By Sidney Evans
The most effective brands on Earth are abundantly clear about “who they are” and obsessive in monitoring how consumers see them. Brand architects are often seen as magicians because of their ability to make the unknown known. The plethora of approaches in the marketplace rival Las Vegas in terms of breadth and scope of choices – enough to satiate any appetite. However, this can have a deleterious effect because of the cascading effect of over complicating an already cumbersome process. This is largely because “branding” has become the buzzword of the moment. Surprisingly, I have met very few people that have a robust understanding of the true meaning and the far reaching implications of ineffective messaging.
Branding is identifying what the brand is and ensuring consumers see the same picture. After months of reviewing countless approaches, I would like to humbly submit my branding philosophy. My approach is entitled “Back to Basics” which entails: 1) developing a corporate identity 2) communicating effectively and 3) continuously improving the brand.
Defining The Approach
1) Develop identity:
The most essential step is to have a clear picture of one’s self or business. One of the best ways to do that is through an honest assessment by cataloging words that represent the brand. Then, try to identify a common link between the terms (much like a shoelace on a shoe). Companies without a clear vision & mission statement usually have not completed the exercise above. Next, do a SWOT analysis to help mitigate some of the inherent risk. Lastly, the brand should ask itself what is its unique value replete with value proposition.
Inspired by Douglas Fairbanks, Jr., a young man named Ralph Lifshitz decided to design a wider European style neck tie. With the goal of appealing to the upper crust, he decided to ask a close friend and confidant what the name of the company should be. The friend urged him to name the company, Players, after shunning the other recommendation. Today, we call that company POLO; which now generates billions in revenue. The Company’s brand names, which include Polo by Ralph Lauren, Ralph Lauren Purple Label, Ralph Lauren Collection, Black Label, Blue Label, Lauren by Ralph Lauren, RRL, RLX, Ralph Lauren Childrenswear, Denim & Supply Ralph Lauren, Chaps and Club Monaco, constitute one of the world’s most widely recognized families of consumer brands. Yet, each of these respective sub brands has a very clear identity. For example, Purple Label is the sub brand under the corporate umbrella that speaks to the businessman with the most discerning tastes. Conversely, RLX is the sub brand that speaks to the athlete in the athlete in us all.
In my experience, this is the step that most businesses miscalculate. Brand messaging should be an ongoing conversation with the consumer. Yes, I said conversation. The most successful brands are masters at communicating with the consumer as if they were a good friend. Essentially, it is the same as storytelling. Over a period of time, these brands take the consumer through a myriad of different feelings and emotions.
In 1886, a curious Atlanta pharmacist, Dr. John S. Pemberton, had a desire to create a soft drink for soda fountain. During the 1970s, their advertising started to reflect a brand connected with fun, friends and good times. In 1971, Hilltop Singers performing “I’d Like to Buy the World a Coke”, or the 1979 “Have a Coke and a Smile” commercial featuring a young fan giving Pittsburgh Steeler, “Mean Joe Greene”, a refreshing bottle of Coca-Cola. The 80s saw the conversation change with catching sayings like “Coke is It!”, “Catch the Wave” and “Can’t Beat the Feeling”.
They have utilized almost everyone iconic from Arnold Palmer to Ray Charles in order to appeal to a rapidly changing demographic. The conversation has consistent and seamless as all effective conversation should be. The goal is never to information dump but to illicit an emotional response in various forms. Further, all communication must have an end goal before delivered.
The Japanese-Kanji- word “Kaizen” simply means “good change”. Since its inception after WWII to help restore Japan, it has largely come to symbolize what is known as continuous improvement. The need for constant re-tooling of one’s messaging can’t be overemphasized. It must be calibrated & re-calibrated based on a multitude of factors. Therein lies the challenge faced by most individuals & companies in this genre. Inexperienced companies develop an initial strategy and it never evolves. Perplexing.
