By developing an application, brands have the opportunity to strengthen their relevance in the daily lives of consumers.
Just for a moment, I'd like everyone to take off their advertising hat and become a consumer, with passions, needs and preferences. Think about a brand which you feel a particular connection with, one that helps you fill a need in your life. Not only that, it has to be one that has stood out from the competition because of the creative messaging used to promote it so that it connected with you emotionally. In fact, you feel so strongly about this brand that you rave about it to your friends and family, because you want to share that feeling with them. These concepts are common to all consumers -- relevance, creativity, and a shared experience -- encompass core elements of storytelling.
The only brands that stay relevant in our change world will be ones savvy about mobile technology.
Last year was not a good year to be in the retail industry. But for Bill Brand, exec VP-programming, marketing and business development for HSN (formerly Home Shopping Network), 2009 was an opportunity for the nearly 30-year-old network to reinvent itself. In the past two years, Mr. Brand has made HSN more relevant to the modern home-shopper by revamping the company's image and programming to focus on more affordable products with ties to entertainment and pop culture. A recent promotion with singer Mary J. Blige for the exclusive launch of her first My Life fragrance shattered the retailer's sales records, selling more than 60,000 units in just six hours' time.
Recent breakthroughs in neuroscience confirm what we marketers know in our guts, but sometimes forget in the day-to-day rush of preparing the next ad campaign launch. Namely, everybody feels (emotions) before they think (rational decision), and without generating the appropriate emotional response, no ad campaign can succeed.
If social media warranted a mantra, it would sound something like this, "Always pay it forward and never forget to pay it back...it's how you got here and it defines where you're going." This intentional form of alternative giving is referred to as "generalized reciprocity" or "generalized exchange." The capital of this social economy is measured in these productive relationships and those relationships are earned through the acts of reciprocity, recognition, respect and benevolence. So how can businesses, which, one could argue, typically represent a "pay it backward" approach (ie, "pay me for my goods and services"), thrive in this environment?
While the Rolling Stone article "The Runaway General" created enough of a flap to lead to U.S. Gen. Stanley McChrystal's public downfall, it also represented the culmination of the very heady rebirth of a counterculture brand.
Like many car brands, the once ultra-cool Jaguar has declined over the past several years, losing its luster and once-hallowed reputation for reliability. But now that the brand has been sold by Ford to India's Tata Motors, Jaguar is on the upswing, at least in terms of its promotional visibility. Jaguar announced two high-profile partnerships, one in the U.S. and one in the U.K., that signals a comeback of sorts.
“Differentiate or die” is probably a familiar mantra to all; and there’s a well-established albeit less pithy corollary – don’t sell the category, sell your brand. After all, given the overcrowded nature of most categories, the hope of success for most brands rests on their ability to stand out from their numerous competitors. And promoting the category usually only benefits the market leader. That’s why the most common marketing challenge is communicating a brand’s differentiation. But there are instances where differentiation is not the primary issue — and in many of these cases, it’s the relevance of the category itself which marketing must establish.
To truly capture the State and Future of Twitter and all that was revealed during its first official conference, requires additional time and space. In Part One, we examined the sociological impact of Twitter on society, the true size of the network, as well as equally exploring its challenges and opportunities. In Part Two, we’ll review and interpret streams, interest graphs, and Twitters new advertising platform.
One of the key questions for a brand online is: where do I fit in? How can I join the conversation? Of course, it all depends on the brand how you can answer that question. Some brands are naturally the answer to a problem. Some brands clean floors, or fill in your tax return for you. Many searches online are problem-solving, and a useful brand will naturally do well. It will come high in search results and will have prominent mindshare.
It's one of those iconic brands that defined the American sandwich. Wonder Bread, created in 1925, was America's first sliced white bread, packaged in plastic adorned with red, yellow, and blue balloons to appeal to kids. But almost a century later, Wonder Bread, still on grocery shelves, is fighting to stay relevant. Today, the healthy qualities of wheat and whole grain have overshadowed white bread, often perceived as a processed product of little nutritional value.
Content doesn’t make something viral; people are the primary source of powering social objects across the attention nodes that connect the human network. Despite what appears commonsensical, we’re surprised when our brainchild doesn’t attract the views, attention, and circulation we believe it deserves. The reality of social media is this, in the attention economy, information isn’t randomly discovered and broadly disseminated. It is strategically positioned to either appear when someone searches for a related keyword or it’s presented to someone manually and deliberately.
