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Brand Audits: 10 Things Successful Brand Owners and Managers Must Know

Posted by Lorraine Carter on January 16 2015 @ 11:06

Building and maintaining a thriving brand takes work, but it’s well worth the effort. A strong brand is the single most effective marketing component your business can have. When your brand is performing well, your business enjoys increased visibility, greater customer loyalty, and a healthier bottom line.

 

So how do you grow a great brand, and keep it on top? One of the most powerful tools for maintaining or improving brand performance is a brand audit - a comprehensive evaluation of your brand’s positioning and market performance that should be done on a regular basis. Here’s what you should know about brand audits in order to drive successful growth for your brand.

  

Top 10 Things Successful Brand Owners and Managers Must Know about Brand Audits 

  

1. What a Brand Audit is (and isn’t)

A brand audit is a comprehensive analysis of the current state of your brand. Effectively, it is a brand health check, helping you identify any problem areas with your brand strategy, collateral, positioning, and market value - with an eye towards turning things around and increasing the effectiveness of your brand.

 

A brand audit is not a quick review of your numbers. Effective brand audits are comprehensive investigations of all the aspects that make up and effect your brand.

  Brand Audit Magnifyer

 

2. Reasons to do a Brand Audit

There are many reasons to do a brand audit, but some of the most common are business performance issues that can be tied into the strength of your brand. If your business is sliding down, you are losing customers to competitors, or your revenue is sinking, a brand audit can enable you to revitalise flagging performance and recapture your market - or take your brand to new, profitable heights.

  

3. What a Brand Audit can do

The benefits of a brand audit are numerous and substantial. Just a few of them include:

  • Highlighting the strengths and weaknesses of your brand

 

  • Showing where your brand currently stands in the market compared to competitors

 

  • Painting an accurate picture of your brand’s market perceptions

 

  • Enabling you to align your brand with customers’ expectations

 

  • Identifying new trends and market opportunities to expand your brand

  

 

4. Conduct Brand Audits Even for Healthy Brands

If your brand is performing well, you may feel that there’s no need for a brand audit. But the fact is, even healthy brands need to be monitored for performance. When your brand is already winning, a brand audit can show you why it’s winning - enabling you to focus your brand strategies and efforts on the most effective areas for high brand performance.

   Brand Audit Team

 

5. Brand Audits Increase Your Profits

Strong brands simply make more money. When you have a robust and consistent brand, you’re able to engage and inspire your audience, building brand loyalty that translates into more returning customers, more word-of-mouth visibility, and less money spent on attracting new customers. You can also implement premium pricing strategies with a stronger brand that’s able to command higher prices.

 

A powerful brand is an investment that pays for itself, and a comprehensive brand audit can unlock your brand’s potential.

 

6. Brand Audits as Competitive Strategy

A highly competitive brand is a successful brand - and every brand has competition. Done correctly, a brand audit will show you how your brand stacks up against your most direct competitors, and reveal tactics and brand strategies you can use to gain a higher market share. For brands that require an aggressive competition strategy, brand audits will help you pinpoint the exact areas your brand is underperforming compared to your competition, and make improvements that lead to greater market success.

   Brand Audit Girl

  

7. A Brand Audit Reviews Every Piece of Brand Collateral

If you’re looking for an effective brand audit that will truly help you grow your brand, you need to review and analyse every touch point and piece of brand collateral for your brand, from your logo and brand colors, to product brand packaging and merchandising, to website and online presence, to your organisation’s business cards, letterhead, and email signatures. Both internal and external brand collateral must be included in a brand audit.

 

8. Internal Brand Perceptions are Important

A successful brand audit will analyze your brand from your employees’ point of view. Engaging employees and earning employee buy-in for your brand audit is crucial to success - after all, your employees must participate in the changes you implement according to the brand audit results, or you’ll be unable to effect real change or maintain brand consistency and your efforts to revitalise the brand will fail.

This means brand aspects such as your employee orientation and training programs, sales force training, human resources material, and employee engagement strategies must be included in your brand audit.

    Brand Audit Man

  

9. Your Customers Should be Part of Your Brand Audit

One of the greatest benefits of a brand audit is the ability to gain an accurate picture of customer perceptions of your brand - and there is no better way to do this than going to the customers themselves. Customer participation and feedback should be an integral component of your brand audit.

 

There are many ways to solicit customer feedback during a brand audit. Online polls and surveys are common methods that can bring results faster, and help you gain a wider reach for your customer data pool. It can also be very effective to gather customer feedback at your point of sale, whether that is online or in a retail location, or over the phone or in a meeting. This is another reason why it’s valuable to involve employees in the brand audit process - they will have direct access to customers and can solicit the feedback you need to move forward effectively.

 

10. The Real Value of a Brand Audit

Many brand owners make the mistake of believing the value of a brand audit lies in the data that is collected. But in order to make brand audits work for you, it’s important to realize that the most essential value lies in the actions you take as a result of the insights gleaned through the process. The brand audit is a diagnostic tool, offering a detailed look at the current position of your brand - but the real work begins when the brand audit ends.

 

For this reason, it’s vital to make your brand audit rigorous, engaging, and objective. A brand audit can reveal hard truths about your market standing that you may not be prepared to accept.

We have found when conducting brand audits, using our Auditing Analysis Accelerator™system, that when clients take on board all of these factors their brand audit provides very insightful and invaluable information which has a significant impact on their brand strategy and the growth of their business and its profitability going forward. 

 

 

The Benefits of Working with a Specialist Brand Consultancy

The need for objectivity in brand audits makes a strong case for your organisation to work with an outside party when implementing a comprehensive brand audit. An experienced brand consultancy can help you create an impartial picture of your brand, enabling you to visualize the strengths and weaknesses clearly and take corrective action that will be truly effective in strengthening your brand. This type of collaboration provides you with both objectivity and the ability to integrate insights with your brand strategy going forward, without preconceptions that can skew the results of the audit.

  

So, what do you think?

• Has your business hit a plateau or encountered a decline, which a brand audit could help turn around?

 

• If your brand is healthy and performing well, do you know exactly why? Could a brand audit help you focus on your strengths?

 

• Does your brand need to be more competitive in your industry?

 

• Have you been considering a premium pricing strategy? How would you use a brand audit to help you implement higher pricing tiers?

 

• Have you performed a brand audit before? How comprehensive were your results?

 

Feel free to share your thoughts in the comments. We’d love to hear from you!

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Branding for Women: Why Women are Redefining Brands and Branding

Posted by Lorraine Carter on January 07 2015 @ 09:45

The idea of a male-dominated society has been slowly creeping towards extinction, most noticeably in western society, as more people - both men and women - truly embrace the concept of gender equality. Millennials in particular are leading the charge towards a heightened awareness of disparity in marketers’ treatment of females, but the foundation that’s currently being built for gender equality spans multiple generations.

 

For brands in the modern age, there are two important facts to recognise:

  • Women are the primary customer demographic for the majority of brands, including “brands for men”

 

  • More women are moving into leadership positions and redefining brands from the top down

  

Here’s how the brand landscape is shifting, and why women are more important to your brand than ever before.

 

Women Make Most Purchasing Decisions - Even for “Men’s” Products

According to recent data, women are responsible for 80 to 85 percent of all purchasing decisions. The vast majority of FMCG buying decisions are made by women, but more women than men also make purchasing decisions for vehicles, technology, luxury items, and more.

 

Forbes reports that women make 80 percent of automotive buying decisions, and a study from the Consumer Electronics Association found that women are involved in 89 percent of consumer technology purchases, and directly purchase 57 percent of all tech products.

