make a difference brands

Consumers Want Brands to Help Them Make a Difference

It turns out consumers want more from a brand than just the brand using cause related marketing to take a stance on a social cause. In fact, they want brands to help them make a difference.

That’s right! According to a new survey done by Futerra of over 1,000 consumers in the US and UK, they found that a very high number (96%) of people feel their own actions, like donating, recycling, or buying ethically sourced goods can make a difference. And over half of those folks believe that they personally can make a big difference in the world. So, why does that matter to your company?

cause related marketing brandsThe answer:

brands have a key role to play! Although people think they can make a difference, they want more help doing it. That’s where brands step in (maybe yours?). This same survey found an overwhelming demand for brands to step up on sustainable lifestyles. If your brand isn’t helping your consumers improve their environmental footprint and social causes they care about, you’re pretty much in danger of disappointing almost all (88%) of them. That would definitely not be good.

Over the last few years, brands have become much more confident in trying to change the world themselves. But,  just talking about your own values isn’t enough. Consumers want you to help them live theirs, too! Too much of the cause related marketing or CSR activities of brands promote what they are doing, rather than reaching out and helping the consumer to make their own difference. Therein lies the difference.

So how, exactly, do brands do this?

The good news is there is no right or wrong way, and there are literally thousands of ways to do it, you’ve just got to make sure you’re engaging in these conversations with your consumers. Straight up ask them how you can help them make a difference. They will let you know. Whatever you do, ask yourself the right question… Your brand’s consumer has the right to change the world for the better – how are you going to help them?


brand positioning important

Brand Positioning & Why it's Important

Brand positioning (sometimes referred to as a positioning strategy or brand strategy) is the act of designing the company’s offering and image to occupy a special place in the mind of the target market, and it’s a big deal!

In fact, proper brand positioning is one of most important things you can do when it comes to your brand management.  A brand that’s positioned correctly addresses important consumer benefits in unique, often compelling ways. It also helps to create an emotional connection to your consumers, and provides flexibility and a framework for future growth of your business.

The first step in brand positioning is in-depth research.  With this research, you’re looking to learn:

  • Consumer insight(s)
  • An in-depth knowledge of your competitors and what they’re up to
  • An understanding of benefits to you consumer.

After you’ve found the above, dig deeper into the benefits your brand offers consumers. How are the different from other similar brands/companies? You’ll want to single out the ideal benefit, which is the key benefit that has the following three qualities: (1) it is extremely important to the target audience, (2) your organization is uniquely suited to delivering it and (3) your competitors are not really addressing it in the proper way.

There are four key components to brand positioning:

  • Target customer – the primary audience your brand is trying to appeal to.
  • Brand essence – the “heart and soul” of your brand.
  • Brand promise – a promise of differentiating benefits relevant to your target customer.
  • Brand personality – adjectives that describe your brand like if it were a person.

It’s kind of like putting a puzzle together! All of these individual components define your brand. When put together, they form your brands positioning statement which provides direction not only for marketing and the brand identity standards, but also for all of your organization’s activities and future endeavors.


marketing & advertising

Marketing & Advertising are Subjective

Marketing & advertising are subjective in nature, and your audience probably doesn’t care about how great and awesome your product is. So how do you connect with them? You might have the biggest touchscreen in the world. The best technology. The most luxurious vehicle. That’s awesome! But the consumer doesn’t really care about these objective factors. They don't stand out in the 'noise' and cut through the clutter.

The truth is we’re not entirely rational beings (which you probably already knew) – and there have been many books and gigabytes worth of the internet devoted to trying to prove this point. In fact, if you want to get technical about it, our brains actually light up differently when exposed to the emotional vs rational... Science!

Research shows us that “qualities like pleasure and belonging” are heavily linked to people’s brand choices. Here are eight factors that influence more than 80% of consumer purchases (in order of their impact on buying decisions):

Pleasure, responsibility, status, saving, individuality, effectiveness, belonging, and confidence. Notice: all of these factors are subjective.

subjective advertising & marketing

Even effectiveness is subject to user experience – take two near identical vacuum cleaners from two different brands and one is actually more effective than the other in cleaning a house, despite virtually identical (rational) specifications. invariably, someone will have the opposite experience and think the other vacuum is better. See – subjective.

