Tagged: branding

Lights, Camera, Action: Video Conversions in 2021

The game has changed. Written material is on its way out and its replacement? Video content. With the numbers on its side, it’s no surprise people prefer this fresher form of content over its older, outdated counterpart. Keep reading to see why and how you can take advantage of this movement before it’s too late.


Why such a shift to video?
So what’s so great about video content? Well, the reasoning has to do with its ability to captivate an audience on two playing fields. Where text only has the ability to capture our attention via visuals and is forced to rely heavily on punctuation, word choice and visual cues to convey a message, video has the ability to appeal both visually and auditorily. Although adding sound and movement may seem like a minor shift, according to Medium, an average viewer is able to remember 95% of a message when it is watched, whereas only 10% when read. This huge margin of retention rate plays a significant role in this shift to video, but it isn’t the only reason.
According to a study shared on Wyzowl, the average attention span of an individual has significantly dropped. What was once 15 seconds has now dwindled down to a measly 8.25. Dwindling attention spans have been recognized already by ad agencies across the world causing 77% of them to view video ads as an essential business moving forward into this digital era. As new technologies emerge, the more options advertisers will have when it comes to video advertising.


How can I apply this?
Video campaigns aren’t going anywhere, so how can you effectively apply them to your business? There are many platforms where video campaigns can be utilized, but this list highlights the best of the best and goes over ways to truly optimize both your campaign and your viewer’s experience.

YouTube
With 2.3 billion users per month and $19.7 billion in revenue in 2020, according to BusinessOfApps, Youtube is the front runner of this evolving marketing tactic. Both creating original content for YouTube and running video advertisements are effective ways to expand your consumer reach and brand awareness via video campaigns.

A. Original Content – Creating original content is already a difficult enough task for most, however, properly optimizing your content is another beast. Detailed below is a list of tactics you can use to take full advantage of what YouTube has to offer in regard to future video campaigns.

a. Promote Interaction – At the end of each video invoke the viewer to do something. A simple “Click here to learn more” hyperlink can do the trick and, depending on your goal, can be adapted to virtually anything. Notifications, such as cards, should also be used throughout the video to promote interaction as
well as hold viewers’ attention.


b. Visuals, Visuals, Visuals – One of the key components to optimizing your YouTube
videos is to have an eye-catching thumbnail. According to a study done by BestSeoCompanies, “88% of thumbnails


c. Promote Subscriptions – Obviously the more subscribers you obtain the better, so simply reminding viewers at the end of your videos to subscribe, and supplying a hyperlink to do so, creates the opportunity to increase your following.


d. Partner Up – Collaboration promotes a synergistic outcome for both parties and allows new horizons to be introduced via new viewers. Partnering with companies or individuals with similar personalities and audiences leads to the best outcomes for both parties.


B. Advertisements – YouTube offers a wide selection of ads for advertisers to choose from. Each ad choice depends on the budget and goal of the advertisement so it’s important to consider how you want to reach and impact viewers.
in 2020 were colorful and averaged more views than thumbnails with a more
minimalist color scheme.”


a. Skippable In-Stream Ads (TrueView Ads) – Because they can be skipped, it’s critical these ads grab and hold the viewer’s attention while still informing them about your product or service. These ads can vary in length from as short as 12 seconds to as long as 3 minutes. Payment for the ad only occurs if the viewer interacts with it or watches more than 30 seconds of it.


b. Un-skippable In-Stream Ads (Pre-Roll Ads) – Up to 15 seconds long, these advertisements offer a great way to quickly promote a brand. A call to action is important in order to generate more leads to a website. Bumper ads are another form of un-skippable in-stream ads that are six seconds long and could leave viewers interested in learning more.


c. Video Ad Sequencing – This more extensive type of ad allows advertisers to tell a story through a series of videos strung throughout one or multiple YouTube videos. This type of storytelling often leads to more engagement from the viewer. According to AdPresso, this type of advertisement has been shown to produce a 107% higher ad recall and a 134% higher purchase intent when compared to the other types of ads.


d. Youtube Ad Extensions – Ad extensions offer a call to action, usually in the form of a “Learn More” banner alongside a video ad. By implementing this, you offer a simple way for the viewer to learn more about your product or service. This type of ad generally leads to more interaction from viewers due to its simplicity.

