Show me a brand that hasn’t at least started to embrace the power of video, B2C or B2B, and I’ll show you a brand that is struggling to effectively reach its customer. Whether it’s through social media channels, on websites or as part of online and mobile ads, people are streaming videos at an all-time high. But just because people are watching, it doesn’t mean the videos are doing their job. Research has shown that 80% of our decisions are based on emotions, not logic. A good marketing message appeals to both. However, given the 80/20 rule, you better do everything you can to get the emotional side of this equation correct. At our agency, we have a research and analytics platform that allows us to do advanced video testing to track the emotions a viewer experiences as they watch a video. It actually monitors, measures and analyzes the viewer’s facial expressions. Based on 50+ years of facial recognition and expression research, our platform measures multiple points on a viewer’s face to tell what they are feeling as the video rolls. It also measures attentiveness and eye movement. Eyes are often referred to as a window to the soul. Well facial expressions, involuntary as they may be, serve as a window to your emotions. We use this new technology in one of two ways; to review past videos and apply insights to future productions; or integrate it into our production process to optimize the video during post production. Either way, it uses cognitive science and artificial intelligence to create actionable insights. This facial analytics tool helped us optimize recent video content for a retail client. For years, this brand had taken a traditional approach with a “black and white” retail message. The message was straightforward, informational, with a promotional offer at the end. As the brand grew, we shifted to a more experiential place showcasing emotional and lifestyle benefits. That meant our video content also had to change. We used the platform to test our past videos and integrated it into the production process for the new look and feel of the brand. The original videos had very high attentiveness and positive emotion scores throughout the spot. So the bar was already pretty high. But we were able to glean some valuable insights. For instance, opening with a wide establishing shot delayed positive viewer emotion. Tighter shots that focused on people in action generated positive emotion much faster. Heat mapping of eye movements revealed key items that viewers seemed to seek out in the video. And the length of screen time for the promotional offers had an impact on both emotions and attentiveness. While past videos already had a positive emotional base, we were able to optimize our new videos to enhance the viewers’ emotional response, even when dramatically changing the brand foundational elements. Now, I recognize that some may cringe at the thought of using AI and science to impact creative output. But we’ve made it an integral part of our video production process, because our mission is to “Win the day with data-driven ideas.” We use data to develop the customer insights that fuel our creative ideas. Being a company with a mix of right and left brained individuals, it’s not about the data or tech, but rather what we do with it to create the most compelling marketing messages for brands. A recent blog post of mine touches on the importance of nuancing the data, not blindly following it. Gaining and applying insights on the type of emotional connection your brand makes with its video content can be a real game changer.

baby boomers


Not Dead Yet!

I was recently in a media presentation where they showed an image of “Baby Boomers” as two older, very gray adults. The only positive point of the image was at least the Boomers were smiling. I immediately thought this is the problem – media companies and some brands are portraying this very lucrative group as old and behind the times. Couldn’t be further from the truth. Or, brands choose to focus on youth because they believe that will be a more positive image than showing those that are “over the hill.” Also, some brands think they don’t need to specifically address this group because “we’ll get them anyway since they watch lots of TV.” I believe this thinking is flawed. The process must start with understanding the consumer insights so you can create the right message, and then determine the right place and time to reach them. The 50+ group represents a third of the U.S. population, and accounts for $3.2 trillion of the U.S. consumer expenditures. According to a recent report from the Video Advertising Bureau, 77% of older adults feel their age group is being ignored by advertisers. They feel they are misrepresented in advertising and ignored. Certainly a missed opportunity for brands. The majority of Boomers are still working with 55% of them in the professional, management, and sales industries. They enjoy their work and it keeps them active. Boomers spend the most of their money on housing, healthcare, food – in and out of the home, and vehicles.* Brands in these categories can grow even bigger if they simply make sure their messaging resonates with those 50+. This group is only going to get larger, so what should companies do to become the 50+ target brand of choice? Brands Invest in research to determine how, where, why, and when customers use your product, especially those who are 50+. Within the 50+ group, take into consideration that there are three sub-segments: pre-retirees (age 50-62), active retirees (63-74), and seniors (75+). Dig into your customer purchase data to glean insights. It’s possible that the various segments may use the product differently. To encourage diverse thinking, ensure your marketing department is a cross-team of Gen Z, Millennials, Gen X and Boomers. Agencies Analyze the research to understand if there’s the opportunity/need to segment messaging to represent all users of the brand’s product. Demonstrate to the brand that one size does not necessarily fit all. Bring the story to life for each segment with the appropriate imaging and story – focus on attitudes. Engage with positive, real-life experiences. Boomers seek opportunities for personal growth and discovery, and ways to take control of and enrich their lives. Once you have the right message, do your homework so that the ads appear in the right place at the right time. Don’t forget that Boomers are big users of video – crossing multiple screens and platforms. Brands who are taking Boomers seriously from which we can learn: L’Oréal – with Helen Mirren hitting age head-on Toyota Venza – makes you wonder “is this what happens when you age” AARP – suggests “the rules of aging are changing” If you haven’t guessed it already, I am a Boomer and proud of it. I believe some of my best years are still in front of me and I plan to live life to the fullest. I will continue to spend my money with those brands that take the time to know me and speak to me best. Hey, if Jon Bon Jovi, Bono and the Boss are still rocking it, so are their audiences. As 78-year-old Mick Jagger says – “Start me up!” Living isn’t just for the youth. *VAB Analysis of Consumer Expenditure Survey data, U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics

brand influence

Influencers. It’s a buzz word we’ve all been hearing. Many well-known brands, from H&M to Sprint to Naked Juice, are incorporating it into their marketing strategy. According to a recent study, 79% of brands plan to assign a budget to influencer marketing this year. But what’s really the deal with influencers? Are there different types of influencers? How are they different from brand ambassadors? And on which should your brand be focusing? The main factor that separates these popular terms is their current involvement with the brand. We’ll talk more about this later. But first, why the heck are so many brands carving out marketing dollars for their social influencer campaigns? A recent study by Olapic and Cite Research shows that out of 5,000 social media users surveyed, over half of them say they trust other social media users because “they’re more authentic and trustworthy than brand-owned creative.” On average, a staggering 40% of consumers admitted to purchasing a product they’d seen on an influencer’s YouTube channel, Twitter or Instagram account. Because of their believability coupled with their frequent visibility, brands are smart to look to influential people, or even just their loyal fans, to showcase their products. What is an influencer? An influencer is someone who has a following and actively engages with a particular niche. This level of engagement means that often times they have the power to affect purchase decisions. Category examples include foodies, fashionistas, travelers, moms, and event planners – just to name a few. Quick facts about influencers: When to use: Brands should view influencers as reach tools. They’re limited in their ability to create loyalists, but their popularity generally leads to widespread exposure to folks who aren’t familiar or engaged with your brand. Utilize influencers if your brand’s goal is short-term traffic boosts, a bump in impressions, or a bump in brand awareness. Brand connection: It’s likely that the influencer had no contact or even affinity with the brand before the partnership, but their presence on social media and online make them an investment of choice. Follower size: Influencers can come in a variety of sizes, from micro-influencers with fewer than 200 followers all the way to celebrity status with millions of followers. Working with an influencer: After careful vetting and metrics are aligned, a contract is typically made between the influencer and the brand. Exclusivity: It’s important to note that an influencer may post about multiple products within their niche category, not just your brand. What is a brand ambassador? A brand ambassador is notably different from an influencer. Ambassadors are individuals who are very familiar and deeply engaged with your brand. They often post about or represent the brand in a positive light and by doing so they help to increase brand awareness and encourage trial. This person may or may not be hired by the brand, and typically has a long-term relationship with the brand. Quick facts about ambassadors: When to use: These social personalities are much more focused on engagement with their fan base and creating loyalists. Brand connection: A brand ambassador is typically someone who is already familiar with the brand, a loyal user or even a fan. Sometimes they will spontaneously talk about a brand to their friends and followers. Follower size: Their audiences are mostly composed of friends and friends of friends. Think 2,000 followers, not 200,000. But because their followers have a closer relationship to the ambassador, there may be a deeper connection between the two. Their ability to influence purchase behavior should not be overlooked. This narrow group of followers is very likely to be actively engaged and responsive to the ambassador’s content. Working with a brand ambassador: Because people often become ambassadors for brands they’re already loyal to, it can be easier for your brand to create a lasting partnership. In an ambassador’s eyes, a simple reach out from a brand they love is often more important to them than monetary compensation in exchange for posts. When AdWeek asked social creators what they want in return from marketers, 90% said free products or services from the brand. In other words, an ambassador could be motivated by “compensation” in the form of getting to try a new LTO before it’s launched, being asked for input on potential new products, given gear store items, and having access to private brand events. Quality over quantity When it comes to influential people on social media, number of followers isn’t everything. What’s far more important is the level of engagement they receive on each post. Shake Shack, for example, used a strategy of recruiting 3,200 micro-influencers, generating an average of just 6,750 followers each. Proving there’s more than one way to reach your metrics. For both influencers and ambassadors, the strategy must start with an objective and a clear understanding of how to measure success. Focus your marketing dollars on a social campaign that fits your goal. If the objective is raising awareness and growing followers, influencers may be the way to go. But if your goal is to increase frequency of visits and strengthen loyalty, a brand ambassador approach may be a better fit. Either way, it is far more important to reach the people that count, than to count the people you reach. Download our handy infographic to reference the distinctions between brand influencers and ambassadors.


