by Glen Peak
What’s best for your business? If you consider yourself a small or medium-size advertiser, the strategic choice may be particularly tough. So let’s see…if you want what are termed the “best-in-class specialists” for today’s more complex marketing world, you’ll likely want to consider all or several of the following kinds of firms:
• Branding/positioning consultant
• Collateral material (both paper-based and digital)
• Corporate identity
• Creative ad campaign team
• Direct marketing (both paper-based and electronic)
• Media planning and buying group
• Package design
• Promotions agency
• Public relations shop
• Social media
• Trade show exhibit specialist/signage
• Website group
Specialist firms are available in all of the above. So what should you do? It seems so logical to desire a team of “specialists.” It implies they know more…and you may think that their collective knowledge can help build a better marketing program.
The reality is that many companies (of all sizes) but particularly small and medium-size advertisers find the so-called specialist approach to be problematic for their marketing performance. But why?
• Here’s the first tough question. Who will coordinate all the specialists and all the points of contact? Who makes sure all are focused on the same strategy and timelines to meet various needs? Depending on the number of specialists…that coordination work perhaps could be a full time job all by itself.
• When you have an important new initiative or a hot issue to discuss, how quickly can you get several of the specialists together to discuss and exchange ideas?
• How do you get the specialists to talk to each other? Will ideas really be shared for the benefit of the client? Is it conceivable that each specialist might have their own agenda and want a larger share of the marketing budget pie? So who will “referee”?
• Do all the specialists have brand building training/experience? How well do they all understand the brand and the target audience?
• Speaking of coordination…does that person have integrated communications training? How strategically coordinated will the work be?
• Who selects all of the specialists? Who devotes the necessary time, energy and due diligence to make sure they are all qualified and do not present conflicts?
To be sure, marketers want the best agency partners—but reduction of complexity is also important to success. In fact, recent reports indicate that some larger advertisers are cutting the number of relationships for reduced complexity.
A single agency relationship can help ensure a well-integrated effort across all media platforms and markets. And, in so doing, the single full service agency can help enhance your efficiency…and perhaps your sanity. You train one group of people and keep them involved with your business and challenged to be forward thinking and focused on your brand. Hopefully, you can retain them a long time so they get really smart about your business. Your single point of contact will be more focused on specific solutions from all of today’s complex choices that are best for your business—rather than having bias or special interests. And your single point of contact allows the direction you provide to be defined once and know that it will be applied uniformly throughout the “specialists” within your one agency. Lots of “traditional agencies” that offer full service, have done so over time with an investment in people and skills to deliver on their promise. The concept of the full service agency is alive and well, particularly for the small and medium-size advertiser.
Holiday Wreath Illusion Explained
Although the wreath and circles in our 2012 holiday card appear to be moving, they are not. Why? This optical illusion is known as “peripheral drift.” If you gaze steadily at one part of the image, the effect tends to vanish while the rest of the image continues to rotate in your peripheral vision.
The graphic designers at PeakBiety recreated this illusion, through the use of strong contrasts from the PeakBiety color palette. By varying the size and position of the dots, the still art comes to life.
With illusions, things aren’t always what they appear to be. As a small Tampa ad agency we know that branding and advertising work much in the same way. By changing a consumer’s perception of a client’s product or service, PeakBiety adds new dimensions of value that extend beyond physical reality. This is the power of perception®.
by Glen Peak
I have noted that the new TV show called “The Pitch” has received praises from many. Frankly, I truly wonder if any of those singing the praises of the show have ever had any experience working IN an advertising agency…and not just in the “business of advertising”…which could mean a lot things.
Why do I wonder? Because I see the concept of “The Pitch” as a bad disease…one that is “harmful to the health” of agencies and clients alike.
For a client, the concept of talented agencies making speculative presentations to compete for a piece of business, on the surface, may appear to be swell idea. The client gets “free ideas from multiple sources”…thereby making the choice of a “winner” somewhat easier. We hear it all the time and it goes something like: ”we’re inviting (x number) agencies to have them present their ideas and we have chosen your agency as one of those we would like to participate.”
So why is this potentially harmful? Since I have a blend of client and agency experience in my checkered career, let’s consider what one might get “for free…”
• IF the client doesn’t provide a good creative strategy (with clear-cut main idea, support, etc.)…This leaves the agency combatants to “divine” their own strategy…and in such a short period of time that gaining anything beyond surface understandings of the target audience is unlikely. So the combatants spend a ton of hours working to their own strategies. So now the client has work based on multiple strategies…and the strategies themselves may be problematic since there was likely insufficient time to identify and collaborate with client on a creative strategy that could make a difference.
