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

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


 Rules For Success


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



Excite Curiosity to Grow Your Brand and Drive Sales

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


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


 California Pizza Kitchen Thankyou Card


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



Use the Unexpected to Gain Attention

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


 Cous Cous Cat Advert


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



Invoke the Pull of the Unknown

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


Steve Jobs 


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


 Apple Customers Queue Ny


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




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


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


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

  Curiosity Teaser Advert


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


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


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



Why Align Your Brand to A Worthy Cause?

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


 M S Oxfam


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


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

 Building Partnership


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



4 Top Reasons Why Brands Should Engage in Cause Related Marketing


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


1. Build Brand Awareness

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


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



2. Corporate Social Responsibility

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


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


 Corporate Social Responsibility


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


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



3. Differentiate the Brand from Competitors

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


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

 O Egg White Eggs Icograda


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



4. Boost Brand Equity

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


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


Flora Womens Marathon Dublin


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

 Red Products 


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


 Red Brands



How to Beat the Cynics

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




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


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


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


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


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


Is Your Price Right? Does It Strengthen Your Profitability or Undermine It?

For some companies, the pricing policy for goods and services is based purely on a combination of covering costs and making a reasonable profit. Smart management however, understands that pricing is one of the most obvious indicators of a brand’s competitive strategy.

 Brand Pricing


Pricing policies determine where your offering is positioned in the market. It is a reflection of your brand’s core values and helps shape customer quality expectations of your product or service. With this in mind, ask yourself, what is your pricing policy telling your market about your brand?



Top 3 Most Common Pricing Mistakes to Avoid


1. Lowest Price Does Not Always Mean Best Value

Most customers care about value for money rather than lowest price.  In tough economic times people still have to spend money and so their tendency to focus on the value of their ROI is even more pronounced. Customers are far more than one-dimensional money savers. They want brands that will serve their needs and offer value for money.


 Brand Price Matching


2. Cost Cutting

The current economic situation has come companies cost cutting and lowering prices in an effort to survive until things improve. Brands need to accept the current economy as the new normal. Look at it not as a bad economy but as the economy. Companies should implement a pricing structure that best reflects the core value of the brand, rather than clutching at the lower end of the market. 


 Slashing Prices


Companies need revenue more than ever. Cost cutting can position your brand as the low cost provider and that is a risky place to be in.  Brands that focus on being the low cost provider are left with little to offer the market if suddenly undercut by competitors.


3. Inconsistent Pricing Strategies

Frequently changing pricing strategies makes it difficult for customers to calculate the value received with each purchase. It can lead to consumer confusion and can trigger a lack of confidence or mistrust in what appears to be disorganized management. Identifying your most appropriate pricing strategy and keep it consistent.



Top 5 Strategies That Can Strengthen Your Brand Positioning


1. Emphasize Benefits

Lowest price doesn’t always win. Customers develop feelings through their brand experience that impacts on their judgment of value. Customers care about value. By remaining consistent in your pricing strategy and focusing on communicating the value proposition of your brand you will provide your customer with the confidence they need when making a purchase and help them feel more positive about the way they spend their money.


 Brand Value


2. Focus on Core Values

Core values are the foundations on which brand identity is shaped. Re-examining your brand’s core values can help refocus your pricing strategy and provide the guidelines to strengthen your relationship with your customers. If your brand’s core value was to provide greater quality at a fair price then moving to a low price strategy will damage the very nature of your brand. Customers tend to be more willing to spend a little more money for better value. 


3. Bundle Costs

Customers feel a loss when they spend money. Separately listing all the elements they are paying for highlights the extent of the loss in the transaction. Bundling the items into one price is easier to change the customer’s perspective, encourages purchasing and can provide a sense of increased value for money.


4. Stagger Price Increases

Webers Law is a strategy adopted by Starbucks in their pricing strategy. It states that customers do not register price increases until they become highly significant. By raising their prices by only a few cents at a time Starbucks did not deter their customers and managed to rise prices without consumer backlash.


5. Make Your Offering Incomparable

You don’t want to be forced to lower prices, but how do you deal with low price anchors set by your competition? The easiest way to make your offering incomparable to your competitors is by changing the way you present your offer. 


For example, if you are in the B2B software industry, rather than a generic  offering; “software solutions for business”, try “software solutions for business that maximize productivity”. That one small change can make sure that your solution is incomparable and will make it harder for customers to reference the low price anchor.