We have had the distinct pleasure of working with many established brands over the 15 years we have been in business. Personally, I have had the opportunity to partner with many more established brands over the course of my marketing career. So how do we define an established brand? First of all, it doesn’t start with a defined length of time in existence. Certainly a brand can’t reach established status overnight, so it does have to be in existence for a period of time. But it doesn’t have to be over 25 years, or 15, or 10 for that matter. It just needs to be around long enough to have developed a long-term relationship with its customers. In today’s fast-paced, technology-driven world, it can happen in as little as five years. Even with a long sales’ cycle, most brands would have had the opportunity to go through a second “buying” round with its customers over a five-year period. To be an established brand, the brand should have also developed a place within its category. It has to be known, have some specific character traits that its customers would clearly associate with the brand. Any brand that has been around awhile runs the risk of becoming stale or lazy. Often my work with established brands has been around helping them become “unstuck” in some way. Sometimes they needed to innovate as far as products or services are concerned. Other times they simply needed to reevaluate how they should communicate with today’s customer. They needed someone to help them decide which parts of their brand history should be carried forward and which ones should be reinvented. Having an established brand can be a powerful thing. So if your brand has a great history, don’t fall into the trap of thinking that having a heritage will slow you down. You’re in good company as long as you find ways to stay relevant.

mobile invoice

There has been a lot of marketing and advertising money spent on chasing the ever-elusive millennial. While we can’t lose sight of them, brands need to turn their attention to Generation Z, those born between 1995 and 2012. And Gen Z couldn’t be more different from their predecessors. Their families are made up of same-sex households, working moms, and stay at home dads. Like millennials, Z’s are digital natives and want instant gratification – within 6 to 8 seconds, but that’s where the similarities end. Independent, ambitious, authentic and diverse are just a few adjectives which describe Z’s. While millennials are considered optimistic, Gen Z is more realistic. Growing up during the Great Recession of 2008 has this generation looking for great deals and valuing the dollar. For example, Z’s want to be part of something. However, a religious non-profit group I work with found that Gen Z has fewer religious affiliations than past generations. It used to be one’s faith brought young people to service. Now it’s service that brings them to faith. Understanding this difference was key to the messaging strategy for our non-profit group. For brands to be successful, it’s critical to understand Gen Z’s journey and then market and message to them accordingly. For financial brands, Gen Z is learning from millennials’ money mistakes. They have seen the student debt crisis and want no part of that. Z’s are working to pay for school as they go, and even opting to attend community colleges and trade schools. Twenty-one percent had a savings account before the age of ten.* Many in this generation have a “side hustle” – a way to make extra cash and often times that “hustle” is via the internet. Forty-six percent of Gen Z have not been inside a bank in the last month – most likely because 48% have a money or payment app on their phone.* *Center for Generational Kinetics 2017 State of Gen Z Gen Z is eager to learn more about their finances, but it needs to be on their terms. Capital One is a brand that is doing this well with their new cafes. These cafes are welcoming and not focused on selling. Also, these digital natives are hooked on YouTube. Consider utilizing YouTube with short videos to help educate Generation Z become even more financial savvy. Gen Z prefers to engage with brands via Instagram over Facebook – but focus on sharing how you can help them be successful, lay low on pushing benefits. And don’t forget to personalize your message. Insurance is another category where Generation Z will be turning it upside down. This group’s sharing habits mandate new types of insurance coverage. There is a growing demand for customized insurance solutions, driven by the sharing economy (e.g. single-asset coverage), and small business (Airbnb limited coverage). Auto pay per mile coverage (due to lower auto ownership) is another example of how evolving lifestyles will change product offers. Technology is evolving rapidly to become more customer-centric. For example, the process for enrolling and receiving updates is seamless and integrated into customers’ lives. Automation/bots/virtual agents help reduce costs for insurers while assisting customers, actually increasing successful completion of forms for new policies. Tech is also helping relationships between insurer and customer become more proactive not reactive, with personal monitoring devices for health and home. Building a two-way relationship is key. Don’t be shy about involving this group as you are designing new products. As a brand, if you haven’t already, you need to embrace Generation Z on their terms. Understand your brand’s customer journey – Z’s are digital natives, so understand where and how mobile fits Create digital videos – how can you use this tool to make Gen Z even smarter? Educate with YouTube, engage with Instagram Involve them when concepting new products Focus on selling the success Z will achieve by using your brand, not pushing the benefits Get to the point quickly – remember Generation Z’s 6 to 8 second filter Who’s next? Gen Alpha – the children of millennials. Start preparing now – these are the kids growing up with voice-controlled devices. Connecting consumers with brands can be a complicated feat in today’s ever-changing world. Truly understanding your audience can help a brand navigate through the customer’s journey. Read the article on The Financial Brand:

