What’s in the Power of a (Re)Brand? Everything

Photo by Melissa Olson for Kent State Magazine

Rebranding is all over the news these days as brands deal with changing audiences, shifting priorities and, in some cases, dramatically altered landscapes. I was reading a story in Kent State Magazine about my alma mater’s rebranding, when a quote caught my eye.

“A brand articulates our aspirations and elevates us to where we want to be — a distinguished and thriving research university, full of remarkable scholars, students and staff.” -Kent State President Beverly Warren

The first part of President Warren’s quote nails what a brand is, but there’s also a second part to the equation. A brand’s customers, or target audiences, have to buy in to those aspirations. Brands live in the real world, not a vacuum. If your customers (or potential new customers) don’t buy what you’re selling, so to speak, your aspirations and where you want to be don’t mean much.

Let’s look at two high profile examples. Budweiser tried to boost its summer sales by temporarily renaming its beer, America. That’s right, the popular beer manufacturer ditched its memorable ad campaigns and iconic Clydesdales to put our country’s name on its label for the summer. Who’s up for an ice cold America?

Budweiser becomes America temporarily.

Image courtesy of Fast Company Design

While this odd move probably won’t hurt the company’s sales (summer is beer-drinking season), it’s been met by mockery online and seen as an attention grab by the press. Even worse, it’s brought the company’s Belgium ownership into the conversation, which is not something that a brand marketed on patriotism and American ideals wants to discuss.

Budweiser, err America, isn’t the only well-known brand to freshen up its look lately. Instagram felt its logo was outdated, so the company unveiled its new, modern look this week. While the previous logo represented a camera, the fast-growing social platform “wanted to create a look that would represent the community’s full range of expression — past, present, and future.” (Read more on the rebrand here.)

More on branding: The True Power of Brand // Branding Is A Feeling, Not A Noun

That makes sense. Why hasn’t the Instagram community (and world) embraced it? The company is right that most people (outside of professional photographers) don’t use stand-alone cameras to take the pictures they post on its platform today, and you can now post videos too. But Instagram is still a visually-inspired platform, which is what the camera icon represented to so many people.

Instagram unveils its new logo

Image courtesy of Adweek

Sometimes brands are so focused on short term sales or attention, they forget the essence of who they are or why consumers love them. As KSU President Warren notes, “Our brand is not a tagline, logo or glitzy website. Rather, it is what people think and feel when they hear the name “Kent State.” It is about the big idea. In essence, it is about defining and sharing the heart of Kent State.”

I’m proud that my alma mater has handled its rebranding process so well and that brands everywhere, from beer manufacturers to social platforms, could learn a thing or two from a university where I learned so much.

A Lesson on (Re)Branding

What do you think about Budweiser’s temporary name change or Instagram’s new look?

What other brand has handled the rebranding process well?

What brand needs to rebrand?

A proud KSU alumna (and fan of great branding everywhere),
Jaime

Let’s chat (about branding, your marketing needs or otherwise):
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The Dark Side of Social: How to Respond When Things Go Wrong

At CCC, we’re big believers in the power of social media and the value that it can provide to your brand. However, you need to understand the darker side of social so you’re prepared for anything that could go wrong or reflect your brand in a negative light.

Velvet Heart Promoted Tweet

Velvet Heart was trying to promote its new arrivals for spring, not trend with a mass shooting.

Recently I was on Twitter and noticed the name of a nearby town trending (regionally). I clicked on the link to see why it was trending and discovered a mass shooting had occurred at a retirement village. (My thoughts and prayers are with this community during this difficult time.)

While scrolling through the feed, I saw a promoted tweet advertising a retailer’s new spring arrivals. I was included in the audience targeted in this campaign, so the tweet showed up in my feed — no matter what I was viewing at the time. The advertiser had no say where its targeted audience members saw its tweet. (For more on Promoted Tweets, click here.)

Last week, I saw a news story about a guy who blew his lower leg off while shooting a lawn mower packed with explosives. As usual, an ad played prior to the video on the news site where I watched it. AT&T didn’t ask for its ad to play prior to a graphic video, but that’s when I saw the ad and its brand.

“A brand can’t control the message in the way it once did but it can still have influence.” –Jeff Barrett, CEO, Status Creative

These examples both point to why some brands and companies are so afraid of getting social — loss of control. On social media, it’s impossible to control every aspect of the message about your brand.

