Emotional Branding

Earth Day – 4 Key Elements of a Cause Marketing Campaign

Cause marketing refers to the alignment of a brand with a cause that produces profitable and societal benefits for both. Today, consumers want to know what your company stands for and what you’re doing to make the world a better place. As a result, for many brands, cause marketing is now becoming the norm rather than the exception. You may be surprised to learn that cause marketing was first introduced in 1976. The two trail blazers involved were the Marriott Corporation and the March of Dimes. They worked together to promote the Marriott’s family entertainment complex in Santa Clara, California while raising funds for the March of Dimes. The campaign was a success for both parties and cause marketing was born.

In celebration of Earth Day this April 22nd, I’d like to encourage you to consider launching cause marketing campaign this year, and I’ve outlined the four key elements of one for you to consider:

  1. Simple, inspiring message: What you call your campaign matters. It should be simple, descriptive of your initiative and inspire you to want to participate. Motorcycle manufacturer Harley Davidson teamed up with the environmental organization The Nature Conservancy with its cause marketing campaign “Renew the Ride”. This campaign was designed to mobilize Harley Davidson’s global community of riders to raise funds for the planting of 50 million trees worldwide by 2025 so that the open road can be preserved for future generations of riders.
  1. Visual storytelling: Studies show that people read only about 20% of today’s web pages and are driven more by an image or short video than they are by anything else. Coke and the World Wildlife Fund (WWF) teamed up to support the conservation of polar bears with their Arctic Home campaign. Who among you hasn’t been moved by the wonderful video spots that Coke and the WWF have created about polar bears? Those videos move us more than any written story could.
  1. Social sharing, ‘earnedmedia: The most effective cause marketing campaigns develop multiple media designed to maximize the effectiveness of each channel. Dell is doing a great job inspiring people to care more about the health of our oceans and marine wildlife through its support of actor Adrian Grenier’s the Lonely Whale Foundation. The campaign has gained great momentum thanks to Instagram, YouTube and other social media platforms. And, Coke and the WWF used the web, apps, social media, text messaging and other technology to drive brand awareness for the Arctic Home campaign.
  1. Big world issues, small personal action: While most cause marketing campaigns are calling people’s attention to a big issue, they need to inspire them to take a small personal action. Habitat for Humanity is working towards a world where everyone has a safe and decent place to live. They teamed up with Home Depot. As part of an employee engagement campaign, Home Depot employees can volunteer to work on a Habitat for Humanity project while being paid by Home Depot. This small personal action of volunteering makes a big difference in improving big world issues.

I believe cause marketing has many benefits for your business including positioning your brand to stand out from the rest while at the same time helping a cause and ‘doing the right thing’.

Is cause marketing important to a brand? 87% of consumers would switch from one brand to another if the other brand was associated with a good cause, according to a Cone Cause Evolution Survey. Is a cause marketing campaign right for your company and your brand? It’s certainly worth considering.

Brand Storytelling: Why It Still Matters

once-upon-a-brand“Storytellers, by the very act of telling, communicate a radical learning that changes lives and the world: telling stories is a universally accessible means through which people make meaning.” – Chris Cavanaugh

With almost two decades in the marketing business, I believe that storytelling is one of the most powerful ways to add life and character into your brand. Capturing and sharing stories gives your brand and identity (it’s also a great content marketing approach!) that takes your target audience on a journey where they can find a personal connection with your brand.

The goal of storytelling is to increase your consumer’s emotional involvement in your brand by being well integrated into their daily online and offline lives. Although the idea of brand storytelling isn’t a new one, the emergence of digital media, content marketing, and social media, has presented opportunities for brands to share their tales in a strategic way.

What is a brand story?

A brand story is far more than a narrative with branded content. Everything you do tells part of your brand story. From the colours you use and the staff you hire, to the texture of your business cards and what your tagline is, each element should convey a truth about your brand to your intended audience.

Your brand story should be authentic, creative, and inspirational, and go beyond what’s written on your website and in your brochure. I tell my clients all the time that their story is not only what you tell people, but also what they perceive you to be, based on the messages your brand sends.

Speak the truth with some personality.

Try to keep in mind honesty and transparency are important when crafting your brand story. Your story should be rooted in the reality of your brand, industry, products, and services, and should follow the three primary steps of brand building: consistency, persistence, and restraint. If your stories are inconsistent, they will complicate things for your customers, which will set them off in search of another brand that meets their expectations. Be creative and keep your brand promise in mind.