voice search

Why is audio suddenly so important? Podcasts. Music-streaming services. Radio. They all have one (and many) things in common – their rapid growth sheds light on the growing importance of audio in our society. Because of this, it’s becoming exceedingly important to factor in how your brand plans to reach your target audience through audio services. In a world that is so ingrained in a “go, go, go” mentality, it’s crucial for your brand to be there for your target audience when it’s most convenient for them, and many smart speakers are doing some of that hard work for us marketers, placing themselves in cars, homes, and even in hospitals to show they are as useful as they are trendy. Amazon Echo, Google Assistant, Cortana Home Assistant. They’re the perfect gift for all ages and – more importantly – can be the perfect marketing tool if used properly. Voice search technology has opened up an entirely new way to communicate with your customers that we never thought possible: a one-on-one conversation in their homes. A significant factor in the success of voice search heroes such as Amazon and Google is their realization to make their product relatable as opposed to robotic. Over the years, they have perfected the art of personifying their smart devices with their names, common cultural phrases, and even their ability to hear emotion. Just think about all the most popular smart devices and a few names will come to mind: Siri, Alexa, Cortana. All friendly, welcoming names. All easy to pronounce. It just wouldn’t have the same ring to it if you had to say, “Hey, Microsoft.” Toni Reid, the VP of Alexa Experience and Echo Devices for Amazon, says, “In addition to the ability for our customers to access Alexa anywhere they want to, we also want those interactions to be as natural as possible. Our goal is to have Alexa be humanlike.” Amazon’s success can also be attributed to their spectacular product placement – placing themselves where customers find them most resourceful – in their living rooms, kitchens, and even in their cars. Brands of almost all categories would be smart to follow suit. But why the sudden popularity? Smart speaker users are utilizing the product in a variety of ways – from ordering your groceries, to asking about the weather, to opening a music-streaming app. A study by Google revealed that a whopping 20% of google mobile searches are done via voice, while 25% of Windows 10 searches occur using voice. And that number is only growing. The number of homes with smart speakers is also rising exponentially. Pandora reports that the ownership of smart speakers in the US has grown 157% in just one year. Who is using voice search and how? Today, you’ll be hard-pressed to find a smart device without voice technology. Adobe performed a study by surveying 1,000 US adults and asked, “How do you use voice technology?” The following are the results: Directions while driving — 52% Making a phone call — 51% Sending a text — 50% Checking the weather — 49% Playing music — 49% General web searches — 48% Setting alarms — 41% Checking the news — 27% Sending email — 17% Shopping — 16% Even more interesting are the results of asking these same US adults how they can imagine using voice technology in the future: Updating work tasks and calendar events — 43% Making a restaurant reservation — 39% Booking a medical appointment — 37% Checking my bank balance — 33% Requesting hotel amenities, such as room service — 31% Requesting grocery delivery 30% Making payment to friends, family, rent or monthly bills — 30% Smart devices with successful voice integration have reaped the benefits of use by Boomers to Gen Z, and everyone in between. While many associate new technologies with younger generations, a recent study shows that out of a sample of the population, 74% aged 18-24 said they use the voice function on their smart phone, while 35-44 year olds followed closely behind at 72% (Source: Advice Local). Come on, we all have that one aunt that starts speaking loudly into their phone speaker in the middle of dinner. The ratio of adults to teens who use voice search daily is nearly split down the middle at 44% adults to 55% of teens. It is an extension of a diverse range of people whom are using it every day – from a grandmother who prefers to live on her own, to a 5 year old who wants to hear the Baby Shark song for the eightieth time. It may be surprising to hear that people aged as high as 72 are utilizing a smart device for their voice capabilities. These devices are giving this generation their freedom back, and they grant independence to people who could otherwise have a difficult time doing everyday tasks like turning their lights on and off, getting their prescriptions, or answering the phone. Here are five reasons why a large percentage of Boomers and older are counting on Alexa, Google Assistant, or another smart speaker on the daily: It’s easier for some to talk than to type on a phone or computer. With the right “skills” or “actions,” smart speakers can provide basic health readings for things like diabetes. The smart speaker can help people who struggle with mobility with tasks like turning on/off lights or changing the thermostat. It can also allow for a certain level of companionship. There are skills such as “Ask My Buddy” that can alert someone for you if there’s an emergency. For similar reasons, smart speakers like Amazon Alexa are also starting to be seen in hospitals, where patients can use it to listen to music, change the channel on the TV or call a nurse. And it gets better. The request from the patient will then be funneled directly to the appropriate person, depending on the need. On the other end of the spectrum, younger generations are using this new technology to do everything from converting measurements in the kitchen to finding their closest location to vote. It is also common to hear on the internet that learning how to “adult” is just learning how to Google stuff. How important will this technology be to the daily struggles of these generations? Likely very. How are brands using voice search to reach millennials and Gen Z? Sure, people may often be multitasking when they ask their Google Home device a question. They could be making dinner, getting ready to head out the door, or just out of reach of their phone. No matter the case, they’re still confiding in their smart device to answer their burning questions, and this is where clever marketers can swoop in. Jackie Stone of Marketing Insider stated, “It’s an amazing opportunity for brands to insert themselves nimbly into the voice search space, where people are looking for answers and recommendations in real time.” And because there doesn’t seem to be any plan to integrate advertising into these devices, it’s crucial to develop a presence either in SEO or by developing a useful app that customers can access via their smart speaker. Amazon calls these “skills” while Google calls them “actions.” Here are three real-life examples of how brands made voice search technology work for their goals: Sephora recently teamed up with Google Assistant to help smart-device users apply their makeup. A user can say, “Hey Google, show me how to apply foundation” and a video tutorial will automatically play hands-free. Users can pause, rewind, or fast forward to the parts they need, and with that, the battle to keep makeup off your phone or tablet is a thing of the past. With the growing popularity of YouTube makeup tutorials, this partnership is a smart one, allowing users to still access these videos but with a greater ease of use. Tide developed a “Stain Remover” skill that can help you with up to 200 different spills and mishaps from coffee to grass stains. One reviewer said, “It’s like having Mom on speed dial, but I don’t have to get asked if I have a boyfriend.” A useful tool with an added benefit. Google is also dedicated to brands that want to partner with Google Assistant, and say they always keep the consumer in mind. They even have a team dedicated to product partnerships that helps brands develop an “action” that connects the user to the brand. Ticketmaster, for example, has an action that allows users to ask what concerts or local events are going on this weekend. You can even ask something specific like, “When is Ariana Grande touring?” and then purchase your ticket for a show. Marketers and Smart Devices: How we hope to collab in the near future. As voice technology improves and our smart devices can do more complex tasks for us, it gives us marketers more opportunity to reach consumers when they could utilize us most. In the future, marketers are predicted to have the ability to utilize PPC strategies and search history data to reach consumers most interested in their product or service. What if a brand could target a smart speaker user based on when they last visited that brand’s website? It’s a new advertising avenue that could truly change the game. Similarly to how Amazon has a “one-click to buy” option on their site, there could be an opportunity to develop a skill or action that enables a purchase with just a simple phrase, such as “Hey Alexa, order my favorite pizza at Papa Johns.” In the name of convenience, apps like Uber Eats and GrubHub could benefit from this advancement in technology and collaboration with smart device giants. Google was the first to test incorporating ads. When you ask questions using the voice to text method using an Android phone, you may be presented with an ad. “When relevant, these results may include the existing ads that you’d see on Search today,” they said in a statement. For example, if you ask your Android “how to travel with dog”, the results will show relevant results, including an ad from BMW that suggests their cars are pet-friendly. There are many predictions out there, but it seems many voice search innovators like Google want to make sure that advertising won’t interfere with user experience and fear that ads could compromise consumers’ trust for receiving accurate and reliable information via their smart device. There is also an element of ease of use with smart speakers because they provide seamless, uninterrupted content. Advertising efforts will need to be integrated in a natural way that doesn’t degrade the overall experience. What will improve both experience and trust? We believe the answer is a healthy combination of data (i.e. stats on consumer behavior) and creative thinking. So what can your brand do now to prepare for the future of voice technology? Ensure your online presence is optimized for mobile. In doing so, you will be creating a foundation for future organic searches as well as paid ads. And although the world is transitioning toward more audio content, don’t underestimate the potential of visual integration with voice search technology. Google and Amazon have already created devices that do both – the Google Nest Hub and the Amazon Echo Show. Main Takeaways: Audio content is not a trend. It is and will continue to be an integral part of how we live and communicate. Your smart device can tell you a joke, or read you top news on Twitter, but in the future, they’re projected to do so much more. The voice search world is still a jungle, with loads of opportunity. Because advertising by voice search capabilities is relatively new, there is a mass amount of opportunity for marketers to jump in and get their feet wet with little regulation. Across the board, leaders in the smart device world are reporting exponential growth in mobile search usage, and there are no signs of slowing down. They’re reaching all demographics. No matter your audience or industry, there’s a strong likelihood that a considerable portion of your target is using voice search daily. While helping to free older generations from certain mobility issues (turning off lights, changing the thermostat), the younger demographic utilizes it for tasks associated with learning how to “adult,” like converting baking measurements or getting a stain out of a shirt. It’s an extremely versatile tool, and could bode well for marketers. Data and analytics are available for smart device partners and marketers. Smart device innovators like Amazon Alexa know that usefulness of their skills is key to the success of the device. They want success as much as advertisers do, because the skills or actions can impact the experience of a smart device user. Amazon Alexa’s analytics dashboard, for example, will show marketers when, how, and why customers are using your app, all of which are crucial to understand how to improve your skill to better fit your targets’ needs. It puts your brand right in the palm of your consumer’s hand – literally. In a world that is so ingrained with an “on-the-move” mentality, it’s crucial for your brand to be there for your target audience when it’s most convenient for them. And for some users, that means using their phone to answer pertinent questions on the go, like “What’s the weather today?” or “What’s on my calendar tomorrow?” And innovators in the smart speaker world know that it’s all about location. Currently, they are in their homes and in their cars. Soon, they may also be in our hotel rooms, hospitals and schools. The technology is improving, and consumer expectations are rising. The future of voice search goes beyond its current abilities. Users will expect smart devices to help them do more complex tasks like make a reservation at a restaurant, book a doctor’s appointment, request hotel amenities, or even learn a new language. These are all opportunities for marketers to be there when it’s most convenient for the consumer. But for now, voice search innovators are still looking critically into the best way to integrate advertising. In the meantime, marketers can prepare by maintaining our brand’s online presence and ensuring it’s always optimized for mobile. Marketers know that to stay top of mind, they must not aim to reach the consumer, but to allow the consumer easy access to reach us – our brands – in their own time. Adopting voice integration may or may not be the right platform for your brand, but if nothing else, remember to think outside the box when it comes to reaching your target consumer. With the right tool, they could be easier to reach than you think.

