Archive for the ‘Strategy’ Category

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How to Tell Tales: Brands’ Path to Publishing

In Strategy,Views and Reviews on April 1, 2015 by Jox Tagged: , , , , , , , ,

Once upon a time brands used to be in control. But happily-ever-afters are dwindling and brands are scrambling to tell stories.  Consumers can now tragically end brand stories by skipping, unfollowing, or YELPing.

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Being great at content is not about the tactical wins on Twitter or successfully newsjacking news. Content is not one-off, it should be a sustainable solution that evolves with brand communications.

Consumers now have the right tools to CREATE, TELL, and DISTRIBUTE accounts of their brand experiences.

Whilst brands insist that they are THIS kind of brand, consumers find a way to define brands differently- with what? STORIES.

The Greatest Story Never Told

There are a lot of great stories out there that have yet to be told greatly. Storytelling is living vicariously through consumer experiences so that more people could experience life with brands. Information is no longer the currency, stories are. It’s not the hunt for the cool, it’s the pursuit of the REAL.

To tell a story, the brand must be a living and breathing core that fuels the creation of more stories.  The new language is art and if brands don’t communicate with respect for aesthetics and authenticity, then consumers will not be engaged.

Story owners and Storytellers

You don’t have to tell stories on your own. That’s why artists, writers, poets, tastemakers exist for they have a higher calling to create and curate beautiful things. That’s why Kanye West is no longer just a rapper (see DONDA).

Is crowdsourcing the answer? It’s risky for it invites all kinds of responses and if you filter it, it backfires.

A more proactive solution is to create an open platform of inspiration where quality creators will be enticed to create, co-create, and share their work.

For example, Joseph Gordon Levitt’s brainchild- HITRECORD. It has become so successful that made-for-TV episodes on Pivot are done through collaborations with artists across the globe with just one theme cascaded by JGL.

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The Storytelling System

The Storytelling System has three key players – The Stories (client), The Raconteurs, and the Inspirers. There is a constant creation and distribution of stories told in images, words, films, etc. These stories are then distributed to inspirers or tastemakers signaled by a LAUNCH but artists can continue to enhance the existing projects.

To make the system work,

  • Conduct an inventory of your stories, both told and untold,
  • Set up your publishing/content platform that enables story creation.
  • Pool in your Creators and Storytellers
  • Create a PLOT (communication brief)
  • Launch the story via Curators and Inspirers
  • Distribute gains and give recognition

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MEDIACOM BEYOND ADVERTISING specializes in designing Storytelling Systems (Content Strategy, Creation, and Distribution) that enables the cycle of creation by creative and authentic artists who also happen to be your consumers.

And this is where we take brands beyond traditional, beyond advertising, beyond just cascading information.

Because to become a PUBLISHER, you must be a STORYTELLER.

And you better be a bloody good one.

 

Jox is a Content Strategist & Storyteller who thrives in integrating brand promises with everyday human stories. She lives vicariously through media and content- ads, viral videos, haiku apps, and blogs. She lives and breathes art to fuel her passion in marketing brands. 

 

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Consumer Involvement in New Age Brand Communications

In Ads and other executions,Campaigns,Strategy on May 6, 2012 by Jox Tagged: , , , , , , , , , ,

By now we cannot deny that consumers have become wiser when it comes to digesting information. When they don’t like a commercial, they can just skip through it. In fact, they are moving towards activities and channels that enable them to be free from commercial pursuits. They know when you’re selling something and when they think you are such a phony, they can shut you off.

Nevertheless, it is a given that this is an enterprising world. How should we know? Despite the resistance of the most of us towards timeline, the transition has been inevitable. For what? For brands to better showcase themselves, know more about their consumers as easy reference for backyard research, and yes, to gather and convert brand loyalists.

Social networks and personal media sites have enabled consumers to consent their participation. They can join, discuss, praise, criticize, complain, and most importantly, share. Word of mouth has never been more empowered than today. Anyone can become popular and become an opinion leader. Bloggers are neo-journalists who chronicle their brand interactions for the rest to consume.

Marketers are aware of this phenomenon. In fact, they are ambassadors themselves of brands they believe in by pushing the subscribe button. Everyone’s equal in these new age communication platforms. Consumers are becoming more involved in brand decisions. The use of polls in product design and variant launches has become a staple. Consulting consumers has become convenient that it has served as buffer for possible losses for wrong business decisions.