Remember – brand stories are not marketing materials, advertisements or sales pitches. Exciting brand stories, full of personality, will attract and retain potential customers!

Create characters your audience will identify with.

Emotional branding has great potential to drive revenue and keep customers coming back. Since brands are a matter of perception, how a person feels about your brand typically determines whether or not they will buy your product.

When you tell a story that represents human challenges and triumphs, you create an experience that resonates with potential and existing consumers. Creating well-crafted characters that your audience will like and root for will deepen the bond customers have with your brand, and as a result, increase brand loyalty.

Why should you tell your brand’s story?

Without a brand story you are just another commodity with no way to distinguish your brand or business. However, creating a brand story isn’t all about getting noticed – it’s about building something people can care about and buy into. Frame your brand’s weaknesses, dictate your brand’s strengths, and help customers think beyond the usefulness and functionality of your products or services.

If I can leave you with one final thought – a potential customer’s relationship with your brand most likely begins before they buy your products and/or services (those are only part of the story). Your brand story is the foundation of your brand, and a strategy for future growth.

Does your business have a brand story? Share your brand stories with me and tell me how they have helped you reach success.

Super Bowl – Promoting A New “Good Dad” Image

Screen Shot 2015-02-02 at 12.03.53 PMTo say the Super Bowl attracts a huge audience is an understatement, but for advertisers the Super Bowl’s massive reach and potential to raise brand awareness with about 112 million people tuning in to the 2014 game, the Super Bowl remains not only the biggest televised sports event in the U.S. but the year’s most anticipated advertising showcase.

On one level there were some notable differences this year in costs and advertisers: a 30-second spot ran for an unprecedented $4.5 million, and we saw fewer auto ads, notably none from Honda and Volkswagen, and incredible film-quality ads with highly-paid celebrities like Pierce Brosnan, but we also saw more opportunities for first time advertisers like smartphone accessories-maker Mophie, and web development platform Wix.com.

On a deeper level, this Super Bowl is unlike any other not because of the deflated balls scandal, or the non participation of a few auto manufacturers to renew their ads, but because of the sheer number of NFL players in the spotlight for sexual assault charges. You may recall a few months ago, when we saw video footage of Ray Rice assaulting his fiancée and subsequently receiving a mere slap on the wrist for his crime. This incident, and the previous track record of many NFLers who have also been accused of assault, including Ray McDonald, CJ Spillman, Darren Sharper (and many more) caused a media stir, outrage and a demand for justice – spelling bad press for the NFL. So in an unprecedented move, the NFL created some powerful spots (PSAs and commercials) aimed at raising awareness of domestic violence. Then other advertisers leveraged this sentiment, and launched their entire Super Bowl campaigns around being a better Dad; from Nissan, Toyota and Unilever with grass root-type style videos aimed at how to be a better dad, even featuring current and former professional football players and their children discussing their relationship with their fathers, the focus was less on beer drinking, physical strength, and fast car driving and more on the “how to be a better man”. These brands built buzz online by promoting hashtags like #withdad, #realstrength and #oneboldchoice.

Sincere or not, we will never really know, but as a dad of a couple of young boys, I am thrilled to see change afoot with where advertising is going; a chance to bond with this “man’s” game and watch ads that reflect strength in character; that no longer reiterate the old 1950’s approach of how to be “a man’s man”, but showcase something much richer, something that more closely reflects the values of I want to instill in my boys – love and mutual respect – after all isn’t that the #realstrength of a man?

Up for discussion this week is how did the new breed of ads affect you? Do you think this type of ad will become the norm or was this just a one-off and a simple money grab due in part because of the criminal cases facing the NFL? I look forward to your feedback.

Case Study: Scotiabank’s Social Media Strategy

Screen Shot 2014-10-14 at 9.47.25 AMCMOs and business owners are always asking to validate not only the effectiveness of social media, but also the necessity of having a social media strategy. This week I wanted to highlight an unlikely social media channel and how it has been able to target and grow its engagement amongst its key audience.

Enter Scotiabank. Its recent success with their social media strategy using Instagram has helped them specifically target university-aged students 18-24, an audience often touted as the most difficult demographic to engage.