sound design

All brands understand the importance of visual identity. Brand guidelines often dedicate multiple pages for the logo alone. But there is an equally important brand asset that is often overlooked or ignored. It’s sound. Sonic or audio branding is a powerful tool that can be used to create mood, act as a memory peg, reinforce values and strengthen an emotional bond. Think about how a movie score impacts your experience, or the music that’s playing in your favorite store or restaurant. It’s an important sensory element that impacts how you feel about a product or experience. Jingles have long been a staple of advertisers. But sonic branding has evolved to include more sophisticated elements like brand mnemonics – little ear worms that burrow into your brain and remain with you throughout the day. Things like the four electronic notes that identify IT products with Intel chips inside. You get a feeling of reassurance knowing that the product is made with top quality components. Like the Good Housekeeping seal of approval for your ears. It’s the reason why whenever you hear, “We are Farmers”. you automatically go “Bom-ba-dom-bom, bom-bom-bom.” Or the app on your phone plays the ESPN audio brand whenever a score is updated. Auditory assets like these make the brand more memorable and help to communicate the brand’s essence to your target audience. It becomes your audio logo. And it works whether you’re watching or not. Which is super important given the multi-screen habits that has become the norm for most consumers. Fact is, audio surrounds us every day. Not just on radio, but on TV, video, podcasts, music-streaming platforms. It’s virtually everywhere. A recent survey by Pandora found that 50% of all Americans listen to streaming audio weekly. They spend more time listening to streaming audio than they do on social networking. And it’s taking on a greater role than just entertainment. As voice-powered personal assistants like Siri, Alexa and Google Home have become part of our everyday lives, audio branding has taken on an even greater role. Juniper Research estimates about 3.25 billion voice assistants are in use today and predicts that number will grow to 8 billion in 2023. These new technologies don’t just talk at consumers, they have enabled brands to have a two-way voice dialogue with customers. It’s another opportunity to use your sonic brand to make a sensory impression that sticks with your customers. That’s why it’s so important to develop a consistent sonic identity that can be used to create a consistent sound across everything from ads to on-hold music and the sound played at trade show booths. More and more brands are dedicating time and effort to how they sound and how their brand is heard online and beyond. If you aren’t leveraging your audio brand, you’re missing a powerful opportunity to forge a stronger emotional bond with consumers in today’s connected and voice-activated world.

Consumer behaviors

Through the entirety of the COVID-19 global pandemic, companies have stressed what they’re doing in order to combat the spread of the virus and showcase what they’re doing as a brand to help out. But what about the consumer? Surely by the end of all this, the average consumer will have come out the other side with a different perspective on this situation and/or the buying experiences they go through. The social team at Brandience has been compiling research from a few publications such as Hootsuite, Yext, and Adweek to help gain a better understanding of consumer attitudes and insights during this crisis and beyond. Here’s some of what we found: 76% of social media users say they’ve increased their social media usage since COVID-19 There’s been more than a 70% increase in the number of Facebook Video Calls and WhatsApp The customer purchase journey is rapidly changing; focus has largely shifted to digital ads/buying experience Social media now acts as a one-stop-shop for the customer experience – it’s the quickest way to answer specific questions, stay in contact with customers/users and measure successes Even with many businesses starting to open back up, there’s a very real possibility that some of these shifts in consumer habits might stick around for a while. So what does all this mean for brands on social media and where do brands go from here? Communication between customers and brands is more important now than ever, and social media is the perfect place to stay ahead of the curve and build relationships. Start with what you know about your brand on social – are there FAQs you can already answer for your audience? Are locations temporarily closed? Did your business move exclusively to drive/carryout/delivery only? Listen to your audience and seek out trends. Social media listening reveals customer questions, complaints and other data that help businesses make smarter, data-driven decisions Distribute across channels – consider how to answer customer questions proactively. Detailed questions from customers vary greatly on social media. It’s important to remain as responsive as possible on social media to anticipate customer needs. COVID-19 is forcing change for both businesses and the consumer. Remaining proactive on social media allows you to recognize real-time trends straight from the source and make well-informed business decisions based on your findings. This social media bubble presents brands with a unique opportunity to build stronger relationships with customers through transparency, trust and two-way conversations. Now more than ever, customers care about what a company stands for, and a business can use social media to establish just that.

audio branding

If you aren’t thinking about your audio brand, you may be missing a great opportunity to make your brand more memorable and meaningful. My last blog was about the recent resurgence and growing importance of audio branding. If you missed it, check it out here. In the blog, I mentioned an audio branding initiative we recently completed for the Cincinnati Association for the Blind and Visually Impaired (CABVI). Audio branding for an organization that serves the blind. Sounds like a no brainer, right? But they had never done it before. And the time was right, as the agency prepared to introduce a new logo and visual identity. First a little history on the CABVI and its brand. The organization is a private, not-for-profit agency offering a broad range of vision rehabilitation services for people of all ages who are blind or visually impaired. It began in 1911 as the Cincinnati Association for the Welfare of the Blind. The name has changed several times through the decades. In 2004, it became Cincinnati Association for the Blind and Visually Impaired. But the name was found to be long and it created branding challenges. So in 2019, the board agreed to abbreviate to the acronym CABVI. This latest change to the visual brand identity presented a perfect opportunity to introduce an audio brand element that would be linked to the new logo and make it more memorable. So we set out to create an audio mnemonic that will act as a musical memory peg with an emotional connection to the CABVI brand. We worked with a composer to explore several options. Each consisted of five notes to represent the five characters in the acronym. But we weren’t just looking for a catchy hook. It needed to support CABVI’s brand character and core values. The creative process was driven by inspiration from words in their vision: “Empowering people who are blind or visually impaired with opportunities to seek independence.” Along with their values of compassion, hope, integrity and collaboration. As well as the sense of optimism captured in the new tagline “Building Brighter Futures for People with Vision Loss.” Early in the process, we determined the brand would benefit greatly by including a vocal representation in the audio mnemonic. It’s especially helpful for those with vision loss to hear a verbalization of the agency name. We chose a chorus of male and female singers to sing the CABVI melody to symbolize inclusivity, collaboration and compassion. Verbalization of the logo aids memorability and brand association, while the instrumental elements provide an emotional connection. While we experimented with a variety of different orchestrations, the final mnemonic features a solo piano to communicate simplicity, clarity and focus. A strong chord progression leads with a pair of eighth notes for a burst of energy. From there, the shape moves down and then ends with a surprising leap up to deliver a feeling of optimism and hope for a brighter future. The final note is accented with a glockenspiel, adding a touch of brightness which ties into the yellow dot on the “i” in the CABVI logo. We provided the audio element fully mixed, instrumental only, and a capella vocal for different applications This new audio brand was launched along with the new visual logo and is currently being used at the end of TV and radio advertising, as well as internal and external videos. There are plans to incorporate it on their website and “on-hold” phone service, too. And we continue to explore more ways to connect the visual and audio brand elements. Over time, CABVI’s audio brand will become as much a part of their brand identity as the visual logo. They will become linked in the public’s mind, strengthening the emotional bond between CABVI, its clients and donors. It’s too soon to measure success, but the early reviews have been strong. And the value of the audio brand will only continue to grow through repetition and familiarity. Play the :05 video clip below to hear the CABVI brand mnemonic paired with new logo animation. Video


