example, Arm & Hammer was just another baking soda until the brand began marketing the idea that it also made an excellent air freshener along with a multitude of other uses.
Image via www.armandhammer.com
26. Simplify Your Customers’ Lives
Simplicity and purity are highly prized in today’s cluttered world. Marketing your brand as a simple pleasure can help you rise above the noise. The Method brand of cleaning products uses this strategy, providing naturally derived and non-toxic household cleaning products that simply work. This simplicity is underscored by their tagline: “people against dirty.”
Image via www.methodhome.com
27. Provide Higher Quality
Luxury brands are able to command premium pricing through an emphasis on higher quality products - either actual or perceived. Providing luxury is an automatic brand differentiator for most markets.
28. Limit Availability
While it may seem counterintuitive to profits, limiting the availability of your brand can actually help you sell more, at higher price points, through differentiation. When customers perceive that not everyone will be able to have a product, demand and perceived value increase. Ben & Jerry’s premium ice cream employs this strategy with limited production runs for some flavours, and by “retiring” flavours after a certain period of time.
Image via www.benjerry.ie
29. Reposition Your Category
You can differentiate your brand by developing a new category that falls within your industry. In the United States, the National Pork Board accomplished this with a campaign slogan: “Pork, The Other White Meat,” which appealed to customers who enjoy red meat, but don’t care for chicken. The campaign also made pork more appealing due to the health issues being associated with red meat consumption.
30. Serve an Unmet Need
An effective way to differentiate your brand and reach a broader audience is to identify a need that isn’t being met, and fill that need by tweaking or repositioning your offerings. Enterprise Rent-A-Car became the top car rental company in the U.S. when they began to offer a leasing option - when none of their competitors did.
So, what do you think?
• How does your brand differentiate from the competition?
• Is your packaging distinctive or stand-out in some way? How could you change that?
• What does your brand do to differentiate your customer service?
• Are there new audiences you can reach through differentiation?
• What would it take to reposition as a luxury brand and differentiate through added value?
• Can you share other strategies for brand differentiation?
Feel free to leave your thoughts in the comments. We’d love to hear from you!
Posted by Lorraine Carter on December 01 2014 @ 12:20
A strong brand is the key to success and sustainable growth for your business. However, brands are not static, unchanging identities - the most successful brands live and breathe, evolving along with changing shifts in market tastes, trends and demands.
Rebranding or brand revitalisation, when properly planned and implemented, can be a powerfully effective strategy for rescuing or reinventing a failing brand, jump-starting a stagnant brand, expanding your markets, or initiating substantial business growth. A rebrand may be subtle or evolutionary in nature, or it may involve radically transforming a product, service, or entire brand.
Regardless of the extent of your rebrand, a thorough brand revitalisation strategy is a must in order to be successful. Here are the top tips on surviving a rebrand of any scale, and emerging as a stronger and more profitable organisation.
Understand Rebranding: It’s Much More Than Just Changing Your Logo
Even for those brands undergoing a subtle rebrand as an evolutionary step forward, there is much more to a successful rebrand than changing your company or product logo. Rebranding always results in shifted audience perceptions of your brand, no matter how large or small the changes - and this strategy should not be engaged lightly.
Approaching a rebrand without strategic planning, market insights and customer engagement can be disastrous to your brand, often resulting in storms of negative social media, if your brand is very high profile with an engaged audience.
Airbnb, an online accommodations rental platform whose logo changed in July this year brought a flood of social chatter comparing the new logo to parts of the human anatomy. BBC News reported on the backlash, including a roundup of Twitter comments where it became the top trending item for a time. Others on the other hand praised the US home-rental services new look. Airbnb calls its new logo Belo, and says it represents "the universal symbol of belonging".
Also earlier this year, the long-established candy brand Hershey’s caused a similar internet controversy when the company changed their logo from the traditional silver foil-wrapped Hershey’s kiss to a solid brown graphic with a gray curlicue to represent the iconic brand.
Regardless of what your views are in relation to both these brands, simply launching a new logo is not the right way to approach a rebrand. You need a solid brand strategy based on a brand audit coupled with research, market testing, and an honest analysis of your current brand performance before making any changes that will impact your brand.
Prior to a rebrand, the most important consideration is knowing why you’re rebranding, what your goals are in making changes, and whether a rebrand is the right solution.
Some of the most common situations where it makes sense to undergo a rebrand include:
Relevance: In order to thrive, brands must stay relevant to their target market and keep up with evolving customer needs and desires
Competition: If a brand encounters aggressive competition that damages sales, rebranding can help to push back and restore a competitive edge
Innovation: In industries where rapid change is common and expected, such as technology, rebranding can help you preserve relevance to new markets and remain competitive
Globalisation: Market demographics can vary from region to region. A brand that is looking to expand into new global markets can benefit from rebranding to suit a wider audience
Repositioning: Rebranding is required for a brand seeking to change its market position, such as moving from an economy level to a premium brand with higher pricing
Mergers and Acquisitions: If two brands merge, or one brand acquires another, rebranding is essential to establish the new, single identity of the separate brands
On the other hand, there are some situations where rebranding or revitalisation is not the correct strategy. These can include:
Young Brands: Unless the existing brand solution is highly flawed, brands that have been on the market for a short time, such as 3 years or less, should not rebrand. Young brands would be better served to adjust marketing strategies or roll out new campaigns
Change for Change’s Sake: Rebranding should not be engaged simply because you feel like changing. There should be a compelling commercial reason to rebrand, since changing “just because” results in failure more often than not
Rebranding the Right Way: 4 Top Tips for Pulling it off Successfully
Once you’ve established that a rebrand or revitalisation is what your brand needs, how do you effectively plan a rebrand? Here’s how to build an effective rebranding strategy and make it through with a stronger and more compelling brand.
1. Assess Your Current Brand Perception Honestly
If you’re undergoing a rebrand, there’s a reason your brand is struggling. You need to know exactly what that reason is, and how your rebranding strategy will address it. This means there is no room for light observations or wishful thinking - you need to know the brutally honest reality of where your brand currently stands.
The best way to accomplish this honest assessment is through a comprehensive brand audit. A brand audit involves thorough examination of your market position, your brand’s performance relevant to the competition, its strengths and weaknesses, and a full view of both internal and external perceptions of your brand. Through this process, you may uncover surprising information about your target audience - and you may even discover new audience demographics that will be suitable for your brand with effective rebranding.
