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Branding from Design to Retail: Apple Shows the Future

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appleIt is 5AM. Black Friday. They still have a turkey hangover but wake up anyway with coupons in hand to get the best deals in sight. We as marketers push out all the advertising in sight to get people to buy certain products and go to certain stores. It is the one day of year that consumers are guaranteed to wake up at all hours of the night to go shopping to get a few extra dollars off of their gifts. While strolling through the mall, there is one store in particular that has no deep discounts, but ironically is the most crowded. The Apple Store.

The in-store experience at Apple is the ultimate definition of experiential marketing in retail. The store is very refined and classically modern. The Apple store in fact looks and feels like one big Apple device. Like his products, Steve Jobs wanted everything simple and sleek. In an article in the Smithsonian Magazine, Walter Isaacson said this of Jobs: “He embraced minimalism, which came from his Zen devotion to simplicity.” Jobs himself said, “The way we’re running the company, the product design, the advertising, it all comes down to this: Let’s make it simple. Really simple.”

Simple is certain. There are no registers. No lines. No piles of items thrown a-strew. No pushy people on cell phones with overloaded carts standing in front of you with a crying baby arguing over a price check. Granted, the store is crowded and there are lots of people. However, Jobs again shows us the future with some revolutionary changes that many retailers could potentially see in the not-so-distant future, such as:

  1. Every product in the store has an iPad as its sign showing the price point and options of the item.
  2. There are at least 20 clerks walking around the store answering questions. Each of these clerks is equipped with an iPhone that is used to scan the item and check out the customer via debit or credit card. For those who want to pay with cash there are a few hidden cash drawers around the store that are built into some of the displays. The displays are so sleek you would never notice the cash drawers until one was opened.
  3. Discounts are minimized but demand is so high that consumers purchase anyway. In the early days of retail a huge sale did not need to happen every day. Jobs has pulled this thinking back in by making a superior product and selling at a reasonable price.

The future is not George Jetson-style flying cars or space suits. It is high-tech products with impeccable sleek design. It is stores that do not have lines wrapping around the building. It is branding your product from design through retail in a cohesive and desirable fashion. Apple again sends the rest of us the big question: Are we doing it all wrong?

Article originally published on Beneath the Brand at: http://www.talentzoo.com/beneath-the-brand/blog_news.php?articleID=16062

Tweets DO NOT = Mine

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Tweets = mine. You see it the Twitter profile of thousands, but are they really yours? The answer is “no.”

Tweets are only kept to yourself and a close group of friends if you have a private profile. However, if your profile is public, the tweets are never really yours. There are many instances when individuals get in a good amount of trouble for tweets posted. Sometimes they mistakenly post a personal tweet with the corporate or client account and sometimes it is related to their own personal account. No matter if you are the janitor, the brand manager, or the CEO, what you say can have a positive or in some cases very negative effect on a brand.

Here are a couple of cases when an individual’s tweets had some very negative effects for the brand they represent.

  1. The not-so-personal account. James Andrews of Ketchum PR hurt the reputation of his PR firm when he posted this tweet “True confession but I’m in one of those towns where I scratch my head and say ‘I would die if I had to live here!’” What he didn’t realize is that some employees of FedEx read this tweet when he landed in Memphis for corporate training on social media. FedEx fired Ketchum as a direct result. FedEx, being based in Memphis, cares very much about their hometown. When Andrew was speaking he represented FedEx as a brand even though he did not realize it. Read about the incident in Memphis’ Commercial Appeal.
  2. The oops-I-forgot-I-was-logged-into-the-corporate-account. Chrysler has had its fair share of issues over the last five years. The last thing they needed was somebody speaking negatively for their brand. However, the employee managing the Chrysler Twitter account made a mistake. Instead of posting to their personal account, they tweeted this message from the Chrysler corporate account: “I find it ironic that Detroit is known as the #motorcity and yet no one here knows how to f#@%ing drive.” The company handling the Chrysler account, New Media Strategies, was fired immediately from the account. The person that made the mistake was also fired from New Media Strategies. Read about the whole incident here.

Why do these events matter to a brand? Twitter is public. Everyone can read it, and they do. Especially when you think they’re not reading or they won’t see it if you delete it really quickly. Think about when you were younger and your mom would tell you, “If you don’t have anything good to say, don’t say it at all.” That applies to social media, especially when you represent a brand.

How will you change the way you communicate on social media?

Article originally published on the Talent Zoo blog Beneath the Brand here:  http://www.talentzoo.com/beneath-the-brand/blog_news.php?articleID=15965

Ford’s Gone Scrappy

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Engagement. That is one of the key ideas behind getting consumers involved in your brand. After the American auto industry had their troubles, Ford had to reinvent the way it did its marketing or it would fail. One of the ways they did it was through engagement.

In a presentation at Madonna University by Jim Farley, Group Vice President, Global Marketing, Sales, and Service at Ford Motor Company, he said the company is “…very scrappy. Big, but scrappy.” What Farley meant by being scrappy is that the company changed their thoughts towards marketing. “When I came, marketing was an afterthought to sales,” he said. Farley changed all that. Ford had little time and money to get it right. They had to think on their feet and did not have any room for error.

