On branding, design and technology
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Total brand experience – use your brand to grow your business

It’s an often overlooked but self-evident principle, that seeing how your brand performs helps you build your brand and grow your business.

The biggest headache for any business, is finding new users and new customers. Having a stronger and more powerful brand can help you solve that problem.

Growing your brand means growing your business. It’s your most effective sales and marketing asset.

Total Brand Experience

Everything you say. Every update you post, or link you share. Everything you do is part of your total brand experience. That’s why everything that surrounds your business is important.

Your latest tweet isn’t just a part of your social media. In real and measurable ways your latest tweet is your brand and your product itself, no matter what you sell, or what sector you work in.

Your social media and marketing is your brand and your product. It’s how your users and your customers see and interact with you. Everything you do is part of your total brand experience. Read more

A little less conversation – the problem with social media

Social media channels are placing less value on conversation. Blue ticks, algorithms and interwoven adverts are killing Twitter. LinkedIn is often seen as a walled garden where users have to pay just to look over their neighbour’s fence. Facebook has always seemed less than the value of its parts. But Twitter has lost value since it became a revenue-chasing corporation.

There’s generally a lot less conversation since the early days of social media. This makes social platforms less valuable, not only for general users but for brands too. The average user is less likely to join a conversation started by a brand. They’re more likely to comment about things that touch their lives and their emotions.

Brands are more than logos. They’re groups of people who deliver a brand experience. To deliver that experience they need to be well-known and appreciated. If not they die.

Problems happen if a brand jumps into a conversation without thought and attention. And if they start their own conversation they risk indifference. Read more

Building a total brand experience for Nuvem 9

Nuvem 9 are a new type of financial and accounting consultancy service that specialises in working with companies and entrepreneurs with ambitions to take the profitability in their business to the next level.

‘We are not advisors with an MBA who have never actually worked in a business,’ says partner Niall McGinnity.

We developed a real ‘cloud 9’ experience for Nuvem 9 – a total brand experience that creates a unique tone of voice for their market.

The first thing we did was to sit down with the partners and fully understand their business and even more importantly help them understand what makes their business different from other brands and their competitors.

Only then did we start redesigning the logo to make the ‘nuvem’ or cloud part of their brand more legible and approachable, in keeping with their brand positioning. We developed a real ‘cloud 9’ experience for Nuvem 9 – a total brand experience that creates a unique tone of voice for their market.

Nuvem9_CloudLogo1White

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Cola wars – Coca-Cola’s new ‘one brand’ strategy

Around about the time the Beatles were becoming famous, Coca-Cola already had a ‘one-sight, one-sound, one-sell’ strategy in place, along with a worldwide advertising campaign based on the proposition “Things Go Better With Coke”. Developed with the creative input of McCann-Erickson (an agency I worked for several decades later), it was a campaign that dominated the sixties, fighting for attention with Pepsi’s rallying call “Come Alive! You’re in the Pepsi Generation.”

A brand expert could see Coke’s new ‘one brand’ strategy as a reflection of the ‘one-sight, one-sound, one-sell’ strategy and applaud the consistency of the approach. The problem is that in the sixties, leaving aside Fanta and some other syrupy diversions, Coca-Cola was still essentially a one-product company, but today the Coca-Cola Company manages a series of distinct and different brands. You don’t meet many Diet Coke drinkers who are just as happy with the full-fat alternative.

Jon Woods, General Manager of Coca-Cola in Great Britain & Ireland explains the company’s thinking: “With our new ‘one brand’ approach, we are uniting four distinct brands under the umbrella of Coca-Cola. We believe our no and lower sugar variants will benefit from this closer association with Coca-Cola and that featuring all variants in our advertising will make clear to more consumers the full choice we offer them.” Read more

Copywriting and branding lessons from seven seasons of Mad Men

One of the interesting things about the recently ended Mad Men series was how it so often pitched its way out of the confines of the TV soap opera and into the real world of a creative advertising agency.

As a Creative Director who escaped the clutches of McCann-Erickson myself, there are lessons from the series for not just about every type of creative and marketing professional, but for every business owner too.