2. Obtain Organisational Buy-in
A successful rebranding relies not only on effectively changing customer perceptions, but also ensuring that everyone in your company participates in the rebrand programme. Each of your customer touch points must reflect the new brand collateral and brand values - which means your entire company, from sales personnel to general staff to CEO, top down, must understand the goals of the rebrand.
3. Ensure Seamless Consistency
Maintaining consistency is a primary key to an effective brand. When undergoing a rebrand, make sure that every piece of your brand collateral reflects the changes and the new brand vision - from product packaging and logo design to website, sales material, office and retail locations, staff uniforms, trade stands, presentation tools, in short all your brand collateral, and even email signatures.
4. Communicate the Rebrand Externally
Naturally, your new brand will be rolled out to customers but it's important to get their feedback with some test research initially before you fully implement and launch to market. But don’t forget to involve stakeholders, shareholders, and media outlets with news of your rebranding. Awareness of a rebrand is crucial to its success.
Whether your rebrand is evolutionary or comprehensive, whether your reasons are to maintain relevance, beat out the competition, or reposition your brand to increase profits, surviving the rebranding process involves careful planning and strategisation -and a willingness to ensure both internal and external consistency.
Your brand is much more than just your logo. Brands represent the total customer experience, and rebranding must be approached with care and forethought. But when implemented properly, a rebrand can deliver a wider audience, a strengthened brand platform, and higher profits for your business.
So, what do you think?
• Has your company undergone a rebrand in the past?
• What are the reasons you are considering rebranding now?
• Could your brand benefit from a brand audit, regardless of whether you’re rebranding?
• What would you change about your brand, and how do you think it would impact your target audience?
• How can you rebrand to improve your brand’s relevance?
• Could you raise prices and increase profits through brand repositioning?
Feel free to share your thoughts in the comments. We’d love to hear from you!
Posted by Lorraine Carter on November 27 2014 @ 20:38
As 2014 draws to an end, now is the time to review,revamp, and update your branding strategies for the year to come.Successful branding is the key to driving business growth and profitability - and in 2015, it will be more important than ever to have a strong, thriving brand.
In the coming year, to be successful branding will need to be even more customer-centric.Honesty, transparency, personalisation, and social responsibility will hold center stage, and the technologies that drive an effective brand strategy will be mobile, responsive, and real-time. Here’s a look at the top 20 branding trends your business can expect for 2015.
While mobile markets have been growing continually, expect 2015 to be the year they explode. More of your customers will be using mobile than ever before - and you’ll need a brand strategy that responds to their needs.
Recent research from eMarketer shows that:
50% of shoppers who conducted local searches on smartphones visited the store within one day
18% of local smartphone queries led to a purchase
When it comes to marketing brands online, mobile inclusion is headed into mobile-first. Make sure you’re prepared with responsive design and increased mobile spends for your brand campaigns.
3. Metrics Turn Toward Revenue
Technology continues its rapid advancement, and in 2015 brand analytics will be more focused on revenue. This is made possible through automated marketing tools that measure brand performance in real time, allowing brand strategies to adapt quickly to suit emerging trends and changing customer tastes. Real-time brand analytics will also be critical to gain a competitive advantage for your brand.
4. Segmentation is Key
Many brands have the capability of appealing to different market segments, but not all are taking the opportunity to segment and diversify their brand campaigns. But in 2015, increasingly savvy customers will know exactly what they’re looking for - and your brand needs to deliver. This includes diverse sets of brand messaging, brand channels, and marketing approaches customised to each of your target demographics. A brand needs a well developed brand profile, using a system like our Personality Profile Performer™ which is used to create its story, values, promise, mission, personality, positioning and so forth in order to achieve cohesive brand messaging and effective segmentation successfully.
5. Brand Targets are Ultra-Personalized
Closely related to segmentation, 2015 will be the year of the customer, with individualised brand campaigns to match. Advanced customer data capture and innovative manufacturing techniques have made it possible for brands to deliver unique customisations, shifting the brand target from the masses to the individual. For example, Holiday Inn is moving its branding strategy toward customised holiday experiences that meet the personal needs of the traveller - from families to business travellers, young couples to adventurous singles.
Brand packaging is a crucial component of your brand’s success, and the arrival of 3D printing technology has made it possible for brands to create innovative, customised packaging designs that draw in customers and stand out on retail shelves. In 2015, consider giving your brand packaging a boost using the latest technologies.
The market is incredibly crowded, and customers’ attention spans are shorter than ever. To boost brand recognition and foster brand consistency, more brands will re-engage fundamentals and use clear, relevant names for products, services, and the overall brand itself. These short and simple names pair well with quick descriptors, creating easy-to-grasp concepts - think Google Wallet, Google Glass, and Google Play or Apple Watch and Apple TV.
A compelling brand story will be an even more vital part of heart and mind capture to drive your brand sales strategy in 2015. Powerful and authentic stories that are worked into every element of your branding strategy can lift your brand, and provide the connection your customers are looking for. A great brand story evokes an emotional response, and most importantly, reinforces the brand experience for your customers. Creating irresistible brand stories is a key part of our brand profiling service when working with clients to help them create and build the personality of their brands, using our Brand Story Selling System™.
9. The TMI Line Blurs
For branding in 2015, there will be no such thing as too much information. Today’s customers crave transparency and want to know everything they can about a brand, often before they decide to make a purchase. Much of this transparency will be provided with updated brand packaging that clearly and efficiently conveys a wealth of information, including the brand story. As an example, Stone Creek Coffee’s Lab Series prints detailed coffee bean information on each package, including the elevation the beans were grown, the harvest date, and the name of the farmer who grew them.
Image via www.stonecreekcoffee.com
10. Cross-Channel Integration is Crucial
Brand consistency has always been one of the most important factors in the success of a brand. With more brand channels and customer paths than ever before, integration across channels is a must. Your brand design, messaging, and metrics should be presented uniformly at every touch point - from website and social media platforms to packaging, retail locations, and traditional media channels.
11. Customers will Not be Sold to
The marketing noise level is reaching critical mass. Brands that continue to “pitch” their products or services in 2015 will find themselves ignored. Customers are no longer interested in the salesy, hard-sell approach, and they’re savvy enough to know when your brand message is all buy and no bargain. Look to value-added brand strategies that highlight perception, inclusion, and the customer experience to help your brand sell itself.
12. Brands as a Consolidated Experience
Once again in the vein of brand consistency, the most successful brands of 2015 will present a singular customer experience - no matter where your customers interact with your brand. Your customers’ experience should not vary from PC to mobile to social. Look for ways to streamline your brand collateral and exceed customer expectations, delivering on your brand promise through a seamless presentation on all fronts.
