Posts Tagged ‘brand’
August 10th, 2010
Over the years, gift cards have become a staple for most retailers. People love giving them, getting them and using them. They have become more and more customized and utilized…as incentives, bonus gifts and marketing tools.
But, is your gift card program working as hard as it can for you? What does it say about your brand? Does it say… “Let me buy you lunch? You’re funny! Or dude…wake up, and get some coffee?” And, what if you give cash, what does that say? Basically, it says you didn’t shop.
So, with this in mind, what can your gift card do to say “I’m better than cash,” at time of purchase, at time of giving and at time of use? As a retailer, you need to focus on these three key transactions to make sure you are getting the most return on your gift card program.
At time of purchase
The gift card marketplace is a crowded environment. A shopper spends an average of 30 seconds there, finding that right card. Those 30 seconds are valuable time for you to make an impression and rise above the clutter. Your gift cards are mini billboards. Not novels. They must make a play on emotion and compete on simplicity.
At time of giving
A simple yet emotional connection comes into play here as well. An effective gift card carries a clear message about its benefits and the relationship between the giver and the receiver. When giving a crisp $20 bill, the receiver gets the message that the giver cares…but only $20 worth. When someone gives a gift card, the receiver should feel, “This is better than cash, because the person who gave this to me actually thought about me and knows what I like.”
At time of use
This is the time to tell your deeper story. To work your brand into the experience of using that gift card. When you do that, you build brand equity, brand loyalty and grow your customer base.
You can stand out from the sea of plastic with a smart yet simple gift card program. Just remember these four essential guidelines:
- Win on Usefulness. Make it better and easier to use than cash.
- Win on Message. Communicate more efficiently and succinctly,
at the right times.
- Win on Design. Make your designs speak to the recipient,
invoking the giver’s thoughtfulness.
- Win on Brand. The best gift card is a gift card that isn’t just a gift,
it’s a brand experience.
January 25th, 2010
Recently, IMAGEHAUS stepped out of our every day routine and challenged ourselves to become even better at what we do. The result was the creation of Hi-Industries, a new company that will develop products focusing on elevating a moment into a memory. Our primary goals in this initiative were to provide us frontline insight into the obstacles clients deal with everyday and to learn about the power of social media. This real-life experience of what it is like to walk in our clients’ shoes has already made us smarter. Our first product is Toast-its, wraps for wine bottles that replace ordinary wine bags and greeting cards. IMAGEHAUS created 25 designs (available at toast-its.com ) that uncork your compliments, letting your gift of wine speak to any occasion.
Through much discovery, research and gut, we realized Toast-its would be popular if we could reach the desired audience. Additionally, we knew the product had a good balance between Return on Investment (ROI) and Return on Experience (ROE). After all, it is not a new idea, but a smart improvement of an old stand-by—giving the gift of wine.
Strategically, we decided that we would use only social media to reach the target audience. The day after we launched the site, I posted a message about Toast-its including a link on my personal Facebook page and the entire team at IMAGEHAUS followed suit—driving all of our friends and family to the site. That same day, we started to receive orders. Our next step was to launch a campaign of Facebook Ads. This is where having a simple niche product proved to have a ton of value as it was easy to identify the potential Toast-its audience. We started by targeting fans of wine publications and home entertainment. Later that week we released an eBlast to our IMAGEHAUS contact list. At this point we have spent next to zero dollars and, in the first two weeks after launch, we achieved an average daily spend of $46.00 from a product with a unit retail price of $3.99.
Since our launch one month ago, these efforts, small as they may be, generated the following results: featured on 19 design/lifestyle blogs; found by and featured on Jasmere.com (a site dedicated to gaining national exposure for lesser-known specialty items); and listed on The Dieline as number 1 package design for the week ending 1/15/2010. Lastly, will be featured this Thursday, 1/28/2010, on Daily Candy, the leading trusted resource for the best new products and activities that reaches over 3 million subscribers.
The biggest insight I got from this experience is, when it comes to effective online social media marketing, you will have the most success if you make sure you are talking with your audience, not at them. It is not about selling, but more about sharing. Sharing a good idea, a solution to everyday problems. By making an impact on someone’s life. Which brings us back to the word of mouth being one of the most powerful and cost effective ways to increase brand awareness. It makes ROE as important, if not more important, as ROI.
January 21st, 2010
When it comes to change, the online world is often the first to adapt.
As a matter of comparison, look at the progression of traditional businesses over the last century. The physical store model still exists, big box retailers are still using the same basic store design, and distribution networks, while significantly more efficient, still run using the same basic principles.
Then look at the online world. In the space of ten years, the entire landscape of online business has changed. In 1999, the most powerful online properties were owned by major software companies and those that had a head start in the online world. Today, Google, a company that is not even fifteen years old, is the biggest brand in the world. As a microcosm of commerce, the online world moves much more rapidly than any offline industry.
With the recent move towards open social media platforms, marketers are left with a new question: where will the next turn be? For years, internet marketing was about banner ads and pop-up commercials. This was a version of the traditional, outbound marketing model. Inbound marketing is the next step in the evolution. It is about connecting with users directly and building communities. Social media is not yet fully developed and the next few years will bring many changes and developments. I feel these four changes could stand apart from the others.
Social media will make marketers more accountable.
There is a certain risk that comes with giving everyone the power to broadcast their thoughts and feelings about you, your business, or your product. For great companies, it’s something to embrace—they have people marketing for them, a dedicated following, and a long-term solution. For marketers that get by on deception, it is certainly not good. If social media changes one thing, it will be accountability. When anyone can publicly post their opinion of your business, priorities change. It is no longer about the short-term profit but about long-term perception and greater customer satisfaction.
