by Christian Cuevas, Operations Assistant
What is product branding? Why is it important?
Branding refers to the way people perceive your business; these perceptions are a reflection of what your company means to them. Company branding is often seen as something that may develop naturally throughout the life of the business; however, it is a very critical aspect to a companies success which requires going beyond getting the job done. Establishing an emotional connection between a person and the business he/she is dealing with is not an easy thing, especially in highly competitive markets. In competitive markets, businesses must find ways to differentiate themselves in order for consumers to easily determine where they are going to buy their good or service. Business owners often try achieving this differentiation through lowering the cost of their good or service. But they can also do so through well executed product branding.
Though consumers will generally respond positively towards a cheaper alternative, there is a reason people are willing to pay $1,000 for a smartphone that has the same functions as a phone that costs half of that price. As you read that last sentence, your brain may have already automatically made a connection between a product and a company. Regardless if you are a fan of Apple or not, their immense popularity in the marketplace is undeniable. When Apple released their first iPhone, they took an existing product (the smartphone) and made it different. Along with a new design, they created an operating system that provided people with a unique user interface and on the back of this product was the iconic Apple logo. Apple features their logo on every product making it easy for consumers to associate the bitten apple logo with all of the positive experiences and connotations that come with it. Apple is consistent with both the quality of their products and the unique experience they offer to each individual consumer. To many Apple users, the experience they have with products is so unique that they become extremely loyal to the company. Alternatives are not an option to these loyal customers, which gives the company an edge in their industry. Although much of the branding for Apple has come from their differentiation in the experience a consumer has with their products, the consistency in the use of their logo acts as a flag for their consumers to proudly wave.
Not all companies can brand the same way that Apple has branded themselves. There are some companies that have products that largely vary in target audiences. Apple’s products appeal to a very large group of people, making the user experience very uniform among most product users. The buyer of an iPhone may also want an iPad. In other cases user experiences are purposely made to vary because the audience is very different. For example, a car company is not going to brand a minivan the way they brand their high performance sports car. This is simple because the feelings that consumers expect and want from the vehicles are completely different. A person looking for a new family van may desire most the feeling of safety and comfort, while the person looking for that high performance sports car is most interested in the feeling of adrenaline and excitement. Perhaps the company is dedicated to mostly make family oriented vehicles, but they also produce that one sports car; in that case it would be wise to brand the sports car differently from how the car company as a whole has been branded. Show below, you can see the front ends of two sports cars from different competitors. Although both cars are respectively very beautiful, well-designed performance vehicles, one has an element of branding that may have already allowed you to picture the entire car.
The emblem on top comes from the front end of a Ford Mustang, while the bottom one comes from the front end of a Chevrolet Camaro. Can you guess which has been branded better? In 1965 when the first year of Mustangs were produced, rather than being badged with the standard company badges the Mustang was badged with a symbol representing power, endurance, and speed. This symbol is still placed all over modern day Mustangs. Both consistency and repetition are crucial when creating a connection between a symbol and a customer. The Chevrolet Camaro has had various redesigns in their logo since the first year it was created, which made its brand a bit unclear over the years. Today, we will see Camaros badged with the same logos that you can find on any of Chevrolet’s vehicles, reducing the vehicles unique qualities. In comparison, Ford has taken a different approach in how they uniquely tailored their Mustang product branding. The logo is not only seen on the front and rear of the car, but it is also placed on the middle of the steering wheel to greet the driver as they enter the vehicle. Though it is a small difference, it is the small branding details that can make a difference when a person is looking to make a purchase. In this case, since both vehicles are similar in performance, it may just be the brand that may persuade a consumer to buy a particular car. Building unique experiences that allow consumers to develop an emotional connection to your product or service is essential to establishing customer loyalty.
If you can put something in their hand, it makes the job of remembering you a lot easier. Most people (60%) who receive a promo item will keep it for two years and use it regularly. (Relevant Insights, 2013). Are you looking to make an impact with great promotional items and custom apparel?
