I’m not someone who is normally considered an early adopter of new technology. Technology and I have a sort of mutual respect for each other, meaning we, (or more accurately, I) keep a respectable distance until new and technical becomes easy and less complicated, mainstream with most of the bugs worked out. When Google Glass was announced, I took my typical “stay away from me” stance and could not imagine anything that I would ever want less in life than to walk around tethered to the internet day in and day out. Never. Ridiculous idea. Not to mention the obvious driving and zombielike walking issues. So, what happens when this tech-averse human finds herself unexpectedly at Google headquarters and some very excited, very nice Google Glass ambassador hands over a pair? WOW. To summarize my experience: it really is all that cool. It understands you and answers questions and commands in a manner that will make Siri pea green with envy. The itty bitty little screen up in the corner of your right eye is actually pretty easy to see and unless you lock onto it, or ‘glass-out’ in Google speak, it might not always impede your vision. My love affair was short lived as there were others waiting in line like school children eager to take their turn. Will I buy them? Not likely. But will I view them on others with the same disdain? Honestly, probably not as much. I can see now that they actually might have some purpose for some people, but the obvious human interaction problems will be hard to eliminate. Google has just put out a Google Glass Etiquette guide in an attempt to help users understand how to behave while wearing the Glass. It makes for some pretty hilarious reading with advice such as…’respect others who have questions about the Glass and don’t get snappy with them’ and ‘how to avoid being a glasshole.’ For more information, check out the Daily Beast.
Tasked with creating new sales material for Japs Olson printing company, d.trio jumped at the opportunity. We wanted to create something that balanced the strength and history of the company that also showcased their leading edge technology. We started with a campaign theme, “Print. Mail. Innovate.” We added a rich deep blue color to the campaign palate, and eliminated some of the more vibrant colors from the JO palette to create something upscale and full of rich tones. The components created include: an equipment list, a folder with pockets, a brochure and an outer wrap to hold samples and other collateral.
Differentiating a brand is not for the weak of heart. Even established brands can find themselves struggling to create a blip on the sales meter. Too often, the competition is saying the same things you are, or somebody else is first, or says it louder, or – you get the idea. To create a little drama and stir things up, one of the most effective things you can do is invent your own marketing to advertise around. With the help of today’s social media outlets, this additional marketing push can be very compelling.
For example, some years ago, Radio Shack wanted to increase store traffic over the holidays, so they did a little research with women to learn their top ten most-wanted Christmas gifts. Then advertising was created to offer the list to any man who stopped by the store. Anyone who’s ever been desperate for gift ideas knows how tempting an offer like this can be.
To build some advertising buzz, The Toro Company decided to pull a stunt that had more to do with mowing down the competition than with cutting grass. They entered one of their riding lawn mowers in the Baja 500 off-road race in Mexico. In addition to the instant PR created by the spectacle of a lawn tractor rider suited up in full racing gear, the stunt generated a huge amount of additional free press and buzz around the brand. They didn’t win the race, but they sure won the competition for something to talk about in their advertising.
Even in the financial services category, where sameness can be a big hurdle, some invented marketing can overcome advertising inertia. One Australian Bank staged a series of “Honesty Experiments” to promote the honest nature of its credit card business. These included dropping wallets around for people to find, giving people incorrect change and letting money slip from actors’ pockets. Capturing the typically honest response from the Australian public gave the bank plenty of advertising material to work with in both traditional and social media.
Not to be mistaken with cause marketing, invented marketing can be small and episodic, and it can be created to support your chief brand strategy or a business initiative with a shorter life span. Either way, inventing something to talk about that’s uniquely yours can take you a long way toward being different in a branding landscape that’s often filled with too much similarity.
Reinventing a brand is a delicate science. It requires careful consideration of current brand perceptions along brand aspirations for the future. The most successful rebrands are rooted in truth (e.g., “are audiences perceptions in step with how we are positioning ourselves?”) In order to get to that truth, you must ask a few key questions when beginning to reinvent your brand:
1. How have audiences’ perceptions of your brand changed?
First place to start in any re-brand initiative is to deep dive into your audience perceptions of the brand. Just like people, brands adapt and change with the times and can mean different things to different generations.
Begin by prioritizing your audiences, revisiting your segment profile details, and redefining these individuals and their motivations. Following that initial audience definition work, conduct primary research including focus groups, online surveys, ethnographic studies, and other qualitative methods to learn about current brand perceptions. Develop a brand audit report that summarizes qualitative research and synthesizes “then vs. now” attitudes towards the brand.
2. How has the marketplace changed?
Since your last branding initiative, how has the market changed? More/less industry regulation? New product/service alternatives? Market oversaturation leading to more competitive pricing?
Conduct an audit of the marketplace through secondary research sources such as Mintel or Iconoculture. Determine how the marketplace has shifted from your last branding initiative. Hopefully, this also leads to hypotheses on where the market may shift next, allowing you to incorporate forward-thinking components into your brand work.
