Wednesday, April 30, 2014

Emotional X-rays: Leverage “The Big Five”

Reach your target audience by understanding how emotion plays a critical part in purchasing behavior. 

In general, traditional demographics and psychographics give important statistical data like age, gender, income, education, ethnicity, etc., but ignore basic human personality characteristics that crossover the statistical data. These personality traits are not categorized by numbers and stats, but rather by a person's emotional psyche, which in turn helps direct brand plans on how to best reach an audience and guide them to a particular desired response.

In psychology, “The Big Five” are five traits or broad dimensions of personality that are used to describe human personality. They are openness, conscientiousness, extroversion, agreeableness, and neuroticism (OCEAN).
  1. The Open Audience
    Openness is a person’s appreciation for things like emotion, unusual ideas, and experiences. These people tend to be more creative, original, and hold uncommon beliefs. On the contrary, people who are defined as “closed” tend to prefer routine and don’t like change.

  2. The Conscientious Audience
    This audience is made up of high achievers and disciplined people. It has a high level of conscientiousness. These people are self-starters, and are not prone to spontaneous acts. If you have a conscientiousness audience, this group is usually not susceptible to impulsive buying.

  3. The Extroverted Audience
    This audience is social and full of energy. These people are enthusiastic and have a higher than normal need to interact with the outside world. Brands with identities centered around energy need to capture these individuals. They are your most likely bet for creating brand loyalists.

  4. The Agreeable Audience
    These consumers do not like to make waves. They tend to encourage the preservation of social harmony. At their core, agreeable consumers want to get along with everyone. They are not necessarily pushovers but can be persuaded to shift beliefs for the cause of social peace. On the flip side, consumers who are disagreeable put their interests above social harmony.

  5. The Neurotic Audience
    These consumers are emotionally unstable and tend to expect the worst in a situation. If you have a neurotic audience, they probably don’t trust your brand. They harbor feelings of anger, depression, and high levels of anxiety. These consumers are also more mentally stressed out where negative emotions tend to linger for a longer period of time. On the other end of the spectrum, non-neurotic consumers are calmer and less paranoid about an imminent threat.
Improve your brand strategy by gaining a better view and then understanding the mind of your target audience.

Are You a Brand or a Commodity?

The purpose of building your brand is to use that perceived value, through marketing, to sustain sales at a greater level of return than the market is inclined to give a non-branded service or product.

The objective of every brand should be to lift what people are prepared to pay and to motivate them to value you over your competition. It doesn’t matter whether you’re a discount brand, a scale brand, a luxury brand, or a cult brand, that’s the goal. It doesn’t matter whether these are boom or bust times.

If you’re not a brand, you’re a commodity. You are only worth the value that the market assigns you. And in good times, many companies are happy with that. They stop spending on advertising/branding/design, ride the commodity wave, and "bank" the organic growth. They believe the increases are of their own doing.

However, when the wind changes direction, and when things get tough, the temptation is to cut expenditures and ride it out. The myth of cost-cutting is that it makes you a more competitive company. It doesn’t. It does make you a leaner company, a less expensive company, and it does provide you with more cashflow, but it doesn’t generate preference. In fact, it doesn’t generate anything.

If you’re a company in trouble, branding is not the magic bullet. It won’t suddenly save you because it probably won’t lift your perceived value fast enough before you hit the wall. It needs to be used in conjunction with a range of other turnaround initiatives. Without branding you are, quite literally, nothing special, whether your coffers are telling you that or not.

5 Benefits of a Powerful Press Release

No matter what industry you're in and no matter how small or big your company or organization is, you will benefit from press release distribution. You have stories that can get you coverage in trade journals, magazines, blogs, podcasts, and other publications that cover your industry. But of course, you can't get it, if you don't tell it.

  1. Press releases are inexpensive.
    Whether you write your own or hire a professional with a distribution service, it's always less than paid advertising.

  2. Press releases boost your company's visibility. This is especially important for small businesses, but even large corporations need to fight for consumer mind share. By sticking to a long-term press release distribution strategy, you let customers know who you are, what you do, and why they need you. You also gain the attention of journalists, and over time, they start to trust you more and give you more media coverage.

  3. Press releases can establish you as an industry expert.
    Why is it important to be seen as an expert? First, expertise helps you gain the trust of your customers. Once they trust you, they're likelier to buy from you. But being an expert is also good for media relations. Whenever the media needs someone to comment on a story related to your industry, you want to be the first person they call.

  4. Press releases spread your name far and wide.
    However, target smaller local media outlets first. One of the reasons is that most major media outlets receive a significant percentage of their stories from local media outlets throughout the world. That's how the news industry works. One reporter picks up a story, and then it spreads from one publication to the next.