Promotional items and apparel can help you greatly improve the presentation of your company. Your image becomes more professional and memorable. So let’s explore how your logo on a product or apparel item can help your marketing.
You never have a second chance to make a first impression. When your prospect is first introduced to your brand, make use of every tool at your disposal. Enable your employees to be brand ambassadors with each meeting or introduction by giving them branded apparel with the company logo. Can they hand out a custom pen to a prospective client or a balloon with your restaurant logo to every child who visits?
Show customers you care by making an investment in their relationship with you. Promotional items and customized apparel are excellent examples of how to make a great first impression.
You know a first impression is important and you want it to be a good one. Now how do you make that good first impression last longer? A survey from LJ Market Research showed that people recalled the name of a company on a promotional item (76%) more than a company they saw previously in a print ad (53%). Like an app for a smartphone, promotional items can stay with your customer even after they’ve left. It is something they can carry around with them forever and keep your brand in their daily lives. For example, a tow truck company should give out key chains so their customers don’t have to wonder about who to call in an emergency. Or a law firm can send employees to a national conference wearing custom polo shirts with the firm logo and give them custom golf balls to distribute.
This makes remembering your company a lot easier. It also shows the inherent value in a well thought out promotional product gift and professional apparel for giveaway or employees.
According to our newest catalog, there are more than 300,000 promotional products and apparel for sale today. There are literally thousands of choices available and some of them are perfect for your business. You should keep the following in mind when making your promotional items and custom apparel selections:
To ensure you are getting the best product at the best price and the most creativity, speak to an Arkside representative today.
“One on-air personality said management’s view was ‘if we build it, they will come.’ They didn’t.”
As we routinely tell our clients, the days of “if you build it, they will come” ended after Field of Dreams.
The notable and relatively new entrant to the American news mediascape, Al Jazeera America, is scheduled to shut down by April 30, 2016. While there are heaping reasons for this abrupt termination, the vast majority involve marketing failures. From a doomed name and laughable Al Gore connection to a poor understanding of the market and public management failures – all roads pointed to a disastrous conclusion.
Al Gore became a joke after surrendering the 2000 U.S. Presidential election to George W. Bush. His one-note-Johnny routine about climate change while owning a massive energy-swallowing home, sexual harassment of a masseuse, and separating from his wife, led to a steep decline of his stature in politics and environmentalism. He also was a partial owner of Current TV, a low-level cable television network in the United States. It was the sale of this network that not only allowed the foothold for Al Jazeera America, but helped to further erode Al Gore’s reputation. He was harshly criticized for selling an American media company to terrorists.
Strangely, no one cared about Current TV before it’s sale to Al Jazeera – with one notable moment of exception. Two of its journalists were arrested after crossing the North Korean border in 2009. Their investigative reporting skills did not include map reading. Former U.S. President Bill Clinton (the former boss of their current boss) secured their release. Thus ended the newsworthiness of Current TV until it was sold. At it’s height, the network reached a paltry 31,000 viewers per day. Total. To Gore’s credit, he was able to sell the network with almost no audience to the Qatari government for $500,000,000. (That’s $16,129 per viewer!)
Within the first two months of Al Jazeera America, it shed nearly two-thirds of that audience and reached a pathetic 13,000 people per day. Total.
Even MSNBC was over 120,000 per day.
For reasons that continue to elude employees, observers, and the American public, Al Jazeera’s management never seemed to fully understand the poison pill presented by their name. Given the public hesitation to anything Arab or Muslim after September 11th, it should have been easy to grasp the need for a more acceptable brand name. Presenting an Arab news network with an Arab name and a terrible reputation in the United States seemed puzzling. Unfairly, most Americans only associated Al Jazeera with their occasional broadcasts of propaganda from Saddam Hussein or Osama bin Laden. But perception was reality and perception began on day one.
This brand crisis was only magnified by their Arabic logo. America is a melting pot and has learned to listen to foreign names all the time. There are Arab construction companies, racing teams, and many other Arab-named entities in the U.S. But to actually use a logo written in Arabic was a visual reminder that Al Jazeera America had nothing to do with America. It is difficult to convince anyone you’re American if everything about you is not.