3. Have competitors repositioned themselves?
Similar to the market assessment, dive into your competitor branding work and develop a comprehensive grid. This competitive grid should include articulated brand position statement, tone/voice, main “reasons to believe” their brand position, and other specific brand traits to your industry. This is the time to re-evaluate whether a competitor is still in direct competition with your offerings or if they have focused on a different audience.
Because branding initiatives take time and thoughtful consideration, it’s crucial to start by answering these three questions before beginning a rebrand exercise.
-Jordan Bainer is a senior account executive at d.trio marketing group
With social media’s ever-growing influence over the past decade, brands have been able to more quickly align themselves to major news events or human accomplishments than possible in the past. Using social channels and digital advertising, brands can reach the masses almost immediately after a relevant news story breaks.
For example, when the lights went out at the SuperBowl earlier this year, Oreo made a deliberate and brilliant move to link the brand back to the Twitter trending topic. Posting on their Twitter page, “You can still dunk in the dark”, they reached the SuperBowl audience with a relevant and pithy message in real time. This was a simple and inexpensive tactic, generating a great deal of awareness on the social channel and also positive PR. Plus, Oreo was able to generate comparable buzz without spending a dime on media fees.
Most recently with the repeal of DOMA, numerous marketers have utilized brand imagery to support their viewpoint and align themselves to social change. For example, Kraft’s Grey Poupon altered their classic scene of two wealthy gentlemen sharing mustard into a simple, straightforward message of acceptance. Implying their support of the decision, Poupon and its ad has generated much discussion and attention on its Facebook page along with praise from the industry and public news outlets.
These successful examples were possible through trusting relationships between agencies and their clients. Without this trust, the element of surprise would be impossible and the message would be stale and lagged.
Images are copyright of their originators. Images here obtained from:
-Jordan Bainer is a senior account executive at d.trio marketing group
We all know that red is one of the most attention grabbing colors in the spectrum, used for centuries (ok, decades) in eye catching bursts and to highlight text that has been designated as needing to POP! It is also the primary or main accent brand color for many companies, including 39 of the Forbes Top 100.
Red is commonly used to give warning (STOP), to incite emotion (Valentine’s Day anyone?) or to highlight important information (New! FREE!). While in darker shades red can be elegant rather than brash, it is the cherry, candy, fire-engine versions that get the most cultural love.
So why? Why does red stand out so much from the sea of available color options? It’s really simple biology. Red light has the longest wavelength in the visible spectrum, therefore it appears the farthest forward in any given scene where it is present. The long wavelength creates a stronger physiological arousal, physiological response triggers psychological response, psychological response must be interpreted as either attraction or repulsion, and viola, Red as the poster child for attention getting color boils down to the simplest of science.
One other note about red and why you may need to cut him some slack on the color of his stereotypical middle-age crisis red Corvette. Men don’t see shades of red like women do. The gene for seeing red sits on the X chromosome and women have two copies of this gene while men have only one. Women’s perception of the variety in the red-orange color spectrum is aided by the double team.
Call us crazy. Maybe we are. Busy with other client work we envisioned and created an event that would benefit one lucky company, charge us up, kick up our creativity, and keep us up all night. On March 10th we had our Marketing Intervention, complete with live streaming (no sound) and chat.
If you missed it (maybe you’re not a late night person?) you missed a lot and not much at the same time. We had plenty of toys to keep us from burning out and you’d have wanted to tune in for the target practice with the surprisingly accurate potato gun or you would have seen mostly brainstorm discussions and reading (an unglamorous peek behind the curtain) and, um, eating…the food and caffeine flowed aplenty.
Why the challenge?
We love marketing and actually like doing the hard stuff. We had fun helping another company with a marketing deficit develop tangible marketing pieces and kick up their brand. But also, after a stressful couple of years we got to pull out the stops for a very positive reason. And, it showed us just how much can be accomplished with focus, concentrated resources and collaboration (with a bit of play in between).
Thanks go out to all of our great designers, copy writers, our art director, account directors and others who contributed to this active 24 hours of creation. And thanks to Rick Diamond of for his patience and participation.
Rick was on call for the entire event. He was game – didn’t faze him a bit because he’s not a big sleeper. But he does want to help more people quit smoking through his company Breathe: Freedom from Nicotine (formerly Breathe Laser Therapy). He answered tough questions for us and hung in there through the seemingly amorphous process.
Here are some of the marketing deliverables we created. We also developed a document of recommendations for Rick’s business that we can’t show you.
What did we learn?
It was harder and easier than we thought it would be. The excitement fueled a great thought process and creativity. Designers bore the brunt of the stress to come up with their best work in a shortened timeline – plus it was on their shoulders in the wee hours of the morning, along with the website and SEO recommendations.