While your company or brand might objectively have the best product or service available on the market, the longest-lasting battery, the most reliable engine, or the most qualified professionals – if you can’t or don't communicate these benefits to the audience in a way which answers the question “How will this help me to express and live who I am?”, the majority of customers will never catch on to what you have to offer.

Writer Tom Denari once wrote a great article for Ad Age that brilliantly drove home this point. in it, he wrote:

"No matter what you buy — diapers, clothing, electronics or a can of tomatoes — the brands you select affect how you feel about yourself. The car you drive makes a statement about who you think you are. So does the cup of coffee you pick up in the morning and the mobile phone you carry, even though you’re not consciously aware of it. And while this seemingly selfish, indulgent behavior might seem the sorry reflection of a hypercapitalistic culture, it’s really how we’re hard-wired.

A brand helps people fall in love with themselves by reinforcing or affirming self-image. (e.g. I’m the kind of person that uses that kind of __________.)"

Thankfully, more and more brands are starting to catch onto this idea and applying it to their marketing & advertising work. For some, it will be too little too late. For others, it could be the start of a complete repositioning or a brand revival... Which will it be for your brand?


Hot Take: No One Cares About Your Logo...

As a collective, we need to take some pressure off logos – don't get us wrong, they are essential to a business, but they really don’t need to work so hard. Let's focus on what drives your brand as a whole instead.

Over time, companies have started to get into the mindset that a logo, something that does nothing more than identify us–is incredibly important. And, it's true, it is very important. But, there's a lot more to it than meets the eye.

Truth is, logos on their own actually say nothing. While they can make people aware of your brand and are essential for discovery and recognition, they can’t tell your customers who you really are, or what you actually care about unless you purposefully build meaning into them!

Your logo alone is not your brand. Your brand is the experience your customers have (which includes a good logo) and then tell their friends about. All the best design and craft in the world can’t make a logo that will convince someone your company's product or service is great if it isn’t. That’s a job for advertising and marketing and website design, and all the other great things that go into starting a company and building a brand.

Don't take this the wrong way: We still need logos, but it’s not right to make a logo the foundation or the end-all be-all of your brand. It's simply a building block - or another tool in the tool chest of your company's brand strategy.

Here's an example of something more important than focusing all your attention on your logo: Experiential Identity -

You know what your customers will feel and experience? Why are you in business, what do you believe in, what are the values that drive your company, what’s the experience you want customers to have? Great brands are built from the inside out; they're built around a belief system and driven by values. What your customers experience every time they interact with your company is the "real" brand.

If your brand doesn’t have a purpose, then stop everything and find out what it is. Once you figure that out, you’ll see that everything’s definitely much easier.

Brands are multifaceted and shouldn’t be reliant on just one element (a logo) to be effective. Your visual identity is what you use to communicate the purpose, values, and ideas you have in your experiential identity. There are a lot of moving parts that work together to make it operate the right way.

Here's a good measuring stick to see how well your brand has been built from a both a visual and experiential identity: remove all your company's logos from your product(s), website(s), app, advertisements, social media accounts, etc. At the end of the day, your customers should still know it’s you. It's time to give the logo a little bit of a break.


digital advertising dead RIP

Digital Advertising Losing its Shine?

it’s 2018 and consumers don’t even need to think twice about ignoring the relentless, sometimes even intrusive, ads that clutter the Internet. Does that mean the age of digital advertising is coming to an end? Hardly.

Digital advertising has always been a relatively inexpensive and measurable way to directly target your company's audience - no matter how wide it's spread. But, as the call for a more accessible, free and less cluttered Internet begins to grow in demand more than ever, does this mean that digital advertising will lose its edge over traditional advertising?

What, exactly, is digital advertising anyway?

To help answer this question, we first need to define the (sometimes) relatively broad often interchangeable term "digital advertising". Basically, digital advertising is any form of marketing content that's displayed through the internet. These ads can be seen across web browsers, social media, search engines (like Google) and even built in to mobile games and apps. In the marketing mix, it's been a tool that has been essential to advertising for at least the last 25 years.

