Use Humour in Branding to Create Strong Emotional Bonds so You Increase Sales

Sorting through all the noise we’re bombarded with in the digital era is certainly a challenge. It’s essential for a brand to avoid getting lost in the daily deluge as customers navigate information overload and a visual avalanche to focus on what’s most relevant. That’s where emotional connections come in, solving a digital age dilemma by using humour in branding as the delivery vehicle[1].

 

 

 

Strong content will stop consumers skipping adverts, according to a study conducted by Millward Brown as reported in Marketing Week[2], which reveals the top five reasons someone will watch. These are:

1) An advert is funny

2) It is for a category the recipient is interested in

3) There is a reward, such as coupon or points

4) The advert is for a brand the consumer is interested in

5) Something noteworthy happens in the first few seconds

Consumer research from Adobe and Edelman Berland indicates that humour is best for product recall according to 7 out of 10 respondents. [3]

 

Top Five Benefits of Emotionally Driven Humour in Branding

 

Research tells us that when customers feel a genuine emotional connection with a particular brand, they generate disproportionate value for that brand. Those who are ‘fully connected’ emotionally are 52% more valuable to brands than customers who are ‘highly satisfied’, reports Harvard Business Review. [4]

 

Five benefits of emotional branding, especially humour, are:

  1. Differentiation
  2. Storytelling
  3. Personalization
  4. Relationship
  5. Loyalty

 

Image via Harvard Business Review

1. Differentiation Through Humour in Branding

Of course, some brands have it easier by their very nature. But it isn’t necessary to be Disney or Ben & Jerry’s to find a deeply personal, possibly humourous, way to present for that all-important emotional bond. Indeed, it’s the all-important way that Disney can differentiate themselves from Universal Studios Hollywood or Legoland and Ben & Jerry’s can inform their strategic direction based on differences from the likes of Häagen Dazs. Humour also amplifies your brand’s personality, giving it more character and life which enables it to standout more strongly and consequently attract your ideal audience.

 

Read more about how to make your brand standout here: Personality Matters, Bringing Your Brand to Life to Grow Your Profits

 

2. Storytelling Through Humour in Branding

In the automobile world, for example, it could be a desire to appear flashy, a have a sense of freedom, or the express wish to transport the children safely. Alternatively, Volvo suggests it could be the wish to “Live Fully Now.” While this advertisement’s humour is not the belly laugh type, it’s impossible not to smile as Volvo holds up a mirror to tell the story of each of us (personalization is at work here, as well).

 

Watch as Volvo evolves from their earlier hard sell and deadly serious car crash commercials emphasizing their steel cage design, to now endeavouring to make a successful emotional connection in the 2017 video,” The Get Away Car,” imploring us to “Live Fully Now.”

 

 

Learn how to use storytelling to increase your sales here: Brand Stories, 5 Compelling Examples That Sell Themselves

 

3. Personalization Through Humour in Branding


Nobody is better at personalization than Amazon, who are acutely aware of any product you search on the web, and quick to pass you pop-up banner ads and emails to let you know that they know. But small brands without the sophisticated big data collection of Amazon can accomplish personalization — with humour — as well.

 

Read more about delivering customer expectations here: Brand Promises, How to Craft, Articulate and Live Them for Brand Success

 

Victor Pest makes mousetraps and is a supplier of rodent control supplies — not very sexy as products go. A Victor rodent trap will never make an appropriate birthday or Valentine’s Day purchase, nor anybody’s Christmas wish list.

 

Image via Victor® Pest

 

They’ve used Twitter and Pinterest as channels for a humorous tone of voice directed at likely customer audiences: home builders, decorators, realtors, property management, home inspectors, exterminators, DIY shop owners, etc. The result goes way beyond what one might expect from a pest repellent company to create top-of-mind-awareness branding for an unsavoury problem.

 

 

Join our ‘How to Build Your Brand’ programme here

 

 

4. Relationship Building with Humour in Branding

“Hello, I’m a Mac. And I’m a PC” was aired by Apple from 2006 to 2009. What’s the key to this classic ad? Making your own brand the butt of the joke. When you give your brand a frivolous name (Ex: Macintosh, Dunkin’ Donuts, I Can’t Believe It’s Not Butter), it’s a head start.

 

Image via Apple

 

Building your customer relationships using other types of humorous treatment for your brand include:

 

  • Video commercial. Has there ever been a better example of that first 30-second Old Spice commercial featuring actor Isaiah Mustafa as “The Man Your Man Could Smell Like”? The “wildly smug, cool-cat smooth dude persona” introduced in 2010 maintained eye contact with the camera throughout, creating a connection between audience and Old Spice Man, reaping awards and more than 53 million views by January, 2017.

 

Old Spice – we have used often, but here it is again because it’s one of the best!

 

 

 

  • Print ad. Proving that a picture is worth 1,000 words, Rowenta 2100 Watt Vacuum Cleaner does just that with one image. It connects perfectly with an outdoorsy audience who we imagine must be looking after heritage country estates that require lots of dust busting.

 

 

  • Jingle and lyrics. “The Meow Mix Theme” was created in 1970 and performed by a dubbed singing cat using subtitles and a bouncing ball on the lyrics. Simple and memorable, “Tastes so good, cats ask for it by name” is considered an advertising classic that cat owners adore.

 

 

 

Learn more about standing out here: How to Use Brand Positioning to Build Brand Impact in an Overcrowded Market

 

5. Loyalty Created Through Humour in Branding

No matter what size, service, or product, any business can find an emotional connection that creates brand loyalty. Add in a dash of humour for a winning formula with stickiness for loyalty.

 

 

Talk about loyalty…Some of the best-known advertising icons, Poppin’ Fresh Pillsbury Doughboy (1965) and the Morton Salt Girl (1914) are still hard at work through generations of loyal customers.

 

 

More than a century later, Morton’s girl is now seen on bus stop shelters to encouraging selfies.

 

 

Even a contemporary supply chain software called Kinaxis has found a path for humour, using actors as characters who display their benefits as a service (Simplicity, Flexibility, Easy Upgrades, etc.) in a dating series of videos; have a look.

 

 

High tech startup brands don’t expect decades of loyalty in a single ad campaign, but they are looking for swift and sticky traction — translated as loyalty in 21st century lingo.

