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Brand “Concept Testing” try Pretotyping in a Pop-up

Fruit-of-the-loom-pretotyping

Fruit of the Loom is ‘Pretotyping in a Pop-up’ to Concept Test Premium Brand

Shoreditch, London – home of hip.  That’s where t-shirt brand Fruit of the Loom is concept testing (or ‘pretotyping*’ to use the jargon) a new premium brand – ‘Seek No Further‘.

Pretotyping: Testing the initial appeal and actual usage of a potential new product by simulating its core experience with the smallest possible investment of time and money.

Pretotyping In a Pop-up = Awesome Concept Testing

Renting an unused retail space just for four months, Fruit of the Loom is testing for consumer appeal with a very limited run of garments. There’s one in Shoreditch, and one in Berlin – and a pop-up website.

This is concept testing done right – there’s a world of difference between seeing words on a page and experiencing the product – so could pop-up + pretotyping be the future of concept testing?

pretotyping

Author / Paul Marsden
Source / brandgenetics.com


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Brand Marketing Strategy | Put Your Money Where the Growth Is

people-group

Many political conversations today focus on the rapid, immense multicultural population growth in America. However, what about the business implications? How much does an increasingly diverse America effect direct marketers? Quite a bit, actually, according to a recent report from Geoscape.

Geoscape, a business information and services company, found that 88% of America’s population growth is composed of African American, Asian, and Hispanic consumers; particularly Hispanics, who comprise about 18% of the total U.S. population.  Hispanics are the fastest growing segment, having grown 11% since the 2010 census to more than 56 million. Multicultural groups now account for 35% of the American population.

“Some companies just aren’t bringing this growth into focus,” says Geoscape CEO César Melgoza. “Companies that aren’t prioritizing this growth are essentially investing is flat or shrinking markets. That’s probably not acceptable to their constituents,” he says. This leaves marketers with an interesting challenge, or rather, opportunity; one that has little to do with political correctness and everything to do with furthering business growth.

Many businesses struggle with prioritizing or realizing a multicultural marketing strategy. Here, Melgoza offers seven tips that will help keep marketers and their organizations remain relevant to the ever-changing face of their target consumers.

1.       Understand the level of urgency

“Understand that business is about growth and growth is multicultural. If you invest heavily in general markets, then that may not be the best use of budget.”

2.       Measure everything

“Start with a benchmark. Identify your penetration into a segment now, monitor that penetration, and use that data to improve it.

3.       Build a robust business case

“Link this growth with what the company is doing now to differentiate itself and use it to plan how the company will continue to differentiate itself in the future.”

4.       Develop a sound strategy

“Walmart is an example of a company that absolutely cannot ignore multicultural marketing. They know their growth is coming from these segments and they’ve positioned their company and products around this.”

5.       Address all touchpoints in the operation.

“It’s not just about marketing communication, or having cool ads. Develop all channels. How is the call center experience and does it direct consumers to where they need to go? Does the in-store experience match what’s been advertised? Does the product itself match what’s been advertised?”

6.       Scale these efforts according to the opportunity

“Sure, your multicultural efforts are great in Austin, but what about everywhere else? Businesses like Kroger are scaling multicultural marketing across their retail network because they’ve seen how successful it is.”

7.       Evangelize the organization

“A lot of the people resistant to this type of change are middle management. The executives get it. The stockholders get it. Some people may think this is a political or ‘do-good’ issue. They may not understand that their growth hangs on this. You need to grow, and growth is multicultural.”

Author / Perry Simpson
Source / dmnews.com


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True Brand Intelligence Lays Centered between the Head and the Heart

Today’s marketing strategy has been blown up with big data. Don’t get this wrong, data is important.

Image courtesy of Vlado / FreeDigitalPhotos.net

But the human emotional connection is what truly matters. If marketers are looking for the intelligent solution to today’s modern marketing, big data alone won’t be the “golden ticket.” Data alone promises a risk of an indelible letdown.

Getting the business needle moving takes a great brand development strategy and data research that brings precision to your relevant marketing. Data alone doesn’t motivate consumers to buy. Rather, the capability to read the mind of your customers will lead to the emotional connection that drives consumers to buy.

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Credit: officenow / flickr.com

With modern-day marketers having a direct focus on big data, the emotional connection on which humans thrive is being pushed into the peripheral. RED is leading in this brand marketing strategy. Leaders know that true brand intelligence is centered between the head and the heart.


