CAN YOU REFLECT YOUR BRAND IN A UNIQUE ENVIRONMENT?

Brand Reflect

How can you reflect your brand while embracing a unique environment? When passing a Coles supermarket on a train line the other day I noticed a subtle reference to the Coles logo on the side of their building facing the train tracks. It was in silver metal rather than their standard illuminated red signage that they had previously. What supported this new metal sign was an interesting perforated metal artwork with shapes of faces in a graffiti style. Coles had made a connection to their environment by ‘fitting in’ with the surrounding grungy style that generally accompanies an urban railway backdrop. It was a nice piece amongst rubbish looking graffiti tags that teenagers practice on the walls near by. I think the perforated metal made it less appealing for people to tag on and it may have been a solution to a problem as well as being artwork. Whatever the reason, it was nice to see a brand reflect the environment in a beautiful way.

It made me think of storefronts and interiors and the role they play. They do need to represent your brand and make it recognisable to the public for easy identification and to create a consistent atmosphere. That doesn’t mean you can’t be creative and connect to special locations. Apple have created a very unique style that is now being copied by a lot of retailers. The simplicity and elegance (much like their products) is what makes it an Apple store, but that doesn’t mean they build new stores from the ground up. They have been able to fit into their environments with respect to architecture that is already there. They still stand out for all the right reasons.

apple-store-hawaii
Apple Store Hawaii

Apple-Store-Covent-Garden-London

Apple_Store_London
Apple Store London

apple-store-shanghai

shanghai-apple-store
Apple Store Shanghai

Miami_Beach_Lincoln_Mall_Retro_Apple_Store
Apple Store Miami

Your environment should always be taken into consideration to reflect your brand. Click To Tweet Your shoppers don’t want your store to feel like it was dropped in from another location. They want to connect to the local area and feel like you are joining in and not imposing yourself on them. There are ways you can ‘fit in’ while still holding onto your brand image. It can be small but meaningful or it could be very elaborate. Hiring brilliant designers to create something out of the box can have a huge impact on your bottom line.

    1. If you have a heritage building you often have to adapt to get council approval anyway, but what about embracing it and introducing a hero piece of furniture that pays tribute to the era? It may not be in your normal brand style but you could adapt it to fit in. Your counters could be styled to the location, or chairs in a waiting area.
    2. Who are your customers or who lives right next door? Much like Coles did, they respected the area they were in and paid tribute to street art rather than trying to fight it. Coles has nothing to do with art normally, but they made a choice to respect the streetscape.
    3. Do you have historical or important landmarks nearby? Connecting to a famous landmark or historical reference can make your store or building relevant and interesting. If you are an out of town brand and you bother to make a connection like this, then you could gain respect quickly.

What about your non customer facing interiors? Productivity can increase if you pay attention to the environment of your workers. Here is an interesting article that highlights the different aspects you can look at: ARTICLE LINK

Is there a simple step you can take to improve your brand in it’s environment? What about your office, can you make it more functional and beautiful to reflect what matters to your company and boost staff engagement? There are always small steps you can take to improve, but investing in a complete designed solution is where the big changes can come from.

Author: Clare Balmer, Founder and Curator of Brand Journal

Reflect_crop

How can you reflect your brand while embracing a unique environment? When passing a Coles supermarket on a train line the other day I noticed a subtle reference to the Coles logo on the side of their building facing the train tracks. It was in silver metal rather than their standard illuminated red signage that they had previously. What supported this new metal sign was an interesting perforated metal artwork with shapes of faces in a graffiti style. Coles had made a connection to their environment by ‘fitting in’ with the surrounding grungy style that generally accompanies an urban railway backdrop. It was a nice piece amongst rubbish looking graffiti tags that teenagers practice on the walls near by. I think the perforated metal made it less appealing for people to tag on and it may have been a solution to a problem as well as being artwork. Whatever the reason, it was nice to see a brand reflect the environment in a beautiful way.

HOW TO CREATE BRAND VALUES THAT DON'T SUCK

Brand Values

VALUES
When talking of business values I’m not talking about the value you offer to a customer (though that’s also very important); company values are the foundation on which the measures of integrity are based. Integrity builds relationships and a level of trust that people can connect with. It is your internal culture – what you collectively value, how you do things, your commonly held beliefs and expectations.

Everyone who works in your organisation should live by the set of values you create Click To Tweet and should exit the company if they do not believe or practise them. This creates a united front and builds a consistent brand experience for your customers or your franchisees’ customers.

Religious organisations have very strong value systems that they expect followers to abide by, otherwise they really don’t fit the ‘believer’ profile. Some more than others. You would not expect people to be involved in a religious group if they didn’t believe in it. It’s very much the same for an organisation. You don’t want people involved that ultimately undermine the values you have built for the business. The more of an emotional connection you can create within the organisation, the more convincing it will be to those who become your brand ambassadors, through staff and even your customers. I’m sure you have come across Apple brand preachers or enthusiasts. Not everyone buys into the Apple brand for themselves but they know how passionate and loyal some people are about it. They truly believe in the brand.

The following are some examples of company values set by some of the top ten ‘Best Places to Work’ companies in Australia, in their own words.

Atlassian Values
(Software development)
Open company, no bullshit: Atlassian embraces transparency wherever at all practical, and sometimes where impractical. All information, both internal and external, is public by default. We are not afraid of being honest with ourselves, our staff and our customers.

Build with heart and balance: Everyday we try to build products that are useful and that people lust after. Building with heart means really caring about what we’re making and doing – it’s a mission, not just a job. When we build with balance we take into account how initiatives and decisions will affect our colleagues, customers and stakeholders.

Don’t #@!% the customer: When we make internal decisions we ask ourselves ‘how will this affect our customers?’ If the answer is that it would ‘screw’ them, or make life more difficult, then we need to find a better way. We want the customer to respect us in the morning.