As a lover of forensic science, I know how the smallest clue can help solve the biggest puzzle. And that’s why I’m excited about how we work with data at Brandience. Data and science are inseparable. The definition of science is turning knowledge into the form of testable predictions. But where do you start? Ask a question – it begins by understanding what are you trying to learn and how will it be measured. The more specific you can be, the better. The answer to which customer segments are most profitable will provide better actionable opportunities than how well are we doing? Background research – what data are you collecting? Many companies collect lots of data, but is it the right data? Smart data helps solve business challenges. To get the best insights you have to start by gathering valuable information. Look for trends and correlations. Marrying both quantitative and qualitative data can also produce beneficial results. Construct a hypothesis – creating dashboards and reports is very different from hypothesizing, analyzing and optimizing your data. Think about this step as how can the past build a better future. Maybe you don’t have the resources to handle your data needs – Brandience can help. Test your hypothesis by experimenting – develop an educated guess, or a prediction that can be tested. Collect as many observations as possible about the challenge you are trying to examine. Get into the market quickly. Consider testing various customer segments and offers, and then optimize accordingly. Analyze your data and draw a conclusion – we’ve all heard the statement “garbage in, garbage out.” That couldn’t be more true than in the data world. How clean is your data? Prepare for this step by collecting complete data that provides the most valuable insight into your customer’s behavior. Communicate your results – does your company have a data-driven culture or is the data tightly held by a few people? For data to truly impact your success it must be embraced, respected and shared. Whatever you do, don’t manipulate the facts to fit an agenda. As in science, data analysis should become the foundation for all business decisions. Think of it as real-time perspective of your customers’ behaviors. Strong analysis can smartly influence product, promotion, price, place and people.

brand fun

Brands have personalities. Like the friends you choose, you want to hang out with brands that are fun and share similar interests. You want to spend time with them and, more importantly, share them with other friends. That’s why branded entertainment is booming. It’s a way for brands to build stronger relationships with their customers. The bonds of friendship are much deeper than a typical buyer/seller relationship. The strategy is not new. It dates back to the early days of radio when brands would sponsor serial dramas, followed by P&G’s soap operas on TV in the 50’s & 60’s. But the way brands employ the strategy has become more sophisticated through the years. And today it has become a necessary and effective part of the marketing mix for most brands. Branded entertainment comes in many forms. The LEGO® Movie is one of the more obvious types. It feels like entertainment but, in effect, it’s like watching a two-hour commercial for LEGO® products. Imagine how many people took their kids straight from the movie theater to the mall to buy their toys. Great for the kids, but it’s so in your face that some parents may be left with a negative impression of the brand. Red Bull is another brand that has embraced branded entertainment in a big way. The brand’s lifestyle is high-energy, adrenaline junkies who love to watch and participate in extreme sports. So they created Red Bull TV, where fans of the brand can watch top athletes perform on demand. The brand presence is minimal – sometimes just a logo on a ramp or on a helmet. It’s never the focus. And the product isn’t even mentioned. Yet, the brand still gets credit for entertaining the customer and sharing a mutual interest. These examples require a large investment in marketing dollars. But you don’t have to be a big brand with deep pockets to take advantage the benefits of branded entertainment. Many brands are finding more organic (and far less costly) ways to entertain us with their branded content. A similar effect can be replicated on a much smaller scale on social media with branded story-telling videos, gamification (like crossword puzzles, seek and find, surveys), GIPHY stickers, Instagram wallpapers – even old school branded swag like t-shirts, flip flops and koozies. Things consumers WANT to own and share… not just because we want them to. There’s a key difference between traditional content marketing and branded entertainment. Content marketing typically focuses on the product or service and its benefits. The intent is to push the USP or key features… you know, to SELL something. Branded content/entertainment tends to be more immersive and provides something of value to the consumer. Something that resonates at an emotional level. Something we call “emotional ROI.” According to a recent study quoted in Ad Age, branded content makes people happy (62% more positive reaction), happy people remember your brand (67% found branded content more influential) and happy people who remember your brand will purchase (17% lift in “very likely” to buy featured brand). Those are pretty powerful reasons to entertain with branded content. It’s a way for your brand to share what you’re all about – your lifestyle, ideals and values – so you can connect with consumers at a deeper level. Emotional connections like these will help to build brand loyalty over time. Ultimately, the strategic content approach of branded entertainment should be used to complement your other marketing/media efforts (which are still super important). It provides an opportunity to take the positive experience viewers have while consuming your content and connect those feelings to your brand. When they do, they’ll want to share that feeling with others. Because that’s what good friends do.


As a copywriter, I collaborate with lots of folks, from designers to account managers, partners to clients, and it always makes the work better. When different people with different ways of thinking put their heads together, ideas suddenly get bigger (and better) than any one person could make them. That’s the beauty of collaborating, and it’s not limited to the ad biz. No matter the industry or project, teamwork skills are essential. Here are seven ways to up your collaboration game: Speak up. If there’s something you don’t quite understand, or need clarified, there is no shame in asking. Zero. Better to ask now than the day before a big deadline, when you realize you’ve been going about something all wrong. Same goes for your capacity. If you feel overwhelmed, or need help prioritizing a heavy workload, talk to your manager. Speak up now while there’s still plenty of time to find a solution. Own your role. Know what’s expected of you, then meet–better yet, exceed–those expectations. Respect the roles of others too. If you’re frustrated with how a teammate is doing (or not doing) his or her job, don’t start doing it for them. Instead, ask how you can help and work together (collaborate!) to successfully complete the project. Process, process, process. Have a process and stick to it. Take proofreading, for example. Seems like a straightforward process. You review something for grammatical errors, typos and so on. But what happens when your proofreader gets slammed with 10 things to proof, and they all need to be reviewed, corrected and sent back to a client in the next hour? A process establishes timing and expectations, preventing problems later. More talking, less typing. If you’re writing an email and wonder if you’re making sense, stop typing and pick up the phone, or ask team members to have a quick huddle. Email is great for quick, specific requests, and even longer recaps. But it’s best to talk out the trickier parts of a project or request. Respect. When you’re in a meeting, don’t interrupt someone else. Listen respectfully before chiming in. And respect your teammates’ time. A project that is urgent for you might be less urgent for someone else. We all have to juggle projects and balance our workload. Follow through. Don’t leave people hanging, be it a client or coworker. If you say you’re going to do something, do it. Don’t make excuses. We’re all bound to forget something every now and then (we’re human, after all), but making it a habit causes problems for everyone. Celebrate success. Maybe you won an account or the client’s approval on a big project. Maybe your company met a financial goal or earned an award. Whatever the case, take time to celebrate big wins together. Step away from your desks, even if just for 30 minutes, and let the high fives fly.