Consumers want to be involved. They don’t just want to share information you pass to them. They want to be IN it. The viral component of a campaign becomes massive when it involves the consumer. The effect of push marketing has become diluted and collaborative communication has gained significance recently. Hotcow’s article on consumer creativity extensively discusses the need to bank on consumers when it comes to creating materials for brands.

By simply involving consumers, a brand is saying that “This is OUR brand. We should enrich it”.

Below are just some examples of remarkable campaigns:

Nike iD Generator Concept Store (Japan): Experiential and Digital Campaign

Nike has a cult following of its own. The brand has always banked on collective individuality of its loyalists but they brought the concept to life by capturing the vibrant fashion of Harajuku City, the ultimate melting pot of unique styles. There’s another campaign in London where opinion leaders get a one-on-one VIP consultation in creating sneaker designs. Nike is one of the strong advents of co-creation in product innovation.

Kotex Inspiration Day: Direct Marketing and Digital Campaign

Pinterest has become an advent of popularizing uniqueness and interest intersections. Banking on its increasing popularity, Kotex sent direct packages to targeted inspirational women based on their pinboards. In involving a consumer, marketers should speak to her personally and authentically. The campaign had massive viral online results.

Maybelline 8-in-1 BB Cream Commercial (Philippines): Be Gerald’s Girl Digital campaign

In this campaign, a mini-movie was shot with popular local heartthrob that every young woman desires to be with and also become the face of Maybelline! Users were directed to a site where they could upload their photo and generate a movie featuring the user and the celebrity. Delighted users spread their videos in their social networks. The word spread virally about the new product. The campaign won a Spikes Asia Award.

 (C) Copyright Brands and Pitches 2012

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Of Brand Equities and Sponsorships

In Campaigns,Strategy,Views and Reviews on April 21, 2012 by Jox Tagged: , , , , , , , , , , ,

Recently, this massively touching Procter & Gamble global ad featuring dedicated mothers as driving forces behind Olympic winners reached into viral mode. The “Thank You, Mum” campaign is simple as it is genuine but what makes it successful is its relevance with the upcoming 2012 Summer Olympics in London and all the emotions attached to the anticipation of knowing the medalists and their stories. True enough, the underdogs often rise in the world arena.

It is no doubt a strategic move for P&G in communicating to their consumers worldwide. Their products may have been household staples but the brands should strive to remain significant through time. By becoming a major sponsor of the Olympic Games, the company shares the spotlight even if it doesn’t need much push for consumer preference due to its brands’ competitive edge. However,it still pays to have a strategic undertaking when it comes to sponsorships.

Brand Equity is a pillar of Brand Identity. It is basically the strength of a brand and its ability to transmit the same strength to other products and conditions under it or associated with it. Below is an extensive explanation by Investopedia.

With big companies such as P&G, sponsorships can be very common from the smallest village projects to worldwide events such as the Olympics. The greater the brand equity, the more sponsorships get attracted.

When this happens, people in the company must be aligned with the marketing strategies of the brands such that anyone who may say yes to a sponsorship, enriches the brand rather than dents it. Moreover, sponsorship partners must be properly oriented about the brand so they are aligned. I have seen several brand violations unintentionally done by partners just because they were not aware.

The brand must be consistent across communication points especially if it has a strong equity. Any deviation from how it is recognized and admired by consumers can be damaging. Sure, some might claim that brand manager can be exaggerated but that’s because they are custodians of the brand.
Brand managers should not be alone in maintaining the brand’s integrity in any event. There must be a solid and updates brand book that explains the brand from its visual treatment to emotional associations. This brand book is the single consistent guide of any one who wishes to deal with a brand as soon as allowed by the brand manager and/or communications director.
Brand books are not just for big brands who can afford strategic agencies but for budding ones as well. So for any business owner who wishes to make their products distinct, it is time to get started.#
(C) Copyright. Brands & Pitches 2012.

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Next Level Brand Experiences

In Campaigns,Strategy,Tools on April 2, 2012 by Jox Tagged: , , , , , ,

Experiential Marketing is about bringing the brand to life. It can build awareness and induce trial at the same time. Moreover, actual consumer reactions are captured in an instant. There is clutter in traditional media channels and messages are cut to fit into 30 seconds while advertisers are hoping for positive reactions that will be captured and reported a month later by research agencies.

Experiential marketing is a fully customizable medium that brands can take advantage of in talking to the consumers. It is not enough to just go out there and start plastering logos on random available spaces. Or worse, placing annoying mascots or spokespersons in busy places interrupting people with skits and flyers. Brands must create memories with consumers through exciting experiences…experiences they are willing to witness and take part of.