Play, as a team: We want all Atlassians to feel
like they work with Atlassian, not for Atlassian. We think it’s important to have fun with your workmates while working and contributing to the Atlassian team.

Be the change you seek: We think Gandhi had it pretty right when he said ‘We need to be the change we wish to see in the world’. At Atlassian we encourage everyone to create positive change – we’re constantly looking for ways to improve our company, our products and our environment.

The Physio Co. Values
(Physiotherapists for the elderly)
Respect Everyone:
We understand that a small thing on our list of priorities may be the ONLY thing that matters
to an elderly client. Therefore:
We are always on time.
We always do what we say we will do.
We always communicate in clear, concise
and honest ways.
We are generous with our time to help others.

Be memorable:
We set high standards, have great attention
to detail and like to impress. Therefore:
We are friendly and make positive first impressions.
We make people smile with our personal
and understanding approach.
We take the time to celebrate milestones
and successes.
We wow people whenever possible.

Find a better way:
Complacency is not our thing. Therefore:
We always search for new ways that help our
clients, customers and team members.
We are committed to constantly improving: personally & collectively.
We inspire others by continually finding a
better way.

Think big, act small:
(We are David, not Goliath). Therefore:
We are always prepared to ‘give it a go’.
We are nimble, flexible and easy going.
We always ask: ‘what can I do next?’
We all help to achieve our painted picture
of the future.

RedBalloon Values
(Experience gift buying website)
Integrity: We will do what we say we are going
to do. If you ever need support, you will never
have to ask twice.

Generosity: Be open and generous with sharing information, knowledge and most importantly,
your time.

Leadership:
We are a team of leaders. You are able to make decisions when needed, and the team will back you on those decisions.

Sense of Humour and Fun: Have fun. Celebrate, laugh at yourself and share a joke.

Little Dog with a Big Dog Personality:
Keep the culture of innovation, flexibility, courage and ‘let’s
give it a try’ alive.

These are all excellent examples of companies that have spent time coming up with values that really represent them. Staff can get behind these values and understand them, and spread the message with their behaviour in the workplace. It has huge benefits if you spend the time discovering what the values are for your company.

Another value-driven company is Zappos, an online clothing and shoe retailer in the US. We don’t get to really experience it here in Australia, but the founder Tony Hsieh has managed to develop an amazing work culture based on values he determined about six or seven years into running the company. The company was operating based on these values to begin with, but they were not specifically written down and could not be shared across his rapidly growing business. He stated in his book ‘Delivering Happiness, A Path to Profits, Passion and Purpose’ that ‘I’m just glad that an employee finally convinced me that it was necessary to come up with core values – essentially, a formalised definition of our culture – in order for us to continue to scale and grow. I only wish we had
done it sooner.’

Zappos did rapidly grow when Tony determined, in writing, what his business culture, values and core focus were – delivering WOW through service. This became the brand and allowed him to make strategic business decisions much more easily, was better for employees to manage, and became something to be known for in consumers’ minds. Tony determined the company core values based on model employees; he tried to figure out what values personified them. He also tried to figure out what values didn’t work well based on ex-employees who didn’t fit the culture, and he made sure he knew what they were. This led to his list of 10 core values or Zappos:

ZAPPOS Values
(Online clothing and shoe retailer)
Deliver WOW Through Service
Embrace and Drive Change
Create Fun and a Little Weirdness
Be Adventurous, Creative and Open-Minded
Pursue Growth and Learning
Build Open and Honest Relationships with Communication
Build a Positive Team and Family Spirit
Do More with Less
Be Passionate and Determined
Be Humble

Now this is a pretty long list which, off the bat, would be hard to remember. However, Tony has managed to ingrain these values in his staff, not by reciting them, but by creating actions within the workplace that mirror these values. He works hard to make decisions that encourage this behaviour. After becoming the highest-ranking newcomer in ‘Fortune’ magazine’s ‘Best Companies to Work For’ list in 2009, Zappos was acquired by Amazon in a deal valued at over $1.2 billion. This proves that a values-driven company really can make its mark in business. So what is your list going to be?

What can you do?
• If you don’t have values that are clear, get clear. Talk to experts or business consultants to guide you through and discover what core values you hold for the company, and build systems to support them. This is where a lot of companies fail as soon as a strong leader leaves the business. When you grow a large organisation you cannot afford to rely on one person to hold it together. It’s unfortunate but people do get sick, retire or pass away, and if the company does not have strong values it is difficult for others to continue to evolve the company visions and missions when the market changes. People are left to try to figure out what they stand for and need to carry on delivering within the business.

• Write down the values and make sure everyone knows them. You can do this by having interesting booklets that explain your values or hold events that reinforce what you believe is good practice to support. Post them on your website, noticeboard or anywhere else people can easily see them. Religious groups can be really good at reinforcing their values by getting out in the community and ‘practising what they preach’ by supporting the less fortunate with activities or fundraising. When you find an activity that aligns to your company and what it stands behind, the easier it will be for people to ‘get it’.

• Focus on your team. Don’t set out your company values purely to be focused on the customer experience, to look pretty on your website or as another piece of meaningless corporate jargon. It needs to be more than that. Your staff or franchisees need to feel valued and included in the overall picture. Be inclusive in the process as well as being accountable by saying you value their wellbeing and happiness as well as their success.

• Keep the list short. Four or five points is probably the maximum you want to have so they can be remembered easily by the greatest number of people in your organisation. But there are always exceptions to the rules, like Tony Hsieh’s long list of ten.

This is an extract from the book ‘Expandable Brands, a guide to growing business locations while protecting your brand’ by Clare Balmer. Available for purchase here: SHOP

Brand Values_crop
VALUES
When talking of business values I’m not talking about the value you offer to a customer (though that’s also very important); company values are the foundation on which the measures of integrity are based. Integrity builds relationships and a level of trust that people can connect with. It is your internal culture – what you collectively value, how you do things, your commonly held beliefs and expectations.