 

“Customers define themselves through brands they use. The branded clothes they wear, the cars they drive, the drinks they consume, university they attended, favourite spots to hang out, and so on.”

– Nyimpini Mabunda, Smirnoff Vodka Marketing Manager: “Emotional Branding In a Changing Marketplace”.

 

Redefine Your Ideal Target Audiences

Remember, there’s a risk with being brilliantly clever and funny. That is, there’s nothing worse than humour that strikes out. To make sure you’re addressing the right humour to an audience to appreciate it, a brand audit is the best way to ensure that your branding reaches the right audience(s). It’s also important to ensure you have your ideal audience fully identified and mapped out in detail. Purchaser Personas or customer pen portraits are an essential tool to ensure you get this right.

 

“One of the major keys to a successful humorous campaign is variety, once a commercial starts to wear out there’s no saving it without some variation on the concept…while making the customer laugh, they have to keep things interesting, because old jokes die along with their products”.

– Mark Levit, Managing Partner of Partners & Levit Advertising and professor of marketing at New York University.

 

If you need direction and support giving your brand a health check feel free to get in touch brand@personadesign.ie or give us a ring T: +353 1 8322724 (GMT hours). Alternatively you can also give your brand a health check yourself to identify its strengths, weakness and areas for potential innovation and growth using our Auditing Analysis Accelerator™ programme. This is a step-by-step walk through, complete with downloads, questionnaires and checklists, to help you audit your brand. You can watch a section of the programme here.

 

Give your brand a health check here so you become more profitable

 

 

Why Humour in Branding Works Best for Sharing and Word-of-Mouth

Your fans and followers on social media provide one of the best ways to get a targeted expanded audience, that is, their friends with look-alike habits, likes, tastes, budgets. When you deliver humorous content, you significantly increase the chances that your fans will share your message.[5]

 

 

Don’t Take Your Own Brand Too Seriously

In summary,

  1. Even mundane products like bathroom tissue, computer hardware, and home owners’ insurance can come to life through the use of humour.
  2. Bring a smile to their faces — it’s a small gift — it doesn’t have to be a huge guffaw.
  3. Aim for hearts over wallets, the heads will follow — remember you must move the heart first if you want to win the mind

 

“When a brand shows that it doesn’t always take itself too seriously, it’s a powerful way to demonstrate authenticity and confidence, as well as connect with your community.”

– Tim Washer, standup comedian, Webby-nominated video producer and corporate humorist; creator of Cisco’s “The Perfect Gift for Valentine’s Day” video for the $80,000 ASR 9000 router.

 

 

Here’s one of our all-time favorites from Blendtec to inspire you to think outside the box when creating humorous content.

 

 

Questions for Brand Owners, Managers and Entrepreneurs About Using Humour in Branding

 

1. Does your brand lend itself to humour across customers, staff, and stakeholders?

 

2. How well do you know your customer base? When did you last conduct a brand audit of your customers?

 

3. Have you clearly identified your prime target audiences beyond your immediate base? Have you mapped out your different customer types with your Purchaser Personas™ so you can attract your ideal audience more effectively?

 

4. When was the last time you conducted a comprehensive health check of your brand?

 

5. Will a tasteful, humorous approach fit with your brand promise and your audience(s)?

 

Want to make your brand more successful or launch a new one? Find out how you can here.

 

Build your winning brand with The Persona Brand Building Blueprint™ Mastermind here

 

[1] http://www.marketingcharts.com/online/americans-more-likely-to-share-funny-than-important-content-on-social-media-36502

[2] https://www.marketingweek.com/2016/02/21/good-old-fashioned-advertising-creates-loyal-customers/?nocache=true&adfesuccess=1

[3] http://www.marketingcharts.com/traditional/7-in-10-consumers-believe-funny-ads-spur-better-product-recall-25911

[4] https://hbr.org/2015/11/the-new-science-of-customer-emotions

[5] http://www.marketingcharts.com/online/americans-more-likely-to-share-funny-than-important-content-on-social-media-36502

 

Brand Audits – How to Use One to Grow Your Profits

Perhaps you’ve seen some of the headlines. This one from Bloomberg pretty well sums up the lot: “Snoopy, Loved as Friend, Lacking as Leader, Gets Boot at MetLife.”[1]

 

Yes, after a 30-year run, MetLife is dropping Snoopy and the Peanuts gang. If you’re wondering why a company would break up a winning partnership and transform a brand that has worked for three decades, you’ve come to the right place.

 

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While the decision to drop the iconic dog and his cartoon friends may seem capricious, you’ll see that, in fact, this is the case of a company that understands the critical connection between its brand and its business decisions. Markets change, new trends emerge, disruptive competitors alter long-standing rules and customer preferences evolve — all of which impacts your brand and consequently your business strategy.

 

Regardless of their size, companies that are trying to stay relevant, keep growing, expand their customer base, maintain high recognition and recall and convert awareness into greater familiarity are constantly wrestling with questions about their brands. And the most effective way to answer those critical questions is through a brand audit; see one of our previous posts entitled “Brand Audits: Why You Need Them and How to Perform One.”

 

 

 

 

 

Why is this important? Consider the findings in the 11th annual Accenture Global Pulse Survey: Once you lose a customer, 68% will not come back.[2] If better brand management can help retain more of those customers, then you need to invest the time, the thought and the effort into ensuring that your brand is delivering. And a brand audit is one of the most effective tools to measure and evaluate your brand performance.

 

 

“There is only one boss. The customer. And he can fire everybody in the company from the chairman on down, simply by spending his money somewhere else.”

Sam Walton

 

 

What’s in a Brand, and Why Brand Audits are Key to Growing Profits

 

If you want to evaluate your brand in terms of its capacity to deliver profits or return on investment (ROI), it pays to be ruthless in your analysis. In other words, take a page out of Forbes and its technique for assessing the value of a brand.[3] When compiling its annual list of Most Valuable Brands, the magazine’s analysts focus on the numbers — not “fuzzy consumer surveys” — and the ability of the top brands to generate revenue.

 

apple-store-logo

Image via livesicilia.it

 

In 2016, Apple again takes the Number 1 spot with Forbes estimating the brand’s value at $154.1 billion — definitely a brand worth polishing. If your brand is worth even a fraction of that, you can see why your brand deserves more diligent attention. And even if it’s not there yet, you can appreciate the potential, which makes a brand audit an invaluable tool for brand growth. Any asset with this much value (or potential value) is worth caring for with a regular health check.

