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Brand CSR: The Business Case for Successful Branding and Social Good

Posted by Lorraine Carter on February 01 2016 @ 09:30

According to a Nielsen poll of consumers in 60 countries, 55 percent of purchasers are willing to pay more for products and services from companies that do their part to encourage positive social and environmental impacts.[1]

 

Clearly, corporate social responsibility influences buying preferences, but how else is it important? We’ll examine the answer to that question below.

 

  Corporate Social Responsibility 600px

Image via www.huffpost.com

 

 

What is Corporate Social Responsibility?

 

Corporate Social Responsibility, or CSR, occurs when companies take into account the sociological, financial and environmental impacts its actions have in the world and decides to ensure its actions make a positive impact. [2].

  

Some business experts have simplified the definition of CSR even further to suggest it encompasses everything a company actively does to have a positive impact on society.

 

There are numerous types of CSR, such as:

 

  • Philanthropy
  • Production Improvements
  • Better Conditions for Workers
  • Sustainability
  • Community Enrichment
  • Diversity in Hiring Practices
  • Supporting Companies with Similar Values

 

Typically, the manner in which a company engages in CSR is closely aligned with its brand strategy, brand values, positioning, primary audience and industry sector. For example, a clothing manufacturer might iron out a CSR plan that improves working conditions in factories located in developing countries, while an establishment that makes paper products might commit to CSR that ensures the world’s most at-risk forests are protected and regenerated.

 

 

Why is CSR Good for Business?

 

Although many corporate leaders are encouraged by the aforementioned statistic that shows a company’s involvement in CSR may mean a customer is willing to pay more for its services, they usually require stronger beneficial commercial evidence before taking further action.

 

However, they don’t need to look very far before uncovering some of the numerous other benefits linked to CSR, including: [3]

 

 

  • Happier Staff: Employees take pride in working for a company that supports the greater good through worthy actions and happier staff are more productive and better brand ambassadors

 

  • More Informed Customers: If your company announces a CSR strategy, the associated plans could potentially result in a more transparent organization which in turn typically results in more loyal customers.

 

Research shows customers want to know more about the things they buy, product or service, than ever before. For example, a study published by IBM noted 59 percent of American consumers and 57 percent of consumers from the United Kingdom have become more informed about the foods they buy and eat over the two years prior to the study’s publication.[4] 

 

In other words, customers’ predisposition to buy, product or service, is becoming increasingly influenced by an organization’s authenticity, openness and commitment to the greater good.

 

  • Reduced Costs: CSR can cut costs by helping companies become aware of and minimize risks, plus improve the efficiency of their supply chains.

 

  • Improved Competitiveness: In a challenging marketplace, a worthwhile CSR plan could carve out a more solid place with a unique positioning for a company to thrive.

 

  • Better Public Relations and Reputation Management: A CSR plan gives a company a platform through which to promote good things like community involvement, donations to charities and other big-hearted gestures.

 

 

 

Developing an Effective Corporate Responsibility Plan for Your Brand

 

In order to launch a CSR plan that’s good for business and engages genuinely with your stakeholders, it must be carefully crafted. The key is to strike a balance between benefiting society at large, and benefitting the business. [5] Doing that means:

 

  Business Idea Action Plan 600px

 

 

  • Evaluating how and where the business can have the greatest societal impact without taxing the company’s leadership and resources. This frequently involves scrutinizing the company’s existing competencies. Those strengths can provide clues to possible CSR strategies that are revealed after tapping into existing skillsets.

  

  • Cultivating a deep understanding of how certain actions could help the business while simultaneously supporting the chosen causes. This often also necessitates having an open heart and mind while listening to feedback from stakeholders.

  

  • Aligning with partners can propel your desired efforts and help bring goals to fruition. Ideally, adopting a long-term mindset when forming collaborative CSR relationships is best for all concerned.

  

  • Ensure business objectives and CSR goals match up. If there is a disconnect between these two components, your CSR activities risk being time-consuming and lacking the power needed to make lasting changes.

  

  

Examples of Brand CSR Strategies That Have Worked Well, and Why

 

Now you have a deeper understanding of what corporate social responsibility is and how to start formulating your own plan, let’s look at the characteristics of some successful CSR programs with companies that are excelling in their CSR endeavors [6]. You can then use these actionable tips to drive your own brand CSR inspiration.

 

CSR experts agree all successful CSR programmes typically have:

  • clear objectives
  • measurable outcomes
  • well-developed theories for how to achieve the desired goals
  • sufficient information for stakeholders about why causes are worth pursuing
  • dedicated and highly focused efforts from the entire company
  • a willingness to partner with credible experts.

 

 

Let’s look at a few case studies that detail some stellar CSR successes.

 

APS Group

This UK-based SME spent years ironing out its CSR strategy. Lacking the resources to hire a dedicated CSR team, the company found employees who were willing to champion the company’s CSR causes, which include education and supplier sustainability.

 

  

  

  

  

Media clips from the company place a strong emphasis on making things possible for clients that they would not be able to achieve alone, as does the company’s published document about its CSR initiatives. Through CSR efforts, it can also be strongly argued the company is living out its “Make More Possible” slogan by enabling the people and organizations affected by the causes it supports. APS Group is a great example of how even if a company thinks creating a CSR plan is a daunting task, success is still within reach. [8]

 

 

Method

This brand of cleaning products uses natural ingredients such as coconut oil and soy. Furthermore, the products’ packaging is environmentally responsible and biodegradable. Since the company boasts over $100 million in revenue annually, that is proof “green” products can be commercially viable.

  

   Method Cleaning 600px

Image via www.methodhome.com

 

 

Furthermore, Method demonstrates CSR focuses do not have to be separate from the products you make. Some media clips from the company that details its CSR focuses specifically highlight input from industry experts to make a bigger impact.

 

  

 

  

  

LUSH Cosmetics

This company sells bathing and beauty products filled with natural ‘Fair Trade’ ingredients. The brand’s Charity Pot is sold to benefit a rotating assortment of non-profit organizations. All proceeds from the Charity Pot go directly to the chosen groups, resulting in millions of dollars raised. [10]

 

The packaging is just one indicator of how easy it is for people to support good causes by purchasing these black, lotion-filled containers. LUSH uses the labels on the top of pots to inform consumers who the recipients are by clearly stating the designated charity concerned.

  

   Lush Pot Lids 600px

Image via www.lush.co.uk

  

  

The brand also has a fund that supports communities which produce fairly traded goods. It was launched in 2010 and borne from a desire the company had to do something more than just use fair-trade ingredients in their products whenever possible. [11]

   

 

  

   

 

Charting the Results of Your CSR Strategy

 

It can sometimes appear somewhat difficult to determine with certainty whether your CSR strategies have achieved the desired outcomes. One of the more effective ways you can answer that question is by engaging an independent research firm, with specialist expertise, to rank certain aspects of a company’s CSR performance, from human rights to the environment and community. [12]

 

Additionally, you can check effectiveness through various metrics [13] such as:

 

  • Environmental indices for pollution or air/water/soil quality
  • Quality and quantity of mentions in media outlets
  • Measurements for the quality of life within a society, such as literacy rates, life expectancy and incidences of disease, plus mental, physical and emotional heath. The latter could be gauged through feedback surveys given to workers
  • Indicators of the company’s economic health by way of profits, growth, and stability, before and after a CSR campaign launches

 

 

Statistics 600px

 

 

In conclusion, customers are becoming increasingly hyper-conscious of how and where they spend their money. Recent research also indicates this trend is strongest among Millennials, the largest consumer segment in terms of buying power. [14] Specifically, 91 percent of Millennials actively switch to brands that support a worthy cause, and abandon the brands that aren’t perceived to have an authentic contribution policy.

 

In addition to boosting your customer base and potential profits, a well-developed CSR plan could strengthen your relationship with suppliers, increase competitiveness in the marketplace and help you cut costs by becoming more aware of risks. Therefore, many business leaders have come to realize it’s short sighted to not be involved in corporate social responsibility.

    

Key Takeaways

 

  • Customers are typically willing to pay more for products from companies associated with strong CSR brand strategies
  • CSR goals vary depending on a company’s values and the composition of their stakeholders
  • A good CSR plan should both benefit the business and help society
  • The CSR plan must align with a company’s business objectives
  • Expert individuals or notable groups can help improve CSR strategy success
  • Metrics and independent research groups can evaluate whether a CSR plan is working well

 

Have you integrated a CSR strategy into your organization? If not, it might be a good idea to take a look at how CSR could benefit all concerned.

  

Questions to Consider

  

  • Does your company have well-defined core competencies that could translate into areas of CSR focus?

  

  • How motivated are your stakeholders to pursue a CSR plan?

 

  • Are there obstacles that might delay CSR-related brand strategy plans?

  

  • Have you thought about how to tackle negative responses from stakeholders that CSR is not currently worthwhile?

 

  • Which measurement methods will you consider using to verify your CSR brand strategy effectiveness?

 

 

You may also like:

 

• What Customers Want: Top 16 Branding Trends in 2016

  

• Rebranding Strategy: Why Your Rebrand Must Embrace Storytelling

    

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

  

• Creating New Brands: Top 10 Tips for Brand Success  

 

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

  

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

 

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

 

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

     

[1] http://www.nielsen.com, "Global Consumers Are Willing to Put Their Money Where Their Heart Is When it Comes to Goods and Services from Companies Committed to Social Responsibility", June 2014

[2] http://toolkit.smallbiz.nsw.gov.au, "What is Corporate Social Responsibility?"

[3] http://www.csrinpractice.com, "What is Corporate Social Responsibility?"