Everyone who works in your organisation should live by the set of values you create, and should exit the company if they do not believe or practise them. This creates a united front and builds a consistent brand experience for your customers or your franchisees’ customers.

BRAND RESILIENCE WHEN HANDLING COMPLAINTS

Complaints

When it comes to complaints about products or services, the customer can be more vocal to a larger audience than ever before. It is important to realise that how you respond to your customer is also viewed by a large audience.

I have never subscribed to the notion that the customer is always right, because they are human and like everyone else, they also make errors with behaviour and judgement. Everyone deserves to be heard and responded to appropriately. Often people have a lot going on behind the scenes and may be unfairly attacking you because they need an outlet. Try not to take it too personally and keep in mind that they may be facing all sorts of stress in their personal life. This does not mean you can’t stand up for yourself in a polite way or protect your staff when it comes to vile behaviour being thrown your way. There is nothing wrong with schooling people on good behaviour by showcasing your maturity through polite responses and by not bending over backwards in the face of customers exhibiting bad behaviour.

I have seen some really good social media responses to customer complaints. Here are some examples;
69d3c65dd6fe022206d3038f67ecb128

Woolworths – Ben Hunter from Sydney made an entertaining complaint to Woolworths about some mouldy hommus by using Ice Cube rap references throughout the complaint.

Dear Woolworths Mosman, in the words of the modern day poet Ice Cube, ‘Today was a good day’, until a familiar craving for SS. Foods Hommus from my usual and reliable local Woolworths was bestowed upon me. I hopped in my car and made my way to ‘Woolies’, salivating at the thought of wrapping my mouth around a long carrot oozing with your culinary delight that is known as your delicious Hommus.

I took that bad boy home ready to indulge my inner tastebuds and invite every sensation to my mouth party. I was shocked, disappointed and disgusted at the sight of a clump of mould atop the Hommus. I am at a loss as to what I am supposed to do. Do I eat around it? Do I accept this as satisfactory? Do I walk into Woolworths now, with the expectation that there is a very high chance that if I buy dip it will be “tough titties” for me if I run into the dip mould pandemic in my once secure home? Please, advise me on what is to be done in such dire circumstances.

The response from Woolworths was equally as entertaining. Using more references to Ice Cube to make a genuine connection.

Hi Ben, hello from the other side. Firstly, we love the great poet Ice Cube. But let’s talk about Hommus.

We totally understand that this is not okay and we will follow up with the store to make sure any other products like this get Straight Outta Mosman.

The Boyz in the Hood will look into this for you. Check Yo Self and get over to the service desk for a refund and replacement — You Know How We Do It.
Peace out Hommus.

The post received over 32,000 likes on Facebook within 24 hours and plenty of praise from social media users.

Ben Hunter was very pleased with the response stating “I’m not even mad anymore.”
There is nothing good about having mould on food that has not passed its used by date, but somehow Woolworths was able to respond and not damage it’s reputation by making a genuine relatable connection with the customer in their pop culture language.

This next example is one of my favourites because it showcases that standing up for your company values is well worth the effort. Yes you will create division, but if you try to please everyone, you end up pleasing nobody. You can quickly alienate both sides of a debate if you don’t politely stand up for your company… Click To Tweet

Optus – Dan from Optus, valiantly stood up for the multicultural values that he and his team stand for in local communities that Optus have stores. Below are his responses to many people on the issue/complaints of an Optus arabic sign displayed in a local mall that advertised assistance in their local store for Arabic speaking customers.

1tumblr_nxzstqodcc1tb1ibwo7_500

2tumblr_nxzstqodcc1tb1ibwo1_500

3tumblr_nxzstqodcc1tb1ibwo9_500

4tumblr_nxzstqodcc1tb1ibwo8_500

5tumblr_nxzstqodcc1tb1ibwo7_500-1

6tumblr_nxzstqodcc1tb1ibwo6_500

7tumblr_nxzstqodcc1tb1ibwo5_500

8tumblr_nxzstqodcc1tb1ibwo4_500

9tumblr_nxzstqodcc1tb1ibwo3_500

10tumblr_nxzstqodcc1tb1ibwo10_500

Thanks to Age of Aquarium for collating a few of the best.

Optus had 276,000 followers on their Facebook page and Dan was quite happy to educate others on why they support customers that may find it easier speaking in their native language to discuss phone plans.

There was no insults made by Dan in his replies (although he may have wanted to), just information to show that they may not have all the facts and backing up every reason why support and inclusion is the best way to create welcoming communities while customers learn a difficult language like English.

Yes the bigots and vocal racists would all still keep their opinions and no doubt back each other up after their education, but it made the other side that love multiculturalism in Australia all the more connected to a brand like Optus. Well done Dan, we can all use a bit more ‘YES’ in our world.

Coles – Woolworths isn’t the only supermarket that has entertaining responses to complaints. Coles customer Matthew Wilson made a very lighthearted complaint about purchasing a caterpillar-infested capsicum. Picking up on the lighthearted tone, Coles made a good-humoured response to make light of the situation while addressing the problem.

Screen Shot 2016-04-11 at 3.27.14 PM

Hi Coles, how are you today? Firstly I want to say, how cold has winter been this year? It has taken me by surprise. I didn’t stock up on warm clothing and as a result I have felt the cool hand of winter through my favourite jacket, which I bought from JayJays in 2008. It has served me well, but this winter may be its last. I would like to thank you for providing me with groceries that are indeed fresh. Though yesterday whilst buying this red capsicum from Kurralta Coles, SA (which I intended on eating tonight in my wife’s tasty chicken stir fry — it’s a real cracker!) I took some friends home with us, a whole family in fact. I’ve never had Chicken Caterpillar Stir fry, though I don’t think I will and I probably will look for a caterpillar-free red capsicum in the future.

