Linear Spectacle Lands for Dufry at Heathrow

Dufry International approached us to help them solve a creative problem they were having. They needed a ‘wow’ piece. An eye-catching and engaging piece of content that would cut through all the advertising at T3 Heathrow.

Using Dufry’s official colours we developed distinctive creative that would stand out from the crowd and remind travellers to take something home or encourage them to treat themselves.

Dufry 'Wow Piece'

A series of paper planes and balloons fly around the creative, seamlessly transitioning from the portrait pillar screens up to the ultra landscape LED ribbon above.

The creative is strategically placed, so in the vicinity of the perfume counter, the artwork would be showing the perfume bottle prominently in the centre of the screen for example.Dufry SoP 2

This activation follows more work for Dufry over the past 12 months including the ‘Sense of Place’, which was created for the new Heathrow T3 screens. Created for Dufry International, this included a 110-metre landscape screen. The campaign showcased the London skyline, with creative that changed four times a day for dawn, day, dusk and night. The creative runs year round and changes slightly based on the seasons, for example, you will see Christmas content leading up to winter and bright days in summer.



Grand Visual also worked with Dufry to create brand templates in four different languages, for four commercial opportunities. The templates are available in Chinese, Russian, German and English and focus on brand sponsored messaging pertaining to New, Exclusive, Value, Experience.  

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4 ways to use your trade show to drive your customer strategy

It’s incredibly common for organizations to call people their greatest asset – and nowhere is this more true than in the trade show business.

According to the Center for Exhibition Industry Research, 85% of an exhibitor’s success lies in the performance of the staff.1 And while just about every trade show marketer I know can recite inspirational quotes about the importance of preparation, and most provide training to booth staff, very few focus on the importance of creating a trade show environment in which their people can shine.

Why is all of this so important? Because in my experience, there has never been a booth design that’s closed a sale or furthered a relationship. Sure, it’s important to stand out and attract people to your exhibit, but unless you deliver proof to customers and prospects that you deliver on your promise of being focused on them and their challenges, you’re going to lose.

Deliver proof – it matters
Our global Experience Brand Index showed that brands that deliver on their promises do much better on key success metrics than those that don’t – experiencing 200% higher Net Promoter Scores (likelihood to recommend), and 25% greater loyalty.

So how do you go about using your exhibit to demonstrate client-centricity? Here are 4 easy-to-implement ideas:

1. Listen, listen, listen. While our inclination as marketers is to obsess about what we want to say, it’s just as important that we see trade shows as an opportunity to listen to exactly what our customers want. And a simple satisfaction survey just won’t cut it – you have to shift your thinking.

Where else do you ever get such a high concentration of customers and prospects who can tell you exactly about their challenges and preferences? If you think about your trade show exhibit as an opportunity to interview customers and prospects – individually and in groups – to fill the gaps in your understanding, I guarantee you’re going to come away with insights you can immediately put into practice.

2. Program unprogrammed moments. Getting people to the booth is hugely important of course – and that’s the role of programming. But it’s equally important to leave room in your programming to allow clients to explore with us – and with each other.

Ask yourself, does your booth provide space to converse? To white board ideas and solutions? Perhaps more importantly, have you staffed your booth with the kind of people who can brainstorm solutions with clients in real time – even if they’re not salespeople? Your typical attendee goes to one trade show every year. If you’re not announcing a new product or solution, you should think long and hard about stocking the booth with solution stations where clients can get 1:1 attention.

3. Put a little provocation in your booth. The trade show floor is not the place to play it safe (and we don’t mean just with your design). Attendees don’t want simple information and education they can get at any time online or on a simple sales call – they want to come away with a new perspective on their most thorny issues.

You can make people think in fresh ways by bringing in outside voices, promoting a challenging question / challenge, or taking a firm stand on an issue in your industry. Convening outside voices only you can assemble goes a long way to helping clients and prospects develop a unique point of view (POV) that drives consideration and dialogue.

4. Let customers speak. It’s a bit of a blow to the ego, but customers may not want to hear what you have to say as much as they’re interested in what their peers have to share.

Do you have clients who have a unique POV or an interesting journey that’s worth highlighting in your exhibit? Consider programming in live case studies presented by the clients themselves – the authenticity and honesty they bring says volumes about your confidence in your products and solutions.

Underlying all of these recommendations is the recognition that attendees at trade shows often have dual agendas – they are interested in exploring solutions to their immediate organizational needs and in learning new perspectives that can further their own careers.

So, create for conversation, design for dialogue, and construct an environment where the exchange of ideas takes center stage.

 



1 Center for Exhibition Industry Research. (2017, May 4). CEIR Debuts New Report Series Focusing on Attendee Floor Engagement Tactics. Retrieved October 30, 2018 from https://www.ceir.org/ceir-debuts-new-report-series-focusing-attendee-floor-engagement-tactics


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Sense helps Apothic Wines invite festival goers to discover their dark side

Reflecting the wine’s unique taste with intense fruit character and rich flavour, Apothic’s gothic-inspired brand activation visited selected festivals over the summer encouraging revellers to experience its distinctive style and taste. 