13. The Video Explosion
Online video will continue to expand rapidly in 2015, and video should be an integral part of any branding strategy. Video is a popular, powerful, and engaging medium that helps brands strengthen their messaging and increase profits.
Some of the most recent statistics for online video include:
100 million Internet users watch online video every day
90% of online shoppers find video helpful
64% of online shoppers are more likely to buy after watching a video
80% of Internet users recall a video ad they’ve watched online in the past 30 days - and 46% took some action after watching the video ad, from visiting the company’s website to making a purchase
Video increases marketing email click-through rates by 200 to 300 percent
14. Brand “Smarketing”
The line between sales and marketing is becoming increasingly blurred, and 2015 will see even more integration as online selling converges with internet marketing. Both functions use many of the same techniques for promoting brands, including content creation and real-time engagement, and both have the same goal of revenue generation. Effective brands will combine marketing and sales into a fluid and cohesive set of strategies.
15. Brands Mobilise with Click-and-Collect
UK marketing research firm Mintel predicts that the popularity of click-and-collect (C&C) services will increase in 2015, and about 17% of all Internet retail sales will be collected by customers at these physical service points.
C&C services currently used across the UK include:
Amazon lockers in London Underground railway stations
Doddle pop-up parcel collection stores
Asda and Tesco C&C vans
Waitrose chilled food lockers
Argos food lockers (coming in 2015)
In a survey by Mintel, 35% of UK shoppers have used C&C services in the past year, and 64% say they’ll shop more online because of C&C services.
16. CSR Packs a Bigger Punch
Look to corporate social responsibility (CSR) as an even bigger brand trend for 2015. Today’s customers are concerned with both human rights, consumer rights and giving back to the community, and will reward brands that engage in visible social responsibility - while punishing brands that violate those rights.
Issues that matter in particular to UK consumers, according to Mintel, are returns policies, ethical treatment of workers, environmental policies, and negative press coverage. And for millennials, many make purchasing decisions based on a company’s ethical or political stance, such as brands that support the LGBT community.
17. Green Brands
More environmentally conscious consumers mean that brands must be aware of the environmental impact they have, and take steps to mitigate damage and leave a clean footprint.Packaging plays a large role in the battle for environmental friendliness. Brands that emphasize responsibly sourced, recycled, minimized, or biodegradable packaging can expect to be welcomed in 2015. This is a key consideration in all the brand packaging design projects we're involved in with our clients.
18. Big Data Delivers Brand Insight
As the use of big data becomes more refined and accessible, brands will use it in 2015 to generate more personalisation and segmented brand approaches. Pretargeting is an emerging market strategy that uses big data to target customers based on their behaviours and preferences by delivering relevant messaging during the buying phase, instead of after it.
This type of advanced analytics can allow brands to predict trends before they’ve actually happened. Unilever partnered with Google in 2013 to do this, using big data to predict and capitalise on a rising trend in hair care. The YouTube channel launched by Unilever in response to this trend forecast, All Things Hair UK, became the number one hair care channel in its markets.
19. Social Brand Success is Pay-to-Play
Customers may be spending more time than ever on social media, but they’re spending it being social. The effectiveness of social branding as an organic strategy has diminished but pay-to-play advertising platforms on major social networks have increased in sophistication and effectiveness. Successful social brands will invest strategically in paid social media for smart, segmented campaigns, which will trickle down to increase owned and earned media effectiveness.
Speaking of social, in 2015 Facebook may not be the go-to network if your brand is targeting millennials and a younger crowd. While the social network with its own major motion picture is still the dominant channel, it’s far from the only game in town. Young people in particular are drifting away from Facebook - so if your brand targets millennials, it may be in your best interests to grow your presence on up-and-coming social platforms, such as Instagram and Tumblr.
At the close of 2014, take the time to thoroughly review your brand strategy. Consider a comprehensive brand audit to gain an accurate picture of your brand performance, and incorporate the trends that will change branding in 2015 with heightened transparency, authenticity, and customer-focused experiences.
Posted by Lorraine Carter on November 03 2014 @ 14:40
The millennial generation is alternately revered and maligned by the media with many holding a skewed, stereotypical perception when in truth, millennials are a highly educated generation with fast-paced lifestyles. Typically they’re multi-taskers, highly connected, tech-savvy, enjoy instant gratification, want work-life balance and flexibility, are highly collaborative and value transparency i.e. openness and honesty in both their personal and professional lives.
There is no denying that the so-called Generation Y or Gen Y is a force to be reckoned with - particularly when it comes to branding. Right now the median age of the world population is 28, there are more than 1 billion millennials around the world, and they are definitely consumers. Their spending habits are vastly different from the generations before them. Many aren’t interested in savings or equity, and tend to view higher portions of their income as discretionary. In the United States alone, millennials have a purchasing power of $170 billion, with that number expected to rise to $1.4 trillion by 2020.
Gen Y is less likely to spend on real estate or vehicles, but they’re heavy spenders in categories like food, clothing, electronics, and entertainment. Hanover Research reports that millennials are 52 percent more likely to make impulse purchases than older shoppers, and 78 percent more likely to shop with merchants who offer reward or loyalty programs.
Why Market Your Brand to Millennials?
Appealing to millennials can boost much more than the bottom line for your brand. The first generation born in the digital era, millennials not only enjoy spending - they’re highly connected, and they love to talk about their purchases and make recommendations to others, both online and in person. Gen-Yers can be powerful brand advocates, if you can manage to appeal to them. This demographic also has the highest rate of online research and purchasing.
According to a Google study for the 2013 holiday season:
95 percent of millennials used online resources for holiday shopping
88 percent of millennials with smartphones shopped from their devices
According to a recent study from strategic research firm Edelman Berland:
Millennials are “alpha influencers,” with 7 out of 10 believing it’s not only their right, but their responsibility to share brand feedback - good or bad - with others
The economy is a key factor for millennials, with the majority hoping for economic stability - which prompts them to spend more heavily than other generations
When the right approach is taken, millennials are highly open to brand advertising and engagement strategies - 80 percent want brands to entertain them, with 40 percent looking for the ability to co-create products and services
What is the right approach when branding for millennials?
When we're working with a client to develop they're branding strategy to target millennial consumers we have to consider this audience and their needs very differently to other demographics. The following top three strategies are always core to our planning and will help you generate brand appeal for this very powerful demographic and help you get your brand into the enthusiastic hands of these very influential millennial customers.
