Archive for the ‘Branding’ Category

Building An Identity Fou Your Business Is Critical

Being successful in your chosen field depends largely on the image you have. If you were able to build an identity that speaks of hard core professionalism and expertise, then you would definitely stay in your business for many years to come.

And it all boils down to who you are and how you would want to be known as when you present your marketing tools to your customers and prospects.

What your customers and potential clients see in your promotional print tools is what leaves that positive mark. Your brand and identity rely on the first impression that your professionally designed custom business cards or business letterhead provide your clients. Hence, it is crucial that you make a great first impression. It is therefore important that your aim for your print materials should be able to convey an identity way beyond that of your design and message.

Two of the most basic identity system package that any business should have is your custom business cards and your letterhead. This is where your clients would see your logo and hence, the kind of image that you would want to communicate.

One of the most crucial elements when designing your identity system package is to learn your business inside and out. Everything there is to know about your business and your particular niche you should be able to convey. If you know your business inside out, you would be able to provide a successful system.

Here are a few questions you need to answer when preparing for your identity system package so that you can get the most from it:

  • What kind of business do you have? Do you have a niche?
  • What are your products and services?
  • How many years have you been operating? How long have you been doing it?
  • Do you have competitors? If so, who are they?
  • Who is your target market?
  • How do your target clients see your business? What about the industry you are in?
  • What is the purpose of your identity system?
  • Do you intend to focus on a particular group of your target market?

When you are done answering these questions, you can now put forward the identity you would want your clients and prospective customers to retain in their minds. Putting your best foot forward surely helps in creating that positive image of your business to your clients.

Four Axioms Of Brand Recovery In A New Economy

Though the economy is now hinting at improved conditions ahead, consensus remains that the recession’s effects on consumer spending habits will endure beyond the recovery. Much like the Great Depression changed the spending habits of a generation, the current recession has left consumers reaching past the lure of luxury in search of value-driven purchases. While this has been a boon to mass and value-priced retailers such as Target and Amazon, it has left many premium brands swooning.

To compete in this new environment, many marketers are finding themselves at square one, revisiting the basic tenets of connecting with consumers. Along with the economic shift, we have also seen a shift in the media landscape and audience media-consumption habits. So the fundamentals of how marketers approach and engage consumers must change as well. Here are a few marketing axioms and a look at how various brands are successfully approaching consumers in the new economic environment.

Connect on a personal level
Create opportunities to connect with consumers on a personal level. Find out what they think, what they dream and what they want. This affords you insight into their perspectives, motivations and needs. In turn, you can leverage this knowledge to benefit your brand as you provide real answers to the needs of your consumers.

Asus and Intel did this with the development of WePC.com. The two partnered with FM Publishing to create a site where users can share their ideas for computer features and uses, thereby giving the technology producers acute insights into consumer motivations. The crowdsourcing experiment has a yield of over 2,138 ideas submitted, 13,566 votes received and 3,944 “dream PCs” described.

This past year, the marketers at Lufthansa Airlines devised a method of connecting travelers with friends and family via MySkyStatus.com. Lufthansa established the site as a social utility to keep travelers connected with their social networks while flying. I had the pleasure of working on this campaign while at Profero NY (Lufthansa’s digital agency) and found that in the course of keeping users connected with each other, the airline successfully kept them connected with their brand.

This year, American Express put a social spin on crowdsourcing with its “Members Project” campaign. Leveraging social-media tools, American Express allocated a portion of its philanthropic spending and energy toward the causes advocated by voters at its site. Not only has the campaign been effective in generating a great deal of media exposure for the brand, but it also provides the team at American Express extensive insight into the values and motivations of its target consumers. This is precisely the type of intelligence brands need to facilitate connections with consumers.

Wear your heart on your sleeve
Develop a set of core values and create opportunities to communicate those values to your consumer audience. The more honest and revealing you are in communicating these values, the greater your brand’s potential to live in the heart of consumers as more than just a name.

As a corollary, join a cause that aligns your brand with a social initiative that reflects its core values. Social-cause marketing is an effective means of communicating that your organization shares a common set of values with your target consumer. Also, create opportunities for your consumers to get involved alongside your brand (either through sponsored events or purchase options that support your given cause financially through a portion of the proceeds).

Yoplait employs this strategy with its “Save to Save Lives,” where it donates $.10 in support of breast cancer research for every lid sent in by consumers (up to $1.5 million) with a guaranteed minimum of $500,000. The project successfully affiliates the brand with an issue that is of great importance to its largely female consumer base.