  5. Press releases keep potential customers and investors up-to-date.
    Press releases highlighting the successes and advancements made by your company or organization can be powerful tools for attracting customers, investors, and advocates.

Earworm Branding: "Can't Get It Out of My Head"

“Can’t Get It Out of My Head,” the 1974 ELO song that launched the band into America’s Top Ten, is the dream of every brand marketer for his target regarding his brand’s tagline or jingle. Say, “It’s the real thing,” “Have it your way,” or “Like a good neighbor,” and a phenomenon happens: earworming. An earworm is the psychological nickname for that contagious song or slogan that burrows into someone’s mind and relentlessly takes residence. What better advertising is there than getting a jingle or tagline stuck on “repeat” in a prospect’s mind?

Given that a tagline is a single message that succinctly delivers your organization’s identity into a tasty, bite-sized morsel, how do you turn the innocuous into exhilarating? Below are six earworming guidelines to help in the development of your brand’s tagline or jingle:
  1. Be short and sweet: The rule of thumb is 5 to 10 words, which can be a sentence or a fragment. Use words that target your company’s identity.
  2. Be unique: Imitating popular phrases don't help your brand, it helps the originator’s brand. 
  3. Be pleasing to the ear: Incorporate rhythm, repetition, and/or rhyme. Be a poet and you’ll enhance your chances of being remembered.
  4. Be active and direct: Use active voice (subject does the action) instead of passive voice (action is done to the subject) for a stronger, more succinct delivery. "Bayer works wonders." has more impact than "Wonders are worked by Bayer."
  5. Be benefits oriented: What makes your company appealing? Burger King let’s you “Have it your way.” State Farm is “like a good neighbor.” What can your company do for your customer?
That's the "what." Now for the "how." According to research by Goldsmiths, University of London, UK, led by psychologist, Dr. Victoria Williamson, four key elements invite memorability to take place:  exposure (repetition), memory triggers, affective states (mood or feelings), and low attention states (such as daydreaming). So when and how does a brand manager plan for these opportunities? Consider the following four areas:
  1. Exposure: Research shows that repeating your brand message throughout the day through a variety of outlets facilitates faster branding thereby increasing chances for that memorable affect. 
  2. Memory: The brain has both short- and long-term memory. It’s the long-term memory that solidifies branding because this is where emotions are processed. These memories are especially heightened when the senses--sight, smell, sound, touch, and taste--are involved. 
  3. Mood/Feelings: Emotional tone enhances the consumer’s ability to remember; therefore incorporate positive feelings. Connect with the consumer to increase future associations that potentially will produce positive results. 
  4. Low Attention States: Capitalizing on low attention states will take more deliberate thought, but it’s worth the effort. For example, people play the radio in the background as they work, drive, play, etc. Depending on your product and target, radio may be a great way to attach your brand to your prospect’s memory. Also, consider when and where your customers are when they are about to select a competitor’s product or service and stash your brand message there.
In the branding world, the phenomenon of earworms can happen with careful and purposeful planning.

Williamson, Victoria J.; Jilka, Sagar R.; Joshua, Fry; Finkel, Sebastian; Müllensiefen, Daniel; Stewart, Lauren. (2011). How do ''earworms'' start? Classifying the everyday circumstances of Involuntary Musical Imagery. Psychology of Music. Published online 27 September 2011 
DOI: 10.1177/0305735611418553

Carrabis, Joseph. (2014). “6 steps for getting your brand into their heads”. iMedia Connection. Published online 17 April 2014

10 Reasons for a Brand Makeover

In 2011, Starbucks unveiled their new logo to help celebrate their 40-year anniversary. The new logo removes the word mark: “Starbucks Coffee” and, as they put it, “unleashed the Siren, a mythological figure who represents the romance and creativity that inspired the founders of Starbucks 40 years ago.” 

This change begs the questions: Should you change/update your logo and identity to reflect a renewed and targeted brand passion? Below are ten reasons why you may want to consider it:
  1. Enhance friendliness.
  2. Simplify the message.
  3. Make the message and all visuals cleaner, less cluttered.
  4. Make it more contemporary and relevant.
  5. Better capture and tell your brand story.
  6. Cast a vision of where you want your brand to go.
  7. Highlight positive and needed changes.
  8. Promote hidden advantages and character qualities of the brand.
  9. Embolden your brand and increase its visibility, especially in saturated markets
  10. Erase misconceptions in a new and/or expanding market.

Things that make you say, "Hmm."

We are featuring common communication blunders we call, "Overstatements of the Obvious." Using redundancies as filler copy is rarely a good idea. Take a look at what we mean and enjoy a laugh or two in the learning.

The News Media: Overstating the obvious, Part One....

Safety First!: Overstating the obvious, Part Two....

Miscellaneous: Overstating the obvious, Part Three....