Their brand was an American disaster visually and audibly.
The conundrum of bad branding was strangely mitigated by a limited audience. It is hard to make a terrible first impression if you aren’t allowed to make the first impression. Just days before Al Jazeera America was set to go on air, AT&T U-verse dropped the channel. This followed prior decisions by Comcast and Time Warner Cable not to air the station at all. Their possible audience size now dropped precipitously below 100 million homes.
Technology and regulation also posed a problem. The still-successful Al Jazeera English is the English language version of Al Jazeera. It is popular on a global scale, especially it’s internet stream. But Al Jazeera was trying to build a TV network, not a stream. So they prohibited streaming to the US. That narrow-minded decision again limited their exposure and opportunities to drive traffic to their fledgling American network. The CEO, Al Anstey, admitted as much with this line from the email announcing the station’s closure: “The decision is driven by the fact that our business model is simply not sustainable in an increasingly digital world, and because of the current global financial challenges.”
Al Jazeera never succeeded but it was not due to a poorly produced product. They won every major journalism and media award possible including the Emmy, Peabody, and the Alfred I. DuPont-Columbia University awards. The hired top talent away from other TV news networks and other journalism media. Although occasionally accused of having a “Middle East bias” in their coverage, they were routinely recognized for being objective and presenting a unique voice in American media.
But no one will give you a chance to be objective in their home if they think it comes from the mouth of a terrorist.
Al Jazeera Management Failures
Every single one of the problems listed above could be fixed by a stable and competent management team. Al Jazeera America never found that team. They were in a constant state of management “desperation” as they made frequent changes and suffered internal drama. Every department saw departures as Al Jazeera headquarters in Qatar applied constant pressure for success. Few were ever managing long enough to make a difference.
In some instances, these personnel shifts and a substantial wrongful termination lawsuit, once again brought forth the idea of an anti-American bias with preference given to Middle Eastern employees. Certainly not the desired picture when trying to appeal to an American audience.
The media landscape in America is extremely competitive. Ask MSNBC. To find success, even with a unique voice, is a challenge. But when your marketing -from your name to your HR policies- build and support a notion that you are the opposite of what you claim, you will ultimately fail. Competitors will relish in your misery and make sure your customers know. Partners will feel as though they are part of a lopsided relationship. And customers will choose an alternative.
All of this dooms what was otherwise a well-made product.
People don’t love buying cars.
People love driving cars.
Going fast. Showing friends and family. Personalizing with accessories. Even the new car smell. You can buy it in sprays, little mirror trees, and scratch-and-sniff stickers. No one feels nostalgic for the “low” payment or the warranty. They love the experience that is uniquely part of owning a vehicle. So why are dealerships continuously and relentlessly focused on everything but ownership?
“The dealership experience is as old as the car industry, roughly 100 years old. While cars have changed, the retail experience is much the same as it was 100 years ago.”
–Dr. Ian Robertson, Head of Sales & Distribution at BMW
This is what so many dealerships resist to acknowledge and are even slower to correct. They remain focused on their experience (lot layout, funneling an up, trade evaluation, price negotiation, finance, etc.) instead of the experience of their customers. Most other industries have already recognized the necessity of building an experience for the customer instead of forcing customers into an experience.
Consider these facts from a 2014 Edmunds survey:
That should be alarming to the automotive industry. One-third of your customers would rather deal with the IRS than you. Employees are personified as the icons of lying, cheating, and stealing. “He’s as bad as a used car salesman.”
When we meet with dealership clients, most say they want to stand out from their competition. To do that at most stores, we encourage them to look internally first. At Arkside Marketing, we have two rules we teach every client. The second one is, “never make it difficult for someone to give you their money”.
The solution is usually easy to identify. Any area where the customer is not the primary focus could be an area for improvement. Getting a customer excited is surprisingly easy for a great dealership. Expectations are already so low that exceeding them can be achieved with one or two simple actions. A dozen would blow them away!