Do not compromise your brand integrity by slashing prices. Focus on your brand’s value proposition and articulate it clearly to your employees and customers alike. Make sure the pricing strategy you employ supports a sustainable and profitable future for your brand.


• Do you need to reposition your brand to increase your profitability?


• Are you undermining your brand with unsustainable discounting?


• Could re-evaluating your core brand values help you increase your profitability? 



De-Branding to Differentiate; Is Your Brand Strong Enough?

Selfridges department store in London made waves recently with consumers and marketers alike with the launch of their “No Noise” branding project.




In an aim to address the increasingly cluttered world of 21st century marketing, Selfridges opened the Quite Shop in-store. Minimalist art and music, and a ban on mobiles and shoes set the scene for a tranquil consumer experience, but bucking the very core of consumerism, the store went beyond by launching brand-free retail.


 Selfridges Launches No Noise


Global brands such as Levi’s, Heinz, and Dr Dre Beats all produced products that were void of logo or product information for the project, leaving customers to experience the products without the usual assault of marketing design.


 Selfridges No Noise Project Quiet Store Products


Arguably a campaign for media publicity the project did highlight two important branding issues:

1.  How Strong Is Your Brand Without Its Logo? 

A truly strong brand transcends its logo, as was evident from the No Noise project. Not only were the brands instantly recognizable when void of logos but critically, consumers had developed such an affinity with the brand through the intangible intrinsic values that even the un-branded product still offered value.

 Levis Jeans Debranded


2.  With the Prevalence of Brand Clutter, Can De-Branding be a Valuable Differentiator in the Market? 

The de-branded products of the No Noise project also created exclusivity out of normal brands. Void of logos and product information suddenly made Heinz baked beans tins a desirable limited edition unique offering. In a world where branding information is bombarding the consumer, could the simple brand-free product be the one that makes the biggest impact?


 Starbucks Debranded


Starbucks might be one of the most recognizable brands in the world but it too has started to explore reducing its brand imagery in an effort to differentiate its business and extend its market catchment.


 Starbucks Cups


Starbucks global reach meant that the visibility of the brand worldwide was almost having a negative effect with consumers. Over saturation of the corporate logo was almost making it uncool with consumers, with a trend towards local coffee houses emerging.


 Starbucks Localised


Starbucks began removing their name from their cups, and even redesigned their newer stores to fit into the local environment. In the UK no two stores are the same and the brand is focusing on less corporate branding and offering a more personalized experience to their customer. In a high street with Costco chains blatantly visible, would the de-branded Starbucks coffee house offer a more welcoming personable experience to the consumer?


De-branding to gain attention was a strategy adopted by VO5 last year in an effort to target the teenage boy market. The brand’s strategy focused on building brand equity through a meaningful narrative in their advertising.  They wanted to be less pushy with their products and thought that un-branded advertising adds to their credibility with their target market.



An unbranded 30-second teaser on YouTube spearheaded its new integrated campaign ’Pageant’. The short trailer achieved 180,000 views in two weeks after its launch in October and was also voted one of the most popular videos on YouTube’s comedy channel. The trailer was followed by an online film and a TV spot as well as a YouTube channel and Facebook page.


The viral success of the campaign means that there might be credence to the claim that de-branding might just be the key to breaking through brand clutter and gaining the attention of the audience.


 Gucci Bag Debranded


Branding and logo saturation is something that is having an impact in the luxury brand industry, an industry that once thrived on the power of their logos. Recent years have seen brands like Gucci experimenting with logo-free products where they have achieved success targeting a more sophisticated customer.


The customer’s affinity with the product was defined by their interest in the quality of the product materials and design rather than perceived status attained from the visibility of the logo. 


With a logo-free product the brand has achieved enhanced positioning and exclusivity with their target consumer. By recapturing a more knowledgeable customer and developing an aspirational product, the brand was rewarded with a 25% increase in annual profit last year.


 Coutts Debranded


Eliminating the brand name from marketing activity is also evident in the professional services industry. While many brands strive to develop brand awareness in the market, sometimes negative brand connotations make it necessary to de-brand. Coutts private bank recently did just that, dropping the well known but unpopular RBS parent brand from their name in an effort to extend business. 


