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  • Tag Archive: branding

    1. The Power of the Good Deed

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      I’ve recently been thinking a lot about the power of “the Good Deed”, especially since the world seems a bit nutty right now; and yet, we are supposed to be entering a season of gratefulness, holiday cheer, and resolutions (boy, oh, boy could we use some of those!).

      While we (the PR movers and shakers) rarely consider ourselves to be “powerful” in terms of how what we do shapes the world, we are extremely powerful. As individuals, we have a tremendous amount of influence: We pitch journalists who tell our stories and drive narratives forward. That’s a BIG deal.

      That said, I thought I’d share some food for thought from a few past articles, which I’m hoping will inspire you to do good with your PR position of power and continue to push forward conversations that can have a profound effect on the world around you.

      In “How to measure the PR value and business impact of social good,” I explore the topic of corporate social responsibility, and the difficult question of whether or not you can really put a value on changing human lives. In a business sense, you can think in terms of mapping initiatives to actual business outcomes or attracting and retaining employees. But it’s a little more complicated than that… [Read the rest on Mashable – 4 min. read.]

      And while many companies are leveraging the diversity/inclusivity conversation, we have yet to see the massive sea change. I spoke with Sumun Pendakur, associate dean for institutional diversity at Harvey Mudd College, to uncover what an organization needs in order to truly create change. The result was the piece “How to champion diversity and inclusion within your business.” Bias reduction training, designating a champion while holding everyone accountable, and debunking myths are a few of the tactics we discussed. [Read the rest on Mashable – 3.5 min. read.]

      Lastly, while we all work to connect with our audiences in a way that’s actually meaningful, why not refocus some of that energy on building brands that have a real purpose in the world? In the article “How to build a brand with soul: emotion, audience, philosophy,” branding guru Fabian Geyrhalter shares the cornerstones of building a brand that hits the heart chords and answers customer needs (in a genuine way). [Read the rest on Inc. Magazine – 3 min. read.]

      As many of us get ready for family time next week (and work like animals before then so we can take some time off!), I urge you to think about how you can use your “PR position of influence” for the betterment of the media landscape and beyond.

      Yes, data is power.

      But there’s also a lot of power in the unseen.

    2. This is How to Build a Brand With Soul

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      Even though there’s more data to work with than ever, it’s still terribly important to stick to the soul of your brand. For example, if you’re a PR professional representing a home décor site known for its eclectic items, and the data shows that customers are purchasing your least on-brand pieces during a certain time of year, it doesn’t mean you should change your brand’s unique qualities or identity just to match that short-term behavior.

      This raises the question of how and when to listen to the data, so you’re not compromising your brand unless a rehaul is really required. I know, I know. We’re usually talking about becoming BFFs with data, but the counter to this argument is important, too, as we explore tactics for data-driven PR and brand building.

      Pretty much anyone can incorporate a small business and launch a company these days. But to build a brand with which customers actually engage over the long haul requires far more than buying a domain and publishing a website.

      So what makes a brand breathe? For one, the brand needs a clear purpose. Fabian Geyrhalter, Founder and Principal of brand consultancy FINIEN and author of the #1 Amazon bestseller How to Launch a Brand, believes every booming company must be built upon a solid brand platform from the get-go, which is different than a business plan.

      • A business plan lays out a company’s goals and strategy
      • A brand platform is created to define a target audience and create brand personas that speak specifically to that audience

      Geyrhalter believes “brands with soul” have unique qualities that set them apart from competitors. He cites how Bridget Field, Client Services Manager at Small Business BC, calls this the “so-what factor.”

      Opening a new eatery on a popular main street is great, but so what? There are tons of places for local residents to eat, so what makes yours special and how can you build your brand around that?

      Consider the emotional benefits

      In his book, Geyrhalter mentions brand consultant Derrick Daye’s analysis of Lever 2000’s launch where the product was touted as the soap “that does it all,” a rebuttal to Ivory’s being the best at cleansing, Dove’s being the best at moisturizing, and Zest’s being the best at deodorizing.

      Lever 2000’s tagline made the other soap products seem incomplete. Sure enough, Lever 2000 sales increased exponentially, but likely due to the fact that it offered an emotional promise, not because the other soaps were actually inferior.

      “Smart brands make an emotional promise,” writes Geyrhalter. “These emotional benefits may include safety, affection, status, self-fulfillment, knowledge, independence, and stability.”

      Understanding the needs of your audience

      To reach a niche audience, brands should aim to think like them, not just of them. Aim to understand your ideal customers on a deeper level by picturing an average day in their lives.

      Geyrhalter writes, “(Consider) what brands they prefer, whether or not they impulse shop, whether they’re bargain hunters or social shoppers, and whether they have any specific interests or family concerns.”

      Geyrhalter suggests that brand and PR teams try creating mood boards or collages for targeted audience personas that can put them in the shoes of those they’re trying to reach.

      Constructing a philosophy

      Certain brands make emotional connections with customers because they aim to sell an ethos, a way of life. Harley-Davidson, for example, sells freedom and rebellion. As an employer, Google sells hard work, excellence, and silliness.

      Few lending companies have been able to build brand equity and mindshare as rapidly as Kiva. Kiva’s brand philosophy helps to set it apart from other lenders. Its mission is as follows: “We aim to drive social impact and enable opportunity while providing a borrower-to-lender connection: ‘Loans that change lives.'” That’s some serious soul.