Many brands rely on social teams to capture organic images for posts on their platforms. Audience expectations and the nature of the social media have made less polished photography more acceptable, but that doesn’t diminish the value of capturing the right image. For any business whose focus is selling a product, sound photography techniques make a difference. Understanding the basics of shooting photographs in manual mode is an easy way to take basic photography to the next level. Shooting in manual mode, with the correct light readings, the right focus and correct shutter speed can help your business make an ordinary product look like the best and brightest product on the market. Your followers won’t know or care about how the image was created, but carefully crafted images generate a subconscious sensory reaction that results in a positive brand impression. Automatic Versus Manual Mode Shooting in automatic mode is quick and easy, but for a business whose sales revolve around showing a product in the best light, shooting in manual mode had distinct advantages. It enables the photographer to make colors pop, let more light into the lens, and capture an image at the precise exposure. According to E-commerce website Bargain Fox, 93% of shoppers consider images essential when making a purchasing decision, so it’s only right that a business consider their product photography an essential part of their selling process. Shooting in manual mode breaks down into three simple settings: ISO number Aperture Shutter Speed Understanding these settings is the key to knowing how adjusting a certain setting will change the look of the picture. So, let’s dive into how each setting in manual mode works, and how manipulating those settings can make for the best picture possible. ISO Number The ISO number is simply a scale that determines how sensitive the camera is to light. ISO numbers range from 200 to 1600; the higher the ISO number the more sensitive your camera is to light. Let’s imagine you’re shooting indoors, with a single light on in the room. You would use a higher ISO number in order to allow your camera to let more light into the lens (ISO 400-800). On the flip side, if you’re shooting outdoors on a bright sunny day, you’ll want to use a lower ISO setting, to limit the amount of light into the camera. In this situation, less light allows colors in the photograph to pop more. I recommend experimenting with different ISO numbers, because with practice you can tell what light settings deliver the best results in different light. Aperture Setting The next setting to focus on is the camera’s aperture. This determines the depth of focus. Aperture is also often referred to as the “f-stop.” Most digital cameras have a f-stop scale between f/4 and f/22. The lower the number, the tighter the area of focus. An image captured in f/4 will have a very tight focus on the subject while things in the foreground and background appear blurry. An aperture of f/22, on the other hand, will keep everything in focus. Just like with the ISO number of the camera, setting the desired aperture takes practice. But, when used correctly, it empowers the photographer to control the visual emphasis within the image. Shutter Speed Lastly, we have the camera’s shutter speed. Simply put, shutter speed is how quickly the camera takes the picture. It’s a measure of how fast the lens closes and reopens when snapping a picture, which can be anywhere between 30” to 1/1000 (seconds). Choosing a longer shutter speed allows you to create a motion blur which can be used to add energy or suggest speed. A shorter shutter speed enables you to capture fast moving subjects (think sports images) in sharp detail. Shutter speed for most digital cameras can be seen through the view finder with an adjustable wheel to set the desired shutter speed for any given picture. Expect more from your photographs Keeping these techniques in mind is especially helpful for businesses where product photography is crucial. The subtleties within your image can be the difference between a casual glance and a deeper impression. As with anything in life, practice makes perfect, so get out there and try manual photography for yourself! It can have a dramatic effect on the customer’s purchase decision.

5 stars

If you had asked me 5 years ago if I would ever eat charcoal, I surely would have said no. So why am I so excited now, walking down the street, spoon in hand, with a bowl of charcoal ice cream? It seems like every time I hop on YouTube or Instagram, I see someone using this solid black substance in the most unexpected of ways – mixing it in their water, their face masks, even brushing their teeth with it. So I just had to jump in and see what all the excitement was about. Hence, the ice cream. And then I realized, after spooning an ambitious amount into my mouth, I’d never actually seen an ad for any of the products I’d seen on social media. I just kept seeing real people online try them over and over again. So why am I telling you this? Well first of all, because I love ice cream. But also because it’s important to recognize the power of authenticity. When a commercial tells you, “Buy this and you’ll have abs in minutes,” odds are you won’t believe it. But if you see a video your Facebook friend made and the product really does give them abs in minutes, suddenly you’ll feel more open-minded about trying it yourself. Christine Göös from AdWeek writes, “Brands can (and should) test ads that mimic what their audiences post to make the look and feel of the advertising fit in seamlessly with the content already being viewed regularly.” Listen to your customers on a social level and take advantage of the consumer data. By putting your customers – and their voices – at the forefront of your marketing, you will create an unbreakable bond between your brand and your consumers. Chubbies Shorts is an online clothing store that has a very specific – and interesting – target market: young men in college fraternities. This brand is not afraid of adopting the voice of their consumer, writing things like, “Sky’s out. Thighs out.” In fact, Chubbies dedicates their entire Instagram account to sharing photos and videos of their consumers, and there is no shortage of content. Searching #chubbies will take you down a long scroll of 136,000 posts with beach-clad people sporting the shorts. In fact, several pillars of their business stand on the foundation of consumer-created content, from social media to email marketing. One of the “Chubfounders,” Rainer Castillo, stated that, “It’s really important to treat the customer like friends. We bring customers to the forefront.” Another men’s clothing company has mastered the bond between their product and the consumer voice, but this company focuses on a different type of menswear. Tommy John has been one of the world’s most popular underwear brands for the last decade. In the last few years, the marketing research team found that thousands of women were buying their product despite being tailored for men. Erin Fujimoto, a co-founder, speculated that there was a gap in the industry, and knew this could be a giant opportunity for their company. Referring to one woman’s plea about the comfort of Tommy John clothing, Fujioto says, “The fact that this woman was saying she couldn’t find a pair of underwear that fit her better and was more comfortable in our men’s boxer briefs really stuck with me. Clearly there was a hole in the market for comfortable, functional underwear that was designed to solve the unique problems women face. I knew then that we had to design something for her.” In April 2018, Tommy John officially launched their new line for women. Although the women’s clothing market is densely saturated, Tom Patterson, the founder and CEO of Tommy John, recognized the consumer data was pointing to an opportunity. And being the chosen brand in an industry where the women’s market is three times the size of men’s is an impressive fact that beckons an otherwise risky business move. There are many ways to include your own customers in your marketing strategy. Just see how GoPro incorporates their consumer’s POV into their everyday advertising. No matter the promotion you choose to help curate and collect user-generated content (UGC), it is important to remember the end goal: You want to either 1. Learn something new about your consumer or 2. Confirm that your values are aligned with theirs. It’s a win-win because the consumer get featured on your social, and you get fresh, authentic content to share with your followers. To get you started, here are a few promotional ideas to gather content and consumer data: Start a contest asking consumers to share how they use your product, or a hashtag on Instagram where users can connect with each other and your brand to see how people are using it – or better yet, how they’re not using it. Elect super fans to become influencers for your brand, sharing content periodically in exchange for free swag and features on your marketing platforms. Get a search software that makes it easy to collect consumer-generated content. A site such as TINT will help you find popular photos/videos about your product, and assist in getting permission to use the content for your own marketing. Careful integration of UGC will certainly build unbreakable trust, and if consumers feel like they’re a part of your brand, you will become a part of their brand. In turn, you will create – sound the angel chorus – lifelong, loyal customers. Listen to what your consumers are sharing with their friends, and you might be surprised what you hear.


A great idea driven by research data is hardly new to advertising. In fact, it’s been the foundation of great marketing and creative for decades. So why all the talk nowadays about “Data-Driven Creative?” I think it’s pretty simple. Collecting rich data and identifying insights once required a laborious and intense research process. Now we have almost instant access to a wealth of knowledge about our industries, consumer purchase behavior and lifestyles. With so much more data at our fingertips, it’s become today’s hot topic. Insights gleaned from this new wealth of data help to focus our strategy, so we can deliver truly insight-driven executions. They give us a look into audience behaviors and how we can engage them to deliver the most relevant creative communications in the ways people want to receive them. As creatives, we long for more data and insights. Sometimes the most random piece of data will help us craft an unexpected story that drives a deeper emotional connection with the brand. Our recent campaign for AAA Membership is a great example of how statistics and consumer behavior can inspire unexpected storytelling. This highly effective, award-winning campaign was based entirely on consumer insights gained from data-driven research. One simple way to think about the two is that creativity makes people feel and think. Data qualifies that our message resonates with how we want them to think and feel. Creativity and data have (and always have had) a symbiotic relationship in creating impactful consumer messaging. And greater access to data makes it easier for us to refine and optimize our message. It’s an exciting time to be a creative with so much knowledge and information about our consumers at our fingertips.