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Do You Need a Style Guide? Answer: Yes

It’s a simple question: Do you need a style guide? And it has a simple answer: Yes. Any brand, company, blog or webpage that wants to create and maintain consistency and a professional feel should have a style guide.

Style guides are a must for any publisher with multiple employees. This is especially important if more than one person will work on any brand elements (from the website to printed materials), and to ensure that transitions between employees are seamless in the eyes of users. Today, we take a look at well-documented style guide from MailChimp, and highlight things you can take away in creating your own document for the first time.

What Is a Style Guide?

 mailchimp-release

A style guide is the ultimate resource for visual and writing tone for your brand. The guidebook is not intended to be read cover to cover (and should not be written that way), and should be organized as a simple resource manual.

Style guides cover two big areas: visuals and writing. For website or app development, a style guide may contain a third area, defining how the user interface should work or coding specifics.

A style guide is a fluid document and once written should be updated regularly. When creating this document, consider how it will look and be used during the process. Your style guide should follow the styles defined. Use your brand’s color palette and the same writing style that you would like to be associated with the brand.

MailChimp’s “Voice and Tone” style guide follows this concept. The tone is simple and the guide looks and feels like the website. In addition, MailChimp also has a “Brand Assets” guide for how visual elements are used.

Getting Started

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Creating a style guide from scratch is not a task that you can complete in an hour. It will take some planning and time. But once the document is created and if updated regularly, it can be a time-saver in the long run. Before you write the first word of instruction, gather (or create) this list of materials to make compiling your guide that much easier.

Branding definitions, styles and logotypes: This includes examples of how logos can and can’t be used, as well as fonts, sizes and color swatches.

Font palette: List all the typefaces, sizes and colors that are acceptable. Include specs for how each is used from styles for body type, headers, quotes, labels, captions, navigation elements and so on.

Images, icons and buttons: Define style, color, size and placement of each.

Styles for forms or calls to action: Define what type of information can be collected and how data collection works. Write and include disclaimer information.

Basic layout: What is the basic template for your design? Include a few examples for how your letterhead, printed materials or web pages should look.

Visual Style

 

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mailchimp-color

The visuals section of the style guide includes several key parts: acceptable fonts and use, including normal, bold, italic and special styles; color and size for typefaces; settings for bullets or lists; color palette; and image guidelines, such as size, border specs and uses such as text wrap or image and text combinations.

These styles should be written in simple and clear language and include technical specs, such as complete font names, color mix swatches (in RGB, CMYK or Pantone) and usage guidelines for web and print (if applicable). Some brands have both a print and web style guide; other brands opt for one document that covers both.

mailchimp-type

MailChimp’s style for typography is direct and shows each font and usage. The style guide should include HTML specs as well for website styles. What elements use an H1 versus H2 versus H3 tag. (We’ll go into more detail about web specifics in the HMTL section.)

In addition, visual style guidelines should include a full description of when, how and where branding and logos can be used. This includes how the logo looks, if colors or fonts can be altered (typically not) and in what instances use is acceptable.

Writing Style

mailchimp-voice

Just as important as your visual style is the tone of the writing. It can be jarring for users to come see your brand material and it read light and silly in one instance and cold and sterile in another. How the words come together can help clients or users associated with your products, making a writing style vital.

Key parts of written style include tone; spelling and language; reader level or jargon; voice; structure; use of symbols, numbers and lists; branding or trademark usage; and overriding style guide of choice.

There are a handful of generally accepted written style guides for English-language publications. Most company style guides direct you to use one of these for questions on matters of usage and style.

AP Style: The Associated Press Stylebook is used by journalism and writing professionals in print and online. The style focuses on consistency and brevity and is common because of these attributes.

Chicago Style: The Chicago Manual of Style is used by academics and for scholarly works, businesses and includes the basics for a more formal style of writing.

MLA Style: The Modern languages Association style guide is most commonly used in academics, liberal arts and humanities.

MailChimp’s writing style guide includes great examples of press releases and how the site should read as well as how the brand interacts with customers on social media, the blog and how the company’s trademark jokes should be handled.

User Interface and HTML

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If you are creating content for the web, you need rules for digital publication as well. While text, color and tone guidelines will be outlined in other guides, you should also note how the website and user interface should work. (The PRL guide is an excellent resource.)

Text: Explain HTML markup rules. What type of headers are used and how? What’s the difference in usage between an H2 or H3? In addition to usage, what markup does your site use? This is the part of the guide that details every usage.

Images: The rules for image use should be just as clear as for text. Do you have a specified width or height for every image? Is there a standard text wrap or border size? How should alt tags be used. Make sure to answer each of these questions clearly.