This year, Puma (in partnership with Fuse Project) is exhibiting this principle with the brand’s “Clever Little Bag” project. In attempt to reduce waste for the sake of sustainability, Puma has re-thought the consumer-packaging experience and reinvented the shoe box into something more eco-friendly. This initiative reaches beyond immediate commercial goals to satisfy larger social initiatives. Clever Little Bag is part of Puma’s corporate sustainability program that intends to cut its water, energy and diesel consumption by more than 60%.

When your brand stands for social progress, consumers will stand with your brand.

Constantly innovate
Innovation is the hallmark of a premium brand. Constant development and improvement distinguishes market leaders from their competitors. The economic performance of brands such as Apple, which has maintained a sales growth rate of 89% over the last three years, demonstrates that consumers recognize this commitment to excellence.

This year, Apple continued its legacy of innovation with the introduction of the iPad. At product launch, Gap was among the first set of marketers to establish a presence on the new device with its “1969 Stream” app. Gap partnered with AKQA to create a multimedia experience full of robust content intended to showcase all that the new platform has to offer. As an early adopter, Gap gained a competitive advantage as one of the few marketers with a presence on the iPad at launch.

This year, Domino’s Pizza communicated a sincere commitment to constant improvement with its “Pizza Turnaround” campaign, created by Crispin Porter & Bogusky. The campaign employed a viral documentary in tandem with a microsite and guerrilla-marketing tactics, all highlighting the company’s proactive response to long-standing criticism. It improved its organization. Its improved its product. And it improved dramatically. So far, the campaign seems to have resonated with consumers, as Domino’s celebrated $1 billion in online sales in February, just over a month after the campaign’s launch.

Remember the love
Probably the most important of steps, remember — or discover — what you love about your product. Remember what your consumers love about your product. And most importantly, remember what you love about your consumers.

ESPN employed this axiom when it teamed up with Wieden & Kennedy to produce the “One Game Changes Everything” campaign in support of the sports network’s FIFA World Cup coverage. The campaign led with a spot featuring a voice-over by U2′s Bono emphasizing the power of sport to unite men in the face of opposing politics, religion or other issues that divide humanity.

Another example of this principle at work is how BMW introduced its new “Efficient Dynamics” engineering, which the company touts as the linchpin for new innovations in its 2010 line. Instead of getting lost in science and tech speak, BMW simply states that “Joy is Future-proof,” reminding us that, beneath it all, it is the same car consumers have relied on for the ultimate driving experience for over 80 years.

Is Time To Revisit Your Website Strategy?

Why should you care about your website strategy? Wouldn’t it be easier just to put up a website and hope you hit on something that makes you money? If you’re like hundreds of thousands of other online business owners, that’s probably what you did. But now it’s time to re-assess the results and develop a strategy that will increase revenue consistently.

When you put up your first website, it was a snapshot of your business at that point in time. As your business evolves your website should reflect that. Have you added new and different products? Have you changed the focus of your services? Like websites, the businesses they support are organic. They grow and change. Your strategy for meeting those goals and objectives must change with it. Adding content piecemeal is necessary to keep your site updated, but at some point during each year you need to re-assess the big picture.

Make time to sit down with your key staff and review what your main business is today. Don’t cling to old notions about what it was or should be. Decide what it IS. Make sure that you are taking advantage of opportunities that will propel your business to the next level.

Analyze your Website Content

Does your content match your current goals? I recommend using a tool called a webmap to analyze your website. You can use any tool that allows you create a map showing all the main branches on your home page. The key here is to strip away the graphics and really look at your content and navigation path. Don’t be distracted by pretty colors and pictures.

Take Action: Create a specific path on your home page for visitors to “walk” For example, if the main goal of your website is to get visitors to call, don’t put up extraneous links to distract them. You want to them to write down your phone number and call you. Everything on your home page should support that! An 800 number in the banner area is a great idea. Links to books they should read on the subject is not.

Compare the Competition

It’s always a good idea to look at what the competition is doing on their website. Create maps for their home pages as well. But don’t assume that because they are bigger, that their website has a better strategy. Deep marketing pockets can often mask website failures.

Take Action: Compare your maps and see what emphasis the competition places on their home page. Do they focus heavily on promotions? Are they using free content to attract visitors? Note the best strategies and see how they apply to you. But have confidence that your content has value.

Revise and Test

Be prepared to change your home page content based on what you learned. Be bold, try new things. But be sure you test what you’ve done. You don’t want to change something that was working. Your webmaster should be providing you with the statistics you need to test and revise.

Take Action: Carefully analyze the changes you’ve made. Buy the best website analysis tool you can. Make sure you know what kind of content generates sales. Then pour it on and watch your revenue grow consistently!