 

What does this mean for brands? If you’re not already doing so, it’s vital to include or even highlight women in your brand marketing strategies. Even for brands that are used primarily by men, marketing to women is powerfully effective.

 

FMCG brand Old Spice not only revived a flagging brand, but vastly increased sales and market share when it rebranded men’s body wash with a campaign targeting women - the wives and girlfriends who actually buy bathroom products.

 

The brand’s “Smell Like a Man, Man” campaign was an immediate, viral success, with a tongue-in-cheek description on the original YouTube video that further reinforced the intended target market: “We’re not saying this body wash will make your man smell like a romantic millionaire jet fighter pilot, but we are insinuating it.”

   

  

  

Marketing to Women is More than “Shrink it and Pink it”

A traditional strategy used by a multitude of brands over the years is to market products to women by making men’s products smaller and using more “feminine” colours. This is particularly easy to see in disposable razors - if it’s black or blue and has five or more blades, it’s for men, and if it’s pink or pastel and has three or fewer blades, it’s for women. And while this brand strategy can be somewhat effective for quick identification of products that should be separated by gender, more women are tuning out this type of messaging, because it perpetuates the idea that females are still the softer, “weaker” sex.

 

A global study called “Female Tribes” performed by JWT London found that 70 percent of women feel alienated by advertising and marketing, despite their increasingly substantial wielding of economic power. The study urges brands to “stop thinking about women in terms of blunt demographic descriptions” like “busy hardworking mums,” and start viewing the roles, lifestyles, and ambitions to develop a richer understanding of why women buy.

  

The tech industry is notorious for trying (and failing) shrink-it-and-pink-it. USB cords painted with flowers, sparkly clutch handbags that hold speakers and nothing else - these products sit unsold on retail shelves, because they’re pretty but useless. In 2009, Dell Computers launched a website called Della.com that tried to snag the female demographic by selling pastel-coloured computers. The attempt was so spectacularly unsuccessful that the company took the site down in a matter of weeks.

  Everpurse Ways To Keep Your Phone Charged

 Image via www.tech.co 

  

 

Take the real authentic actual needs of women into account with your brand, and you’ll be onto something big. For example, entrepreneur Liz Salcedo, after struggling with her mobile phone constantly running out of battery charge, retrofitted a purse with off-the-shelf components to create a built-in charger.

    

 

Everpurse 

Image via www.everpurse.com 

  

 

When friends started requesting their own, she started Everpurse to sell a line of handbags that charge phones. Salcedo worked with female investors, advisers, and employees to set up the company - and six months after launch, Everpurse had half a million in sales and had sold out of its holiday season inventory.

   

  

  

Women and Brand Leadership

In addition to dominating the consumer demographic, more women are stepping in as brand leaders and visionaries, across every industry. Some of the most high-profile examples include women leaders in large tech companies: Burberry CEO Angela Ahrendts’ move to Apple as senior VP of retail and online sales in 2014; Marissa Mayer, president and CEO of Yahoo! since 2012, and Sheryl Sandberg, who became CEO of Facebook in September 2014.

  

Other traditionally male-dominated industries are also making inroads with promoting women higher in the ranks. In the automotive industry, Mary Barra was appointed CEO of General Motors last year, and in the UK, Linda Jackson was named CEO of the Citroen brand earlier in 2014. At the same time, Citroen appointed Yves Bonnefont as CEO of the automotive group’s premium DS brand.

  

In the drinks industry Swedish Anna Malmhake took the CEO spot at Irish Distillers Pernod Ricard in 2011, having previously been VP Global Marketing at the Absolut Company. One of the Irish brands in her care, Jameson Whiskey, has grown exponentially and is now selling 48 million bottles every.

  

The female demographic is increasingly essential for brands that want to be successful. But many brands still need work on appealing to women, without relying on the traditional stereotypes and tired demographic categories that turn women away from your brand. Look for more innovative, intelligent, creative and appealing ways to satisfy your female audience, and your brand will flourish.

  

So, what do you think?

• How does your brand appeal to women?

 

• Are you relying on cliché or stereotypical brand strategies to attract the female demographic?

 

• If you have not marketed to women before, how would you start?

 

• Does your female-centric brand promote the latest trends for women consumers?

 

• What can your brand do to combat the alienation of women in marketing and advertising?

 

Feel free to share your thoughts in the comments. We’d love to hear from you!

 

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Top 10 Branding Articles in 2014

Posted by Lorraine Carter on December 31 2014 @ 09:05

Have you ever wondered which Persona Branding and Design articles are the most popular with readers?

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

Today we're giving you an exclusive peek into our top ten most popular posts of 2014, some of which you might have missed.

I know you'll find at least one that will be very useful to your business.

Enjoy!

 

  Top 10 Branding Articles 2014

  

 

1: Top 20 Branding Trends for 2015

As 2014 draws to an end, now is the time to review, revamp, and update your branding strategies for the year to come. Successful branding is the key to driving business growth and profitability - and in 2015, it will be more important than ever to have a strong, thriving brand.

 

2: 30 Ways to Differentiate Your Brand

Building a strong brand is the undisputed key to success in today’s business world, and robust differentiation is an absolute must to build a powerful and compelling brand. There are many ways you can differentiate your brand. The skill lies is developing and applying the most effective brand differentiation strategy in a way that appropriately reflects your brand’s personality, values, promise, way of doing things and key characteristics.

 

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

Brands are not static, unchanging identities - the most successful brands live and breathe, evolving along with changing shifts in market tastes, trends and demands. Rebranding or brand revitalisation, when properly planned and implemented, can be a powerfully effective strategy for rescuing or reinventing a failing brand, jump-starting a stagnant brand, expanding your markets, or initiating substantial business growth. A rebrand may be subtle or evolutionary in nature, or it may involve radically transforming a product, service, or entire brand.

 

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

Have your sales hit a slump? Are hot new brands drawing your customers away? If your brand seems to have lost its shine, it may be time for a brand audit or brand health check. Brand audits are effectively a health check for your brand. These comprehensive, honest evaluations look at the overall effectiveness of a brand and its current position in the market compared with the competition, as well as pinpointing inconsistencies and weakness, and identifying potential areas for improvement.

 

5: Packaging Design: How It Can Make or Break Your Brand

Research shows that you have less than 9 seconds to engage your customer and close the sale. In a fast-paced and highly competitive world, packaging design has become one of the most crucial elements for communicating your brand and standing out from the competition. Your brand might be the best in its category, but without packaging that grabs your target audience, customers won’t investigate your product to find out more or see what’s inside.

 

6: Brand Naming: Top Ten Methods for Brand Name Creation

Brand Naming is all about strategic rationale, not emotion and not politics. It's your first impression so it's critical you get it right. A good name is a compact easy-to-communicate piece of information. It grabs peoples’ attention and makes them want to know more and it carries a hugely significant portion of your brand recognition all on its own. 

 

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

Creating a brand with an authentically strong character is central to your branding strategy success. Just as people can be larger than life, a brand’s personality can take on a life of its own. Creating a brand with an authentically strong character is central to your branding strategy success and effectively the decider between just another average price fighter or a truly magnetic and profitable brand.

 

8: Brand Promises: Are You Consistently Delivering Yours?

A brand promise is what your company or brand commits to delivering for everyone who interacts with you. A strong brand promise describes how people should feel when they interact with your brand, how your company delivers its products or services, and what sort of character your company embodies. Is your brand promise authentically 'walking the walk'?