[4] George Pohle and Jeff Hittner, https://www-935.ibm.com, "Attaining Sustainable Growth Through Corporate Responsibility.", 2008

[5] Tracey Keys, Thomas W. Malnight, and Kees van der Graaf, http://www.mckinsey.com, "Making the Most of Corporate Social Responsibility" June 2009

[6] Frederick E. Allen, http://www.forbes.com, "The Five Elements of the Best CSR Programs." April 2011.

[7] http://www.theapsgroup.com/who-we-are/corporate-social-responsibility/

[8] Lisa Henshaw, http://www.theguardian.com, "How SMEs Can Engage in Social Responsibility Programmes," December 2011.

[9] http://www.inc.com, "How Two Friends Built a $100 Million Company"

[10] Helaina Hovitz, http://www.forbes.com, "Following the Millions in LUSH's 'Charity Pot'. December 2014

[11] https://www.lush.co.uk/.  "Introducing the SLush Fund"

[12] Tima Bansal, Natalie Slawinski, Cara Maurer, Natalie Slawinski, Cara Maurer. http://www.iveybusinessjournal.com, "Beyond Good Intentions: Strategies for Managing Your CSR Performance" January/February 2008.

[13] Katherine N. Lemon, John H. Roberts, Priya Raghubir and Russell S. Winter, http://www.philoma.org. "A Stakeholder-Based Approach: Measuring the Effects of Corporate Social Responsibility", 2011.

[14] www.conecomm.com, "New Cone Communications Research Confirms Millennials as America's Most Ardent CSR Supporters," September 2015.

  

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What’s a Cult Lifestyle Brand, and How do You Create One?

Posted by Lorraine Carter on January 25 2016 @ 08:30

When the Apple Corporation gave its annual report in 2015, it had a whopping $178 billion in cash, or enough to buy the Ford, Tesla, and General Motors car companies and have more than $41 billion left over. [1] Such is the power and worth of a so-called cult lifestyle brand. Here, we'll look at what makes up a cult brand, and the characteristics that set the stage for your brand to obtain that coveted status.

 

 

What is a Cult Brand, and Why is it Smart to Build One?

  

A cult brand has worked so hard to build a following, it’s in a class of its own. Loyal customers feel there is no substitute for the benefits ‘their’ cult brand offers, and they’re often willing to go to great lengths to get access to those much sought after respective products or service.  Cult brands anticipate the tangible and spiritual needs of their customers and work to fill them on multiple levels. [2]

  

They’re usually associated with social benefits, too [3]. For example, Fender guitars are arguably not the most technically advanced instruments, but they nevertheless enjoy a cult following. Once people buy a guitar, they feel they’ve become part of a social club of other content like-minded customers, including some superstar players.

  

Once you’ve built a strong cult brand it will continue to inspire brand loyalty provided you both carefully nurture it and your loyal customers. That loyalty is likely to persist even if you charge a premium or intentionally produce products or services in limited quantities with restricted access.

  

Furthermore, in the event an untimely problem arises that momentarily blemishes the brand, its cult status will often be enough to carry it through those temporary low points.  Brands with cult-like status tend to engender staunch customers willing to buy the brand again despite mishaps.

  

 

Characteristics of a Cult Lifestyle Brand

 

Let’s take a deeper look and examine key characteristics that help some brands stand head-and-shoulders above the rest, seemingly immune to the many struggles causing competitors to flounder:

 

  • Cult Brands Have Recognizable Strong Personality Traits: Although brands don’t necessarily have all the attributes humans do, the best share many qualities with humans. They are like humanized entities. You may resonate with one of your most beloved brands because it appears to exhibit sympathy, honesty, integrity and motivation, among other emotionally engaging human-like traits, qualities and values that are potentially important to you.

 

  • Cult Brands Are Relatable: When a cult brand is relatable, it’s able to resonate with its target audience by encapsulating familiarities within everyday lives. A brand may be positioned so it’s optimally relatable via its packaging, customer service, employees, customer journey, brand collateral and even purchase receipts.

 

  • Cult Brands Encompass Broad Ideals: Some brands reach cult status because they successfully convey an ideal or lifestyle its purchasers aspire to and want to be part of. Maybe the brand’s associated with warm hospitality, opulent luxury, a rugged, adventuresome lifestyle or a hunger for high-tech items that regularly challenge what we think is possible. [4] By regularly purchasing items or services that represent what they aspire to having, buyers inch ever closer to their ultimate goals. Its what the beloved cult brand ‘stands for’ that its target audience identify, with and relate to as part of their own personal identity.

 

  • Cult Brands Have Their Own Catchy Brand Language and Buzzwords: At Walt Disney World, people who work there aren’t called employees, but “cast members.” Furthermore, the crew that designs rides is staffed by “imagineers.”

 

Also, don’t walk into an Apple Store and expect to get your MP3 player checked at the technical support desk. Instead, stroll back to the Genius Bar where a specialist bearing the title of “genius” will examine your iPhone. 

 

The distinctive language used by cult brands is not just an accidental cutesy extra. It’s quite deliberate and strategically developed as part of building the brand’s profile using a system like the Personality Profile Performer™. When people learn the lingo or brand language, they’ve become members of an exclusive club, the in-crowd, and are thereby more closely connected to one another and those they perceive to matter most in their world. [5]

 

 

4 Top Tips for Creating a Cult Brand

 

Now that you’re more familiar with some aspects of brands that have reached cult status, let’s explore actionable tips that could help your own brand achieve that apparently insurmountable feat. [6]

 

1. Tell a Strong Brand Story

The human brain responds instinctively to stories. We’ve shared stories since we lived in caves and learnt them as children on our parents’ knees. It’s how we make sense of the world. Your brand should develop and tell an engaging, memorable tale. When we’re working with our clients to create and develop memorable brand stories we use our Story Selling System™. Consider that most cult brands are able to successfully communicate which problems their products solve. Ideally, your story should not only be authentic and emotionally compelling, but prove how your product fills a demonstrated need.

 

 

2. Excel at Doing or Giving Something People Greatly Value

Cult brands are often excellent at providing a service or benefit to a far superior degree when compared to their competitors, and brands in other unrelated sectors for that matter. This is one of the reasons why it’s so crucial to understand what other brands in your industry are doing, and evaluate how you can reach beyond that point in a meaningful and feasible way. A brand audit is a very effective tool for uncovering this often hidden information. Your brand needs to be creating a customer experience in at least one very unique way that’s vastly superior to your nearest contenders.

 

 

3. Truly Value Your Customers

Regardless of how great whatever you’re offering is, your brand is highly unlikely to reach cult status if you consistently give customers the cold shoulder. Earlier, we talked about how people who follow cult brands may be more forgiving and willing to offer second chances. However, that’ll only happen if you have stellar customer service practices that make your customers feel like they’re genuinely worth your time and much appreciated for their business.

 

Besides just offering great service, try to include customers in your creative or product or service development process, even if its just to get feedback from them. People love feeling like they’re part of something important and that their opinion matters. If you make it clear their thoughts matter, they’re more likely to be loyal for life.

 

 

4. Give the Impression of Scarcity

Although this tip can backfire in some markets, profits and consumer interest levels can grow when customers feel the product you’re offering is not easy to acquire. When buyers believe an item is in limited supply, they’re often more likely to try harder to get it.

 

   Pixabay People Waiting 600px

 

  

Now, let’s look at a few case studies of companies that have used various brand strategies to build their cult brands and make them thrive very profitably.

 

 

Case Study: SoulCycle

 

SoulCycle is a brand of indoor cycling classes that’s beloved by celebrities, and some might say, a little overpriced. Class prices begin at $32 for 45 minutes of sweaty cycling. Yet, SoulCycle’s devotees don’t mind.

 

   Soul Cycle Home Page2 600px

Image via www.soul-cycle.com

 

 

Many of them cycle while wearing diamonds and Rolex watches. Being around people who are outfitted in the same way likely engenders feelings of even greater exclusivity.

  

 

  

  

  

Furthermore, certain superstar trainers have very small exclusive class sizes, leading fitness fans to scramble in hopes of landing an open slot, or getting lucky when someone doesn’t show up. Chelsea Clinton, Oprah Winfrey and Lady Gaga are just a few VIPs singing SoulCycle’s praises, with Lady Gaga even bringing custom-made SoulCycle bikes on a tour. [7]

  

     Soul Cycle 600px

Image via www.popsugar.com

 

 

Case Study: J. Crew

 

Founded in 1983, J. Crew is an American clothing brand that has impressively been able to enjoy a long-term cult status, while other hopeful brands have faltered. Some analysts say the success is largely due to the brand’s fearless and forward-thinking president and creative director, Jenna Lyons. [8]

 

       Style Profile Jenna Lyons 600px

Image via www.letsrestycle.com and www.sohautestyle.com

 

 

She took the helm in 2008 and began running with the bold strategy that the brand should no longer be dictated by corporate strategies. Instead, J. Crew would not associate with a product unless its team members truly embraced it.

  

 

 

  

 

Furthermore, Lyons unified the company’s creative processes and gave employees more freedom to take risks. Ideas that don’t work well are quickly disposed of, leaving some to feel J. Crew is constantly in flux. However, rising profits and raving fans indicate the changes have resonated. Some of the brand’s YouTube videos have more than a million views.

 

 

Case Study: Vij's and Rangoli

 

These two Canadian restaurants are run by a husband and wife team and have become some of the hottest eating establishments in Vancouver. A “No Reservation Rule” means people sometimes have to act fast to enjoy this beloved cuisine.  

    

   Vikram Vij 600px

Image via www.macleans.ca

  

  

Besides the tasty fare they offer, perhaps one of the reasons why the restaurants have such loyal followings is because their very creations represent an entrepreneurial dream many fantasize about.

 

 

  

 

  

The restaurants were funded by a small loan from a family member, plus personal savings. One member of the team is Vikram Vij, who’s originally from India. He was able to use talent, determination and dedication to help the restaurants prosper.[9] Vij and his wife Meeru have even written two acclaimed books.