Based on my experience with activation and events marketing, consumers just don’t need to try your products via free tasting or service but they must get the brand message upon leaving the venue. The best experiential campaigns are those that become viral and sustainable.

Next-level experiential marketing makes use of technology and revolutionary techniques in order to strategically enhance consumer impressions. The most common trend lately is linking online interactions with offline experiences. These holistic experiences allow consumers to be excited about brands which is usually not induced by commercials.

Below are some examples that take sampling, events, and retail marketing to the next level.

TARGETED SAMPLING: TEMPTATIONS BY JELL-O

A vending machine that dispenses a free sample accurately detects target consumers via age recognition technology. Much to their dismay, kids were politely refused to be given any. I believe this technology effectively eliminates manpower training and implementation risks. I just wish that aside from dispensing products, the machine could have been more interactive in capturing information about consumers and their reactions which is an advantage of experiential marketing.

ONLINE TO OFFLINE EVENTS: T-MOBILE BARCELONA

Angry Birds has taken over the virtual world by storm such that T-mobile brought the experience in real life for passersby to witness. I like how subtle the company approached the opportunity by placing the game in the forefront rather than the brand. The event achieved 100% excitement but it always boils down to subscriptions.

“SOCIAL RETAILING”: MACY’S FITTING ROOM

Convenience is essential in experiential marketing. If it is such a hassle for consumers to participate, they easily lose interest and they eventually leave. Fitting clothes can be tedious and shoppers remain skeptic in buying clothes that they see on skinny mannequins or models. They can get disappointed once they have gone through the ordeal of fitting only to find out they look worse than usual. The magic fitting room answers convenience and the proverbial question, “Will I look good in this?” I wonder how the technology facilitated “impulse buying”.

Over-all, I think these are just some important points in crafting experiential campaigns for today’s fickle consumers:

1. Excite then inform: Hype is important to scale how much participation is going to be captured before the launch. Buzz can go viral but craft the communication points such that consumers know where to witness the reveal. For campaigns that involve “never-been-done” activities, set the “be-the-first-to-experience” bait.

2. Make the information accessible: People are always inquisitive especially if the information is relevant to them. Make sure that it is your company or agency that provides the know-how to inquirers for accuracy and credibility. It’s good when others are talking about it but messages always evolve through a long chain. Just be present wherever the questions will pop out.

3. Convenience is key: As said in the example above, consumers lose interest when it is such a hassle for them to go through your gimmick. Make the experience simple but impactful. Present incentives right away but never bribe them. It is an automatic turn-off and credibility is flushed down the drain. Present the incentives yet make the consumers earn them conveniently.

4. Strike consumers at the right time and place: This part is always tricky but research provides guide in contact planning. Engage consumers when they want to. It is in the quality of interactions and not in the number of hits that make an event effective.

5. Create a string of experiences: Also as said earlier, successful campaigns are viral and sustainable. One experience can be intense and memorable while there are some that require a holistic approach to reinforce the message. Whichever it is, never stop communicating with the consumer. This doesn’t mean to be intrusive and annoying but be present in the most significant venues and times. What’s good with experiential marketing is that it can connect with other media for it to continue e.g. TV coverage, online presence, radio promo components, etc.

To reiterate, experiential marketing is customizable and adjustable with the needs of the brand and the availability of the consumers. It should be viewed as an independently effective tool and not just a support in extending TV-driven campaigns.

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Smart Brands Make Smart Consumers

In Strategy,Tools on March 27, 2012 by Jox Tagged: , , , , ,

Consumers are no longer oblivious to the truth. They are now more active in seeking benefits beyond the ads. They are willing to pay a few more dollars just to get a genuine advantage inherent to the product. They are willing to buy and talk about the brands that have hidden advantages that they were smart enough to discover. An ordinary mother from the suburbs who blogs about her everyday discoveries is just as credible as the endorser paid to talk about your brand. So instead of counteracting these new consumer tendencies, brands must enable them to be even smarter.

I’ve already talked about consumer education before and how they extend communication beyond the tag lines/copies on ads. Brands should revolutionize not just their communication but their interaction with the consumers. Work with them and recruit them as ambassadors. The recruitment must be based on genuine belief in the brand and not some bogus endeavor. These types of efforts never last anyway and end up hurting the brand in the long run.