I’m not trying to discourage you from joining the conversation — just the opposite, in fact. If you’re a part of the conversation, you can help guide its direction and speak directly to your online community.

What if I hadn’t known that advertisers don’t control where Promoted Tweets show up? A user may have tweeted the advertiser expressing her dissatisfaction that the company would try to profit off a tragedy. That’s why you need to be aware of all the possibilities before jumping into something like Promoted Tweets. You can respond to say that you only chose to promote a tweet to a targeted audience, and did not use a trending hashtag or phrase inappropriately. If you’re not active on a social platform where a discussion breaks out about your brand, you can’t help set the record straight.

“While you can’t control the conversation,  you can participate and give fans a firsthand account of what’s going on at your company.”

Don’t worry about controlling every aspect of the conversation about your brand. Be prepared and know what you’re doing before jumping into social media in general, or a specific area, such as Facebook advertising or Promoted Tweets. Have a plan, but be prepared to adjust it as necessary.

Social media may not be easy for brands, but it’s worth it. Getting social can start a conversation that takes your business to new heights!

Are you struggling with your social media strategy, goals or execution? Let’s talk. We’d love to help you join the conversation and shine the spotlight on your brand.

Getting social (day or night),
Jaime

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3 Simple Marketing Tips For Your Next Product Launch

Are you planning a product launch? How is your marketing plan looking? If you’re looking for some tips, then you’ve come to the right place.

We’ve helped startups launch new products over the years, and today I’m going to share three of the most successful methods I’ve seen.

Deadly Sins (Snowglobes), Pure Products USA by See-Ming Lee via CC BY-SA 2.0

Focus on your core

Just for a second, I want you to think about your general fitness and strength. If you are a little out of shape, what’s the one thing you can do to improve it? Strengthening your core is the perfect start, because it affects nearly every other part of your body.

Now let’s apply that analogy to your business. You have to focus on your core audience when planning your new product launch. Talk to them — and only them — in a way which they can relate. Your target audience(s) will give your product launch the momentum it needs to succeed. After the initial excitement, the rest will come to you easier, and you’ll see more sales.

Organize an event

It doesn’t matter whether you are selling a physical product or a service; a launch event can give you the initial boost that you need. Get in touch with your state or city business department and find out if there are any empty premises available.

Look for something striking, perhaps with exposed brickwork or beautiful features. Contact your local steel suppliers to find surplus floor plates for a modern, urban look. They’re good for safety, look fantastic, and can lead people straight into your main sales area. Let the local press know, and invite all your friends, family, and social networks.

Hire a local DJ to set the mood, and a caterer to provide hors d’oeuvres. It’s amazing what a little music and food can do for an event! The bigger buzz you create for your event, the bigger buzz there will be about your product. A launch night is all about adding that extra bit of pizzazz.

Make people an offer they can’t refuse

My final suggestion is to entice people to take action. You should be doing this as early as possible in the process. Advertise your product online, and let people know when they can expect to see it.

Encourage them to sign up by offering them a better deal — 25% off for example — if they give you their email address. Keep in touch with them and offer early access to anyone that wants it. Or you could give away early or exclusive access as a prize to help drum up even more excitement ahead of your launch. Early adopters are always eager to try new products and spread the word to their social circles.

As you get closer to launch day, ramp up their interest with more frequent emails. Don’t overdo it, though. When the big day arrives, relax and enjoy the culmination of your efforts. Best of luck with your new launches, and let us know how your big day goes!

What tip(s) would you add for a successful product launch?

What has been your favorite product launch to date (by you or another brand)?

p.s. Are you planning on launching a new product or service? Let’s discuss a plan to make your big day a success!

Thinking BIG,
Jaime

Let’s chat (about product launches, marketing your services or otherwise):
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Essential Guide To Creating A Memorable Brand For Your Small Business

Branding is all about resonating with your target audience. If you want to cut through the incessant chatter of the online world or make an impact in the offline world, then your brand needs to say a lot about you.

But how do you go about creating a brand that both reflects what you do and that forms a connection with your customers? For small and mid-sized businesses on a budget, it’s a tough job. So we’ve put together this guide to help you find some answers.