   

      Vijs Indian Cookbooks 600px

Image via www.vijs.ca

   

   

Clearly, there’s not a single path that leads an emerging brand to cult brand status. However, a combination of key factors, such as cultivating desirable brand characteristics, a skilled team with a visionary leader, unwavering focus with a clear strategic brand vision and an exclusivity or scarcity strategy can result in impressive outcomes.

 

 

Key Takeaways

 

  • Cult brands must meet a need or solve a problem in at least one way that’s significantly superior to competitors

 

 

  • Cult brands are inspiring, yet relatable

 

  • People are often more forgiving of cult brands

 

 

  • Cult brands often encompass desirable lifestyles

 

 

 

Questions to Consider

 

  • Can you identify one or more desirable personality traits your brand possesses that may help it reach cult status?

 

  • What positive associations or lifestyles relate to your brand?

 

  • Can you think of a situation where it may be detrimental or inappropriate to use a scarcity strategy?

 

  • Which problems does your brand solve for consumers?

 

  • In what ways do you think your brand makes others feel inspired?

 

 

 

 

You may also like:

 

• What Customers Want: Top 16 Branding Trends in 2016

 

• Rebranding Strategy: Why Your Rebrand Must Embrace Storytelling

 

• Top 10 Packaging Trends for 2016

 

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

 

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

 

• Brand Audits: Why You Need Them and How to Perform One

 

• Creating New Brands: Top 10 Tips for Brand Success  

  

• Colour Psychology: Cracking the Colour Code for Profitable Branding

  

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

  

• Luxury Branding: How to Establish or Re-Position Your High-End Brand

 

 

 

[1] Sam Colt, uk.businessnsider.com, "15 Mind-Blowing Facts About Apple's Latest Quarter," January 2015.

[2] http://www.cultbranding.com, "Cult Brand Defined."

[3] Antonio Marazza, http://www.forbes.com, "A Survival Guide for Symbolic and Lifestyle Brands," October 2013.

[4] Jessica Farris, http://www.printmag.com, "Branding Lifestyles: What Does Your Brand Represent?" September 2014.

[5] Frank Cowell, "http://www.elevatoragency.com, "Why Your Brand Needs Its Own Language"

[6] Dave Llorens, http://www.huffingtonpost.com, "8 Cult Lessons That Will Help You Build Your Brand," December 2013.

[7] Vanessa Grigoriadis, http://www.vanityfair.com, "Riding High," August 2012.

[8] Danielle Sacks, http://www.fastcompany.com, "How Jenna Lyons Transformed J.Crew Into a Cult Brand," April 2013.

[9] smallbusinessbc.ca, "Meet Vikram Vij, CBC Dragon, Vij's Restaurant, My Shanti, Rangoli and Vij's At Home"

  

  

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Brand Audits: Why You Need Them and How to Perform One

Posted by Lorraine Carter on January 12 2016 @ 08:25

From public transit advertising to shop displays, analysts believe we are exposed to up to 5,000 instances of branding exposure messages per day.[1]

 

That extreme saturation of the market place is why it's so crucial to be aware of the health of your brand, and make changes if necessary. The first step in achieving that awareness comes through a brand audit health check.

 

 

Why Are Brand Audit Heath Checks Valuable?

 

A brand audit health check is an examination of the current state of your brand. Branding defines a company or product's identity, both to internal and external stakeholders.

 

Examples of internal stakeholders include managers, employees, and board members. Suppliers, customers, community members and sponsors are possible external stakeholders. A brand audit health check helps determine how these stakeholders see your brand[2] and whether it's necessary to make changes that would improve or clarify those perceptions.

 

Potential situations when it may be necessary to perform a brand audit include:

 

  • Your brand’s market share is declining
  • You are considering extending your brand to a new product category
  • You are uncertain about the strength of your brand in relation to its competitive offerings
  • You want to develop a more extensive overall branding plan
  • You’re unaware of your brand’s weaknesses

 

  

   

  

 

Internal Versus External Brand Audits

 

An internal brand audit examines how staff members, managers and other members of the company brand perceive the brand. Conversely, an external audit usually looks at a segment of external stakeholders. When doing an external audit, you may want to consider researching both current customers and former customers, and members of the target audience who are currently loyal to other brands, but you'd like them to consider your brand instead.

 

 

Two and Five-Step Brand Audit Methodologies

 

The methodologies, extent, and depth of brand audits vary depending on your primary objectives, time, resources and other commercial imperatives.

However you'll generally want to look at five key areas: [3]

 

  • The Branding Strategy: This involves a careful examination of your company's business and marketing plans, measured against what your brand is supposed to represent. During this phase, identify your company's strengths and weaknesses, plus potential opportunities and threats. This practice is often referred to as a SWOT analysis.  Furthermore, scrutinize future plans that support your brand.

 

  • Branding Communications: Look at current and past advertising, PR activities, promotional materials, including your brand's website[4] and social media profiles. Messages across all your brand platforms and customer touchpoints should be consistent, relevant, concise and clear, and most importantly tailored to meet the needs of your primary audience. If you find customers visit your website but don’t stick around, or that those visits never convert into profitable outcomes, it may be time to revitalize or rebrand your web presence. It’s also worthwhile to re-examine press releases, press kits, and employee training materials.

 

  • How Customers Get to the Point of Choosing Your Brand: Do research to see which factors cause customers to shop for your brand and ultimately choose it over competitors. Re-evaluate your customer journey. While working with clients, we always remind them that understanding the customers' processes can be extremely valuable. Customer feedback gained through surveys and focus groups could be a very useful resource.

 

  • An In-Depth Customer Analysis: If your budget allows for it, a customer analysis should include both qualitative and quantitative studies. Find out how likely customers are to embrace your brand. There are numerous factors that contribute to brand loyalty, including attitude towards the brand, perception of the brand, and overall awareness.

 

 

If for whatever reason you’re not able to perform a brand audit with more depth as indicated above, [5] it's also possible to do a two-stage process that includes:

 

  • Your Current Identity: Factors examined here should include your company's brand name, slogan, brand collateral, personality and tone. In conducting this type of brand audit, you can often do valuable research amongst your primary audience by posing open-ended questions to your various stakeholders.

 

  • Your Brand Strategy: Establishing whether your brand's marketing efforts are worthwhile means looking at the level of brand awareness in your target demographic, examining what your competitors are doing well, and identifying their shortcomings, and evaluating data related to your website traffic and engagement, together with any other brand communication activities.

 

 

 

Deciding What to Do After a Brand Audit Health Check

 

The data collected from your auditing process can be extremely revealing. Findings will help determine whether a brand refresh is most appropriate, or a more radical overhaul with a complete rebranding. When working with clients, we often find they feel somewhat overwhelmed by all the results from their brand's health check. However when all the key elements are broken down into smaller, more manageable chunks and each element is addressed systematically it is far more feasible compared to addressing the whole picture at one go!

  

 

Case Study: MadeSmart Housewares Refreshes Its Brand

 

For two decades, MadeSmart was a housewares brand that primarily provided private label offerings for licensing. When economic conditions changed, brand executives found MadeSmart did not have a sufficiently distinctive brand voice in the marketplace and was not strongly positioned enough for future growth.

 

  Made Smart Single Thought

Image via www.madesmart.com

 

  

The brand audit conducted for MadeSmart established that the brand was out of alignment with the marketplace, and the direction planned by the company. As part of the brand audit and brand profiling processes the brand was redefined, together with its promise and values, re-evaluated, re-positioned and updated to become more relevant to not only the marketplace and the brand’s primary target audience but also its future aspirations and growth plans.

 

  Made Smart New Packaging

Image via www.madesmart.com

 

  

 

MadeSmart's brand identity in terms of their logo, advertising, signage, and website were some of the brand collateral that were redesigned following the brand audit too. The brand audit delivered positive growth with its branding refresh and received enthusiastic feedback from both clients and the local press. [6]

 

   Made Smart Home Pg1

Image via www.madesmart.com

  

  

   

Case Study: Monsanto Seeks to Improve Brand Perception Among Staff Members

 

Monsanto, a multinational biotechnology company, felt it needed to encourage its staff to become more effective brand ambassadors whilst also enhancing their brand loyalty and engagement with company’s brand values. Monsanto hired a company to perform an internal brand audit, during which changes were suggested for the brand's internal brand collateral, website design and visual identity, among other things. [7]

 

   Monsanto Home Pg1

Image via www.monsanto.com

 

 

 

When the results of this work were evaluated via a survey, researchers found employees had a better perception of Monsanto, and were more likely to be loyal to the brand and consequently champion the brand. In short the strategies implemented after the brand audit were deemed very successful.

 

  

 

 

 

Key Takeaways:

 

  • Brand audit health checks are very useful in identifying how internal and external stakeholders see your brand

 

 

  • When examining the ways in which your brand's messaging is communicated, be sure to evaluate both your online and offline presence

 

  • Find out what triggers your customers to choose your brand over your competitors, and the likelihood of those customers fully embracing your brand. Also, examine how employees perceive your brand—is it aligned with the external market?

 

  • The brand audit health check is the first step in evaluating whether you need to make changes in order to maintain or re-establish relevance in the marketplace

 

 

Questions to Consider:

 

 

  • What are some examples of key stakeholders you may have been overlooking in your day-to-day business operations?

 

  • Have you received feedback that indicates your brand's messaging is not as clear as it could be?

 

  • Can you identify some systemized, yet easily applied, methodologies that could be used to get feedback from customers and employees alike, while also offering incentives to them?

 

  • Are you able to recall at least one instance where a brand that's familiar to you performed a complete rebranding process? Would you consider it to have been a successful venture?