Naming and saving files: In addition to how things should look, consider a little web housekeeping. How should files be named and saved in the CMS? Set clear guidelines so that your file maintenance is clean and files are saved at manageable sizes and are easy to find.

Coding practices: Determine and set forth coding standards for HTML, CSS and JavaScript. Include examples.

User Interface: If you did not include a visual guide for user interface elements and workings, include it here. What types of inputs are used and how are they labeled? (Do you use words like “Continue,” “Submit,” or “OK?”) Include a “kit” of your site’s user interface elements and usage.

In Conclusion

 

The best way to get started with creating a must have style guide is to contact:

brand research and development

Go ahead. Request a free evaluation!

Original Author / Carrie Cousins
Original Source / Design Shack

 

 

 


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Entering the Participation Age of Branding

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The tectonic plates that underpin our marketplace are in the midst of a large shift…and brands should be paying attention. As the Millennial Generation quickly becomes the primary force in consumer spending, our marketplace is shifting from a transaction based economy to a participation based economy.

The primary thought-currency no longer has a commoditized value, but instead, a perceived value. Customers base decisions on an entirely different set of criteria:  They don’t just want to buy your brand, they want to be a part of it.

To quote the great Bob Dylan, “The Times They Are a-Changin.’”

The Transaction Model

In the transaction model, brand value was defined in transactional terms. The formula looked something like this:

The-Transactional-Brand-Value-Model

This model told us that the functional benefits of our product or service were of primary concern to the end user. In short, utility was king.

This type of thinking spawned a primarily interruptive style of brand development. After all, when consumers are faced with a direct apples to apples (A to A) choice, the squeakiest, loudest, most present and most disruptive voice wins. Brands were rushing to interrupt potential customers to prove the utility and benefit of their offering. All of this utility proofing geared toward one objective — the transaction.

Brand value, as a result, was defined by converting interruption into transaction. The “proof is in the pudding” thinking cemented itself at the core of brand development —great branding created transaction. As the economic landscape shifts, the interruption to transaction model is becoming obsolete.

The Participation Model

As Seth Godin put it, “Relying too much on proof distracts you from the real mission–which is emotional connection…Selling to people who actually want to hear from you is more effective than interrupting strangers who don’t.”

In the participation model, brand value is defined in relational terms. The Participation model looks something like this:

The-Participative-Brand-Value-Model

This type of thinking tells us that functional benefits and emotional benefits are amplified by our willingness to include our customer in the experience. Participation represents an invitation. An invitation for co-creation, co-responsibility and co-delight. Participation gears toward one objective —the experience.

The direct apple to apple (A to A) comparison becomes an experiential comparison: Apple experience to apple experience (AE to AE). It looks beyond interruption and way beyond transaction. In the participation model, great branding invites participation.

Jeff Fromm summed it up well by saying, “Millennials want to co-create the products and services you sell, the customer journey and the marketing and social media.”

A Case Study For Participation: Apple

(Yes, I know it’s trite to use Apple as a case study, but in this instance, this really is the best example.)

Just this year, Apple unseated Coca-Cola’s 13 year run as the world’s most valuable brand in Interbrand’s coveted annual “World’s Most Valuable Brands” list.

This can’t solely be attributed to truly disruptive tech releases. In fact, from 2007-2008 (the release of the iPhone), Apple’s brand value ranking only jumped 9 slots (from 33rd to 24th). So what took Apple’s brand value from $13,583m to $98,316m in 5 years? A potent combination of the rise of the participation economy and the fact that Apple’s core promise is participation.

Think about it, their entire model is centered around the invitation of participation. Participation from independent third parties (apps, hacks, media); participation from partner industries (music publishing, cellular carriers, media producers); and, most of all, participation from their customers.

Apple exemplifies the participation model by placing participation at the nexus of everything it does.

Beyond The Transaction

How are you moving beyond the transaction? How are you being participation-minded? How does your brand’s co-relationship deepen and grow before and after you make a sale.

If your brand development and sales funnel end at transaction, it’s time to start thinking about the participation model.

Author / Jeremiah Gardner
Source / Branding Magazine


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There Is No More B2B or B2C: There Is Only Human to Human (H2H)

h2h_shake

courtesy of stockimages / FreeDigitalPhotos.net

It used to be that marketing was segmented into two categories; business-to-business (B2B) or business-to-consumer (B2C). This was done (I assume), to separate specialties, audiences and segments in an effort to more highly target the groups of people who ultimately would consume a brand’s message.