 

 

9. Branding Amazon: 3 Lessons to Learn For Your Brand Success

Amazon is one of the most recognizable companies in the world, occupying and serving more global regions than any other organization. While your company may not have the reach and capabilities of Amazon just yet, there are still several branding lessons you can take away from the mega-store’s strategies, positioning and brand management.

 

 Ceo Leaders Logos

 

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

The company leader is the single most powerful influencer on branding, the visionary and voice behind the brand, particularly in a small, medium or large businesses (SMEs). Phil Knight, Sir Richard Branson, Maxine Clark and Johnny Earle are all very different visionary leaders behind their brands but they have shared characteristics - the secrets to their incredible brands success.

 

 

Which is your favourite?

• Do you have a preferred article from Persona Branding and Design that didn’t make the top 10 list?

• Which of these top 10 posts did you find most useful?

 

Feel free to share your thoughts in the comments! We love to hear from you!

 

 

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

Posted by Lorraine Carter on December 16 2014 @ 09:11

The Christmas season is an important time for any brand. In the UK, Christmas spending online is expected to reach more than £13 billion - an estimated 18 percent increase over last year’s online spend. What’s more, online spending and marketing typically increases retail and in-store spending, as more of your customers reach and connect with your brand through channels like mobile and social media.

 

At this time of the year, having a seasonal marketing strategy can deliver tremendous ROI for your brand. Customers love to see brands getting into the Christmas spirit. But just as with any branding strategy, it’s important to make sure your Christmas branding is authentic, meaningful, and engaging and most importantly – congruent with what your brand stands for.

 

Here are our top 10 tips on what to do - and what not to do - in order to bring the seasonal spirit to your brand and elicit a positive and profitable customer response.

 

1. Don’t Just Slap on Some Tinsel and Call it Christmas

Great Christmas branding collateral incorporates the season in a meaningful way, and delivers a message that makes customers look forward to celebrating Christmas, it must touch them with appropriate emotional connectivity - preferably with the help of your products or services. But dropping Christmas-related items into your regular marketing without any particular reason or strong branding strategy simply makes things uninspiring and largely forgettable.

  

 

 

2. Do Have a Defined Reason for Incorporating Christmas with Your Brand

There are so many aspects to the Christmas season that failing to draw a connection to your brand with seasonal marketing should be inexcusable. Whether your brand platform emphasizes fun, heartwarming, luxurious, affordable, or timeless, there are endless meaningful connections you can make.

 

For online custom greeting card company Cardstore.com, one campaign highlighted their brand’s convenience. This video spot contrasted an overly enthusiastic Mum trying to package her actual family inside a Christmas card, with the convenience of creating your own custom cards online.

  

  

  

Another company that gets Christmas right is John Lewis. The upscale UK department store, which also owns Waitrose, has created powerful and heartwarming Christmas commercials that have really captured the spirit of the season and kept customers coming back to shop. In fact, this year’s adorable advert from John Lewis contributed to the groups’s record-breaking sales during Black Friday week.

   

  

  

3. Deck out Your Packaging (or Brand Collateral)

At this time of year, an enchanting presentation is important to your customers. Shoppers want their loved ones to know that they’ve put some thought and effort into their Christmas preparations, and they’re drawn to festive packaging and cheerful or whimsical designs.

  

You can make your brand aspirational, fun, and desirable with limited edition Christmas packaging - or if you didn’t consider it this year, now is the time to include it in your brand planning for next year! You can also brand your online collateral such as your website and social media channels with Christmas themes.

 

Again, the key here is to make it meaningful and connected to your brand, without going over the top and obscuring your core brand messaging. Hershey’s is a well-known example of this, as they change their signature silver wrapper for Hershey’s Kisses to a mixture of red and green for the Christmas season.

 

For websites and social media, a simple banner change to Christmas greetings that aligns with your brand colours and themes can bring cheer to your customers and seasonal spirit to your brand.

  

4. Redefine Your Christmas Discounts

Christmas shoppers love a good bargain. But while deep discounts, clearances and blowout sales can move products, many are reluctant to take advantage of such heavily advertised specials. It can cheapen the experience of gift-giving, and the recipient may realise that they’ve just seen the item on sale.

 

A good alternative way to offer your customers added value, without devaluing your brand, is to pair products with a free gift, which customers can either keep for themselves or give to someone else. Some popular examples here include branded items like tote bags or mugs, trial sizes of products, or even small gift vouchers.

  

 5. Make it a Mobile Christmas

Recent research from Nielsen found that 80 percent of UK Twitter users access Twitter on their mobiles, and for 70 percent, mobile is the primary means of access. More importantly, 94 percent of UK Twitter users engage with mobile commerce on their smartphones, and one-third of all online sales are now made via mobile devices.

 

There is a strong case for your brand to interact with your customers via mobile. In the midst of the Christmas shopping season, mobile branding and marketing allows you to connect quickly with customers and keep your brand top-of-mind while they’re shopping, either in-store or online.

 

  Royal Albert Hall Advent Calendar

 

 

The Royal Albert Hall took this strategy onboard for Christmas by creating an “Advent Calendar” for their Twitter feed. The iconic venue counted down the month of December by tweeting a series of historic facts that tied into the day - for example, on December 19 the tweet read: “Beach volleyball has been played at the Hall for a grand total of nineteen minutes” and included an image of beach volleyball at the Hall.

  

6. Make it Easier for Last-Minute Shoppers to Choose your Brand

Regardless of intentions, most of your customers will end up last-minute shopping for Christmas. You can create an inviting sense of accommodation for your brand by keeping customers informed of last-minute opportunities. Use your website and social media channels to highlight any extended opening hours for your retail location, shipping deadlines for orders delivered by Christmas, and special last-minute offers or deals such as free shipping upgrades.

  

 Asos Christmas Gift Suggestions

 

  

7. Help Customers Find the Perfect Gift with Your Brand

Many a Christmas shopper struggles to find the right gift for the right person. One inexpensive and effective Christmas branding strategy is to put together a seasonal gift-giving guide, showing which of your products make the best gifts for certain people. For example, UK clothing retailer ASOS has created a Christmas splash page that groups gifts into fun categories like “Me Me Me,” “BFF,” “Cheap ‘N Cheerful,” and “Beauty Booty.” The page includes a few short YouTube videos that offer further gift-giving tips and tricks for shoppers.

  

  

  

8. Consider Christmas Vouchers to Extend Brand Loyalty

It can be difficult to choose the perfect gift - that’s why more shoppers are turning to gift vouchers that let recipients buy whatever they want. Offering branded gift vouchers or gift cards is a great way to increase visibility, strengthen your brand platform, and increase profits - an estimated 61 percent of gift card holders spend more than the amount of the card when they make a purchase.

  

Gift vouchers give your customers an additional way to interact with your brand, and also introduce your products or services to new customers who receive your gift vouchers as Christmas presents.

  

9. Reach out to Your Current Customers

The Christmas season is an opportunity to increase brand loyalty by reaching out authentically to your current customer base. It’s the perfect time to do something unexpected and pleasantly surprising for your customers - reach out with a small gift or freebie, hold a VIP night, or organize a special Christmas event for your most loyal brand supporters. Demonstrating appreciation for your customers’ patronage helps to ensure that they’ll remain loyal to your brand, and they’ll remember the gesture fondly.

 

Canadian airline WestJet deployed this strategy in a big way in 2013, treating 250 of its customers to a Christmas miracle. As passengers boarded their Christmas flights, they were invited into a booth to “tell Santa” what they wanted for Christmas. The passengers were recorded and viewed by airline employees at the destination airport, who raced out to buy all the gifts the passengers had wished for - and had them waiting when they arrived at their destination.