 

 

You may also like:

 

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

    

• What Customers Want: Top 16 Branding Trends in 2016

   

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

     

• Creating New Brands: Top 10 Tips for Brand Success  

  

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

 

• Rebranding Strategy: Why Your Rebrand Must Embrace Storytelling

  

• Brand Differentiation: 30 Ways to Differentiate Your Brand

    

• Rebranding Strategy: Gems of Wisdom from 5 Successful Brand Revitalizations

   

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

 

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

 

 

[1] Mike Huber, http://www.verticalmeasures.com/, "Why You Need a Content Marketing Budget for 2016", September 2015

[2] http://www.bbc.co.uk/, "Business Studies: Stakeholders"

[3] Les Kollegian, http://www.entrepreneur.com/, "Do You Stand by Your Brand? It's Time for an Audit", January 2014

[4] Asmat Batul, https://blog.kissmetrics.com/, "How and Why You Should Conduct a Brand Audit"

[5] Brad VanAuken, http://www.brandingstrategyinsider.com, November 2007

[6] http://www.aiga.org/, "Case Study: MadeSmart Housewares Brand Refresh", November 2011

[7] http://www.theaffiniti.com

 

1 comment(s)

Rebranding Strategy: Gems of Wisdom from 5 Successful Brand Revitalizations

Posted by Lorraine Carter on January 05 2016 @ 12:45

Rebranding is a relatively broad term, as it encompasses both large and small-scale changes to an existing brand, which aim to resurrect a failing brand, reposition the brand and allow the company to reach out to a new target market, or simply help the brand keep up with the times.

  

While some brands adopt a “back to the drawing board” strategy and change everything from their logo and name to their brand values and product packaging design, a good brand revitalization strategy can sometimes be limited to a few low-key changes that enable the brand to stay relevant or differentiate itself from the competition.   

 

 

When Should a Company Invest in a Rebrand?

An impressive 61% of consumers stated that an exceptional customer experience was a major determining factor when choosing a brand, and 48% of consumers expect brands to understand their needs and assist them in finding the right product and services based on those needs.[1]

   

    

Digital Trends Target The Always On Consumer 600px 

Infographic via Cube.com [Digital Trends Target the Always-On Consumer]

  

  

Brands that have trouble understanding or catering to the customers’ needs are prime candidates for a brand relaunch, but a company can also have trouble with brand incongruence, a tarnished reputation or pressure from the competition.

 

However, the reasons for a rebrand can also be of a positive nature – a brand may experience rapid growth, as well as significant changes in the production process or the expansion of their product portfolio due technological innovations. Repositioning an economy brand as a high-end brand is another good reason for rebranding.

  

Since a successful rebrand involves performing a brand audit, market research, developing a detailed brand implementation strategy and effectively communicating the rebrand to customers and media, it is not recommended for young brands. You must have a well-established brand identity and a good level of brand awareness before you can embark on a brand revitalization journey.
 

 

Lessons Learned from 5 Successful Rebranding Strategies

1.   Harley-Davidson – Improve the Actual Product

The Harley-Davidson motorcycle company initially had many advantages over their competition. For one, the brand had a purebred American provenance, a long history – their motorcycles were used by the US army in both World Wars – and were associated with an image of a powerful, fearless and rebellious man and an adventurous lifestyle that was alluring to a fairly large percentage of men in their mid-twenties and mid-thirties.

  

The brand had a good story tell, but the company still had numerous problems over the years, and faced bankruptcy on more than one occasion. The main issues that the company faced were:

  • Their products were objectively less reliable than what their competition had to offer
  • They faced very aggressive competition from a number of quality Japanese brands
  • The brand had become associated with biker gangs, notably the Hells Angels
  • They were seen as old-fashioned and outdated

 

In other words, Harley-Davidson had to address their reputation issues or face extinction. However, this was not something that could be fixed by merely changing the logo – their products didn’t meet the quality standards that the customers were accustomed to and they didn’t appeal to the younger generation. The brand actually adopted an incredibly smart strategy – spend less money on marketing and focus on making the product better.

  

 

Harley Davidson Free Wheeler 600px

Image via www.harley-davidson.com

 

 

Once they worked out all the little problems that had plagued their motorcycles, the company experienced impressive growth – Harley-Davidson, a brand that was on the verge of bankruptcy twice before, is now worth around $1 billion.  

 

The company still faces a big problem, their average customer is a white American male pushing fifty, but they have shown that they are ready to reach out to a more ethnically diverse and younger target audience. The brand plans to shift its focus towards marketing in 2016. [2]

 

 

2. Massey Bros. – Leverage Your Premium Service, Tell Your Brand Story and Ensure Your Brand Identity Creates Distinction

Massey Bros. Funeral Directors is a successful family owned and managed business established in Dublin in the 1930s. They operate in a sector which is traditionally very conservative yet they’re industry leaders in terms of developing innovative solutions. They also have the added complication of having more than six competitors also operating legitimately under the ‘Massey’ name. In addition to this, they themselves also operated under two names before their rebrand!

  

  

Massey Bros Logo 2012 72dpi

 

 

Massey Bros. have always offered a very premium service but this five star, tailor made, message, their industry leadership coupled with their multiple first to market new innovative services solutions just wasn’t been properly represented in their brand profile, tone-of-voice or brand communications strategy. They also lacked a strong brand identity or consistency across their brand collateral.

  

  

Massey Bros Brand Guidelines Cover

 

 

We conducted research and a brand audit health check, re-evaluated their whole brand proposition and purpose, their positioning, signage, uniforms, brand collateral and brand strategy. The outputs and findings from this initial body of work then provided the direction for a complete brand overhaul resulting in absolute clarity over their brand proposition, a much stronger brand identity, a higher profile with distinction in the marketplace, consistency across all the brand collateral and most importantly strong staff brand custodians throughout the business that continue to pro-actively manage their brand in the marketplace. And of course, increased market share. You can read the full details of this rebranding case study here.

 

 

3. Target – Know Your Audience and Keep Things Simple

Target was initially envisioned as a brand that catered to a somewhat more sophisticated shopper, a person looking for a more sophisticated shopping experience than one would normally find in extremely low-priced stores like Walmart, but who also wanted that stay within a reasonable budget. The problem was that, over the years, the “deal-hunting” aspect became more prominent, which essentially lead to Target being equated with the very same economy shopping experience that they originally strived to distance themselves from.

 

This caused brand incongruence, with fashionable clothes on one end and cheap food items on the other, and they simply could not compete with well-established economy brands that ruled this segment of the market.

 

Target performed a brand audit health check, and found that they were neglecting a very important demographic. In the words of Brian Cornell, Target chief executive: “Our guest is going to be increasingly a Hispanic shopper.” [3] The brand, realizing that over 50% of Hispanic Millennials identified Target as their preferred shopping destination, even created several Spanish-language adverts, with a unique hashtag – #SinTraducción (without translation).

  

   

  

  

 

Another big step towards engaging their primary audience was the decision to unite their smaller “mini urban stores” under the Target brand logo. The company previously distinguished these smaller outlets as TargetExpress and CityTarget.

 

 

 Target Express Store 600px

Image via Target.com [Target express store]

 

  

The logo design for the mini urban stores proved confusing, the words “express” and “city” were simply placed next to the classic bull’s-eye Target logo, and will only feature the Target logo going forward. With these changes, the brand has revitalized its image. However they still apparently have a bit further to go according to USA Today as things like the infamous 2013 security breach, and their latest OCD sweater has reportedly put their customers’ loyalty somewhat to the test.   

 

 

Target Ocd Sweater

 

  

  

4. Hybrid Technology Partners – Don’t Pigeonhole Yourself with a Poorly Thought Out Brand Identity 

 

Formerly known as HybridIT, this Limerick-based company offer a wide range of services, including IT, software development and customer support. They even offer a product – a unique business management ERP (enterprise resource planning) system. However, anyone who saw the “IT” in their brand name immediately thought of them as just another IT company. [4]

 

This prevented the company from accessing a larger market share, and the fact that their logo didn’t communicate their core brand message effectively threatened to keep HybridIT in the shadows. Luckily, this “more than just an IT” company caught on and decided to revitalize their brand.

 

   Hybrid Technology Partners

 

 

When working on creating appropriate brand identities for our clients, we focus on ensuring all the brand foundations have been fully developed using our Personality Profile Performer™ system before we even look at the aesthetics or design. The outputs from this system provide the roadmap for ensuring the brand identity outputs together with brand messaging and tone of voice are market and target audience appropriate, unique and in keeping a brand’s core values.

 

At first glance the change was subtle, they became HybridTP, but that one little letter was a monumental step in the right direction. The new brand identity, Hybrid Technology Partners made two things very clear:

  • The brand offers diverse technological solutions for streamlining a business
  • The company views its clients as partners, and works with them to find the best solutions

The new brand identity, coupled with some light modifications to their website, allowed HybridTP to convey their brand values – honesty, cooperation and trust – and connect with a much larger audience more effectively.

  

 

5. Narragansett Beer – Learn How to Appeal to Millennial Consumers

 

Pabst Blue Light used to be the beer of choice for blue-collar workers and hipster Millennials, but in recent years an old New England beer has stolen their title as the number one “cheap and cool” US beer.

 

The Narragansett brand has a long history, it was established 125 years ago, but the company recently made a very wise business decision and revitalised the brand, targeting Millennials. They didn’t stray away from their roots, their New England provenance, and long history being the key elements that distinguished the brand from the competition, but they did make some notable changes to the product packaging and re-evaluated their branding strategy.  

  

  

 

  

The old slogan, “Made on Honor, Sold on Merit”, remained unchanged, but with fun and colourful commercials, local girls photographed in the traditional pinup style for their calendar and increased social media activity, Narragansett has successfully made a transition into the digital age.

