Archive for the ‘ Research ’ Category

Is “Re-branding” the New Buzz Word?

We hear the term “re-branding” thrown around a lot lately. It seems if everyone is trying desperately, in a fast-moving society, to stay fresh and yet stay true to their history at the same time. Most recently – YMCA to Y; Tropicana logo change; and let’s not forget about the Gap logo debacle.

The Gap change came in early October of this year. The president of Gap Brand North America for the last three years stated, “We chose this (new) design as it’s more contemporary and current. It honors our heritage through the blue box while still taking it forward.” – Sound familiar?

Gap did a soft launch of their new logo and wanted feedback from their loyal customers, so they introduced it through social media. And, did they get feedback! Received so negatively and with such a backslash, it resulted in 1,094 comments from one of their Facebook postings alone.

Creatively, many felt it took a couple steps back and, well…fell flat on its face. The “generic” look that so many companies are trying to achieve didn’t work for Gap. For many, their goal is to make their brand modern and clean, but when executed incorrectly, the result is a generic and drab look. Modern should not equal generic. Gap has now gone back to their old logo.

This got us thinking…when exactly is the right time to re-brand and why? In Gap’s case, they wanted a new logo to reflect the evolution of their clothing line and multiple modern stores. However, what other reasons are there to re-brand? Take our company, evok advertising, for example. We are actually in the process of a re-brand ourselves. So, why the change for us?

Scott Disbennett, creative director and agency partner, said, “Opposed to a national brand that has spent millions focusing on consumer perception, we don’t carry the same iconic weight. We are a mid-size agency that prides ourselves on staying abreast of new technology and new brands, while staying cutting edge, so being current is actually part of the brand. Also, we focus most, if not all, of our marketing efforts B2B so to many, this new logo will be their first experience with our brand. We aren’t facing the challenges that a national consumer brand might face.”

Larry Meador, our agency’s managing partner, addressed evok’s re-brand by stating, “While the old ‘EVOK’ worked well when we were trying to shout our name out there, we have always had a core belief that we should be behind the scenes, behind our clients’ victories, and although just a minor change, going from upper case to lower case with our logo reinforces that belief.”

So, if wondering whether you should re-brand your company, you may want to consider the following criteria. If you can answer yes to most of the items below, maybe it’s time?

Re-brand IF:

  1. New ownership, new partner
  2. A new highly regarded business practice (such as being green, etc.)
  3. Offering new products or services that will move you to a different segment of your market
  4. If your branding was poorly designed when your company was young
  5. New location, if that greatly impacts your business

So, the question remains to re-brand or not re-brand?  Well, the simple answer is, consider the brand! For our agency, yes it made sense. For KFC and the Y (formerly YMCA), yes, maybe? But, maybe not so much for Tropicana and The Gap. If you are responding to consumer input, yes! Remember, the purpose of re-branding is to keep your current clients and customers, but also attract new ones.

Long live the Coppertone baby!

Listen Up Pitches!…The Pitch Process from a Creative’s Mind

Before I begin, this behind-the-scenes look through a creative’s mind can be a little scary. I promise to stay on track and stick to the subject matter of what a pitch entails…or at least mention what it should entail. Let’s start with the obvious – before you begin a pitch, learn about your client, their business and their customer. Each client will expect you to be sensitive to their business and industry, so let the homework begin. Embark with research into the industry trends, lingo and competitors, but get the entire team working on this – different perspectives and research avenues will prove invaluable in the kick-off meeting. Also, dig into the client’s personal tastes, from who they associate with to their personal interests, such as what they watch, read, like and are involved in. This helps in choosing your “voice” of the presentation. However, the most important study is finding their target audience—and digging deeper. Are there other demos we could hit? Can we expand sales to existing customers and what will engage all of them to act? More often than not, you can change a client’s weariness of a new idea when you back it with this kind of research.

Now let’s talk about that new creative idea. Our biggest hurdle with new ideas is just that – that they’re new ideas. This means change to a client and many people do not like change. Before your pitch, make sure you are speaking to someone that’s interested in change, and if they’re not, find out why they think an agency is needed in the first place.

