R[E]D – Research : Emotion : Design

A Brand Research and Development Strategy Firm

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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

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10 Secrets to a Successful Website

Here are some suggestions to enhance your new site. We are not going to describe how to use good design practices, balance, or colors. We won’t tell you about using flash, SEO, or load times. Any good communication firm already knows how to use these things. Instead, we want to give you the secrets to reaching your customer on an emotional level. Doing this will sell your purpose and increase revenue. Here are the best secrets for a more successful website:


UTAH.com website by RED

1.    Know who you are communicating with on your website and what they are buying. Define your exact customer demographic and learn to think like them. Start by getting detailed sales information and other secondary research information. Also, talk to sales staff. Once you define your exact customer, you can create a design that appeals exclusively that particular audience. Other firms might design what THEY like or what they think is cool. If they are not the right demographic or don’t have key information on how your customer thinks, don’t let them design the site.

2.    Elicit an emotional customer response with your product or messaging photography— enhance their taste buds, allow them to envision themselves reaching their dreams, connect with a value that would drive them to purchase your product. Gain insights into their emotions by interviewing your best customers. Ask them why they love your product, what memories they have about your product, or what your product did for them that changed their lives. Use these concepts to ask 250 of your customers what emotions drive them. If you are not selling at an emotional level, YOU ARE NOT SELLING.

3.    Make sure your navigation links, copy, or bullet points answer your customer’s most important questions. What do they want to know and in what order? Know the order of their buying decision and make sure the priority of read for your page and navigation matches their needs.

4.    Understand your customer’s voice or language. Voice and language are the words your customer uses when talking about your product or service. It is the position from which they view your product. There is no profit in having great product benefits if your customer doesn’t understand or—worse yet—if they don’t really care about it. Understanding your customer’s language doesn’t mean dialect. The language of an18-year-old male is much different than that of a 48-year-old female. Who are you writing to? Talk to your customers and have them tell you the whys. Look at the way they talk, write, and speak about your product and use the same language when selling your product.

5.    Don’t be afraid to have a simple site that allows for white space and open area. Once you know what your customer wants, you want to step them through your message as easily as possible. A busy site makes it hard for your readers to go where they want to go. Remember the old KIS principle: Keep It Simple.

6.    Use simple icons or graphic images that help the user navigate your site. Make these icons and images relevant, small, and simple. Don’t just fill the space with a piece of clip art. Allow each element to work for you as if the site were in a different language and these images help you to know where you should go.

7.    Don’t be afraid of a conventional layout or design structure. This doesn’t mean your site can’t be creative and fun, but don’t make your audience have to figure out how to get from step 1 to step 2. They don’t have the time and they don’t want to waste what time they do have.

8.    Test your design concepts with your exact audience to make sure they work for them. Do this early in the process with your top 2-3 concepts. Ask your customer demographic and see what speaks to them best. See where they go to find key information you want them to see. Ask how it relates to them on different levels. What traits does your site present to the customer? How do they perceive your product? Remember that your customer’s perception is the reality, not your perception. If they don’t feel comfortable there, then they won’t come back.

9.    Make sure the first impression of the site answers their vision of what they want from your product. Know what emotion is driving them to buy your product. A picture of a new dress doesn’t have the power to give your customer the time of her life or fulfill her dreams. Create that emotion in your design. What is your customer dreaming about?

10.  When it comes to web copy, discover what your customers want and what order they want it in. Make the copy simple, straightforward, and easy to understand. Don’t make it so creative, funny, or unique that they have to work to get the message. Make it short. Write it in their language. If you know the key things they look for when they search for you, you have the things you need for SEO and proper communications.

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Five Reasons to Avoid “Group Think”

First, what is Group Think?

Group Think is the process of gathering your marketing team, designers or executives around a table to discuss what the customer thinks and what they will like.

Here are five reasons to avoid Group Think:

1. If the group around the table isn’t the current customer using the product, it is the wrong group making the decisions. It is the customer who uses and believes in the product. The customer’s perception is vital.

2. With today’s technology, it is easy to gain insight from customers. There is no excuse to exclude them from design decisions.

3. Group Think doesn’t allow you to get into the mind of the consumer. It won’t give you the key insight into what they are thinking. Gathering information from the mind of the consumer is so revealing.

4. Within the trap of Group Think, an individual or the group as a whole might say, “It’s our job to tell the consumer what they think and like.” This thinking trap compares to telling a significant other what is best for them without letting them speak for themselves. This doesn’t work in life and it doesn’t work in business either.

5. In the end, it’s your consumer that is going to see the campaign and decide what works for them, not just the individuals around the table. Why not find out what they think before pushing the product out to them? Doing so is less expensive and success rates are higher. It’s all about ROI and it’s worth the investment.

Jason Budge is one of the founders of Thrive Life. Thrive is the 14th fastest growing company in Utah. Find out what Jason thinks:

Success is all about Customer Clarity and knowing how to get it. 


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“Research That Provides Big Data”


Customer Research

To truly be a successful company, you must know who your customers are and why they buy your brand. The pace of the world is growing faster all the time. Consumers are dying to catch up. A common frustration for consumers is too much of the wrong thing. They are bombarded with too much to choose from, but they still can’t find what they need. Break the everyday consumer from their frustrations by coming to know your customer. Technology can bring you great insights into your customers’ wants and needs. The data is there, you just need to access it. Learn how to know your consumer through big data. Research opens your brand to communicate with your customer by learning about the emotions that drive them. Knowing your customer will communicate to them that you see them as not just a target, but an individual.