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Authentic and Memorable Campaigns

Being the devoted Audi brand fan that I am, I’m not sure how I missed this incredible campaign between Audi & Airbnb. They essentially combined the brands, using the oh-so beautiful Audi R8 to create an experience to rival the best of them. For those who haven’t seen the listing, check it out here.

Instead of just creating advertising or a ‘commercial’ they created an experience. Not only does this speak directly to the new generation of buyers – experiences vs. things – it pushes the traditional distribution model past redline. The current advertising environment is overwhelming, consumers are under a constant barrage of marketing messages which is now just ‘noise’. Campaigns like Audi & Airbnb are showing us what it means to create great content – authentic and memorable. Personally, I believe we’re in the early stages of a necessary shift in advertising. The bar is higher, and brands must begin to think outside the box. Great content should evoke emotions, excite, and engage the audience. I tip my hat to the creatives that designed and executed this campaign – we need more content like this.

Making Your Small Business Look Like a Huge Brand Online

When Someone Searches For Your Brand Online…

It’s a competitive market landscape out there regardless of industry. When it comes to competing on a global platform, i.e. the Internet, businesses want to look bigger and better than their competitors. But when small businesses are pitted against big brands, you’d think it’s better to throw in the towel than put up a hopeless fight, right? Wrong!  Small and medium-sized businesses (SMBs) can still drive website traffic and increase their revenue despite the challenge of competing against big corporate brands. Google SERPs is a fair playing field and SMBs are allowed to make a big impression in the marketplace – they need only know how to develop their online branding.

Controlling Your Branded SERPs

SMBs can dominate the SERPs with an outstanding reputation. If a business is reputable and trustworthy, Google rewards it with better rankings on the search results. Otherwise, a site’s standing can suffer, especially when negative reviews about the brand are floating around the net. Take control of your brand’s standing with Google by creating a plan of action that achieves your desired rankings.

  • Brand details like the brand name and company logo must be consistently integrated on the website. Remember to include it in title, meta tags, headers, content, and web design.
  • Create and develop your social media profiles and link these to your website. Enrich your social media presence by engaging with customers through relevant social media images and entertaining rich media content. Consumers regularly discover new brands on social media so be visible on Facebook, Twitter, Instagram, and other social channels appropriate for your business.
  • Use rich snippets to improve your search results. By making your search listing more appealing with an author’s picture, star ratings, or video thumbnails, you can rank number two or three on a results page but still get a searcher to click on you first. Optimized rich snippets increase brand exposure and increase click through rate (CTR) within a SERP.

A sound plan of action is not complete without using a reliable tool like Google Tag Manager to easily manage and measure traffic and site visitor behavior, social channels and online advertising. It tracks down all the bits of website code containing relevant information on improving your overall online marketing strategy. 

Making The Right Impression

Online branding is much more than choosing a logo, web design, corporate colors, and typefaces. It is all about the experience a business delivers to their customers – how they communicate with them. It is the business’ identity, its core and values. By taking control of their online branding on Google results and social media, SMBs that dare to be bold, daring, and different can undoubtedly compete with bigger businesses.

It’s not your product, it’s your story.

Consumers are changing, a full 70% of consumers prefer to get to know a brand via articles over ads. While social and digital marketing continue to capture an increasing share of marketing budgets, the existing digital ads are declining in value. With over 7.1B, yes that’s Billion with a B, in Ad fraud in 2016, brands must rethink how they deploy their marketing capital. While I don’t advocate throwing the baby out with the bathwater, I’d recommend brands think differently about how they allocate budgets. While paid media has, and will continue to be an arrow in every advertiser’s quiver, the power of storytelling through content marketing is becoming one of the most powerful ways for brands to build connections with consumers.

We are seeing a rapid shift in the way audiences connect to brands. It’s easy to spin up a few ads and spend your way to the top of search engines or social media, however recent studies are increasingly showing that these ads are largely being ignored, blocked, or in the worst case not even seen. What consumers desire in 2017 is an emotional connection to the brands they support. This means brands should start focusing on their unique story than their product features and benefits. As evidenced by Forrester’s latest research, 32% of consumers would trust a stranger in a public forum more then they trust a brand ad. Yes, you read that right, they would trust a stranger, on the internet, over a brand advertisement. This is the clearest indication that brands must begin investing in storytelling through purposeful, authentic, action-oriented content.  

In Simon Sinick’s TED talk he presents an interesting case for Starting With Why. I recently read the book that accompanies the TED talk and was exhilarated to see his recommendation on how brands can build powerful, long lasting connections. As a former marketer himself, Simon saw first-hand what created winning brands, and it has very little to do with pumping up their product features and benefits. Take Apple for example, why would anyone pay double the cost for a computer that basically has the same internal components as say, a Dell or HP laptop? The answer, while not immediately apparent without some introspection, is as I’ve said above – it’s not about your product it’s about your story. Apple’s story is to Think Different, to Challenge Status Quo. It just so happens that they also make computers, and phones, and digital music players. The reason people are willing to pay more for an Apple product is because they identify emotionally with the brand. They are challenging the status quo and ultimately connecting on a deep emotional level with what the Apple brand represents.

As the digital landscape continues to evolve this year, we’ll see companies who adapt and evolve along with it. In the last 15 years of digital disruption, most of us would be amazed to learn that 52% of the Fortune 500 companies have disappeared. Yes, that’s a true statistic and one that should spark a bit of anxiety in the titans of industry today. The time has come to reinvent how we (brands, organizations, marketers, and advertisers) build relationship with our customers and audiences. This transformation can be an opportunity, or a threat, depending on how brands respond. The takeaway for brands, listen to your customers, adapt your techniques, and provide value through authentic content marketing that delights, informs, and creates a memorable experience. 2017 is the year of The Brand Story.   