Top 3 Millennial Branding Strategies
1. For Millennials, Social Media and Video Rule
The millennial generation has never known life without the Internet, and most can’t remember a time before cell phones. Social media is a way of life for this generation, they’re always connected. Facebook and Twitter are major players - but the go-to network for millennials is YouTube.
A recent survey commissioned by Variety magazine found that among teens and young adults, YouTube stars shine brighter than celebrities.The top five most influential figures in the lives of these young people are not Hollywood celebs, but YouTube superstars. In fact, YouTube-famous figures comprise 6 of the top 10, and half of the top 20 most influential people for the millennial generation.
Image via www.variety.com
Examples of these YouTube superstars include Alfie Deyes (age 21) and Zoe Sugg (age 24), aka Zoella from the UK. If you haven’t heard of them, then you’re probably what they'd classify as ‘old’. Their hard core fans are 13 to 17 year olds who don’t watch TV in the living room, but sit in their bedrooms with their ipads! With 3.2m and 6.2M subscribers respectively on YouTube alone, not to mention 1.8M and 2.4M Twitter followers coupled with 1.8M and 3.2M Instagram follwers, they’ve assumed a position in modern youth culture previously held by members of boy bands, girl bands and Hollywood heart-throbs, except unlike them they can’t sing or act.
If you were to assess their clout in TV rating terms, they come in behind ‘Downton Abbey’ but well ahead of ‘Question Time’ or against Twitter followers they both massively outrank Kylie Minogue or Lily Allen.
However don’t underestimate these entrepreneurial millennials. Like their other YouTube superstar friends, they know and understand what keeps their core target audience entertained and they give it to them in spades - while earning very substantial revenues! Fundamentally they both run very successful video blogs or vlogs. Alfie Deyes also recently published ‘The Pointless Book’ which has spent weeks at No.1 on the Sunday Times bestseller list and Zoella’s novel ‘Girl Online’ comes out later this month.
For brands looking to tap the millennial market, video is the dominant social medium. More than half (55%) watch online video several times a day, on multiple devices - and millennials have access to an average of 7.1 devices, including PCs and mobile. On average, millennials watch more than 500 online videos per month, and 34% of millennials watch more online video than television.
The key to marketing your brand to the millennial demographic through video is entertainment value.The more entertaining your brand content, the more likely it is to go viral. Such is the case for one of the most popular and highly effective online video campaigns of 2013 - a public service announcement (PSA) created for Metro Trains.
Metro Trains deliberately targeted the millennial generation when the brand created an animated video called “Dumb Ways to Die.” With purposely race-and gender-neutral “blob” characters, a catchy 3-minute song, and the juxtaposition of cute characters meeting gruesome death during a cheerful tune, Metro Trains’ message to stay safe around trains made a tremendous impact.
The video has more than 90 million YouTube views to date, earned $60 million in media impressions - and most importantly, the campaign reduced rail-related accidents by 20 percent.
2. Millennials Believe in Engagement and Participation
Marketing your brand to millennials requires a change in mindset.This generation doesn’t like being talked to or marketed to - they prefer to market with their favourite brands. They turn away from broadcast messages and embrace conversations. They don’t want to simply hear your brand story - they want to participate, get feedback and experience a sense of belonging and being part of it.
They want to recommend the brands they love to others, and strongly prefer peer recommendations over anything else. A survey from SocialChorus found that 91% of millennials trust friends for product recommendations.
To reach millennials on social media and through other channels, your brand must engage them. Banner and sidebar ads are no longer effective for this demographic - in fact, since most millennials have spent so much time online, they no longer even notice these traditional forms of digital advertising. Instead, your social media presence should be a two-way conversation between your brand and the millennial audience.
Co-creation is another powerful engagement strategy for millennials. They’re looking for a personalized customer experience - preferably one that lets them make a real difference and contribute to your brand in some way. Millennials place a high value on transparency and feedback, and co-creation strategies demonstrate your brand’s willingness to lay it all on the line.
Global hotel brand Marriott International is reaching the millennial market through several co-creation campaigns. The company’s Facebook page allows fans to create a kitchen, and they’ve released a free game app that takes players on a virtual journey to explore the world - and enters them in drawings to win hotel stays through reward points. But the most ambitious co-creation project is their “Travel Brilliantly” campaign: a website encouraging viewers to submit their own ideas for food and drinks, style and design, check in/checkout processes and more through a series of monthly challenge contests.
3. Brand with Meaning and Give Back to Get Millennials in Your Corner
In many cases, millennials have been unfairly tarred with a broad brush painting them as selfish and inwardly focused. The infamous “The Me Me Me Generation” article that graced the cover of TIME Magazine’s May 20, 2013, issue encapsulates this portrayal - though the article’s subtitle goes on to say, “Millennials are lazy, entitled narcissists who still live with their parents: Why they’ll save us all.”
Image via www.time.com
The millennial generation is looking for more than mere products. This generation wants to place its loyalty and dollars, euros or pounds into brands that stand for something - and conversely, they’ll shun companies with negative messaging behind either their brands, or their practices. It was negative messaging behind a clothing company that all but destroyed their millennial customer audience last year.
Global fashion retailer Abercrombie & Fitch has always seemed a little size-ist, as they don’t manufacture clothing above a large. However, the issue went largely un-discussed until May of 2013, when A&F CEO Mike Jeffries was quoted as saying he “didn’t want larger people shopping in his store, he wanted thin and beautiful people.” He also stated that, “People who wear his clothing should feel like they’re one of the ‘cool kids’.”
This obvious discrimination sparked outrage among millennials, who took to the streets and social media to mock the brand. One 26-year-old reacted by donating Abercrombie & Fitch clothing to homeless people - and recording the campaign on video to share online. The hashtag associated with the video, #fitchthehomeless, began trending immediately. To date, the video “Fitch the Homeless” has received more than 8 million views on YouTube.
The truth is that millennials are highly socially conscious and philanthropic. They believe in giving back: in 2013, 87% of millennials donated to at least one non-profit organization. In keeping with this charitable spirit, Generation Y looks for and forms strong bonds of loyalty to brands who put their social responsibility forward and give back to the community.