 

WestJet uploaded a video of the campaign to YouTube, and it promptly went viral. Currently, the video has more than 37 million views.

  

 

  

10. Get Festive on Facebook

In order to engage with your brand authentically, your customers need to know that there are real people behind the brand. One of the best ways to accomplish this during the Christmas season is to show your Christmas spirit on social media channels like Facebook. Post photos and video of your staff, your office or storefront, your corporate Christmas party, your involvement in the community and giving back together with other seasonal events that your customers might like a glimpse into.

 

And whilst using social media, don’t forget to be social! Engage your audience with interesting conversations that are relevant to your brand, or share your Christmas sentiments with favourite quotes, inspirational photos, or interactive question and fill-in-the-blank posts such as “All I want for Christmas is [blank]; how about you?”

 

Christmas branding doesn’t have to be complex or expensive to be successful. No matter the size of your brand, you can engage in authentic, meaningful seasonal strategies and initiatives that preserve your brand values, story, and loyalty without devaluing the core of your brand amongst the Christmas mayhem.

 

So, what do you think – how will you integrate Christmas into your brand strategy?

• How can you dress up your brand collateral for the Christmas season in a meaningful, relevant way?

  

• What authentic connections can you draw between your brand and popular Christmas symbols, values, or traditions?

  

• How are you maintaining the authenticity of your brand amidst the rush of the Christmas season?

  

• Are you reaching out to your current customers with Christmas rewards to preserve brand loyalty?

  

• Can Christmas shoppers clearly find the right products or services for the people on their gift lists, and identify last-minute shopping opportunities from your brand?

 

• Are you engaging your audience on multiple channels during Christmas, including mobile and social?

 

Feel free to share your thoughts in the comments. We’d love to hear from you!

  

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Brand Differentiation: 30 Ways to Differentiate Your Brand

Posted by Lorraine Carter on December 09 2014 @ 14:46

Building a strong brand is the undisputed key to success in today’s business world, and robust differentiation is an absolute must to build a powerful and compelling brand. Brand differentiation is the means by which your brand is set apart from the competition, by associating a superior performing aspect of your brand with multiple customer benefits.

 

In terms of branding, differentiation can relate to any combination of the following from the physical characteristics of your product or service, to the emotional response your brand triggers, aspects of its presentation, its price point such as very high or very low, your brand story, and even the customer experience of your brand as a whole.

 

There are many ways you can differentiate your brand. The skill lies is developing and applying the most effective brand differentiation strategy in a way that appropriately reflects your brand’s personality, values, promise, way of doing things and key characteristics.

  

If your brand fundamentally lacks sufficient personality or is very undeveloped then maybe its time to consider a brand audit or maybe your brand could benefit from some revitalisation or proper development of its character and brand profile using a process like our Personality Profile Performer™ system.

 

Your decisions must be made strategically so they are the most relevant to your particular products, services, or business goals - the ones that will strengthen your brand platform, and be most relevant and attractive to your customers - thereby increasing their loyalty and indeed referibility - so ultimately you can grow your bottom line successfully. 

  

Here are 30 ways to differentiate your brand from your competition, many of which we employ, amongst others not listed here, when developing our clients brand strategies. 

 

 

30 Ways to Differentiate Your Brand

  

1. Price Differently

Varying the price of your products or services from the competition can be an effective differentiation strategy. You can be either the economy bestseller with a low price, or a premium brand with a high price - such as Starbucks, which prices coffee higher to increase perceived quality. In fact, many brand differentiation strategies can help you charge and receive a premium price.

 

 

2. Mine a Niche

Niche products or services have built-in brand differentiation, and the marketing for them should reflect that niche. A good example is GoPro, which makes body-mounted video cameras and markets them to athletes.

  

 

3. Be the Expert

If your brand is the best at something in your industry, you can differentiate by focusing on your expertise. Domino’s Pizza provides differentiation through its expert home delivery and 30-minute guarantee.

  

4. Deliver a Unique Point-of-Purchase Experience

Give your customers a memorable buying experience, and your brand will stand out. Children love stuffed animals, but they love them even more when they can create their own stuffed animal right in front of their eyes. The Build-A-Bear Workshop has differentiated and flourished with this strategy. You can read more about what the founder Maxine Clark did to achieve this in a previous blog.

   

   Build A Bear Workshop Store Front

 Image via www.buildabear.com

  

5. Distinctive Brand Collateral

Your brand collateral can be a key aspect of differentiation. A memorable, instantly recognizable brand identity that’s not typical of your industry segment or category can be very effective at adding differentiation. For example, Johnny Cupcakes, a unique apparel company in the US, sells its branded t-shirts with a baking theme, including both the way in which the clothing is merchandised and the packaging in which you purchase your clothing – ovens, bakers shelves and cake boxes! You can read more about Johnny Earle's strategy, the founder, here.

  

    Johnny Cupcakes Store

Image via www.johnnycupcakes.com 

    

  

6. Use a Mascot

Brand mascots can be powerful differentiators, especially if you want to bring a sense of humour to your brand perceptions. American Insurance company GEICO has created massive success with its mascot - a talking lizard that has nothing to do with insurance, but still makes millions of people believe there’s something different about the company.

 

  

Geico Lizard Mascot Logo

Image via www.geico.com

   

   

7. Heritage and Provenance

Brands can differentiate through strong associations with their country of origin. Many UK brands are noted for a timeless, classic appeal, brands from Switzerland are often associated with craftsmanship and precision, and German brands are viewed as reliable and well-engineered.

 

  

 British Brands

 

   

8. Innovate

Innovation can be a key brand differentiator. This type of distinctiveness is common for tech brands - Apple is synonymous with innovation, ease of use and enhanced life experiences, SalesForce captured a largest market share with an SaaS-based CRM. But innovation isn’t limited to technology: FMCG brands can also differentiate with innovative packaging and/or different product solutions such as O’Egg and their liquid egg products and white shell eggs.

  

  

O Egg Liquid Egg Bottles 500px

  

 

9. Create a New Product (by Renaming it)

Offering your customer something entirely new is a great way to differentiate, and you may not have to change what you’re selling - just what it’s called. Tyson Foods - the world's second largest processor and marketer of chicken, beef and port - began selling chickens that were much smaller than average. The product might not have caught on if they’d called it “miniature chickens,” so they marketed them as “Cornish Game Hens” instead.

  

   

Tyson Cornish Game Hen 

 Image via www.tyson.com

  

  

10. Be the Underdog

A lot of customers love a good underdog story and will connect with you through your ‘David and Goliath’ brand story. Emphasizing your brand’s humble beginnings can help you differentiate, especially if your competitors are focused on being the biggest and the best. Successful founder stories with an underdog aspect include Nantucket Nectars’ “only a blender and a dream,” and Amazon CEO’s Jeff Bezos launching his “everything store” from his garage. Sir Richard Branson has launched the Virgin brand into multiple sectors with a ‘David and Goliath’ strategy – challenging the perceived big guys and the status quo - as the ‘customers champion’.

  

   

Virgin Logo 600px

 Image via www.virgin.com

  

 

11. Make it Convenient

Convenience can be a big brand differentiator. Something that makes life easier for your customers will make you more desirable than the competition. Amazon is the obvious example, but other brands, such as Stamps.com, have banked on differentiation through convenience and won.

   

   

Amazon Logo

Image via www.amazon.com

  

 

12. Consistently Over-Deliver on Customer Service

With all other factors equal to your competitors, consistently superior customer service and exceeding expectations can differentiate your brand. Online shoe store Zappos commands a premium price tier because of their outstanding customer service, including free shipping and free returns.