Digital (or "online") advertising takes shape in a variety of forms that are always evolving, but, here are the six most prominent types:

  1. Display ads: Think banner ads on websites, pop-up ads, and small-scale video "commercial style" advertisements that often appear on websites but are not necessarily related to the content of the website you're browsing.
  2. Search Engine Marketing (SEM): Paying for specific keywords so that when that keyword is searched, your website or content will be ranked higher on the results page.
  3. Native ads: Marketing messages that have been integrated into the platform that they appear on so they look "native" to the website (or app, etc...). Usually listed at the end of a post.
  4. Social media ads: Highly targeted messages or "sponsored content" style posts that are displayed on social networks like Facebook or Linkedin.
  5. Video ads: Video ads provide a way to tell a story in an immersive way. These are quickly becoming the most popular amongst marketers.
  6. Email marketing: A cheap and fast way to market to a very targeted audience through email messages. This is because marketers can have their choice in who receives this communication.

 

At first, the rise of digital advertising started to steal the attention away from traditional (think print, TV commercials) advertising because, for the first time, advertising mimicked the trusting nature of word-of-mouth. Brands could suddenly leverage the Internet to become ‘friends’ with their consumers (especially with the rise of social media) – who are ordinarily more likely to trust their "friends" or peers than they are a company or brand.

But this made the digital advertising space cluttered, leaving little breathing room for consumers to experience an actual website itself (remember the late 90's -early 2000's when websites were chock-full of all kinds of banner and pop up ads all over the place)... folks began to get overwhelmed. You could say the "bubble bursted" on early digital ad formats, so, the industry adapted and new formats became favored.

So, what's the deal for the future? 

Digital advertising, as a whole, not dead by a long shot. Instead, marketers should consider a form of digital advertising that provides value to the consumer – possibly in the way of content marketing, or, finding ways to engage consumers with campaigns that work both digitally and offline, for example. One thing’s for sure – digital advertising is here to stay. Maybe not in the form it was always intended, but certainly in the way of a novel and more mutually beneficial relationship between advertisers and consumers – one that few other marketing tools can match. So, next time you hear someone say "digital advertising is dead!" tell them they are wrong... way wrong.

 


build a brand

How to Build a Brand From Scratch

It is possible to build a brand from scratch successfully. However, it has become a lot more complex, and also a lot easier than ever before (depending on how you look at it). The millennials are a generation privileged with the upsides of the internet that allow them to bring their dreams alive with relative ease. While there are definitely more opportunities to launch a business today, failing in a cluttered 24/7 environment is actually quite easy to do.

One of the main factors in the success of a brand is its ability to carve its own niche and highlight that niche or difference to consumers. When launching a brand, there's a lot to keep in mind, but, here are some of the key factors entrepreneurs need to keep in mind while they being to launch their dreams:

build a brand planning strategy

1. Know and understand your target audience - It is extremely important to understand your target audience to define your brand. Keep in mind their demographics (age, gender, geographical location, income, education, occupation). This helps in crafting the right message and positioning of the brand.

2. Develop a strong key message for your defined audience - The right messaging is critical for building a brand, and only seems to become more crucial as the years pass. Instead of bombarding consumers with too many messages, giving out one key message for them to take away greatly increases the probability of brand recognition.

2. Know what sets your brand apart and stick to that - In order to give a distinct positioning to your brand, it's extremely important to identify what differences you're offering vs. your competitors (or potential competitors). You must be aware of what your competitors are doing in order to have a better hold on the next moves. It is essential to understand your brand and what customers expect out of your brand in the grand scheme of things.

4. Define your brand’s values - Defining your brand’s values helps you to better connect with consumers you want to reach. Humans have emotions, positioning your brand as a supporter of that emotion and the values associated with it gives you the edge to strengthen your brand image. For Example: Being a brand supporting gay rights, which is a topical issue, helps to connect with your customers -- of course, your values should always be aligned with your target market's values most importantly.

5. Listen to your customers/clients - The digital revolution has made it easy to communicate with customers and potential customers. Taking regular feedback from your consumers reduces the chances of any PR crisis and helps create an image of a customer-oriented brand.

 

Following these five keys of advice will assist you in creating a brand with a space for itself in the minds of consumers and set up your brand image. Building a brand from scratch requires diligent work, keeping in mind the end goal to do it effectively, one must be well versed with the market trends and blend them with the brand’s activities and campaigns. It's hard work to build a successful brand from scratch, and takes a lot of time, but it can definitely be done!