Moving forward, what happens when you find that idea, but it just isn’t working? Sometimes, even if the passion is there, that big idea isn’t always the right fit.  Ask yourself and your peers: Does this solve a specific problem or need? Is this problem worth solving? And will it translate into profits? Can it be implemented realistically? If these can be answered and backed up with research, creative thinking and real passion – then you have the big idea!

The thing we must always ask ourselves – how do we communicate the idea to the client effectively? First, you need to develop the elevator pitch – one short sentence that describes the idea at its highest level. Refine and simplify until it’s interesting, intelligent and to the point. The rest of your presentation should be based on this simplified explanation of the big idea and flow out like an open fire hydrant.

So there you have it, pitches. We research, we learn, we create, we execute, but we do it all while something’s missing – The Client. This is how the majority of agencies have to operate – without their major puzzle piece intact. It’s a sad way to do business, at least in my opinion.

What happened to learning directly from the client before the pitch? It’s very doubtful that any creative director or copywriter will ever know as much about the client’s business as the client does. This may not sound promising to clients, but the truth is – most of their customers do not either, nor do they want to. As a Creative Director, I want to hear the business successes and failures directly from the president or founder. A walk down the company memory lane is usually the spark that ignites the passion and reason for being of that particular business. This experience is invaluable to a creative and helps the idea bloom. Then that idea (and a good agency plan) becomes the integral link between Client and Customer. We develop the idea in the language of the consumer and place the right message in areas that they frequent. This model, when all of the above is developed properly, usually results in sales.

So I ask you, Client – Pitch me! Please.

Satisfy Your Media Craving—pepper the proper landscape to taste

The way a potential target consumes media changes with the landscape. Due to this ever-changing fact, new and emerging media must be considered, along with traditional media of course, when planning media buys.  These new mediums include online buys, Facebook fan pages, Twitter accounts, seeded blogs, video, gaming, mobile text campaigns, experiential (which is a media category of its own) and many others (being created as you read this).

As an advertising agency, it is vital that we communicate the importance of understanding how messages can be integrated within these new—virtual and actual—areas. However one must carefully consider the product and service type, along with the target’s demographics and lifestyle habits to ensure the “right fit” media strategy and placement. Almost every group is becoming a more mobile consumer, so it is essential to consider where, when and how fast they expect and/or would be most receptive to receiving marketing messages.

The keys to help in media planning are still fairly traditional:

  • Define the target demographic
  • Know the product or service
  • Know the client (target)

Define the Target Demographic:

The better one can define their target audience, the more effective a media buy can be.  It is becoming necessary to look closer—explore psychographic information of the potential consumer as well as the more general demographics such as age, gender and geographic area.  You need to know what they like to do; if they are soccer moms or people who have pets or if they are retired, and customize both the message and the media to reach them.

Know the Product or Service Point of Different:

It is probably obvious that certain products and services are a better fit for some of the new and emerging media options available, while others have a higher success rate on their tried and true traditional formats.  For example, if you are trying to reach a younger demo, a mobile text messaging campaign may work extremely well; but to reach an older, more conservative demo, banner ads targeted by geography and content might be a better fit.

Know the client (target):

Keep in mind, for every rule, there is an exception. Just as with the target market, their will be advertisers willing to try something new and are open to putting their messages in new places; while others will be more cautious when considering venturing into new mediums and strategies before they see that it has worked for others. In advertising, it is as important to do the research, as it is to be the first. Some might say it’s a gamble, other’s argue “calculated risk” is a winning equation that should be incorporated into every media strategy and plan. As advertisers, both sound research and trail blazing get our vote. Further, it’s important to inquire regarding your feeling, as well as the beliefs of any agency partners you currently use or would consider. Media is as important as the message. A great message delivered to the wrong person at the wrong time in the wrong place is just, well…wrong.

It is essential for any agency offering media planning, buying and placing to be knowledgeable about all mediums, not just the ones their current clients use. Further, they should inform and educate the client and all team members (account services and creative) of what’s going on in the ever-changing media landscape. As an advertising agency with clients that run the gamut, we have the good fortune to keep up with all the new and emerging media. We have a living library of emerging media stories that assist all clients with options and ideas of how to get their message out. We’ve found that all our clients, even the more traditional ones, truly appreciate the latest and greatest media trends, even if they don’t end up on their strategy-driven plan.