Branding by EdgeThreeSixty via CC BY 2.0

Ask yourself who you are

Be honest about your business and who you are. While some companies, such as legal firms and funeral homes, should stick with a serious or solemn image, others can go with a more lighthearted, cheeky or even humorous approach.

This is where small businesses have an advantage. We can position ourselves as local companies who are helping our local economies while battling corporate behemoths who are sending profits far away. This ‘us vs. them’ message can work well; check out the Brew Dog story for inspiration.

“Every brand has a story, and your story is integral to your success.”

Get your target audience right

To create a successful brand, you have to know who you are talking to, so researching your market is an essential part of the process. Find out who your customers are, what they do, and where they live.

Also, look at what they like and what encourages them to respond. What are their fears, hopes and dreams? Once you have learned enough about your target audience(s), you can create a tone of voice that connects with them.


Be consistent

Great branding is consistent. When people see your business, they should know exactly what to expect. So it’s important to reflect the same brand message throughout your organization. Make sure that employees, partners and anyone else spreading your message are using your tone of voice. Look at managed print services that can keep your marketing materials consistent. Give people what they expect, and they will continue to trust and work with you.


Be yourself

As a small business, you face disadvantages when competing against a national or global company. Don’t try to copy their branding and positioning, because you don’t have their resources to achieve the same results.

You have to look for a unique aspect of your business that differentiates you from your competition and let people know what that is. If they beat you on price, then offer value-added services that they can’t possibly match. There will be many things that you can do better than the big players, so figuring those out — and promoting them — is vital to your brand.

Related reading: Mad Men: Master Storytelling in Any Era


Don’t concentrate on winning new customers

Of course, bringing on new customers is always important, but as a small business it’s important to put more energy into retention. Your current clients are the people who buy from you already — and will be likely to buy more in the near future.

If you offer excellent service and forge long-lasting relationships with your current clients, you’ll grow your brand more than spending all of your time chasing potential new customers.

Related reading: Branding is a Feeling, Not a Noun

Do you want to create a memorable brand for your small business? Check out our other branding posts for tips and tricks or get in touch. We’d love to help you tell your brand story.

We give brands a voice,
Jaime

Let’s chat (about your brand, the art of branding or otherwise):
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Does Your Brand Speak Emoji? 😎 💬 💻

Emoji. Those cute little characters that you add to your texts and tweets are all grown up — or at least getting there. In fact, the “picture letters” have moved into the business world.

Take the above example: Chevy used emoji to launch its 2016 Cruze, and the popular auto manufacturer isn’t alone. Brands continue to get into the emoji game, tapping into the characters’ popularity and universal appeal.

With today, July 17th, being World Emoji Day, brands across the globe, large and small, are getting into the act.

Brands utilizing emoji took a big step forward when Instagram announced that you can use emoji in your hashtags. This is a great move, expanding brands’ reach and allowing them to connect with people across time zones and languages. Considering that we live in a global world today, that’s good business.

As more people and companies use emoji, the demand for a wider variety of characters grows. According to Yahoo News, 38 new emoji are set to debut in 2016. We’re excited to see new business characters, such as a handshake and clinking glasses. The latter seems so much more appropriate to celebrate a business deal than clinking beer mugs.

Our goal in the short-term is to work on incorporating more emoji into our social media, including hashtags on Instagram. We recommend that you do the same. Just remember to use appropriate emoji for what you’re trying to convey and don’t go crazy. Even these cute little characters can make your audience want to face palm, and that character isn’t available until next year.

Emoji Talk

Are you planning on incorporating emoji into your brand’s social strategy?

CCC would love to see an emoji representing a brand. What would you suggest?

What brand does a great job of utilizing emoji?

p.s. Did you know that you can use emoji on Facebook via desktop too?

Majoring in emoji,
Jaime

Let’s chat (on emoji, branding or otherwise): 
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Selfies: Awesome Advertising or Bad for Business?

Selfies tend to draw a reaction one way or the other. Some people love them while others hate them. But here’s the real question: are they awesome advertising for your brand or bad for business?

Selfies: Awesome Advertising or Bad for Business?

It depends on how you use them. For example, the above image is a selfie I took after a spring run two years ago. (Yes, I said spring, which includes snow in Northeastern Ohio.) I’ve used it a few times already for different purposes in addition to this post.