TikTok
analyzed from the most popular videosDespite its relatively new conception, TikTok has become one of the most regularly used and visited social networks of this generation. With over 1 billion active users per month, according to WallroomMedia, TikTok is also one of the fastest-growing social channels this decade. Brands on TikTok can easily blend in with every other creator on the app which, in turn, helps with brand exposure. Videos highlighting important elements of an organization’s product/service while remaining consistent with trends on TikTok are the most effective in creating exposure.

Instagram Reels
Similar to that of TikTok, Instagram Reels can be used to create a variety of content strategies. By properly applying Instagram Reels, a brand has the ability to diversify its Instagram posts, leading to not only more impressions, but new ones, expanding brand awareness. IG Reels can be used as a “bridge” to your Instagram profile, ultimately leading a potential consumer to your homepage.

Twitter
With a video length limit of 2 minutes and 20 seconds and a daily user base of 166 million, according to Hootsuite, the proper application of Twitter’s video capability has the potential to greatly increase brand awareness. Twitter’s latest update also included the addition of “Fleets.” Similar to that of both TikTok and Instagram Reels, Fleets allows the user to post short videos that are then placed at the top of your follower’s feed. This addition can be used to highlight important dates, upcoming releases or sneak peeks in regards to your brand.

Returning Back to the Office

By: Derek Caswell
Over the past few years many of the normalacies in life have changed.  Masks, for example, are now a normal fashion accessory, and having temperatures being taken as we enter buildings is now a part of our morning routines.  However, there is one thing that has been significantly impacted due to the COVID outbreak, and that is where we do our work.  

Many people across the world have had their daily lives changed. In many cases, the commute to work or school is now a simple walk to the kitchen to start our morning coffee!  People have been working from home for about a year and half now and, from what I’ve seen online, have enjoyed the change.  

However, work routines are starting to go back to what they were before. Thankfully, through vaccinations and the hard work being done in the medical field we seem to be moving back to the “normal” lifestyle.  

People online are expressing their dislike of having to go back to working in an office.  Many of them seem to really enjoy working remotely and having the luxury of not having to be in an office.  Many Gen Z/Millennials who entered the workforce are making jokes about finding a new job after receiving the email about returning to the office.  According to bloomberg.com, when surveying around 1,000 adults nearly 40% of them said they would consider resigning if they’re supervisors weren’t flexible about working remotely.  When concentrating those results to include just Gen Z/Millennials, the number jumps to nearly 50%. 

As someone who has gotten used to doing a lot of work from home, I definitely understand the struggle.  There’s just something special about waking up ten minutes before a meeting and logging in while sipping your morning coffee on your couch.  At first, it did feel a little weird to be inside one building all day instead of going to school/meeting in person.  Sometimes I wonder why we even had to go in person in the first place.  Need to have a group meeting? Great, let’s all hop on a call in 10 minutes and discuss everything.  You can stay in your pajamas while watching the newest episode of “Love Island” from last night.  

Now, I have to wake up earlier, think about an outfit, and make sure I have enough time to get to my destination.  This all sounds ridiculous right?  Who knew it would take a pandemic to make people appreciate the small things in life.  But, eventually routines will return to normal again and we will have to go back to working in person full time.  I’m curious as to how this time will affect “office” culture with what is or isn’t allowed.  With graduation in just a couple of months, I’m excited to enter a world that is somewhere in between.  It will make the first couple of years interesting to say the least.

How I Used my Strategic Planning Skills to Plan Life After Undergrad

By: Senior, April Wood

As I approached and finally entered the last year of my undergraduate degree, one question became an uncomfortably looming presence – What do I want to do with my life (and my degree)? 

The truth is – I’m still looking. But I’d love to share my thought process so far.