 

 

And Speaking of Brand Value…

The findings of The Chartered Institute of Marketing’s survey indicate that 75% of marketers consider their brand value and positioning when making any major business decisions. However, respondents also acknowledged weak follow-through and a lower brand experience for customers when management, employees and customers fail to understand and/or appreciate the brand’s role in the business.

 

Takeaway: A brand audit is not a fluffy light weight marketing exercise. It’s a strategic tool capable of giving you valuable insight into aligning your branding with your business decisions, and needs to be understood by management and employees alike.

 

 

cim-brandexperience-infographic

Image via The Chartered Institute of Marketing exchange.cim.co.uk

 

 

 

Case Study: MetLife. Navigating Life Together

 

 

This video from the Wall Street Journal captures clips from MetLife’s long association with Snoopy. But in its October 20, 2016 press release, MetLife global CMO Esther Lee explained the decision to move away from Snoopy and the Peanuts gang: “We brought in Snoopy over 30 years ago to make our company more friendly and approachable during a time when insurance companies were seen as cold and distant…as we focus on our future, it’s important that we associate our brand directly with the work we do and the partnership we have with our customers.”[4]

 

 

old-metlife-logo

Image via MetLife

 

 

Today, MetLife is in the middle of a significant corporate realignment. It’s spinning off its domestic retail life insurance business in the United States to focus more on group life insurance sales and international business operations. Consequently the old logo must give way to a more corporate and international style reflective of its changed positioning:

 

 

metlife-logo-2016

Image via MetLife

 

 

But a rebranding of this magnitude, the decision to drop the cartoon characters, create a new logo, and change the tagline are only part of the process. It’s the result of a thorough analysis and understanding of the brand —in terms of the company, its competition and its customers and prospects.

 

 

metlife-brand-collateral

Image via MetLife

 

 

You face many important tasks as you begin a rebranding process — potential pitfalls and mistakes as well. To help you prepare, download our free report, “Top 20 Rebranding Mistakes to Avoid.” Sign up with your name and email address, and we’ll send you a copy.

 

 

 

 

 

Are You In Need of a Brand Audit?

A total rebrand or brand refresh is only one reason to consider a brand audit as a place to start when determining if your brand is performing. Listed below are key business reasons for conducting a brand health check…and why your brand may not be delivering significant profits:

  • Losing market share to your competition in your industry or product segment
  • Your business or organizational focus has changed
  • Poor performance in online search, no longer landing on page one with Google or insufficient impact in digital media
  • Numerous business changes coupled with endeavours along the way to adjust your brand may have undermined your brand identity and created confusion both in your customers’ minds and amongst your internal team and stakeholders alike
  • Your sales are declining and your marketing strategy is not delivering the required results
  • When questioned about your brand, customers and prospects seem to have little or no brand recognition and low brand recall

 

 

Brand Audits Help You Grow Profits

When you conduct a brand audit effectively, driven by clear objectives, you can:

  • Pump fresh interest into your brand
  • Present a more consistent (and stronger) identity aligned more closely with the goals of the business
  • Evaluate your strengths and weaknesses so you can identify what to build on and what to work on, or eliminate and where to improve performance
  • Gain a greater understanding of your customers — what they like, what they need and what they want from you and what they don’t like — and how your business and your brand can better meet their needs
  • Take advantage of the brand audit process to build greater communication internally across the company (with employees and partners) and externally (with customers, prospects, general public and target markets)

 

For additional resources and tips, check out our article “Brand Audits: 10 Things Successful Brand Owners and Managers Must Know.”

 

 

Start Your Brand Audit with Well-Articulated Objectives

Start your brand audit with a thorough understanding of what you want to accomplish. What are your objectives? Are you trying to determine why your market share is dropping? Do you need greater insight into how to reposition your company going forward? Are you trying to build a recent acquisition or change in direction into your brand image and messaging? Do you need to convert customer or prospect awareness into stronger brand familiarity? Do you need to measure sentiment for your brand in the marketplace?

 

Even if your brand is performing reasonably well, avoid complacency at all costs — now is the time to give it a health check to prevent any downward turn so you can leverage it more strongly to accelerate your profit growth.

 

While you’re thinking about these and other questions, take a look at our step-by-step brand audit ecourse. If you want to give your brand a health check yourself, our Auditing Analysis Accelerator™ programme can help you with an under-performing brand, a routine brand health check or a comprehensive analysis to identify your strengths, weaknesses and growth opportunities.

 

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By keeping your focus squarely on your objective(s) you’ll end up with a report, a set of recommendations and a blueprint for going forward that is an actionable document that will help you make the right decisions. You’ll come away with a strategy and a starting point for developing the necessary marketing tactics.

 

 

Elements of Your Brand Audit Methodology

There are many ways to audit your brand, and not all audits will require every possible type of analysis. In fact no two brand audits are exactly the same. The depth and scale of a brand audit is dependent on your objectives, resources and timelines. Your questions will help you determine your choice of methodologies and the metrics.

 

Takeaway: There is no right or wrong brand audit…only the one that gets you the information and answers you need to make the right decisions going forward so you can accelerate your growth.

 

 

Here Are 6 Keys Steps and Questions to Get You Started With Your Brand Audit:

 

Step 1: How does your brand align with your target market?

 

With your basic questions in hand, you can begin the research phase of your brand audit.[5] You’ll need to collect a lot of background information: Google and Bing searches are a good place to start. You can also hire a professional to conduct an in-depth analysis of your industry. And in addition to visiting your competitors’ websites and social sites, you can collect competitive intelligence through resources such as Hoovers, Dun & Bradstreet, SimilarWeb and Alexa. Some of the topics you’ll want to research:

  • Market Intelligence: Market niche, target audience
  • Company Information: Mission, vision and Unique Selling Proposition (USP), sales trends, customer support results, logos and brand image documents, brand collateral material
  • Industry Insight: Industry trends, competition (who are they and how do they compare in terms of price, support, customer experience, product offerings?)

 

 

Step 2: Does your brand deliver on your business objectives? Market intelligence? And industry insight?