Here are some simple changes you can make to improve a customer’s first five minutes at your dealership:
Build everything around the experience of owning a car – not buying one. Your dealership is a method of delivery for a product they can buy at your competitor. You can be a dealer of a great experience. By doing so, you will generate more word-of-mouth referrals, more positive conversations and testimonials online (Facebook, Yelp, etc.) and more service drive retention. Then take those incredible experiences and make them part of your marketing. Tell the world about your success.
Don’t sell a car – offer a great car experience.
If you would like to know more about how to integrate your sales and marketing strategies to deliver a great car experience for your customers (and cost-efficiently for you, contact us today. Our first consultation and needs analysis is completely free.
Few things are as important to your business as your brand identity. The branding of your company is about your logo, your appearance, your service, your products, and your reputation. It is how the world perceives you. Your ad agency should understand and appreciate the importance of brand development.“Your brand is what people say about you when you’re not in the room.” –Jeff Bezos
The development and protection of a brand is critical. A critical element of that brand representation is your logo. It is the most commonly seen visual representation of your company. Hundreds of dollars or hundreds of millions of dollars go into the promotion of a logo. When we come across instances like the ones below, we wonder if the agency truly understands the value of their client’s brand:
These examples were taken from the home page rotator of a US regional Chevrolet dealer association website. They represent 57% of the images in that rotator. That makes such errors difficult to excuse as isolated incidents or something not reviewed by multiple employees (graphic designer, project manager, account executive) and the client.
We are the first to admit that we aren’t perfect. No agency or person is perfect. But errors like this speak to a larger problem of disregarding the fundamentals of brand integrity. Imagine the IBM logo being printed backwards on a company brochure. Or Google having a typo and showing up “Gogle”. It wouldn’t make it off the printing press.
Protect your logo.
Protect your reputation.
Demand an agency that does the same.
Arkside Marketing is a full-service ad agency, specializing in regulated enterprises such as law firms, car dealerships, hospitals, and financial institutions. If you would like a complimentary analysis of your current marketing efforts or brand identity, please contact us today to schedule an appointment. We can come to your office or conduct the analysis online via Skype, Google Hangouts, or Join.me.
Does the Hillary Clinton logo means she is moving to the right and becoming a Republican?
Is it the FedEx logo?
(The creator of the FedEx logo described the Clinton design as “disappointing, amateurish, clumsy and decidedly static.”)
Is it a hospital directional sign?
Is the campaign sponsored by the History Channel?
Wikileaks tried jumping on the bandwagon, but we have no idea what they are talking about. They are probably desperate for attention.
The new Hillary Clinton campaign logo has divided our office, but most have come down on the side of ambivalence. Our CEO was the first to notice it on April 10th. What did he think? What did the team think?
Here is what some of our staff had to say about the logo. Other than Nathan, this was the first time each of them had seen it. They were advised to put aside any personal political opinions and evaluate the logo as a logo alone.
“A little plain for a Presidential campaign, but that certainly speaks to current trends in design. Flat and simplistic will receive criticism. In the end, it could give the campaign more flexibility in how the logo is used.” –Nathan Greenberg, CEO
“I think its a misalignment. Not impressed.” –Cal Haney, Lead Graphic Designer
“Seems simple but effective.” –Ryan Robbins, Marketing Consultant
“Need to think about it.” –Marc Lemus, Marketing Consultant
“I think she tried to hop on the “Presidents get logos” bandwagon and didn’t do a good job of it.” –Amanda Johnson, Digital Coordinator
Arkside is largely underwhelmed. Other experts have weighed in with everything from adoring praise to cringeworthy criticism. But let’s look at other aspects. Generally speaking, what is it that makes a good logo? We have compiled a list of inspiration, ideas, and implied meanings from a collection of design professionals.
Forget this concept. Now. Like most things in design and advertising, there is no such thing as perfect. A logo needs to be good and that means effective. Reliability, affordability, trustworthy, and any other emotion you seek to convey can be achieved in a myriad of ways.
There is no perfect shade of whatever color you’re looking for.
There is no perfect font for the elegant or sporty text you’re looking for.
There is no perfect angle or curve for the shape you’re looking for.