For more than 85% of millennials, purchasing decisions are correlated to a brand’s willingness and demonstrated actions in the area of social good. This is the reason why Red Bull energy drinks are so popular among millennials. The company not only markets to the demographic by appealing to their adventurous nature with extreme sports - they also tap into the charitable vein by fully funding Wings for Life, a non-profit spinal cord research foundation. This charity ties firmly into the company’s brand collateral, since their slogan is “Red Bull gives you wings.”
Millennials are a powerful and growing force in the worldwide market. If you develop a strong and very compelling brand strategy that authentically meets the needs of this millennial generation, your brand can tap into a highly effective, influential, and loyal customer base that will continue to elevate your brand platform, and your bottom line, for years to come.
So, what do you think?
• Have you developed your branding strategy to meet the needs of a millennial audience?
• How are you reaching the millennial demographic - or how can you start if you are considering rebranding?
• Is your social media presence active and engaging, or static and marketing-oriented? Does your strategy need a brand audit? How can you build more engagement through social media?
• Are you using video marketing in your social media mix?
• How can you extend co-creation opportunities to millennials?
• Does your brand get involved with philanthropy? Is your charitable work visible and highly transparent through your brand collateral?
Feel free to share your thoughts in the comments. We’d love to hear from you!
Posted by Lorraine Carter on October 31 2014 @ 16:28
Halloween isn’t just for kids anymore. This spooky celebration marks the start of a major holiday season, and it’s grown from a great time to sell sweets and treats, to a massive multi-billion dollar industry with all types of customers getting into the Halloween spirit and looking forward to scary fun opportunities!
Your business can take advantage of this thrilling, spook-tacular holiday with Halloween strategies to promote your brand, and engage customers through the holiday season and beyond.
Why Should You Use Halloween to Feature Your Brand?
Throughout the world, Halloween is big business.Spending on Halloween for 2013 was $8 billion in the United States, and £300 million in the UK. Those numbers are expected to top $11 billion and £350 million, respectively, for the 2014 retail season.
Considering that Halloween spending in the UK was around £12 million in 2001, and the holiday now sees more retail spending than Bonfire Night, there is a definite market for Halloween-themed branding. In fact, Halloween is now the third largest retail holiday in the UK, behind Christmas and Easter.
Candy and costumes are obvious targets for Halloween spending, with Halloween candy sales topping the Easter season, but shoppers are interested in more than these traditional purchases. In the United States, there is a massive market for Halloween-related decorations, with 70% of shoppers planning to decorate for this spooky holiday - compared to 69% who plan to decorate for Christmas.
Even if you don’t sell candy or costumes, your brand can benefit by having a Halloween related promotion. Both product and service providers can benefit by tying into this spooky holiday. According to a study from the International Council of Shopping Centre, 64% of shoppers are looking for sales and promotions on Halloween, which they state as their most important factor in deciding on Halloween purchases.
An example of a non-FMCG company using Halloween for branding is auto insurance company GEICO. Known for its talking animal mascots, the insurance company recently began using a new tagline for its advertising campaigns: “It’s what you do.” This Halloween, GEICO created a commercial that ties the new tagline into popular horror movie tropes for a funny and memorable message.
Looking to cash in on this surprisingly huge holiday? Here are some tips and strategies you can use to elevate your brand on Halloween.
8 Top Tips for Halloween Themed Branding Campaigns
Everyone loves a good contest, especially one that involves holidays and creativity. In fact, 30% more people participate in Halloween-themed Facebook contests alone. Holding a Halloween contest on social media can help you boost visibility for your brand and earn you long-term benefits by growing your brand’s social fan base.
No matter what type of business you have, whether it’s product or service oriented, there are plenty of ways to tie contests or competitions in with Halloween. For example, here are some popular kinds of Halloween contests, and ideas about how you can tie them into your brand.
1. Costume Contests
Product brands might ask their entrants to dress up in costumes that incorporate their products creatively - or even dress up their products in costumes, as Dunkin Donuts is doing on Twitter this year. The brand asked customers to post pictures of coffee cups in costumes under the hashtag #dresseDD, and is giving out prizes for the most creative coffee disguises.
For service brands, it might be a good opportunity to show your lighter human or more humorous side with an idea for a costume contest such as asking your fans and followers to dress as unusual, scary, or funny representatives of your industry. Make sure the prize includes something Halloween-themed, such as a candy gift basket along with a gift card, free service, or whatever you plan to give away.
2. Pumpkin Carving
50% or more of those who celebrate Halloween are into carving pumpkins, so you can get a lot of interest with a pumpkin carving contest. Tie your contest creatively into your brand - such as asking people to carve a company logo into a pumpkin (their own, or yours).
3. Pet Costumes
Dressing up pets for Halloween is becoming a major retail event. Whether you’re a product or a service brand, you can run a pet costume contest along the same lines as a regular costume contest, and offer branded prizes that will appeal to pet owners.
You could also host a Halloween quiz, take a Halloween survey, or run an incentive program for customers to sign up to your mailing list with Halloween-themed giveaways.
Image via www.costumeexpress.com
4. Create Halloween-Themed Content
Working Halloween into your content marketing is an easy and creative way to brand for the spooky holidays. Whether you’re creating written content, images, infographics, or video, there are many ways to tie your brand to Halloween for both product and service-oriented companies.
5. Make a Halloween Bundle
Placing several different products together in a Halloween context can be an effective branding strategy. For example, retail grocery stores might offer a “vampire package” that includes varieties of garlic, meat, and red wine. Outdoor clothing and equipment retailer REI put together a clever "Zombie Survival Guide” infographic to celebrate the holiday that showcases several of their products.
Image via www.rei.com
6. Address Halloween “Pain Points”
Every situation comes with problems, and Halloween is no exception. For this holiday, one of the biggest customer worries is too much candy. Others may be Halloween on a budget, unique costume ideas, or finding Halloween-themed recipes or activities. Can your brand solve holiday problems creatively with some online content? Here’s an example of one personal trainer who tied into Halloween with a post called “The 15-Minute Yoga Routine to Beat Your Holiday Candy Binge.”
7. Consider a Halloween Video
Whether it’s a commercial, or simply posted to YouTube and your company website, holiday-themed videos are a great way to build buzz for your brand. There are endless possibilities in this medium for any brand, whether you’re FMCG, luxury, or service. Hotel reservation website Booking.com created a Halloween video that dramatized a haunted hotel to advertise its services for this holiday.
8. Dress up Your Brand for Halloween
Whether you simply change your website CSS to capture Halloween colours and images, decorate your retail location with all things spooky, or go all out with Halloween content on your brand collateral, promotions, and contests, getting into the spirit of Halloween can help you boost your brand recognition and broaden your customer base - giving you a head start on the big holiday retail season.
