Is this the scariest tyre commercial of all time?


This Japanese commercial for tyre manufacturer Autoway comes with a health warning that recommends those with a heart condition, physical or mental problems or those who visit their doctor on a regular basis should not watch it.

It’s a clever if rather radical attempt to sell tyres. I’ve written about ‘shock and awe’ advertising here. Traditionally, it hasn’t been very effective, in markets like Malaysia, Singapore, the UK and Australia.

As an example, in Malaysia, despite nearly US$50 million spent on shock and awe campaigns to create awareness of the dangers of smoking, the number of smokers has practically doubled every 10 years.

Of course the success of this campaign will depend on what other initiatives are carried out and on which channels.

Whether or not there are parallels between campaigns for smokers and those who buy tyres, I don’t know. Perhaps this will be different, what do you think?

10 reasons why you should use video to build your brand


Video is no longer a ‘nice to have’ it is now a ‘must have’. Here’s why:

1) According to Google, YouTube uploads have increased from 40 hours per 60 seconds in 2011 to 100 hours per 60 seconds in 2013.
2) As attention spans decrease, video is twice as effective at getting a viewers attention.
3) Video flot states that 20% of visitors to a site will read content in the form of text but 80% of visitors to the same site will watch the same content in video.
4) Visitors to a site who view a video stay 2 minutes longer on the site and are 64% more likely to make a purchase than other visitors.
5) 78% of people watch a video online at least once a week and 55% watch one everyday. threemotion
6) 80% of Internet users recall watching a video ad on a website they visited in the past month. 46% took some action after viewing the ad. Online Publishers Association
7) 90% of information transmitted to the brain is visual, and visuals are processed 60,000 times faster in the brain than text
8) 500 years of YouTube video are watched every day on Facebook, and over 700 YouTube videos are shared on Twitter each minute. YouTube
9) Video results have appeared in almost 70% of the top 100 search listing on Google in 2012. Marketing week
10) Cisco reports that 90% of all Internet traffic will be video by 2017.

And if you are still not convinced, have a look at this impressive video from visually

by alboardman.
Explore more infographics like this one on the web’s largest information design community – Visually.

Great advertising should help build a relationship


Some TV commercials are remembered for the commercial and some for the product and others for the brand. Although they will never admit it, a lot of agencies want you to remember the commercial whilst the brand wants you to remember the brand so you will go out and look for it and then buy it.

Of course from a branding perspective, it is then that you need to build the relationship with the customer to try and cross sell and/or upsell them, either then or at a later date or to get them to become brand influencers. This is marketing 101 yet it never ceases to amaze me how much money firms spend on marketing (which includes advertising) to acquire a customers yet very little on retaining a customer. In fact it amazes me how much they spend on marketing what is obviously a great product but very little on training retail staff to match the product attributes to a customer’s requirements for value.

Anyway, I came across this fantastic TV commercial for LG TVs. It really grabbed my attention and made me think of buying a TV. Unfortunately I’m not in the market for a TV so I won’t be going to check out the LG TVs. But if any of you are looking to buy a TV and this generates some interest, let me know how you get on at the point of sale. Assuming of course that this model is available here.

Should you pay those who influence others?


This article asks a really pertinent question related to branding today – Should influencers be paid? The answer is an unequivocal yes however you need to be able to deliver on the promises you make otherwise such a tactic will come back and bite you.

Should influencers be paid? (via http://www.adigaskell.org)

As content marketing has risen, so has the value in attracting and securing the attention of brand influencers in your market.  These people can often hold considerable sway in their particular niche, and as a neutral and impartial voice can be particularly…

Continue reading “Should you pay those who influence others?”

Proton must fast track core branding activities


Proton Edar CEO Hisham Othman stated recently that the company “Would pay greater attention to product quality and customer service”.

That’s a suitably vague statement that can be open to multiple interpretations and I’ll be commenting on it in greater detail soon. In the meantime, here is a useful graphic from Teletech that should help Proton accelerate the project.

