Archive for category Branding
I’m a true believer in color psychology. For instance, the pervasive red inside Pizza Hut makes people hungry but keeps them cycling through – they don’t want to linger at the table. If you’re still working on your brand logo and designs, take color into consideration. It may sound hokey, but color has an effect on us as human beings. How do you want to be perceived by your customers? Optimistic and cheerful? Serious and straightforward as an expert with the knowledge to back up your claims?
Check out this beautiful chart on branding and color psychology by Marketo for inspiration. Favorite quote? “[U]se caution with brown as it reminds most people of dirt.”
What are you talking about on your blog? If it’s yourself, you’re probably not getting readers. You don’t want to be the guy at the party whose stories about himself only pause when he has time to stuff an hors d’ouevres in his mouth and continue with “and then I….”
When marketers say the 20 year or so old refrain Content is King, what they mean is the stuff you put on your Web site needs to be interesting to your readers, not just you. Your blog is not a mouthpiece for your sales department. It is a virtual conversation that provides something valuable to customers and partners and whomever else you are trying to get to read it. It’s educational, entertaining, and probably informal. The more natural a voice you adopt for your blog, the better. Have fun with it. Your blog is your creative arm. It’s where you connect with people who are like you, who would enjoy your product and the subculture that surrounds it the same way you do.
How to come up with ideas to write about:
Go to places where your customers hang out, in person or digitally, and see what they talk about. What else do they like? What can you tie back into the values of your product? Educate them on how to use your product. Provide profiles and links on people who are doing interesting things with the type of product or service you provide, though not necessarily customers all the time, since that all comes back to being completely about you. There’s nothing wrong with telling a story or two about yourself. Just don’t abuse it. Have other stuff there.
Pay Attention to Subcultures
I read blogs because of the interesting stories they tell about subjects I follow. And I’ll check out a book or product a blogger is promoting because I trust her, because she writes about other subjects that interest me.
I’ll buy a beauty product from a company if it is a natural product company that writes articles about growing organic herbs and aromatherapy, what collagen actually does for the skin, and how bee farming is humane and generates all sorts of useful ingredients, such as beeswax, which are used in products like theirs. A blog like this is not designed to push a product, though it informs me about aspects of the product and reminds me of the natural organic subculture that I have unofficially joined through my interests.
Build (and Join) Community
As a side note, I really really love that company if it also sponsors events with recyclers, crafters, and craft brewers in the local organic community and writes about the festivals it supports, since that fits in with my subculture and helps me connect to their idea of community and my own even better. But events are a whole other ball of beeswax. Though they help immensely with figuring out what to write about.
One way to tap into this community-building and be a local participant is to begin using Twitter to find others like yourself. Put your interests or your business summary in your profile – as well as a link to your Web site. Seek out and follow others by typing the words you used to describe yourself into the search bar in Twitter. People will find you and begin to follow you. Thank them for following you. Comment or reply to others in the industry who put tweets up you enjoy, or people who enjoy the same things you do. It builds on itself until you have a great group of folks who are engaged with your interests, and you can all share ideas – sometimes they are your direct customers telling you what they want, or showing you what they are reading (through the links they put up on their feeds), which is valuable information to have.
Use any or all of these methods to find ideas to write about and good content to link to on your blog. It’s not just about search engine optimization (SEO) or converting sales. You’re relationship building, and you do this through community – and through providing information people care about. Educate. Entertain. Inform. “Convert” comes later.
Ever find that as a business, you have multiple personalities? That you can’t claim just one type of audience and you don’t know how to address these disparities, these fragments of identity that keep you from being able to write to one type, or have your web site formality set up to attract one type?
This is a common problem in business, especially small business. Small businesses don’t feel they have a big enough operation to set up landing pages and separate sites or areas for each type of audience. How will people know where to go? they say. It’s hard enough getting them to my web site in the first place.
Sometimes you can write to a variety of audiences, and provide content that resonates with all of them – like Web developer freelancers and CIOs, or teenage girls and their mothers. But sometimes it just doesn’t work.