Have a happy Halloween!
So, what do you think?
• Have you run brand promotions for Halloween in the past or will you make them part of your branding strategy for next year? Considering the value of this holiday would it be worth reviewing it in the context of a brand audit - what strategies worked (or didn’t work) for you?
• Is your brand tied into Halloween on social media? What kind of contest could you run?
• What Halloween related problems can your brand solve?
• Can you create any Halloween-themed content for your website, business blog, or social media accounts?
• Have you wished your mailing list a Happy Halloween? What promotion can you offer with a holiday greeting?
Feel free to share your thoughts in the comments. We’d love to hear from you!
Posted by Lorraine Carter on October 28 2014 @ 10:45
Yellow arches. A red can of cola. A bird shell egg blue jewellery box. The colours alone are enough to make you picture the brand - McDonalds, Coca Cola and Tiffany’s.
Colour and the psychology or science behind it is an expansive subject with a depth which extends well beyond the aesthetics of just ‘good design’ and subjective preferences. The context of its usage together with personal and cultural associations has significant impact in terms of meaning and perceptions, both consciously and subconsciously, together with usability and purchasing preferences. Consequently the psycology of colour and how we consider its use has a huge impact on all the work we do with our clients and their brands both in terms of brand profiling and brand design.The following four key tips will give you some insights into how colour works, what to use and what to avoid in relation to your brand.
There are many studies on the use of colour all of which agree, colour greatly influences human emotion and behaviour. Colours have a powerful and unquestionable effect on branding. The right colours can distinguish your brand, attract customers and create strong brand-based loyalty, while the wrong colours can sink you in the marketplace.
In order to establish a comprehensive and effective brand identity, you must choose your colours wisely - considering not only what colours might attract the right attention within your category - while also giving your brand distinction, and for example standout on retail shelves, but how your brand colour schemes will affect customer perceptions, evoke certain moods and grab attention. Colour psychology is particularly critical in the retail environment and can make or break customer purchasing decisions.
Why Colours Matter
For your customers, colour is a powerful motivator in recognition and purchasing decisions. According to recent statistics posted by analytics company KISSmetrics:
85% of shoppers cite colour as their primary reason for buying a particular product
93% of shoppers consider visual appearance over all other factors while shopping
Colour increases brand recognition by 80%
Image via www.kissmetrics.com
The psychological reasons for the strong effects of colour are numerous. Visual perception is the primary sense people rely on - reacting to colours is hardwired into our brains. Identifying a colour triggers a diverse series of reactions that effect moods and emotions on a subconscious level...in short, colour makes people feel something and impacts their behaviour.
Colour is hands-down the strongest and most convincing factor of visual appeal. When you choose the right colours and ensure that your brand colour scheme is carried out consistently and coherently across your brand identity, logo, packaging design and all your brand collateral, you are creating powerful brand recognition and fostering customer loyalty that will pay off with increased profits.
The Meanings of Colours
Different colours evoke certain moods and emotions, and convey a particular sense of expectation. The meanings of colours often vary depending on a number of factors, including culture, gender, age, context and individual experiences, but the basic perceptions of colour remain fairly consistent.
Red is Passionate and Powerful:
A bold colour that stands out, red can be used to signify power or passion, and make a strong statement. Red evokes a visceral response, causing faster breathing and an increased heart rate. The colour red can be energetic, aggressive, provocative, or even dangerous - but it is always attention-grabbing.
Blue is Cool and Confident:
42% of people claim blue as their favourite colour, and that enthusiasm is reflected in the many companies that use blue in their branding. Blue colours are seen as calming, cool, serene, and stable - which is the reason for its heavy use in brands where security is a top concern, like banking and social media.
Green is Natural, Youthful and Plentiful:
A color associated with both money and the environment, green can point to health, serenity, and freshness. The meaning of green often depends on the shade used - while lighter greens are calming, deeper greens are associated with wealth or prestige.
Yellow is Cheerful and Optimistic:
Universally associated with the sun, yellow is the most visible and noticeable colour, seen by the eye before any other. Bright or warm yellows evoke feelings of happiness, optimism, and friendliness.
Purple is Luxurious and Creative:
The colour of artists and royalty, purple can evoke feelings of quality and decadence, mystery, or sophistication. The choice of shade and hue when using purple is of vital importance - light purple can be calming and whimsical, and deep purple can be luxurious, certain shades are viewed as garish or tacky.
Orange is Fun and Lively:
Ranging from warm and intimate to playful and exuberant, orange can represent comfort, excitement, or even upscale quality, depending on the shade used. Light orange and peach tones are used in high-end branding, bright orange can be effective for entertainment brands, and muted orange is a favourite for restaurants because of its association with food and warmth. However, in some cases orange can come across as frivolous or cheap.
Pink is Sweet and Feminine:
The range of pinks has long been associated with femininity, as well as nurturing and love. Light pinks are sweet, cute, and fun, while richer pinks can be sensual and energetic.
Brown is Straightforward and Dependable:
The right shades of brown can evoke feelings of stability, simplicity, and a dependable nature. Light browns and rich browns can be used to convey an upscale feeling. In some cases, brown can portray a rugged appeal or a feeling of warmth.
Black is Dramatic and Sophisticated:
Popular among luxury products, black is the colour of sophistication. Black-heavy colour themes can create a bold or classic look, and lend a serious air to branding schemes that conveys power and elegance.
White is Clean and Pure:
People see white as a brilliant and eye-catching colour. While not typically a main choice for branding purposes, white can be used effectively as an accent colour, or as a primary differentiator for products - such as Apple’s predominantly white range of accessories.
Factors That Affect Colour Perceptions
Not all colours are perceived the same way by the same people. Two of the biggest factors that affect the perceptions of colour are culture and gender.
Cultural differences can pose a challenge for brands looking to strengthen their international visibility and appeal. While some of the largest cultural divides of colour perception have been softened, or even erased, through widespread adoption of the Internet, these differences can still play a role in global brand identity. For example, green is considered nurturing and prosperous in the United States, evokes national pride in Ireland, and is often viewed as undesirable for packaging in France. On the other hand, blue is viewed worldwide as a positive and acceptable colour.