Why do I use selfies? As a small business owner, it benefits me to let customers and prospects see the face behind CCC. It allows people to put a face with a name and helps to build trust, essential for small businesses to survive and grow. When I started this journey over three years ago, my personal brand carried a lot more weight than my company’s brand because CCC was new. Utilizing selfies (and pictures of myself in general) helped me establish and promote my new company brand.

Related reading: 7 different types of selfies

Having said that, there’s a time and a place for everything. I only use selfies where it makes sense, either connecting something in the photo to my business or using the picture as an example. When I kicked this post idea around in my head, it made sense to me to use a selfie and this image immediately came to mind due to its color and layout. I’m not a huge fan of having my picture taken, so it’s taken me some time to get used to being more visible.

Related reading: 8 of the Absolute Worst Times to Take a Selfie

In addition to tapping into your personal brand and building trust with target audiences, being visible as a small business owner can also help your social media efforts. As we’ve covered before, photos with faces receive 38% more likes and 32% more comments on Instagram.^ Showing faces in your photos brings in the human emotion element, which increases engagement on any network. Snap a selfie with happy customers at your next event or meeting to show what’s happening ‘behind the scenes’ at your business.

In summary, selfies can be awesome advertising for your brand AND bad for business, depending on how you use them. Think before you post a selfie to a business (or semi-business) account. Is it appropriate to post to this account? Will your target audiences find this image insightful? If so, go ahead and showcase your self(ie), letting customers and prospects alike see the face behind the business.

Selfie Talk

What are your thoughts on selfies?

Tell us about a selfie you saw or posted that made sense.

Did it surprise you when selfie was the word of the year for 2013?

Source: ^Georgia Institute of Technology & Yahoo Labs

Hanging out behind the keyboard,
Jaime

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What’s your story?

image

Storytelling is a powerful tool in today’s business world. It allows us to connect on an emotional level with customers, so they become loyal, longtime clients.

It’s not about selling a product or service. It’s about understanding your clients’ challenges so you can solve them and make your clients’ lives just a little bit easier.

Every brand has a story, and your story is integral to your success.

What’s your brand’s story?

CCC’s Chief Storyteller,
Jaime

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Amazon Turns Its Boxes Into Ads With First Of Its Kind Marketing Deal For “Minions” Movie

Featured Image -- 15840

Recently, we blogged about taking your message to your audience instead of waiting for them to come to you. Well, here’s a great example. Universal Studios partnered with Amazon to promote its new movie, Minions, on the retailer’s shipping boxes.

What a great idea! You can’t miss these bright and cheery boxes, and everyone from recipients to postal carriers is sharing pictures via social media. Heck, some people are even ordering something from Amazon just to get a Minions box. On that note, we may need some office supplies…

If you are a Minions fan, Amazon has you covered. Check out http://amazon.com/minions for nearly anything with the little yellow guys that you could possibly want.

Have you received a Minions Amazon box?

Are you going to order from Amazon to get one?

Have you seen or been in a partnership like this before?

Poopaye! (Goodbye in Minion-speak)
Jaime

Let’s chat (on the Minions, brand partnerships or otherwise): 
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TechCrunch

Forget billboards or magazine ads, if an advertiser wants to put its brand in front of a big audience today, you may as well slap that ad on an Amazon shipping box. Or, at least, that’s the mindset behind the new partnership between Universal Pictures and Illumination Entertainment and Amazon, as the retailer has begun to ship customer orders in bright yellow delivery boxes featuring cartoon characters from the upcoming “Minions” movie. The deal represents the first time Amazon has ever allowed a third party to completely brand its delivery boxes.

The pairing between the movie makers and Amazon makes sense for this latest installment in the “Despicable Me” franchise of films. The popular movies, which to date have grossed over $1.5 billion at the box office worldwide, have already turned the film’s characters into merchandise. The “minions” have been translated into a ton of consumer products, including dolls and figurines, board games and video games, and other toys. They also…

View original post 406 more words

Think Outside of the Booth: Ideas to Promote Your Brand at Events

Last month, CCC traveled to Indianapolis to work an event for a client, and it was an amazing experience. In addition to fueling the conversation with 32,000 firefighters from around the world, we walked away with some creative branding ideas.

A turnout jacket cling on a bathroom mirror

Think outside of the booth when promoting your brand!

