SOLUTIONS

Insight 1
- what makes a brand?

For someone to look upon a brand as just a logo is a complete misconception. What a brand actually represents is the perceptions people hold of that organisation. A brand is formed through all an organisation’s activities, a logo merely constitutes part of this.

Considering all the messages people receive provides a better foundation for a brand, which should be developed through a process involving people from all areas of an organisation. From diverse viewpoints emanate ideas that make an organisation special and portray what it stands for. If outsider’s viewpoints are not considered a valuable source essential to the process goes unused. How people’s views compare to the way an organisation likes itself to be seen are very important. Key points:-

• Know strengths - think about strengths and build a brand around them.

• Have a good creative brief - when you're ready to speak to creatives about a new brand identity, a good brief which gives an overview of the aims of the rebranding is essential.

• Don’t lose sight of competitors - there can be a lot to learn from other approaches in terms of how competitors present themselves, the communications channels used, how they use them, and how feedback is obtained.

• Be consistent - once you have your new branding, you need to apply it consistently and govern how others are using it. A good way is by having brand guidelines which tell everyone in your organisation how they should be used.

• Have a thorough marketing plan - a new identity requires a well thought out marketing plan to support it. How will the brand reach clients?

• Don’t ignore social media - social media are new ground for managing a brand. If somebody has a bad experience this is now easily shared in the digital world. Monitor social media websites for mentions of your organisation and learn how to deal with any negative feedback.

• Realise change - don’t stick with your branding if it isn’t working for you.

Insight 2
- it’s a brave, informal, touchy feely, and very new world

Long gone are the days when brands were rigid and absolute. As consumer expectations have changed, brand identity management has moved on apace. We are used to products and services changing rapidly and wanting products to be available all the time. We like personal attention, recommendations and chances to interact with companies and impact decisions both individually and as a group. In business, we rarely wear suits, use first names and informal speech. As a result we are drawn to dynamic, helpful and fun rather than more their reserved counterparts. So the best modern identities have a range of materials and flexible identity, perhaps most easily achieved by having colour options. The Guardian uses different coloured logos for distinct sections of its newspaper and website.

Allowing the logo to be a 'container for content' seems to be a growing trend for example the London 2012 Olympics. The identity for the Tate is innovative with a series of versions of the logo itself, which as they become more indistinct, are less legible - breaking one of the principles of traditional logo management. There don't seem to be any rules governing which version is used which fits perfectly with an edgy, arty and slightly controversial organisation.

How do you apply the concepts of breaking rules and still manage a brand? For the sports clothing brand O'Neill, the identity consists of their name and a wave - applied loosely so there are almost infinite variations. They keep enough recognisable elements so you still know whom they are, whilst staying true to their founder and brand value of the 'spirit of innovation' - providing designers with plenty of scope for branded decoration.

Another significant shift in identity control is the use of logos rather playfully such as BBC2 and E4. Tate and Lyle became Taste and Smile to highlight Fair Trade efforts, replacing the logo across their packaging range. Warner Brothers had a chocolate version of their logo shown before the film Charlie and The Chocolate Factory.

The Google logo is perhaps the standard; having created countless versions of the logo they continue to 'play' with it. They embellish or animate the logo as they wish, associating themselves with whatever anniversary or quirk they choose. They don't even retain all the letters being positioned as one of the top 10 most recognisable brands in the world. It's now a popular approach and when done well can breathe life into the identity, the logo itself then becoming an animated touch point for a brand. Being willing to flex your identity and apply some humour and expression can say very positive things.

Insight 3
- it’s all about the now buzz word “content”

Consumers are using new technology to control their relationships with brands and filter out unwanted communications. Research by marketing services company Acxiom reveals that over 80% of people now believe they “wear the trousers” in their brand interactions. Conducted among 1,000 UK consumers and 200 marketing professionals, defined "in control" as people "receiving only the information they require, when and through which media channels they want it". While 82% of consumers said they felt in control, marketing professionals believed only 30% of people would do so, revealing a wide perception gap between brands and their target market.

The proportion of consumers feeling in control started low in the youngest age group – 28% among 18 to 24 year-olds and was also less than half (48%) in the 25 to 34 sample. However, this climbed steadily from 61% among 35 to 44 year-olds, to 68% amongst those aged 65 or over.

Acxiom Europe’s head of client services, said: "For the first time, we have been able to quantify the shift from push to pull marketing. Consumers are filtering out inappropriate (to them) messages. We can also infer that some professionals are incorrect about the effectiveness of their organisation's marketing activity. In some ways, the industry has created Frankenstein's monster. By doing such a good job of marketing technology and digital services they have breathed life into consumers’ ability to control the relationship between brand and individual. Now professionals require the insight to understand when and where it’s appropriate for brands to join the conversation with consumers."