Put Ethnography Science Behind Your Strategy

We are sure that most of you out there have said at one time or another, “I would love to be a fly on that wall!” There’s no denying our inherent desire to know what other people are really saying and thinking—without having to admit you are just dying to know things you shouldn’t or couldn’t. Whoever said that ignorance is bliss, might rewrite that common cliché and replace “bliss” with “blind.”

Well, now being noisy can be a good thing, in fact, it can be very insightful and rewarding. As strategic marketers and brand builders, the team at EVOK knows that the more research you use to create a message, campaign or idea, the better success rate you will have. It’s too risky to put all your eggs in an “I had this idea, who knows, it might work” basket. No, there’s too much competition and influence. You must have an arsenal gleaned from a recon mission. So, how do we search for this useful information in the field? How do we conduct a detailed survey of the characteristics of a specific market segment? It’s not a secret and you don’t have to be incognito to benefit from this tuned-in, on the wall approach. The writing on the wall points to ethnography.

Ethnography is a qualitative research method often used in social sciences but has shown great value to the world of marketing. It goes beyond the normal settings of the traditional focus groups by taking research to the core where it matters most, an individual’s everyday life. Ethnographers observe, interview and videotape people in the their everyday lives: where they work, live, shop and play. And the reason it has such value is because it overcomes the artificial nature of surveys and their standard Q&A format, which depend on self-reporting, skewed grouped results and the researcher’s frame of reference. And, ultimately, ethnographic research reveals the unspoken cultural and social patterns that shape consumer behavior. Wow, dare I say, “That’s something to buzz about? Well, at least that’s what the fly said.”

Knowing how to provoke the desired behavior is key to building a brand…and that specific brand’s following. It is the consumer’s behavior as to whether or not they decided to choose your brand over another. What Ethnography can do is provide insight into how a consumer interacts with your brand – how they feel about it, when they use it and why did they chose it. These findings can lead the way to a communication strategy that can incorporate traditional and non-traditional tactics. These tactics allow the consumer to experience and embrace your product or service when and where it is relevant to them.

Not all Ethnography marketing studies are created equal. Nor are they for everyone. It is an ideal approach to use when:

  • Launching/developing a new product
  • Developing a brand position
  • Creating up-front exploratory work (when the objective to is renovate, revive or reposition a brand)
  • A guide to understand how a consumer uses a product or service in the context of his or her daily life
  • Observing consumer behavior first-hand is critical versus asking for recall after-the-fact
  • The audience is hard-to-reach (e.g. teenagers, moms with babies, the affluent); or as a complement to more traditional qualitative (focus groups) or quantitative (usage and attitude studies) approaches.

Still not exactly sure when or how to use ethnography? How about in the morning on an empty stomach? EVOK uses the following example from General Mills.

When breakfast is and isn’t breakfast anymore.

General Mills understood that the paradigm of the family breakfast was shifting, but didn’t know where it was going or how to respond. Researchers arrived at consumers’ homes at 6 a.m., armed with video cameras and the tools of ethnographic research, ready to study families during their morning rituals. “Breakfast” has become an individualized and intermittent series of snacks eaten up to 11:00 a.m. Yet it is still perceived as the most important meal of the day, so parents struggle to find the right foods for their children. Go-GURT portable yogurt for kids was just the answer. The product is healthy enough for moms to give to their kids any time of the day and is “cool” enough for kids to eat during their morning recess. In just two years, it captured 7% of the $2 billion yogurt market.

Since then, the total U.S. yogurt market has ballooned to more than $4 billion and Go-GURT has become a ubiquitous kid food product with a slew of imitators.

Ethnography can help marketers and brands overcome all language, age and geography barriers; just ask the fly on the wall, he’s scaled ‘em all.

Analytics are NOT an Audit

A Point of View from our friends at BPA Worldwide…

By Peter Black, Senior Vice President, Business Development

To start, analytics are not an audit. An audit involves a series of checks and balances, beyond simply quality control, that tests data for accuracy. Further, audits provide standardized metrics and methodology, consistency of process, and transparency of results.

