Posts Tagged ‘ market research ’

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!

Best Uses for Flash (not Gordon)

It’s been impossible to miss the storm of controversy in the tech field over Adobe Flash. By blocking Flash content on the iPhone and iPad, Apple has single-handedly inspired clients and advertisers alike to shy away from an industry standard. Under the barrage of ad campaigns and open letters, it’s easy for a marketer or advertising executive to be left wondering which way to turn, especially when so much of the debate is dominated by developers throwing around highly technical jargon. Ultimately, that decision should come from a thorough analysis of what you’re trying to accomplish and who your audience really is.

When marketers refer to using Flash, they are frequently thinking of it as a video compressor, and this is where some of the most vocal opposition to Flash comes from. The complaint is primarily poor performance in regards to CPU usage, but how accurate is that complaint? Flash performance is based on the plugin’s ability to access hardware acceleration, and Apple is not giving Adobe access to the tools they need to reduce the load.  It’s not difficult to conclude that Apple’s block is more about pushing mobile users to buy videos at their store than it is about doing them a service by blocking video readily available for streaming all over the Internet, but the bottom line is the iPhone won’t use it anytime soon. Is the alternative Apple offers in HTML5 a viable option?

According to YouTube software engineer John Harding, the answer is no. HTML5 falls short in dynamic quality control, buffering, the ability to play full-screen and as uncompiled code and suffers from the ultimate shortcoming: no protection for copyrighted material. It’s also far from being an industry standard. HTML5 has yet to adopt a standard video format, and browser inconsistencies will continue to plague HTML5 for years to come.  Video is not its only downfall either. The “canvas element” for HTML5 has been prematurely lauded as a rival to the interactive aspect of Flash. Since current experiments are crude, only sophisticated browsers support it, and few knowledgeable Flash developers would be willing to give up the wide scope of what they can already accomplish to learn it anytime soon. Flash is by nature a compiled application, something Flash game developers rely on to keep their work protected. HTML5 for games would not only require an excessively lengthy amount of coding to do the same job, it would expose it to the world.

There are alternatives to Flash that can accomplish some of the same purposes with fewer drawbacks and higher cross-platform compatibility. JQuery is quickly becoming a replacement for Flash slideshows because it is commonly supported and does the same job – a simple web effect that can take longer to replicate with Flash in terms of load time and future adjustments. Very few websites are built entirely in Flash anymore and shouldn’t be, not only because of compatibility issues and the time it takes to edit, but also because nothing beats the ease of establishing good relationships with search engines like text that lives outside of a compiled application.

Flash continues to have no reliable competition when it comes to interactive games, activities and animation, as the protection it offers and the breadth of its capabilities have yet to find an equal. Offering this kind of rich media should be something your website does as an enticement to engage, but it should not be a cornerstone of your content. This way, search engines and visitors averse to plugins will still find plenty to explore. Javascript is readily available for your developer to include, and will show alternative content should your visitor arrive without the plugin installed. But what about all of the buzz around mobile devices? Who knows who might be looking at your website and what their capabilities are…shouldn’t you leave Flash out of the mix completely just to be safe?

It’s important to keep your audience in perspective. For the average website, between 75 and 85 percent of visitors are on a PC using Internet Explorer, and in spite of the hype, those visiting on a cell phone or iPad will be less than 1 percent. Consider this: are your friends with iPhones using them to browse business websites or do you more frequently see them using applications developed specifically for their device? While the number of users visiting websites on mobile devices will surely rise, analytic trends from the last five years show that these numbers have hardly budged up to this very week, and any change is likely to be slower than you might think.

Although the direction of Internet development is always bright and exciting, it’s also certain to be a vast hodgepodge of alternate technologies, for nothing in the world of competing browsers has ever been consistent. Keeping a close eye on your analytics will guide the Internet developer to the right tool for the right job, and Flash will continue to be one of those tools for the foreseeable future.

Direct Marketing – and why you shouldn’t discount it.

For many companies it’s a real challenge to decide which advertising medium to use, especially in today’s tech-driven environment. One bad decision could cost a company their entire marketing budget, so how do they decide which medium is right? There’s the Internet, newspapers, magazines, television, radio, social media and more. But for some reason, the channel that most seem to discount these days is direct marketing – and well, that’s just crazy.