The complaint was viewed by many and comments started to flow criticising Coles until they made their response:

Hi Matthew, you found them! Thank goodness, we’ve been looking everywhere. We’re sorry to hear the caterpillar family almost made it into your dinner, but we’re glad they’re safe and sound at home. We hope the joy of being new foster parents to this army of caterpillars brings you much warmth this winter.

Coles went on to say that the team was disappointed Matthew would be having “capsicum-free stir-fry”, and kindly offered a refund or replacement.

Matthew was surprised by massive response attracting more than 7000 likes.
“I originally wrote it for a bit of a laugh, and it went a bit mental,” he told news.com.au.
“I thought the response was brilliant actually, it was really funny.”

These have all been direct responses to complaints which is always the best thing to do. You can put out Google Alerts (GOOGLE ALERTS INFO) and simply monitor your social media channels to stay on top of things. It’s hard work, but leaving things to fester online can be detrimental to your brand. If you can address it quickly, then do so. Don’t try and take them instantly offline if it can be resolved in front of an audience, it just looks like you are trying to cover your tracks. A couple of responses online and then taking it offline is the best option to protect their personal information that they may be required to provide in order to resolve a situation. If you can surprise them with a direct call, this can quickly deescalate the situation as many people feel more powerful when behind a keyboard.

You can always take a new option of also rating your customers too. Companies like Uber and Airbnb do this as a standard practice and the Art Series Hotels are trialling it too. (ARTICLE ON ART SERIES HOTEL)

If not, you can always resort to humour about the situation. Be careful not to insult anyone directly, but make light of people’s opinions if it fits the character of your brand. Everyone has an opinion. Do you agree with everyone?

meatball-sandwich-bad-review-response

Author: Clare Balmer, Founder and Curator of Brand Journal

Complaints_crop
When it comes to complaints about products or services, the customer can be more vocal to a larger audience than ever before. It is important to realise that how you respond to your customer is also viewed by a large audience.

I have never subscribed to the notion that the customer is always right, because they are human and like everyone else, they also make errors with behaviour and judgement. Everyone deserves to be heard and responded to appropriately. Often people have a lot going on behind the scenes and may be unfairly attacking you because they need an outlet. Try not to take it too personally and keep in mind that they may be facing all sorts of stress in their personal life. This does not mean you can’t stand up for yourself in a polite way or protect your staff when it comes to vile behaviour being thrown your way. There is nothing wrong with schooling people on good behaviour by showcasing your maturity through polite responses and by not bending over backwards in the face of customers exhibiting bad behaviour.

HOW TO REPRESENT YOUR BRAND THROUGH ANIMATION

Animation Characters

From the layout of your website to the exact dimensions of a billboard to your employee’s shirt colour, branding decisions encompass almost every aspect of a business. More than ever we’re ‘meeting’ a brand in the virtual world long before ever stepping foot in a physical store. So when we talk about how to effectively represent a brand, it’s especially important to look at how a first (and lasting) impression is made through the brand’s online presence.

Statistically, conversion rates and visit times to company websites are increased significantly when the front page focusses on sharable, visual content. Video content is proven to extend the amount of time a visitor stays on a website by 2 minutes and increase the number of converting customers by a whopping 64 percent.

So given all the different media available, what’s the best way to take advantage of visual content across your brand’s website and social media platforms? While each medium has its own advantages, today we’ll be taking a look at one of the most sharable and visually distinctive forms, animation, and some the different ways we can utilise it through a visual brand campaign.

1. Explainer videos
As a quick summary, explainers are short, informative videos used to help explain the purpose of a brand/product/idea in an easily digestible way. They often use straightforward voice overs combined with motion graphics, a clean style of animation.

While the major purpose of an explainer video is clear (literally to explain), there are also a number of hidden benefits to having one on the front page of your website or as part of your social media posts. Firstly, an explainer video allows you to control how your brand is initially viewed by the public, as you’re having the first say in exactly how/why your products and services should be used in the clearest way possible.

Secondly, a well-structured explainer video placed prominently on a website or social media page should aim to inspire a viewer’s curiosity about the brand. Now that they understand what you’re offering and how your service works, lead them naturally to the next call of action: whether it’s downloading a free trial, following your social media page or signing up for a special offer. From the simplified knowledge it offers, an explainer animation generates natural curiosity and promotes further interest in your online presence loop.

2. Animated commercials
If explainers are the instruction manual of your brand, then commercials are the bestselling storybooks. An animated TVC or online commercial is the way to set a mood for your audience using narrative, atmosphere, emotion and expectation.

Using animation for a commercial allows for a comprehensive integration of your brand’s colours and design scheme. These design choices are relatively easy to incorporate into each aspect of the commercial (character design, background design, location, props) in comparison to live action video.

Given the wide range of mediums and visual styles available under the broad banner of ‘animation’, you also have relative control over the evoked associations a viewer will have. Simply through the choice of line style and texture, an animation can be made to look like a children’s nursery rhyme or a gritty mystery graphic novel. These associations can then be used to set up (or subvert) certain expectations of your brand’s ideals, cementing a go-to image of your company in the minds of your audience.

3. Animated characters
If you’ve ever seen any kind of advertising for CompareTheMarket.com, it’s extremely likely you can name the type of animal that hosts the ads. You probably know his grammatically incorrect catchphrase. Heck, as I say this you might even start mentally reciting this sentence in the exact broken-Russian accent we know from the commercials.

But how does something as irrelevant to our lives as a burgundy-robe-wearing meerkat get so burnt into our brains every time we think of a particular brand? It’s because, as many of us know by now, the personality of a character-driven campaign is far easier for an audience to recall than a faceless corporation. Simples.

But there are also several specific advantages to choosing an animated character to represent your brand in a campaign. Developing an animated character is cheaper than hiring a celebrity actor: most especially because cartoon actors don’t ask for royalties. This means the character image is reusable as an identifying ‘mascot’ for your company, reflecting your brand’s personality and serving as a highly recognisable icon associated with your products and services.