Inspired by ‘Apotheca’ a mysterious place where wine was blended and stored in ancient times, the wines of Apothic are truly unique. Festival goers were able to taste Apothic Red, featuring dark red fruit flavours with hints of vanilla, and Apothic Dark, featuring blueberry and blackberry flavours with notes of coffee and dark chocolate. 

Run by Sense, the Apothic Wine bar had an apothecary feel featuring kooky trinkets that spilt out of the beautifully designed black back bar, a seating area & a close-up magician to help immerse visitors into the mysterious world of Apothic wines. 

“The purpose of this real-world experience was to drive awareness and trial of Apothic’s 2 variants, Dark & Red, which they loved and went to stores to buy,” explained Ciara Garratt, Account Manager at Sense. 

The Apothic Wine bar visited Foodies Festival from 13-15 July and Festival No 6 from 6-9 September. 

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All interview questions are trying to figure out one of these three things

Decoding the motivation behind an interview question will help you figure out how you should answer it.

Going on a job interview is really about answering a series of questions. While many of the questions revolve around what you’ve done and what you can do, some questions are designed to operate on another level, says James Pyle, coauthor of Control the Conversation: How to Charm, Deflect, and Defend Your Position Through Any Line of Questioning.

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PRM attend first ICOM under-30s boot camp

Back in Mid-October, Golley Slater PRM’s Account Manager, Shaunagh Kellegher, jetted off to Malta to attend the ICOM European conference – we’re all pretty jealous too!

It was the first time that ICOM ran the under 30’s boot camp, and other rising stars from across the Golley Slater Group were also invited to attend the conference too. The overall aim of the conference was to improve the collaboration of employees from across the European agencies within the ICOM network, and for the partner agencies to build stronger relationships so that they can collaborate more effectively across Europe, working together on clients’ real-world sales and marketing problems.

You can read more about Shaunagh’s experience in Malta and see her snaps below:

I was selected to take part in the first ever ICOM ‘under 30’s boot camp’. This 2-day boot camp gave myself and 9 other ‘under 30’s’ the chance to network and learn about everyone’s roles and different skill sets and areas of expertise within each of their agencies.

As part of the boot camp we were introduced to Matthew Bezzina, the co-founder of Malta’s leading minicab company, eCabs. Matthew presented us all with a real-life issue that he needed help with. A new entrant to market, and a clear competitor, Taxify, had stunned the taxi market in Malta, taking a lot of eCabs current customers and drivers. The under 30’s had 4 hours to work together as a team and develop a solution for Matthew and his marketing team. After the 4 hours were up, we had to present to the 30 agency leaders, ICOM team, and Matthew himself on our concept which would help to solve his business problem. Our pitch was ‘eCabs Cares’.

We must have impressed as word on the street is that Matthew has hired the ICOM Malta host agency, Switch, to develop and quote for our ideas. I look forward to seeing the results!

The conference in Malta was a great experience to meet and network with people from different agencies across Europe, learning more about their agencies and what their role is in the company.

Shaunagh Kellegher, Account Manager
T: 01943883520
E: skellegher@golleyslater.co.uk

Let’s talk

about how to acquire new customers

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Vertical Video: Changing How We Perceive Imagery

Aspect ratio is the proportional relationship between an image’s width and height. Seems simple enough, right? So how is it that until recently, people have preferred video to be horizontal?

The answer: movies. Cinema, where moving images first took a foothold in culture, started with a 4:3 aspect ratio (width to height). From there, as stories became more complex, as the “visual world” of the narrative took more precedence, wider aspect ratios were introduced. 16:9 and 1.85:1 were normalized, along with 2.35:1, the most widely used aspect ratio in science fiction, where the landscape is paramount.

Vertical video, with a 9:16 aspect ratio, seems like a total deviation from the norm. And for moving imagery, it is. However, photos are taken like this all the time. We all know the term “portrait.” It is so ordinary and commonplace that even deconstructing the idea of “portrait” seems like a waste of time. However, since portraiture is new within how video is consumed by a mass audience, the intellectual and emotional unpacking of “portrait” gives us a very simple and powerful understanding of its ramifications within our culture.

In ancient times, the first portraits were created to reflect gods and rulers. Now, they reflect any person or persons. For something to be considered a portrait, a human face has to be present. Therefore, a portrait, at its base form, is always about replicating the likeness of people—of us.