 

With the raw data in hand, you need to assess your brand image, message and actions in the context of your company, your products, your market and the industry. How effective is your brand? Is a weak brand resulting in business being left on the table? Are you losing to stronger, more recognized brands? Do your employees, customers and prospects align with your brand? Can they articulate what your brand stands for and what makes it different to your competitors?

 

  • Discuss the your brand internally with management and employees
  • Query customers and prospects with online polls, phone surveys and email questionnaires

 

 

Case Study: The IKEA Brand Starts With Its Customers’ Needs

 

The IKEA Group reminds us that both good business ideas and good branding starts with a thorough understanding of customers and their needs. In “The Story of How We Work,” IKEA has turned the story of how they deliver the right products at the right prices with the right corporate culture into the brand.

 

 

ikea-brand-vision Image via IKEA

 

 

Takeaway: Using digital illustration to sketch the business process reinforces the how-to and DIY aspects of the IKEA brand. The fact that the story comes full circle—back to the customer—proves that people and their needs are always central to the business and the brand.

 

 

 

 

 

Step 3: What’s your SWOT?

 

Conduct a SWOT-type analysis of your brand to identify and list your brand’s strengths, weaknesses, opportunities and threats.

  • What are the best assets associated with your brand — e.g. visual, message, trust? These are strengths you can leverage
  • What are your weaknesses and liabilities — e.g. negative press, limited recognition, small audience? Not only do you need to know about any downsides you need to decide if liabilities can be turned around or offset
  • Where are your opportunities — e.g. new or untapped audiences, new products well positioned in the market, potential market disruptors? Once identified you can consider the strategy and tactics that will enable you to take maximum advantage of opportunities
  • Where are the threats — e.g. new competitors, changing market trends, next-generation technology, challenger brands? Once you know the threats, you can develop ways to mitigate their impact

 

 

Case Study: Burberry Leverages its Origins

 

When Angela Ahrendts joined Burberry in 2006 as its new CEO, she and then Chief Creative Officer Christopher Bailey focused on new and innovative ways to leverage their strength. Burberry asked, “What do we have that they [the competition] don’t?”

 

 

burberry-brand-provenanceImage via Burberry

 

Takeaway: Burberry went back to its strong roots: British origins and the iconic trench coat. With this insight, the implementation was simply a matter of using creativity in presentation, social media, music and models to build a brand that worked in the 21st century.

 

 

 

 

Step 4: What’s the brand recognition and recall factor for your visual elements, your messaging and your actions?

 

Questionnaires, polls and one-on-one conversations will help you understand how effectively your brand is connecting with customers and prospective customers. This is a somewhat subjective process — since you’re relying on people to tell you honestly what they think. It will, however, help you understand the associations and awareness surrounding your brand. Ask customers and prospects about all aspects of your brand, including:

 

 

 

Step 5: Is your social presence aligned with your mission, vision and business objectives?

 

Given the strong digital presence of most marketing today, you may want to do a social media audit to determine if your brand comes through loud and clear and consistently and congruently on all your social platforms. For example:

 

  • Do you have a consistent brand image and congruent messaging across all your social sites?
  • Is your website’s user experience consistent with the brand experience you want for customers and prospects?
  • Are you taking full advantage of the features and strengths of each social platform to best position your brand while maintaining consistency?

 

 

Step 6: What’s your traffic analysis?

 

You’ve asked customers and prospects for their opinions about your brand. By measuring online behaviour you can separate what people say from what they actually do and how they respond to your digital brand marketing?

 

  • Are the number of visits to your website, social sites, digital ads increasing?
  • How many unique views do you have each month?
  • How many are return visits?
  • Are your Likes growing along with sales?
  • What’s your bounce rate? Are people spending more time on your sites? Are they downloading lead generating brand collateral?
  • How many conversions do you have? Are people clicking through, responding to your call to action and/or buying?

 

 

An Inspiration and Reminder to Think Different

In 1997, Steve Jobs had just returned to Apple, and one of his first tasks was to rescue the brand. After several years of confusion and poor management, Apple products and the brand itself had declined and the company faced the possibility of failure.

 

In this video, Steve Jobs explains his plan to revive the business and the brand by focusing not on speeds and feeds (features) but the value of human innovation and positioning Apple as the company that understood, respected and supported those among us who Think Different.

 

 

 

 

Jobs’ explanation, serves as our reminder to focus our brand audits on our strengths and our customers. We increase our chances of succeeding when our brand audits bring us in touch with our strengths and our customers’ needs and help us put both in the context of our industry, our target markets and business objectives. Writing in Forbes in 2013, Columbia University professor Panos Mourdoukoutas explained brand value: “Those attributes must ‘seduce’ the consumer’s mind, address genuine consumer anxieties and emotions — and be innovative.”[6]

 

 

Five Tips for Using Your Next Brand Audit Health Check to Increase Your Profits and Grow Your Business

 

  1. Business decisions and brand go hand-in-hand. Tie any significant changes in the business (e.g., acquisitions, future plans, product restructuring) to the brand. A brand audit will help you understand where you stand today and what it will take for the brand to engage customers going forward.

 

  1. Focus on context. Your greatest opportunities lie at the point of convergence across company values, customer desire and the state of the market.

 

  1. Leverage your strengths. Start from your core values — the attributes that built your business. Then determine how you can carry them forward. Whether it’s a matter of getting back to basics or pumping new life into trusted values, don’t loose what you’ve spent years building. Reassure customers that you are who you’ve always been and will continue to be.

 

  1. Reach out to customers. You can’t make business decisions and establish your brand identity in a vacuum. Talk with customers, social and website visitors and, in some cases, random members of the public. Invite them to take part in surveys, phone interviews, focus groups and one-on-one interviews.

 

  1. Don’t overlook your digital branding. Today your brand extends to everything you do online — websites, social sites, digital ads, YouTube videos and more. Plus, with new tools and marketing automation technology, you can quantify more of your results. You can see what people are doing and compare results with what they tell you.