Animated characters are almost infinitely flexible in terms of initial design. This means brands can design their character to represent their ideal customer base. Profile your typical client, then use those visual cues to help shape the design into a character your audience will relate to. Ultra-identifiable brand characters often become trademarks, further cementing their place in cultural history.

4. Animated logos
A quality animated logo can be a fantastic investment for a brand looking to establish their visual image in the eyes of consumers. While static logos are a necessity for physical media like business cards and flyers, animated logos are ideal for use across a brand’s video content and online presence.

An active logo is a must for keeping a consistent visual flow in any branded video content. And the particular chosen movement of an animated logo adds a new dimension to the psychology of your stylistic choices. The illusion of forward momentum presents a progressive, cutting-edge image of your brand, while a steady rotation suggests dependability, co-operation and regeneration.

While some social media sites like Facebook and Twitter don’t accept motion content for headers or avatars, other more visually-focussed sites such as Tumblr do. Using a minimalistic version of your animated logo as a subtle, looping GIF header for your brand’s page works as an eye-catching tool to set your brand apart from other competitors.

Conclusion
There are many more ways to take advantage of animation as a tool to promote your brand online. One of the rising creative trends is branded web series content, which curbs consumer’s growing skepticism of advertising content by providing serial creative entertainment, helping to grow a consistent audience community who then associate the brand with sponsoring the quality content.

It’s the versatile and eye-catching nature of animation that makes these widely varying approaches to branding not only possible, but affordable and a worthwhile investment in a brand’s long-term image.

Author: Maree Railton
Explanimate

(Original post featured on www.explaimate.com.au)

Image credit: freepik.com

Animation characters crop
From the layout of your website to the exact dimensions of a billboard to your employee’s shirt colour, branding decisions encompass almost every aspect of a business. More than ever we’re ‘meeting’ a brand in the virtual world long before ever stepping foot in a physical store. So when we talk about how to effectively represent a brand, it’s especially important to look at how a first (and lasting) impression is made through the brand’s online presence.

Statistically, conversion rates and visit times to company websites are increased significantly when the front page focusses on sharable, visual content. Video content is proven to extend the amount of time a visitor stays on a website by 2 minutes and increase the number of converting customers by a whopping 64 percent.

So given all the different media available, what’s the best way to take advantage of visual content across your brand’s website and social media platforms? While each medium has its own advantages, today we’ll be taking a look at one of the most sharable and visually distinctive forms, animation, and some the different ways we can utilise it through a visual brand campaign.

A BRANDED JOKE

Branded Joke

Who doesn’t love a good joke? Well, when it is at someone else’s expense usually. April Fools’ Day brings out the creative juices of companies and I have to say I get very excited about this day. Creating a branded joke can be tricky but the payoff can be great if done well.

It’s not without pitfalls and can go terribly bad, so make sure that if you partake in this fun day that you run through some scenarios first. Produce it in the highest quality possible for maximum trickery and value for viewers.

Here is a fun roundup of a few ‘corkers’.

WAYBACK BURGERS
This is an interesting one as it started as a joke and then progressed into reality. The marketing team came up with a ‘Cricket Milkshake’ for April Fools’ Day last year. People enquired if it was real on social media and then Cricket flour companies started suggesting a partnership. Months later they actually decided to develop it, by August they had created the ‘Oreo Mint Cricket Milkshake’ and it was available at several of the chain’s franchises.

Buzzfeed shot a reaction video which is fantastic and has over 1.7 million views on YouTube. Maybe we are prepared for the future of food more than we thought we were.

YOUTUBE
I don’t think you could get away from a YouTube prank for this fun day.

Enter #SnoopaVision

A great way to promote their other service of 360 degree video uploads (if you have the right gear to film it). The button was only available on April Fools’ Day and of course did not function. A bit of fun with a celebrity.

QUILTED NORTHERN
Hand crafted toilet paper anyone?

GOOGLE SELF DRIVING BICYCLE
Considering they are making self driving cars, it is believable until you watch the video and see how they are poking fun at themselves.

GOOGLE CARDBOARD/PLASTIC
Again making fun of themselves with virtual reality products. Google Cardboard/Plastic, the next step in virtual reality.


Check out the website which is nicely put together.

GOOGLE CARDBOARD/PLASTIC WEBSITE

BURGER KING FRANCE
It’s not even in English, but I love this one. Making Burger King fancy and posh with their single fry product.

BARCLAY CARD PAYWAG
I knew having a pet would be handy one day.

What about non video pranks. Here are just a few.

SYDNEY BRIDGE RESTAURANT
GOURMET TRAVELLER ARTICLE

LINDT BROCCOLI BALLS
LINDT BROCCOLI BALLS

IKEA AUSTRALIA
IKEA AUSTRALIA

Author: Clare Balmer, Founder and Curator of Brand Journal

Branded Joke_cropWho doesn’t love a good joke? Well when it is at someone else’s expense usually. April Fools’ Day brings out the creative juices of companies and I have to say I get very excited about this day. Creating a branded joke can be tricky but the payoff can be great if done well.

It’s not without pitfalls and can go terribly bad, so make sure that if you partake in this fun day that you run through some scenarios first. Produce it in the highest quality possible for maximum trickery and value for viewers.

Here is a fun roundup of a few ‘corkers’.

BEHIND THE SCENES: A DAY IN THE LIFE OF A FREELANCE COPYWRITER

Freelance Copywriter

Seen images depicting a ‘freelance copywriter’s life’ online and curious about what they actually do?

The copywriter in a hipster café with MacBook Air open and strong coffee on hand to fuel their inspiration.

A copywriter with legs languidly outstretched on a couch. Laptop open, green tea on a designer table and a candle burning to invite their ‘muse to play’.

It’s true that a freelance copywriter has the opportunity to work from a café, in a co-working space, from home or at the park.

But what do they actually do when they’re in front of their screen all day?

