Thursday, November 17, 2016

Zigging on the "Trump Train." A Brand Case Study.

This article is a brief brand analysis, not a political opinion piece.

We at Hornsby Brand Design are always encouraging our clients to "think outside the box", "stand out in the clutter," "zig when the competition is zagging." The success of that marketing strategy was never more on display than in the 2016 presidential election campaign. In fact, as reported by CBS News, even House Speaker Paul Ryan chimed in, calling Donald Trump's election win "the most incredible political feat I have seen in my lifetime."

To say Trump zigged when others zagged is an understatement of cataclysmic proportions. He positioned himself as a non-politician—proving that point on many levels—to many Americans' chagrin. He garnered negative media attention repeatedly that surprisingly did not seem to have affect, or if it did, it was only temporary. He'd call people names and received some reciprocal name-calling. Members of his own party were disembarking the train in droves at one point. The campaign seemed to be derailing, and near the end Trump was asked to stop tweeting by his own staff. As brand marketers, we would've categorized his PR as being in crisis-mode for much of his campaign. But Trump won, astonishing not only Americans, but the world.

How did he do this? Perhaps his billionaire-business expertise gave him the edge. Maybe...he read our articles on the five disciplines in "Building a Charismatic Brand" (tongue firmly in cheek). Regardless of your political affiliation, Trump succeeded, so we wanted to take this opportunity to briefly analyze his process in light of branding techniques and glean some application for our own business campaigns:

  • Market Niche: Trump targeted a forgotten demographic. He differentiated himself from his competitors. He was the "outsider," who built trust among those who considered their political grievances finally heard.
  • Market Placement: He knew his target and traveled and communicated where they were, speaking in five states daily up until the last day of campaigning, 133 speeches in just the last week.
  • Message Repetition: He was tireless in "hammering on the sore tooth." He spoke his target's language and he did it consistently and with frequency.
  • Message Focus: Toward the end of his campaign, especially, he stayed on the message his target wanted and needed to hear in order to get on board. 
  • Brand Integrity: He understood his brand as a brawler and "winner." Despite the set-backs that would normally ruin candidates, Trump consistently lived up to his brand, enhancing his brand's authenticity and appeal. This gave supporters the push needed to help move the Trump Train forward even with doubt of the unknown casting a shadow in the distance. In a word, "trust."
  • Brand Team: He surrounded himself with a cast of experts who knew the business of politics yet were behind and supported his brand, ensuring that his brand would not be sacrificed or watered down. He executed some team member suggestions and not others, keeping his brand as an "outsider" intact.

Bottom-line: Brand differentiation and authenticity lays the rails to success and strengthens the brand, enabling your brand to overcome even the most difficult obstacles. For help with zigging when others zag, contact us at

Digital Marketing: The Plan that Won't Wait

First, there’s no silver bullet to success. Rather, it’s always a combination of tactics that will propel your brand towards new heights. Social media, email marketing, SEO, SEM, content marketing, etc. all work together toward a common goal. First and for most, plan your strategy around boosting your website’s search engine optimization. This will be your gateway into the digital world. If you’re not found on Google, Bing, Yahoo, etc., and if your website doesn’t provide quality information for its users, you won't accomplish your objectives.

Try our 9-step outline:
  1. Know your customers and identify what you hope to achieve through your efforts.
  2. Set a digital marketing budget.
  3. Design elements that accurately reflect your company's identity.
  4. Add your business to online listing sites to boost your local search rankings.
  5. Set up social media profiles on targeted platforms.
  6. Decide if you will be doing your own digital marketing, hiring a marketing employee, or contracting with a digital agency.
  7. Build or update your website so that it is mobile-friendly. Remember to use relevant and consistent content that accurately describes your business AND appeals to your target audience.
  8. Measure your website’s traffic through Google Analytics or other more sophisticated programs.
  9. Monitor how well these methods are working for you, and then decide where and when to spend on paid advertising campaigns.