Gender perceptions of colours are not limited to “blue for boys and pink for girls.” In fact, blue is a favourite among males and females. A well-known study by Joe Hallock, Colour Assignments, found that among favourite colours by gender:
57% of men and 35% of women chose blue (the largest segment for both groups)
Purple was the second favourite for women at 23%, and no men chose purple as their favourite colour—with 22% of men citing purple as their least favourite
Brown was the majority least favourite colour for men with 27%, while women cited orange most often with 33% least favourite
14% of both men and women chose green as their favourite color
Another primary and notable difference for gender colour preferences is that men are more receptive to bold colours, while women respond better to softer colours.
Choosing Colours According to Your Target Audience
The meanings of colours are important, but more important is to be sure that your brand colours are perceived as appropriate for the brand message you’re trying to convey. This is a vital consideration, especially for brands looking to veer from the usual colour choices of their industries in order to stand out. While Rachel’s Organic Butter succeeds in evoking distinction and elegance with black packaging that stands out from all the yellow and green competition, Harley-Davidson might not be so successful if marketing a line of pink, glittery motorcycles to their male customers.
Image via www.rachelsorganic.co.uk
Gender can be a primary factor in choosing brand colours. If your target audience is predominantly male, for example, you might want to avoid using the colour purple. Green or blue are good choices for nearly any audience, and softer colours can convey femininity for branding aimed at women.
Your positioning and pricing strategy can also come into play when choosing your brand colours. Black, navy blue, royal purple, and deep or dark green are common choices that signify sophistication and luxury. Oranges and yellows can convey bargains or fast-moving deals.
Ultimately, colour choice is crucial for a successful branding strategy - so consider the psychological effects of colour carefully when launching your new brand to market or rebranding your company, or an existing product or service.
What do you think?
• What kind of emotions do your current brand colours evoke?
• Are you using the right colours to convey the brand perceptions you want?
• Is your brand colour palette similar to the colours your competitors use? Is the distinction helping or hurting your brand?
Posted by Lorraine Carter on October 21 2014 @ 09:00
Branding is the dominant decider for competing successfully in today’s business world. Organisations with the strongest brands are able to achieve far greater market share, higher profits, and long-term viability and sustainability. Whilst most companies focus their branding efforts on marketing, platform and brand collateral, many neglect one of the most important drivers of their brand - their chief executive’s or managing director’s brand leadership.
Particularly in a small, medium or large businesses (SMEs), the company leader is the single most powerful influencer on branding, the visionary behind the brand. Downplaying or ignoring your role in shaping your company’s brand often weakens your potential success and dilutes the potential impact of your brand. Whereas on the other hand, embracing your brand potential as the leader and visionary behind your brand provides the additional direction and focus much needed to help your brand grow and flourish.
We work with a lot of SME owner managers, helping them by adding distinction, structure, substance and more compelling meaning (from a customers perspective) to their vision of their brand. This is a key part of our work and ultimately critical to our clients brand success and the work we do in supporting them in their businesses.
Why Strong Leadership has a Powerful Brand Influence
A business brand is so much more than a name and logo. It’s the total brand experience from the moment a customer first interacts with anything that represents your brand. This could be an employee, a referral or conversation about your business, an article in the media, a person or an indirect affiliation which represents your business. It involves every piece of brand collateral, from your business cards to your website and product packaging, the look of your retail location or business interior, and every visual representation across all customer touch points. What’s more, your brand encompasses all the intangible aspects of your business - it’s reflected in your employees behaviour, your customer service, your pricing policies, the internal culture of your organisation and your total customer experience offered.
All of these elements together shape customer perceptions of a brand. In an SME business, the leader has the final say on every ingredient that goes into creating, developing, directing, growing and maintaining the brand. Each decision you make has the potential to impact your brand, for better or worse. Branding begins from the inside out - as a leader, you set the tone that resonates throughout your company and extends to your customer-facing brand experience, all of which is critical to your businesses survival, growing profitability and long term success.
One of the most familiar examples of this concept in action exists in chains and franchises. For instance, most people have been to more than one McDonalds, or Starbucks, or KFC. You’ve probably noticed that while they are the same stores, selling the same products in the same way, they can be quite different in brand experience. One chain location may be clean and well-lit, with a fast and friendly service, while another may be unkempt and slow, with terrible service and miserable employees.
This sometimes striking difference is the result of indifferent leadership, typically the store manager or franchise owner. If the leader of a franchise store is disengaged and out of touch, the brand suffers even with the backing of a national or global brand name behind it.
CEO Brand Vision: How Influential Leaders Shape Brands
In contrast, to the leader who pays little or no attention to their influence on their branding, some leaders carry a company’s brand and drive it with incredible success. Having a strong brand vision as a leader creates a powerful ripple effect that starts with the internal company culture, and extends into customer interactions and overall brand perceptions.Apple CEO Steve Jobs is a well-known example of this. The brand floundered and nearly went into bankruptcy when Jobs left in 1985, but bounced back stronger than ever with his return in 1997.
Image via www.nikeblog.com
Phil Knight, co-founder of Nike and CEO of the company until 2004, when he resigned but remained involved as chairman of the board, has continuously served the Nike brand through a powerful brand vision. Knight’s leadership ensured that the company maintained an internal culture that lives and breathes sports. Employees at Nike are highly competitive, careers are envisioned as extended sports seasons, and committees are quarterbacked rather than led. This pervasive dedication to the industry, to fans, and to players has cemented Nike as a global leader in the sports sector. Customers respond to the passion behind the company with a strong brand loyalty that mirrors the internal culture.
Image via www.virgin.com
Among iconic brand visionaries, Sir Richard Branson is another standout example with a powerful personal brand that unifies more than 400 companies under the Virgin umbrella. Branson himself understands the supreme importance of branding, and knows exactly how he wants the Virgin brand to be perceived. He is a great living example of the visionary behind the brand. In an interview with Inc. magazine, Branson says, “I think people see the Virgin brand as not taking itself too seriously. It’s a fun brand, an adventurous brand. It generally offers great quality at great value…It’s a people brand.” Fun and adventurous certainly describe Branson himself, who’s attempted several outrageous stunts, such as flying around the world in a hot air balloon and trying to break the trans-Atlantic sailing record.
CEO Brand Leadership: Driving the Customer Brand Experience
Visionary leaders understand exactly how they want their brand to be perceived, and take steps to ensure that the brand is represented consistently throughout all channels and at every touch point. A consistently strong brand strategy creates powerful customer experiences that engenders strong loyalty.
Image via www.buildabear.com
Maxine Clark is the visionary leader of Build-a-Bear Workshop, a retail toy outlet that creates a highly personalized experience for its customers, the young and the young at heart. Clark’s official title is Chief Executive Bear (CEB), which is just the beginning of the consistent branded experiences she brings to the company.