• So, let’s say the client does provide a strategy. Is it the right one? The client will likely never get any dissenting opinion from the agency…because it’s all about winning the pitch. To deviate from the prescribed strategy…even if the agency develops a strong belief in another way…would create great risks for the agency in winning the contest.
• Study after study has demonstrated that among the top reasons that clients leave agencies is the often-heard phrase: “…they didn’t really understand my business…” Certainly, the time given for spec pitches is not going to result in the proper understandings.
I’m surprised that clients inclined to use speculative pitches for agency selection don’t use the same method for hiring marketing people. Why not ask potential marketing people to create a spec marketing strategy? Maybe even a plan!! Winner takes all!! Absurd. Yes. But how much more absurd than the spec agency pitch routine.
Speculative work is still best characterized as “the work you throw out once the pitches are over…so then real work can begins.” Television that glorifies this diseased process simply helps create more bad work.
Jonathan Otte, a PeakBiety intern from The Art Institute of Tampa, expresses his views on the role of a graphic designer.
In the world of mass media, designers are the tour guides of the messaging highway. Often, people may think that the best way to get others to see their message is to take the widest superhighway. But if everyone goes the same way, everyone sees the same thing. Sometimes it’s best to take a back road to find new sights and different ways to be guided through the messaging hierarchy of communications.
If everything is expressed in a standard form, then everything becomes dull and unimportant. Overused messaging is like driving for days and seeing nothing but bushes along the side of the road. Graphic designers have the knowledge to create something that will stand out from the mundane and bring new experiences.
Effective graphic designers have the ability to express messages in ways that audiences can easily follow and understand. When the untrained try to design graphics and messaging its as if they are driving the streets of a new city without a map. And when they listen to the opinions of family and friends, it can quickly lead to the same mayhem as a car full of back-seat drivers. Thankfully, it’s a lot easier to get where one is trying to go with the help of a friendly tour guide—i.e. a graphic designer with solid training.
By Amy Phillips, Creative Director
There’s never a dull moment in ad agency world when it comes to technology and new media applications. So one might ask, “what’s up with all the hubbub about QR codes?”
Short for Quick Response, QR codes were originally created in 1994 by a subsidiary of Toyota for tracking vehicle-manufacturing parts. Today, QR codes are quickly becoming more popular than traditional (vertical line) barcodes. Why? Because QR codes can hold up to 7,089 characters, whereas the traditional codes only hold a maximum of 20 digits. With their horizontal and vertical designs, QR codes not only hold more data than a traditional barcode, they can take up about one-tenth the space. Small QR codes are called Micro QR codes. Another big advantage to QR codes is that they can be scanned from any angle, which makes for much faster reading.
How do they work? Any smartphone equipped with a digital camera, along with decoding software can transform the data into meaningful content. The most common uses are to connect to a web address, dial a phone number, start an email with an address in place, and download an MP3. These actions happen at lightning speed.
Where do they work? Any medium where a QR code can appear or be printed. So, beyond the obvious, like magazines, newspapers and business cards, QR codes may appear on buses, signage, t-shirts, bar coasters, even tattoos.
So how can they work in branding and advertising? “QR Codes can definitely be used to enhance your marketing. These codes are useful for connecting with customers, capturing data, sharing exclusive content and increasing engagement. However, when the thought process of how and why consumers will use or be motivated to use QR Codes is not considered – then we’ve lost our way.” — Nathan Smoyer
An example of poor usage is placing a QR code in a television commercial. The idea that anyone is going to watch TV and wait to capture/scan a QR code is ludicrous. Rather, give the audience a simple URL and direct them to web content. This makes a lot more sense.
The medium is the message, right? So, placing a QR code in an outdoor environment like on a bus, subway, or poster where the target audience has time to see and scan the code could work well. But you have to make sure the audience riding those buses matches the target and has smartphones. More importantly, still, make sure that you are directing the audience to a user-friendly (mobile) site. And make sure it’s worth their while. This audience can tweet a negative remark about a company in a few seconds.
Interestingly, misuse of QR codes in marketing has triggered some negative sentiment toward the technology. Commenting on the Cannes Lions International Festival of Creativity this year, BBDO top creative and juror Dan Fietsam described work for Samsonite by JWT Shanghai as “beautiful creative” that was “contextually right” and didn’t have a “freaking QR code on it.”
This post is part of an ongoing series that explores the fundamental principles of branding. Please feel free to join the conversation.
What types of people buy a particular product or service? This is one of the most fundamental questions to ask when it comes to establishing a brand. The more narrowly and accurately a brand’s target market is defined, the more likely its marketing and advertising efforts will be successful.