 

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[1] http://www.bloomberg.com/news/articles/2016-10-20/metlife-to-phase-out-snoopy-branding-as-ceo-reshapes-insurer

[2] https://www.accenture.com/us-en/insight-digital-disconnect-customer-engagement

[3] http://www.forbes.com/sites/kurtbadenhausen/2016/05/11/the-worlds-most-valuable-brands-2016-behind-the-numbers/#126ce3897383

[4] https://www.metlife.com/about-us/brand/MetLife_Launches_New_Brand-Press_Release.pdf

[5] http://www.inc.com/guides/201105/10-tips-on-how-to-research-your-competition.html

[6] http://www.forbes.com/sites/panosmourdoukoutas/2013/10/05/apples-most-important-branding-lesson-for-marketers/#46c5410e18e2

Brand Stories: 5 Compelling Examples That Sell Themselves (Part 2)

(see Part 1 here)

 

“Exactly how do I tell my brand’s story?” is one of the most frequently asked questions we receive. Simply start at the beginning and consider the following guides as you draft out the core ingredients of your brand story:

  • Do: Tell a story
  • Don’t: Fudge the facts
  • Do: Use visuals and photos
  • Don’t: Use copyrighted photography
  • Do: Use numbers
  • Don’t: Write a novel
  • Do: Show your brand’s personality[1]

 

If you’re struggling with writing the heart of your compelling brand story so it’s shared time and time again by word-of-mouth then the Persona Brand Building Blueprint™ Mastermind is the perfect fit for you. There are ten key areas we focus on during this two day brand building intensive all of which are fully immersive and strategic in nature. Your brand story is one of the core areas of immersion.

 

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If you want to transform your brand and increase your sales then this two day intensive shared with a small group of like-minded peers is a must for you so you can take your brand further, faster.

 

More information and registration for the Persona Brand Building Blueprint™ Mastermind can be found here.

 

The Small Business Brand Advantage

Small businesses are at an advantage. Everyone can identify with an authentic, personal story in a way that big brands cannot achieve. We commonly see these kind of ‘About Us’ write-ups on the websites of SME’s, and they’re just about right.

 

emerald-auto-story

Image via Emerald Auto and Brake and Vertical Response

 

Small to medium-sized businesses can also tell a brief personal story about each employee, another opportunity to claim real estate on the web, to create pride among staff, to introduce ice-breakers for clients, and to humanize the brand — an opportunity not to be overlooked.

 

marker-real-estate-story

Image via Marker Real Estate

 

In part one of this blog title, we introduced 5 exceptional big brand storytelling examples: Airbnb, Amazon, Dollar Shave Club, Facebook, and Guinness. Part two takes a look at five more brands that have hit the nail on the head and discusses universal takeaways for marketers of brands, no matter what size.

 

 

  1. Brand: Harry Potter

 

Backstory:

Author JK Rowling’s own story is one of rags to riches, from living on state benefits, catapulted to multi-millionaire status within five years. The book grew into a series, the series became blockbuster films, and then came the theme parks and global entertainment franchising…some real magic indeed.

Problem:

Literacy. James Thomas, professor of English at Pepperdine University, says the books do more than entertain. “They’ve made millions of kids smarter, more sensitive, certainly more literate…I don’t know of any books to have worked that kind of magic on so many millions of readers in so short a time in the history of publications.”[2]

 

Solution:

Perfect timing, perfect emotional connection. “Harry Potter and the Philosopher’s Stone,” released in the UK in June 1997, was the first book in decades that schoolboys (including those who weren’t avid readers) just couldn’t put down. At that time, the internet was dial-up, Google wasn’t yet founded, and Nintendo 64 had only just hit the shelves. The thriller storyline of Harry Potter books delivered addicting fantasy adventure in large, un-Disney, doses.

 

jk-rowling-story

Image via JK Rowling

 

Success:

The Harry Potter brand is worth $25 billion. The movies grossed $7.7 billion worldwide and the best-selling series of books in history, translated into 73 languages, have made just as much. J.K. Rowling has been named the world’s richest author, with a net worth of $1 billion.[3]

 

jk-rowling-worlds-richest-author

Image via Money Magazine

 

Takeaway:

Start small, be patient, persevere. Bloomsbury offered JK Rowling $2,250 and agreed to print 1,000 books after she’d been turned down by many other publishers.

 

 

 

 

 

  1. Brand: SoulCycle

 

Backstory:

A decade ago, SoulCycle was a boot-strapped startup by two mothers who met over lunch and decided there was a hole in the market for fitness classes that didn’t require a gym membership.

 

Problem:

Gyms are everywhere. Why would anyone need another fitness centre chain that only offers 45-minute cycling classes? Or, is a no-membership fee model enough to carve out success?

 

soulcyle-about

Image via SoulCycle

 

Solution:

Imagine a darkened room lit by candles scented of citrus, rows of stationary bikes, deafening music pumping away, a good-looking, fit, inspirational instructor urging you to spin faster in your special shoes clipped onto the pedals of a yellow bike with wheels decorated like a lemon. That’s SoulCycle…it’s meant to go beyond a workout — to be good for your body and nourish your soul. It’s as much a cult as a class, thanks to a deeply loyal following that’s sprinkled with celebrities.

 

soulcyle-story

Image via SoulCycle

 

Success:

A leader in the luxury exercise trend. Nearly 70 prime studio locations in 11 states, concentrated in New York City and California, which accounted for 97 percent of the $112 million in revenue in 2014, 50 percent higher than the year prior.[4] Equinox purchased a majority stake of 97 percent and the two founders walked away with $90 million each.

 

soulcycle-700x291px

Image via Racked and SoulCycle

Takeaway:

Relate to a niche audience and put a spin (pun intended) on a core product. Wearing the tagline, “Aspirational lifestyle brand,”[5] SoulCycle markets itself as “the place people come, regardless of their age, athletic ability, size, shape, profession or personality, to connect with their best selves.”[6] In 2016, Fast Company placed SoulCycle on its list of the World’s 50 Most Innovative Companies.[7]

 

 

 

  

  

  1. Brand: Spanx

Backstory:

“Spanx founder Sara Blakely was getting ready for a party when she realized she didn’t have the right undergarment to provide a smooth look under white trousers. Armed with scissors and sheer genius, she cut the feet off her control top pantyhose and the Spanx revolution began.”[8]

 

Problem:

Eliminating VPL (visible panty line) and offering an alternative to uncomfortable body shapers.

 

get-your-spanx-on

Image via Spanx

 

Solution:

Armed with $5,000, a focus on solving wardrobe woes, and a brand persona (meet Sunny) to make the packaging stand out, the Spanx brand has grown to offer dozens of products including leggings, bras, maternity shapewear, a men’s line and more.