Instagram is often thought of as the photosharing app used for family and friends only, but things are changing for business applications as Instagram now boasts 15 times more engagement than Facebook, Twitter or Google+. What was once a simple photosharing app is now being used as a key sales channel.

In the world of social media, Instagram is relatively new and as an emerging channel, it enjoys the same cache with younger Canadians that Facebook enjoyed several years ago.

With this in mind, Scotiabank, in a strategic yet bold move, launched its Instagram channel in 2013 and has garnered 897 followers to date and is still growing. The channel is unique in that is allows for the ability to tailor content to any kind of youth-oriented theme.

The decision to use this channel was based on the need to use a relevant and extremely flexible platform to reach their target audience. Scotiabank feels their decision really gives them a lot of opportunity in terms of their messaging and making their brand unique by being on the forefront of providing content in a medium that is relevant to them.

The ultimate flexibility of this channel allowed Scotiabank’s Instagram channel “Scotia_gram”, to introduce a series of “life hacks” for students headed back to school. They included tips such as storing necklaces in straws to avoid tangling, and using an old cardboard box to create a shirt folder.

As a result, “likes” for Scotia_gram’s posts have increased just over 99%, and comments have jumped 22.3% since the “life hacks” were first introduced. The account has also gained just under 300 new followers in the same period.

This case study is a great example of how sometimes we need to think a little bit “outside the box” in terms of choosing channels to deliver our strategy to specifically target our audience.

After reading this case study would you consider using Instagram for your business, and if so, how? Do you feel Scotiabank is on to something here, or would another social media channel have been equally successful for their strategy?

Emotional Branding – Why your Business Needs it!

Dove

Making an emotional connection with your audience should be a year-round priority for your business, as consumers and clients (both B2B and B2C) make most of their buying decisions based on emotions. As I pursue business development opportunities, I aim to provide my potential clients with a brand that resonates with their audiences, and this often involves developing messaging that evokes emotion and impact.

Last year, I came across a blog by Jim Joseph of Entrepreneur and thought the message was worth reiterating with you: Many people have different interpretations about what brand positioning means. It’s one of those concepts that is hard to pin down, yet at the same time is so important to the success of your brand. Positioning is at the heart of your brand. It’s essentially the summation of everything your brand is about. Positioning is built from what you know to be true about your customer. It takes the benefits you’ve outlined and makes them meaningful to customers. In its simplest of forms, positioning is the mental space you want to occupy in your customer’s mind. It’s the first thing you want your customer to think about when they hear your brand name.

An emotional connection with your customer is the key to being a brand. But that emotional bond should be reflected in the positioning statement for the business. Positioning is more about emotions and less about the facts. That’s why marketers who think a claim about their product or service is a positioning statement, really miss the boat. The same goes for a description of your type of business. There’s no emotion in that and it’s emotions that differentiate a brand. Your brand’s positioning is the basis for building the brand experience across the entire marketing plan. The key is to make sure the actual brand experience delivers on what was intended in the positioning. Let’s take a look at a few big brands and what they’ve done for positioning. The tagline can often be a big hint:

  • L’Oreal: “Because you’re worth it.”
  • BMW: “The ultimate driving machine.”
  • State Farm: “Like a good neighbor, State Farm is there.”
  • Dove: “You are more beautiful than you think” – featured in photo above in ad called, “Real Beauty Sketches”

Notice the level of emotion in each of these taglines, which essentially highlights each brand’s positioning. Here’s how they might be translated into positioning statements:

  • L’Oreal: Makes you feel valued and good about yourself.
  • BMW: Makes you feel powerful.
  • State Farm: Makes you feel secure and safe in times of need.
  • Dove: Makes you see what other people see when they look at you.

These are obviously big blockbuster brands, but there’s no reason why you couldn’t do the same for your small business. Here are a few tips to creating a positioning statement for your company:

  1. Think about the emotional benefit that you offer your customer.
  2. Think about how you want your customer to feel about you, every time they think about you.
  3. Try to capture that emotion in a brief statement that best describes what you can offer, and jot down a few options.
  4. If you have a team, run the ideas by them and do a little brainstorming. You’ll be amazed at how quickly you start generating ideas.
  5. If you need help with any of these, have a marketing agency facilitate this process, their expertise will help you.

Do you feel your brand makes an emotional connection with your customers? Please share your experiences in the comments below.