Wednesday, January 25, 2017

New for 2017...







It's not easy being green – unless you are Pantone.

Pantone, the world-renowned leader and provider of color systems and color technology in the design industry has recently released it's anticipated choice for Color of the Year for 2017. Over the years, Pantone's Color of the Year has influenced product development and purchasing decisions in multiple industries, including fashion, beauty, and home, as well as product packaging and graphic design.
Pantone’s Color of the Year, Greenery, is said to be a "refreshing and revitalizing shade symbolic of new beginnings". It is a fresh and zesty yellow-green shade that "evokes the first days of spring when nature’s greens revive, restore and renew". Said to be "nature's neutral", Greenery represents reinvigoration and vitality.

"…Satisfying our growing desire to rejuvenate and   revitalize, Greenery symbolizes the reconnection we seek with nature, one another and a larger purpose"
                            – Leatrice Eiserman, Executive Director of the Pantone Color Institute

To read more and see palette combinations, please visit http://www.pantone.com/color-of-the-year-2017.

For Identity Brand + Design, the new year has brought back a popular promotion: our website rejuvenation that is valid during the first quarter of 2017. Contact us to learn more about how we can help your business excel in the new year!

Wednesday, December 14, 2016

Brand Authenticity: Keeping it Real

You hear a lot of talk these days of brands needing to "keep it real", and that when a brand does fail, it is mostly due to their lack of authenticity. Well what exactly is Brand Authenticity, and why does it matter?

Brand Authenticity refers to how a consumer perceives a brand: Is the brand following through on its promises? Is the brand being true to itself and its consumers? Is the brand empathetic, responsible and trustworthy? Does the brand provide support to its consumers in being true to themselves?

In order to achieve true Brand Authenticity, the brand would need to be molded around the consumer's wants, needs, desires, and problems. This would involve an emotional connection with the consumer that is forged over time through continuity, credibility, integrity, and meaning.

Continuity
Does the brand have a history with the consumer? Has it survived through time and trends? Does the brand look toward the future and remain engaged with its consumers?


Credibility
Does the brand deliver on its promises? Has the brand remained true to its consumers? Is the brand honest and trustworthy?


Integrity
Does the brand operate on a set of core values that is taken seriously? Does it truly care about its consumers by giving back?


Meaning
Does the brand reflect the values that are important to its consumers? Does the brand bring value and meaning to its consumers' lives?

Brand Authenticity requires the brand to be emotional and empathetic with its consumers. Not only talk the talk, but also walk the walk and stay engaged by encouraging consumer interaction through social media, personal stories and videos. Building the emotional connection with the consumer is key to authenticity.

This year, 3 brands have stood out when it came to building brand authenticity through emotional marketing. Amazon Prime delivered a great promotion this year focusing on the emotional connection to boost their brand authenticity. 




Zillow displayed extreme empathy by showcasing their actual customers in their promotions, which created high value, meaning and connection for their customers. 




And Publix enforces their brand authenticity and connection through continuity and meaning.


Tuesday, November 8, 2016

Brand Positioning: A Battle in the Online Real Estate Industry

Brand positioning refers to how a customer sees your products and/or services relative to the competition. It usually consists of a short statement that articulates the brand's unique value proposition to the customer. Brand positioning is usually one of the most important sections of the marketing plan as it brings focus to the strategy and tactics utilized in the brand's marketing efforts.

It is important to stress that focus is the key to developing the most successful and powerful brands. A brand’s position needs to be unique, believable and capable of evolving over time to reflect changes in the marketplace, new competitors, and new benefits. When it comes to developing your brand's position, you will need to think about how you want your brand to be perceived in the marketplace to create clarity, consistency, and continuity.

A successful brand positioning statement tends to answer four key questions:
  • Who is the target market?
  • What industry/category does the brand compete in?
  • What benefits does the brand provide?
  • Why should the customer trust the brand?

