Recently, my husband and I took a trip to Yosemite National Park in Northern California. So many people have heard of the park, but not sure how many people have viewed its natural splendor, its beautiful waterfalls, killer rainbows, untamed wildlife, and jagged peaks. At first, it jolted me into a place I’ve never experienced before. And, before I knew it, I was writing much more creatively than I had previously. I started taking photos I dared not take in the past. Why? Because I was inspired. And, when I got back to Connecticut and started working again, it was feverish: “what else can I do, what more can I accomplish”. I realized that it’s inspiration that gets me all revved up and wanting more. Of course, you also have to have the perspiration to do the work and finalize the details as well. But it’s the inspiration that makes you see the forest through the trees. The plan behind the details. Take a look at the photo below, taken at Inspiration Point. Beautiful, magestic, steady, and strong. What inspires you and your business?
Category Archives: Branding
Recently I received a direct mail piece from the Sierra Club asking for donations to help save an endangered species. Receive these often, however this one took a different approach, from the perspective of the animal himself, see version here – SierraClub. The marketing and communications piece was so endearing and heartfelt that I couldn’t imagine not giving funds to help the animals. It put the reader in the mind of the animal. It starts out with “Dear Human”, then leads into “Imagine your family under attack…” and “Our fate is in your hands”. Often when the writer uses empathy they make an emotional connection between two or more things. And, good storytelling is about drawing people in with feelings, emotion and heartfelt stories.
Why is it so critical?
Whether you’re a newly found company or looking to re-brand an existing business, a strong brand identity can position a company above its competition all by itself. But having a brand that’s strong takes time, money, and effort to develop. It’s not as easy as redesigning a logo or rewriting a tagline. Brand identity may be developed and monitored within the marketing department, however when in full effect, it crosses all departments, job descriptions, product launches, customer service reps, and beyond. In fact, it should involve everyone within the company, getting them to understand the evolution, and to be your most enthusiastic ambassadors.
An existing brand identity (and how to re-work it)
Successful re-branding involves “evolution”, not “revolution”. A perfect example would be Aesop’s Fable “The Tortoise and the Hare”. The story concerns a hare who ridicules a slow-moving tortoise and is challenged by him to a race. The hare soon leaves the tortoise behind and, confident of winning, decides to take a nap midway through the course. When he awakes, however, he finds that his competitor, crawling slowly but steadily, has arrived before him. It’s important to not get too crazy with a re-branding effort because you could end up destroying fragile emotional ties / customer loyalty / and ultimately, sales. One step at a time is almost always much more effective for both the company internally, and externally, for your customers.
Brand identity – it’s WAY more than marketing!
Oftentimes, during a re-branding, other people and departments outside of marketing are not involved in the evolution. In fact, your internal stakeholders should understand the re-branding, believe in it, have a vested stake in its success, so they can then communicate better with each other and with customers.
A company that nails this is Zappos.com. Zappos places great emphasis on company culture and core values. The Zappos’ CEO, Tony Hsieh believes “if we get the culture right, then everything else, including the customer service, will fall into place”. Zappos has a list of core values, listed here on their website, that every employee sees and hears on a routine basis, not to mention being transparent to their customers via their website. The company also publishes an annual 480-page “Culture Book,” which is composed of two to three paragraph entries from employees describing Zappos’ company culture. The entries are unedited, and a copy of the Culture Book is given to all employees (although anyone can receive a copy of the book upon request).
Your employees will ultimately determine your success or failure. That’s why it’s so important to have them buy into your company’s brand identity. However, that’s not something that can be forced. It must be earned…but, once it is, watch out! You’ll have a company that is full of happy, motivated successful brand ambassadors and the company’s direction will move upwards.
I learned this phrase while attending Central Connecticut State University, pursuing a degree in Graphic Design. The professor used the term all the time and upon further research, was coined by a lead engineer for airplanes, named Kelly Johnson. The principle most likely finds its origins in similar concepts, such as Occam’s razor, and Albert Einstein’s maxim that “everything should be made as simple as possible, but no simpler”. Leonardo Da Vinci’s “Simplicity is the ultimate sophistication”, or Antoine de Saint Exupéry’s “It seems that perfection is reached not when there is nothing left to add, but when there is nothing left to take away”.
With the vast amounts of information pummeling the public on a daily basis, we are often overwhelmed with what to look at first, what to pay attention to, what’s important? Without getting too scientific, our brains can only process so much information at once. That is why, especially in advertising, the message needs to be simple. Clear. Concise. Effective.
Some recent ads that came out accomplish their task wonderfully. Accenture, the large consulting giant, recently replaced Tiger Woods with an elephant. The most recent ad portrays the elephant surfing with the tagline: “Who Says You Can’t Be Big and Nimble?” Graphic, humorous, and an immediate recognition with the reader.
Another good ad campaign was in 2008 for the World Wildlife Fund promoting the conservation, research and restoration of the natural environment. They used animals in each of their advertisements and portrayed the message from the animal’s perspective, how the animal FEELS in their environment. The outcome, hopefully, will be that an onlooker will donate to the cause because they empathize with the animals. Again, a graphic image, intermixed with concise ad copy, with a call to action towards the bottom.
There are also ineffective advertisements. Those that don’t either: a) elicit a direct response, 2) have an emotional connection with the reader or 3) both. Of course, bad advertisements (or even good ones) are subjective and are held in the eye of the beholder, however if the above points aren’t met, the ad will most likely be misinterpreted, ineffective or disregarded.