Becoming A Modern Brand

You’ve put out your name, you’ve shown your product, people know about your brand; what comes next? Taking a brand to the next level usually means making sure your customers keep coming back to the point where they spread the gospel of your product for you. After all, there is no marketing tool more powerful than word-of-mouth testimony. But how do you make loyal converts out of repeat buyers?

Make your Values Transparent

People respond better to a brand that is clear and consistent with their representation. Being clear with your company values sends the right message to the appropriate channels. Dove’s beauty campaign, for example, expresses their belief that beauty comes in all shapes, sizes, and ages. In this case, being a brand synonymous to acceptance and celebration of all women makes it easy for customers to identify with their message.

Content Still Matters

By this time, everyone knows that content is still king when it comes to marketing. But consider this: is what you’re saying connecting you to your audience? Does it match your public’s interests and needs? When you plan for your campaign’s content, the focus should not just be on what your brand is about; you should also tilt the focus on how your brand can fit into and improve their lives. Your choice of voice, tone, and delivery of the content should also match your demographics’ style and culture.

Old School Marketing Moves

Whatever the current marketing trend, some areas in marketing don’t change– correct pricing and positioning factor in/are still factors when people make the decision to support brand X instead of brand Y. A customer may opt out of upgrading a service if the perceive upgrades as expensive. A customer may shirk away from purchasing a product with a questionable name (can you imagine buying Cocaine Energy Drink?). Language and context are significant aspects of whether or not your brand becomes the first choice in the market.

When strategizing on how to stand out on the search pages, explicitly saying you’re the best doesn’t account for anything of value to both SERPs and marketing. It only matters that you stay honest with your audience and communicate your brand message in a relatable way. Consider their customer journey. You are providing the experience– make it a good one.

Choose Your Own Brand-venture: How to Go From Top to Favorite Brand

You’ve put out your name, you’ve shown your product, people know about your brand; what comes next? Taking a brand to the next level usually means making sure your customers keep coming back to the point where they spread the gospel of your product for you. After all, there is no marketing tool more powerful than word-of-mouth testimony. But how do you make loyal converts out of repeat buyers?

Make your Values Transparent

People respond better to a brand that is clear and consistent with their representation. Being clear with your company values sends the right message to the appropriate channels. Dove’s beauty campaign, for example, expresses their belief that beauty comes in all shapes, sizes, and ages. In this case, being a brand synonymous to acceptance and celebration of all women makes it easy for customers to identify with their message.

Content Still Matters

By this time, everyone knows that content is still king when it comes to marketing. But consider this: is what you’re saying connecting you to your audience? Does it match your public’s interests and needs? When you plan for your campaign’s content, the focus should not just be on what your brand is about; you should also tilt the focus on how your brand can fit into and improve their lives. Your choice of voice, tone, and delivery of the content should also match your demographic’s style and culture.

Old School Marketing Moves

Whatever the current marketing trend, some areas in marketing don’t change– correct pricing and positioning factor in/are still factors when people make the decision to support brand X instead of brand Y. A customer may opt out of upgrading a service if the perceive upgrades as expensive. A customer may shirk away from purchasing a product with a questionable name (can you imagine buying Cocaine Energy Drink?). Language and context are significant aspects of whether or not your brand becomes the first choice in the market.

When strategizing on how to stand out on the search pages, explicitly saying you’re the best doesn’t account for anything of value to both SERPs and marketing. It only matters that you stay honest with your audience and communicate your brand message in a relatable way. Consider their customer journey. You are providing the experience– make it a good one.

A Newbie’s Guide to Brand Books

A Newbie’s Guide to Brand Books

Some organizations call them brand books. Others tag them as brand bibles or brand guidelines. Whatever you want to call them, a brand book or bible is what your writers, designers, and marketers base their work on to tell consistent stories about your business or organization.

As much as you want to tell your story on your own, it’s a great responsibility you need to share and distribute among content creators and marketers. Allow them to build your reputation and connect with more people. Two main reasons why brand books are a necessity are consistency and clarity, especially when different people from your company are developing the website, strategizing content marketing, and creating design.

Take a peek at what you should find inside a brand book!

Brand Overview

What are your goals? What’s the company philosophy? Include the history of the company, why and how it was founded. Include a mission + vision statement, so everybody else can better understand why you’re doing what you’re doing. Humanize your brand and be relatable to your audience. Describe your brand’s personality. Enumerate and explain the values your brand embodies and stands for.

Logo Design and Usage

With one look, a logo communicates ideas and triggers feelings. From McDonald’s golden arches to Nike’s  iconic “swoosh”, logos are the visual identity or representation of your brand. It is through which your products and services can be recognized from. A brand book must include the design of your logo and how it should be used. Logos are used and placed on websites, business cards, letterheads, packaging — it’s important to maintain integrity.

Typography Palette

Details make all the difference, and fonts are no exception. Typefaces also build the persona of the brand, so the kinds of typeface and how each is used are laid out. Have at least two primary typefaces; one you can use for digital output and the other for print projects. Include additional styling and sizes and complimentary typefaces that go well with the primary.  

Color Palette

Sometimes, before you even see the logo clearly, brands are instantly recognized because of the colors they use. Ferrari is to red as Facebook is to blue. Of course, other brands mix and match other colors to develop their unique identity. Establish a color palette and label appropriately with values for print and digital. Keep the number of colors to choose from to a minimum, but include saturated versions and tints. These color guidelines are applied to text, logo, and backgrounds.

Get started with your own brand book!