Traffic analytic tools certainly have their place as an important business resource but they do not produce audited data. From their inception, reputable companies providing analytic tools have never claimed to be auditors but they have consistently positioned themselves as “third party”. In the world of media, third party equates to an auditor. This has caused misunderstanding in the marketplace whereby analytic data has been accepted as audited data.

This is not to disparage analytic tools. They do a very good job providing actionable information to help one manage a site and improve performance. But analytic tools were never intended to produce the audited traffic data upon which an ad buy/sell decision is made. And buyers of online media need to be aware that different tools produce different results.

Standardized Metrics and Methodology
Two years ago, a white paper was issued by Stone Temple Consulting entitled “Web Analytics Shootout” (http://www.stonetemple.com/articles/analytics-report-august-2007.shtml). It is a comprehensive look at many of the popular analytic tools and explains why they produce different results.
An excerpt:
Web analytics packages, installed on the same web site, configured the same way, produce different numbers. Why?
1. By far the biggest source of error in analytics is implementation error. There are dozens (possibly more) implementation decisions made in putting together an analytics package that affect the method of counting used by each package.
2. Placement of JavaScript on the site.
3. Differences in the definition of what each package is counting. The way that analytics packages count visitors and unique visitors is based on the concept of sessions. There are many design decisions made within an analytics package that will cause it to count sessions differently, and this has a profound impact on the reported numbers.
Makes sense, right. But it’s also scary because it means data results from a single site can be inaccurate due to several factors. It also means data results from different sites are not comparable since there is no way to tell if mitigating factors are the same across all sites measured.

Let’s look at a specific example of Point #3 above using sessions and duration as the metrics.
Using analytics Package A, session begins when one arrives at a site and ends when one leaves. The session will also end if there is 30 minutes of inactivity from that visitor. So if a visitor arrives at a site, stays 5 minutes, leaves, and returns 10 minutes later again for 5 minutes, the package will report two sessions with a duration of 5 minutes each.
Using analytics Package B, a visitor exhibiting the same activity pattern (5 minutes on the site, 10 minutes away, 5 minutes back) will be reported as one session for 20 minutes. That’s because this package allows any visitor returning within 30 minutes to count as part of the original visit.
For buyers of online media, this poses a significant problem: how does one reconcile the difference between Package A and Package B in order to evaluate activity and make the best possible buy?

Consistency of Process
A further variable with analytic packages is that the user of the package controls many of the processing functions. For example, the user can control the degree to which filters are set to exclude mechanical traffic from spiders/robots. The user also controls whether to set any filters at all.
A generally accepted best practice is to filter spiders/robots listed by the Interactive Advertising Bureau ( http://www.iab.net). Analytic tools certainly have the capability to filter according to the IAB list but to what extent do they? With the user of a tool controlling the filter settings, traffic results can be manipulated. Unless all sites follow a standardized process of applying filters, as occurs in an audit, results can be questionable and are clearly not comparable.

Transparency of Results
One function of an independent media auditing firm is to make results publicly available. This is typically done through the auditing firm’s web site which buyers of online media can access to identify those audited sites in a specific vertical market. The availability of audited traffic data in a single location is a benefit to buyers as it provides an easy-to-use resource which makes the search process quicker and more efficient.
In conclusion, here’s another excerpt from the Web Analytics Shootout:

Don’t get hung up on the basic traffic numbers. The true power of web analytics comes into play when you begin doing A/B testing, multivariate testing, visitor segmentation, search engine marketing performance tracking and tuning, search engine optimization, etc.
Not a single mention in the paper of using the data for ad selling/buying. And that’s because analytic tools were never intended for this purpose. They are intended to help one better manage a site and they do a good job of that. But for an actual audit of traffic data, only a truly independent media auditor provides standardized, reliable data upon which a media evaluation can be made.
http://www.bpaww.com – check ’em out

And the input from EVOK…”Analytics, like research, can be molded to the advantage of the one gathering intended results. The benchmarking and retesting with the same analytic tool is the best we have in many cases. Urchin, for example, is often way off from Google’s analytics, but which will an advertiser use who is trying to justify the continued ad spend? We hope, and advocate, the one that shows the truest measured results that can be reproduced to show trend. And we hope, on the client side, that the knowledge base is there to understand and value the difference between true research and measurement and puffery.”