   

 

Zappos Logo 600px

 Image via www.zappos.com

 

 

13. Stand Out on Shelves

Really strong brand packaging can be an obvious and effective differentiator, in fact it can make or break your brand. If, for example, you use black packaging for your butter like Rachel’s Organic Butter, your brand will be distinctive amongst all the yellow, red, and green packs. 

  

Rachel's Organic Butter Salte 600px

Image via www.rachelsorganic.co.uk 

  

 

14. Tell Your Unique Brand Story

Every successful brand has a compelling story behind it. Fully developing and emphasizing your brand story can help you differentiate, be core to your brand DNA, and reinforce the personality, promise and values of your brand. Creating irresistible brand stories is a key part of our brand profiling service when working with clients to help them create and build the personality of their brands, using our Brand Story Selling System™.

  

 

15. Solve a Universal Problem

If your brand addresses a problem everyone can envision or relate to, you’ll achieve brand differentiation. TOM’s shoe brand took on the issue of children in need, by donating a pair of new shoes to a child for every pair of shoes purchased. This not only massively differentiated the brand, but emotionally engaged its audience by making corporate social responsibility live within the heart of what the brand stands for and created immense customer goodwill and brand loyalty.

  

  

Toms Logo

Image via www.toms.com

 

 

16. Appeal to Emotions

Your brand can stand out by delivering an emotional experience that’s associated with your product or service. Coca-Cola capitalizes on emotional appeal by branding their products as happy, implying its the maker of joy and harmony. Everything Coca-Cola does from a strategic branding perspective is to associate the brand with ‘happy occasions’.

 

  

17. Be (Relevantly) Shocking

Aligning your brand with shock value can help you differentiate, but use this strategy with care. The outrage you can generate from a shocking brand should be directed in a positive way, toward your brand and what you stand for. Italian fashion brand Benetton’s has used shock campaigns multiple times over the years to raise brand visibility such as with their “Unhate” campaign, which managed to anger the U.S. government, the Vatican, and many other organizations - but was a hit with customers.

 

 

18. Change Your Customer Experience

If your industry is known for a certain type of experience, you can differentiate by making your customer experience different. GEICO succeeded in the insurance industry, which often uses serious approaches and scare tactics, by creating a whimsical and fun marketing strategy with talking animals. Southwest Airlines injected quirkiness and enjoyment into the cookie-cutter world of travel.

 

 

19. Make it Personal

Personalization can help you differentiate your brand. Allow your customers to make your products their own through interactive buying experiences, higher levels of customer service, and digital marketing strategies like retargeting and pre-targeting that offer the right products, to the right people, at the right time.

 

 

20. Link to an Occasion

Another way to differentiate is to build up your brand’s association with a particular occasion or celebration. Cadbury’s is synonymous with Easter, De Beers is equated with Valentine’s Day, and Christmas (in the United States, at least) can’t happen without the Macy’s parade and Coca-Cola virtually invented the big red suited man at Christmas along with a multitude of other 'happy occasions' throughout the year.

 

 

21. Personify Your Product

A slightly different strategy from brand mascots, brand personification involves creating a “character” that represents the characteristics of your brand. Green Giant vegetables has done this successfully with the Jolly Green Giant, while Keebler snacks are personified through the Keebler Elves.

 

 

22. Give Back

Modern customers, most notably Millennials, love to get behind a brand that gives back to the community. By emphasising corporate social responsibility (CSR), you can differentiate your brand and get an edge over the competition such as O'Egg's support of 'Action Breast Cancer Ireland'.

   

O Egg Pink Ribbon

 

23. Go Green

By the same token as community generosity, more of today’s customers are concerned about the environment. Differentiating through green packaging, green manufacturing, or even environmental charity can help your brand stand out.

 

  

24. Break Away

You can differentiate your brand by moving away from the conventional wisdom surrounding your industry and delivering an opposing viewpoint. Odour control brand PooPouri accomplished this by abandoning discretion in their marketing and embracing all things poo – with lots of toilet humour.

 

  

  

   

25. Redefine Your Product Use

If your products can accomplish more than one thing, the alternate use can help you differentiate your brand. As an example, Arm & Hammer was just another baking soda until the brand began marketing the idea that it also made an excellent air freshener along with a multitude of other uses.

 

 

Arm And Hammer Baking Soda 

Image via www.armandhammer.com  

  

  

26. Simplify Your Customers’ Lives

Simplicity and purity are highly prized in today’s cluttered world. Marketing your brand as a simple pleasure can help you rise above the noise. The Method brand of cleaning products uses this strategy, providing naturally derived and non-toxic household cleaning products that simply work. This simplicity is underscored by their tagline: “people against dirty.”

 

   

Method Cleaning Products

Image via www.methodhome.com 

  

 

27. Provide Higher Quality

Luxury brands are able to command premium pricing through an emphasis on higher quality products - either actual or perceived. Providing luxury is an automatic brand differentiator for most markets.

   

  

Luxury Car Brands

  

 

28. Limit Availability

While it may seem counterintuitive to profits, limiting the availability of your brand can actually help you sell more, at higher price points, through differentiation. When customers perceive that not everyone will be able to have a product, demand and perceived value increase. Ben & Jerry’s premium ice cream employs this strategy with limited production runs for some flavours, and by “retiring” flavours after a certain period of time.

  

    Ben Jerrys Flavour Graveyard

  Image via www.benjerry.ie

 

 

29. Reposition Your Category

You can differentiate your brand by developing a new category that falls within your industry. In the United States, the National Pork Board accomplished this with a campaign slogan: “Pork, The Other White Meat,” which appealed to customers who enjoy red meat, but don’t care for chicken. The campaign also made pork more appealing due to the health issues being associated with red meat consumption.

  

 

30. Serve an Unmet Need

An effective way to differentiate your brand and reach a broader audience is to identify a need that isn’t being met, and fill that need by tweaking or repositioning your offerings. Enterprise Rent-A-Car became the top car rental company in the U.S. when they began to offer a leasing option - when none of their competitors did.

  

  

So, what do you think?

• How does your brand differentiate from the competition?

  

• Is your packaging distinctive or stand-out in some way? How could you change that?

 

• What does your brand do to differentiate your customer service?

 

• Are there new audiences you can reach through differentiation?

 

• What would it take to reposition as a luxury brand and differentiate through added value?

 

• Can you share other strategies for brand differentiation?

 

Feel free to leave your thoughts in the comments. We’d love to hear from you!

  

   

 

  

  

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

Posted by Lorraine Carter on December 01 2014 @ 12:20

A strong brand is the key to success and sustainable growth for your business. However, brands are not static, unchanging identities - the most successful brands live and breathe, evolving along with changing shifts in market tastes, trends and demands.

  

Rebranding or brand revitalisation, when properly planned and implemented, can be a powerfully effective strategy for rescuing or reinventing a failing brand, jump-starting a stagnant brand, expanding your markets, or initiating substantial business growth. A rebrand may be subtle or evolutionary in nature, or it may involve radically transforming a product, service, or entire brand.

  

Regardless of the extent of your rebrand, a thorough brand revitalisation strategy is a must in order to be successful. Here are the top tips on surviving a rebrand of any scale, and emerging as a stronger and more profitable organisation.

 

Understand Rebranding: It’s Much More Than Just Changing Your Logo

Even for those brands undergoing a subtle rebrand as an evolutionary step forward, there is much more to a successful rebrand than changing your company or product logo. Rebranding always results in shifted audience perceptions of your brand, no matter how large or small the changes - and this strategy should not be engaged lightly.