  

   

Narragansett Beer 2015 

Image via www.narragansettbeer.com

  

  

We know from personal experience that the Millennial demographic can be a powerful driving force that launches a struggling brand to new levels of success. Understanding both what makes their brand unique and what appeals to a Millennial audience, has allowed this low-priced craft beer to secure its position on the market. Saying that the rebrand was a success would be an understatement – the brand brought in $12 million in revenue last year, 120 times more than in 2005.[5]

   

These five successful rebrand stories all carry an important lesson for any struggling brand. A brand audit can help you reveal your weaknesses be it a problem with the quality of the product itself like in Harley Davidson’s case, an issue of brand incongruence, a dissonance between the brand logo and core brand values and the services offered by the company or a lack of awareness of your primary audience’s needs and preferences.

  

A brand relaunch is not something to be taken lightly or done for the pure sake of change, but if a brand has fallen on tough times, lacks relevance or isn’t leveraging its full potential with its target market, implementing a carefully planned brand revitalisation strategy is a big move in the right direction.     

     

You might also like:

 

Rebranding Strategy: Why Your Rebrand Must Embrace Storytelling

   

• Rebranding Strategy: Using Premium Repositioning To Increase Profitability 

 

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

  

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

 

• Brand Audit: Tips for Determining Your Brand’s Health - Can It Be Improved?

 

• Brand Naming: Top Ten Methods for Brand Name Creation    

 

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

 

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

 

• Creating New Brands: Top 10 Tips for Brand Success

 

• Brand Profiling: How to Use Emotion to Make Your Brand More Profitable  

 

 

So, what do you think?

  

• Does your brand have trouble staying relevant?

  

• Did you perform a brand health check to determine if there are any weak points you could improve upon?

  

• Are you targeting the right audience, and do you really understand the needs of your primary audience in terms of their needs, wants, loves, hates and aspirations?

  

• Are your products and services up to standards, or are you having problems keeping up with the competition?

  

• Is your brand identity consistent with your core values, and the type of products and services you offer, or is it unnecessarily pigeonholing you into a single niche?

   

[1] Steve, Cubemc.com, Digital Trends: Understanding and Targeting the ‘Always-On’ Consumer, April 2015

[2] Mark Ritson, Branding Strategy Insider, “Can The Harley Davidson Brand Age Gracefully?”, October 2015

[3] Sarah Halzack, WashingtonPost.com, “Target’s new strategy: We need more than just minivan moms”, March 2015

[4] IrishExaminer.com, Small Business Q&A: Paul Brown, September 2014

[5] Kristina Monllos, Adweek.com, “How Narragansett Beer Rebuilt Its Brand With a Meager $100,000 Media Budget, Deep roots and word of mouth”, June 2015

  

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Lorraine Carter Speaking at The Future Business Forum, Bucharest

Posted by Lorraine Carter on December 22 2015 @ 14:00

Would you like some critical insights into the future trends of branding and business today?

 

Join me at The Future Business Forum 2016, Romania, where I'll be addressing the key trends in branding and how they're impacting business so you're empowered to make the right decisions for your future brand success.

 

  

  

  

  

Glen Kieran, Founder, Future Business Forum will provide an insight into the critical challenges organisations are facing when looking at their business 10 years ahead.

 

Ozana Giusca, Founder and CEO Tooliers, will share her strategies to generate business without any sales reps, no sales calls or meetings, simply by smartly using the Internet. 

 

Discover where the world is going and use those insights to drive your business strategy for your future brand success and increased profitability.

  

Want to know more?

   

Click here for details...

   

Future Business Forum Bucharest Jan2016

  

  

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Top 10 Branding Articles in 2015

Posted by Lorraine Carter on December 15 2015 @ 09:05

Are you curious which Persona Branding and Design articles have been the most popular over the past year?

 

We're always interested to see which of our posts resonate most with you, our reader. Even though we do lots of research and planning, there are no guarantees which topics will trigger the most interest.

 

Here you’ll find an insider’s peek into our top ten most popular branding articles of 2015, some of which you might have missed.

 

I’m sure you'll find at least one that will be very useful to your business in the year ahead.

Wishing you growing success in 2016!

   

  

Top 10 Branding Articles In 2015 600px

  

   

1. Rebranding Strategy: Why Your Rebrand Must Embrace Storytelling

 

The differences between a tired, old, has-been of a brand and a fresh, lithe and provocative one can be boiled down to a singular concept: storytelling. The art of telling a story, and telling it well, is integral to grabbing every potential customer’s attention, and a key part of your brand strategy.

 

The secret to success in the elegant art of storytelling lies in understanding its fundamental components. Though by no means comprehensive, what follows is a breakdown of some major elements that any good story should include. These are in fact some of the key ingredients we incorporate in our Story Selling System™ used when developing our clients’ brand stories:

 

The Top 5 Components of a Great Brand Story are as follows...

    

  

 Open Book 600px

   

  

2. Creating New Brands: Top 10 Tips for Brand Success  

 

Launching a new brand is both exciting and challenging. The excitement comes in the promise of something fresh and new that could be wildly successful, be it for your well established, emerging or new start-up company — and the challenge comes in getting it right the first time.

  

Evaluating, articulating, developing and documenting your new brand’s position and purpose is crucial to building a strong successful brand.

  

It provides the roadmap and rationale to get you out of the starting blocks and heading in the right direction towards your ultimate success. And similar to your business plan, it’s also a key foundation to any successful business, be it product or service.

 

The question here is, do you know the key ingredients required for building a new brand?

 

To help you move in the right direction with your branding here are some of the elements we typically include in our branding process every time we’re working with a client to help them build their brand, whether it’s revitalizing an existing brand or launching a totally new brand to market.

 

These are actionable points which you should reference and evaluate before you launch your new brand, product or service, to market.

   

   

 Top 10 Branding Tips For Success 600px 


  

3. What Customers Want: Top 16 Branding Trends in 2016

 

More than a half century ago, the customer-centric branding pioneer Walter Landor said, "Products are made in the factory, but brands are created in the mind.” [1] In 2016, the path to that consumer experience is a two-way street, and guess who’s in the driver’s seat? Brands with strong personality are the winners, because consumers equate experiences with brands.

  

Branding keywords for 2016 include: personalized, authentic, humanized, interactive, engaging, and mobile.

 

We take a closer look at some outstanding examples from brands that illustrate key 2016 on-trend pointers to successfully target today’s customers.

  

 

  Edelman Slide1 600px

Image via www.edelman.com

 

 

4. Brand Profiling: Top 6 Components to Creating a Strong Brand Personality  

 

Your brand is much more than merely a product or service, or a logo. Brands are an experience—the relationship between your business and your customers—and to create an exceptional customer experience, your brand must have an irresistible personality.

 

To quote Martyn Newman PhD “In the information age and globalised economy where values and meaning matter more in the market place, the value of emotional capital increases. This creates brand value and goodwill and results in repeat sales through customer loyalty, lifetime relationships and referrals. In other words, the brand is more than a name or a logo; it creates trust and recognition and is a promise and an emotional contract with each customer.”

 

Brand profiling is the systematic process of creating, developing and implementing your brand character and personality through shaping its brand promise, values, the do’s and don’ts of its behaviours, story, emotional benefits, its culture and what it stands for and so forth.

 

It’s this humanized entity that gets your brand message out into the market, cuts through the noise and gets the attention of your primary customers in a way that matters to them.

 

When creating and developing the profiles for our clients’ brands we use our bespoke Personality Profile Performer™, a systematic approach which underpins the commercial, rational, and holistic aspects of successful brand profile building.

 

The following six key elements are representative of some of the core ingredients included within this branding process, used to create and deploy a compelling personality for your brand.

  

  

 Martyn Newman Brands And Emotion

Image via www.eqsummit.com

 

 

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

 

Co-branding is defined as a partnership between brands. It typically works best when Brand A partners with Brand B, each with a different set of customers and brand associations of their own.

 

As in the expression, “the whole is bigger than the parts,” co-branding can add value when synergy exists between the brands; it creates an emotional energy, starts conversations and creates buzz around both partners and can delivery significantly increased financial returns for all involved when done right.

  

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

 

Checkout here:

• The Top 7 Benefits of Co-Branding

• 5 Co-Branding Risk Management Guidelines

• The Top 6 Tips for Co-Branding Success

with case studies and examples of who's done it really well.

  

 

 Co Branding Multiple Examples 600px

Infographic via www.missvinc.om

 

 

6. Colour Psychology: Cracking the Colour Code for Profitable Branding

 

Colour increases brand recognition by 80%. 93% of shoppers consider visual appearance over all other factors while shopping. It adds huge power to communications, opinions, recall and emotive influence. In fact when used correctly, colour is a pivotal tool to substantially influence purchasing decisions, service or product.

  

Since colour choices impact every aspect of a commercial enterprise, brand owners should aggressively re-evaluate that choice throughout their brand strategy.

  

The question is, has your brand's colour palette been selected with the right intent and applied to best possible effect throughout all your brand communications and touch points to ensure your brand grow and increased profitability?

  

Find out more about why colour matters and how you can use it more effectively within your business.

 

  

 Colour Infographic Cropped 600px

Infographic via Blueberry Labs

  

 

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

 

The growing proliferation of multiple different brands in the market place has made customers spoilt for choice, but often at the expense of easy decision-making.

 

When presented with an assortment of packaging options in which nothing decisively stands out, with a compellingly clear message that speaks to a customer succinctly, analysis paralysis sets in. It’s when faced with this situation that a confused shopper will typically default to making decisions based on price alone.

 

The question here is, where does your brand sit in the mix?

 

Leading brands cut through the visual and cognitive noise created by an oversaturated market full of aggressive competitors and hook their ideal customers by meeting their needs both emotionally and rationally.

 

Here's how...  

