R[E]D – Research : Emotion : Design

A Brand Research and Development Strategy Firm


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Understanding, the Bridge Builder Between a Company and Its Audience

Pulling from logo warehouses or crowdsourcing design may sound tremendously appealing for filling in the blank spot on the top of your letterhead.

You want something trendy and cool, even if it’s just to check off a task on your to-do list.

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It doesn’t make sense for a company to use a logo that has an immense lack of understanding. A logo alone isn’t the solution to developing a strong brand. Strength comes from understanding company culture, which is a giant part of a larger brand strategy. Understanding provides an opportunity to develop cohesive and consistent messaging. This requires customization, knowledge and skill. RED has acquired all the skills needed to build you a solid foundation that is not hollow and inauthentic.

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

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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?

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Author / Paul Marsden
Source / brandgenetics.com


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Brand Marketing Strategy | Put Your Money Where the Growth Is

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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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Millennials and Brands | Millennials Are a Mystifying Generation

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Image courtesy of adamr / FreeDigitalPhotos.net

Millennials, individuals aged 18 to 33, are a less religious, home buying, bank hating, selfie loving, liberal and mystifying generation. Just when it seems as though the millennials are figured out, a new selfie is posted, or a political choice is made, and people are left scratching their heads.

Millennials are less religious than previous generations. In fact, almost two-thirds of millennials would not classify themselves as religious. This may be related to the marrying trend of millennials, with only one in four millennials being married.

Millennials are buying homes, and this is changing things up for real estate agents who are not used to the millennials’ ways. 79 percent of first-time home buyers last year were millennials. Some real estate agents find their new young adult costumers to be a little mystifying. Millennials prefer texting, while real estate agents would rather pick up a phone, or have a face to face meeting.

Another mystifying fact about the millennial generation; they are against banks. In fact, they think that banking will be so different in five years that banks will no longer be necessary. In a poll of 10,000 millennials done by Scratch, banks made up four of the top ten most hated brands. Three-quarters of the millennials polled feel that they would be more interested in financial services that were offered by companies such as Apple, PayPal, Square, Amazon, and Google. What does this mean for banks? They need to step it up and figure out how to please millennials.

Who loves a selfie more than a millennial? Millennials are two times more likely to have shared a selfie than any other generation. Just a glance at Facebook or Instagram will show how obvious this is. This does not mean that millennials are self-absorbed though, a surprisingly high percentage, 63 percent, feel that it is their duty to take care of an aging parent. So while the millennial generation may be mystifying, they are a caring generation.

How do millennials identify themselves politically? Half of the millennial population are political independents. They are more likely to vote liberally than conservatively. Only 31 percent of millennials even feel that there is a significant difference between Republican and Democratic parties.

Millennials love technology, so it might be surprising to learn that 50 percent of households without televisions are millennial households. They do however watch programs on their mobile devices.

Millennials are on the lookout for a bargain, and are educated on how to get the best deal. 31 percent of all millennials shopping money is spent on deals.

What does all of this mean? It means that things are going to have to change. As millennials grow into adulthood and venture out more into the world, businesses are going to have to adapt in order to better appeal to millennials. Real estate agents and mortgage companies may have to be innovative with new practices. Companies may need to find a way to work out great deals, and perhaps post them on social media with a few selfies. Banks, especially, need a major overhaul in order to stay competitive with the millennial market.

Millennials might be a mystifying generation to some, but they are the generation of the future. They will make and demand changes. A better understanding of what makes up their generation will help everyone navigate these new changes.

Original Opinion / Ashley Campbell
Source / guardianlv, Forbes, CBS News, Philly.com, Fast Company, The Week, PBS Newshour


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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)

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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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Meet Merel Bekking, A Designer Who’s Secretly A Scientist

Borrowing techniques from neuroscience. Bekking measured how users brains responded to basic design elements. The results might surprise you.

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Dutch designer Merel Bekking says she likes to “crawl inside the skin of a different specialist” for every project she does. Take InvesteRing, conceived during the economic crisis, which required Bekking to become a bit of a commodities expert. She created rings with two euros worth of a commodity, such as corn, that could be dispensed from a vending machine that cost two euros. The ring that comes out is a miniature investment, its value changing ever so slightly with the price of corn.

It’s the sort of empirical approach more often identified with scientists than artists, and Bekking proudly refers to herself as a “research-based” designer. “Every project I needed to gather as much information as I could about the subject,” she tells Co.Design. “Talk to people, try things out, read a lot. If I want to design something in a discipline I don’t know anything about, I need do to a lot of research to make a convincing design.”

Bekking’s latest project takes her scientific style to a whole new level. With the help of neuroscientist Steven Scholte from the Neurensics firm, Bekking recruited 20 people to a laboratory and slipped them inside an MRI scanner. She had cooked up a rudimentary neuroimaging study: to measure how their brains responded to various basic design elements.

To do that required two steps. First, participants looked at a series of paintings with various themes. Some of the works (like a Goya or a Caravaggio) portrayed violence. Others depicted simple social activities or food. Still others were erotic in nature. The goal was for the research team to capture a baseline portrait of each brain’s response to certain emotions, shapes, colors, and materials.

“On paper, the subjects preferred wood. In the scanner, they preferred red plastic.”

For the next step, Bekking and company fed participants a new set of roughly 250 images showing an assortment of design elements. There were five different textures, 10 colors, and eight shapes–each flashed without any additional context. By comparing the two scans, Scholte determined each brain’s true feelings toward the design elements. Outside the scanner, Bekking also asked participants to indicate which elements they thought they enjoyed most.

The results–depicted in an infographic (below) that’s been making the Internet rounds–took Bekking by surprise. The design elements that participants said they liked outside the scanner were not the same ones their brains seemed to like inside it. On paper, they preferred wooden material, the color blue, and round shapes. In the scanner, however, they betrayed a preference for red, organically shaped plastics.

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“People are prone to give socially desired answers,” Bekking says, “or don’t really quite know what they like.”

Now, as pure behavioral science, the simple study would never pass peer review. No reference is made to other imaging research showing that people’s brains do, in fact, love curvy design. And deciphering the meaning behind brain activity is far from cut and dry; an active area could indicate an aversion to a certain design element just as easily as it could indicate an affection (as one U.S. neuroscientist pointed out to Motherboard).

But by the artistic metric of inspiration the research worked, with the results giving Bekking the idea for her next project. She plans to create a series of household objects with elements favored by the brains she scanned–perhaps a red chair, a plastic table, an organic vase, and so on–and present them in April during the famous Milan furniture fair Salon del Mobile. She’s eager to see how people will respond to designs their brains suggest they like but which their voices suggest they don’t.

Of course, the designer in Bekking understands that context should matter when it comes to style elements; that something red, plastic, and organic might look nice in one situation but not in another. So if it happens that people don’t like the brain-based items Bekking creates, that won’t bother her. “You do research on a subject and you have to make conclusions based on the data you have,” she says. A true scientist couldn’t have put it better.

Author: Eric Jaffe

Source: Fast Company