In figuring this out, I decided to approach it with the wisdom I have gained from the UCM PR Program and its professors. I formed a rough vision of my ideal life. I took note of the values and morals I held. I also focused on what made me happy. 

I asked myself questions; What do I enjoy doing? Where do I enjoy being? Who do I want to spend my time with? What do I want my work life balance to be like? What job will challenge my knowledge and experience with all of my favorite skills?

The answer is: I’m only 22.

If my life is in the form of the ROPE process, I’m still in the research phase. I’m in the bulk of that work now, and in one of the busiest times of life. 

I’m reaching the verge of the objectives phase. 

Values that solidified during the research and analysis stage will be present throughout the entire rest of the process.

Below is just a little more insight into my journey specifically and how I applied my skills gained during my undergraduate years in planning my future. 

I enjoy embracing a challenge, but I love embracing one of my own creation. 

Having control over my schedule is also a must I flagged. I need the flexibility due for several reasons. I enjoy learning, planning, and analyzing.

More and more, It seemed like starting a small business could be a solid goal for me. I’ve decided to tentatively embrace the idea – pending A LOT of time and work. 

I’ve begun researching flipping houses as one potential small business idea. It’s a business concept that has always fascinated me. I enjoy creating and designing, I’m not afraid to pick up a tool, and I have a wealth of business, finance, and strategic communications knowledge.

I have experts and mentors to support me, a network of connections I have spent my young adult life cultivating, and I will soon have a Public Relations and Strategic Communications degree with a minor in Finance. I have a solid foundation of knowledge of how a business runs, how to make financing decisions, how to communicate to an audience, and how to develop a brand. 

This plan is obviously going to take years of learning and saving.

What am I doing now to progress towards my goal?

Right now, I’m working to further develop my skills and gain as much knowledge and experience I can. I believe in life-long learning, which makes me versatile and driven. After graduation, I’ll aim to find a job opportunity to continue learning while saving money. 

Ultimately, I just want to have a happy and secure life. If I can do it by running my own business, great, if I fail – it’s not a waste. Part of being a lifelong learner is never failing to learn something from a success or mistake. 

So, this is what I HOPE to do with my degree – at some point, and maybe not forever. I’m just eager to see what life has to offer.

Pokémon (Don’t) Go: Four communication lessons to be learned from Niantic

Image credit: pcmag.com

Image credit: pcmag.com

By Molly Olten

How does one of the biggest game releases in the history of mobile downloads become a passing fad in a matter of two months?

Pokémon Go, a free, augmented reality game, based on the ‘90s kid show, Pokémon, hit app stores in America on July 6, 2016. The release went far from unnoticed. It seemed that everyone had heard of it, from your five-year-old nephew to your 78-year-old great aunt. Even media outlets swarmed the game. To many, Pokémon Go was seen as a social and gaming revolution. Even social media giants started to sweat when the game’s active user base topped 45 million in the early stages of release.

But now that number is barely reaching 30 million.

Engagement and time spent on the game is also declining.

As the old adage goes, all good things must come to an end, but most people hoped the end wouldn’t come so soon. So why were users hanging up their trainer hats? Aside from media negativity and game play issues, the communication, or lack thereof from Niantic, the development company behind Pokémon Go, was the most detrimental mistake to Pokémon Go.

Niantic provides a perfect example of the value of proper communication. Pokémon Go may not have suffered such losses if Niantic had simply communicated decisions made and explained the situation. Niantic’s poor communication with its audiences frustrated players and, in some cases, even prevented them from liking the game.

People simply wanted to understand and enjoy the game, and it seemed as if Niantic did nothing to encourage that.

Be vocal

"Over 1,000 people showed up for the Pokémon Go Event and... Servers are down." - Reddit user kidbranz

“Over 1,000 people showed up for the Pokémon Go Event and… Servers are down.” – Reddit user kidbranz

One of the major game issues Niantic faced with Pokémon Go was server overload. So many people were trying to log into the game in the first weeks of its release, it was almost impossible to play. Instead of letting players know that they were aware of the issue, Niantic continued to expand the availability of the game in other geographic areas, adding further strain to the servers.