 

spanx-home-page

 

Success:

Meet America’s youngest female self-made billionaire. With annual sales of $400 million-plus[9], Sara Blakely’s nonprofit foundation has contributed $24 million to women’s causes.

 

spanx-inc

Image via Spanx


Takeaway:

On the pages of a trusty spiral notebook, the kind where her first scribbles and notes appeared in 2000, Sarah Blakely keeps the narrative going with “Years of Great Rears” published on the Spanx website.

 

 

 

 

  1. Brand: Uber

 

Backstory:

The app-based car service was hatched pretty much on the back of the napkin, according to Travis Kalanick, co-founder of Uber. The co-founders were a couple of serial entrepreneurs hanging out together after hours during a tech conference in Paris.[10]

 

Problem:

People want reliable, affordable, fast door-to-door taxi service. San Francisco had a notoriously lousy taxi service, where Uber was launched as an experiment in 2010 following a three-car trial in Manhattan.

 

 

 

 

Solution:

One long-time user explains the Uber lifestyle thinking:[11]

  • They realized they’re not a transportation company, but a logistics company to dispatch things to people who want them. Usually it’s cars, but sometimes it’s ice cream, a mariachi band, or even kittens from shelters.
  • If you can do it in San Francisco, you can do it in New York, Los Angeles, Chicago, Sydney, Paris, and anywhere in between.
  • Since a lot of people use the service not because of how good it is, but how bad taxis are let’s make a cheaper option.

Plus, you don’t need cash. You just hop out.

 

uber-ireland

Image via Uber

 

Success:

Uber is one of the world’s fast-growing companies. Currently valued at $63 billion, Uber operates in 527 cities in 77 countries.[12] However, like Airbnb, another giant industry disruptor, the area in which Uber struggles is regulatory; there is room for improvement in their storytelling.


Takeaway:

Kalanick says, “Transportation should be like running water and we want to make that happen absolutely everywhere, for everyone.”[13] Make sure your brand has clearly identified its core message and crafted a story to tell it well. Furthermore, keep the narrative up-to-date if and when external factors impact it.

 

 

 

 

  1. Brand: Warby Parker

 

Backstory:

One of four co-founders from Wharton Business School, Neil Blumenthal, explains the idea came when a friend left a $700 pair of glasses in an airline seat pocket. Having seen how cheap glasses are made in Asia at the same factory that made the expensive ones, Blumenthal imagined a lifestyle brand that addresses price, style and the need for an optometrist visit.[14]

 

warby-parker-home-try-on

Image via Warby Parker

Problem:

As a technology that had been around for about 800 years, modern eyeglasses were needlessly expensive. Why? Because the industry was monopolized by one giant company. Warby Parker says everybody has a right to corrective lenses that are fun, free, and affordable.

 

Solution:

Warby Parker transformed the eyeglasses industry by designing in-house, selling direct-to-consumer to avoid retail markups and offering a free try-on at home service by mail. In addition, CSR is also at the heart of this brand story, for every pair of frames sold one pair is distributed to someone in need. So, “Buy a pair, give a pair.”

 

warby-parker-story

Image via Warby Parker

 

Success:

Eyeglasses for $95 was a groundbreaking proposition and an overnight success. Word-of-mouth took off (15 percent of the population wears glasses). Warby Parker now has 42 locations in North America in addition to e-commerce; the company founded in 2010 was valued at $1.2 billion in 2015.[15]

 

Takeaway:

Every brand idea starts with a problem. Express yours in plain language, such as this: “We believe that buying glasses should be easy and fun. It should leave you happy and good-looking, with money in your pocket. We also believe that everyone has the right to see.”

 

 

 

 

Want to write your compelling brand story? Want to attract your ideal customers so you can sell your brand way more effectively? The Persona Brand Building Blueprint™ Mastermind is the perfect fit for you. There are ten key areas of immersion we focus on during this two day brand building intensive, one of which is your brand story.  You work on your brand over the two days with our direction so you can seriously accelerate your growth.

 

lorraine-carter-persona-brand-building-mastermind-700x344px

 

If you want to transform your brand and increase your sales then this two day intensive shared with a small group of like-minded peers is a must for you so you can take your brand further, faster.

 

More information and registration for the Persona Brand Building Blueprint™ Mastermind can be found here.

 

 

Six Questions For Brand Owner Managers to Consider About Brand Storytelling

  1. Have your defined your brand’s story and found a compelling way to share it with your customers and potential customers?
  2. Does your brand story present and solve a unique problem?
  3. Is your story told in an authentic human voice rather than a corporate one?
  4. Is there an emotional connection in your brand storytelling?
  5. Does your brand story have a beginning, middle and an end? Lastly, is there a call to action?
  6. Have you considered getting input from your customers to help you determine your brand messaging? Their feedback can help you clarify and define the voice behind your company.

 

 

PPP-eProduct-Enroll-eCourse-Here-800x700px

 

[1] http://www.verticalresponse.com/blog/7-dos-and-donts-for-writing-your-companys-story

[2] http://content.time.com/time/specials/2007/personoftheyear/article/0,28804,1690753_1695388_1695436,00.html

[3] http://time.com/money/4279432/billion-dollar-spell-harry-potter

[4] http://www.dailymail.co.uk/news/article-3531018/SoulCycle-founders-resign-company-year-making-90-million-selling-Equinox.html

[5] http://www.latimes.com/business/la-fi-soulcycle-ipo-20150731-story.html

[6] http://www.nytimes.com/2015/08/09/upshot/soulcycle-you-say-cult-i-say-loyal-customer-base.html?_r=1

[7] https://www.fastcompany.com/most-innovative-companies

[8] http://www.spanx.com/about-us

[9] http://www.philly.com/philly/business/20161011_Reuters_tagreuterscom2016newsmlMT1VRT1201884257_Spanx_Founder_Sara_Blakely_Gives_Back_to_Empower_Women__Small_Businesses.html

[10] https://newsroom.uber.com/ubers-founding

[11] https://www.quora.com/What-is-the-story-behind-the-creation-of-Uber

[12] http://uberestimator.com/cities

[13] https://www.marketingweek.com/2015/09/17/uber-ceo-we-need-to-get-better-at-telling-our-story

[14] https://techcrunch.com/2013/05/07/the-three-things-warby-parker-did-to-launch-a-successful-lifestyle-brand

[15] http://www.forbes.com/sites/stevedenning/2016/03/23/whats-behind-warby-parkers-success/#7d24b3406395

Brand Recall: 8 Strategies for Building a More Profitable Brand

82% of all high level corporate executives in the US stated that their customers had higher expectations of their companies than just three years before, 60% of executives found it difficult to please their customers, and 42% stated that consumers are using social media to shame their company into meeting increased customer demands, according to a Lithium survey.[1]

 

Obviously there is significant room for improvement in the marketplace amongst brand owners. Building a powerful brand is challenging, but consistently providing a great customer experience is central to any successful brand and consequently the quality of recognition, recall, referral, repeat purchase and overall brand affinity achieved amongst your primary target audience.