open sign

Owning a franchise of a national chain comes with some strong benefits like brand awareness, training and operational support. And maybe most important – not needing to start from scratch. The added benefits of national marketing budgets and materials are also significant. However, as everyone knows, regions throughout the country can be quite different in terms of seasonality, attitudes and lifestyles. What works best in one part of the country may be less effective in another. So, what’s a franchisee to do? Well, many have strengthened customer bonds by incorporating their local flavor, while still maintaining the corporate brand identity. Connect with your community. Local store marketing can be an extremely valuable part of your overall marketing plan. Get out into your neighborhoods and establish relationships with the other local businesses that could benefit from what you have to offer or whose customers could benefit from your offerings. For example, if you’re a QSR restaurant, employers and retail establishments need catering, or employees need a place to grab lunch. Getting out and introducing yourself with trial offers can go a long way toward building loyal customers. Establishing local ad funds will allow you to imbed yourself in the local community and engage with the customers in your own backyard. There are plenty of opportunities to sponsor youth activities and local charities at a relatively low cost. Your end target needs to be taken into consideration and putting your business where they are in their own lives helps to keep you top of mind. Social media is also an important piece of the marketing puzzle. Creating content on local social media platforms that is specific to your area and organic photos that show local landmarks will result in higher engagement. This type of content is more relevant and giving fans a local place to connect with you feels more authentic. You can also find some local social influencers to help spread the word. There are plenty of bloggers and influencers who you can work with to act as an advocate on your behalf. Micro influencers are more engaged in a specific niche and they can provide definite benefits. They’re more authentic and less expensive than a national celebrity, providing higher customer engagement rates with a more targeted audience. Sometimes it’s as easy as looking at your existing subscriber base to identify people who are already genuine fans of your brand and who are already actively talking about similar topics. Exploring potential co-op opportunities strengthens your presence. Forming a co-op with other franchisees in your market enables you to combine budgets and maximize your local marketing efforts. A larger local budget may allow you to promote local offers customized to your market, in addition to the national offers being supported by corporate. Combined budgets may even allow you to sponsor a local collegiate or professional sports team and take advantage of the fan affinity of your consumers. Hometown fans are much more likely to support a brand that sponsors their favorite local team. However, it’s important to keep in mind that there’s more to sponsorships than just a logo on the field. You’ll need to work hard to engage with the fans through various communication and events that can be part of the package. Bring it home. As a franchise owner of a national chain, there are plenty of opportunities to expand your local following within your own market and community. A local marketing campaign will allow you to better connect with your customers and personalize messages just for them leading to better engagement and additional business for you!


A franchise restaurant owner wears many hats: operator, HR recruiter, accountant, and marketer – to name a few. All are important and all take time. This blog is to help make one of those areas easier, while producing business-building results for your restaurant. Local Store Marketing or LSM – I’m sure all franchise owners have put together local marketing plans, and my guess is sometimes you’ve hit it out of the park, and other times you’ve struck out. No one cares about your restaurant’s success more than you. You are its best ambassador. Below are some key tips on how to improve your batting average and effectively market your restaurant. Local marketing programs should never interfere with your operations because you don’t want to negatively affect the customer’s experience. Share all potential ideas with your Ops Team. They are best suited to know if the marketing program could affect speed of service or product. The cashier should be brought in as well to help determine the best way to input the promotion so you can measure it for success. All LSM programs should start with an objective. Just because you can put an ad on something, doesn’t mean you should. What is your goal? • Trial? Consider giving your employees 5 coupons each for a new product. Ask them to give the coupons to family and friends. Not only do your employees look like heroes, this is a quick and easy way to get trial. • Increase frequency? Loyalty focused plans that reward people for their business typically result in increased traffic. Just remember that the rewards should be relevant and timely. • A competitive attack plan? Thwart the new guy’s opening by focusing on your customers’ experience. Invest in a few extra hours of labor a day – in the dining room. Put your “best face” forward and make customers feel special as you refill their drink, take their trash or just ask “how’s your day going?” Be clear about what you are trying to achieve and build your LSM program around it. Know your trade area and those who live in it. Is your customer base made up of families? Then create a program that caters to convenience for time-starved moms. Or possibly sponsor the Little League team, because one day these girls or guys may be part of your team. Do you have lots of Millennial customers? They look for places to “hang out.” Wi-fi and snack-type food make for a win because Millennials are “clockless” eaters – “three square meals a day” really isn’t in their vocabulary. Keep your program simple. If you can’t explain the program succinctly, chances of success are slim. Life is complicated – don’t make it hard for me to be your customer. Connect with your guests through social media. Not only to keep them posted on what’s happening at the restaurant, but also to engage and reward by asking them to share what they like best about the restaurant. Randomly choose a winner to dine with you so you can learn even more. Customers truly will respond to brands they like. If a marketing proposal is presented that involves partnering with another brand in the community, ask yourself: • What do the 2 brands have in common? Same values? Same target? • Do they complement each other? If the answer is “no” to any of these questions – pass and pass quickly! Go Pro and Red Bull recently partnered together. These two brands make a great team because both are about going to the extreme. Don’t be shy about asking for support from the corporate office. They may have a tool kit with some existing marketing tools that can be used or customized to meet your needs. Don’t recreate the wheel. Ask your corporate partner to review your program and how it can be better. Also ask for support from your team. They need to understand all aspects of the program and also be “all in” to help make it a success. Local Store Marketing programs start with a strategy and require focused discipline. Start small, understand what’s working/what’s not, and then apply those learnings to your next program. LSM done correctly not only will grow sales, but also can create brand influencers whom are priceless.

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Being a “creative” is more than being a designer or copywriter or creative director. We’re strategic thinkers. And the more information you feed us, the stronger our campaigns will be. Fill our plates with these things, and we can cook up effective, strategic creative. Consumer Insights Definitely tell us who we’re talking to, including the media target’s demographic (age, sex, income) and psychographic (interests, lifestyle, habits). But if you want advertising that really strikes a chord and moves consumers to care about your brand, provide consumer insights. If there’s not room in the budget to cull consumer insights through market research or data analytics, the next best thing is an assumed consumer belief, or what we call an ACB. Say your target audience is middle-aged dads who religiously watch football. That’s an observation. Why do they watch football? Because it’s a break from the daily grind. Because it’s a chance to catch up with their buddies. Because they’re past their athletic prime but still love the game. Those are consumer insights or ACBs. They’re the why. Product benefit insights are also incredibly helpful. Consider a packaged food brand. They identify their media target as moms in their 30s. They’re busy and they feel guilty when they can’t make a meal at home for their families (the consumer insight). The packaged food provides a shortcut, which helps lessen busyness, and makes family dinner possible, which takes away guilt (the product benefit insight). Strategy Running an ad. Sending an email. Tweeting. Those aren’t strategies. Those are tactics. They’re executional. And they’re still really important. But for the best work, give us something meatier to chew on. Feed us strategy, the sum of all those parts. Think about it in terms of goal, strategy, objective and tactics. Your goal might be to increase revenue this fiscal year. To achieve that goal, your strategy is to break into a new market. Your objective is the measurable result, such as gain a certain percentage of the market share. And tactics are how you break into that market–with ads, emails, tweets. When creatives know the strategy, we can come up with the best ideas for reaching the media target and ensure consistent messaging across all channels. The best strategy is also rooted in insight. Take the Jolly Rancher campaign, Keep on Sucking. Millennials often take to social media with complaints, because #adultingishard. According to Bill Blubaugh, Senior Director at Hershey, that led to the insight that due to limited means, life for 18 to 24 year olds is particularly sucky. Which led to the strategy of embracing the suckiness, which led to the big idea of, “Keep on sucking.” It’s a perfect example of cross-departmental collaboration gone right.