Another strike against the company came when it changed an integral part of the game without warning or explanation.  Not a single tweet, post or announcement was made. The only information users got in the update was “Minor Text Fixes.” When making major changes, silence is the wrong answer.

Keeping quiet on an issue and not opening up a dialogue about it is the easiest way to lose your audience’s trust.

Focus on your audience

Speaking of audience, it is also necessary to give them the attention they deserve. At one point during the start of all Niantic’s communication issues, instead of posting information about how they are fixing problems or working on an update, Niantic tweeted out at Soulja Boy.

Image credit: twitter.com

Image credit: twitter.com

This was a major oversight. After virtually zero communication and an abundance of issues, Niantic chose to break the silence with a celebrity shout out instead of taking a few minutes to acknowledge players’ concerns.

Make it easy for audiences to like your brand

An enormous amount of people wanted to like Pokémon Go (and many still do). However, the magic it held for a few brief moments this summer is lost, mostly due to the fact that Niantic was unresponsive.

Niantic’s blog was updated just once during the launch in July, with the next “update” coming Aug. 4. Both posts fail to acknowledge the issues or updates made to the game. Organizations should make it easy for an engaged, enthusiastic community like Trainers to feel listened to and respected.

Invest in communicators

Image credit: twitter.com

Image credit: twitter.com

The bottom line? Invest in people that will help your brand grow. The former Niantic Global Community Manager, Brian Rose, perfectly summed up Niantic’s future problem: “If you’re there with the community, they’ll be there for you when things go south. Bugs can be fixed, but regaining people’s faith is hard.” Moving forward, Niantic needs to make some major changes in its communication habits.

Maybe part of this rant is coming from a bitter Team Instinct player, but the massive losses and wilting potential of Niantic’s Pokémon Go is something gaming companies should take a note from.

How do you think Niantic has handled Pokémon Go so far? Let us know in the comments below, and remember to follow us on Facebook and Twitter.

Five tips for building your brand on Twitter

By Brittany Green

When Twitter was first launched, people were uncertain how successful it would be. Now in 2016, there are millions of users and more than 500 million tweets sent out every day. People are using Twitter to find news, share information and connect with people and businesses around the world.  It has become a very powerful tool, not only for social purposes, also to help businesses market their brands.Some of the most successful companies use Twitter because it allows them to reach a large audience, interact with them quickly and keep them updated with content information.

Image credit: @chipotletweets via Twitter

Image credit: @chipotletweets via Twitter

Chipotle is a great example of a company that efficiently uses Twitter to interact with it’s audiences. According to a 2011 Nation’s Restaurant News Study, 90 percent of the company’s activity on Twitter is responding to customers through @mentions. Chipotle currently has 743,000 followers that it can interact and share content with. That is certainly amazing, but also something that, in principle, any business can do. If you’re interested in using Twitter to build your brand, here are some tips to help you get started.

Use the search feature

One of Twitter’s most powerful tools is the search feature. It can operate as a “global human search engine” of sorts and allows people to find others on Twitter with relevant information to share. Researchers also can look to see which topics are trending to stay informed and gauge audience interests. Hashtags (#) can help people immensely when searching. Just put a “#” in front of a topic and a lists of relevant tweets will appear. This can save you a lot of trouble and makes it very easy to search.

Know your audience

It is VERY important to know your audience. This will help you communicate clearly and make information relevant to them. If the content is not interesting, they will quickly move on to the next thing that interests them. The search feature can be very useful for learning about your
target audiences. It can tell you what is trending and their opinions on what’s going on. Another option is to look at various profiles and start collecting information. What are their interests and opinions? When are they active? Who do they follow? Which demographic groups do they belong to? These details can help give you an edge when creating strategic messaging for your audiences.

Customize the profile page

Image credit: @Royals via Twitter

Image credit: @Royals via Twitter

This plays a BIG role in visitors’ decisions to either read your content or move on. If your page is boring and doesn’t attract visitors, they probably aren’t going to follow you. The profile page should grab the visitors’ attention and convey who you are and what you’re about. While customizing the profile page, perhaps the most important decision is choosing a good avatar, as it will appear next to every tweet that is sent out. Make it something recognizable and eye-catching. Brand logos often fit well here since they are usually designed with these ideas in mind. An attractive banner image is a nice touch as well, and don’t forget to include links to your other social media accounts and/or website in order to create deeper engagement.