Proton must accelerate its customer service programme
Proton must accelerate its customer service programme

Stop advertising and start branding part II


A fascinating insight into the social media and mobile shopping habits of consumers in the United States, United Kingdom, Australia and Singapore has just been released by SDL in the UK.

The survey size is a little small – 4,000 people in four countries – but the results unearth new data on how social media and mobile are influencing how consumers interact and build relations with brands.

Singapore participant breakdown
Singapore participant breakdown

Findings include:

33% of respondents from all four countries have acted on promotions seen on social media.

58% of respondents have shared positive experiences online and have sought advice from friends and family when talking about brands on social media.

U.K. respondents are more likely than respondents from the other four countries to complain about service on social.

When respondents express feedback, Facebook is the most popular platform to do this.

Showrooming (visiting a physical location to evaluate products and services even when you know you will buy online at another time) is increasingly prevalent as 77% of participants showroom.

Experiential branding key to branding success
Experiential branding key to branding success

62% of the participants use a mobile device when in stores to compare product prices.

69% of respondents from all four countries expect a brand’s online store, mobile app, and physical store to offer the same pricing, discounts and sales.

Pricing consistency is expected in all countries
Pricing consistency is expected in all countries

What can brands learn from this thought provoking survey?

They need to understand their relationship with consumers and what resonates with those consumers.

Brands that ensure parity in pricing and products across multiple channels will have to place greater emphasis on the customer experience and experiential branding if they want to win and retain business. Those that compete on price alone will soon be out of business.

Department stores and other retail outlets that represent multiple brands will have to work harder to engage consumers and ensure a positive brand experience otherwise they face the prospect of losing customers, possibly forever.

Mobiles are changing the way consumers research and learn about brands.

Brands that take the time to build relationships with core fans or brand evangelists will see their brands promoted to thousands of fans for minimal financial investment.

Those brands with digital brand strategies that go beyond tactical campaigns online are increasing sales through loyalty and advocacy.

Brands that try to control content and manage corporate driven messages and ignore consumers are unlikely to last very long in the consumer economy of today.

Telling the brand story online should be done across Facebook and other popular platforms with the ongoing development of corporate and consumer content.

Stop advertising and start branding


Are you happy with your branding activities? Or do you find the money you spend does little to build your brand?

Unfortunately, most branding initiatives revolve around a creative campaign developed by an advertising agency. Depending on budget, the creative campaign will be implemented with a one-size-fits-all message communicated to all and sundry and across multiple mass media platforms for as long as budget allows.

The model essentially revolves around hope – hope that lots of people will see the campaign, hope that amongst those people will be the target markets, hope that the message will resonate with those target markets, hope that those target markets will remember and hope that if they remember they will act.

In a noisy world, is a traditional approach to building a brand going to make you stand out?
In a noisy world, is a traditional approach to building a brand going to make you stand out?

So basically, the ‘strategy’ is one of hope. Chances are if it doesn’t work, the agency will, if you haven’t already fired them, propose more of the same.

For most brands this approach is an exercise in futility. Wouldn’t it be better to first get an understanding of where your brand is – both internally and externally?

In the social economy, where consumers not companies define brands, don’t you want to know what your stakeholders want from your brand, what you are doing right (and wrong), the channels they are most likely to interface with, their influencers and more?

Internal and external brand and communications audits can both help determine how effective your branding activities have been and, more importantly, what they need to accomplish in the future.

In the social economy, a brand audit is the first step to building a brand
In the social economy, a brand audit is the first step to building a brand

Brand audits have multiple advantages. They provide a benchmark to evaluate the current brand position. Carried out every 2 years they can evaluate progress toward branding goals. They also unify an organization. Too often, everyone has a different definition of branding. A brand audit will identify this and provide recommendations for improvement.

Indeed, a brand audit can provide a consistent, universally accepted brand DNA and from that a definition that ensures that everyone in the organisation is marching to the beat of the same branding drum. Finally, a brand audit can help eliminate the all-too-common disconnect between what companies believe their brand to be and what customers perceive it to be.