Here’s an insight into a few things a freelance copywriter will do during their day.

Website copywriting:
It doesn’t matter if you need content written for your brand new website, or you need website copywriting for a website update. A freelance copywriter who specializes in website copywriting needs to have a solid understanding of Search Engine Optimization (SEO)

Hiring a freelance copywriter with SEO copywriting skills means they can add “Google goodness” to your website. They’ll know how to write content for the search engine algorithms. But they’ll also know how to write content that will appeal to your target audience. Because there’s no point in having fabulous SEO website content that your target audience finds boring or hard to read!

Social media copywriting:
Posting content on social media can build your brand and business profile.
When you’re starting out, you may have the time and energy to write and post your own social media content.

…“I’m going to post 3-4 times a day on Facebook…”
…“I’ll write a few LinkedIn posts a month…”

But social media is fast paced and changes every day. If you’re not posting great content regularly and consistently on your business pages, your target audience will find someone else to follow.

As your business expands and you get busier, you may need to hire a freelance copywriter to help you create social media posts.

A great freelance copywriter will know that the copywriting style for a client’s social media accounts needs to reflect their tone of voice while paying attention to their target audience. And while they’re copywriting social media posts, they’ll also consider how social media audiences use their accounts differently.

A Twitter audience may scroll faster than a LinkedIn audience. While a Facebook audience in a private community may take the time to read every post.

And while every social media post will be crafted to sound like the clients have written it themselves, there’s also the bigger picture to think about. A great freelance copywriter will write the social media posts to help their client achieve their social media marketing goals.

Newsletter copywriting:
Sending a regular email newsletter to customers is an effective way to stay in touch and remain top of mind. If you’re like many business owners though, there’s never enough time to get it done. And even if you set aside time to write your newsletter, it can be hard to get the words out of your head onto the screen.

Hiring a freelance copywriter can take away all the stress around newsletter copywriting. Once you’ve completed the copywriting brief and had a quick phone or Skype chat, it’s as simple as emailing the copywriter and letting them know what you’d like in the newsletter.

Got a new service being launched, a free workshop coming up or a discount on your best selling products? A newsletter is a great way to let your current and prospective customers know what’s going on. And unlike social media updates, you know that because the newsletter is being send by email, there’s a higher likelihood of your audience seeing the information.

Blog copywriting:
A freelance copywriter can also spend some time during their day blog copywriting for their clients.

This is also known as ‘ghost blogging’ where the client’s name or business name appears as the author of the blog post.
A freelance copywriter can also help their client by researching blog topics, finding out what types of blog posts are popular with their target audiences and complete SEO keyword research.

Hiring a freelance copywriter to write blogs is a popular way for all types of businesses to publish regular blog content. Keep in mind that the blog will be online, so hiring someone that’s got SEO copywriting skills is a smart business decision.

Freelance copywriter business development and marketing
Most freelance copywriters will spend a portion of each working day marketing and promoting their business online.

Typical freelance business development and marketing activities include:
• Pitching for their next copywriting project,
• Sending out and following up copywriting proposals
• Writing their own blog posts
• Sending out a regular newsletter to their clients
• Writing and posting on social media accounts, and
• Returning emails.

Non-copywriting activities
So what do freelance copywriter’s do when they’re not in front of their screens?

Here are a few things I love doing:
• Walking and socialising puppies (I’m a volunteer Puppy Raiser for Vision Australia and always have a Labrador at my side)
• Exercising
• Reading
• Personal writing projects
• Beach time

Why I love being a freelance copywriter

Working as a freelance copywriter is fabulous. I get to work with a wide range of people and businesses in all different industries.

For example, over the last few months I’ve worked with clients in the following industries:
• Psychology & Psychiatry
• Dental & Medical
• Health & fitness
• Business & life coaching
• Accounting and finance
• Online marketing, and
• Building & Construction

The intangible benefits of hiring a freelance copywriter

When you hire a freelance copywriter, it’s not just about the words. Here are the intangibles that client’s receive when they hire me as their freelance copywriter:
• SEO skills
• Wordpress experience
• Friendly and easy to work with
• Owned small businesses and worked in corporate world
• Ability to write in their tone of voice, and
• A lot of writing and marketing experience

Hiring a freelance copywriter is more than getting someone to ‘bang out a lot of words’ for your business and brand.

The hidden value you receive extends past the work you’ve engaged them to do. Their insights, experience and ability to look at your business from a different point of view is invaluable in helping you stand out from the crowd.

They’ll highlight your unique selling proposition, help your website appeal to search engine algorithms and make your business and brand stand out from the crowd.

Author: Kylie Saunder
Copywriter
www.kyliesaunder.com
Image credit: picjumbo.com

Copywriter_crop
Seen images depicting a ‘freelance copywriter’s life’ online and curious about what they actually do?

The copywriter in a hipster café with MacBook Air open and strong coffee on hand to fuel their inspiration.

A copywriter with legs languidly outstretched on a couch. Laptop open, green tea on a designer table and a candle burning to invite their ‘muse to play’.

It’s true that a freelance copywriter has the opportunity to work from a café, in a co-working space, from home or at the park.

But what do they actually do when they’re in front of their screen all day?

Here’s an insight into a few things a freelance copywriter will do during their day.

THE SUCCESS OF AN ACCOUNTABILITY BRAND

Accountability Brands
Creating an accountability brand is becoming the new way of business. Our world wants more transparency from companies and reassurances when using products or services. Don’t get me wrong, you still have a huge amount of snake oil salesmen out there (power retailers and health insurance anyone?), but they are fighting it out amongst each other and not creating good brands. They might look pretty, but ultimately you can’t throw glitter on a turd and hope that it will sell well forever. You need brands to be accountable and offer a good exchange of services and/or products for your money. They simply don’t.

