Tag Archives: branding

Original Thinking in a Template-Driven World

3 Dec

By: Larry Roy

Improving Your Brand Template #4What happens when you hire a company to help you improve your brand, or increase the flow of traffic to your website or your business? What’s their process? Do they go in the back room and grab “Improving Your Brand Template #4” off the shelf, rename it and say, “Here you go?” I hope not.

We can’t tell any company exactly what should be done to accomplish their goals through marketing and advertising until we thoroughly understand a few things. Let’s start with who they are–meaning who they think they are, who they want to be, how they are really perceived by the public, and do any of those match. It takes some significant probing and prodding to get a sense of this, but our clients appreciate it. They get what we’re after.

There is much more we need to learn before we can devise a real plan of attack and the necessary weapons to employ, but let’s skip that for now and jump to the process of brainstorming. What a cool word—raining on the brain or, I guess, from the brain. In any case, it’s fun and challenging at the same time. In our group, we tend to take the information we’ve extracted from our clients’ heads, then sift through it independently. Allowing individual thinking first, without the influence of others, pushes our team to think for themselves. That’s a good thing.

When we do come together in a brainstorming session, it’s a free-for-all by design. I don’t want us hung up on the how-to or the inherent silliness of an idea, at least not at first. If we’re not laughing hysterically at some point during a brainstorming session, then we’re probably not unearthing the best ideas. When you let diverse minds interact with a singularity of purpose, but with total freedom to dream up anything they want, it’s amazing what comes out of it! Einstein said, “Imagination is more important than knowledge,” and I listen to what he says.

So after the frivolity of a brainstorming session or two, we switch sides of the brain to zero in on the best, most feasible ideas for a client. Then we fine-tune them, and organize them in terms of priority. Next step, present to the client.

“You think we ought to do what?” It’s not an unusual first comment from a client when we sit down to review our ideas. That’s okay. If we don’t surprise them with something they haven’t considered before, then we haven’t earned our keep. That’s not to say that our sole objective is to shock the client with some crazy idea, but they’re paying us to think differently than they do. They ought to get their money’s worth. Besides, there’s always a method to our madness, a strategic logic behind our crazy ideas, and typically some precedent of prior success.

This is phase one of the process we follow with our clients. Phase two is defining budgets and timelines for implementation; more on that in the next installment. In the meantime, my advice to those seeking brand enhancement or advertising help is to look for a company that isn’t afraid to ask you hard questions, and then tell you what they think. It helps if they’re a little off their rocker, too! Just a little.


Why Experience Marketing Matters

13 Aug

happinessIs it me, or does the pursuit of happiness happen to have had a resurgence in the past year? The more the economy turns down, the more families and friends are spending nights at home together playing board games and throwing dinner parties. What a great time for Tony Hsieh’s book Delivering Happiness: A Path to Profits, Passion, and Purpose to hit stores! The book is a smash hit with bloggers and CEOs alike. It dives into corporate culture and how to increase happiness for employees, investors and customers. It’s a must read for HR staff, C-level staff, and anyone interested in creating a fun work environment while working hard.

Recently, my financial adviser asked me to read the NY Times Article from August 7 titled But Will It Make You Happy? He was asking me to read it for my personal edification, but little did he know that it is a gem when it comes to trending for marketers. What a great read!  The article talks about why American consumers are downsizing and what their purchase decisions mean for America’s economy. Not only are consumers purchasing fewer material goods, but they are actually increasing their purchase of experience-oriented products and services. (Think pasta-making classes, hiking trips, vacations, board games, etc.). I am definitely inspired to take a look at what I’m really buying. I think marketers should do the same for their products.

Since consumers are spending their money on experiences, not physical goods, it is more important than ever for consumers to make an emotional connection with a product. We’re seeing a shift from German-thinking of consumerism and keeping up with the Joneses, to a more French-style of thinking. The French might not have a car or a huge home, but they enjoy fine dining experiences and being with family.

If marketers can find a way to make shopping and buying an experience again, they will be successful in today’s market. Take Apple for example. They have created a shopping environment that is not only an experience, but a place where consumers know they are going to get outstanding customer service, and have the ear of an employee for as long as they need to make a purchase decision.

Here are some questions to think about if your brand needs a boost:

  • What need does your product or service fulfill?
  • Does your brand invoke an emotional reaction?
  • If so, how do you or will you capitalize on it?
  • Is your product or service something you can turn into an experience?