 

 

 Marmite Limited Editions 600px

Image via www.marmite.co.uk

 

 

8. Luxury Branding: How to Establish or Re-Position Your High-End Brand   

  

The combined value of the various luxury goods markets in 2014 was an estimated 865 billion euros, with luxury cars, personal luxury goods and luxury hospitality taking the top three places, with values of 351 billion, 223 billion and 150 billion respectively.

 

You might think those statistics make luxury branding a very interesting sector, however if you want to reposition or establish your brand targeted at a high-end customer then there are six keys factors you need to consider within your brand strategy.

 

Firstly there are four main characteristics by which the luxury customer defines a luxury brand. However the way in which someone perceives luxury will depend on factors ranging from their socio-economic status to their geographical location.

 

Here are the four main characteristics by which luxury brands are defined together with the six key brand strategies for building a winning luxury brand. 

  

  

Super Rich Shopping Habits Infographic 600px 

Infographic via Raconteur.net

 

 

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

 

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

 

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

 

Millennial consumers are a very fluid constantly moving target with multiple devices overflowing with content clamouring for their attention 24/7. However once you really understand this discerning consumer properly and tailor your brand to really meet their needs, you can, like many others tap into this incredibly lucrative market.

 

Here are our top 6 key brand attributes you need to consider when developing your brand strategy to attract your Millennial customer.

   

   

 Millennial Entrepreneur 600px

 

 

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

 

The average consumer spends 88% more time on content with video and video is shared 1200% more times than links and text combined. A landing page with video gets 800% more conversion than the same page without video.

   

If you ever thought using video to promote your brand was too difficult or beyond your reach these statistics might make you think again.

 

Find out exactly how you can use video to grow your brand here.

 

You can even find out how one small start up brand used video to achieve worldwide distribution and now has more online viewers than its competing massive global brands combined!

  

  

 You Tube 360 600px

Image via Google / YouTube

 

 

Did your favourite post feature in one these top 10 branding articles of 2015? If there was an alternative that was your first preference, drop us a line and let us know. 

 

Meantime I'd love to keep you up to date with what's happening in the world of branding and make this blog really useful to you. If there's anything branding related you would like to read about in this blog or if you have any questions or comments, suggestions for a blog post, feedback or even just to say Hi, just send me a short note, I'm here to help!

E: brand@personadesign.ie

or give me a call at Tel: +353 1 8322724

 

Wishing you increasing success in the year ahead!

  

  

   

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2 comment(s)

Luxury Branding: How to Establish or Re-Position Your High-End Brand

Posted by Lorraine Carter on November 30 2015 @ 09:10

The combined value of the various luxury goods markets in 2014 was an estimated 865 billion euros, with luxury cars, personal luxury goods and luxury hospitality taking the top three places, with values of 351 billion, 223 billion and 150 billion respectively. [1]

 

In order to understand the branding strategies developed and utilized by the top luxury brands, those who have maintained their reputation for over several decades, as well as those that have successfully re-positioned themselves as high-end brands, we must first look at the very definition of luxury.

 

There are four main characteristics by which the luxury customer defines a luxury brand:

  • Quality
  • Craftsmanship
  • Exclusivity
  • Elegance

 

However, the way in which someone perceives luxury will depend on factors ranging from their socio-economic status to their geographical location. According to latest Albatross Global Solutions and Numberly study, “The Journey of a Luxury Consumer”, people from different parts of the world prioritize the order of importance of these key factors differently when defining luxury goods. For example, an overwhelming majority of luxury consumers worldwide value quality above all else, however, UK luxury consumers place more importance on craftsmanship, while elegance plays a more vital role when it comes the global luxury market.

 

Since customer preferences and definitions can vary from one jurisdiction to another, luxury brands need to tailor their brand communications strategy for each of the relevant market segments they are targeting, while remaining true to their core brand values, brand DNA and brand story. It can be challenging but with the right brand strategy it can be hugely rewarding, as evidenced by Louis Vuitton and their distinctly different approach to marketing their luxury brand in Japan.

 

The brand collaborated with Japanese artist Takashi Murakami in the early 2000’s to create a more colourful version of their classic monogram, and even reduced prices slightly during the economic crisis, to retain its position on the Japanese luxury market. However, it performed best when focusing on the quality and craftsmanship aspects of luxury brand on the Japanese market, as opposed to the allure of exclusivity and elegance — that had a greater impact with their customers in Western countries.

   

    

Luxury is About Exclusivity

In order to thrive, a luxury brand needs to secure its own unique corner of the market. Premiumisation strategies or high price points are designed to attract a particular kind of customer while alienating others – the high quality, and the unique experience that a luxury brand provides will not be right for everyone, nor should it be. To quote the head of Lexus Europe, Alain Uyttenhoven: “Our cars won't please everyone.”

 

The brand strategy developed and deployed in different jurisdictions often varies because the definition of luxury changes amongst consumers as we move around the world and up the socio-economic ladder. Also, some of the top luxury brands strategically choose to stay out of the most obvious limelight. Very subtle marketing and the fact that the general public isn’t necessarily aware of their existence creates a unique aura of mystique and exclusivity. It also alludes to the fact that high-quality craftsmanship and aesthetics are amongst luxury brands’ highest priorities, values which are not compromised by things such as price sensitivities.

 

The brands at the very top of the luxury spectrum are not necessarily bound by the same constrictions of the more mainstream ‘accessible’ luxury or premium sector. Indeed, more exceptionally wealthy clientele might perceive price tags or ostentatious displays of affluence as lacking in taste in certain markets. In fact, there is a wise old saying in the luxury yacht industry: “If you have to ask about the price, you probably can’t afford it.”

     

     Super Rich Shopping Habits Infographic 600px

Infographic via Raconteur.net

 

 

The French purveyor of personalized luggage, Goyard, is a fine example of a luxury fashion brand that has retained its high-end status for over a century, continually prospering without engaging in many of the strategies that are considered to be the cornerstones of effective mainstream marketing.

  

The brand favours direct sales and word of mouth marketing over media hype, large-scale advertising and online sales, even though Goyard has thousands of followers on several social media platforms, including the luxury brand’s newly launched YouTube channel.

 

   

   

  

This extreme level of exclusivity amongst long established luxury brands, e.g. specialising in a single product category to the point of elevating a brand to the level of art or supreme craftsmanship, can be used as one element of a brand strategy to create distinction and separate it from the rest of the market, but it can also be a more challenging route for newer entrants to the luxury market.

 

The luxury landscape is changing, and a brand can quickly become irrelevant if it lacks online exposure. Millennials are close to outspending Baby Boomers, according to a Berglass + Associates and Women’s Wear Daily study that explored the retail industry, which means that a brand has to account for the values that drive Millennials when developing their brand strategy.

 

For Millennials the bigger purpose of a brand, its big why, has a significant impact on their purchasing decisions which means that CSR and so forth has a bigger role to play in brand strategy than every before — for this growing audience.

  

The smartphone is an essential component of the Millennial lifestyle because it allows easy access to multiple online platforms and immediate connectivity – 85% of Millennials in the 18-25 age bracket and 86% of those in the 25-34 age bracket own a smartphone[2], while 88% of Millennials use Facebook as their primary news source.[3] For more traditional brands this means embracing new fully integrated brand strategies that wouldn’t have seemed relevant eight to ten years ago.

 

Even luxury brands that are primarily focused on in-store purchases, e.g. Goyard, are investing in social media and reaching out to affluent Millennials. The way that younger generations perceive luxury is markedly different from the way Baby Boomers perceive it, and luxury brands have a challenging task ahead of them – educating Millennials on luxury goods and adapting their brand strategy to fit the Millennial lifestyle.   

 

 

Develop Trademark Brand Symbols and Assets Beyond Just Your Brand Logo

Rolls-Royce Phantom Drophead Coupé has been virtually unchanged for years, and the silhouette itself is just as recognizable as the logo, brand name and the Spirit of Ecstasy mascot attached to the bonnet.

 

It's the Rolls-Royce uncompromising commitment to quality craftsmanship and attention to detail that has the brand where it is today. When we work with clients to develop a distinct brand identity that reflects their core brand values, personality, story and communicates their brand message it requires a similar level of focus from everyone working on the project coupled with a deep understanding of the brand’s primary target audience in order to achieve successful results.

  

   

 

  

  

Burberry’s trademark black, tan and red check pattern and Channel No. 5 perfume’s simple, yet elegant bottle design are both instantly recognised by the average consumer. These are distinct, different and memorable brand assets that are as important as the brand names themselves.

  

Founded 150 years ago Burberry is a particularly interesting case study because not long ago it was struggling to maintain a consistent brand identity leading to the brand falling off its luxury positioning, despite its admirable provenance. Inconsistencies in product variants, pricing and communication strategies all combined to undermine the brand. In fact this brand, now worn by Emma Watson and Kate Moss to mention a few high profile names, was once at risk of being considered frumpy before its very successful luxury revitalization strategy was implemented so successfully.

 

It wasn’t until Angela Ahrendts took over as CEO that a long-overdue brand repositioning and brand relaunch was set in motion resulting in the iconic and much sought-after luxury brand we see today. The company was restructured and the sourcing of materials and production was centralised in the UK. Burberry stores were modernized and equipped with iPads, digital displays and audio equipment that enabled the brand to showcase its quality craftsmanship through video material, and to provide a more engaging customer experience.

 

However, the true stroke of genius was the decision to focus on a younger demographic, and utilize social media as a powerful promotional tool. To successfully target the affluent Millennial consumer, Burberry had to diversify its product line and make significant stylistic changes, while at the same time retaining the timeless aesthetic that the brand was once known for.

 

The results of the brand relaunch were astonishing – Burberry doubled their revenue and operating income within five years, and successfully repositioned their brand as a luxury brand. Their famous Burberry check is once again associated with premium quality British craftsmanship.