The common thread in the examples above it that, before the de-branding took place, each company had developed an offering that presented value to their customers that extended beyond that tangible product itself. The strength of customer’s brand loyalty enabled the brands to experiment with the de-branding process. For obvious reasons de-branding won’t work in every case.


Tesco explored removing their brand name from some products but research has shown that the products were more popular with the Tesco name included as the customer has a better understanding of perceived quality that the brand represented.


De-branding certainly is not for every company, but it does force you to think about what elements of your brand make the biggest impact with your customer. Could de-branding be part of your brand strategy?


• Does your brand offer value to your customers that extends beyond the tangibles of the product or service?


• Do your customers have a clear understanding of your brand and its story, what it stands for?


• If you de-branded your product, what are the remaining elements that would have the biggest impact with your customers?



Top 12 Successful Blog Writing Tips to Achieve Bigger Sales Opportunities

Following our Winning Best Blog Award Ireland 2012 of an SME end of last year we’ve had numerous enquiries on the how’s, do’s and don’ts of writing a compelling business blog consistently. I was also asked to write a similarly themed article for the Irish Tatler Business Annual 2013 so I thought you might find it useful if I shared with you some of the recently published tips.


The list compiled is by no means all encompassing but gives you a good reference point to get started or review your blogging activities to date.


Top 12 Most Successful Blog Writing Tips to Achieve Bigger and Better Sales 


:: 1. Know and define the target audience for your blog content, be they customers or prospects. One of the major reasons blogs fail is because the content is not relevant to its readers, or the target audience needs are not properly understood. This should be an important part of your brand marketing strategy.


:: 2. Create a writing calendar, know your content, marketing, social media and blogging goals. Plan 4-6 months ahead (broadly the year) and if you have notable industry events, seasonal relevance or cultural occasions during the year that are relevant to your target business audience make sure appropriate, brand congruent, topics feature around those times. You can always adapt and change if something topical happens in the market place but planning ensures you have a defined strategy on which it all hangs.


:: 3. Post consistently and frequently and keep your content congruently on topic by ensuring you post information that really meets your customers needs and solves their problems. Apply the 80:20 rule, 80% adding value and serving your customers and only 20% about you (your products, launches, case studies etc.). It gets awfully boring visiting a blog that is ‘me me’ orientated and offers no real value to the reader.


:: 4. Incorporate your blog into your company or organizations website. If you’re using your blog to support your inbound marketing, integrating its URL into your main website address is very important.


:: 5. Seamlessly integrate you branding into your blog both in terms of voice, language used, personality, character and values coupled with corporate brand style guides and visual appeal.


:: 6. Add relevant imagery, audio and video clips to make your blog more appealing and support the story being told. Good photos, video clips and sound tracks help attract and retain the readers’ attention.


 Blogging For Business Irish Tatler 2012


:: 7. Optimise your content for keyword search but don’t be tempted to keyword stuff. Ensure you write for the reader not the Google robots.


:: 8. Break up your content into bite size chunks and smaller paragraphs. Writing for online is very different to white paper reports or book writing. Use bulleting and bolding where appropriate. Reader attention span is much shorter online.


:: 9. Link your blog posts to appropriate products or services elsewhere on your website. Don’t assume your readers will find those gems. Make it easy for them.


:: 10. Research your content and facts but remember to respect other peoples’ intellectual property and copyright. It’s important to provide attribution or reference and links where appropriate.


:: 11. Proactively share your blog content across social media platforms as well as feeds, email and newsletters to increase your reach and draw your audience in.


:: 12. Track your blog to measure its effectiveness in terms of lead generation, traffic, sales and ROI.


Above all ‘Think Big! The sky is not the limit when there are footprints on the moon’. Make your blog a core part of your brand and business strategy and you will reap the rewards.


Feel free to get in touch or leave your comments below. We’d love to hear your feedback.


If you have any questions or need some brand direction for your blogging strategy then please don’t hesitate to get in touch E: [email protected] or T: +353 1 8322724


Wishing you growing success as your blog and your brand become No.1 in your target market.


*This is part of an article written by Lorraine Carter, listed as one of the Top 1,000 Women of Influence in Ireland, and published in Irish Tatler Business Annual 2013.


 Irish Tatler 2012 Annual Cover 



Can You Use Brand Collaboration As A Key to Your Success in 2013?