 

A positive brand exposure and customer experience is essential for developing brand trust and significantly improving brand recall, as a recent Macquarie University study has shown to be the case for durable goods. It is important to note that the study also revealed that advertising had significantly more influence on brand recall than merely personal experience for Fast Moving Consumer Goods (FMCG).

 

In order to improve brand recall in an oversaturated modern market, brand owners need to adopt highly effective and proven brand strategies. Here we share with you eight of the most important strategies, with several examples of both large brands and smaller emerging brands utilizing them to great effect.

  

  

Top 8 Brand Strategies for Enhancing Customer Recall and Affinity

 

1. Invest in Developing Your Brand Profile, Proposition & Purpose

The process of increasing brand recall begins with intelligent brand profile development. Your customers need to be given a reason to choose your brand over other similar options. When we work on creating a brand proposition for our clients using the Personality Profile Performer™ System, we ask them to answer a number of seemingly simple questions: 

  • What purpose does your brand serve? What’s its Big Why?
  • What unique benefits do you offer that can improve your customers’ lives?
  • How would you define the idea or proposition behind your brand in a single sentence?
  • What kind of personality, messaging and tone do you envision for your brand?

The results of this initial brand profiling process sets the foundations for all future branding decisions and communications strategies. Defining what your brand stands for may not seem complicated at first glance, but these essential questions that you need to answer play an instrumental role in determining your future success, or lack thereof.

   

  

2. Create a Strong Brand Story Which Your Primary Audience Can Relate to

The most successful brands have a deep understanding of how their primary audience thinks. They know how to entice their consumers through creative storytelling, and they do so using sophisticated story creations processes like our Story Selling System™. By telling a compelling and engaging story about the company’s history, its philosophy and core brand values, you can create a positive association between your brand and the ideals that your target audience holds dear.

 

To truly understand the power of a good narrative, one need only look at Apple’s success in establishing themselves as a brand for forward-thinking and discerning individuals, who aren’t afraid to go against the grain and value quality and performance above all else.

  

  

 

  

  

Over the years, Apple has done a magnificent job of keeping the “rebel genius” narrative alive, and has proven to be a highly effective branding strategy. The reason it works so well is that it appeals to people with a specific mindset that transcends gender, race, age and generational differences. The story of Steve Jobs – a talented young man with an idea who overcomes adversity and ultimately builds a corporate empire – is compelling enough that it saw a movie adaptation starring Ashton Kutcher.

  

There is yet another biographical film, aptly named “Steve Jobs”, scheduled to come out later this year. While not every brand has the budget or influence to finance multiple Hollywood movies, Apple’s masterful storytelling can serve as a source of inspiration and a valuable guide for any aspiring brand.   

 

A great brand story is your primary means of developing an emotional connection with your audience, and a fundamental way to inspire trust through its relatability. According to a 2012 Nielsen study[2] 58% of all online consumers worldwide trust the information on company websites and other owned media, and 50% trust the information they receive in emails that they have signed up for on company websites. There is always a compelling story behind a successful brand, but it must be carefully developed and told in the right way.  

 

 

3. Brand Audit, Research and Look for Gaps in Your Competition’s Brand Strategy

A brand audit health check can be viewed as a diagnostics tool, a way to evaluate your brand’s awareness, customer perceptions and the effectiveness of your current brand strategy. It can point out any problem areas, potential outside threats and new market opportunities. A thorough review of your business and marketing plans, your communications and brand collateral, your internal and external audiences helps provide your company with a clear perspective on the most effective brand strategy and business structure. 

 

To build a powerful brand, a company needs to be aware of and tracking what their main competitors and other industry leaders are doing. Another important piece of the puzzle is developing an understanding of your primary audience. Market research is key to acquiring deeper knowledge of the preferences, needs and behaviours of your target demographic together with developing buyer personas for each of your audience types. This knowledge will enable you to develop highly tailored brand strategies and exploit gaps in your competitors’ brand strategy.

 

For a good example of a smaller emerging brand exploiting a serious weakness of a much larger and well-established competitor, we can turn to Made Eyewear. Warby Parker had already become extremely popular, with many smaller companies attempting to copy their products, when Made Eyewear started gaining some traction in the market.

 

 

Made Eyewear 600px

Image via www.madeeyewear.com

 

  

However, the emerging brand had something that their competition didn’t – they owned and ran their own lens company in China. This enabled Made Eyewear to produce quality products at incredibly low prices, which in turn enabled them to offer unprecedented customization options through which each individual customer could express their own sense of style. Made Eyewear had the ability to engrave the stems, as well as mix and match different colour lenses and stems, to create a truly unique pair of glasses – and offer customers the ability to try out multiple frames with prescription lenses at prices that no competitor could match.

  

  

  

 

  

By controlling the entire process from how the moment the product was made to the moment it reached the customer, they were able to find a competitive edge over much bigger and well-established brands.

 

 

4. Invest in Great Brand Logo Design

Creating a great brand logo is about much more than merely designing a small image that will feature on your products, website and promotional material. When our clients come to us with a brand logo design request, they are usually looking for an expert to help them develop their brand identity. We find a lot of companies struggle with defining and articulating their brand’s proposition and purpose together with answering the questions outlined in the first item of this brand strategy tips list. A good logo serves the purpose of crystalizing your brand’s message and its core values, and allows you to communicate these to your audience with maximal efficiency.