We have seen huge disruption with platforms that help the future of a sharing economy, with the likes of Uber emerging and then thriving. A lot of people don’t like this disturbance to traditional business, however there is a couple of reasons why I do and why they are creating a strong brand.

Flexibility:
We are becoming a world where the traditional 9-5 is becoming less relevant. We are a 24 hour world and the 8 hours work, rest and play was based on systems set up a long time ago. That doesn’t mean we should be working 10 or 12 hour days to make up for it. We have more people that can do less hours and be more productive in that time. Would it not be better to get higher profits per person and then hire more people? This is something Sweden is trialling by switching to 6 hour days across some industries. They are not tech companies either and require the physical presence of staff for more than 6 hours. Also, as an example, I know that most taxi drivers tend to work 12 hour shifts to try and make a living. The cost of licences and running a special vehicle are prohibitive these days. It puts them at risk and passengers at risk because they have to be alert while driving for long periods. An Uber driver can work when they want to, to fit in with other part time jobs or work full time. They simply log-in and logout. They pay for their car costs already, so anything extra is a bonus. I met one driver that just worked a few hours on the weekend while his wife worked as an ER nurse at night. For him, this was just for something to do which earned him extra money in what would otherwise have been downtime.

I saw an interview with a Mayor in the USA in which he stated that the government needed to catch up with evolving business to make sure it is safe and contributes financially to the economy via taxes like every other business or employee. Yes this definitely is required and it is not perfect yet. This needs to happen with a lot of businesses that aren’t necessarily in the sharing economy too. There are many loopholes with taxation that need to be addressed globally, as we are becoming a more global economy everyday.

Accountability: This may sound strange since almost anyone can become an Uber driver. There are certainly more steps to be taken to ensure this aspect gets better and better, but hear me out. I know that there are just as likely to be dodgy customers as there are drivers, well that’s what I thought. When talking to Uber drivers, what I actually found out was that by having the Uber app, customers can see a driver’s rating and reputation and decide to accept or simply wait for another option to come up. That’s great for the customer you might think, but what about the safety of the driver? Since Uber customers have their name, contact details and credit card information on file, it means they can’t misbehave without it coming straight back to them. By this process, they become just as accountable as the driver and this mutual agreement through technology actually makes both parties behave better. The accountability goes both ways and I love it. It should not always be about the customer, people have a right to feel safe at work too.

I have experienced a bad driver (ability to drive well) with Uber, but since you can rate your experience and Uber actually follows up to find out more, you feel like a respected customer, not just a number in their huge system.

I have had great experiences in Taxis and some pretty terrible ones. When terrible things happened, reporting it (calling up and stating the driver’s ID number on the dashboard) was met with sorry, but not much we can do about it, we are struggling to get enough drivers to meet demand. They couldn’t get rid of a guy that stole an extra $100 on a cabcharge fare – by faking that the automatic system was broken so he had to manually enter the fare, he was able to overcharge without my knowledge. I suspected whatever he was doing was dodgy because I specifically asked if it was working before I got in. He also took me on some long way round which I called him out on and his reply was ‘It doesn’t matter, you have Cabcharge’. Cabcharge was something my boss gave to staff when we had to pull late hours at the office to get projects done. Meaning the cab fare was charged to a card and then was paid by my boss via an account. They refunded the money but basically said they weren’t going to action anything further than that. That really did not reassure me or the entire company that I worked for that the taxi company do enough checks on all of their drivers out there. There was no alternative to cabs when this happened. So where is reassurance of using a regulated industry?

The main issue with the failings of either business, Taxi’s or Uber’s, comes down to government rules and regulations towards both services. They both have advantages and disadvantages and have room to improve so they can both operate fairly and offer better safety for customers and staff.

SUMMARY
Can you create more of an accountability brand? Can you make your products or services suitable for both sides, staff and customers? Quite often we can be very customer focused and forget about the needs of staff. If they are not overworked and paid adequately, they can be a great asset if they have the same values as your company. If you have happier staff, they can easily create happier customers.

Do your customers have an easy way to report issues they have? My partner recently had a major issue with a computer repair company and found it so hard to even find someone to report his complaint to. They had so many tech tools in the business, yet the system didn’t work because there was no accountability from the people behind the technology. Technology alone can’t solve your issues.

For some more great reading on creating a great brand you should check out: 7 Habits of Remarkably Authentic Brands READ HERE

For addressing issues via social media, here is a great article with a simple approach to make sure you listen to your customer’s needs, rather than throw it in the ‘too hard basket’.
READ HERE

Accountability Brands_crop

Creating an accountability brand is becoming the new way of business. Our world wants more transparency from companies and reassurances when using products or services. Don’t get me wrong, you still have a huge amount of snake oil salesmen out there (power retailers and health insurance anyone?), but they are fighting it out amongst each other and not creating good brands. They might look pretty, but ultimately you can’t throw glitter on a turd and hope that it will sell well forever. You need brands to be accountable and offer a good exchange of services and/or products for your money. They simply don’t.

We have seen huge disruption with platforms that help the future of a sharing economy, with the likes of Uber emerging and then thriving. A lot of people don’t like this disturbance to traditional business, however there is a couple of reasons why I do and why they are creating a strong brand.

DO YOU HAVE A SOCIAL BRAND?

Social Brand

Understanding audience behaviour on social media can help you make the right choices in building a social brand. It may take some trial and error to attract and engage your target audience. Some avenues might just be the wrong fit for your brand all together. The key is to have a plan, track and then reassess and adjust your methods along the way. Below are some great little bits of research that might guide you in the right direction.

VIDEO ON FACEBOOK
Video Sharing since 2013
I’m sure you are well aware that video content is very popular and Facebook is getting behind it more and more. These pie charts showcase the difference between standard content and video sharing. It is such a good investment to get your brand out there in the market. Yes, video takes planning and effort, but it can be used over and over in a lot of cases.

IDEAS FOR BUSINESS VIDEO
• Meet the team – videos of your team in a carefully created and directed piece that showcases the human side to your business. Taking into account lots of your brand messages and sharing the values you have. Not always highly shareable content, but great to have on your website as it might just convince a visitor that you are the right company to work with.
• ‘How to’ – videos creating technical information that showcase your systems or even products. These can be done by showing just a computer screen, having a person demonstrate or animating the sequences needed. Depending on the nature of your business this may be shared by bloggers or simply be a nice to have for your clients or again convince a visitor that your product or service is the right fit for them.
• Case studies – when you have awesome clients and projects that are great to share, then why not shine some light on them with a video documentary style. I’m sure your client will feel pretty loved through the process too. This format will be very sharable as the client’s friends will automatically want to share their friend being featured in a video.
• Problem and solution – quick videos using text or animation highlighting common problems you solve. Short, sharp and to the point and can be a whole series. Great for a social platform. You want to get people’s interest and short videos can do this very effectively on social media.

Video Content 2014 Research

Video is constantly growing so I hope you are thinking of increasing the use of this great medium to grow your brand.

MALE VS FEMALE

Male and Female Content Sharing

If you have a market dominated by one gender, then you really need to pay attention to what motivates the different sexes. Can you tweak your content to be more suitable for your target market. I’m sure we can all make things more humorous or more intelligent and useful.

ATTRIBUTES FOR THE AGES

Attributed for Social Sharing

This is a great snapshot to show what attributes appeal to different age demographics. I had no idea that 55+ age group had such a high preference to ‘look good’. Do you know which bracket your target audience generally sits in?

Here are some additional bite sized pieces of info compiled by Contently that gives us an idea on marketing trends.

Web

Web

Web

Web

Web

Web

Web

Web

Web

Web

Web

MarketingStats_6-7

Web

Web

Web

Web

Web

Advertising is changing and what people want from brands is also changing. Creating the right mix of content that matches your brand, your clients and ultimately markets your company is challenging. Simply doing nothing will leave you behind. Fortunately there are many cost effective ways of trying different things to see what has traction. Don’t be put off from failed campaigns or content that was not shared. Take note of what hasn’t worked and even re-purpose the content or campaign in a different way. Your messaging might be wrong but the concept wasn’t necessarily bad. Pick yourself up, dust yourself off and learn more about what your audience likes.

Oh and if you like this article, please share (wink wink)

Author: Clare Balmer, Founder and Curator of Brand Journal

Social Brand_crop
Understanding audience behaviour on social media can help you make the right choices in building a social brand. It may take some trial and error to attract and engage your target audience. Some avenues might just be the wrong fit for your brand all together. The key is to have a plan, track and then reassess and adjust your methods along the way. Below are some great little bits of research that might guide you in the right direction.

THANKYOU CHANGING THE GAME WITH 'CHAPTER ONE'


This week I was lucky enough to see the amazing book launch for Thankyou Group Co-founder Daniel Flynn. #ChapterOne is set to change the game yet again by an organisation that donates 100% of profits to fund life-changing water, food and hygiene and sanitation programs around the world. That’s right 100%!

It was an amazing night put on by some wonderful sponsor companies and individuals that donated their products, skills or dollars to make the event spectacular.

So besides this evening being a book launch for a successful person, which is wonderful in itself, how is this book changing the game? Well in typical Thankyou style they are going against traditions in the book publishing world as well.

1. For a start the book is printed landscape and you read it sideways. Now this format has been tried before and has not fared well, but the idea that is has failed in the past has never stopped Daniel before. The reason for this ‘strange’ format is to gain attention, stand out on the shelf right through to the reader. If it sparks a conversation in public when a reader is navigating this format, the end result is curiosity from more people and a cause for purchasing it themselves.

2. This book is here to raise money to fund ‘Chapter Two’ of the business so hopefully they can write #ChapterTwo about the adventure and continue to raise money to move their products into bigger and better things. He needs to raise 1.2 Million to fund the next phase of business – launching a Thankyou Baby range to help remote developing countries with access to better care during and after pregnancy. It will also fund a launch into New Zealand to prove they can start it all from scratch in another country.

3. A bestselling book doesn’t always mean you have made a lot of money in the grand scheme of things. This again has not put Daniel off. So how do you spread your message in a book form and raise money from a supportive public? A pay what you want price tag. That’s right, you can pay $25 or $25,000 for the book. Whatever is contributed will help change the world we live in.


Surprisingly on the night Daniel revealed some statistics surrounding some market research that was carried out. 47% of people that purchase Thankyou products don’t actually know that it funds projects around the world. They simply buy the products because they are attracted to the packaging, like them and are repeat purchasers. Now you might think this is a bit of a problem with not marketing properly, but in actual fact it is a good sign as the products are great in themselves and some products rank No. 1 or 2 in supermarkets against competitors. The focus that this organisation has on getting details like this right is to be commended.

It hasn’t been a smooth ride, and many mistakes were made along the way. What prevailed is the reason why they were doing this and the tenacity and resilience to carry on when things looked dire. Their purpose was clear and they have created a hugely competitive brand up against mega corporations.

So I encourage you to watch the video, decide what price you want to pay for the book and get inspired by this amazing group. And yes that video was done in one continuous shot! Hats off to Daniel and the team for that.

VIDEO AND BOOK LINK

Author: Clare Balmer, Founder and Curator of Brand Journal

Thankyou Group_crop
This week I was lucky enough to see the amazing book launch for Thankyou Group Co-founder Daniel Flynn. #ChapterOne is set to change the game yet again by an organisation that donates 100% of profits to fund life-changing water, food and hygiene and sanitation programs around the world. That’s right 100%!

It was an amazing night put on by some wonderful sponsor companies and individuals that donated their products, skills or cash to make the event spectacular.

So besides this evening being about a book launch for a successful person, which is wonderful in itself, how is this book changing the game? Well in typical Thankyou style they are going against traditions in the book publishing world as well.