Tuesday, March 4, 2014

Letter from the Editor: Brands Don't Rise from Nothing

Dear Friends,

At the 1856 inauguration of the statue of Benjamin Franklin, House Speaker Robert Winthrop spoke, saying,

"Lift up your heads and look at the image of a man who rose from nothing, who owed nothing to parentage or patronage, who enjoyed no advantages of an early education which are not open to yourselves, who performed the most menial services in the businesses in which his early life was employed, but who lived to stand before kings and died to leave a name, which the world will never forget."

Malcolm Gladwell says in his book Outliers:

"People don't rise from nothing. We do owe something to parentage and patronage. The people who stand before kings may look like they did it all by themselves. But in fact, they are invariably the beneficiaries of hidden advantages, extraordinary opportunities, and cultural legacies that allow them to learn, work hard, and make sense of the world in ways that others cannot. It makes a difference where and when we grew up. The culture we belong to and the legacies passed down by our forebears shape the patterns of our achievement in ways we cannot begin to imagine."

We believe Mr. Gladwell got it right. No one does it alone. And we believe that building a successful brand works in the same way. Parentage, environment, and culture play a vital part of a brand's opportunity to stand before kings. They are not created in a vacuum. They need hidden advantages to shape the pattern of a brand's achievement.

We embrace this truth and are constantly developing hidden brand advantages for our clients. What we're finding is that with the ever-changing economic, societal, and technologic landscape, great opportunities for effective branding strategies are still available and waiting for implementation.

Here's to an emerging and successful spring for all of us!


Hornsby Brand Design Wins Five Creative Awards

Hornsby Brand Design was awarded five regional Addy awards presented by the Knoxville Chapter of the American Advertising Federation at The Foundry in Knoxville on Sat. night, Feb. 15, 2014. They were given in recognition of Hornsby Brand Design’s creative work for the Knoxville Area Transit, Radian, Arkis BioSciences, the Memphis MPO, and Homes of Love. The Addy Awards ceremony is the premier event held annually by the Knoxville Chapter of the American Advertising Federation (a business organization comprised of leading advertising and marketing professionals), recognizing excellence in creativity in all media. More than 250 people were in attendance with more than 300 entries competing.

The Purpose-Driven Brand

The days of merely “making the grade” and passing the SAT are gone. Colleges are now looking for the excellent high school resume in their quest for the ideal student. In addition to the greater-than-3.2-GPA and minimum-ACT-score-of-21, nowadays extra curricular activities, a good pedigree, and volunteerism is EXPECTED and REWARDED.

Colleges are looking for students who are socially conscience through volunteerism, and this can be done through a number of venues such the Humane Society, Habitat for Humanity, the local children’s hospital, environmental activism, or some political affiliation. It’s not as much about WHERE you give your time as it is about THAT you give your time. Social responsibility presents a character trait that is appealing to those who would hold a student’s future in their hands.

Social responsibility is a burgeoning requirement that is certainly a noble trend, and like most trends, its reach extends into businesses.

Any business worth its weight will embrace a sense of responsibility to the community beyond its payroll. Organized employee volunteer days to feed the hungry or visit the elderly has become a value-added character of a company’s brand. Thus, the better brand is one with purpose. Not just a financially responsible brand, but  a socially responsible one as well. Some marketers call it “philanthropic capitalism.”

According to Forbes contributing writer, Simon Mainwaring, in his article “Marketing 3.0 Will Be Won By Purpose-Driven, Social Brands”, “The future of profit is purpose.”:
  • 87% of global consumers believe that business needs to place at least equal weight on society’s interests as on business’ interest
  • 6% believe the singular purpose of business is to make money for shareholders
  • 76% think it’s ok for brands to support good causes and make money at the same time.
  • 91% of global consumers would switch brands if a different brand of similar price and quality supported a good cause.
  • 53% would not invest in a company that does not actively support a good cause.
  • 68% Do not think businesses do enough to instill a sense of meaningful purpose in their work culture.
  • The meaningful brands index outperforms the stock market by 120%. 

A case in point: U.S. shoe manufacturer Toms created a brand around its “One for One” campaign. What started as a campaign for every pair of shoes sold, a pair was given away to a third-world-child in need, is now an extended campaign that also provides those children with healthcare. Their website claims, “We’re in business to help change lives. It’s a big job, and we don’t do it alone. With our customers and Giving Partners, we’re transforming everyday purchases into a force for good around the world. One for one.” The results? Toms has proven to be recession-proof, has attracted numerous famous business partners, buyers feel they’re giving back, and employee morale is very high. This embraces the idea of a purpose-driven brand.

Social responsibility has become the business of giving. Community efforts give purpose and meaning to a brand and are now important factors in creating a great brand.


Contributing researchers:
2012 Edelman GoodPurpose® Study
Havas Media “Meaningful Brands” Global Report 2013
2013 Deloitte Core Beliefs & Culture survey
2013 Cone Communications/Echo Global CSR Study

Celebrity Status Takes A Hit

According to a new study in the Journal of Consumer Research, Inc., appealing to the human emotions has a more positive affect on a buyer's choice than celebrity endorsement—good news for brand managers on a budget. The key factor is brand identification, which is, in many cases, more effectively accomplished through emotion rather than celebrity.