If you sell cakes, you’re not going to appeal to brides and parents of little kids on the same page – unless your audience is
like my best friend, who had a Snork cake at her wedding. You need landing pages to appeal to these specialized audiences, so you can provide your bride with beautiful wedding cake photos that evoke the emotions of her special day, and tout your partnership program with the florist next door who makes the most ethereal arrangements. The Dad on the Run looking for the perfect Transformers cake for his 6-year-old, a man who wouldn’t know “fondant” if it hit him in the face, will not stay long enough on your Web site to find your Optimus Prime masterpiece if he sees a bunch of frilly wedding sculptures tufted with pearls. You get the picture.
5-Step crash course in targeted vertical marketing.
- So you set up tabs on your web site, and link to them all clearly, with photos if possible, on your home page. Make the navigation easy as pie, or cake. Fill your lovely targeted pages with copy and content directed only at the audience for that page. Have your main navigation bar always visible on the side to help others find what they need if that page doesn’t have it (help Dad discover Optimus instead of Bridezilla).
- Write about your various skills in your blog and create categories with lots of keyword tags. Register your blog on Technorati and hook it up to a Twitter feed, if you have the time to post something to Twitter (or “tweet”) an average of once a day.
- You research keywords on the Internet and find out what people are searching for – bless you Google Keywords Tool – then you put some of those keywords on your pages along with great, educational, informative content. In your own style. Polished but approachable.
- If you post any ads online, link them to special landing pages just for those customers (your designer will know how to do this, or you can just set up a separate tab in your blog or on the site template and DIY), and add in a promotional code you can track or a coupon they can print and bring in, so you know it’s working.
- Measurement is important (see step 4), which is why you should also visit Google Analytics and register your site so you can look at who is visiting your page, where they are coming from, and how long they stay. Then you can play around with the site and see if more videos, more photos, or different headlines make a difference.
Chris Brogan’s blog post Personal Branding Basics for 2011 offers pop culture pearls of wisdom for both individuals and businesses, managing to work in Batman as metaphor and, in contrast (or perhaps not), a little Madonna for effect – she is the quintessential brand reinventor of pop culture and a superhero to some Gen X ladies, after all. It’s an entertaining read even if you’re not into branding, but the post reminds us of some important considerations regarding names (not gimmicks), content, action, and tools – as in not getting overly caught up in the tools you use to put yourself out there.
Brogan’s formula for success is common sense, but contains elements and calculations we often forget in the mad rush to keep up with the Big Brands. And there’s an overarching theme about helping others, which is already a focus for many community-oriented businesses and individuals out there, but still isn’t the overarching principle it should be in the 21st century, given all our talk about talented free agents, right-brained thinkers, cultural creatives, and other revolutionaries.
Probably the most important bit of advice from Brogan: Figure out your promise and execute. That means action, and not a lot of talking about action. Doing can be a problem for many folks, especially in businesses that require multitudes of checks and balances and that have a hard time with transparency (e.g., not letting employees on Facebook for fear of what they’ll say). And we all talk about that novel we’re “working on” that never quite comes to fruition. Maybe it’s perfectionism, but this market moves at light speed and if we think too long about acting, the opportunity evaporates.
Speaking of light and speed, Brogan points out, “Batman showed up every time the signal was lit. He seemed to be everywhere to stop crime and to build momentum on the fact that crime wasn’t a good idea in Gotham City.” So act on your promise and be everywhere. Great advice for anyone, individual or company. And Batman’s a stellar role model, maybe minus the vengeance thing.
So here’s the formula:
“You want to crush it in branding?” says Brogan. “Focus on:
1. experimenting to improve your abilities,
2. executing to bring your promise into the real world, and
3. telling stories by making useful media to build relationships with your buyers and supporters.
That’s where you’ll see your rewards. Repeat, repeat, repeat.” No rinsing required. Armored rubber suit optional.
Guerilla marketing, the tactic of pulling stunts to get attention for your brand, is a prime way to stand out from the crowded marketplace. Sometimes it even saves money compared to traditional advertising. Barter, trade, or donate, and allow your audience to participate in your fun.