A Quick Case Study: Zillow
Over the past few years, Zillow (zillow.com) has risen to become the leader in the real estate industry to its customers and competitors. As technology – and Zillow's efforts – advanced, the competitors in the industry remained a bit complacent. This allowed Zillow to position themselves as: 
The leading real estate and rental marketplace dedicated to empowering consumers with data, inspiration and knowledge around the place they call home, and connecting them with the best local professionals who can help.
This position clearly defines Zillow's target market (consumers looking for real estate/rentals), defines the industry it competes in (real estate/rental marketplace), describes the benefits it provides (empowering and inspiring consumers), and creates trust by tapping into their emotions to help them find a place they call home.

Zillow's marketing efforts have taken their positioning a step further with emotional marketing by using actual people (non-actors) in their campaigns to strengthen the connection with the customer and differentiate themselves from their main competitor, Realtor.com.

From Youtube, Zillow's Gunnar's Home:




Whatever home means to you, we'll help you find it. Zillow's marketing and brand position focuses on the emotional benefits of purchasing and owning a home. This contrasts with their main competitor, Realtor.com, who are focusing on the "dream" of home ownership and using a recognizable actor (Elizabeth Banks) as their spokesperson.

From Youtube, Realtor.com's Dream Closet




Dream home. Find home. Own home. Realtor.com. They are using a completely different marketing style to position themselves against Zillow to once again become the industry leader. Although the ads may be a bit comical and you see a somewhat familiar face in them, they miss the mark on connecting emotionally with the customer. Here is an interesting article by inman.com that details the positioning battle between Zillow and Realtor.com 

When comparing the two campaigns and the positioning of both brands, do you agree that Zillow has positioned themselves well as the real estate industry leader? 

Thursday, July 21, 2016

The How, Where and Why of Nonprofit Storytelling

Over the past few years, brand development has been experiencing a fundamental shift toward a more personal, connective state in business – and becoming more "humanized." In business, brands and branding techniques are changing to become a more active part of the conversation with customers, creating more immersive and interactive experiences. One of the best ways to achieve this emotional connection with customers is by telling the brand story, or storytelling.

People love stories, especially the ones where they can identify with. This connection forges an emotional bond between the brand and the customer, aligning them with the emotional core of the brand. A mix of visual and content storytelling inspires emotions and increases trust, which leads to more brand value. Every brand has a story and that story needs to speak to the customer. Most can relate to a common issue or problem that requires a definitive solution... so share how the brand has overcome these obstacles with a solution... and how the brand can provide the best solution to its customers' issues as well.

When it comes to nonprofit organizations, storytelling is one of the most important parts of communication and fundraising. A well-crafted story can give supporters insight into the daily operations of a nonprofit, highlight the history of the organization, or outline the need for its services – all to connect with supporters and encourage them into action. 

How?
Storytelling can be achieved through testimonials, mission statements, event summaries, or even an actual story that details a character who experiences a change or transformation – which tends to be the most powerful. The character, the protagonist, needs to be a real person – someone the audience can connect or empathize with – and should have a problem or need that your organization can help provide a solution for. There is an obstacle in the character's way that serves as the antagonist of the story, and your organization needs to describe how and why the audience is crucial to the success of the character overcoming the obstacle. This makes the audience a part of the story, compelling them to assist the character, thus creating a bond between the audience and the organization.

Where?
One of the most prominent storytelling tools used by nonprofits today is their website. The most successful nonprofit websites are a combination of great website structure, design, content, and functionality. According to researchers from the Joint Initiative of Georgetown University Center for Social Impact Communication and the Meyer Foundation

• 33% of nonprofits have at least one story on their homepage;
• 21% have a separate page for their stories; and
• 15% integrate their stories into program-specific pages.

Nonprofit stories on websites can be delivered via text, video, photos, illustrations, audio, or a combination of media. People are most stimulated through imagery and video as it's easier to remember than text, so incorporating visuals into your story is imperative. Choose imagery that aids in telling the story, reflecting on the mission and goals of the organization. 

Why?
Storytelling for nonprofits is intended to connect with supporters and inspire them to act. Whether it is one or a combination of three main nonprofit goals – fundraising, awareness, or advocacy – creating call-to-actions to donate, volunteer, contact or share content in conjunction with the story will guide supporters to follow through.

Following these guidelines – by creating compelling stories on a professionally-designed website with clear call-to-actions – will enhance your organization's impact and strengthen its brand.