   

  

   

   

Approaching a rebrand without strategic planning, market insights and customer engagement can be disastrous to your brand, often resulting in storms of negative social media, if your brand is very high profile with an engaged audience.

   

     

Airbnb Belo Logo 2014

  

  

Airbnb, an online accommodations rental platform whose logo changed in July this year brought a flood of social chatter comparing the new logo to parts of the human anatomy. BBC News reported on the backlash, including a roundup of Twitter comments where it became the top trending item for a time. Others on the other hand praised the US home-rental services new look. Airbnb calls its new logo Belo, and says it represents "the universal symbol of belonging". 

    

   

Airbnb Logo Change Twitter

   

   

Also earlier this year, the long-established candy brand Hershey’s caused a similar internet controversy when the company changed their logo from the traditional silver foil-wrapped Hershey’s kiss to a solid brown graphic with a gray curlicue to represent the iconic brand.  

   

Hershey Logo Change 

   

Hershey Rebrand Tweet 2

Image via www.mashable.com

    

Customers and commentators alike were also divided in their opinions with some having a field day online pointing out the shortcomings, as they saw them, with some very unfavourable comments compared to those who thought it fresh, demonstrative and sleek.

   

Hershey Rebrand Tweet 1

Image via www.mashable.com  

     

Regardless of what your views are in relation to both these brands, simply launching a new logo is not the right way to approach a rebrand. You need a solid brand strategy based on a brand audit coupled with research, market testing, and an honest analysis of your current brand performance before making any changes that will impact your brand.

   

  

  

   

Make Sure Rebranding is Really the Answer

Prior to a rebrand, the most important consideration is knowing why you’re rebranding, what your goals are in making changes, and whether a rebrand is the right solution.

 

Some of the most common situations where it makes sense to undergo a rebrand include:

  • Relevance: In order to thrive, brands must stay relevant to their target market and keep up with evolving customer needs and desires

  

  • Competition: If a brand encounters aggressive competition that damages sales, rebranding can help to push back and restore a competitive edge

  

  • Innovation: In industries where rapid change is common and expected, such as technology, rebranding can help you preserve relevance to new markets and remain competitive  

 

  • Globalisation: Market demographics can vary from region to region. A brand that is looking to expand into new global markets can benefit from rebranding to suit a wider audience

  

  • Repositioning: Rebranding is required for a brand seeking to change its market position, such as moving from an economy level to a premium brand with higher pricing

  

  • Mergers and Acquisitions: If two brands merge, or one brand acquires another, rebranding is essential to establish the new, single identity of the separate brands 

On the other hand, there are some situations where rebranding or revitalisation is not the correct strategy. These can include:

  • Young Brands: Unless the existing brand solution is highly flawed, brands that have been on the market for a short time, such as 3 years or less, should not rebrand. Young brands would be better served to adjust marketing strategies or roll out new campaigns

 

  • Change for Change’s Sake: Rebranding should not be engaged simply because you feel like changing. There should be a compelling commercial reason to rebrand, since changing “just because” results in failure more often than not

 

 

Rebranding the Right Way: 4 Top Tips for Pulling it off Successfully

Once you’ve established that a rebrand or revitalisation is what your brand needs, how do you effectively plan a rebrand? Here’s how to build an effective rebranding strategy and make it through with a stronger and more compelling brand.

 

1. Assess Your Current Brand Perception Honestly

If you’re undergoing a rebrand, there’s a reason your brand is struggling. You need to know exactly what that reason is, and how your rebranding strategy will address it. This means there is no room for light observations or wishful thinking - you need to know the brutally honest reality of where your brand currently stands.

    

The best way to accomplish this honest assessment is through a comprehensive brand audit. A brand audit involves thorough examination of your market position, your brand’s performance relevant to the competition, its strengths and weaknesses, and a full view of both internal and external perceptions of your brand. Through this process, you may uncover surprising information about your target audience - and you may even discover new audience demographics that will be suitable for your brand with effective rebranding.

 

 

2. Obtain Organisational Buy-in

A successful rebranding relies not only on effectively changing customer perceptions, but also ensuring that everyone in your company participates in the rebrand programme. Each of your customer touch points must reflect the new brand collateral and brand values - which means your entire company, from sales personnel to general staff to CEO, top down, must understand the goals of the rebrand.

 

  

3. Ensure Seamless Consistency

Maintaining consistency is a primary key to an effective brand. When undergoing a rebrand, make sure that every piece of your brand collateral reflects the changes and the new brand vision - from product packaging and logo design to website, sales material, office and retail locations, staff uniforms, trade stands, presentation tools, in short all your brand collateral, and even email signatures.

   

4. Communicate the Rebrand Externally

Naturally, your new brand will be rolled out to customers but it's important to get their feedback with some test research initially before you fully implement and launch to market. But don’t forget to involve stakeholders, shareholders, and media outlets with news of your rebranding. Awareness of a rebrand is crucial to its success.

  

Whether your rebrand is evolutionary or comprehensive, whether your reasons are to maintain relevance, beat out the competition, or reposition your brand to increase profits, surviving the rebranding process involves careful planning and strategisation - and a willingness to ensure both internal and external consistency.

  

Your brand is much more than just your logo. Brands represent the total customer experience, and rebranding must be approached with care and forethought. But when implemented properly, a rebrand can deliver a wider audience, a strengthened brand platform, and higher profits for your business.

 

So, what do you think?

• Has your company undergone a rebrand in the past?

 

• What are the reasons you are considering rebranding now?

 

• Could your brand benefit from a brand audit, regardless of whether you’re rebranding?

 

• What would you change about your brand, and how do you think it would impact your target audience?

 

• How can you rebrand to improve your brand’s relevance?

 

• Could you raise prices and increase profits through brand repositioning?

 

Feel free to share your thoughts in the comments. We’d love to hear from you!

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

Posted by Lorraine Carter on November 03 2014 @ 14:40

The millennial generation is alternately revered and maligned by the media with many holding a skewed, stereotypical perception when in truth, millennials are a highly educated generation with fast-paced lifestyles. Typically they’re multi-taskers, highly connected, tech-savvy, enjoy instant gratification, want work-life balance and flexibility, are highly collaborative and value transparency i.e. openness and honesty in both their personal and professional lives.

 

There is no denying that the so-called Generation Y or Gen Y is a force to be reckoned with - particularly when it comes to branding. Right now the median age of the world population is 28, there are more than 1 billion millennials around the world, and they are definitely consumers. Their spending habits are vastly different from the generations before them. Many aren’t interested in savings or equity, and tend to view higher portions of their income as discretionary. In the United States alone, millennials have a purchasing power of $170 billion, with that number expected to rise to $1.4 trillion by 2020.

 

Gen Y is less likely to spend on real estate or vehicles, but they’re heavy spenders in categories like food, clothing, electronics, and entertainment. Hanover Research reports that millennials are 52 percent more likely to make impulse purchases than older shoppers, and 78 percent more likely to shop with merchants who offer reward or loyalty programs.

  

  

Why Market Your Brand to Millennials?

Appealing to millennials can boost much more than the bottom line for your brand. The first generation born in the digital era, millennials not only enjoy spending - they’re highly connected, and they love to talk about their purchases and make recommendations to others, both online and in person. Gen-Yers can be powerful brand advocates, if you can manage to appeal to them. This demographic also has the highest rate of online research and purchasing.