In 1975, an innovative entrepreneur decided to open a discount brokerage in Sacramento, CA which was an anomaly at the time. Through this innovation, the company immediately became known for its ability to morph in an effort to cater to customers’ needs. They began with very client focused messaging offering extended customer service hours and being the first to offer 24-hour, 7-day-a-week order entry and quote service. By 1985, the company saw enormous growth with revenues topping $7 billion. By 2002, this company – known as Schwab – had launched an alternative for investment research, Schwab Equity Ratings®, and two new advisory services for affluent investors, Schwab Private Client™ and Schwab Advisor Network. By 2004, Schwab began the bold move of refocusing on clients’ needs. The “Ask Chuck” campaign is a great illustration of a brand that continuously has improved based on the brand value of customer service and value. Clearly, it was a smart departure for a company that could have eventually self-imploded if not for continuously improving.
As I stated earlier, this process is much like an artist before he begins to paint his next great masterpiece. It requires enormous skill & healthy dose of creativity. Please be aware that the brands usually have one opportunity to get this correct. Based on that fact: a) Don’t rush b) Think outside the box c) Seek inspiration everywhere. Think of it as a puzzle that may start one day and continue a little more every day.
What’s the best choice for my business: A Marketing Agency or an Advertising Agency?
When it comes to investing in marketing, small or medium sized businesses often face a confusing number of choices – and are at greater risk if their choices don’t yield results. Many growing businesses understand that an agency partner can offer a greater value than an in-house team, but how do you choose? The terminology alone can be confusing. For example:
How do you choose between a marketing agency and an advertising agency?
First, let’s examine the difference between Marketing agencies and Advertising agencies.
Advertising: The paid promotion of a message, usually in the form of online ads, television, print, radio, outdoor advertising, or other paid placement. Advertising is just one form of marketing.
Marketing: The comprehensive planning, implementation and control of a variety of targeted activities designed to connect a business with its audience. These activities may include advertising, but also extend to a much wider set of variables such as your brand identity, tone of voice, personality, logo, website, social media activity, events, email campaigns, brochures, catalogs, signage, co-branding, and more.
There are agencies that specialize in advertising, but most modern “Marketing Agencies” will offer solutions and delivery in both areas.
To decide whether you need a marketing agency or an advertising agency, ask yourself:
-What skills do we have internally to meet our goals?
-What additional services and skills do we need?
Then consider your options. Below are a few of the most common:
If you have the internal resources (a marketing specialist on your team) and experience to confidently do the strategic and development processes needed to prepare your product or service for the market, then you can probably go straight for an advertising agency to get your product out there.
If you don’t have the internal expertise to ensure consistent, efficient marketing implementation then you may be better served by a comprehensive marketing agency. Look for a multidisciplinary team with a solid portfolio of work that matches your needs. Once you have a solid brand and communication strategy, you can always bring in a specialized advertising agency to handle direct and online marketing (if your marketing partner does not already offer these services).
Many marketing agencies offer Integrated Marketing Solutions, which include advertising and promotion as part of the overall marketing package. The obvious benefit is a streamlined process and a team of experts that understand every aspect of your marketing and business goals. Working with just one agency from development to delivery also makes it easier to flow-in important additional communication pieces as needed, such as exhibitions, seminars and customer relations programs, an important value that gives you the flexibility it takes to remain competitive in a constantly shifting marketplace.
An integrated marketing agency like Symbicore will not only work with you to put together a comprehensive marketing strategy, they will also provide you with everything from a modern, engaging website to social media management and ad campaigns.
Contact us today to learn more about our integrated marketing solutions, designed especially for growing businesses.
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How to choose the right marketing agency
Choosing the right marketing partner is an important and often overwhelming decision for most small to mid-sized businesses. Once you have made the decision to hire an agency, what comes next? There are a few things to take into consideration.
- Look for an agency with specific expertise and experience that fit your goals, vision and values.
- Know your budget before you start and make sure your goals are clear and defined.
- Before you start it’s important that key-decision makers and team members are clear about the selection criteria and desired outcomes. This will save time and potential frustration later on.
- Ask for recommendations from local businesses. Are there any local brands you admire? Ask who their marketing partners are.
- Review the websites of marketing agencies in your area. Check out their prior campaigns, do background research on the agency and the kinds of clients they work with.