      Every company has a sweet spot when it comes to developing a brand that evokes emotion and genuinely helps to solve a problem in its customers’ lives. So if you’re in the early stages of building a company, remember these tips for building a brand with a soul. If you nail it, your customers will stick around for a very long time.


      A version of this article originally appeared on Inc. Magazine.

    3. 5 Reasons To Embrace Video Content Now

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      In the past decade, perhaps the biggest shift in Internet technology has been the rise of video content. From commercially produced material to the explosion of self-directed content via smartphones, video is everywhere.

      “People spend more time on digital video (one hour 55 minutes) than social media (one hour 44 minutes) per day, and 68 percent of U.S. marketers plan to increase their digital-video budgets over the next year,” says Rachel Payne, founder and CEO of FEM, Inc.

      While text content will always have a place, stats show that more and more traffic volume is driven by video content. The time is now to embrace video as your content driver, and here are five big reasons why.

      iStock_000013420232_Small1. It creates a unique emotional connection.

      Video offers an immediacy that can translate emotionally unlike any other medium. It’s the reason why a well-made, 30-second commercial can nearly bring someone to tears or inspire them toward action. The images, audio and narrative all become a compelling and engaging experience that speaks to the core of who we are as human beings.

      As the web is trending towards a denser volume of video-based traffic, both content creators and content-platform managers must realize the unique opportunity they have to connect with their audiences through video — and that connection can build the foundation of brand loyalty and long-term appeal.

      For a great example, check out Saucony’s “Find Your Strong video, which was used to launch a multi-channel campaign that pushed the running shoe company ahead of the pack.

      2. You can repurpose content.

      From a practical perspective, video offers unique repurposing abilities that aren’t available in other media. Single images can be used for promotion. Behind-the-scenes footage can be distributed as bonus content to further engage the audience. The source material can be edited into promotional clips or other spin-off material for marketing purposes.

      Short-form video platforms such as Vine can utilize micro-clips to promote content on a grassroots social-media level. Video is a flexible medium, and smartly combining creative flexibility with marketing muscle can repurpose one solid piece of content into endless offshoots.

      3. Video can enhance branding and marketing efforts.

      Because video is such a compelling medium, it can both be the driver and centerpiece of branding efforts. Using a comprehensive and holistic approach, video can support a wide range of marketing initiatives. This stems from the storytelling/narrative capabilities of video via images, text, audio and identity. A video is capable of bringing all of these elements together and driving it forward into other marketing initiatives.

      “Engagement is central to our success,” says Kaliel Roberts, senior vice president of product and technology at Discovery Communications, home to Discovery Digital Networks. “A key metric we evaluate across platforms is video views per session, which is an important indicator of engagement, and a great way to extend the value of our content.”

      4. Its embedding capabilities.

      Today, embedding videos is a standard feature that allows even the technophobic to propagate relevant content. This creates an organic syndication process for content, further spreading to blogs, social media profiles and websites.

      Thus, the goal for content creators thus becomes two-fold: First, create high-quality content, then engage viewers through all possible channels to push syndication forward, hopefully to a point where it goes viral and takes on a life of its own.

      5. Video has longer user-engagement periods.

      The availability of video has created a cluttered ecosystem — it can be difficult to cut through the noise, and discovering desired content can leave viewers frustrated. In fact, according to a study cited by CNN, consumers give up on video content if it doesn’t load in two seconds.

      Alternately, when a user has a clear path to appealing videos, this creates a longer user-engagement period, which is the top priority for any content platform. This means that platform managers must invest in both quality content providers and technology that enables accurate algorithm-selected choices to keep users engaged in order to turn a casual user into a brand loyalist.

      Staying ahead of the video curve.

      The numbers are pulling toward video and the benefits for both content creators and platforms are clearly there. The goal for both parties is then to project ahead of the curve and focus on what drives engagement. While creating high-quality, compelling video content is often a big financial as well as human-capital investment, if done well it can literally catapult a campaign or initiative forward unlike any other medium.

      By prioritizing quality over quantity, the long-term dividends will include a better reputation, stronger loyalty and more monetization opportunities.

      A version of this article first appeared in Entrepreneur.
    4. You named your startup what? 5 tips for getting it right.


      Naming your company is like naming a kid; except instead of the kid taking the heat for a “bad” name (think Francis Bean, Tu Morrow, Zuma Nesta Rock, or <insert baby name of any really famous person>) YOU will actually take the heat.

      In terms of PR, the name of your startup can either be a huge asset or, on the flipside, a rather sizable roadblock.

      Love JuiceAs a general rule of thumb, the worst brand names usually fall into one of three categories:

      1)    Sound and/or read like a sexual act of some sort.

      2)    Sound and/or read like a derivative of a racial slur.

      3)    Sound and/or read like toilet humor.

      Just for fun, and for sake of example, you can go here to see what I’m talking about. A small sampling of this type of nonsense: Jussipussi, Asse, Gookie, and Zephyrhills.

      But what’s in a name?

      Well, according to branding and design expert Fabian Geyrhalter, founder of Finien, a whole helluva lot.

      I first met Fabian roughly five years ago when we both worked on the launch of music tech company, Audiolife. Since then, his design firm has literally exploded; he’s worked with a slew of both consumer and business brands and won about 234238 awards. The proof is here:

      Fabian Awards

      Fabian’s Awards

      To make Fabian extremely uncomfortable – which is not hard to do since he’s a (self-admitted) somewhat uptight, snobby Austrian – I asked him to provide a gut reaction to the name “AirPR” just to prove how objective we are and not to seem preachy when we publish a blog about naming.