Business-to-Business Brands in the Internet

Brands are more important than ever. Sure it’s a cliché. It seems every book I have read on branding contains that sentence. Yet, the Internet has created an environment that makes that statement truer than at any prior point. The Internet enables incredibly fast access to an enormous amount of information and provides connectivity and community that can empower buyers.

According to a popular branding theory, when marketplace choices increase, buyers tend to have an increased preference for familiar brands, thus, saving them research time and limiting their exposure to risk. The Internet has, without question, increased the amount of choices for business-to-business buyers.

Buyers increased access to information often results in increased expectations. In markets where products and services are largely perceived as commodities, or  strong weight is given to technical  specifications and price, given that all other things are equal (e.g., delivery time, etc.), a strong brand may be the single characteristic that differentiates a product from competitive offerings.

The significance of geography, which had once created advantages for many companies and obstacles to others, has, in many instances, been greatly reduced. Customers can now quickly and easily research product information, detailed specifications, experience computer-based presentations, search competitor offerings, find peers through professional associations or affinity groups where they can ask questions and share experiences, as well as make purchases online.

PROPAGANDA IS OUT. DELIVERING ON PROMISES IS IN.

There’s an old saying in the advertising world: “Nothing kills a bad product faster than good advertising.” With the mainstream adoption of the commercial Internet, the time it takes to kill poor or undifferentiated products (for the sake of simplicity, this paper uses the term “products” to describe both products and services) has been shortened considerably. Innovations are quickly imitated by competitors, rarely providing long-term sustainable advantages.

It is clear that the most sustainable advantage any company can have is a strong brand.

In the age of the informed customer, the concept of “image is reality” is dead. The revised formula is: Image + Information + Customer Expectations + Customer Experience (delivery) = Reality.

Customers new found access to seemingly endless amounts of information results in their being more demanding than prior to this access. While image remains significant, the new access to information often results in placing increased weight on specifications, capabilities and price during the buying process. This complex situation may appear to lessen the significance of brands, but, in actuality, it has elevated the significance of the brand.

Great B2B brands have the right technical specifications, connect with customers, deliver on promises that matter, exceed expectations and have a positive buzz within the buying community.

Consider the popular mantra of IT professionals: “No one ever got fired for buying IBM.” This is a good example of a brand that stands for quality in the minds of customers and provides them with a shortcut in the buying process that helps them avoid risk.

The ideal brand connects with customers on an emotional level.

Think B2C brands are the only ones that do this? Consider commercial photographers and Kodak; graphic and multimedia designers and Macintosh; business executives and recruiters and Harvard Business School; computer professionals and IBM; and mechanics and Snap-On.

Smart B2B brands use the Internet to deepen emotional bonding between the brand and customer. These marketers will often create places customers can go online that help encourage their bonding where they can find out more information about the brand, communicate with other brand advocates and feel a sense of a community that is connected by the brand. Microsoft is excellent at creating emotional bonds with the developer community through its various developer groups. These groups have their own special sections of the Microsoft Website, training (including some at no cost), special access to information (they can receive advance notification of announcements prior to the general public), membership, online events such as seminars, discounts on Microsoft products (software and books) plus offline meetings and events.

Microsoft understands how to meld the offline and online worlds together for the benefit of its brand.

THE FALLOUT FROM THE “NEW ECONOMY” HYPE

During the dot-com explosion, the Internet became so over-hyped it seemed that many people had lost touch with (or never understood) sound business principles. Huge amounts of cash were spent in a mad rush to be first to create strong brands in “Internet Speed.” Now, long after the Internet bubble has burst, in many instances, there has been a reactionary backlash –a tendency to discount all things related to the Internet.

Either extreme is unwise.

The Internet is certain to play an increasingly significant role in how business is done and the management of brands. Those interested in building and maintaining strong brands need to understand and exploit the Internet’s power, integrating it with offline efforts.

By Peter De Legge
Marketing Today

Four Axioms Of Brand Recovery In A New Economy

 Though the economy is now hinting at improved conditions ahead, consensus remains that the recession’s effects on consumer spending habits will endure beyond the recovery. Much like the Great Depression changed the spending habits of a generation, the current recession has left consumers reaching past the lure of luxury in search of value-driven purchases. While this has been a boon to mass and value-priced retailers such as Target and Amazon, it has left many premium brands swooning.

To compete in this new environment, many marketers are finding themselves at square one, revisiting the basic tenets of connecting with consumers. Along with the economic shift, we have also seen a shift in the media landscape and audience media-consumption habits. So the fundamentals of how marketers approach and engage consumers must change as well. Here are a few marketing axioms and a look at how various brands are successfully approaching consumers in the new economic environment.