For help implementing your digital marketing plan, contact us at

8 Steps to Winning More Online Customers

Digital marketing is one of the best investments your business can make. Do it right and watch your business grow. Using search engine optimization (SEO-unpaid), search engine marketing (SEM-paid), and social media will help you reach more customers, make more sales, and elevate your brand. The following are eight tactics to help:
  1. Content marketing (blogs, newsletters, web content, email nurture campaigns). Posting high-quality, relevant content (articles, photos, videos, etc.) will boost your social following, and keep traffic coming to your company website. Create a posting/media schedule and maintain it. A consistent online presence is key.
  2. Business Directories. Make sure all online business directories have your correct and current information. These directories act like a personalized phone book, so listing your business on sites like Google My Business, Manta,, Yelp and others will help customers find your website and your physical location.
  3. Online Reviews. Word of mouth marketing, positive online reviews, and satisfied customer responses will improve your company’s reputation. Inviting customers to leave their reviews on Google, Facebook, or other review sites is the best (and most profitable) marketing you can generate. Identify any questions your customers may have and answer them quickly.
  4. Local Searches. Make sure you’re listed in local searches. This will recommend nearby businesses within your potential customers’ current geographic location. Online listings help your company website show up in local search results. This is geolocation-data-driven, so it will act like targeted advertising.
  5. Organic Search Engine Optimization. Use proven SEO techniques to improve your website's rankings in search engine results. Successful SEO tactics are designed to organically earn (rather than purchase) a strong search ranking. The first page listings are the most likely to be clicked on. That’s where you want your website to rank—and SEO can help.
  6. Search Engine Ads. Use SEM. This is the purchase of on line ads in order to improve your company’s visibility on search engine results pages. By identifying keywords, that your customers are most likely to use when searching for your services, and then paying for a certain number of customer views per ad (known as impressions), you will meet your sales goals faster and sustain your business growth.
  7. Social media marketing. This is the purchase of on line, social media ads (Facebook, Instagram, Twitter, and/or LinkedIn) in order to build authentic interactions with followers and is often an affordable marketing tactic for small businesses with small marketing budgets.
  8. Responsive website. A highly designed, intuitive, responsive website is the minimal effort you should implement to inform the public and communicate your online brand message. In an ever-changing world of mobile devices, this is a must.
For help with implementing your online marketing strategy, send us a note at

    Talking Turkey. Not Thanksgiving...Budget.

    So you want to digitally gobble up the competition? With a little know-how and planning, you'll be able to feast your eyes on a great bottom-line and maybe even enjoy a little gravy. But where do you start? Well, where you always start, with the budget.

    What is a realistic digital marketing budget? Your marketing budget really depends on the size of your business, the industry it’s in, and saturation (by your competitors) within the targeted digital space. On the small end it could be as little as $100 per month. On the higher end, and depending on how much your company wants to "move the needle," a small- to medium-sized company could spend $2,000 to $10,000 per month.

    In very general terms, for a company just getting into digital marketing, putting 20% of your revenue towards marketing can go a long way. If you hire a digital marketing firm, they can handle a company’s entire digital marketing program, or they can focus on specific portions of a digital marketing plan. The scope of work—as well as specifics like your location, industry, and existing digital marketing assets—will determine the price you pay.

    Hiring a marketing firm is a big decision for small business owners. Take stock of your resources (both time and money) as you decide whether to contract or DIY. Below are a few helpful questions to ask yourself if you are considering doing it yourself:
    1. Do I have the time to train and supervise a person to work on my digital marketing?
    2. Do I have the time to learn an entire field of expertise with its constant changes?
    3. Am I willing to devote myself to keeping up with these changes in SEO, SEM, and website design, much less learn the dozens of specialized tools and channels?
    4. Would DIY take me away from my core leadership and business-building activities?
    However you decide to handle your digital marketing, budgeting and planning correctly are necessary starting points. For more help, send us a note at

    Brand Identity in the Race for the White House

    Wired magazine published an article on presidential logos, stating that "campaign logos—even the clever ones—have yet to play a major role in [the 2016] presidential race." Which concurs with something we continue to espouse and tell our clients: a logo is an element of a brand, not the brand itself. In fact, according to Forbes magazine a brand is "what your prospect thinks of when he or she hears your brand name. It’s everything the public thinks it knows about your name brand offering—both factual...and emotional...."

    Visual elements of the brand, including but not limited to the logo, are developed to communicate the brand's message, and this understanding is gaining momentum in the world of politics. In 2004, George W. Bush campaigned with his iconic "W", abandoning the typical name/wordmark application, but it was Obama's campaign logo that raised the bar in presidential branding. The 2016 presidential election embraced the trend and even saw some detour from using Old Glory's colors and attributes. Take a look at these presidential logos and see if you think their brand messages are visually on target and relevant in the ever-changing design...and, oh, political...landscape:


    Wednesday, November 16, 2016

    Things That Make You Say, "Hmm."



     I'll be sure to keep that in mind. Thanks.

    "And the cow jumped over the...cliff?"

    Warning, warning, Will Robinson!

    That's the spirit!