Tag Archives: branding

How has the recession affected brand strategy?

Many advertisers and marketers position their brand message to Maslow’s higher order needs (e.g. the need for belonging, esteem, self-actualization) on the pyramid.   Has the message changed as a result of the recession?

Mr. John Gerzema, author of Brand Bubble argued that because of the recession we need to embrace the lower order needs (e.g. the needs for safety and physiological protection) on Maslow’s hierarchy.  Fear and uncertainty are on the rise.  The marketers that will have a competitive advantage from this recession will replace passion with compassion.  Evidence of this includes Hyundai’s current campaign called Hyundai Assurance, which lets any Hyundai owner walk away from their lease or loan on a new Hyundai vehicle, if they lose their job within 12 months of the purchase.  In the first quarter of this year, the entire automotive industry in the US was down 38.4% between March 2009 YTD versus March 2008 YTD.  While Hyundai’s sales were up 0.7% during that same period.

There are a few businesses that have succeeded in the recession. Evidence is apparent with the Match.com, The Economist Magazine, LoveFilm and MTV.  In these four case studies, all are able to adapt to people’s interests as a result of people cutting back in their budgets.  The most compelling case study is with The Economist.  Its rich content about the recession and the banking crisis certainly appeal to people, but in my opinion,  it is its creativity in leveraging different media such as its podcasting, online content, magazine content and its educational guides on various subjects such as advertising that help differentiate this magazine with others.


Magazines on-demand

If you have been following this blog, I had been stressing about the importance of content on demand.

The first example, is at Heathrow Airport in London, where HSBC is promoting their Premier Card.  Travelers go to a kiosk, where they are able to customize their own magazines for free by selecting their own content.  These custom magazines will be branded by HSBC.  The Premier card’s target demographic group are travelers.  Based on the success of this campaign, this program could be a perk for HSBC Premier members.

Second example, is with Time Magazine  in conjunction with Lexus are pursuing a made to order magazine. Lexus will have editorial content and exclusive ad space, while the readers get aggregated content from Time and its subsidiaries all for free.  This campaign ties the customizable nature of this new aggregated magazine to the new Lexus RX sport utility vehicle and its customizable features.   The magazine will be available as a hard copy to the first 31,000 respondents, and then it will be available online as well as on mobile.

I think this is definitely how content will be viewed in the future.  The internet as a disruptive technology, changed how people view media.  Offering customized content that appeals to what, when, where and how the customer wants to look at the media is imperative.  Online advertising has not generated enough revenue to offset the decline in print.  Offering this customizable content is probably the best alternative.  What do you all think?

Herd Behavior

Herd, Tribe

Several weeks ago, I attended Planners United, a get-together of Toronto’s planning community. Kudos to Jason Oke for organizing this meeting. The keynote speaker was Mark Earls, author of the Herd book.   His talk was quite invigorating.   He turned the principles of push marketing onto its head.   Much too often marketing that is done today is accomplished through push marketing, where the marketer is the king and pushes the ideas and the product or service onto people.   During the talk, the old theory of pushing the ideas onto a few influencers and letting them spread the idea was an idea that was debunked by Mr. Earls.

One of the questions that was asked was: “If the idea is now pull marketing, how would we increase brand awareness and equity for our client’s product or service?”

Mr. Earls replied that through trends and herd mentality, we can influence behavior.   We as a species do not act and think independently.   We look at others’ and model their behavior whether it is done randomly or deliberately.   Take a trend such as weight-loss, and enhance the customers’ experience and make it easier for them to reach that goal.   Nike’s global 10 km run is an example of building a community, latching on a trend, and enhancing people’s end goals.

Today, on TED, there was an interesting talk by Seth Godin about Tribes. People exist in little communities, share, and learn together. In my previous post about Communities of Practice,  I had touched upon this.   Again, being able to locate, bring together like-minded people is very important.   Go ahead and become a leader of these tribes.  As a leader work in people’s interests to achieve their specific goal whether it is an individual one or as a community.   Practicing the application of Communities of Practice, Herd and Tribe theories all have this commonality.   Transformation Design can also be applied here too.   Any thoughts?

Go out there and manage your brand!

Yesterday, I attended a networking event.  The main lesson from this event was to pursue your passions, be excellent at it, and be full of energy and tie this with your strengths and be able to use this to help others. This lesson can be applied to an individual who is interested in building their personal brand, or to a business that is interested in developing their brand.  I came across this motivational talk by Gary Vaynerchuk some time ago.  I think he has a great message of pursuing your passions and stop doing things that you do not enjoy.  If you for even a second do not believe in what you are doing, get out, now.  He said “Look at yourself in the mirror and ask what do you want to do for the rest of your life, and pursue that.”  With these passions and patience, one can find a way to monetize it.

It is extremely important to build brand equity in yourself and in your business, too.  Finding methods to leverage one’s brand equity can be accomplished through a variety of social networks such as Facebook, Jaiku, LinkedIn, MySpace, Technorati, Twitter, etc.  Whenever, there is a social utility out there, take advantage of it.  You can be accessible anyhow, anywhere, anytime and as often as you can. Interactivity with customers is extremely important.  Building personal and company brand equity can be accomplished through conversation amongst the web users and spreading this message around.

The essence of this talk is that there is no substitute for hard work.  When people are coasting, that is the opportune time to work diligently to surpass the competition.  Gary at one point responded to 700 to 1000 emails a day, as a trailblazer in leveraging social networks (e.g. Facebook, Twitter, MySpace, etc.) to interact with customers.  Listening to customers is effective, but caring about them is much better.  Reading customers concerns, suggestions, ideas is listening, but responding to emails, interacting with customers through social media is caring about them.  Legacy is greater than currency.  Whatever output occurs, ensure it upholds one’s legacy.  This solidifies either one’s personal brand or business brand, and it will enable future positive returns on investment.  The best way to succeed is to be transparent, and your legacy is all you have.

I have written about the importance of social media in business here and here.  As individuals and businesses are increasingly using these tools, it is imperative to be apart of this.  Adapt or be left behind.  I agree with Gary’s assertions that passion, hard work, patience are keys to success.  The lessons from this inspirational talk were very similar to the networking workshop I had attended yesterday.

Are brands identified by their interface?


An interesting analogy is shown in this article that brands equate to an interface and vice-versa. The author uses an example of a big mac for McDonald’s and the iPod for Apple.  It seems that most products and to an extent services have a certain interface that is unique to the brand.  This is how people associate themselves and experience the brand.  Successful brands therefore, possess one or a combination of the following attributes: superior user interfaces (designs), strong brand identity, and strong functionality

What are some new trends in advertising?

The above link is an interview with Kevin Roberts, the CEO of Saatchi and Saatchi and developer of Lovemarks.  http://www.lovemarks.com/
The idea behind lovemarks is to understand how brands become inspirational and at the same time foster loyalty and are embraced passionately.  
He discusses what he sees as the future of marketing. He feels that brands need to be more empathetic to consumer’s needs. As well as being authentic in the consumer’s eyes.  
In the past, the brands had a large share of power.  Then it changed to the retailers such as Wal Mart with the advent of private labels.  Now, it is the consumers have the power with the popularity of social networking websites and blogs.  Both the clients and ad agencies need to transform from being brand/service centric to consumer-centric. 
What do you all think of his ideas of the future?