Tweet interesting content

This one may seem obvious, but bland content is still a common mistake that plagues the social media of many businesses. The Twitter feed is built around scrolling endlessly through a series of short posts. To escape the monotony, many people just scroll until something grabs their attention. Content should be fun, interesting and useful. Common themes or ideas in your content can help to establish your brand identity and keep readers coming back. Interesting, personal content is what separates your brand from everyone else, so use it to your advantage.

Engage with other accounts

Engaging with other accounts, particularly those within your industry/field, can be highly beneficial. Building relationships can help to build your reputation, grow your brand, increase awareness, provide sources of interesting content and keep you informed. This can also keep you informed about what your competitors might be doing and the state of the market.

 

More and more businesses are using Twitter as a professional communication platform, and if you follow these tips, yours can be one of them. On that note, remember to follow Innovative PR on Twitter and Facebook.

Get the most out of Instagram: tips for business and personal use

By Jamie Jackson

I love Instagram. I really do. It’s fun to post pictures and to get a sneak peek into strangers’ lives (why is this not a weird statement anymore?).

Instagram is a popular social media outlet for personal use, however, it is also becoming popular among companies for branding and marketing. Here are a few tips to get the most out of Instagram for your business (or even your personal account).

Use brightly colored and well-lit photos

Image credit: Leon Bridges via Instagram

Image credit: Leon Bridges via Instagram

Image credit: Starbucks via Instagram

Image credit: Starbucks via Instagram

An attractive photo stream doesn’t usually involve unedited, dull pictures. Starbucks’ Instagram feed is full of colorful and attractive photos.

However – not all black and white pictures should be thrown in the trash. Leon Bridges’ photo stream has some great examples of how black and white pictures can still be great for Instagram.

Leon is an R&B artist embracing soul music. These black and white images line up perfectly with Leon’s personal brand and the subjects he sings about.

Instagram is effective when people follow you, and you gain followers by giving people what they want. On Instagram, that means aesthetically pleasing photos.

Be personal

No one wants to see another ad on Instagram. Sure, if you’re a clothing store, post pictures of new arrivals. If you have a great new product, it’s okay to feature it in a post. But Instagram shouldn’t be used as an online store. Try something like this:

Image credit: Microsoft via Instagram

Image credit: Microsoft via Instagram

Image credit: Microsoft via Instagram

Image credit: Microsoft via Instagram

Tell stories. Show consumers the faces behind the name.

You are more than an ad agency or a boring, unoriginal company. Show the fun! Unless you really want people to think you’re a boring, unoriginal company – in which case, I’m afraid I can’t help you there.insta

If you use Instagram, actually USE it

Post consistently. Don’t post once or twice, or for a season. If you put an intern in charge of the account, make sure someone else takes over after they leave.

Consistency is key in posting and branding. If you use hashtags on Twitter or Facebook, use the same for Instagram. Use your same logo as the profile picture, link to the same website, use the same voice and use your brand. Instagram provides a unique opportunity to tell your story solely through pictures. As the adage goes, a picture is worth a thousand words. Steward them well.

Be hip

Image credit: McDonald's via Instagram

Image credit: McDonald’s via Instagram

By this, I don’t mean try to use modern slang just because it’s used by young people. You risk misusing or misunderstanding words and phrases, potentially losing credibility and followers. Instead, follow current trends and try to stay fun. This post from McDonald’s is a great example.

Celebrate things like hump day. Be relevant in your posts on holidays or during big world issues. This might seem like it won’t affect sales, but an online presence that seems real and personal is so valuable to a company – especially with younger people.