Contact the standouts
Contact the agencies that stand out for you. Provide them with information on your current marketing strategy and how it’s working/not working. Outline your goals for the future. Provide basic information about your customer type, where they can be found, sales/revenue, client growth and expectations for future growth, tactics and your marketing budget. You may consider writing an RFP (request for proposals) or a less-formal RFI (request for information). These documents help tell agencies what you are looking for and give you a baseline for evaluating offers.
Of the agencies that respond positively, narrow your list down to the ones you think will be the most compatible with your business model and goals.
Here you will be looking for compatibility with your organization and business culture. You are making an important investment into the future, so take your time and make the most informed choice. If it’s possible to meet representatives face-to-face, do so. Try and have a standardized way with which to rate them against each other. It’s wonderful if they are charming, but it’s important that they can deliver and have the right skills for your needs.
Key Interview Questions:
Do they understand what your marketing needs are? Do they understand the nature of your business?
Are you on the same wavelength?
Ask them to tell you about similar clients. How did they deal with challenges? What were the outcomes? Here you are looking for their ability to demonstrate critical thinking and find solutions to problems.
Ask about their level of expertise in both traditional and digital marketing. Who are the marketing experts that would be working on the marketing strategy? What are their backgrounds and experience?
What tactics do they see as the most important?
Get an idea about what they could provide with different budget levels (high, medium, low). Don’t be afraid to provide your budget or a range that you are comfortable with. Most agencies can offer tailored solutions to fit your needs. If they can’t speak candidly and transparently about cost – take it as a red flag and proceed with caution.
Important. Do they ask you the right questions? Are they really listening to your specific needs and requirements? Do they seem able to develop creative and innovated ideas on delivery?
Is the energy there to follow through?
Make sure you have done the background work on verifying the success of prior campaigns. Ask for references.
Do they have a good track record?
Meet with relevant team members and measure the finalists against your detailed selection criteria.
Try starting with a small project or short-term contract to get a feel of how they work and how you work as partners.
Remember: you don’t want a service provider; you want a partner as invested in your success as you are.
Are you looking for the right marketing agency in Winnipeg, Canada or North America? You can contact us and get your questions answered.
Once more, Sidney Evans, leading expert in Branding & Communications, shares brand building concepts to delight us with the intricate emotional side of the brain and the impact color produces on perception.
All along the article, you will understand through examples how top brands have made use of color to build a solid recognition and long lasting effect on consumers.
Whether you are working on a new brand for your business, product or service; or you’ve already decided which color palette will identify your brand; we invite you to take the branding color quiz and explore brand building process.
If you’re not still ready to make a color selection for your brand, take a look at the Color Emotion Guide at the top and align your brand to the concept of trust, balance, optimism or any other that matches your unique value proposition.
Ready to create your next brand?
Tupic: A fast, innovative and user-friendly mobile app designed for blockbuster fans – giving them a way to create, manage and share movie watch-lists.
Symbicore Inc. – June, 2015 – Symbicore is proud to announce the launch of Tupic, a mobile app that allows easy customization of watch lists for movies, available on the App Store for iOS devices.
Tupic is the perfect movie lover’s app where movies can be searched for; added to customized watch-lists; reviewed and compared; rated and then shared through social media.
Tupic is a customizable and easy to navigate solution – it’s unlike other movie sites where databases are incomplete and functionality is poor.
Tupic provides functional screens to search, check ratings, add movies, and share on Facebook, Twitter and Tumblr to let your friends know what movies to hit and which ones to miss.
To get Tupic, simply download it from the App Store for USD 1 and gain the ability to:
- Compare reviews from IMDb and Rotten Tomatoes
- Add your own movie ratings
- Share a single movie or entire watch-lists with your friends
- Create customized watch-lists, delete them or rename them as often as needed
To download the app, visit Tupic website at www.tupicapp.com and click on the download button.
If you would like more information about Tupic, or you would like to schedule an interview, please contact:
Alexis Walter, Operations Strategist at Symbicore Inc.
Phone: +44 077 1384 4427