This is a shift in the paradigm of brand identity. Where celebrities were once looked up to and admired, now, researchers Nicole Verrochi Coleman and Patti Williams—from the University of Pittsburgh and the Wharton School of the University of Pennsylvania respectively— say, a celebrity's personal issues can and have proven to adversely affect the brand they represent. (That may not be a surprise to most of us, but now it's documented proof.)

In the study, Coleman and Williams stated, “Consumers tend to choose products that bolster emotions associated with [their own] particular identity.” In other words, consumers connect better with advertisements and brands that share their feelings and opinions on a given topic more than who's endorsing the product or service. This means, that by incorporating emotions related to the brand’s identity, companies not only increase the number of brand loyalists, but they can also by-pass potential celebrity costs and risks.

An example of this tactic was used by MasterCard in its "priceless campaign". According to MasterCard, their marketing goal was to emphasize that MasterCard was the best way to pay for 'everything that matters.'" Its use of emotional appeal with the slogan "There are some things money can't buy. For everything else, there's MasterCard." enables MasterCard to build and maintain strong brand value and trust among consumers.

Source: Nicole Verrochi Coleman and Patti Williams. "Feeling Like My Self: Emotion Profiles and Social Identity." Journal of Consumer Research:August 2013. For more information, visit http://ejcr.org/.

“Sole Walking”: Take Your Customer’s Journey

On February 7, 2010, the CBS reality show, "Undercover Boss" debuted, in which a high-ranking corporate officer/owner went undercover as an entry-level employee to get to know their employees, their performances, the day-to-day operations and dynamics, and areas of needed improvement. They essentially took walks in their employees' shoes in order to ultimately take a walk in their customer's shoes. We like this show because it reflects our own business beliefs about always being "client-centric." Entertainment aside and practically speaking, our clients want to know how to do this? Our response? "Sole Walking" of course.

First the hard facts. 

  1. It demands discomfort. In order to avoid discomfort, we tend to filter information and avoid potentially painful truth. However, this leads to our missing key information. If we want to grow and create opportunity, listening to the truth (both good AND bad news), will lead to improved client interactions and thus positively affect your bottomline.
  2. It demands time. "Sole Walking" is an ongoing process, not a one-time endeavor. This, of course, takes precious time, commitment, and practice. You'll have to sacrifice the "good" for the "best" and pull away from certain activities. Ask yourself, "How important is it that I find out how my customers perceive our business?" If your answer is not "extremely important" then... 
  3. It demands strategic interpretation. Your customer will experience many aspects of your company from the initial contact to the follow through and delivery of the finished project. They don't just encounter the sales department or customer service. They interact with accounting, tech support, management, and many other sometimes "hidden" support departments. Delegating interpretation of the data to any one department within your company could incorporate a natural bias inherent within that department. Our best advice is to look for an unbiased (usually third-party) source to interpret your data and develop a strategy based on this accuracy.

Moving forward

  1. Pay close attention to customer feedback. This seems obvious, but it's not always done. Document feedback through online surveys and reviews, and through ALL customer service channels. Development a follow-up system for each customer and look for consistency within the feedback. This is an excellent gauge on how your customers perceive you. 
  2. Develop a behavioral question survey. Instead of asking quantitative and qualitative questions, phrase your queries around experience. Incorporate all aspects of the journey from beginning to end. This emotional approach will gain deeper insight into the mind of your customer.
  3. Hire an outside, unbiased source. Hire your own "secret-shopper" of sorts with targeted discovery goals in mind. Professional branding firms have systems in place to discover detailed and pertinent information about customer perception. This removes the "internal filter" that keeps the truth from surfacing and allows you to see "the real picture."
  4. Incorporate empathy. If you use company personnel to embark on this journey, choose those who have natural tendencies toward empathy and understanding. This will illicit better and more genuine results.
  5. Plan, evaluate, and revise. Define the weakest link and turn it into a strength. Define the strength and turn it into the focus. Then measure your success and turn it into relevance. Remember, this process needs consistent cultivation in order to evolve.
"Sole Walking" will provide you with key information on why your customers buy from you and/or why they don't. So get in their shoes and get walking onto the true road to client-centricity.

Test Yourself: 15 Slogans for 15 Famous Brands

Slogans like "Melts in your mouth, not in your hands.", "Breakfast of champions," and "When it rains, it pours.", and "He likes it! Hey, Mikey!" have all stood the test of time and even evoke feelings of nostalgia in some of us, not to mention a longlasting, heightened sense of brand awareness. These examples show that when your brand has a great slogan, good things happen.

For a trip down memory lane and just for kicks, click on the image below and test yourself to see how many slogans you remember. By the way, just in case you didn't know, the slogans above are M&Ms, Wheaties, Morton Salt, and Life Cereal.

Go here to test yourself online.

Download a pdf copy with an answer key attached.

Things that make you say, "Hmm."

This month we’re offering a slight derivation from the norm of commercial miscommunications by featuring interesting (sometimes clever) business names. Take a look and see to which ones you give a thumbs-up…or down.