You can waste time trying to find the “perfect” thing that will make your logo perfect…or you can get out and actually sell your product or service.
As always, we recommend you seek the help of a professional who can guide you through the process of logo creation and brand development. There is a science behind the art, psychology, emotion, and creation of a great logo. You can focus on your job and trust a professional to deliver a great logo that will properly represent your business far into the future. If you are interested in a free consultation with with one of our Marketing Consultants and designers, please contact us today to schedule an appointment.
Business cards are still an effective and convenient method for distributing your contact information. Ignore the small chorus of nay-sayers who ponder the question, “is the business card dead?” A business card is a valuable and inexpensive investment. Here are 5 tips to make your business card effective:
Its a good idea, but that’s not really number one. Here we go…
Simple form over function. It doesn’t matter how beautiful your business card is if no one can read it. Even if you are an artist or graphic designer. Don’t let a creative flair overtake the reason you have a business card…so people can contact you! There are plenty of ways to incorporate beautiful, colorful, extravagant designs and still have easy-to-read information.
2″ high by 3.5″ wide.
That gives you 14 square inches of space to work with. Don’t let it go to waste. When clients come to us for brand development, we often find a misuse of space in their business cards, letterhead, envelopes, and websites. Your business card can communicate a lot of information including:
|License number(s)||Special prices||Discount offers|
|Famous quote||Appointment form||Portfolio piece|
With all of those possibilities, why would you leave the back of your card blank? Put it to good use. Don’t just copy your logo again in a larger size. Use it as an appointment reminder (many dentists and doctors do this). You could also promote a particular product line, include social media icons/addresses, share your industry recognition award, or give a useful tip that is relevant to your customers.
Your business card needs to meet and exceed the expectations of the person to whom you give it. If you own a law firm catering to high net worth clients, your business card needs to reflect that. The design should be professional and elegant. Including the colors of your favorite baseball team is not recommended.
Utilize your color palette, fonts, and other brand design elements. This information should be readily available in your branding guidelines.
Many years ago, we came across a company that had plastic business cards. They had a custom cut shape, full color, and nearly as thick as a credit card. EACH card was about $1.00. Yes, they spent $500 on every set for employees. They were beautiful, unique, and effective.
They were not cost efficient.
The same unique beauty could have been achieved on a paper stock, even a rarely available stock, for less than $1.00 per card. Use a stock that is appropriate for your customers. A heavy-duty card stock for rough industries such as construction or landscaping. Elegant linen is appropriate for accountants or attorneys. Plastic for…well…no one.
The layout and content options for your business card are limitless. But you aren’t going to reinvent the wheel. Someone already did what you want. Best of all, someone already did a part of what you want.
“Good artists copy, great artists steal!” –Pablo Picasso
Start collecting business cards with things you like and want on your own: a great font, a nice placement of a logo, the right size social media icons, whatever.
Now use this opportunity for marketing and networking. Compliment the person who’s card you admire and tell them what you like. They’ll appreciate your kind words and will be more receptive to your card once it is ready.
6. Order your business cards from Arkside. (Just contact our office and we’ll schedule a free consultation.)
If you could change one thing about your current business card, what would it be? Leave a comment below and let’s see what others want to improve.
The Apple iPhone 5 and Samsung Galaxy S4 both recently went on sale. With the explosion of mobile advertising, need for new smartphone features, and intense battle for marketshare, the stakes for both companies are incredibly high. When anything this important depends on consumer demand, the wisest companies turn to advertising.
Both companies have new commercials for their flagship phones. Apple’s new “Photos Every Day” spot and Samsung’s “Pool Party” have very different approaches to reaching their audience with a message that will resonate. It is hard to imagine what the goal was for the Apple iPhone 5 ad . They don’t highlight any new features or attack the competition. In fact they do the exact opposite by focusing on a feature that is standard on all smartphones and does nothing to distinguish their product in a competitive marketplace. Samsung, by contrast, highlights interesting and useful new features while simultaneously taking slick swipes at Apple’s failure to innovate.
Here are both commercials for you to decide: