Branding: Rise. Wash. And Repeat.

Branding. Every company seems to be going through a rebranding campaign. Marketing specialists can’t stop talking about brand.  I don’t want to add the plethora of inaccurate information or participate in spreading these murky perceptions of brand. I’m here to set it right. Companies that have a true grasp of brand and its positioning can embedded these key concepts into their marketing communication strategies. If implemented correctly, it can become what the women at Warschawski call a “Rinse. Wash. And Repeat” cycle.  It becomes a virtuous cycle, building brand strength over and over.

Brand Is Not Your Tagline And Brand Is Not Your Logo

Brand Is Not Your Tagline And It's Not Your Logo

This should have been tattooed on my forehead while at Warschawski. Taglines and logos are important supporting elements of your brand. Brand is the basic emotional experience that you want consumers to have each time they come in contact with your company, product, or service. Let’s take a look at service, specifically customer service. Excellent customer service is rare. Our daily encounter with businesses as customers is usually mediocre or poor. Excellent service is exceeding the customers’ expectations and giving them an experience of a lifetime. Companies are giving control to customers by creating dialogue via social media platforms. Scott Stratten, President of Un-Marketing, says,

Everyone is a marketer and everyone is marketing.


But no one talks about “meh” customer service.  By giving them an experience (or a story), customers are inclined to share their pleasant encounter with others. Remember stories are sticky. See my previous blog post Sticky Ideas Brings SUCCESS: Creating Unforgettable Advertisement Ideas that Stick for more sticky ideas.

Know. Like. Trust.

Customers believe information from people that they know, like, and trust.  By spreading their story, others might be more likely to try the company’s services for themselves. Make a mistake and there can be a brand disconnect. Your loyal customers might forgive you the first time, but companies should act as if every interaction is a first encounter. Like a first date, first impressions are crucial how people perceive your company, service, or product. However, even with the increase of companies leveraging social media as part of their integrated marketing communications campaign, the average person doesn’t believe news from social media platforms compared to other means of newsgathering mediums.

Edelman's 2011 Trust Barometer®Above is a chart from Edelman’s 2011 Trust Barometer®, the annual survey that gauges attitudes about the state of trust in business, government, NGOs and media across 23 countries. If we look closer at the numbers above, social media only accounts for 5% of first new source. Watch the short video overview on the key findings from the President and CEO, Richard Edelman.

 

Steve Rebul, Director of Insight at Digital Edelman, highlights an important point in the video below dealing with brand. Search engines are no longer just search engines but reputation engines.

 

Whether passionate customers, bloggers, or creditable media outlets establish your brand reputation, well-planned marketing communications campaigns have what I call by-product PR opportunities. These built-in public relations campaigns complement your marketing program and even further reinforce your brand in online or traditional print publications.

Rinse. Wash. And Repeat.

You have established your brand, developed a marketing program (that consistent with your brand values), and have a strong built-in public relations campaigns so now just Rinse. Wash. And Repeat. and watch your brand strength grow.

What is your favorite campaign that has illustrated the “Rinse. Wash. And Repeat” brand cycle?

Social Media Marketing: Return of Investment or Return of ObjectiveMarketing and communication departments are getting their hands dirty with social media. The pressure to justify and measure the advantages of social media marketing is beginning to rise. Marketers often hear upper management ask that one question: What is the ROI of social media?  But the real question should be what is the return of objective?

Objectives. Objectives. Objectives.

We have seen companies jump into social media marketing because it’s THE THING. It’s not pretty.  But it’s time to start doing social media because it’s effective, not because it’s cool. Your objectives should determine what technologies to use to accomplish your marketing goals, not vice versa.

POST

My college professor, Dr. John Guiniven, warned his students not to jump the tactics/tools (social media) before determining their specific marketing and communication objectives. We seem to get too excited that social media is a cure-all to our marketing and communication problems. Above is the Forrester’s Four Step Approach to the Social Strategy. It’s a simple yet genius POST acronym that will help get you back on track.

ROI or ROO?

Financial metrics are just one way to evaluate social marketing programs. Social media can bring a variety of advantages to organizations, both for short and long-term success. To accurately asses the impact of their social media marketing efforts, marketers must align their objectives, metrics, targets, and strategies with a “balanced scorecard“.

Social Media Balance Scorecard

A balance scorecard brings other perspectives into focus, not solely measured on financial metrics.  Dr. Robert S. Kaplan and Dr. David P. Norton’s, The Balanced Scorecard: Translating Strategy into Action, is a wonderful book that explains that an effective social media marketing balanced scorecard considers metrics from four different perspectives:


  • Financial: Has revenue or profit increased or costs decreased?
  • Digital: Has the company enhanced its owned and earned digital assets?
  • Brand: Have consumer attitudes about the brand improved?
  • Risk Management: Is the organization better prepared to note and respond to attacks or problems that affect reputation?

I recently read an analogy that said direct marketing is like getting the consumer wet by directing a hose and spraying water on him or her; brand marketing is a fog that constantly envelopes the consumer and gets them damp over time. You can measure the water coming out of a hose, but how do you measure fog? To properly assess your social media marketing programs, other perspectives must be accounted for when determining short and long-term success.