Error they did not. Farley mentioned a number of scrappy marketing things the automaker did to reinvent the brand. These stood out the most:

  1. Focus ST Commercial: Ford closed down the streets at night in Key West. They brought in two new Focus STs and professional drivers. People gathered in the streets to watch the ‘race.’ Ford then asked those who came out to take video with their phones. Onlookers sent the videos to Ford and in the end it was the first user-generated cell phone commercial. It cost Ford virtually nothing. Watch the commercial.
  2. Focus Movement: In the Focus Movement, Ford launched the 2012 Ford Focus with Doug the Puppet. This was the first launch of a car by way of sock puppet. Scrappy? I think so.
  3. Mustang Customizer: Ford launched the Mustang Customizer, where consumers can go to the website and create their own new dream Mustang. Each week they list the fan-generated car of the week on their Facebook page. Ford’s success with this customizer has gone so big that it has pushed Mustang to have the largest following of any car in the world on Facebook with 4.58 million likes and counting.
  4. Random Acts of Fusion: For Random Acts of Fusion, Ford hired Ryan Seacrest and Joel McHale to give away 100 brand-new Ford Fusions all across America. The pair are giving away cars quicker than Elvis gave away Cadillacs. Along the way, Ford is filming a documentary. One look at ‘Random Acts‘ and you can tell that it is a brand builder that is revolutionary for the likes of an automaker.

These are just four examples of Ford’s brand-building success. Every example has a couple things in common. One, it has never been done in the industry before. It is socially engaging. It is out-of-the-box. It also hits its target market dead on. Farley’s bet on keeping the big automaker’s marketing ‘scrappy’ was what some in the beginning may have seen as risky, but it paid off.

What ways could being scrappy pay off for other brands?

Article originally published on the Talent Zoo at: http://www.talentzoo.com/beneath-the-brand/blog_news.php?articleID=15901

Brad Pitt for Chanel No.5 – Revolutionary

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45.8 Million. That is the number of web pages that points to the Google search term “brad pitt chanel commercial.” Take off the term
chanel-no-5‘commercial’ and there are 82.5 million web pages. The Huffington Post says “There’s nothing you can’t sell with a black-and-white Brad Pitt talking nonsense in front of a neutral background.” SNL spoofed it the same week it came out. Conan O’Brien is talking about it on his show. I come home from work and there are talking about it on Extra. Does that sound really that bad?

Sure I admit that Pitt may come off as a little out of it, aloof, and generally not entertaining. However the television ad is not meant for me. It is meant for the woman who wears Chanel No.5 and the women who will hopefully want to wear Chanel No.5. It is a deeper commercial actually talking to a bottle of perfume and not a person. You have to think a little bit in watching the commercial and that is hard for some people. They are staying extremely focused on their brand message. In today’s society so many people are focused on reality television filled with drama, a lack of story, and in the end leaves you hoping for more. Chanel is not focused on this subset. Chanel is focused on the woman who will wear Chanel and appreciates some of the finer things in life.

Being the first male spokesperson for this brand was a huge transition for Chanel who has previously used the likes of Marilyn Monroe. For Chanel to spend $7 million on Brad Pitt they needed to make it worth their while. Why not make it something memorable? Few commercials outside of the Superbowl make headlines like this commercial has.

From a public relations standpoint, the public is not saying anything negative about Chanel No.5. They are making fun of the way Brad Pitt acts in the commercial. However, in all instances they ARE talking about Chanel No.5. Isn’t that the goal? Talk about their commercials has exploded virally. Over the years everyone has heard the saying ‘no publicity is bad publicity’.  And it is no more true than in this case. Will this commercial make you buy Chanel No.5? Maybe not. Will this commercial make you aware of Chanel No.5? Definitely.

Imagine coming up with the idea to film this commercial. After all it is more like a film. Black and white sets the tone. It separates it from other commercials. ‘Don’t blend in’ is on the whiteboard. Money in the budget is limited for worldwide exposure. Buy less media, add Brad Pitt. Done. He is a man so you have to be strategic in the message. Have an abstract story that few will understand and everyone will question. Make it so the viewer wants to watch it a few more times to try to understand it. Make it so that when they watch the commercial it would be better placed in a fine art gallery than on TV. Now you have done it. You have something different. The world questions different. The best things are different.

Where Do Great Ideas Come From?

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Do you ever catch yourself asking someone “How did you think of that?” We all have. It is always a great question because it helps you understand how people think – if they answer it honestly. Although, most of the time the answer is “it just came to me.”lightbulb

So how did they think of that great idea? I have gathered 5 eye-opening points that have helped me stay creative over the years.