An example is how Nestlé launched a campaign on checking labels or the nutritional information normally skipped through by moms. How could they not? The back part of the packaging is usually a place of compliance and technicalities. It is full of texts and numbers of very small fonts. That part does not speak to the consumer. Yet, the Check the Label campaign extended consumer interface by facilitating the buyers’ understanding of nutritional content and value for money. The habit of checking the label might have been practiced across different products but pioneering the movement is attributable to the brand (or company).

It is not enough to be transparent with the consumers for it is a commercial and ethical (or legal) imperative nowadays. However, the truth can really be a disadvantage for a brand. For example, McDonald’s cannot deny that they have the healthiest foods but they managed to be transparent and enable consumers to make informed decisions at the same time. By launching a nutrition calculator, the power is given to the consumer to decide how much indulgence they are willing to take. It is not just about telling the truth, it is teaching consumers how to deal with it as well.

Below is a complete chart of everything on the fast food giant’s menu.

To sum up, crucial steps can be taken in making consumers smart with your brand.

1. Be transparent: Tell consumers significant truths about your product. It can be a hidden advantage, a new habit they can start, or a truth that can set rumors straight.

2. Manage how to deal with the truth: Brands must be the first to reveal and first to deal with information. But if consumers have gone astray in dealing with it e.g. switching to another brand, getting out of the category, or speaking ill about the product, then the truth must be set straight, public relations controls dissemination, and campaigns can be formed.

3. Getting smart together: Gather your brand believers and give them a venue to interact together and with your brand. Give a face to credibility by having a real person talk to the ambassadors regularly. Discover new habits and spot the ones that can be turned into campaigns. The key is to discover what works for the brand and initiate a movement.

Of course there are still brands and products we wish to be more transparent to us like insurance companies but then, that’s another discussion.

 

C) Copyright protected| BRANDS AND PITCHES 2012

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The Generic Problem of Brand Differentiation

In Strategy on March 19, 2012 by Jox Tagged: , , , , , ,

These days, there aren’t just a clutter of products but also heaps of promises that any consumer would skip through in ads, in supermarkets, or even in an activation.

At the end of the day, when a brand fails to distinguish itself from others, they’re all the same products in the eyes of the consumer. “Same banana”, they say. When there are too many players in the market especially in the consumer goods industry, brands may resort to price wars, value packaging, or just outspend each other to get higher shares of voice. Anything, to get the attention of the consumer. There is indeed a narrow line among hyper-similar products that often resort to generic promises or brand tactics.

Of course, we do not stop at mediocrity and just settle on outvoicing competitors. Somehow, there is a constant search for a key differentiator that speaks for itself and is organically translatable to creative strategies and tactical executions.

Based on my experiences and observations, key propositions can be derived from different sources:

1. It can be a product given that has never been highlighted before. An example is Omega-3 fatty acids claimed by a canned tuna brand. Fish is already rich in Omega-3, a nutrient that reduces risk of heart disease. Yet if a brand is the first to highlight such nutrient, the benefits are reaped by it. Why highlight it just now? It’s because health is highly relevant among consumers nowadays. Brand differentiation evolves through time and consumer needs at that time. 

2. Innovation can create product features that the brand can own first in the market or the brand can own solely. Constant innovation is a must especially for growth companies. Innovation is not juts triggered by streamlining and cost-efficiency goals but also by consumer insight. Product recipes or formulations may add benefits that once communicated, ring directly back to consumer demand. For example, the reduction or elimination of preservatives and/or incorporation of nutrients of a processed food product can get the attention of skeptic mothers who want their kids to eat healthy. If a particular brand owns it first, then it alters the entire processed foods category. And if its the only brand that can make such claim (because the innovation is patented or can’t be replicated), then it has an advantage over the others.

3. A differentiator can be derived from emotional affinities and social elements.  I think products such as shampoos, soaps, and laundry soaps have tapped into consumer desires. They have gone beyond hygienic needs. Vanity, care, seduction, every possible sweet spot has been explored. Here’s a classic: non-smear lipstick. Revlon out campaigned Hazel Bishop’s non-smear long-lasting lipstick when it launched the Fire & Ice campaign. The marketing strategy appealed to the naughty & nice sides of women. Being first in innovation is big news but it may not be big enough for long. The proposition must be sustainable and should not rest on a product feature that will possibly become obsolete.

There are certainly different thought processes in arriving at a great proposition. The problem, however, is not having information but having too much of it. The Heath Brothers, authors of SWITCH, remind us on the dangers of information that are true but useless.

It is not easy but one indicator that all parties have temporarily given up on a brand is when they float among tactical moves for quite some time.