Consumers will gain more power, and smart companies will embrace it.
The power dynamic is rapidly shifting between company and customer. Twenty years ago, the only way to get a message out was to invest in direct advertising and mass media. Now, all it takes is a post on a message board and a public message on Twitter by your customer. Smart companies are embracing the low cost of communications and are encouraging their customers to talk about them whenever possible.
The truly remarkable will outlast the big and standard.
Mass media allowed large companies to bully the small into compliance. Without a big advertising budget, it was impossible to communicate, and without that communication, the market leaders set the terms. Now, a more important currency than size is remarkableness. Businesses that attract attention naturally can coast by on free exposure, while large companies lacking innovation are at a permanent cost disadvantage.
Viral will take on a new meaning.
Today, viral means something that spreads throughout a few million people quickly, allowing a company to piggyback on exposure and generate free marketing. 20,000,000 views isn’t viral. Not for long. Social media is spreading wider, and, as more people become connected, the value of a great viral marketing campaign will swell exponentially.
We all know that the oldest form of advertising is word of mouth. What I find most interesting is how we as a society have found a way to come full circle, albeit much faster and on a much larger scale. I say it is time to embrace it, and start getting back to our authentic selves.
November 3rd, 2009
Brands with that “stand-apart appeal” don’t just happen. They’re built, one experience at a time. And every touchpoint you have with your customer is an opportunity to make an impression and create an experience.
One essential way to make an impression is through your digital experience—a.k.a. your website. And, with the belief that every customer touchpoint is an opportunity to make an impression, IMAGEHAUS is entering into the digital experience world.
The web is an environment of expression, choice and endless possibilities. Customers are quick to click, often faster than they think. Based on that virtual experience, they form an impression of your brand.
As in any relationship, the first impression of your online brand gives customers a perception of what your company and products will be like. Will they be smart, helpful—or frustrating? Does this first impression reinforce the single thought that defines your brand? Simply, clearly and personally? What value does your point of differentiation bring to your customer?
Your answers to these questions are key in establishing your brand and carrying out a memorable, positive brand experience. With the sea of websites out there today, your site now has to do and be more. A well-branded site begs your customer to engage in conversation. It listens, learns, and then leads by addressing their needs—first. It asks the right questions and gives the best answers.
Let’s look at it this way. The online experience is like that first dance back in high school—communication between two people, defined by action. If you don’t know how to lead your customer, they will move on to the next dance partner. And if you trip and step on their feet, the dance becomes rather painful. They get frustrated and leave. However, if you lead with confidence, purpose and personality, your customer will move in step with you and believe in you. And, believing leads to trust—the most essential dance step in building a strong brand.
We help our clients’ customers gain that belief and trust with solid answers to these 4 key questions:
Differentiation: What is the advantage of your brand over the competition?
Relevance: How do you add value to the customer’s experience?
Credibility: What is the single thought that defines your brand?
Compliance: How do you ensure brand consistency in look and feel, personality, voice and tone?
Often, people come to us and think they need a logo, a tagline, or the “look and feel” of a website. A brand is so much more than just components. Simply stated, a brand is the perception of your company based on the expectation of value.
Online, this expectation is formed more intimately through individual experiences. To be effective, your branding needs to make a strong first impression and provide a memorable, pleasant experience. An experience that will compel them to act now and far into the digital future.
June 4th, 2009
Your image is a first impression that, if pleasing, leads to a second, a third and ideally a lifetime of positive experiences. Whether we’re talking about ourselves as human beings or as company leaders, the same principle applies.
Creating an image that distinctively communicates the essence of your company is vital, yet it doesn’t happen overnight. It takes research, strategy, insight and the foresight of seeing your brand as a long-term investment rather than a short-term expense.
So where do you begin? Try this right-brain exercise to start the discovery process.
Pretend your company is a person. What do you see? What is it wearing? Does it say, “Hi,” “Hello,” or “Hey dude, what’s up?” Is it male or female? What kind of car does it drive? How about its personality? Sense of humor? Buttoned-up or laid back? What do others say about this person? Who talks with this person the most? What do they want to know? Why?
That personality is your company’s brand. Determining your brand and creating promotional materials that are in line with that personality is what establishes the obvious difference between the amateurs who get lost in the crowd and the professionals who stand out and succeed.
Today, a brand is much more than a logo. It is everything from the words you put on paper to the message on your voice mail. Every opportunity to communicate with your audience must be true to your brand. Inconsistency causes confusion and leads to brand disloyalty. It’s like having multiple personalities and the customer won’t know what or who to expect.
To help you create a strong brand, take a look at a few tried-and-true tips:
It would be unimaginable for people to build a 30-story building without a blueprint, so why why would you try to build a company without one? Without a strategic blueprint, you leave the interpretation of your brand to your customer. Your brand needs to be controlled so you can navigate it through ever-changing trends and markets.
- Know your target audience.
Put yourself in their shoes and get inside their heads. The better you know your audience, the more effective you will be in communicating and connecting with them. Their wants and needs help drive your brand. By digging deeper your can hit on an emotional tie that leads to brand loyalty.
- Make sure your employees are true to your brand.
Educate them, excite them, show them exactly how their actions and interactions affect the company brand. No matter where they work in the company, everything they do says something about who your company is.
Whatever it takes to make your brand a true champion, the foundation is built on a well-planned brand strategy. Remember, develop your brand DNA, know your audience, and ensure that every employee communicates your brand.
It takes an investment of time and money but, in the end, it makes the difference.