 

According to a Google study for the 2013 holiday season:

  • 95 percent of millennials used online resources for holiday shopping

 

  • 88 percent of millennials with smartphones shopped from their devices

  

According to a recent study from strategic research firm Edelman Berland:

  • Millennials are “alpha influencers,” with 7 out of 10 believing it’s not only their right, but their responsibility to share brand feedback - good or bad - with others

 

  • The economy is a key factor for millennials, with the majority hoping for economic stability - which prompts them to spend more heavily than other generations

 

  • When the right approach is taken, millennials are highly open to brand advertising and engagement strategies - 80 percent want brands to entertain them, with 40 percent looking for the ability to co-create products and services

 

What is the right approach when branding for millennials?

When we're working with a client to develop they're branding strategy to target millennial consumers we have to consider this audience and their needs very differently to other demographics. The following top three strategies are always core to our planning and will help you generate brand appeal for this very powerful demographic and help you get your brand into the enthusiastic hands of these very influential millennial customers.

 

  

Top 3 Millennial Branding Strategies

 

1. For Millennials, Social Media and Video Rule

The millennial generation has never known life without the Internet, and most can’t remember a time before cell phones. Social media is a way of life for this generation, they’re always connected. Facebook and Twitter are major players - but the go-to network for millennials is YouTube.

 

A recent survey commissioned by Variety magazine found that among teens and young adults, YouTube stars shine brighter than celebrities. The top five most influential figures in the lives of these young people are not Hollywood celebs, but YouTube superstars. In fact, YouTube-famous figures comprise 6 of the top 10, and half of the top 20 most influential people for the millennial generation.

   

   

Youtube Stars Shine Brightest 600px 

 Image via www.variety.com

  

  

Examples of these YouTube superstars include Alfie Deyes (age 21) and Zoe Sugg (age 24), aka Zoella from the UK. If you haven’t heard of them, then you’re probably what they'd classify as ‘old’. Their hard core fans are 13 to 17 year olds who don’t watch TV in the living room, but sit in their bedrooms with their ipads! With 3.2m and 6.2M subscribers respectively on YouTube alone, not to mention 1.8M and 2.4M Twitter followers coupled with 1.8M and 3.2M Instagram follwers, they’ve assumed a position in modern youth culture previously held by members of boy bands, girl bands and Hollywood heart-throbs, except unlike them they can’t sing or act.

  

If you were to assess their clout in TV rating terms, they come in behind ‘Downton Abbey’ but well ahead of ‘Question Time’ or against Twitter followers they both massively outrank Kylie Minogue or Lily Allen.

  

However don’t underestimate these entrepreneurial millennials. Like their other YouTube superstar friends, they know and understand what keeps their core target audience entertained and they give it to them in spades - while earning very substantial revenues! Fundamentally they both run very successful video blogs or vlogs. Alfie Deyes also recently published ‘The Pointless Book’ which has spent weeks at No.1 on the Sunday Times bestseller list and Zoella’s novel ‘Girl Online’ comes out later this month.

  

  

 

   

  

For brands looking to tap the millennial market, video is the dominant social medium. More than half (55%) watch online video several times a day, on multiple devices - and millennials have access to an average of 7.1 devices, including PCs and mobile. On average, millennials watch more than 500 online videos per month, and 34% of millennials watch more online video than television.

 

The key to marketing your brand to the millennial demographic through video is entertainment value. The more entertaining your brand content, the more likely it is to go viral. Such is the case for one of the most popular and highly effective online video campaigns of 2013 - a public service announcement (PSA) created for Metro Trains.

 

Metro Trains deliberately targeted the millennial generation when the brand created an animated video called “Dumb Ways to Die.” With purposely race-and gender-neutral “blob” characters, a catchy 3-minute song, and the juxtaposition of cute characters meeting gruesome death during a cheerful tune, Metro Trains’ message to stay safe around trains made a tremendous impact.

  

The video has more than 90 million YouTube views to date, earned $60 million in media impressions - and most importantly, the campaign reduced rail-related accidents by 20 percent.

  

    

  

  

2. Millennials Believe in Engagement and Participation

Marketing your brand to millennials requires a change in mindset. This generation doesn’t like being talked to or marketed to - they prefer to market with their favourite brands. They turn away from broadcast messages and embrace conversations. They don’t want to simply hear your brand story - they want to participate, get feedback and experience a sense of belonging and being part of it.

 

They want to recommend the brands they love to others, and strongly prefer peer recommendations over anything else. A survey from SocialChorus found that 91% of millennials trust friends for product recommendations.

 

To reach millennials on social media and through other channels, your brand must engage them. Banner and sidebar ads are no longer effective for this demographic - in fact, since most millennials have spent so much time online, they no longer even notice these traditional forms of digital advertising. Instead, your social media presence should be a two-way conversation between your brand and the millennial audience.

 

Co-creation is another powerful engagement strategy for millennials. They’re looking for a personalized customer experience - preferably one that lets them make a real difference and contribute to your brand in some way. Millennials place a high value on transparency and feedback, and co-creation strategies demonstrate your brand’s willingness to lay it all on the line.

 

Global hotel brand Marriott International is reaching the millennial market through several co-creation campaigns. The company’s Facebook page allows fans to create a kitchen, and they’ve released a free game app that takes players on a virtual journey to explore the world - and enters them in drawings to win hotel stays through reward points. But the most ambitious co-creation project is their “Travel Brilliantly” campaign: a website encouraging viewers to submit their own ideas for food and drinks, style and design, check in/checkout processes and more through a series of monthly challenge contests.

   

   Marriott Travel Brilliantly Fb 600px

  

  

3. Brand with Meaning and Give Back to Get Millennials in Your Corner

In many cases, millennials have been unfairly tarred with a broad brush painting them as selfish and inwardly focused. The infamous “The Me Me Me Generation” article that graced the cover of TIME Magazine’s May 20, 2013, issue encapsulates this portrayal - though the article’s subtitle goes on to say, “Millennials are lazy, entitled narcissists who still live with their parents: Why they’ll save us all.”

 

   Time The Me Me Me Generation

 Image via www.time.com

    

The millennial generation is looking for more than mere products. This generation wants to place its loyalty and dollars, euros or pounds into brands that stand for something - and conversely, they’ll shun companies with negative messaging behind either their brands, or their practices. It was negative messaging behind a clothing company that all but destroyed their millennial customer audience last year.

 

Global fashion retailer Abercrombie & Fitch has always seemed a little size-ist, as they don’t manufacture clothing above a large. However, the issue went largely un-discussed until May of 2013, when A&F CEO Mike Jeffries was quoted as saying he “didn’t want larger people shopping in his store, he wanted thin and beautiful people.” He also stated that, “People who wear his clothing should feel like they’re one of the ‘cool kids’.”

 

This obvious discrimination sparked outrage among millennials, who took to the streets and social media to mock the brand. One 26-year-old reacted by donating Abercrombie & Fitch clothing to homeless people - and recording the campaign on video to share online. The hashtag associated with the video, #fitchthehomeless, began trending immediately. To date, the video “Fitch the Homeless” has received more than 8 million views on YouTube.

    

 

 

The truth is that millennials are highly socially conscious and philanthropic. They believe in giving back: in 2013, 87% of millennials donated to at least one non-profit organization. In keeping with this charitable spirit, Generation Y looks for and forms strong bonds of loyalty to brands who put their social responsibility forward and give back to the community.

 

For more than 85% of millennials, purchasing decisions are correlated to a brand’s willingness and demonstrated actions in the area of social good. This is the reason why Red Bull energy drinks are so popular among millennials. The company not only markets to the demographic by appealing to their adventurous nature with extreme sports - they also tap into the charitable vein by fully funding Wings for Life, a non-profit spinal cord research foundation. This charity ties firmly into the company’s brand collateral, since their slogan is “Red Bull gives you wings.”