Listen Up Restaurant Brands

The number of social media conversations happening at any given moment is massive, and it’s only increasing every day. In fact, Statista estimates that by 2027, 74% of the global population will be social media users. With the amount of conversations taking place, many brands find it overwhelming to sort through all of the chatter and clutter taking place on social media. Social listening provides the ability to take all of these conversations and turn them into meaningful insights and data for your brand. What is social listening? Social listening is the process of monitoring digital conversations to understand what customers are saying about a brand and industry online. It enables us to identify key topics of conversation that are of interest to our audiences, providing insight into their opinions, pain-points, interests and more. Brands can then use these insights and turn them into action. Restaurant, food & beverage industry The most commonly discussed industry online is the restaurant, food & beverage industry, which accounts for about 32% of brand mentions, according to Brandwatch. We’ve all come across a photo of our coworkers’ lunch or our neighbor’s review of a brand new restaurant on our Facebook feed. With passionate “foodie” fans and an increasingly informed customer base, restaurant brands face a rising obligation to listen, understand, and swiftly respond to their consumers’ opinions and interests. Restaurant, food & beverage businesses are operating at the mercy of consumers’ shifting tastes and preferences, and in such a competitive industry, brands must have a keen awareness of these ever-changing tastes to be successful. Social media offers an immediate wealth of real-time insight and information that can be used for marketing, operations, and other restaurant decisions. Understand your audience It’s crucial that restaurant brands understand who their audience is, as well as how they think, feel and act. What do they care about? Why do they care about it? What are their habits? Are they fiscally conservative? Do they prefer healthy options? Understanding how your social media audience thinks and feels can often provide valuable pieces of information that lead to larger insights about your overall customer base. Create content your audience cares about With so much noise on social media, restaurants must not only stand out, but they have to provide content that their audiences actually want to see. By listening to real-time conversations, trending hashtags and popular topics, restaurant brands can identify ways to keep their followers engaged and gain new ones, as well. Using listening tools, brands can identify a list of topics and hashtags used when talking about their brand. For example, when working with a fast-casual restaurant chain, we’ve found that many of the conversations include discussions about recipes and grocery products. We’ve also found that people all over the world buy and ship our client’s products to prepare at home every day, so we decided to work in grocery-focused content each month. The content performs very well and raises awareness of the products sold outside of their restaurants. There is plenty of data out there to guide your content, you just have to find it! Identify influencers and brand advocates Word-of-mouth is one of the most valuable and effective types of messaging (especially in the restaurant industry) because it comes from real people, rather than directly from the restaurant itself. Today’s consumers are interested in true opinions from real people before they try a restaurant. Through social listening, restaurant brands can identify and engage directly with influencers and brand evangelists to share brand content, create their own branded content, share their experiences, increase engagement and ultimately drive trial to the restaurant. Make informed business decisions Start by listening to conversations regarding your industry. For example, what are customers saying about the quick-serve restaurant industry? New food trends? Customer service? Once you have a good understanding of your target audience and their opinions on the industry, then dive deeper into those brand-specific conversations. For example, what do customers say about your products? A specific store location? Certain LTOs and other in-store or online offers? Do they value speed of service or do they want a place to hang out and relax? Do they order their food online or would they prefer to order in-store? All of this data and real-time feedback can be used to guide and improve operational, marketing and financial decision making. Consumer preferences are always changing, so it’s important to make social listening an ongoing practice and adjust your strategies accordingly. Social listening provides access to a virtual focus group right at your fingertips, whenever you want it. The restaurant brands that take advantage of this data and continuously adapt will be the ones who survive and thrive in such a competitive industry.

media strategy

Omni. A Latin prefix for all; of all things. Part of a buzzword many marketers are familiar with; omni-channel marketing. Simplified, this means having a marketing plan with multiple forms of advertising and consumer touch points. Where a planned mix of broadcast, traditional radio, digital, social, and out of home all work under one umbrella to tell a brand story. While each execution is separate, the larger brand strategy remains the same. Omni-channel marketing has been used by most brands and agencies for years, but social media is a relative newcomer to the mix. Platforms like Facebook, Twitter, Instagram, and Snapchat, became the “new shiny toy” for marketers. And just like the coming of digital, nobody knew how it fit into the marketing puzzle. Social media is no longer the shiny new toy. It’s become intertwined with core marketing initiatives and is not only included in a marketer’s toolkit, but the infrastructure. With constant algorithm changes, new updates and new products being launched, this world can be pretty intimidating to those who don’t truly understand it. Unlike personal social media, it’s not as simple as “wake up and post whatever we feel like today.” Brand success in social media takes a thorough understanding of strategy, data analytics, and content creation. Social communities can provide brands with practically an unlimited amount of FREE consumer insights and data. When analyzed correctly, this cache of valuable information can and should shape your future social content and even carve the way for larger business objectives. Vanity metrics such as impressions, likes, shares and retweets are being treated with increased suspicion and shouldn’t carry all the weight of success. One of the biggest mistakes brands can make on social media is to push what they want, rather than focus on what the consumer wants. Just because you want a consumer to respond to something, doesn’t always mean they will. Think user focus > company pride. The only way to tell this apart is to deep dive into social engagements, and do a thorough analysis to see what your fans respond to best. At Brandience, not one social client has the same social strategy. We create brand focused strategies that are led by data and consumer engagement analysis. What sets us apart is that our social department lives within our media department. When media plans are created, social media is integrated with the entire marketing mix. Without a strategy, there is no guidance. Without Data, there is no proof. Without analytics, there is no correlation to results. And if you’re on social media without guidance, proof or results, then you’re missing a huge opportunity to impact your business.

banner ads

Every year there seems to be new and innovative media trends that can be utilized to carry out your clients advertising initiatives. The one asset that has stood the test of time almost since Al Gore created the internet is banner ads. These are embedded advertisements that are displayed within another’s website. Banner ads can be a single static image, a simple .gif with minimalistic animation, or a more complex animation with several click-thru tags using the HTML5 platform. One of the primary benefits of digital banner ads is the data they generate. They give you the ability to measure performance by tracking engagement and conversion. Which allows you to optimize your ads for better results. Here are some consistent steps that make your banner ads more effective: 1. Display your Logo. I know this seems obvious, but it is important that it is easily recognizable. Sizes of the ad can vary, and the rule of thumb is to make sure it covers 10-15% of the ad. If you are developing an animation you should make sure it is on every frame. The reason being is that the average consumer has “banner blindness”. It is reported that 86% of consumers looking through websites don’t even see these banners anymore. So if by the off chance they look over, even for a brief moment, they will at least see your logo. This might not translate into clicks, but say you are a restaurant that the consumer visits. Could trigger an action. 2. Make your Call to Action look like a button. People understand basic web elements. If your CTA looks like a button then they will know to click it. Seems easy enough, right? 3. Convey Value in your CTA. “Click here” doesn’t carry much weight unless the consumer sees value in what you are trying to promote. The best way to get a better click thru rate (CTR) is to give a consumer a reason to click your ad. Buttons that say “free,” “coupon,” “save now,” “20% off,” or a personal message can help drive action. 4. Show product. This can vary based on who your client is. Though the idea is to show faces, products, or at the very least minimal brand elements. Keep this simple. Should not be a catalog, but single images. 5. Sense of urgency. The best way to create action is to advertise urgency. This is good practice especially if your objective is to drive CTR. Time sensitive copy like “limited time,” “ends tomorrow,” etc. can give the consumer an additional push to act. 6. Catchy Headline. Think billboard. Whether you’re driving down a highway or glancing through an article on your favorite website, the message should be quick and easy to read. The “7 words” theory should come to mind here. 7. Add Motion. So you have your basic banner ad created. Now you can add animation. This is where you can manipulate and move around your elements to catch the consumer’s eye. Adding motion has proven to capture more attention, as well as increase engagement and conversion. With that said, animations should still live by the previous rules of thumb. There should be a logo somewhere on every page. Buttons can fade in or get larger upon roll over, but must at least be on the last frame. Regardless of how the animation plays out, it should always end with a frame that has the same priority of communication you would include in a static ad. Banner ads are likely to be around for a while, so it is important to understand best practices to maximize engagement with your brand. Making your best impression can lead to thousands of more impressions.