  1. Diversify yourself. Step outside of your comfort zone. If you only watch sports, try watching a chick flick. If you go home every day after work, take up a hobby or two. If you make a ham sandwich for lunch everyday, go out. You get the idea. The key is that you need to keep yourself diversified. Try as many different things as you can. Take beer for example. You like to enjoy an ice-cold beer on a Friday night, right? You have choices. Instead of going home and pulling another cold one from the fridge you could go to the corner brewery. You could also dress up a little and go to Cliff Bell’s and listen to some great jazz while enjoying that brew or an old-fashioned. When you diversify yourself you open your eyes to things you may not normally think of or pay attention to. Anything can spark an idea. If you do the same things every day you are stuck in one target market that you may never be trying to appeal to. In turn, the ideas that you come up with may only appeal to your specific market and not necessarily the target market you are shooting for.
  2. Go outside. When is the last time you took a walk around the block or a bike ride? It seems really simple but it opens your mind. Just sitting at your desk does not always cut it. Sights, sounds, textures, and the like spark things in your mind. Have you ever heard of the American Family Life Assurance Company? Not unless I said AFLAC. In one of my graduate branding courses we learned the story of the AFLAC duck. How did they come up with that idea? The creatives at Kaplan Thaler went to lunch in an outdoor patio. They saw a duck. They kept repeating the word AFLAC. It started to sound like a duck. The rest is history. After they spent countless hours of brainstorming, all it took was them to take a walk outside and go to lunch. Go outside.
  3. Research other industries.  If you are in automotive do not just look for other ideas in the automotive circles. Look at the ideas that are being developed in other industries and see how it can relate your own. I am by no means telling you to steal someone’s idea. What I am telling you is to see how you can learn from it and potentially apply it to something else. You can always learn from others. The day you stop learning is the day you have failed yourself.
  4. Keep notes. I have probably lost more good ideas than I could ever remember. The problem is that I did not write them down. Type it, write it, scribble it, draw it, whatever works. Just get it down on paper. Even though the idea may not be the best idea now it may spark something else or you may see it in a different light later.  A good friend of mine was stuck in traffic a couple of months ago and out of nowhere came up with one of the best ideas I have heard in quite a while, a real game changer. By the time he was out of the backup he had already written down page after page of notes in an old notebook he kept for that very purpose. Don’t let the ideas slip away.
  5. Listen. Whether it is a story, a newscast,  or your spouse, yes your spouse, listen. I like to bounce ideas off my friends too. Listen to what they have to say. There is always something that you may not have thought of or an angle you have never ventured toward before. Everyone’s mind works differently. Listening is what helps fine tune your idea from what would be very good to something remarkable.

Reflect on these points from time to time. Stay hungry. Keep your mind sharp. That next great idea is just around the corner. What else do you do to keep your creative side fulfilled?

If you tweet it, they will read it.

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Is your social media coordinator qualified to speak for your brand? Have you ever actually thought about it?

1030887_53077079Social networking has been one of the number one things companies and ad agencies are focusing on today. Nearly everything is digital and has to happen now. This isn’t a bad thing, it just opens up to a new type of thinking. We need to remember that social networking is no longer just an add-on. It is a very large part of your company. Anything that is posted via social media from your corporate account represents your company. It is the quickest way to talk to your fan base.

If you tweet it, they will read it. Really think about that. We need to choose wisely when allowing someone to run your social media accounts. They speak for the entire brand. I cannot stress that enough. The reason I am focusing on this so much is because of a few recent instances of social media neglect. This neglect leads to a whole lot of crisis management. Here are two examples:

  1. Kitchenaid’s presidential election woes. The perpetweeter, person who tweets for a company and commits a social crime,  thought they were logged into their own personal profile. They were wrong. Logged into the company account, they continue on a derogatory rant about President Obama tagging #nbcpolitics via @KitchenAidUSA. Read the entire story here. This is where you must separate work and home life. Up until this point it seems as if a majority of social media is being updated by lower level coordinators instead of strategic thinkers. Although Kitchenaid did a good job cleaning up this mess, it was tweeted and it was read.
  2. Kim Kardashian inspired “Aurora” dress from Celeb Boutique. The shooting in Aurora, Colorado during a midnight screening of the Batman movie “Dark Knight Rises” was a horrible tragedy. The perpetweeter updating the Celeb Boutique twitter profile had no idea what had happened. They saw ‘Aurora’ as a trending topic and without looking into it further tweeted about the Kim Kardashian inspired Aurora dress. Read the entire story here. Before you make comments that can affect an entire company you must at least do a small amount of background research. It was tweeted and it was read.

With our evolving digital landscape there needs to be someone highly qualified sending out the tweets, Facebook posts, Instagram photos, and anything else that touches your target audience. You should treat this as carefully as you would treat a press release or press conference. Just because a person has a Facebook profile doesn’t make them a social media guru. It doesn’t matter what age the person running your social media is. All that matters is the experience that they have and the intimate understanding of your business and industry. Do your research and select a qualified person(s) to update your social accounts. Make sure this person understands your brand and maintains the professionalism your brand deserves. The time to act on this is before something happens.

What steps will you take to make sure your social media coordinator is qualified?