Copyhackers has produced the useful infographic below outlining the copywriting lessons from the show from the practical, ‘If you don’t like what they’re saying about you, change the conversation,’ to the philosophical, ‘We’re gonna sit at our desks typing while the walls fall down around us. Because we’re the least important most important thing there is.’

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Mad Men, Coca-Cola and the big brand dilemma

In the Mad Men finale, broadcast late last night in the UK and Ireland, Don Draper and many of the main Sterling Cooper characters are desperate to flee the all-consuming, skirt-chasing ad agency giant McCann-Erickson. In fact US reviewers have largely overlooked the fact that Don is trying to escape the deathly clutches of McCann’s almost as much as he’s been running away from the everyday horror of his tangled New York existence.

Until a total stranger opens the fridge door of his mind to give him a very Madison Avenue kind of enlightenment, Don is completely lost. A Coca-Cola style of creative immortality seems to call to him on a California hilltop overlooking the ocean. Jack Kerouac meets David Ogilvy.

Mad Men, not inadvertently, raises an issue for McCann’s, Coca-Cola and Mad Men itself. Let’s call it the big brand dilemma.

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Does becoming a more social brand really help grow your business?

Recent research from statista.com says 83% of SMBs use social media as a way of driving growth for their business. The same source says 70% of professional marketers claim to have been successful in gaining new customers using social networks. Another survey in socialmediatoday.com tells us 80% of marketers invest in social media to increase brand exposure.

These figures tend to support our own analysis from talking to business owners and marketers in a range of companies. Faced with finding new business and launching a new product or service, for what has become a significant number of business owners and marketing professional in all sectors and locations, social media is one of the first things they turn to. But just how effective is social media in building your brand and growing your business?

I recently talked to customer experience professional and social media expert Augie Ray who is director of customer experience for a blue chip international company. Augie argues that marketers “cannot achieve their goals with the limited and shrinking reach of organic social media.  Within a year or two, I think all social media marketing will be paid/ads, with little effort dedicated to organic and free marketing.”

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Are we about to see a new wave of transparent technology?

You understand technology and you know what it can do. But at the same time you want to get quickly to the benefits of technology, and find out how it brings your users and customers closer and how it makes your goals in life, and in business easier to achieve.

Like it or not, the Apple Watch could be the start of a powerful new wave of transparent technology. A gesture or a glance could soon be all you need to control your life, your business and your brand.

If you’re a business owner or a brand manager you dismiss the latest Apple device at your peril. The Apple Watch is all about what Apple call ‘lightweight interactions’. These are more transparent kinds of interactions, based on a view that wants technology that gets out of the way and lets you use it in simpler, natural ways. Using a computer will become as easy as looking at your watch.

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You’re not really a brand owner until you own your brand data too

I was having lunch with an assistant professor of machine learning recently, when he asked me why, as a brand and design specialist, I was so interested in data?

My reply was quite simple. If you want to take ownership of your brand and control how it develops and grows, then you must understand and own your data too. And I didn’t have to look too far for an example.

I’d invited my friend to have lunch to discuss some of the more advanced aspects of data science, so I booked a table at a restaurant he suggested, followed up the booking with a confirmation the day before our lunch, and then as the host I would pay for the meal with my credit card and walk off into the afternoon skyline.

Right away you can see there were three times where the restaurant, let’s call the restaurant the ‘brand owner,’ had an opportunity to talk to and engage with me personally using simple digital tools including email.

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Continuous branding can help startups and all companies grow their business

Most startups and companies use their brand at about twenty percent of full power. Don’t take my word for it, look around you and look at your own business. Have you considered that absolutely everything you do is an important part of your brand and product experience?

That tweet you posted doesn’t simply represent your business and your brand – it’s part of your brand experience so it’s an essential part of your brand.

‘Social media in service of a product experience is not just media – it’s the experience of the product itself,’ says Forrester analyst James McQuivey in his book Digital Disruption, Unleashing The Next Wave Of Innovation. That’s quite a statement if you think about it.

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