Tuesday, June 28, 2016

Humanizing Brands with Personality & Essence





As we've discussed in a recent blog post about The Big Shift in Branding, brand development has been experiencing a fundamental shift toward a more personal, connective state in business – and becoming more "humanized." Customers expect to be able to interact with brands directly by demanding new products/services and by becoming a more active part of the conversation. Brands and branding techniques are changing to reflect this by offering a more immersive, customized experience. Telling the brand story will forge an emotional bond between the brand and the customer, aligning them with the emotional core of the brand and creating a more human-like feel.

Customers are more likely to identify with more humanized brands. The challenge is to figure out which human characteristics your brand possesses. You also want your customers to identify with specific emotions when experiencing your brand. In order to become more humanized, brands should focus on developing their brand personality and essence


A brand's personality is the application of human characteristics to the brand. It describes how the brand thinks, acts, and reacts. To determine your brand's personality, think of your brand's story... and how you would describe your brand, products and/or services. Brand personality types are very similar to the big five personality traits of openness, conscientiousness, extraversion, agreeableness and neuroticism. 

For business, the five core brand personality traits are based on:

  • Sincerity – sensible, honest, wholesome.
  • Excitement – daring, spirited, imaginative, advanced.
  • Competence – reliable, intelligent, successful.
  • Sophistication – high-end, charming, exclusive.
  • Ruggedness – outdoorsy, tough, athletic.

Every brand can be described as having one of these traits as their brand personality. For example, Disney projects magical, imaginative feelings, centering around excitement; Ford trucks are built tough, providing a strong, rugged brand personality; and FedEx delivers to the world on time, maintaining their reliability and competence.


In addition to having a personality, you want your customers to feel intangible emotions when they experience your brand. This is the heart & soul of the brand, known as the brand's essence. 

Brian Solis, a media thought leader and author, provides 9 criteria for establishing brand essence in his book, The End of Business As Usual: Rewire the Way You Work to Succeed in the Consumer Revolution.

  • Focus. Find one word that defines the brand and delivers a unique experience.
  • Feeling. Describe what it is you want a consumer to feel – the intangible emotion – when he/she comes into contact with your brand.
  • Individuality. What makes the brand unique?
  • Experience. When a consumer experiences a product or service, what feelings does the encounter elicit? Was it meaningful?
  • Consistency. What a brand conveys now and every day and delivers as promised.

  • Credibility. Align the brand essence with experiences and adjust the course of engagement and transformation when necessary. Be authentic.
  • Longevity/Sustainability. Is the brand's essence designed to last and stand the test of time, and is it infused in every aspect of your brand?
  • Personal. Something personal that people aspire to embrace and be a part of.
  • Portable/Scalable. A strong understanding of how emotion is transferable across networks and extensions.

Brand essence is usually best described using one word. Some prominent examples of brand essence include Volvo being "safe", Disney being "magical", and Coca-Cola being "refreshing".

Identifying your brand's personality and essence, in addition to providing a customized brand experience, will create a more humanized brand and strengthen the bond with your customers. Using the tips outlined above, how would you describe your brand's personality and essence?









Wednesday, May 25, 2016

Building Brand Trust in 3 Steps







As humans, we intrinsically understand the significance of trust in our lives. From our personal relationships, to finances and medicine – we depend on that trust to enrich our lives and keep us safe on a daily basis.

When it comes to business, having a truly successful brand is based on one single concept: trust. With brand trust, you'll sustain a loyal customer base, engage new customers and become more prosperous. A study by Mext Consulting a few years back found that when people trust a brand:

  • 83% will recommend the brand to other people; 
  • 82% will continue to use the brand frequently; 
  • 78% will give the brand's new products/services a chance; and 
  • 50% will pay more for the brand's products/services. 

In order to get your customers to buy more, try more and ultimately pay more for your products/services, you have to build brand trust. The first step in creating brand trust is to



| Nurture the customer relationship by creating an emotional connection.