Evaluate

While Insta is more fun and exciting than a lot of other tools, it’s still very measurable and very valuable. Do it better by evaluating your efforts with Instagram analytics tools. Instagram is great for reaching younger audiences and telling your story with photos. Evaluating any social media effort is a chance to show the C-suite their money is being used well. It also gives coordinators a chance to change their efforts as needed depending on what works and what doesn’t. Evaluation helps to refine and target your audiences and determines if you are indeed reaching them. All efforts are wasteful if not evaluated frequently.

 

Social media is a wonderful branding tool when used properly. Millennials grew up with this stuff, so employ some of them to help you navigate new waters. It’s worth it. Speaking of social, you’ll want to follow IPR on Twitter and Facebook for the latest.

 

New year, new brand

Image credit: acksolutions.com

Image credit: acksolutions.com

By Jenna Chwascinski

New Year, new me, right? That seems to be a favorite phrase this time of year. For some individuals this could mean the start of a new lifestyle, or maybe letting go of an old burden. But what about businesses? Maybe it’s time for a little update. New Year, new brand?

Rebranding can be a scary task, but it can be the jumpstart a brand needs to push them to continued success. Here are a few things to keep in mind while taking on the beast that is a rebrand.

Why are you rebranding?

As with any significant changes, research needs to be done before anything happens. While rebranding can lead to huge success for companies, it’s not always necessary. It goes back to the old adage “if it ain’t broke, don’t fix it.” If your sales or brand awareness is lacking, it might be a good idea to check out a rebrand. Don’t do this, however, every time you see a dip. It will confuse your consumers and could leave a bad impression.

Consider involving your consumers and employees. Let your employees know what this will mean for the company and consider their input. After all, your employees are your best (or worst) advocates. It could also be beneficial to see what your consumers think. This could be as simple as polling them about new logo options. You may want to offer a contest to create a new tagline or slogan. Getting your customers involved will make them feel more like a part of the brand, and probably more likely to stick with you after the rebrand.

Can we save anything?

Absolutely. Rebranding doesn’t mean you start fresh, it simply means you’re giving your

Image credit: b2bmarketing.net

Image credit: b2bmarketing.net

company a facelift. Some of the most successful rebrands contain consistencies from before the rebrand. Look at UPS. They still offer the same reliable services as they always have, and still sport the same signature brown color people have come to know. They’ve just changed their slogan a few times to appeal to a broader range of professions.

Keep it simple.


Don’t try to do anything too outside the box. I’m not saying don’t be creative, just keep it tasteful. If you’re sticking with your old logo, try to enhance your brand image by using the same colors and fonts. If you’re creating a new logo, keep it clean and readable. Make it something that will stand out against other similar brands so that it will be remembered.

Image credit: slideshare.net

Image credit: slideshare.net

Coca Cola is a good example of this concept. The popular company has succeeded while continuing to use the same colors and fonts in its official graphics over the years.

Planning is everything.


Details, details, details. Since you’re switching things up, it’s only natural to expect some initial confusion. This will often come from your consumers not knowing what will change or what to expect from the new brand. Make sure employees are prepared to address questions they may encounter.

In the end, it’s important to keep the best interest of your company in mind. Not everyone will be a fan of the rebrand and that’s okay. Don’t be discouraged by the negative comments, and be prepared to address problems as they pop up.

Who did it right?


Old Spice. This company kept the same logo, but changed its image to appeal to younger

Image credit: eonline.com

Image credit: eonline.com

consumers. Old Spice was typically thought of as deodorant that your grandparents would wear, but now they describe their product as “scent vacations.” Plus who doesn’t want to be like Isaiah Mustafa on a horse? “Smellcome to manhood.”

 

What do you think? Are there any other successful rebrands that stick out in your mind? Comment and share your thoughts us. And don’t forget to follow Innovative PR on Facebook and Twitter.

Brand mastery: how Apple gets it right

by Evan Whittaker

In today’s professional world, you would be hard-pressed to find anyone who doesn’t recognize the logo of technology industry giant, Apple. In addition to how strong the company’s brand identity is, consumer perceptions of it are overwhelmingly positive, as evidenced by its current standing as number five on the Fortune 500 list for 2014. Those perceptions are so strong and positive, in fact, that people wait in line for days to receive the company’s newest products while knowing virtually nothing about them.