As soon as I decided I wanted to explore the question of where search was going, I knew sooner or later I had to talk to John Battelle. John wrote what I still consider the definitive look at the industry, The Search, in 2005. Since then, in addition to running Federated Media, he has continued to be one of the more thoughtful, visionary, frank and opinionated voices in this space. Recently, his musings have taken on a decided tone of discontent. In a few recent blog posts, Battelle mused that search, while not necessarily “broken,” may indeed be increasingly falling short of our expectations. This lined up well with my own feelings that relevancy may no longer be an adequate proxy for usefulness.
"Caution. Not all hazards are marked." I couldn't help but notice this sign on the side of a ski trail during a recent vacation in the mountains. As I slowed my descent I thought about how this sign could apply to any number of things in this crazy world. Being in the brand business, I also thought about how apt they were relative to navigating the current marketplace. It's one thing to watch as consumer attitudes shift and you alter your product or service to meet the new conditions. It's another to sense that something's on the horizon and be the first in the category to address it. The ability to do so has always separated the good brands from the best brands.
Organizations love data: numbers, reports, trend lines, graphs, spreadsheets — the more the better. And, as a result, many organizations have a substantial internal factory that churns out data on a regular basis, as well as external resources on call that produce data for onetime studies and questions. But what's the evidence (or dare I say "the data") that all of this data is worth the cost and indeed leads to better business decisions? Is some amount of data collection unnecessary, perhaps even damaging by creating complexity and confusion?
Want to know how Google is about to change your life? Stop by the Ouagadougou conference room on a Thursday morning. It is here, at the Mountain View, California, headquarters of the world’s most powerful Internet company, that a room filled with three dozen engineers, product managers, and executives figure out how to make their search engine even smarter. This year, Google will introduce 550 or so improvements to its fabled algorithm, and each will be determined at a gathering just like this one.
"A fool and his money are soon parted" is an old expression that has never been more true than it is today. Consumers and investors are not quick to let the moths out of their wallets. With unemployment figures high, every penny counts. So how do marketers make their brands relevant and indispensable?
Despite lip-service to two-way communication, branding has often been a one-way effort: we decided what we wanted people to think about our companies and designed marketing and communications that made that happen. Or so we hoped. But a brand is the collective impression people gain not only from you and your marketing efforts, but from all of their interactions with you—and the interactions others have as well (newly amplified through social media). That means we need to look at the process of branding in different way: through a social lens.
Drum roll, please. Search engine Google topped Forrester Research's survey of consumers' favorite online brands, though respondents ranked the company low on qualities like "trustworthy," "relevant" and "fun." Forty-four percent of consumers rate Google as their favorite online brand in 2009, compared with 36% in 2007. The search engine dominates in wealthy homes. Fifty-five percent of those bringing home more than $100,000 annually rank Google No. 1. It appears relevance is still a weakness for search engines. None ranked above 35% in this category. In fact, only 25% of Google fans rate the engine as relevant. That's a category where Yahoo and Microsoft inch ahead at 33% and 30%, respectively. Meanwhile, only 35% of Google fans view the brand as trustworthy and reliable, while only 6% of YouTube fans say that company had the same attribute.
To me, these seem like the key components of a good infographic / data visualisation / piece of information design: * Information needs to be interesting (meaningful & relevant) and have integrity (accuracy, consistency). * Design needs to have form (beauty & structure) and function (it has to work and be easy to use).
One of the most daunting challenges companies face now is how to market themselves. Think of it: There are many businesses with the same or similar offerings. Customers can purchase goods or services from anywhere in the world, thanks to the Internet. With rapid commoditization, effectively marketing a business is more challenging than ever. It takes more than a marketing plan, strategy and tactics, positioning and differentiation to successfully market now. But what?
Social Search just went live in Google Labs. Google announced that it was working on this Social Search feature at the Web 2.0 Summit last week, but at that time, Google's Marissa Mayer announced that it would only be available "in a few weeks." Social Search taps into a user's social network profiles and displays relevant links and status updates that members of a user's own social network have shared at the bottom of the default search results page. According to Google, Social Search will enhance the search experience on Google by providing users with more personally relevant search results.