Target markets can be defined in several different ways. The most common ones are geographic (where they are located), demographic (age, income, etc), psychographic (attitudes, values and lifestyles) and behavioral (occasions, hobbies).
While geographic and demographic categorizations may seem more obvious, psychographic and behavioral considerations are often more relevant. And it’s never a good idea to make assumptions about who a brand’s users are. For example, many people would picture the average Harley-Davidson customer to be a rough, rugged, and wildly adventurous man. Yet in reality many c-suite executives and a rapidly increasing number of women have also bought into the Harley values of freedom, self-reliance, and individualism.
It’s important to put a name and a face to the target audience. Will the brand resonate with Trendsetting Tom or Andrew the Accountant? How about Lazy Lucy? Where do these people work? What do they do for fun? What do they eat? Where do they shop? Do they take risks and experiment or play it safe?
A good target market description might read:
“Lower middle class males between the ages of 20-28 who are socially active but not in a serious relationship. They are working and have an expendable income for the first time. Some of their frequent recreational activities include going clubbing and to the movies. They smoke a pack a day and drink Starbucks quadruple shots. More often than not, their refrigerators are stocked with a six pack of beer and a slice of pizza.”
A specific, clearly defined target market description makes it easy to envision the people within and the brands and values that are important to them.
This post is part of an ongoing series that explores the fundamental principles of branding. Please feel free to join the conversation.
A brand category is a group of brands that sit in a similar place within a person’s mind. While each person’s list will be slightly different, the industry leaders are typically at the top. For example, when most people think of the soda category, Coca-Cola and Pepsi will typically come to mind first.
It’s long been recognized that the best way to thrive in a category is to create a new one and own it from the beginning. Joe Calloway refers to this creation of a new, niche category a “category of one.” He coined the term in his well-received book, Becoming a Category of One: How Extraordinary Companies Transcend Commodity and Defy Comparison.
The benefit of being an establishing brand in a category of one is that instead of fighting for the consumer’s attention with the myriad of other brands in a category, the category of one brand is the only option. By the time competitors reach the market, the category of one brand has successfully staked its claim in the consumers mind. Brands such as Coca-Cola and McDonald’s were first in their respective categories and they remain far ahead of their competition in terms profit and brand awareness.
Brands that find themselves in crowded categories will benefit the most from reframing themselves in such a way that creates a new category. One of the best examples of this is Red Bull. Rather than facing Coca-Cola head on in the highly competitive soda category, they invented a new one: the energy drink category.
A solid understanding of the category in which a brand falls is essential to any good marketing plan. Who are the competitors? What are the strengths and weaknesses of the brand, as well the opportunities and threats to it? Does the brand offer a distinct benefit around which a new category could be formed?
This is the first in an ongoing series that explores the fundamental principles of branding. Please feel free to join the conversation.
The idea of “branding” in the marketing sense likely stemmed from the agricultural practice of branding. Farmers have branded their livestock to indicate ownership since the times of ancient Egypt. Today, the meaning of the word “brand” has evolved to encompass much more, especially with regard to marketing.
In its most basic sense, a brand begins with a trademark: a name and a logo used to identify a company and its products and services. But fully developed brands are more than just a set of words, colors, fonts and designs. Brands carry various qualities that appeal to specific types of people. Through the relationship between company and consumer, brands can transcend their physical limitations and develop unique personalities of their own.
But how does a brand get to this point? There are three basic premises upon which a brand can be based: attributes, benefits and values. The difference between them is a fundamentally important.
Attributes are the physical properties that a product has, the stuff that it does. Specifications and features. The most important attributes are those that can translate into actual benefits, which can actually make a person’s life better. Values, on the other hand, are the ideas that a brand stands for.
So between attributes, benefits and values, which of the three is best suited as a basis of a brand? While attributes are important to a product’s overall success and identity, by themselves they often lack relevance to the target audience. Benefits make for stronger brands since they are based on what the audience will gain from using the product or service.
Values, however, are the most powerful pillars of branding. Sure, values will polarize your audience but they will also resonate vigorously with the right types of people. When a brand is able to encompass the thoughts and mindsets of a group, its users will quickly turn into ambassadors who embrace the brand as part of who they are and what they stand for.
Regardless of the brand premise, its essence should be summed up in what we like to refer to as a brand promise. This is what the brand will do for you; this is what the brand will always believe in. In order to establish credibility, it’s important that every part of the audience’s experience—from the employees to the advertising to the actual product or service—consistently communicates this message. keep looking »