So, how has Apple managed to amass such a loyal audience and create a powerful brand identity? The answer can be found in the company’s consistent design principles and genius marketing techniques. Let’s take a look at a few of the elements that contribute to Apple’s success.

Improvement, not innovation

You might be surprised to learn that smartphones, portable music players and tablet computers all existed before Apple made its foray into these markets. Many find this surprising since Apple’s iPhone, iPod and iPad have dominated these respective markets since their releases. If Apple wasn’t the first to introduce these products, why have its versions become the most popular? The answer is the company’s focus on improving and refining existing products to entice consumers.

These refinements take various forms: reduced device size for increased portability, simplified operating systems and construction using premium materials. While these may seem like trivial changes, the results are anything but. Consumers would pick up a rival product, then compare it to Apple’s thinner, lighter and more attractive version. Given that, is it any surprise that many would lean toward the latter? There is certainly something to be said for Apple’s focus on improved aesthetics.

It’s not a device, it’s an experience

Apple creates products. What Apple sells, however, are experiences. It’s not a phone with a camera, it’s the ability to capture memories. It’s not a video-chat feature, it’s the ability to be there even when you’re not. It’s not an app store with more than one million apps, it’s infinite possibilities.

Much of Apple’s marketing focuses heavily on emotional appeals. Rather than highlighting what its devices are capable of, Apple highlights what you are capable of if you own those devices. By connecting its products with sentimental activities consumers can relate with, those consumers, in turn, connect Apple itself with those activities.

It’s quite clever, really. Can you really put a price on sharing moments with your loved ones? As it turns out, you can if you’re Apple – it’s $199 with a two-year contract through your wireless carrier.

Join the club (read: cult)

Humans are social creatures. We have an inherent desire to feel included. So when a brand becomes associated with luxury and exclusivity, consumers tend to want it merely in order to feel like they’re a part of the club. It works for high-end fashion and high-end cars; it works for Apple as a high-end technology company.

Line_at_Apple_Store_in_NYCThis is an interesting development that has occurred over time as Apple has employed the marketing tactics listed above. Think of it as a passive benefit the company has attained through active processes. This is not to say that Apple hasn’t acted strategically to drive desirability for using their products, though. Features like AirDrop, iMessage, FaceTime and AirPlay offer improved functionality for those who want to connect with other Apple device users. Now that Apple has managed to position itself as the industry standard in terms of high-end technology, every new product release has consumers clamoring to drink the Apple iKool-Aid.

Summing up

Apple did an incredible job of establishing itself as a technology industry giant. Although its products may not be the first of their kind, premium materials and effective marketing techniques are sure to convince many that they are the best. With all of the hype surrounding the new Macbook and Apple Watch released this month, Apple’s streak of successful product launches and sustained brand loyalty are showing no signs of stopping.

What’s your opinion on Apple? Connect with us on Facebook, Twitter and Instagram and let us know.

 

A brand is what the audience thinks it is

by Jonathan Haile

James Bond is known to drive Aston Martins. In doing so, Astons became the “heroes’ cars.” Jaguar, another English luxury automaker, doesn’t want you driving its rival, Aston’s. That means if you’re not the hero, you must be the villain. In recent years, the company has done an excellent job playing with that brand strategy, featuring popular actors we recognize as movie villains in a series of ads. The company is not really out to incite global mayhem, but inspire you with a bit of fun.

From Jaguar's Facebook page

From Jaguar’s Facebook page

I sat in Jaguar’s gorgeous F-Type Coupe at this year’s Kansas City Auto Show, and I’ll be the first to admit that the car caused me to smirk, villainously. I wished there was a key fob close by so that I could drive it out of Bartle Hall. I love Jaguar’s ads, but it wasn’t until this week that I realized the brilliance of the automaker’s strategy.