An internal brand audit takes the brand temperature from corporate executives and other personnel. One-on-one confidential interviews probe to determine each individual’s perceptions of the brand, branding goals, evaluation of past branding activities, knowledge of key corporate or brand messages and other key points.

An Internal brand audit is a key component of any brand strategy, when did you last carry out an Internal brand audit?
An Internal brand audit is a key component of any brand strategy, when did you last carry out an Internal brand audit?

What are the current branding and customer processes, and how can they be improved? One great question to ask is: “Imagine it is five years from now, and the company is celebrating historic financial and market success. How did the company arrive at this point? What are some of the activities that brought us to such success?”

A brand audit can cover a wide cross section of departments but must have the customer and the customer’s needs at its core. What do we know about customers? Are we collecting THE RIGHT data? Is relevant customer data being added to corporate databases? Is customer information shared with other areas of the company? What initiatives are on the horizon that will affect certain customers and how will this be addressed?

A minimum of 25 minutes is required for each interview, but they can take up to an hour. Questions can be prepared beforehand, but the most valuable insights often result from free-ranging discussions on relevant topics.

A key component of a brand audit is a communications audit, which is especially useful for larger firms with multiple divisions or departments that get involved in branding activities.

A communications audit looks at all the visual material that represents a brand – the brand identity, sales documentation, press releases, ads, brochures, Web sites, social media channels, merchandise, vehicles, logos, etc.

Too many so called brand strategies are really just pointless journeys to unknown destinations
Too many so called brand strategies are really just pointless journeys to unknown destinations

Analysis then determines the amount of consistency and integration in appearance/design, messages and their relevance to target markets (in a noisy world where consumers are time poor, content is so, so important) and adherence to corporate standards. Ideally, a brand manual is in place to provide a benchmark.

The role of social media in both internal and external corporate communications is increasingly important and a social media audit must be included in the communications audit. Communications across social media require different skill sets to traditional marketing and this is scaring some companies away but it must be addressed.

A social media audit lays the foundations for the social media strategy that has an crucial role to play in the brand strategy developed later.

Internal brand and communications audits often reveal a stunning amount of discrepancies that result in mixed messages to both prospective personnel and customers, incompatible branding efforts or even disagreement about branding goals.

An external brand audit looks at how various stakeholders (or, more accurately, constituencies) view the brand. Such constituencies include customers, prospects, media, distributors/retailers, regulatory bodies and suppliers.

Sometimes, an external brand audit is combined with a loss analysis to determine why a contract or other business went to a competitor. These constituencies are asked their perceptions and experiences with the brand and crucially, asked “What do we have to do to win back your business?”

For some companies, it should also be combined with a customer acquisition audit to see if relationships are being developed effectively.

Sample questions can include: “Why did you buy the first time?” “Why will you buy again?” “How useful and relevant are corporate communications?” “How responsive is our support?” “How do our competitors compare to us?” One revealing question we’ve used in the past is: “If you were running our company, what would you do to better meet your requirements?”

The number involved in brand audits can vary greatly according to time, cost or other constraints. Even as few as 5 – 10 qualitative interviews may produce actionable insights.

The success of a brand audit will be determined by the people involved. They must understand branding imperatives, be familiar with the relevant products and company and have superb questioning, listening and analytical skills.

Results of brand audits (the good and the bad) must not only be shared as widely as possible but also incorporated into internal and external branding efforts, including employee communications, advertising and PR.

Share research data, not just the good stuff!
Share research data, not just the good stuff!

It is especially important to use the results to drive changes in sales, service, support and other customer-facing activities.

Finally, remember to use brand audits as guidelines for improvement, not as sticks for punishment.

Consumers have changed, has your marketing strategy?


Doe this sound familiar?

You need to spend time creating a position that is driven by the corporation.

Once created, the position must be communicate across traditional media (with a nod toward social media, but a nod only) to as many people as possible and hope that some of it sticks.