Tell the brand story. People love stories, especially ones they can identify with. This connection will forge a bond between the brand and the customer, aligning them with the emotional core of the brand. A mix of relevant, meaningful content inspires emotions and increases trust. Every brand has a story, so make sure that story speaks to the customer. Keep it authentic, genuine and true. Most can relate to a common issue or problem that requires a definitive solution... so share how the brand has overcome these obstacles with a solution... and how the brand can provide the best solution to its customers' issues as well. Brands that are able to genuinely connect with their customers and community of supporters will have a strategic advantage over those brands that don't.

Secondly, reputation matters a great deal in creating brand trust, especially for the online business.

| Always demonstrate consistency, competency and credibility.





Be consistent with the level of service and quality that your brand provides, as well as in every aspect of the business. Listen to your customers and respond with action. Doing so will not only create trust; it will exhibit competency which will ultimately lead to earning the respect of customers. Nurture the credibility factor through endorsements, case studies, testimonials, customer reviews... and encourage customers to talk about their experiences with the brand via social media. Credibility will provoke curiosity among potential new customers.

When it comes to your brand, character counts just as much, if not more than it does in personal relationships. Lastly...


| Be transparent and deliver on promises. Honesty is always the best policy.



Customers are smart and savvy – they know when you’re being genuine or when they are being misled. If honesty is truly the best policy, then be transparent and lead by example and with integrity. Customers will appreciate and admire you more when you admit to a mistake, and you will earn their trust when you follow through on the promise of repairing the issue. Explain how you plan to handle it and share the steps being taken to prevent it from reoccurring. 

Everything you express about your brand is a promise. Follow through on those promises, nurture the customer relationship and your brand trust, as well as value, will thrive.



Tuesday, April 26, 2016

Deconstructing the Value Proposition




























One of the most important pieces in brand development is the formation of the value proposition. In the simplest of terms, a value proposition is the promise of value to be delivered. It describes how the brand, its products and services add value to the customer – the tangible and intangible customer benefit.
Essentially, your value proposition should be successful in explaining how your products/services solve problems or improve situations, what benefits the customer will receive, as well as why the customer should choose you over the competition. Without a value proposition, your brand will lack focus and confuse customers. This confusion will lead to reduced trust in your brand and, eventually, a loss in customers and sales. When it comes to your brand, the last thing you want is a lack of trust and confusion. 

In order to fully understand the importance of the value proposition, we're going to deconstruct its pieces and explain the importance of each element. As long as you've completed some extensive research during your initial brand development, establishing a value proposition can be a somewhat straightforward process. To craft the value proposition, you want to focus on four main elements: benefits, target customers, differentiation, and measurable proof.
  1. Identify Customer Benefits. Make a list of ALL benefits your brand, products, and/or services provide, explaining what you can do for the customer. It is all about the customer, and what's in it for them. Traditionally, value propositions tend to emphasize one of 4 basic benefits: lowest prices, uniquely better products/services, making things easier, and ownership of customer results.
  2. Define Your Customer. Who, exactly, does your brand, its products, and/or services cater to? Clearly define your target customer.
  3. Differentiate from the Competition. Clearly identify the strengths of your brand. What makes you different and better than your competitors?
  4. Provide Measurable Proof. Provide an explanation and proof of how and why your brand, products and/or services are the best solution that can deliver better results over the competition.
Brands aren’t always built on a single value proposition. The more value that your brand brings to its customers, the stronger your brand and the more unique it will be, as long as these additional values support the main benefit.

Identifying your value proposition and additional values is integral in supporting your brand and its story. In order to build your brand further, you need to share these brand messages with your customer through marketing. When applying your value proposition to marketing pieces, for example, a website or landing page, follow this formula for maximum impact and higher conversion rates:
  1. Headline. This should describe the end benefit – the most important benefit – that you are offering to the customer.
  2. Sub-header or Short Paragraph. This provides a detailed explanation of the products/services offered, who you offer them to and why.
  3. Bullet Points (optional). This information lists additional value/benefits/features.
  4. Call-to-Action. Prompt the customer to take action.
  5. Visual Element. Follow up with a visual element – an image or video – that enhances your message and supports the value/benefits/features.
Need a visual? Here are 10 value proposition samples found on some popular websites.