Rising competition, increasing consumer power, the level of market noise… brand building in the current climate can be a daunting task. Many brands are finding it challenging to secure the attention of their target customer. However breaking through the clutter is not just restricted those with large marketing budgets, brand collaboration could be the key to your success.


Brands need to realize they hold significant power. Every brand has distribution channels, financial resources, audiences and communication collateral which is valuable not only to that brand but to potentially other brands with similar target audiences in the market. Collaborating with other brands, when leveraged appropriately and strategically, can be the key to new opportunities and commanding greater customer attenditon, resulting increased market share.


Top 4 Reasons Why You Should Use Brand Collaboration In Your Business


1. Add Value

The opportunities are there, with creative thinking, for many brands be they local, national or global to benefit from increased growth through a more collaborative approach in their brand strategy.


By applying a more stratgic approach and aligning themselves with compatible partners, brands can offer increased value to their customer, boost the brand experience and grow profitability. Nike and Apple curently collaborate with the Nike+ project; a product that combines Apple’s electronic technology with Nike’s sporting technology to offer customer’s of both brands a collaborative lifestyle package.


 Nike Apple Collaboration


2. Increased Market Reach & Access to New Customers

Brand collaboration offers the potential of introducing one brand to another’s audience; expanding brand reach and enhancing awareness of both brand collaborators. This form of collaboartion is mutually beneficial to both non competing brands.


Chevrolet cars enlisted designer Isaac Mizrahi to collaborate on a collection of clothing and fashion items linked to Chevorlet’s Malibu brand line. The collaboration between the brands was seen as a good fit because both brands were looking to reach a style-conscious female audience with a well designed, appealing, high quality product.  The collaboration aimed at getting women to take a closer look at a brand that might otherwise miss their attention. 




3. Increase Brand Awareness

There has been an explosion of collaboration between luxury fashion houses and high street retailer brands. Swedish retailer H&M has collaborated with some of the biggest fashion designers offering their customers limited edition collections at affordable prices. The partnership between the luxury brand and the high street brand is in essence a promotional tactic boosting advertising and driving traffic. The high street brand benefits from the collaboration by drawing increased demand, greater consumer attention and increased media coverage.


 Lanvin Hm Collaboration 


While fast fashion collaborations frequently offer little return in immediate profitability levels to the high fashion houses, they do however provide a meaningful way to increase brand awareness and gain access to customers in emerging markets that are not yet ready to house a flagship store, but with whom they wish to start building brand awareness and nurture a relationship for the future. The collaboration is also seen as a gateway purchase for the bigger paychecks that they will one day yield.




H&M and Lanvin’s latest collaboration benefits H&M in terms of sales volume, but as it coincides with the launch of Lanvin’s new e-commerce website media coverage is also likely to pay off for the high end retailer.


eBay are offering their customers a ‘Holiday Collective’; an exclusive new collaboration of original, limited edition ranges of clothes, travel experiences, electrical goods and more. eBay benefits from the partnerships with an extended brand offering for their customers and their collaborative partners gain valuable access to the substantial eBay customer base and consequently increased brand awareness with their target customers.


 Ebay Holiday Collective Fb



4. Enter New Markets

Fiat cars are attempting to crack the lucrative American market with a collaboration strategy. For any foreign brand trying to become better known in America, partnering with a brand that is already renowned, particularly a ‘made in the U.S.A.’ staple, can be a great strategy.


Fiat is doing just that by participating in the 20th anniversary of the Monopoly Game contest at McDonald’s. The brand is aiming to get more attention in the American media while further embedding itself in American culture through the McDonalds tie-in. Its hoping the collaboration will help raise awareness with an audience that still tends to favour bigger cars. The opportunity for such extensive exposure outweighs any potential perceived cheapening of the Fiat brand risked by tying in with the fast-food giant.


 Win A Fiat 500 At Mc Donalds Collaboration


Brand collaboration is an effective way to surprise your customers and attract new ones. Whether you are refreshing your brand image, introducing new features, entering a new market or launching a new product line, brand collaboration can offer several very significant benefits to brands. In fact, brand coalitions could talk not only to customers but also to investors and regulators, if brands lobby their own interests.


A word of caution though, brand alliances are not always guarantees for success. Collaboration strategies fail if there is not equal value for both brands in the relationship, if the brand’s value or positioning does not match each other, or if the customer does not easily understand the strategy.


Is it time to re-examine your brand strategy and collaborate your way to success in the year ahead?