If it doesn’t, create a new position and repeat ad nauseum. Hopefully you will get it right. If you don’t, well you can always discount. This model was developed by Jack Trout in the 1970s. I wrote a blog post about it here

Sadly, despite US$1.5 trillion spent annually on marketing, 70% of today’s manufactured goods will be obsolete in six years (Industry Week magazine). There are estimated to be more than 30,000 new product introductions in the US alone every year, and that’s just in the packaged goods market. According to AC Nielsen, up to 90% of products fail to become brands. This means that as many as 27,000 of those new products will fail.

Today’s consumer has changed the way he lives his life and moreover, markets are so fluid, spending time developing a position and watching your competitors is the fastest route to business oblivion.

The key to success is the sales force and their ability to build your business through collaborations and by matching products/services to individual customer requirements for value and then maintaining those relationships and your brand communities team who develop brand evangelists and influence influencers.

And with social media and modern technology, that is not difficult. A lot less difficult than creating a position and pinning all your hopes on, well hope.

Great tips for using email to build your brand


More and more firms are using effective email campaigns in association with their social media initiatives to build brands. This is because an email campaign allows you to know who is opening your emails, which links they’re clicking on and how many of your them are forwarding your emails to their friends. The right product also means you will only pay when a recipient clicks through to the offer.

Malaysian firms are slowly waking up to the benefits of a good email campaign. Let me put that differently, Malaysian firms are waking up to the fact that email is an effective marketing tool. Which is good timing because according to a recent report from MarketingProfs, email returns the highest return on investment (ROI).

The problem is that too many Malaysian firms are trying to do their email campaigns ‘on the cheap’. often they do it inhouse or if they do outsource, they outsource to the cheapest company.

This means they often send out poor quality emails that can damage the brand. it is important to get the email and the content of your email right. Because this is the first interaction a potential customer will have with your brand. It is a great opportunity to make a good impression and start building the foundations you need to earn their trust and eventually make a sale.

Unfortunately, it is also a great opportunity to make a bad impression. And once you’ve made a bad impression, it is very dificult to build trust with a consumer who is already forming a negative opinion of you and your brand.

Not only should your email campaign resonate with your target markets, it also needs to be well written and to the point. If it is full of poor English or grammatical errors, you will create a bad impression with the recipient.

Below are two examples of emails I received recently. Although I haven’t included the subject line, take it from me they were almost as bad as the copy.

poor proof readingterrible email copy

How to create a good email campaign
When you prepare an email campaign, the subject line is the most important element of the exercise because this is the first thing the recipient will see.

If there are spelling mistakes in the subject line, the reader will not have any faith in what you say from there on in. If you make outrageous claims in the subject line, the email will go straight to the trash.

Finally, if the subject line doesn’t state its point concisely, it will be ignored. Accept that it is impossible to include content in a subject line that will appeal to everyone on your mailing list. It may take more time but it is better to break up your database and rewrite different subject lines and body copy for different segments.

Once you get to the body of the email, a good rule of thumb is that less is more. Don’t waffle on and on about how great is your product or use textbook marketing jargon that confuses the reader and drives them away from the product.

Keep the email simple. Remember, you are not trying to make a sale, only get the recipient to interact with your brand. Explain what you have to offer, where the recipient can get it or gather more information, who you are and why they should buy your product or service.

Finally and most importantly, focus more on the benefits of your product not the features.

Get the message right, and email is an effective and inexpensive way to make sales, grow your customer base and build a valuable, profitable brand. Used wrongly and it is a complete waste of your time and the recipient’s time and instead of making sales and building your brand you will actually damage your brand.

Brand deflation in Asia


Luxury brands are working hard to keep up with a more dynamic environment with more discerning, knowledgeable customers who have different requirements for value. To retain these customers requires a greater understanding of the those requirements and less emphasis on the mass economy tools such as positioning, reach, awareness.

Loyalty is also less of a factor as consumers see their exclusivity watered down as luxury brands go mainstream and sell their product to anyone. Those brands that don’t understand customer requirements for value may lead to brand deflation, according to Michael Bleby in this article for BRW in Australia