While your booth doesn’t have to (and shouldn’t) be boring, there are so many other opportunities to grab attendees’ attention at an event. Take the above static cling, for example. It was hard to miss this manufacturer’s ad of a turnout coat on full-length mirrors in bathrooms around the convention center. It’s crazy. You can almost see yourself in TECGEN® PPE’s gear, can’t you? You might as well go to the company’s booth and try some on.

TECGEN® PPE's unique hallway display shattered convention!

TECGEN® PPE shattered convention — and expectations — with this hallway display at a firefighter conference.

If you somehow missed TECGEN® in the bathroom, the company stopped attendees in their tracks elsewhere too. Instead of shattering glass (to remove a fire extinguisher), the manufacturer shattered convention with its newly redesigned turnout gear — and hallway display. In addition, the company’s unique display was in a high traffic area right outside of a doorway to one of the exhibit areas and a food court area.

Not to be outdone, MSA Safety’s booth was so hot it was smoking. Literally! This may be one of the coolest booth ideas we’ve ever seen.

And we haven’t even talked about the well-placed floor graphics (stairs, anyone?), ceiling danglers, electronic signs, individual event sponsorships, fire trucks in lobbies and so much more.

Remember, your event experience doesn’t begin or end at your booth. That’s just where the party’s at!

p.s. If you’re planning to exhibit at an event or planning an event itself, we’d love to help! Drop us a line so we can help you maximize your event experience!

Cheers,
Jaime

Let’s chat (on events or otherwise):
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Inside/Out: Brands, Take Your Message To The People

Last night, I attended a launch party for a unique concept called Inside/Out Akron. The Akron Art Museum has embarked on an ambitious community outreach program to take art to the people. High-quality art reproductions from the museum’s collection will be installed throughout the city for Akronites and visitors to enjoy as they go about their days.

Taking your message to the people. It’s a concept that seems everywhere today, or maybe I’m just noticing it more. From museums and churches to malls and grocery stores, everyone is reaching out to its audiences instead of only trying to market their products and services to them.

How can your business or brand take its message to the people?

Hit the Road — Exhibit at trade shows, conferences or community events. Take advantage of the tremendous foot traffic that these events generate, and the opportunity to get your message to new audiences. Early registration timelines and product/service trades can reduce your expenditures and help you receive even more exposure. Maximize your return on investment (ROI) by putting together a show strategy and executing a pre, during and post-show plan. Don’t forget about sponsorship opportunities, either at these events or elsewhere. They can be a boon to your business if chosen carefully.

Related Reading: Event Planning: You Need to Have a Plan  |  Sponsorship: Your Name Here

Make New Friends — Look for opportunities to partner with other businesses or organizations to expand your reach. Make sure it’s a win-win situation, so you can develop a long-term, positive relationship. For example, the Akron Art Museum partnered with numerous organizations, including the Summit Metro Parks, Downtown Akron Partnership and Akron-Summit County Public Library, to reach new audiences and increase promotion of the Inside/Out initiative. A local homeless shelter partners with organizations to expand its reach, including Chick-fil-A to host a canned food drive. When you drop off at least two canned goods, you receive a coupon for a free sandwich. The right partnerships can open up a whole, new world.

Related reading: Love — and Marketing — is in the air!

Be the Host with the Most — Step outside of selling your products and services for a minute, and invite people into your building with no strings attached. What can you offer? Host a monthly book club or allow community members to reserve little or unused space for meetings. For example, the Summit Mall has flourished in an era when malls nationwide are struggling by opening itself up to the community. The mall encourages walkers, even opening the building well before the stores to accommodate work schedules, and posting wellness tips from a local hospital system. It also hosts a variety of events, from career fairs to pet expos, and seemingly everything in between. Once people are in the mall, it’s amazing what happens. They spend money! Another win-win.

Flip It Inside/Out: Your Turn!

How can you take your message to the people?

What are other examples of businesses who have taken their messages to their communities and beyond?

Would you be interested in a similar type of art outreach program in your community?

p.s. If you have event-related questions, let us know (or check out these event-related posts). While it’s not a core service that we promote, CCC has plenty of event experience of all kinds and would love to help with your next event.

“Just a small biz owner in Akron, OH,” 🙂
Jaime

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