   

  

 

  

Millennials are a powerful and growing force in the worldwide market. If you develop a strong and very compelling brand strategy that authentically meets the needs of this millennial generation, your brand can tap into a highly effective, influential, and loyal customer base that will continue to elevate your brand platform, and your bottom line, for years to come.

 

So, what do you think?

• Have you developed your branding strategy to meet the needs of a millennial audience? 

 

• How are you reaching the millennial demographic - or how can you start if you are considering rebranding?

 

• Is your social media presence active and engaging, or static and marketing-oriented? Does your strategy need a brand audit? How can you build more engagement through social media?

 

• Are you using video marketing in your social media mix?

 

• How can you extend co-creation opportunities to millennials?

 

• Does your brand get involved with philanthropy? Is your charitable work visible and highly transparent through your brand collateral?

 

Feel free to share your thoughts in the comments. We’d love to hear from you!

 

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Halloween Branding: Hair-Raising Strategies and Tips to Promote Your Brand

Posted by Lorraine Carter on October 31 2014 @ 16:28

Halloween isn’t just for kids anymore. This spooky celebration marks the start of a major holiday season, and it’s grown from a great time to sell sweets and treats, to a massive multi-billion dollar industry with all types of customers getting into the Halloween spirit and looking forward to scary fun opportunities!

 

Your business can take advantage of this thrilling, spook-tacular holiday with Halloween strategies to promote your brand, and engage customers through the holiday season and beyond.

 

Why Should You Use Halloween to Feature Your Brand?

Throughout the world, Halloween is big business. Spending on Halloween for 2013 was $8 billion in the United States, and £300 million in the UK. Those numbers are expected to top $11 billion and £350 million, respectively, for the 2014 retail season.

 

Considering that Halloween spending in the UK was around £12 million in 2001, and the holiday now sees more retail spending than Bonfire Night, there is a definite market for Halloween-themed branding. In fact, Halloween is now the third largest retail holiday in the UK, behind Christmas and Easter.

 

Candy and costumes are obvious targets for Halloween spending, with Halloween candy sales topping the Easter season, but shoppers are interested in more than these traditional purchases. In the United States, there is a massive market for Halloween-related decorations, with 70% of shoppers planning to decorate for this spooky holiday - compared to 69% who plan to decorate for Christmas.

 

Even if you don’t sell candy or costumes, your brand can benefit by having a Halloween related promotion. Both product and service providers can benefit by tying into this spooky holiday. According to a study from the International Council of Shopping Centre, 64% of shoppers are looking for sales and promotions on Halloween, which they state as their most important factor in deciding on Halloween purchases.

 

An example of a non-FMCG company using Halloween for branding is auto insurance company GEICO. Known for its talking animal mascots, the insurance company recently began using a new tagline for its advertising campaigns: “It’s what you do.” This Halloween, GEICO created a commercial that ties the new tagline into popular horror movie tropes for a funny and memorable message.

 

 

 

 

Looking to cash in on this surprisingly huge holiday? Here are some tips and strategies you can use to elevate your brand on Halloween.

 

 

8 Top Tips for Halloween Themed Branding Campaigns

Everyone loves a good contest, especially one that involves holidays and creativity. In fact, 30% more people participate in Halloween-themed Facebook contests alone. Holding a Halloween contest on social media can help you boost visibility for your brand and earn you long-term benefits by growing your brand’s social fan base.

 

No matter what type of business you have, whether it’s product or service oriented, there are plenty of ways to tie contests or competitions in with Halloween. For example, here are some popular kinds of Halloween contests, and ideas about how you can tie them into your brand.

 

1. Costume Contests

Product brands might ask their entrants to dress up in costumes that incorporate their products creatively - or even dress up their products in costumes, as Dunkin Donuts is doing on Twitter this year. The brand asked customers to post pictures of coffee cups in costumes under the hashtag #dresseDD, and is giving out prizes for the most creative coffee disguises.

  

   Dunkin'donuts Halloween Disguises

  

For service brands, it might be a good opportunity to show your lighter human or more humorous side with an idea for a costume contest such as asking your fans and followers to dress as unusual, scary, or funny representatives of your industry. Make sure the prize includes something Halloween-themed, such as a candy gift basket along with a gift card, free service, or whatever you plan to give away.

 

2. Pumpkin Carving

50% or more of those who celebrate Halloween are into carving pumpkins, so you can get a lot of interest with a pumpkin carving contest. Tie your contest creatively into your brand - such as asking people to carve a company logo into a pumpkin (their own, or yours).

  

  

 

3. Pet Costumes

Dressing up pets for Halloween is becoming a major retail event. Whether you’re a product or a service brand, you can run a pet costume contest along the same lines as a regular costume contest, and offer branded prizes that will appeal to pet owners.

You could also host a Halloween quiz, take a Halloween survey, or run an incentive program for customers to sign up to your mailing list with Halloween-themed giveaways.

 

 Pet Costumes Halloween

Image via www.costumeexpress.com 

  

4. Create Halloween-Themed Content

Working Halloween into your content marketing is an easy and creative way to brand for the spooky holidays. Whether you’re creating written content, images, infographics, or video, there are many ways to tie your brand to Halloween for both product and service-oriented companies.

 

5. Make a Halloween Bundle

Placing several different products together in a Halloween context can be an effective branding strategy. For example, retail grocery stores might offer a “vampire package” that includes varieties of garlic, meat, and red wine. Outdoor clothing and equipment retailer REI put together a clever "Zombie Survival Guide” infographic to celebrate the holiday that showcases several of their products.

   Rei Zombie Infographic 600

 Image via www.rei.com

 

6. Address Halloween “Pain Points”

Every situation comes with problems, and Halloween is no exception. For this holiday, one of the biggest customer worries is too much candy. Others may be Halloween on a budget, unique costume ideas, or finding Halloween-themed recipes or activities. Can your brand solve holiday problems creatively with some online content? Here’s an example of one personal trainer who tied into Halloween with a post called “The 15-Minute Yoga Routine to Beat Your Holiday Candy Binge.”

 

7. Consider a Halloween Video

Whether it’s a commercial, or simply posted to YouTube and your company website, holiday-themed videos are a great way to build buzz for your brand. There are endless possibilities in this medium for any brand, whether you’re FMCG, luxury, or service. Hotel reservation website Booking.com created a Halloween video that dramatized a haunted hotel to advertise its services for this holiday.

 

 

  

8. Dress up Your Brand for Halloween

Whether you simply change your website CSS to capture Halloween colours and images, decorate your retail location with all things spooky, or go all out with Halloween content on your brand collateral, promotions, and contests, getting into the spirit of Halloween can help you boost your brand recognition and broaden your customer base - giving you a head start on the big holiday retail season.

Have a happy Halloween!

 

So, what do you think?

• Have you run brand promotions for Halloween in the past or will you make them part of your branding strategy for next year? Considering the value of this holiday would it be worth reviewing it in the context of a brand audit - what strategies worked (or didn’t work) for you?

 

• Is your brand tied into Halloween on social media? What kind of contest could you run?

 

• What Halloween related problems can your brand solve?

 

• Can you create any Halloween-themed content for your website, business blog, or social media accounts?

 

• Have you wished your mailing list a Happy Halloween? What promotion can you offer with a holiday greeting?

 

Feel free to share your thoughts in the comments. We’d love to hear from you!

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