Connect on a personal level
Create opportunities to connect with consumers on a personal level. Find out what they think, what they dream and what they want. This affords you insight into their perspectives, motivations and needs. In turn, you can leverage this knowledge to benefit your brand as you provide real answers to the needs of your consumers.

Asus and Intel did this with the development of WePC.com. The two partnered with FM Publishing to create a site where users can share their ideas for computer features and uses, thereby giving the technology producers acute insights into consumer motivations. The crowdsourcing experiment has a yield of over 2,138 ideas submitted, 13,566 votes received and 3,944 “dream PCs” described.

This past year, the marketers at Lufthansa Airlines devised a method of connecting travelers with friends and family via MySkyStatus.com. Lufthansa established the site as a social utility to keep travelers connected with their social networks while flying. I had the pleasure of working on this campaign while at Profero NY (Lufthansa’s digital agency) and found that in the course of keeping users connected with each other, the airline successfully kept them connected with their brand.

This year, American Express put a social spin on crowdsourcing with its “Members Project” campaign. Leveraging social-media tools, American Express allocated a portion of its philanthropic spending and energy toward the causes advocated by voters at its site. Not only has the campaign been effective in generating a great deal of media exposure for the brand, but it also provides the team at American Express extensive insight into the values and motivations of its target consumers. This is precisely the type of intelligence brands need to facilitate connections with consumers.

Wear your heart on your sleeve
Develop a set of core values and create opportunities to communicate those values to your consumer audience. The more honest and revealing you are in communicating these values, the greater your brand’s potential to live in the heart of consumers as more than just a name.

As a corollary, join a cause that aligns your brand with a social initiative that reflects its core values. Social-cause marketing is an effective means of communicating that your organization shares a common set of values with your target consumer. Also, create opportunities for your consumers to get involved alongside your brand (either through sponsored events or purchase options that support your given cause financially through a portion of the proceeds).

Yoplait employs this strategy with its “Save to Save Lives,” where it donates $.10 in support of breast cancer research for every lid sent in by consumers (up to $1.5 million) with a guaranteed minimum of $500,000. The project successfully affiliates the brand with an issue that is of great importance to its largely female consumer base.

This year, Puma (in partnership with Fuse Project) is exhibiting this principle with the brand’s “Clever Little Bag” project. In attempt to reduce waste for the sake of sustainability, Puma has re-thought the consumer-packaging experience and reinvented the shoe box into something more eco-friendly. This initiative reaches beyond immediate commercial goals to satisfy larger social initiatives. Clever Little Bag is part of Puma’s corporate sustainability program that intends to cut its water, energy and diesel consumption by more than 60%.

When your brand stands for social progress, consumers will stand with your brand.

Constantly innovate
Innovation is the hallmark of a premium brand. Constant development and improvement distinguishes market leaders from their competitors. The economic performance of brands such as Apple, which has maintained a sales growth rate of 89% over the last three years, demonstrates that consumers recognize this commitment to excellence.

This year, Apple continued its legacy of innovation with the introduction of the iPad. At product launch, Gap was among the first set of marketers to establish a presence on the new device with its “1969 Stream” app. Gap partnered with AKQA to create a multimedia experience full of robust content intended to showcase all that the new platform has to offer. As an early adopter, Gap gained a competitive advantage as one of the few marketers with a presence on the iPad at launch.

This year, Domino’s Pizza communicated a sincere commitment to constant improvement with its “Pizza Turnaround” campaign, created by Crispin Porter & Bogusky. The campaign employed a viral documentary in tandem with a microsite and guerrilla-marketing tactics, all highlighting the company’s proactive response to long-standing criticism. It improved its organization. Its improved its product. And it improved dramatically. So far, the campaign seems to have resonated with consumers, as Domino’s celebrated $1 billion in online sales in February, just over a month after the campaign’s launch.

Remember the love
Probably the most important of steps, remember — or discover — what you love about your product. Remember what your consumers love about your product. And most importantly, remember what you love about your consumers.

ESPN employed this axiom when it teamed up with Wieden & Kennedy to produce the “One Game Changes Everything” campaign in support of the sports network’s FIFA World Cup coverage. The campaign led with a spot featuring a voice-over by U2’s Bono emphasizing the power of sport to unite men in the face of opposing politics, religion or other issues that divide humanity.

Another example of this principle at work is how BMW introduced its new “Efficient Dynamics” engineering, which the company touts as the linchpin for new innovations in its 2010 line. Instead of getting lost in science and tech speak, BMW simply states that “Joy is Future-proof,” reminding us that, beneath it all, it is the same car consumers have relied on for the ultimate driving experience for over 80 years.

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