While the concept of personal branding has taken off corporate branding seems to go in and out of favor. Economic cycles may have a lot to do with that. With the growth of the Internet and social technology tools, personal branding activity and opportunities have exploded. On the other hand, in some ways, the arc of Web 1.0 to 2.0+ (not to mention this current economy) has seduced many marketers into being focused on tactics at the expense of strategy including branding. Hot media tactics often substitute for the "strategy." If you are skeptical that brands still matter in the age of 1-1, millennials and social media, or if you are trying to run a business and make numbers and don't have the patience for brand consultant-speak or theories, here is a quick, simple refresher on good old fashioned branding that works today, that can help you frame your marketing and other operational tactics...to drive business results.
Last month I shared what search taught me about running a business. Today, I'd like to list 10 lessons Google taught me -- and the rest of the world, for that matter -- about marketing.
Content may be king, but it won’t ever get the royal treatment outside the confines of your company’s website unless its dressed for success with a killer headline and description to match. A lot of interest can be generated with great content and some proper positioning. Positioning, in this case means solid headlines and descriptions to accompany the content at a variety of access points across the web.
While digital keeps reinventing itself -- more exciting in the culture and more important in marketing -- traditional direct is stuck in the limits of a one-to-one model created and perfected for a previous age. It sends you stuff it guesses you want. If you don't respond, it sends you something else. Admittedly, it is stuck for good reason: We've put frequency and cadence ahead of the creative idea to persuade.
Blame recession cuts. Pizza Hut is slicing the "pizza" from its store name on its boxes and some store signs. The fast food chain will now brand some stores as "The Hut." However, contrary to earlier reports, the iconic chain won't be changing its name, a Pizza Hut spokesman said Friday. The boxes and some store signs will say "The Hut." Others will retain the Pizza Hut name.
Mary Dillon, CMO of McDonald's, one of the few companies to thrive during the recession, talks marketing in a downturn, advertising to kids, and niche promotions within the context of one global message. While the chain continues to boost digital as a percentage of spend, she's also focusing on "old media," like outdoor.
Brands that don’t keep up with the times are subject to negative perceptions, eroding brand preference and, ultimately, a decline in brand equity. Particularly vulnerable are those brands operating in businesses that seem old and stodgy. Take traditional printed greeting cards, for example. While they maintain their popularity, printed cards are increasingly under attack by online greetings—“e-cards”—which can incorporate multimedia to competitive advantage.
For the past two decades Harley-Davidson has been seen as a free-spirited, rebellious brand. Drawing on images from classic movies like “Easy Rider” and “Wild One” the company struck a chord with well-to-do baby boomers, who needed to feel like they are breaking the rules and every once and a while. For Harley owners, riding is a way to escape everyday life and feel like an outlaw without actually breaking any laws (except maybe changing lanes without proper signal).
You have to love - or at least pay attention to - Digg’s new advertising system enabling users to vote on ads: The more that users digg an ad, the less the advertiser pays. That’s a reversal of advertising but it’s the way advertising probably needs to go: The better your relationship (which springs from a better product and service), the more your customers will market it for you, the less you’ll have to pay to market it. That is the ideal. Advertising is failure.
"It is a slightly arresting notion that if you were to pick yourself apart with tweezers, one atom at a time, you would produce a mound of fine atomic dust, none of which had ever been alive but all of which had once been you." -- Bill Bryson For those of us with only mortal brainpower, Bill Bryson's vivid imagery renders the concept of complex systems accessible. Complex systems are those that are greater than the sum of their parts; they have properties that cannot be explained through reductionism; they are economies and hurricanes and you and me. Search is a complex system.
I have a difference of opinion with Gian Fulgoni, chairman of comScore. Actually, it's not so much a difference as a question of context. He believes there's room for more visual branding on the search results page. I believe this is a potentially dangerous area that has to be handled very carefully on the part of the engines.
There’s been a lot of talk lately about monetizing social networks. MySpace has swapped out much of its senior leadership with talent more experienced in marketing. Facebook is floating plans to launch an ad network someday. Both services already put ads on their sites, sell sponsorships, etc. Most, if not all, of these kinds of efforts focus on using social networks as glorified channels for branding. Companies hope to sell things by paying to put their brands in front of consumers as they’re on their way to, doing things at, and planning to leave their networked communities. How is this any different than putting up billboards on the way to the fair? Is it possible that the true value of social networks could be derived from seeing them as places?