There are five excellent specimens of guerilla marketing campaigns for inspiration highlighted on Smarta. IKEA places thousands of picnic blankets and baskets in Central Park (as well as furnishings all over New York City) to remind people of the way design makes life better. Half.com gets a town to rename itself after the brand for a year, provides booty for residents. T-Mobile starts a disco in London’s Liverpool Street Station and airs it on a TV commercial.
What can your brand do? Think about your mission and your audience. What would they respond to? Are you trying to stamp out carbon footprints? What are some stunts that could help your cause? Think giant feet in the town square, hot air balloons, or stickers on everyone’s meter boxes. Think big, and don’t censor yourself until you get to logistics and costs. Let the ideas fly first – you never know. I mean, who would have thought that a town would agree to rename itself after a dot com?
Branding is entering some new territory these days. Maybe not entirely uncharted, but sketchy and undermapped. We’re at the point in history where we are designing logos for concepts instead of organizations, and I’m intrigued to see where it goes.
On Fast Company’s design site, science and technology writer John Pavlus explores the international collaborative effort to design a logo for human rights. He writes that the concept isn’t well enough articulated to elicit a strong logo, and he may be right. But there are some pretty well articulated organizations getting involved, including judging by the UN itself, and the contest on humanrightslogo.net is using an increasingly popular crowdsourcing strategy to gather designs that might be able to pinpoint the issue. (See examples of logo entries below and in more detail on Mashable.)
It could happen. The Human Rights Campaign for LGBT equality gained traction with their yellow equal sign on a dark blue background, and I still see the stickers on cars everywhere. As Pavlus mentions, the recycling symbol is another good example of a concept logo, and is devoid of intellectual property or copyright issues. He riffs that recycling is a concrete concept as opposed to the rather diffuse idea of human rights, and there may be a point there. The HRC defined a group of people as the target. Another equality campaign, the Equal Rights Amendment (“ERA Yes” green and white logo), is pushing for a particular piece of legislation, both concepts a little easier to wrap one’s head around than a nebulous idea of human rights.
Is there an agreed-upon definition of what constitutes human rights as far as the humanrightslogo.net folks are concerned? Maybe not, but there are probably a few basic tenets we can all support. And since the UN is part of the package, there are no doubt many high minds working on a definition.
Regardless, the whole idea behind the logo, as well as its rather impressive list of participants, may be enough to draw attention to an issue, which is sometimes an important end-goal in itself.
On a less lofty but still important issue, the new USDA food plate sans pyramid demonstrates mass recognition of the idea that easier to digest (pun intended) concepts with quick visual cues are just better for developed countries’ lifestyles at this juncture. These representations raise the point that our society is becoming more visual and more attention-deficient due to constant information saturation, and reminds us that easy visual cues like logos still have weight in branding.
Something an individual can virtually hold in his or her hand allows for easier brand digestion, and color and design often do have more impact than words. So much the better if the concept they represent contributes to humanity in some fashion. Design might just save the world after all.
In a fascinating article entitled “Does Your Brand Have a Lame Personality?” on Talent Zoo, Tommy Walker starts out seemingly contradicting some of the basic tenets of branding that I have posted here on Royal Pain. Shocked and dismayed, I read the article voraciously, trying to discern if there was some new idea in branding that I hadn’t seen coming. Has the UVP (Unique Value Proposition) been replaced with a multifaceted personality that works with different audiences in different ways? Maybe. But by the end of the article, I breathed a sigh of relief, for my foundation had not been rattled. Emboldened definitely, but not shaken.
I am intrigued by the concept Walker raised of being a “living, breathing” brand, just as a person has many aspects to his or her personality. He asks, “[D]o all of your friends like you for the same reason?” It is worth pondering how the many faces of Eve can happily coexist in a brand that still manages to define itself. And finding the answer to this puzzle as well as why those friends do actually like you is where the 007 bit comes in.
But before we get to that: the UVP. I’m not quite ready to do away with it. I still think that you should choose a genre and customer personality that best fits you and commit to something, because the worst kind of person is the chameleon who puts on a different show with everyone he meets.
However, if you take Walker’s meaning as a nod to the way we present ourselves a little differently at home than at work, or the way we might love to attend the indie crafts market and show off our tattoos, but we also have a hard-driving business side that feels equally comfortable in a good suit… Read the rest of this entry »