  

  

 

  

  

Your logo should be appropriate to the market and your primary audience, and it needs to be unique and highly memorable. It is the first thing that will come to people’s minds when they think about your brand, so it plays an important role in recognition and brand recall.

  

By simply placing their brand logo in the upper corner of their YouTube ad, Libresse managed to improve their brand recall by an astonishing 300%.[3] Even the viewers who only watched the ad for a few seconds before clicking away were noticeably affected.

 

 

 

  

There are numerous aspects of effective logo design that should be considered – things like the choice of colour and shapes can have a profound effect on how the brand is perceived. You can delve deeper into colour psychology here and here to found out how colour psychology influences brand strategy.      

 

 

5. Humanize Your Brand and Engage Employees as Your Brand Ambassadors

Brands that make an emotional connection with their target audience achieve the greatest success. Despite the fact that many people believed that technology would eventually cause us to become isolated, social media statistics seem to show the complete opposite to be true – humans are social animals, and we have a strong desire to involve other like-minded people in our lives. Our brains are wired for face-to-face interactions, and consumers tend to trust word of mouth significantly more then other marketing strategies.[4]

   

Statista Social Network Facts

Image via www.statista.com

 

  

The level of trust that the general public feels for companies has dwindled over the past decade, but there is a way to reach out and earn some of that trust back – engaging your employees as brand ambassadors. As this Edelman global study has shown, consumers are highly receptive to brand promotion efforts coming from company employees.

  

  

Edleman Trust 2015 600px

Image via www.edelman.com

  

  

You can turn your employees into brand ambassadors gradually. Making social sharing an integral part of everyone’s workday is an effective way of nurturing brand advocates.[5] Apart from this, you can further humanize your brand by being highly receptive to consumer feedback, offering various perks to your loyal customers and providing exceptional customer service.  

 

 

6. Eliminate Factors that Jeopardize Your Brand Reputation

When building a brand it is also important to identify all the potential reputation risks that could undermine or destroy your hard earned reputation and nullify all your marketing efforts. We won’t cover all the details or get overly technical in this paragraph, as it is quite a vast topic, but we will provide some insight into the basics.

  

If we set aside things such as common security threats, e.g. corporate espionage and cyber-attacks, the number one reputation risk are social media blunders. Even the largest brands in the world, with impressive online marketing budgets, keep damaging their reputation with inappropriate comments, hashtag misuse, and attempts at exploiting tragedies.[6]  

 

A brand must have a preventive approach to reputation risk management, i.e. companies should strive to discover and eliminate potential risks, rather than try to deal with the fallout after the damage has been done. This can be done by focusing on a thorough exploration of all factors that can jeopardize your brand reputation by high level executives, regularly scanning the internet for potential risks and enforcing a strategy of proactive reputation risk management.

 

 

7. Reach Out to Your Target Audience Through Social Media and Build Connections

We have already mentioned that engaging your employees in social media sharing can help you create a powerful team of brand ambassadors that the public will trust, but social media can be utilized in an even more direct way – to connect to your target audience firsthand.

 

This approach has many advantages:

  • Consumers provide you with useful feedback
  • Loyal customers are given a behind-the-scenes look at your brand
  • You can organize giveaways and offer additional content
  • You can enhance your customer service
  • By encouraging social sharing, your loyal customers become your brand ambassadors

 

Social media can be used to help you tell your brand’s story in great depth, and you can make your consumers and products themselves a part of the narrative. The British luxury department store Harrods offers excellent customer service through open social media communication, and their efforts, such as their immensely successful “Twenty Ate Days” campaign that focused on promoting each of the 28 different restaurants within their store, have yielded impress results.[7]

  

There are a multitude of different social media platforms which your brand can leverage to build it’s own unique online strategies for improving brand recall – e.g. posting “How to” videos and reviews on YouTube, sparking conversations with consumers on Facebook and so forth. The skill lies in choosing the platform most suited to your product or service and your primary target audience. 

 

 

8. Be Consistent in Your Brand Strategy

Even though some companies revamp their brands every few years, household names like Nike have remained true to their core brand values, mission, promise, logo and slogan for a long time. They adapt their campaigns and brand strategy to suits evolving market trends but their fundamental brand DNA remains unchanged. They stay focused on the essentials – they market their shoes to athletes and pride themselves in a high level of sports performance.

   

   

   

 

  

Your branding must be consistent to be successful, i.e. grow from the same core brand philosophy, values, mission, promise and focus on a consistent brand voice and messaging, together with consistent quality brand collateral design across all your touchpoints, both on and offline.

  

  

You might also like:

   

• Rebranding Strategy: Why Your Rebrand Must Embrace Storytelling

  

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

  

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

  

• Brand Management: Top 10 Tips for Managing Your Brand Reputation

  

• Brand Differentiation: 30 Ways to Differentiate Your Brand

 

• Brand Strategy: 6 Lessons Learned from Tourism Queensland, One of the Most Successful Branding Campaign’s Ever

  

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

 

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

 

• Brand Strategy: 7 Winning Components of a Market Leading Brand Plan

  

  

So, what do you think?

• Is your brand message clear, and in keeping with the preferences of your target audience?

  

• Does your brand have a compelling story that connects with people on an emotional level?

 

• Is your brand logo a worthy representation of your core brand values and your brand message?

 

• Are you making an effort to humanize your brand and reach out to customers on social media?

 

• Do you know what factors can negatively affect your brand reputation, and do you have a comprehensive brand risk management strategy in place?

  

  

[1] Lithium (San Francisco), “Corporate America Under Pressure From Consumers’ Rising Expectations (Press Release)”, June 2015

[2] Nielsen (New York), “Global Consumers’ Trust In ‘Earned’ Advertising Grows In Importance”, April 2012

[3] Think with Google, “Libresse improves brand recall by 300% with logo placement”

[4] Kimberly A. Whitler, Forbes, “Why Word Of Mouth Marketing Is The Most Important Social Media”, July 2014

[5] Sandy Gibson, SocialMediaToday, “Cognitive Dissonance: Why Social Sharing Creates Employee Advocates”, February 2013

[6] Eric Samson, Entrepreneur.com, “10 of the Dumbest Social Media Blunders Ever”, June 2015

[7] Businesscasestudies.co.uk, “Increasing Brand Awareness Through Social Media Communications (a Harrods case study)”