What it really did, however, was create an unnatural language for marketers – with words like “synergy” and “speeds and feeds” – to tell the stories of products to their buyers and partners. It’s become like one massive game of telephone, where by the time a message gets to the person actually buying the product, the things that make it special have been swallowed by marketing vernacular.

Consumers are confused. Why can’t we make it simple for them to understand what we’re selling, to share their experiences and the value they felt with others? More importantly, why is it that what we’re marketing most often does not align to actual consumer experiences?

The fact is that the lines are so far blurred now between the two marketing segments that it’s hard to differentiate between the two anymore. We all need to think like the consumers we are, putting ourselves in the mindset of the buyer instead of trying to speak such an intensely sophisticated language full of acronyms and big words, in order to sound smarter.

Marketing increasingly strives to become one-to-one, with solutions to collect and wrangle the big data about us to serve up more personalized offers and experiences. On the other hand, social has become a more public and vast medium, where the things we share skyrocket quickly to a “one-to-many” experience. The dichotomy between marketing and social has actually flipped… and it’s out of balance. Social and marketing need to work together to personalize individual conversations, as well as deliver shared global experiences that crowds of common values can benefit from. This is what our social and digital mediums have gifted us, and how humans interact and feel more compelled take action.

So, this is how I see it:

Businesses do not have emotion. People do.
People want to be a part of something bigger than themselves.
People want to feel something.
People want to be included.
People want to understand.

But people are also humans, and with that comes mistakes. Missteps. Failures. As humans, it’s in our nature to say the wrong thing, get embarrassed, and not realize the consequences of our actions. The rise of social media has given a digital platform to the dark side of anonymity, both as individuals and as crowds. I say it’s time to lay down the virtual pitchforks and torches and bring this behavior back into balance. The delightful side of humanity holds with it empathy, understanding, and forgiveness, and when remembered in our communication, it ties us together as a common group.

Communication shouldn’t be complicated. It should just be genuine and simple, with the humility and understanding that we’re all multi-dimensional humans, every one of which has spent time in both the dark and delightful parts of life.

That’s human to human. That is #H2H.

KEY TAKEAWAY: Human beings are innately complex yet strive for simplicity. Our challenge as humans is to find, understand and explain the complex in its most simplistic form. This means you, marketers. Find the commonality in our humanity, and speak the language we’ve all been waiting for.

Authored by:  Bryan Kramer
Source: socialmediatoday.com


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FDA redesigns nutrition labels to reflect how Americans actually eat

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For the first time in 20 years, the FDA has proposed changes to its Nutrition Facts food labels. In the FDA’s new designs, several important food stats have been enlarged, and some have even been recalculated in accordance with the actual serving sizes Americans eat today, The New York Times reports. “This is a big deal, and it’s going to make a big difference for families all across this country,” said First Lady Michelle Obama in the FDA’s proposal.

Most noticeably, the calorie count of a food item has been super-sized, which should make scanning labels while shopping a lot easier for dieters. The Servings Per Container line has also been enlarged, as has the methodology used to calculate these servings. 20-ounce bottles of soda would be counted as one single serving, instead of 2.5 smaller servings. On ice cream cartons, half-cup servings will be increased to a full cup to reflect how much ice cream people generally eat. Serving size updates are only being proposed on 17 percent of the approximately 150 categories of packaged food monitored by the FDA, the Times reports. Today’s serving-sized guidelines were put into place back in 1994.

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The FDA’s old labels (left) and new labels (right)

Also updated are a left-justified Daily Value column that makes parsing numbers simpler, and an Added Sugars section right below Sugars meant to highlight one of the leading causes of obesity in America, according to the FDA’s 2010 Dietary Guidelines for Americans. The FDA seems to be hoping that food companies will cut down on manufacturing added sugars just like they did with Trans Fats when they were first denoted on labels few years ago. “Calories from Fat” has been notably removed, “because research shows the type of fat is more important than the amount,” the FDA says. Lastly, the labels would make Vitamin D and Potassium counts mandatory, while Vitamins A and C would be optional.

The FDA’s deputy commissioner of foods Michael Taylor estimates that the transition would cost about $2 billion and two years to carry out, but could provide $30 billion in health benefits long-term. “Things like the size of a muffin have changed so dramatically,” said FDA commissioner Dr. Margaret Hamburg. “It is important that the information on the nutrition fact labels reflect the realities in the world today.”

Source:
The New York Times FDA

By Ellis Hamburger

photo credit: jpalinsad360 via photopin cc