Image via www.buildabear.com
Build-a-Bear is a completely customer-centric organisation. This unique toy retail model allows customers to design their own stuffed toys, and then watch the personalized toy made right in the store. The Build-a-Bear brand stands for whimsy, love, and the magic of childhood, and every aspect of the company is designed around amplifying that brand story, its values and promise.
Image via www.buildabear.com
In addition to hiring employees and managers based on customer-focused personality and the ability to see themselves through the eyes of a child, Build-a-Bear engages their young customers at every opportunity. The company website lets children create virtual versions of themselves and their stuffed creations, and interact with other bear owners online. They provide each bear with a built-in barcode and a “birth certificate” so that lost bears can be returned to any store and matched with their owner. The company also recruits and maintains a team of kids called “Cub Advisors” who provide feedback, ideas for new animals, and thoughts on other Build-a-Bear products and services.
In an interview with TeleTech, Maxine Clark said, “You don't have to have all the ideas. Let customers give you ideas. It's not about being psychic. We are just really good listeners.” The customer-focused brand has achieved tremendous success, with more than 400 retail outlets around the world and nearly $400 million in annual revenue.
CEO Brand Leadership: Influencing Brand Originality
Distinctive brands truly thrive, standing head and shoulders above their competitors, and visionary brand leadership typically is the secret catalyst behind driving that brand success.
Image via www.johnnycupcakes.com
Such is the case with Johnny Cupcakes, a unique apparel company that sells branded t-shirts and more with a baking theme. The company’s ironic shirts are packaged in baking styles like frosting cans and donut boxes, and the stores display merchandise on oven racks and baker’s shelves, with decorations like industrial mixers.
Image via www.johnnycupcakes.com
This unique brand is highly successful with thousands of fans, some of which are dedicated and loyal enough to have tattoos of the Johnny Cupcakes’ cupcake-and-crossbones logo!
Image via www.johnnycupcakes.com
Johnny Earle, the founder of the company, started Johnny Cupcakes when he was in his early 20s. Earle committed himself fully to developing the distinctiveness of the brand, investing almost nothing in advertising in favour of creating an incomparable brand experience in his retail locations, from the displays and shelving right down to the smells of a bakery, achieved with frosting-scented air fresheners.
CEO Brand Leadership: Connecting Your CEO Brand to Your Company Brand
Sir Richard Branson is highly conscious of the Virgin brand and treats it as not just as a company, but as a lifestyle. Throughout every piece of brand messaging that bears Branson’s name or participation, he repeatedly reinstates and lives the Virgin culture and core values, ensuring a clear vision, mission, and direction that is echoed through the vast Virgin empire.
As a leader, you have the opportunity to exert a powerful influence on your brand, from all the internal processes and details to external customer and stakeholder perceptions and experiences.
“Living the brand” is a very effective strategy for any leader, regardless of the size of your company. When you channel your leadership skills into directing and building both your company brand, while ensuring your personal brand is fully aligned to those product or service brand values, you ensure both internal and external brand consistency. This relentless focus to constantly deliver on your brand promise to both your employees and customers alike is what ultimately makes brands successful, gives them longevity and helps grow your company’s long term profitability.
What do you think?
• Does your current leadership style reflect your company brand?
• What is the internal perception of your brand at your company?
• How many brand elements do you have direct control over within your company?
• Do you have a strong brand vision that guides your leadership actions?
• What changes can you make in your day-to-day leadership to encompass and support more of your brand’s core values?
• Are you “living the brand” and leading by example in living the brand? Are your employees living the brand?
Feel free to leave your thoughts in the comments below. We’d love to hear from you!
Posted by Lorraine Carter on October 17 2014 @ 15:05
Last weeks event at Fingal Enterprise Week 2014, run by Fingal Local Enterprise Office, was a huge success judging by all the enquiries and warm messages we've since received.
I was speaking alongside Terry Prone from The Communications Clinic together with Al Dunne, Breda Browne and Padraig McKeon on the theme of "Getting Noticed: Branding, Communications and PR for SME's".
Terry Prone, well known internationally as an authoritative commentator and leading advisor on reputation management, and the most frequently used crisis management consultant in Ireland, a regular on TV (NBC, CNN, PBS, BBC and ITV) and radio and the author of twenty six books, eight of which are critically acclaimed, was as compelling as ever. A highly informed and masterful story teller she had everyone riveted with her presentation "Effective Communications: How to Find a Voice for Your Business".
Left to right: Lorraine Carter, Terry Prone, Al Dunne and Breda Browne
Breda Browne and Al Dunne of Unique Media also had the attendees hooked on their every word with very interesting insights into the world of journalism, PR and media. Breda, a well know journalist who's written for multiple national publications and held the post of Head of News for Dublin's Q102 and 98FM shared some very useful information and actionable tips which really engaged the audience. Al, a director, programmer and veteran broadcaster in both domestic and international media (Dublin's Q102, 4FM, Atlantic 252) for over 30 years, and still much in demand as a stand-in news and talk show presenter, equally engaged and entertained the attendees in his shared presentation with Breda "Generating PR and Media Opportunities for Your Business".
Padraig McKeon, of McKeon Communications, also with an illustrious career in communications, which include former Managing Director for Drury Communications and currently holding various director and advisory roles such as with Adare HRM, Ocean FM, Irish Nutrition and Dietetic Institute coupled with acting Director of Alumni Relations at DCU, shared some invaluable insights on "Building Business Relationships" and how this has been and continues to be the backbone to his very successful career.
I spoke about "Your Brand's Personality: Is it Compelling Enough to Grow Your Business? Top Tips to Get You Noticed and Increase Your Customers" which included insights into brand strategy, how brands work, how to use the key elements of our Mastermind Branding Blueprint System™ to build your brand - with a particular focus on the Personality Profile Performer™ module of our system for creating your brands' personality to make it really captivating and irresistible to your primary target audience.
I also shared real life insights into why people buy brands, together with examples of three highly successful SME brands from the USA, UK and Ireland which, not only generated huge amusement for all, but gave attendees information they could take away, evaluate against their own brand building activities and implement in their businesses immediately.
All in all a very successful event and a big thank you to all involved for making the day a huge success.
Left to Right: Oisín Geoghegan CEO of Fingal Local Enterprise Office, Lorraine Carter of Persona Branding and Design, Paul Reid CEO of Fingal County Council