• One in four consumers still say they receive "inappropriate" marketing communications.

• Some 71% of consumers are happy to receive mail from organisations they are already customers of. Additionally, some 57% also felt postal contact was appropriate for prospective customers.

• Email is popular among customers, with 78% of people willingly accepting this form of contact. The figure dropped to 52% for prospects.

• Only 9% of customers felt SMS marketing was appropriate to them. Professionals guessed 25% of customers would welcome text messages.

• Just 4% of customers approve of contact through social media. Professionals were cautious about using these channels estimating 5% of customers would like to be contacted this way.

The common denominator is content, and its emerging importance in the marketing mix. The more complex the media terrain becomes the more clients need to work out what they should and should not be doing. Websites, magazines, email, mobile, social, video and apps are now all channels for any brand wanting to connect with customers. The old business models just don’t work in a world where content and engagement are always ‘on’. A world where journalism, editing, photography and design, all converge on the numerous inter-related content platforms today’s consumers engage with each day. The clouds looming over the UK and global pressures on budgets mean businesses will be looking for innovative, cost-effective ways to reach and engage with their customers (new and existing). Advertising and media agencies now increasingly recognise their clients’ requirements are changing. Coca- Cola can no longer rely on the 30-second advertisement and instead need to turn to content creation and storytelling.

Exploring the different ways that brands are using content in the US …retailers, banks, airlines… are rapidly recognizing the importance of content to their brands. They are building content supply chains guided by insights into customer behaviour and replenished and supplemented by customer-generated content.

It’s a new model for an “on” age and it’s not going away. It’s no longer a question of whether brands need to do this. What they are now asking is ‘How do we make this happen?’

Insight 4
- email marketing

Because of its low cost, targeted and easy to track nature email is becoming increasingly important in trying to stretch marketing budgets that bit further.

At the same time, the digital ‘noise’ surrounding consumers continues to grow so it’s worthwhile to examine whether your emails are wasted. Anecdotal evidence suggests that over the past year the number of people subscribing to e-newsletters has been falling, while the number of people unsubscribing has been slowly rising. In addition to volume versus attention span issues, web users are increasingly demanding a more customised experience. Emails and websites should work closely together. A website is a source of new subscribers to newsletters and newsletters tools to drive traffic to the website. The newsletter is solely a tool sending users to the website to be informed, persuaded or inspired and should not carry too much information itself. A mailing strategy should include two distinct types of emails, brand building emails and sales messages. Sales messages should be bright, short, and enticing, so direct mail in an email format. In a perfect scenario, such an e-shot would be sent at just the moment a consumer wants the proposition. In other instances you will miss the opportunity-consumer match and the recipient will switch off. Too many of these and the recipient will consider you are just selling ‘at’ them, start to ignore, or more detrimentally unsubscribe. Therefore sales emails should be supported with brand building news, background information, related news etc. to keep in the consumer’s mind.

Creating a more customised e-newsletter requires asking subscribers what interests them when they join the mailing list. You can then either send different newsletters to different groups, or some programmes will allow you to send the same newsletter but the priority of information is different depending on who is opening it. Most organisations send subscribers a plain text ‘thank you for subscribing’ email when they sign up, this will either be binned or, worse, sent to the spam folder, ensuring that future emails from you are also treated as spam by the email browser. With a high opening ratio, the first email users receive should communicate information about your organisation.

The first place a subscriber will see an email is when it appears as a ‘from’ and ‘subject’ line in their inbox. People are more likely to open emails from a familiar source, so make sure this has your organisation’s name. Keep the address constant over time so email clients recognise it and don’t send the mail to ‘junk’ as spam. The subject line is also a definitive factor in reaching an audience. Subject lines which ask the subscriber to take an action such as ‘your last chance’ encourage more people to open emails than more generic lines like ‘October newsletter. Special offers work well but beware of the subject line ‘special offer’ which can trigger spam filters. Most email browsers have a preview pane which displays either the top couple of inches or the left corner of each email as you select the title from your email list.

Considering how the your e-newsletter looks when cropped can greatly improve the number of people opening emails. When a subscriber does open an email, it may not immediately display as intended. Some applications, particularly on handheld devices, block images so not everyone is going to see a graphic or image therefore make sure the text compels. The only way to be sure that everyone is seeing the email at its best is to test it. Some email marketing services like Campaign Monitor or Mail Chimp have built in tools for testing how a design will look. Testing lets you see if an email will trigger spam filters.