It confirmed that our creation process is a good one and it’s even more important to adhere to a prescribed flow when there’s no time.
All in all it was an exhilarating and exhausting process. It confirmed the old cliché – when you work together, you can accomplish plenty and have some fun along the way. We’d definitely do it again. Oh, and no art or account directors were harmed in the making of this Intervention.
What’ve you done lately? What do you think about the Marketing Intervention? Tell us here or at our Facebook page.
Can you feel the excitement in the air? What is it? Optimism? Growth? Creativity? Yes – it ’s the Marketing Intervention!
On the heels of updating our brand and morphing our business, we decided we must share the creativity and momentum generated with some deserving company in need. Thus was born our Marketing Intervention contest.
Fun video, serious message
This is not just some dry call for entries. We recruited one of the best improvisational troops in the area (in our humble opinion), Stevie Ray’s Improv, to help tell the story of a company with a marketing need. The best part is we included things that we’ve seen in real life, in previous companies we’ve all worked for (because that’s funnier). The result is an amusing video a la “The Office” of the trials and tribulations of getting a rebranding or cohesive marketing campaign accomplished in a company that is stuck. The video and contest rules are at:
Free agency services
Please watch it and pass it on to anyone you think would enjoy it and benefit from an inspired group of agency creative types and strategists looking at their marketing needs – Logo, tagline, branding, stationery and collateral systems, need to develop marketing programs, Web, email, etc. – anything that agency services cover (strategy and creative, not production of hard goods).
This is meant to jump start change in companies that don’t know where to start, but know they need to start somewhere – and give them something tangible to take home. A couple of lucky companies will also get a consultation with us to create a plan.
We love what we do and we do it well, but we need your help to make this successful. Please pass on this link along virally and help this offer land in some deserving hands.
Tell us what you think of the Marketing Intervention video here or at http://www.facebook.com/dtrio
Nine months into the year I look back at the advice offered in this blog early in 2010 and I can pretty much run the checklist for d.trio. Embrace change – check. Try new things – check…we’re taking our own advice.
Exciting things can happen during down years. You have more time to think, your internal resources may be available to do special projects. And, you have time to add new things to your repertoire. You can even do more charity work.
We’ve been busy taking advantage of the few extra minutes in the day and after many months of toil are unveiling our new brand. It’s been 10 years. Our old brand served us well, and we leave it behind with a touch of nostalgia. But our agency has changed. A lot. So we deemed it time to “whirl up” a new brand look, feel, tone and attitude.
We love what we do and we did it for our own creative agency. Hope you like the change because we’re a little bit in love.
Tell us what you think of our new look here or at www.facebook.com/dtrio
What do your customers really see when they read your website pages? Read on for illumination from Alexandra, our guest blogger extraordinaire who has an eye for interesting and pertinent information.
When a customer visits your company’s website, what do they really see?
The truth? A big fat “F.”
Don’t take it personally — it’s not a report card. The human eye literally scans in the shape of the letter “F” — picking up hot zones in the header region, jumping down to the sub-header line, and then skimming straight down the page.
Sophisticated eye tracking tests performed by the Nielsen Norman Group, the Poynter Institute, the Estlow Center for Journalism and New Media and Eyetools provide new insights (no pun intended) into how we interpret webpages.
In addition to unveiling the distinctive F-shape pattern, eye tracking experts have highlighted a few additional techniques for effective web copywriting.
The Whisper Effect.
Ever notice how college professors speak softly to command their students’ attention? Sometimes, small text equals closer reading. As Steve Outing and Laura Ruel of the Eyetrack III project explain, “Smaller type encourages focused viewing behavior (that is, reading the words), while larger type promotes lighter scanning.”
Short & Sweet.
Copywriters instinctively know that short, concise paragraphs work better — both online and offline. Long blocks of dense text often get ignored, because they feel too daunting. As Dean Rieck of Direct Creative notes, “Big blocks of type look imposing and difficult, like reading a Faulkner novel.”
Words for Facts. Images for Stories.
Factual information — like names, numbers and locations — are best expressed through words. But high-concept processes, systems and stories are better conveyed through multi-media methods: graphs, images, illustrations and videos.
1-800-Got-Junk does an excellent job of illustrating their business model in this animated movie, while Rice to Riches — a luxury rice pudding restaurant in New York City — has a fantastic “brand storytelling” intro video on their website.
For more eye scanning insights, check out Eye Tracking, Inc. — a company that measures website usability, and Eye Tracking Update, an aggregate site that pools together the latest findings in the field.
Alexandra Franzen is a writer + editor + organization freak who freelances for d.trio marketing as a copywriter. You can find her blogging at Unicorns for Socialism and tweeting up a storm at @Alex_Franzen.
F-pattern eye scan images via Jakob Nielsen’s Alertbox