With social media on the rise, and being significantly cheaper than other mediums, many companies are going for it. Great if you are opening the hottest new club in town, but what about if you’re trying to sell hearing aids? Twitter may not be your best bet! So, when deciding what channel to use, the first step is to identify your target market and the best way to reach them.

Let’s stick with the hearing aid example. Although an increasing number of seniors own computers and are savvy about navigating them, studies show there are better ways to reach them in a more targeted fashion, like by direct mail.

While Internet spending has increased dramatically over the last several years and newspaper advertising has decreased dramatically, direct mail spending has remained virtually flat. Flat doesn’t sound good, does it? But really, this means that it’s a tried and true marketing medium that has stayed consistent throughout the years.

Direct marketing, as defined by Wikipedia, is a form of advertising that reaches its audience without using traditional, formal channels of advertising, such as TV, newspapers or radio. The goal of direct marketing is to allow businesses to communicate directly to the consumer through the use of advertising techniques such as flier and catalogue distribution, mailing of promotional letters, and street advertising.

There are several advantages to direct marketing. Here are a few:

1. It enables you to send your message directly to the consumer, without interference.  For instance, when it comes to TV spots, how many people now Tivo and DVR their favorite TV shows, and skip right through the commercials, blasphemous to an advertiser, but it happens nonetheless!

2. It also allows you to personalize your message to each consumer. “Dear Mr. Jones, we would like to offer you a special discount…”

3. Direct mail also can include a call to action, which allows for tracking. For example, if you ask consumers to “bring this coupon into the store to receive your discount,” you can actually tally up the amount of coupons the store receives to see the success of your campaign. Other calls to action include, “call this number” or “logon to this website.”

4. Although there are many forms of direct marketing – telemarketing, e-mail marketing, door-to-door leaflet marketing, broadcast marketing – direct mail remains the most popular.

5. In a study conducted by The Direct Marketing Association, it was found that 57% of the campaigns studied employed integrated strategies.  Of those, almost half (47%) launched their campaigns with a direct mail piece.

6. Additionally, although we were using the hearing aid company as an analogy marketing to seniors, direct mail can also be used successfully to market to all age and ethnic groups.

Direct Mail and Coupons

For the first time since the Depression, the Gen Y group and their followers, the Gen Z group, are saving more money than any of their predecessors. Although not a definite, this could be attributed to the rise of coupon usage. Where it used to be taboo to use a coupon (think standing in line behind the blue-haired lady in the grocery store, with her handful of coupons), it is now the norm and almost expected. Don’t want to spend the money for your morning latte? Probably will if you have a 50% off coupon. And what better way to receive a coupon that by having it mailed directly to your house?

So when determining how best to spend your precious marketing dollars, first and foremost consider your market and how to reach them, then make sure your messaging is clear and if using direct marketing – consider making your consumers an offer. And don’t discount direct marketing – it’s how many consumers get discounts and they love that, so you should too.

Focus on Focus Groups

In a marketplace that’s growing increasingly competitive, doing all you can to ensure the success of a new product or product line your company plans to introduce is more important than ever. Conducting a focus group is an effective means of getting valuable feedback from consumers in your target demographic.

Follow these guidelines to gather information that is accurate and useful:

• Identify the objective of the group – the more specific, the better.
• Bring all interested parties together in the planning process. Their input will create a total picture of the information you need the group to provide.
• Determine what issue or need the information you gather will address, and develop questions upon that basis.
• Keep questions to eight or fewer (preferably) to obtain the most information-rich responses.
• Select group participants carefully to provide a good cross-section of your target demographic. Avoid using employees, even if they fit the profile.
• Keep the size of the group at about eight. Contrary to common belief, more participants will dilute the results rather than represent a better sample of target market demographics.
• Don’t try to do everything in one group – the results will be too general to provide beneficial insight. Addressing one to three main issues per session is much more effective.
• Conduct more than one group session if possible. Studies reveal that when two sessions are held, 80 percent of the value of the focus group’s data comes from the second session.
• Hire an outside, professional moderator. A professional knows how to guide group dynamics and has the skill to interpret participant behavior. A group conducted by an in-house moderator risks having the results skewed toward what the moderator believes top management “wants” to hear. In keeping your competitive edge, objective is better – even if the truth hurts. Bruised egos are preferable to bruised profits. We recommend Lynette Leathers @ Mindspot, for example.

Once the data is gathered and interpreted, your company will experience real benefits from knowing more about its target market – whether the project needs some tweaking or is ready for introduction to eager consumers.