Sprite is hoping it has discovered the next pop sensation. In an effort to promote itself to teenagers, the Coca-Cola brand of lemon-lime soda is revving up its marketing engine to propel the career of British singer-songwriter Katie Vogel. It's doing so by underwriting the production of a new, interactive Web reality series on YouTube called "Green Eyed World," which will follow Ms. Vogel as she tries to make it big.
Wells Fargo & Co. has told securities analysts that it expects its first-quarter earnings will be $3 billion, easily topping the $2 billion it made during the same period last year. Bank of America is significantly hiking the interest rates it charges at least four million credit card customers, and other banks have or will institute programs to force borrowers to pay more, and/or pay more often. So the banks needed public bailouts in order to free up lending again, and they're going to make a killing while making it harder for credit card users to borrow? This isn't just a communications nightmare. It's real.
I have good career news for those of you on the recession front: When the economy improves, the skills and approaches you perfect during these troubled times will better position you for greater riches and fame. The trick will be surviving until then.
Can Microsoft market its way out of the search basement? Probably not, but it's going to try, entrusting roster agency JWT to craft a campaign for its new search engine, alternately dubbed Kumo or Project Kiev or Live Search, depending on who's talking about it.
Some companies are in the steel business, some are in the cookie business, but General Motors is in the restructuring business. For 30 years, G.M. has been restructuring itself toward long-term viability. For all these years, G.M.’s market share has endured a long, steady slide. But this has not stopped the waves of restructuring. The PowerPoints have flowed, and always there has been the promise that with just one more cost-cutting push, sustainability nirvana will be at hand.
Kodak has just announced its new "Print and Prosper" marketing campaign, and I think it's utterly brilliant branding. The premise is simple: Kodak printers use cheaper ink without sacrificing quality, so they cost less to use. As most everyone knows, at least viscerally, cartridges are the not-so-secret whammy that lets HP, Lexmark, Brother, and the other manufacturers push down the hardware cost..and then recoup everything, and more, through ink usage over time.
Take a close look at the image to the left. Can you identity the current design of the U.S. penny? You should be able to; you've been exposed to it a countless number of times. In fact, the reach and frequency of the penny image is over the top! The government should print ads on it. That would solve the budget crisis. So why can't most people recall the correct one (no, I'm not going to tell you which one it is)? :) Simple. It's irrelevant.
Marketing effectively to baby boomers now requires understanding how distinct segments have been affected by the drop in retirement fund and housing values and other economic fallout, and what messages resonate with each.
The proposition "If we build it they will come" is by now nearly universally recognized as a fallacy by marketers, as well as, nowadays, even most real estate developers. Unfortunately in many sectors of the online advertising world, where behavioral is all the buzz, another often unwarranted assumption has taken hold, namely that "If an ad is (apparently) relevant consumers will engage with it," regardless of how inappropriate or irrelevant the context of the page it runs on.
Forget MSN and Yahoo, Twitter search is the biggest threat Google has faced. Sooner or later Twitter is going to figure out that search is the way to make money but how could they improve it? What would Google do?
I noticed an interesting juxtaposition of taglines the other day. Both reference the identification a user has with the brand, but one seems to be a positive self-affirmation while the other comes off more like an elitist challenge.
On the first day of 2009, baseball's field of dreams -- Chicago's Wrigley Field -- became hockey's rink of dreams, and the National Hockey League's (NHL) once-struggling brand took another giant step forward in its recovery. By hosting its Winter Classic in one of sports' most beloved venues, the NHL further expanded its relevance with fans of all ages and allegiances in its ongoing bid to strengthen its brand at three critical touchpoints: the in-game experience, media exposure, and youth hockey outreach.
Harley-Davidson's stock price is little more than a third of what it was a year ago, representing a steep decline in the intangible value of its brand. With motorcycle demand down 30% in the U.S., and a near-total evaporation of the hog-makers ability to write loans for would-be buyers, is the company just another victim of tough times...or is there something flawed in the way the experts routinely celebrated the relevance and utility of its brand?
If only one idea emerges from the profundity of "bests" lists and prognostications this holiday season, here's my entry: Need is the new want. It's a loaded statement. Here's what I think it entails:
For years, we in traditional media have consoled ourselves about the increasing irrelevance of our work. First, we insist that content is king. When that argument doesn’t add up, we say that classic 20th-century forms like Hollywood movies and glossy magazines breed natural digital extensions. The third argument says we have to change.