 

 

Provide a Memorable Brand Experience for Your Customers

With a luxury product, the brand packaging, presentation and shopping experience are just as important as the quality and exclusivity of the product itself. Luxury customers are far from average shoppers, they are wealthy and powerful people with refined tastes. A luxury brand has to engage these customers on multiple levels – spark curiosity, engage all the senses, stimulate the mind, and make an emotional connection.

 

The Gentleman Floris, a new line of luxury men’s grooming products launched by the Floris London, a nearly 300-year-old British family perfumers brand since 1730, uses understated heraldic symbolism on the embossed navy blue packaging to reference its noble origins and royal patronage coupled with its renowned to quality, craftsmanship and rich heritage. The brand story is used eloquently to draw its audience in and sell its brand proposition.

 

We have created many different packaging design solutions for clients over the years, both luxury and FMCG, and when you consider that on average you have less than 9 seconds to engage your customer through the impact your packaging design has on them, it is critical that your customer gets an immediate sense of your brand story, promise and values if you want to close the sale.

 

  Gentleman Floris Gift Set 600px

Image via www.florislondon.com

 

In luxury branding everything from the customer journey to the brand experience and customer service, not to mention the accessories, has to be carefully considered to ensure that it’s elevated to an exceptional level.

 

The brand experience has to be much more personal, which means that staff, your brand ambassadors, must be chosen to fit with your brand values and culture. They need to be fully inducted and trained in all the details of how your brand is lived and experienced, both internally and externally, and how that unique brand experienced is transferred and cultivated with each the individual customer.

 

Sometimes this training may also require the front line staff to make important judgement calls in the heat of the moment, in order to accommodate the customer’s specific needs. At the Ritz-Carlton Hotel, each employee is empowered and trained to anticipate and fulfil their guests needs with an exemplary level of service.[4]

  

 

Ritz Carlton Logo 600px

Image via www.Ritz-Carlton.com

 

 

The Ritz-Carlton is another good example of a luxury brand that successfully maintain its positioning for decades and in fact case studies have been built around its success. The Ritz-Carlton Leadership Centre is now the place where executives from other companies worldwide in many different sectors come to learn The Ritz-Carlton principles of service.

 

The Ritz-Carlton success is due to a number key factors such as they have:

  • A formulated a set of standardized hiring criteria
  • Empowered their front line staff and instituted a standardized brand language
  • A consistent high-end luxury brand experience regardless of location
  • Take note of user feedback, perform regular brand audit health checks
  • Constantly evolved to adapt with the times while staying true to their core brand values

  

The Ritz-Carlton has created an admirable balance between maintaining a consistent brand image and evolving to meet the needs of a new generation of patrons who prefer more authentic interactions with the staff. It’s their uncompromising commitment to excellence which has made them the only brand to win the much sought after US Presidential Baldrige Performance Excellence Award twice, firmly establishing Ritz-Carlton’s positioning as a luxury brand and setting the highest standards for customer service throughout the luxury hotel market.

  

  

Create an Aura of Exclusivity by Limiting Supply

Special limited edition items often become cherished collector’s pieces and dramatically increase in value over the years. In fact, the lack of product availability doesn’t negatively affect a luxury brand they way it might other mainstream brands. Its limited availability to the select few makes it even more appealing to its target customers.

 

Long waiting lists have never deterred Hermès fans, who often wait several months for the privilege of purchasing the brand’s signature Birkin bag. [5] Some of the most popular luxury car brands are the ones with both the highest prices and longest waiting lists. Only the most persistent and loyal customers gain access to these limited items, which enables you as a brand owner or manager to create an elite subgroup within your customer base.

 

The Rolls Royce SG50 Ghost Series II is a prime example of a brand offering a limited edition product to a particular segment of their target demographic, another example of the exclusivity strategy at work, and establish an emotional connection with its customers. In this particular example, Rolls Royce honours the fact that 2015 marks 50 years of Singapore’s independence, helping it increase individualised customer brand relevance and secure an increased market share in one of Asia’s most developed economies, second only to Hong Kong in terms of financial freedom.

 

 

 Rolls Royce Sg50 600px

Image via www.luxuriousmagazine.com   

 

 

The Apple Hermès brand collaboration helped connect the luxury fashion brand connect to a well-developed demographic of tech-savvy affluent Millennials while at the same time opening the horizons of the wealthy Apple users to the allure of a luxurious brand such as Hermès.

 

  

Apple Hermes 600px

Image via www.apple.com

 

 

High-end craftsmanship and a sense of exclusivity have already been associated with both brands, but the halo effect of this collaborative project, the super-luxurious Apple watch, has proved to be quite beneficial in terms of exposing previously unexplored segments of the market to each brand.

  

  

 

  

 

  

Luxury watch aficionados and loyal Hermès customers who are delighted with this new offering will be tempted to explore some of the other Apple devices. On the other hand, the more affluent Apple consumer may easily eschew their previous luxury favourite and make Hermès their alternative preferred choice instead.

 

  

  

 

     

Be Proud of Your Heritage, but Offer Customization to Build an Emotional Connection  

Giving consumers some decision-making power over the production process, even if their contributions are limited to the choice of colour or engraving, accomplishes several things:

  • It turns each product into a personalised more unique item that is to be cherished
  • It creates a more personal connection between the customer and the brand
  • It enhances the overall customer experience

 

Goyard doesn’t offer a diverse product range, but what it does offer is the ability choose from a wide range of colours and styles. A luxury customer can leave the Goyard store safe in the knowledge that the product they have purchased is truly unique, and tailored to their personal tastes.

   

      Goyard Paris 600px

Image via www.Goyard.com

  

  

Luxury brands can also use their geographical location to their advantage. A luxury brand is often associated with its country and region of origin – sparkling wines from the Champagne region have become a key component of many major celebrations, BMW and Mercedes are touted as the epitome of German engineering precision and so on. The brand thus takes on the qualities associated with the local culture. We can use Burberry as a good example once again – its British heritage has been a key component in successfully repositioning the brand as a high-end brand.[6]   

 

  

Create an Epic Brand Story that Mesmerizes Your Customers

A good brand story is instrumental in capturing the imagination of customers, but a luxury brand needs to go beyond mere storytelling and develop a veritable fairy-tale that fully immerses a customer, to the point where he or she wants to become a part of your luxurious world. The brand experience and how that is created lived and experienced is the penultimate test.

  

  

Coco Chanel 600px

  

  

The legend of Coco Chanel and the immense respect consumers still have for the Chanel brand matriarch is a prime example of how effective legends can be in promoting a luxury brand. Her humble beginnings, timeless style and daring persona are woven into a narrative that all ambitious, independent, fashionable and adventurous women around the world find inspiring.

  

    

  

  

  

On the other hand, we have brands with a proud and storied history, such as White’s Gentlemen’s Club in London, which has no intention of expanding or opening its doors to anyone but the most select clientele.

   

     Goyard Paris History 600px

Image via www.Goyard.com

 

 

Much like Goyard, White’s has no need for heavily resourced marketing campaigns, as it relies on its few elite “members” for word of mouth marketing. With patrons like Prince Charles and several British Prime Ministers gracing the bar and gaming rooms with their presence, being a member of White’s Gentlemen’s Club is considered a privilege. Even David Cameron’s vocal critique of men-only clubs and the fact that the British Prime Minister resigned from White’s did little to tarnish the reputation built on several centuries of myth and legend.   

    

Key Takeaways to Consider

In conclusion, here are some key points to keep front of mind when re-evaluating your luxury branding or premiumization brand strategy:

  • Ultra premium luxury brands often use understated branding strategies coupled with word of mouth, but offer unmatched top end quality and exclusivity   
  • Brands that have successfully repositioned themselves have invested in brand audit health checks and embraced the affluent Millennial demographic and use social media to spread brand awareness
  • Luxury brands that have successfully maintained their positioning for decades have used their provenance and leveraged near mythical brand stories to maintain brand distinction, but continued researching the market and changing trends regularly, and encouraged customer feedback to maintain relevance
  • Providing an exceptional customer experience in-store, through empowering frontline staff and developing a consistent brand language, is very important, as a majority of luxury consumers make their purchases in person
  • Involving customers in the production process enables a luxury brand to personalise its offering with a diversified range of unique variations, even if it doesn’t have an extensive reach across multiple categories
  • Collaborating with a brand that has a significantly different customer base and brand associations can produce a halo effect that is highly beneficial for both brands

 

You may also like:

  

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

 

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

 

• Rebranding Strategy: Why Your Rebrand Must Embrace Storytelling

 

• Rebranding Strategy: Using Premium Repositioning To Increase Profitability 

 

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

 

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

     

• Creating New Brands: Top 10 Tips for Brand Success  

   

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

 

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

   

So, what do you think?

• Have you performed a brand audit to identify the holes in your luxury branding strategy?

  

• Is your brand utilising social media to its fullest potential and reaching out to affluent Millennials?

 

• Are you using appropriate brand language?

 

• Have you created a consistent brand image?

 

• Have you considered how you can make your brand more profitable by changing your brand strategy with a premiumization approach to reposition your brand, create an aura of exclusivity and attract luxury consumers?

 

• Do you have an exceptionally engaging brand story that elevates the brand to legendary status and could be leveraged to better effect with a rebranding?

