R[E]D – Research : Emotion : Design

A Brand Research and Development Strategy Firm


Leave a comment

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


Leave a comment

Major Digital Marketing Changes From The Last 12 Months, Are You Keeping Up?

Last year I wrote a Year in Review article that mainly focused on Facebook: 20 Changes Facebook Made In 2012 That Impacted Marketers. I mentioned, “Facebook was all about refinement in 2012.” If “refinement” was the word of 2012, “streamlined” was the word of 2013.

And this year I want to focus on the broader options that social marketers have at their disposable now.

An influx of new top tier social networks spread user attention thin in 2012 and required a renewed emphasis on key features and functionality.

In 2012, Facebook was on top of the mountain.

It was still the 800-pound gorilla in 2013, but a variety of other networks took their shots at prominence and deserve our attention as well.

Here are the top social media changes and trends introduced in 2013 and the last 12 months.

The Growth of Short Video

instagram-vine

Twitter started the year off with the launch of Vine, a mobile service that lets you capture and share short looping videos. Twitter noted on its blog that, “the brevity of videos on Vine (6 seconds or less) inspired creativity. Now that you can easily capture motion and sound.”

Vine saw 403% growth between the first and third quarters of 2013, making it the fastest-growing app of the year. And then Instagram launched video…

Instagram added fifteen-second video functionality on June 20. The number of Vine video links shared to Twitter dropped nearly 40 percent that day. Vine sharing on Twitter continued to drop over the following week, resulting in a roughly 70 percent drop from the nearly three million links shared on June 15. Instagram jumped on the video hype by announcing sponsored ads on October 3.

Facebook learned from the success of Instagram’s video ad integration by rolling out auto-play video ads on December 17, 2013. According to Facebook, the social network began testing auto-play video ads in September and the changes resulted in a more than 10 percent increase in video views, likes, shares and comments.

 

Twitter Jumpstarts Monetization

Twitter-IPO

In 2012, Facebook’s IPO helped fuel an increased focus on revenue generation. Following a similar course in 2013 Twitter launched their IPO and subsequently increased advertising options.

On May 22, Twitter introduced Lead Generation Cards to help B2B brands drive highly qualified leads. According to Twitter, “These cards makes it easy for users to express interest in what your brand offers. Users can easily and securely share their email address with a business without leaving Twitter or having to fill out a cumbersome form. When someone expands your Tweet, they see a description of the offer and a call to action. Their name, @username, and email address are already pre-filled within the Card. The user simply clicks a button to send this information directly (and securely) to you.”

Twitter also integrated previews of photos and Vine videos directly into users’ streams on October 29. Users see more of the photo or play the video by tapping the preview.

As a result of Twitter’s focus on advertising, the platform saw a 22 percent increase in small business usage.

Pinterest Gets “Rich”

Rich-Pins

Pinterest helped marketers answer the question, “What are people pinning from my websites?” by launching Web Analytics for verified business accounts on March 12. The free Web Analytics platform helped marketers see Pinterest metrics in categories including Site Metrics, Most Recent, Most Pinned and Most Clicked.

Pinterest introduced Rich Pins on May 20. Instead of linking back to the pin’s origin, each new Rich Pin provides users additional information about that item aimed to better put them in a position to make a purchase. There are three different types of Rich Pins, each with its own unique set of characteristics and opportunities for brands: Product, Recipes, and Movies.

For items like clothes and furniture, the new Product pins offer real time pricing, availability, and where to buy the item. Recipe pins allow brands to provide information like cook time, ingredients, and servings to help foodies and food bloggers create new creations using branded pins. Movie pins contain content ratings, cast members, and more designed to provide a new layer of information about these movies.

On September 19, Pinterest announced it would roll out Promoted Pins as its first advertising product with select partners. Promoted Pins allow businesses to insert pins into search results and category feeds similar to sponsored advertising options offered by social networks like Facebook and Twitter. Promoted Pins started to appear in users’ feeds in early October.

LinkedIn Grows as a Content Portal

linkedin-content-hub

LinkedIn expanded its business offerings through the launch of Showcase Pages on November 18. Showcase Pages are dedicated content hubs enabling businesses to extend their Company Page presence, effectively segmenting audiences and enabling businesses to deliver the best message to the right audiences. Somewhat similar to LinkedIn s existing company pages, Showcase Pages are designed to give individual brands and business units within corporations the ability to create their own segmented marketing channels on LinkedIn.

In order to amplify the reach of its marketers messaging, LinkedIn continued 2013 2s sponsored advertising trend by rolling out Sponsored Updates on July 22. Sponsored Updates appear in a native format as a natural part of a target audience s feed and can be used to promote thought leadership content, to generate leads, or even as a PR tool.

Facebook Redesigns its News Feed

new-facebook-newsfeed

On March 7, Facebook revealed a News Feed redesign that featured larger visuals, a mobile-first user interface and more opportunities to filter by specific types of content.

The changes made good photos look even better in the News Feed, but also made lousy photos look even worse — reemphasizing a need for marketers to invest in quality imagery.

Facebook Focuses On Quality Images, Not Marketing Images

Facebook’s 20% Rule required text to appear on less than 20% of Cover Photos (and Promoted Posts), another attempt by Facebook at ensuring a quality visual experience for its users.

Not all features made it to December though. Facebook quickly backed away from automatically placing image captions and descriptions on top of photo page posts, preferring to keep text and image separate in the News Feed.

Facebook Page Tweaks

Facebook continued its redesign the following month with a new layout for Pages. The new Pages layout changes included a simplified look, easier ways to connect with businesses and streamlined page management.

Facebook Loosened Contest Rules

With a greater push for mobile and more real-time content, Facebook simplified its contest promotion guidelines. Its new set of rules allowed pages to run contests in the news feed without a third party application, ask people to submit answers in exchange for chances to win a prize, and to use Likes as a method of entrance into a contest.

 

Facebook Became A Mobile Social Network

In 2012, Sheryl Sandberg predicted a future of more ads in Facebook’s mobile News feed… and she was right. Facebook’s mobile-first emphasis in 2013 resulted in more users embracing the social network on the go. 54% more users logged into Facebook on a daily basis in Q3 2013 as did in Q3 2012, an increase from 329 million to 507 million in one year.

Mobile-only users doubled during that same time span, from 126 million in 2012 to 254 million in 2013. Significantly more user activity results in significantly more mobile advertising inventory available for marketers.

 

Confidence In The Newsfeed Wained

While mobile users swarmed to Facebook in droves, not all marketers were thrilled with the social network’s changes. A set of late 2013 News Feed algorithm changes resulted in an extreme drop in organic reach for many Pages, as much as 44 percent in many cases. The algorithm changes were intended to place more relevant news stories into the News Feed, especially from sites that Facebook deemed as “high quality” sources.

Facebook did little to quell marketer concerns when it put out an announcement recommending that they could make up the difference in reach with advertising.

Facebook Ads Got Simpler (Kind Of) And Better

To further emphasize this, Facebook rolled out a series of ad changes in 2013, eliminating at least 13 ad units and increasing ad-targeting opportunities.

Marketers told Facebook that its ad products were too complicated and redundant, which led to Sponsored Stories shifting from a stand-alone product to integration into most ads, which would “automatically add social context to boost performance.”

Facebook added Partner Categories to connect together online and offline user data. Partner categories use data from select third parties, including Acxiom, Datalogix, and Epsilon, to target ads to more categories of people.

For example, a local car dealership could show ads to people likely in the market for a new car who live near their dealership. Facebook also simplified Interest Targeting by combining Precise Interest and Broad Categories into a single step, making it easier to select the audience most relevant to what’s being advertised.

Advertisers looking to target customers who considered a purchase on their site but didn’t complete the transaction gained a new Facebook alternative to FBX in October. The new retargeting tool, “website and mobile app custom audiences,” works when marketers affix tracking software to their websites and create corresponding custom audiences based on user activity data.

Search Got Easier on Facebook

Facebook started 2013 with a bang by announcing its long-awaited advanced search product, Graph Search.

Graph Search provided users the opportunity to easily search and examine trillions of relationships that live within Facebook’s ecosystem. Facebook also added support for searchable hashtags in June, thereby acting as a new connective thread for users to share their thoughts to a larger audience on social networks.

Graph Search has a lot of potential and is just the beginning of opening up the massive amount of social connection data that Facebook controls, and charges for. We can’t wait for LinkedIn to do the same.

Author / Ryan Cohn
Source / socialfresh.com


Leave a comment

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


1 Comment

How People Discover New Brands

The most effective method for brand discovery remains articles published in mainstream media outlets, according to a recent report by GlobalWebIndex.

However, consumers are increasingly engaging with this content in digital form, rather than finding it in print.

Asked how they discover new brands, products, or services, 47% of 16-24 year-olds and 45% of 55-65 year-olds cited articles posted on the websites of newspapers and magazines. That’s nearly double the number (20% and 27%, respectively) who discover brands via articles published in the print versions of newspapers and magazines.

After newspaper and magazine articles published on the Web, the next most common method for discovering new brands is recommendations from real-life friends. Consumer comments on message boards is third, and results from search engines is fourth.

Advertisements and celebrity endorsements land in the middle of the pack, as do recommendations from digital friends and blogger reviews.

The least common method for finding new brands is via deals on group buying websites, such as Groupon.

brand-discovery-gwi-2013

Author / Ayaz Nanji
Source / marketingprofs.com


Leave a comment

Entering the Participation Age of Branding

The-New-Definition-of-Brand-Value_Header-header

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


Leave a comment

FDA redesigns nutrition labels to reflect how Americans actually eat

nutrition_facts

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.

fda_labels_500

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


1 Comment

Top New Year’s Resolutions for Brands

2014  branding resolution being more human

Resolutions abound this time of year. Do a quick Google search for “New Year’s Resolution” and you’ll find lists upon lists packed full with headlines like, “Top Ten Resolutions For Women on the Run,” “7 New Year Resolutions That Take 5 Seconds or Less!” or, my personal favorite, the “New Years Resolution Generator.”

(I used the generator…apparently this year I will “get jiggy wit it.” For fun, try it here.)

New Year’s resolutions are not a modern invention. The Babylonians celebrated the New Year with a 12-day festival called Akitu that marked the Spring harvest yield (in March, not January). During Akitu, special rituals that affirmed humanity’s covenant (resolutions) with the gods were performed. The Romans brought in the New Year with public ceremonies, oath-taking and temple sacrifices to honor the gods and goddesses. Rome originally celebrated this during March, much like Babylon, to honor Mars, the god of war. As Romans became less war-like, they switched from March to January to honor Janus, a god of home and hearth.

Psychologically, humans are hardwired to recognize new beginnings that offer us a fresh start and clean slate. A New Year’s resolution gives us a natural way to prepare for change and to fire up for the shifts we intend to make.

This applies not only on an individual level, but on a collective level as well. Collectively, it is important and healthy for us to recognize new beginnings and take advantage of a fresh start and clean slate. That’s why I believe it’s important for brands to make New Year’s resolutions.

(**One caveat: Given the fact that most New Year’s resolutions fail, I urge you to think of a resolution as a realistic, intention-driven aim that defines the direction in which you are choosing to move. There is no set timeline, due date or deadline to achieve, but rather a focus to introduce and connect with.)

So, in this year of the horse, here are some starting points for your brand’s New Year’s resolution:

1. Resolve To Get Outside of Your Building.
Planning, strategizing, devising, outlining, meeting, scheming and calculating are probably the majority of your activities as a steward of your brand. But they uniquely keep you trapped inside your building and worse, take you away from physical proximity to the people that matter the most – your customers.

That’s why I say, get outside of your building, get outside of your meetings, planning, and board rooms and get in contact with customers. Yes, that actually means interacting in a relational way with your audience. This isn’t a promotional tool. It isn’t a PR stunt. It isn’t a trade show. In fact, it isn’t about you at all! It’s about them. Be quiet, listen, relate, learn and observe. For 2014, brands that focus on getting outside of their buildings and in contact with their customers will thrive.

2. Resolve To Be More Human.
At the heart of your brand is a living, breathing relationship that will evolve as you grow, pivot and evolve. Your brand has to have the flexibility to grow with you. Otherwise it becomes obsolete. The answer isn’t to simply begin a new process, wholesale, once again. Instead, the answer lies in how you approach your brand from the start.

Become more human. Relate in a humanly way. Shirk the process and embrace the humanity within your brand. For 2014, brands that focus on becoming more human will thrive.

3. Resolve To Create More Dynamic Artifacts.
Artifacts are anything that “live” in the real world and point back to the relationship you share with your audience. Most artifacts are static, meaning, they are one-dimensional, immobile and passive expressions of your brand. Logos, color schemes, billboards and TV commercials are static. Stop putting so much trust in your static artifacts! The challenge is to create dynamic artifacts.

Dynamic artifacts are interactive, activating and magnetic expressions of your brand that invite your customers to join in rather than observe. And the best dynamic artifacts take into account all five of our senses. Don’t worry about the longevity of these artifacts, worry about the remarkability of them. What does a dynamic expression of your brand that engages all five human senses look like? I don’t know, but I’m willing to bet it’d be pretty amazing. For 2014, brands that focus on creating remarkable, dynamic artifacts will thrive.

4. Resolve To Be Delightful, Not Disruptive.
Being disruptive isn’t a strategy. In fact, it’s an anti-strategy. Shock and awe brands fail to sustain their connection with real people because people don’t connect with disruption, they connect with delight. Think about it. Do you want to be disrupted by a brand? Or would you rather be delighted? Which one of the “d” words draws you in?

Delight is about finding spaces beyond your brand promise to create joy and surprise. The point is to define the moment of delight and align your brand to release it to your audience. For 2014, brands that focus on fostering delight, not disruption, will thrive.

5. Resolve To Free Your Story.
Stories are powerful. They have the power to engage, delight and relate to your audience in a way that creates traction in the marketplace. Yet, we often segment out our story to a narrow aspect of our overall brand experience. This is a big mistake. Your story is the single most powerful and distinguishing asset you own. Stop burying your story in mission statements, brand promises, messaging matrixes and vision statements.

Get intimately in touch with your story. Start with the WHY, and align everything back to it. Set your story free from the confines of structure and process, and allow it room to breathe, grow and become meaningful once again. For 2014, brands that focus on freeing their story will thrive.

The Spirit of the Horse
2014 is the Year of the Horse in the Chinese Zodiac. The spirit of the horse is recognized to be our ethos – making unremitting efforts to improve oneself. It is energetic, bright, warm-hearted, intelligent and able. If you are able to shift your focus to becoming more human, getting outside your building, creating dynamic artifacts, being delightful and freeing your story, 2014 is sure to be an energetic, bright, warm-hearted, intelligent and able year.

Author Jeremiah Gardner
Original source: brandingmagazine.com