Now, think about the potential success when you have a clear understanding of what your company brand is from the beginning. Talk about powerful marketing. I will go a little deeper in branding in a PR stand point in my next post. Until then, take care.

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Warschawski

After an amazing and intense internship at Warschawski, I am BACK. But before I dive back into my marketing and PR posts, I wanted to share my great experience that helped me mature my marketing and PR skills.

A Little Background Info

Warschawski is a full service branding, PR, marketing, advertising and interactive agency in Baltimore, Maryland. It was named “U.S. Small Agency of the Year” four of the past five years and has won over 200 marketing communications awards in the last ten years. I was lucky enough to work for an agency that has been ranked one of the “20 Best U.S. Agencies to Work For” the last nine years in a row. With such an impressive track record, I knew there were high expectations joining a team of rock stars.

The W Experience

Right off the bat, I knew that every Warschawski team member was a BRAND expert and had clearly mastered the art marketing and public relations. The guru that trained his army to become these brand warriors was the main man himself, Mr. David Warschawski.

David is the simply the real deal. I recently was able to attend one of his seminars on how to successfully use social media in an integrated marketing communications strategy to help companies achieve their business goals and reinforce their brand. I will be expanding on some of the basic ideas in future posts. Stay Tuned!

Mission: Grow.

While interning at Warschawski as an Assistant Associate (AA), I played an important role working on client accounts, learned how and why strategic decisions are made, and actively participated in brainstorming sessions for clients. I worked on a variety of accounts, ranging from a tree top adventure company to a luxury high-end mattress company. One advantage of working at the W, I was able to get the experience and expertise of a large firm but have the personalized mentorship of a boutique agency.

My main focus during the AA program was to develop my media relation skills. DONE AND DONE. I was able to generate news and obtain media coverage that increased name recognition, credibility, and visibility for clients. While at the W, I established strong working relationships with key editors, producers, and reporters. I will be posting links to these placements in the near future.

BrandMaPR

When I wasn’t pitching to different media outlets, I was learning how to create communication campaigns that brings clarity to a company’s brand.  These integrated campaigns combine marketing strategies with PR, advertising, and creative and interactive design. Warschawski’s brand-centric and business goal-oriented model, BrandMaPR© (pronounced brand-mapper), helped me understand how companies can positively impact their bottom line and ultimately move their target audience to action. I’m only scratching the surface of an extremely intricate process. Visit W’s website for more information on their BrandMaPR© model.

So Was It Worth it?

Absolutely. Even though traffic was horrible at times (particularly my eight-hour commute during a snow storm), my experience at Warschawski was worth every minute. It was worth the average 3.75-hour commute each day, the $100 dollar gas bill each week, and the 2,480 miles I put on my car each month traveling.  Yes. I’m crazy… crazy about Warschawski. Thank you to everyone at the W. I will miss you all.

Truth in Transparency We have been given power to contribute to the marketplace of ideas.  Are you using it wisely? The phrase “truth will out” can be dated back to John Milton’s Aeropagitica written in 1644.  He wrote,

Though all the winds of doctrine were let loose to play upon the earth, so Truth be in the field, we do injuriously by licensing and prohibiting to misdoubt her strength. Let her and Falsehood grapple; who ever knew Truth put to the worse, in a free and open encounter.

In other words, information should be available to all, both that are true and false. When you have a marketplace of ideas then the truth will survive. The truth will surface. Information has become democratized. There have been several instances where companies have not told the truth.  We can forgive those who don’t know but what about the companies that do know they are lying? Companies like BP that underestimated the amount of oil leaking into the Gulf. In a New York Times article, BP downplayed the catastrophic results to a measly 5,000 barrels a day, which turned out to be four to five times that amount…Opps. The press conference and immediate press release follow these events. It’s not the mistake that matters but what you do about it. For some it’s a little too late. They have been “Black Listed”.

The Least Transparent Companies:

The Most Transparent Companies:

This isn’t a corporate Red Scare but recognizing those who use transparency. We should give thanks to those companies that allow the public to know their business practices, business decisions, and factors that go into making those business decisions. Let us remember, “truth is both arms and armor”.  Transparency can increase brand identity and create brand personality. It can even increase return of shareholder value.

Growing up in this post-media generation, we expect honesty and directness. And we respect those who speak with truth and bluntness. Companies can’t spin their way out of trouble, especially not today with the Google monster growing stronger and stronger. It will eventually get you and when it does, POOF. There goes years of trust and brand loyalty. There is a barcode for each story stored in today’s digital library, the internet. That barcode is a link. A permalink, permanently available for all of us to see. Truth is just one Google search away.

Jeff Jarvis wrote in What Would Google Do?,

“Companies shouldn’t be democracies. But neither should they be dictatorships. They should be ––but too rarely are ––meritocracies. Your challenge is to get good ideas to surface and survive from within and without and to enable customers and employees to improve your ideas and products.

Transparency is cool. Transparency is smart.  What is your favorite transparent company?