 

[1] Statista.com, Value of various global luxury markets in 2014, by market type (in billion euros)

[2] Nielsen, Mobile Millennials: Over 85% of Generation Y Owns Smartphones, September 2014

[3] Americanpressinstitute.org, How Millennials Use and Control Social Media, March 2015

[4] Forbes.com, Micah Solomon, Your Customer Service Is Your Branding: The Ritz-Carlton Case Study, September 2015

[5] Uché Okonkwo, Luxury Fashion Branding: Trends, Tactics, Techniques

[6] The Australian, “Paul Smith, Burberry and Mulberry Revive ‘Made in Britain’”, September 2014

  

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Seasonal Branding: Tread Carefully with Christmas Themed Brand Strategies

Posted by Lorraine Carter on November 24 2015 @ 17:51

Fourth quarter commercialism looms large. Sparkly red and green Christmas displays are simultaneously mounted as spooky orange and black Halloween decorations come down.

From Ireland to Illinois, consumers react in unpredictable ways to brand seasonal messages that creep in earlier and earlier every year. For retailers, that response can mean boom or bust for critical end-of year-sales figures.

  

 

Black Friday Launches the Season

 

Like a turkey sandwich in-between Halloween and Christmas, America has another huge national holiday. On the fourth Thursday of November, the weekend following Thanksgiving traditionally signaled the official start of Christmas during most of the 20th century. Dreamt up as a marketing concept in 2003, Black Friday is now the most frenzied shopping day of the year. It sees queues forming overnight for big sales, many beginning at dawn and some as early as midnight on Thanksgiving Day.

 

Black Friday is spreading. In recent years, Canada, Mexico and India have followed suit while giant American retailers like Disney and Apple introduce online sales in Australia, too. French shoppers are familiar with “Vendredi Noir.” In the U.K., Tesco and Argos 2014 Black Friday promotions prompted police action in Manchester, with Argos withdrawing from the event in 2015. 

 

Meantime, as early Christmas shop windows draw back the curtains on November installations, the 114-year-old U.S. retailer Nordstrom takes a different approach, making a statement about celebrating one holiday at a time, as seen in a window display. 

  

  

 Nordstrom Window Twitter

Image via www.twitter.com

 

  

In America, Hollywood goes nuts at the holidays over box office receipts for new film releases, but the small screen is tame on TV adverts compared to the U.K., where Christmas adverts are a national pastime. 

  

We look at a mixed bag of examples representing both large brands and smaller ones on both sides of the pond to see how campaigns are making the most of the season -- while others have misfired and are quickly pronounced a failure. See what you think about these adverts.

  

 

Balancing Sales Strategies Intended as Charitable Endeavours

 

John Lewis is one of those nationwide UK brands that attracts considerable media attention with their annual Christmas message, usually a tear-jerker. This year’s advert tells the story of a little 6-year-old girl called Lily and an old man she spies with her telescope, who lives -- all alone and lonely -- on the moon. The advert is designed to raise awareness for the charity, Age UK, with its tagline: “Show someone they’re loved this Christmas.”

 

 

 

 

 

According to The Guardian, “Last year, the retailer also spent £7m on a campaign featuring a realistic animated penguin and a young boy playing together to the tune of John Lennon’s Real Love, sung by British singer-songwriter Tom Odell. It had drummed up 22m views on YouTube by the first week of January…” This year’s numbers are soaring ahead of last year’s. 

 

  

 

 

Rachel Swift, head of brand marketing at John Lewis, is quoted in The Telegraph saying there is a consistent style for the store’s seasonal adverts. “It is has become part of our handwriting as a brand. It’s about storytelling through music and emotion. The sentiment behind that hasn’t changed – and that is quite intentional. The strategy behind our campaigns is always about thoughtful gifting.”

  

The £1 million production for a six-week-long £7 million campaign, which includes more cost for shop floors kitted out to resemble a moonscape, has seen members of the public ask[1]: Why couldn’t John Lewis make a multi-million contribution to Age UK? In fact, the profits from three small ticket items sold at the department store – a mug, a gift tag and a card – will go to the charity supplemented by donations from the public, inspired by the advert’s message.   

 

 

John Lewis Consumer Reaction Twitter 

Image via www.twitter.com

 

 

Brands Play to Emotions to Drive Brand Loyalty 

 

Tugging at the heartstrings via hugs, cute penguins, a melting Mr. Snowman, and even World War I soldiers celebrating a Christmas truce in the trenches are among the emotional connections brands are working and spending hard to make happen.

 

 

 

 

 

Why? In a word, loyalty. As pointed out by a retail analyst[2], for modern consumers to change brands no longer involves driving to another village or shopping centre; swapping brands is as easy as the click of a mouse. All of which means your brand strategy needs to be a lot more sophisticated if you want to first attract and then hold onto your customers. Remember people buy with emotion first and justify with rational afterwards — regardless of gender or cultural background. Your brand must be rich with authentic personality, have a really big why — reasons beyond the money to buy, create emotionally compelling reasons to engage, and ensure it includes an advocacy strategy within your action plan if you want to increase your profitability and ensure long-term success.  

 

A MindMover opinion poll[3] indicates the following brands are most closely associated with Christmas adverts in the U.K.: Coca-Cola, Marks & Spencer, Tesco, Sainsbury’s, Argos, Cadbury, Asda, Toys R Us and Amazon. Not queried is the million pound question -- that is, whether top-of-mind-awareness produces the all-important return on investment.

  

  

A Big Brand Blunder at Bloomingdale’s

 

Bloomingdale’s, U.S. luxury fashion chain stores owned by Macy’s, made such a spectacularly poor judgement in their 2015 Christmas advert that a week after the department store had apologized via Twitter, major editorials continued to call for a deeper response.

 

  

Bloomingdale's Advert Via Twitter 

Image via www.twitter.com

 

 

“Appearing to promote date rape,” says the Wall Street Journal[4], the “creepy” and “offensive” advert reads, “Spike your best friend’s eggnog when they’re not looking.” Clearly, it went viral in the wrong way for the large retailer.

  

  

 Bloomingdale's Apology On Twitter

 Image via www.twitter.com

 

  

A Storm in a Teacup at Starbucks

 

At Starbucks, they knew what they were doing when the white snowflakes decorating the seasonal red cup design were removed. A seemingly simple change sent consumers in large numbers straight to social media, to sign a petition, and to boycott the brand, claiming that Starbucks was making an anti-Christ religious statement. “It’s just a red cup”, tweeted the voice of reason while Instagram lit up with Starbucks images and the nation’s top talk show hosts chimed in.

 

 

 Starbucks Red Christmas Cup 2015

Image via www.vox.com

 

 

Three lessons learned, says Entrepreneur[5], and small brands should pay especially close attention to number three on this list:

1) All PR is good PR. Starbucks marketing knew the response wouldn’t be universally positive, but they also knew this was not a crisis

2) The power of social media sharing is awesome — and free

3) Brands who react fast can newsjack a trend. “Other coffee brands got a boost from the issue, such as Dunkin’ Donuts, with its holiday cup release.

  

  

 Dunkin' Donuts Shout Out Twitter

Image via www.twitter.com

 

 

The subject has also created opportunities for smaller companies, YouTubers and creative types alike to ride the wave and get attention.”

 

 

Just Wine Starbucks Cup Twitter 

Image via www.twitter.com

 

 

That’s the same brand strategy employed by the many John Lewis parody adverts that follow immediately on the heels of the store’s annual commercial.

 

 

Smaller Brands & Seasonal Brand Strategies

 

Small brands can make a large impact in the community by scaling ideas such as co-branding in a lower key way, supporting a charity or club, adding removable seasonal details to products and packaging design, donating Christmas trees to community centers, hospitals and nonprofit organizations.

 

In London, independent, privately-owned residential estate agency Bective Leslie Marsh has supported West London Action for Children for over a decade. Estate agents and local residents partner to raise funds for the 98-year-old charity through year-round bridge and tennis tournaments, trivia quiz nights, barn dances, garden fetes and more.

 

To offset Black Friday’s emphasis on big box stores and chain stores, Small Business Saturday was launched in the USA in 2010. It focuses on the bricks and mortar local shops that are the fabric of the Ma & Pa character neighbourhoods with American Express is the main sponsor. Partnerships and promotion via Google street view, Twitter, Instagram and Facebook come up with initiatives to launch holiday shopping on the last Saturday of November too. 

 

Other successful ideas have included branded shirts and kits for a local sports club, providing staff to serve Christmas dinners at senior centres, running a toy drive or food hampers collection, singing Christmas carols to collect for the Salvation Army, St. Vincent de Paul and similar. It’s important to make a small investment in well design brand collateral such as banners, posters, placards, T-shirts, caps and other branded items to decorate and to wear in order to properly associate the occasion with your own brand.

 

 

So, what do you think?

  

• Are you often caught short of time, or do you have a holiday marketing plan drawn up by Quarter 2? Do you need to include this as part of your brand audit health check or brand revitalization strategy?

 

• Does your brand have a charitable and/or community giving programme?

 

• Does your brand strategy include corporate social responsibility?

 

• Do you know what initiatives, outreach or volunteer activities your employees — your brand champions — would feel most supportive of on behalf of your brand?

 

• Do you feel confident about maximizing the potential impact on sales via volunteerism on behalf of your brand?

 

 

You might also like:

 

• Christmas Branding: Top 10 Tips to Infuse Your Brand with Seasonal Spirit

  

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

 

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

 

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

 

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

 

• Brand Differentiation: 30 Ways to Differentiate Your Brand

 

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

 

• Creating New Brands: Top 10 Tips for Brand Success

 

• Brand Profiling: How to Use Emotion to Make Your Brand More Profitable  

 

[1] As seen on Twitter #johnlewischristmasadvert

[2] Bryan Roberts, Kantar Retail analyst, The Telegraph, 16/11/2015

[3] “Glad Tidings for John Lewis…”, The Guardian, 6/11/15

[4] “Bloomingdale’s Holiday Ad Draws Backlash...”, Wall St Journal, 12/11/2015

[5] “3 Lessons from Starbucks’ Red Cup ‘Controversy’”, Entrepreneur, 16/11/2015

 

 

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