Pepsi Mega Jug for Diabetes

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I believe this came from KFC. I think about all of the people who worked on this endeavour: the person who came up with the idea, the designer who laid out the artwork, the sign maker/printer who created it, and the people who installed it. I think about them and wonder: Was the irony of selling massive servings of sugar-water to raise money for diabetes research lost on any of them?

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Dealership Fails in Last Mile of Internet Campaign

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Because I’m trying to sell my car, I wanted to know how much it’s worth. Many dealerships have a deal with car appraisal engine Kelley Blue Book, so that you can get an estimate on your trade-in on the dealership’s website for free. It works as a nice lead-generation tool for the dealership: I get a free appraisal on my car, and they get my contact info to try to sell me a new car.

As expected, I got a follow-up email. Here’s the body of the email, verbatim:

My name is Dale internet and sales consultant if you are wanting to sell or trade your Lancer please give me a call we are always needing vehicles that are in good condition and we pay top dollar for trades also I have a young lady looking for a car like yours so if I can help I will be happy to thanks talk with you soon

So, the dealership (one of the “big three”) spends time and money developing its brand and Internet strategy. They build a website and create YouTube videos. Everything is just right. And then this email gets sent out …

These emails should be scripted and polished. It would only take a few minutes to clean up this introductory email, so why wouldn’t the dealership bother to do it? This writing shouldn’t make its way out of sixth grade. What qualities does this email impart on the dealership’s brand?

… also I have a young lady looking for a car like yours …

Sure you do. Sure you do.

This goes back to what I’ve said a few days ago: Employees have the greatest ability to shape the brand.


Photo, We Con courtesy of Boeke.

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Marketing with Lies

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I talk about lies in marketing often—probably because I find them so offensive. It’s a little bit like hating garbage, though: It’s not hard to find these things offensive.

I received this voicemail the other day. It is (for lack of a better word) a scam. I’ve been building websites and involved in search engine listings since 1996; I know how search engines work. The things said in this voicemail range from misleading to outright false. It sounds pretty convincing, however, and if I didn’t know better, I could probably be convinced to part with some money for this snake oil.

This reminds me of the Domain Registry of Canada, a similar operation that relies on misleading marketing and half-truths for its business model. I won’t get into its operation here, but if you Google “Domain Registry of Canada scam,” you’ll turn up plenty of write-ups.

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Ron Tite’s Customer Service in the Digital Age

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Ron Tite relates how his negative airline experience really took off. It’s a great story that is told perfectly and carries a lot of valuable lessons.

I actually got to see Ron Tite back on May 18. He was a tremendous speaker who talked my kind of language. I am just tickled to see that he has a ton more videos on YouTube; they are worth checking out.

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Canadian Olympic Committee Rebrand

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Brand New has a (typically) great write-up on the Canadian Olympic Committee rebrand, which is also fantastic.

The element of the rebrand that has me shaking my head in an I-wish-I-did-that manner is the mosaic that they created based on the maple leaf. A technique in identity design that I think we’ll start seeing more often, it will surely replace the current trend of designing logos with gradients.

http://vimeo.com/24704404

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Sometimes, People Will Believe Anything

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This picture—which is a hoax—has been making the rounds on Twitter lately. Brandchannel has a great write-up on this situation. Aside from the content itself being ridiculous (At the very least, why would McDonald’s alienate a large segment of the audience like that?), the phone number shown at the bottom is for the KFC headquarters.

What I find interesting about this is why people take it seriously. The main reason is that we tend to suspend disbelief when we see things like this online. We assume that someone, somewhere, has taken the time to verify this. We assume that because it exists, it must be true.

The other reason this works is that it looks legitimate:

  • The typeface looks correct.
  • Everything is lined up properly (with nothing centre-aligned).
  • The language sounds like it came out of a head office.

In fact, the only visual clues that suggest that this isn’t legit are the masking tape sloppily tacking the sign up and the odd margins (especially on the right side of the sign).

I’ve found that you don’t have to be a designer or a marketer to be pretty savvy about what looks like legitimate communication. People are very good at sensing when things just don’t look right, at least at a very low level. This is why the email scams are appearing more and more “legitimate” nowadays. It is also why it’s so important for your collateral to be designed to reflect your brand’s promise: your audience can sense when your materials don’t reflect your message.

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Empor Consulting

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Founder Vicky Walker has been helping scientific businesses and institutions navigate complex sales processes for over 30 years. With Empor Consulting, she brings her extensive experience and knowledge to new clients. Her goal is to help her clients find their way through the maze of scientific equipment vendors and the procurement process.

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Brand Ambassadors: Your employees build the brand

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This post at 37signals about how cutting corners can affect your brand—even if your customers don’t notice—is spot-on.

I’ve long felt that for most companies, the strongest influence on the brand is the employees. Employees deliver the richest experiences, with the highest fidelity. We form our perceptions about the brand so much more from our experiences with the brand’s workforce than through any other touchpoint. Marketing, advertising, and collateral don’t tell us nearly as much as does our interaction with the staff representing the brand.

The post (which is really worth the read) also includes this anecdote from a former employee of an Apple store:

I used to work at one of Apple’s retail stores and can totally affirm this. They do an excellent job of marketing to their own people, which just keeps the enthusiasm for the company at a constant high. And as I learned working at the store, enthusiasm is contagious; if the employees are excited about the product, the customers are going to be excited about the product as well.

You know what? I really get that vibe from Apple store employees. You can tell they’ve really bought into the products they’re selling, and that feeling rubs off onto customers. The story above contrasts quite nicely with this one about GM:

Similarly, many years ago I worked at GM headquarters. Walking into the office and trudging my way up to the cube farm—even in my daily tasks—you’d never know that GM made cars. I’ve always considered it the primary reason the American auto industry is falling apart.

If your employees aren’t enthusiastic about your product, experience, or brand, how can you expect your customers to be?

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Where’s the Benefit?

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Five seconds into this video, you’ll be staring in slack-jawed wonder.

I’ve worked with several new businesses that don’t seem to understand the value of this kind of presentation. There are three reasons this video works really well:

  1. The benefit is clear. You see it once, and you “get it.”
  2. It’s novel. It looks like magic.
  3. There is no big setup. We go straight into the good stuff.

Companies that have products like this are really easy to market.

 

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Tell the truth, but make the truth fascinating

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Tell the truth, but make the truth fascinating.”
—David Ogilvy

I love this quote, as it sums up my approach to communication perfectly. It can be found in this video from Adweek, along with many more David Ogilvy sound bites.

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