A brand is what the customers and audiences think

I started a free online marketing course, and in a short period of time, I have heard a lot about branding, strategy and messages. The instructor, in a series of videos, explained something I wish I had realized,”The real definition of a brand is whatever the customer thinks it is.” She hit it on the head with pinpoint accuracy. We all have perceptions of a brand. Our experiences with the brand shape those perceptions. It was shown, over time, that Jaguars were the cars of the mischievous, so sitting in the F-Type, I wanted to cause some trouble. That can make things tough for PR and marketing folks.

The Challenge, The Solution

More than 6.6 million people like Jaguar on Facebook. That’s a lot of differing opinions and expectations. Therein lies an exciting challenge. How do you help the customer understand the brand as you see it? The answer isn’t villainous mind games, but creating a solid brand foundation.

Whether you are branding a start-up or re-branding a well-established company in need of updates, there are questions marketing and PR pros must consider. Here are a few:

  • Why does the company exist and who is it meant to serve?
  • How is the brand positioned in the marketplace?
  • What are the competitors doing? What will you do differently?

More specifically for PR folks, how will we communicate with the people who matter most? What tactics should we implement? When the brand is established, the communication needs to be consistent and built to help the company achieve its objectives.

Jaguar, founded more than 90 years ago, isn’t really set on blowing up major cities and manipulating world leaders. Its corporate values are integrity, understanding, excellence, unity and responsibility. That said, it’s a British luxury car company with competitors. When you consider the association between Aston Martin and James Bond, you forgive Jaguar for playing the anti-hero.

I implore you not to hatch any evil schemes. Instead, find Innovative PR on Facebook, Twitter and Instagram.

Trending now: Companies get personal

by Kristina Keeling

The Carved Team

The Carved Team

My fellow Innovative PR specialist, Nikki McClaran, shared a rather humorous email with me from a small company called Carved, known for making unique cellphone cases. In the email, Carved asked what it could do or say to get Nikki to purchase an item she had left in her cart. It included a picture of the Carved team and told her that if she didn’t like the item, the company would fully refund it.

The email was great. It showed that the company cares about its customers. Who doesn’t love that? Nikki did go with another brand, but the email had her strongly considering purchasing the item.

Carved Culture

This email made me explore Carved’s website, Twitter and Instagram accounts and, let me just say, I really liked what I saw. The “Our Story” section has a video that tells how the company began and includes its mission statement. This video gives its customers insight into the culture and shows that it is more than just a small start-up. It showcases the company’s personality; serious, funny and relatable.

How it does it

Carved isn’t the only company using a personal approach with its customers. Incorporating personality into customer relations is taking off. There are many ways a company can use this approach.

This Bar Saves Lives is a start-up with a nonprofit partner. With each bar it sells, it sends a package of food wherever it is needed most in the world. This Bar Saves Lives’ website features a blog with recipes, what is going on in the company and how it “saves lives.” Other start-ups can learn from This Bar Saves Lives’ example, showing customers how it operates and gives insights into its culture.

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Another way start-ups can showcase their personalities is through social media. When companies jumped on the social media bandwagon, fans would “like” or “follow,” but there was little interaction. With a better understanding of social media’s uses, companies (start-ups especially) are improving their communication with fans.

Carved and This Bar Saves Lives both boast active social media accounts, retweeting and replying with followers. It is always exciting when we, as fans, see our tweets being retweeted by a company. We feel like they are actually listening to us and want to know our opinions.

The “personable” experience

Carved is dedicated to providing “ridiculously great customer service” and it accomplishes this by being personable to its customers. You can read through hundreds of personal testimonials on its website.

Skimming through the testimonials, I noticed a customer voicing satisfaction after Carved wrote them a personal “thank you” note that had all the team members’ signatures on the inside of the case they purchased. Another customer voiced displeasure with the case they received, contacted Carved and was able to get new one at no extra cost. Going that extra step turns good customer service into a personable experience.

It isn’t just start-ups. Big companies understand that customers want great experiences. That is why customer service is so important. I believe it should be more than just a simple “thank you” after purchasing an item.

Do you know a brand going the extra mile to make customer experiences memorable? Let us know, and follow Innovative PR on Facebook, Twitter and Instagram.