Us. Humanity. You. Me. Why pay attention to the world of an image, when you can solely focus on its subject? Isn’t that the most important part, the human in the image? Social media, which has served as the catalyst for the rise of vertical video, is all about digitally expressing who we are: our brand. Telling people what kind of human they are, and what kind of human you can be, is an important and pressing social construct that has taken over our lives. The zeitgeist of the 21st century will be remembered from this psychic focus on the ego.

Those who understand the world’s present day egocentricity understand vertical video as the most important marketing tool taking shape within social media today. Brand marketers should take a step back from the engrained usage of horizontal aspect ratios in video and focus on the portrait. Why do you think Instagram repurposed Snapchat’s story function? Because Facebook, the ultimate enforcer of the “I” in brand marketing, is always looking to appeal to the individual. They appeal not just to people’s egos, but also to their innate desire to connect with other human beings. With a 9:16 aspect ratio, you put the focus on the individual, on their story.

360i #SideHustle: How “Vivrelle” Took Dani Calogera from Premium Television to Premium Accessories

Welcome to the 360i #SideHustle blog series, where we showcase the awesome side projects, hobbies, start-up businesses, and other ventures created by the entrepreneurial and always-curious employees here at 360i.

By the time 360i Account Director Dani Calogera was 7 years old, she knew how to run a register, manage retail inventory, and create marketing collateral, all thanks to the support of her family of entrepreneurs who value “the creative spirit.” Fast forward two decades: when Dani isn’t overseeing creative campaigns for some of 360i’s top entertainment clients, like HBO and Bravo, she’s helping to launch and run Vivrelle, a first-of-its-kind membership club for luxury handbags, jewelry and diamonds. We sat down with Dani to learn a little bit more about her #SideHustle.

360i: Let’s start at the beginning. What made you want to start a membership club for luxury accessories?

Dani Calogera (DC): One of my very best friends got married last November, and like most brides, a big part of her vision for her special day involved clothing and accessories – her dress, what her bridesmaids would wear, the jewelry she’d choose to complete her outfit. It wasn’t until she started looking for diamond earrings to rent that she noticed there were a bunch of clothing and accessories rental websites, but they didn’t really have the quality or the variety she was interested in.

My friend and I (along with her soon-to-be-husband) put our heads together and came up with the idea to create a one-stop shop for accessing hundreds of high-end accessories a flat monthly membership fee. And Voila! Vivrelle was born.

Dani (middle) and her two cofounders.

360i: What a name! Where did it come from?

DC: “Vivrelle” comes from two French words – “vivre” meaning “to live” and “elle” meaning “she.” Since Paris is the epicenter of fashion, we wanted to infuse that legacy into our brand.

360i: What sets Vivrelle apart from some of the other clothing and accessories rental services out there?

DC: For one, we’re a one-stop destination for not just handbags but other accessories like jewelry and diamonds – you can access everything from Chanel handbags to Cartier watches. We also have a flexible membership program starting at $99 per month, so you can choose which level works for you. Finally, and we love this one, we offer an influencer program where we allow members to access the closets of their favorite influencers, so they can act on the inspiration they get from people they follow on social media.

360i: What makes your #SideHustle possible for you and the co-founders?

DC: Each of our skill sets – finance, PR, marketing & branding – are different, and they each contribute something important to Vivrelle. Having flexibility is also a huge factor for me. Early on, I set the expectation to my business partners that my full-time job would be my priority. They’ve been really great about allowing me to contribute my part on my terms. I don’t necessarily need to be in the office or online from 9-6, so I usually tackle my portion at night or on weekends. It’s proven to work well for us so far.

360i: How has working as an Account Director informed your business?

DC: Having experience with the large brands I work on at 360i like Bravo and HBO has definitely given me the building blocks I need for this, especially in terms of understanding our audience, building our brand, and getting the word out. But Vivrelle allows me to work on new aspects of the business (e-commerce, membership) and dip my toe into some new categories (luxury goods, fashion) that have likewise helped me in my role at 360i. It’s a nice cycle.

360i: How much time do you dedicate to Vivrelle?

DC: Every minute that I’m not at the office!

360i: Why is this important to you?

DC: From a career development standpoint, it’s been amazing to work on a start-up brand where, for once, our audience isn’t established and we have to consider who it is and how we reach them. Building a brand from the ground up, creating recognition and identity, and providing a valuable service while endearing the customer to us will continue to be important for me and my long-term growth.

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Spooky Grows Up – How Adult Halloween Spending Has Evolved

Although it has its origins in the UK, the CelticAll Hallows’ Evening’ has, for generations, been far less celebrated in the UK than the likes of the U.S. or Latin America. In fact, until relatively recently, the UK only really recognised Halloween as an event for children, which was clearly played out by retailers, who dedicated (at most) an aisle to kids costumes and trick or treat fodder. A poll by Channel Mum last year showed how key kids still are to 31st October, with 84% of families planning to celebrate the day. However, the sharp growth of Halloween in very recent years may not be attributable to this young demographic at all.

 

Retail expenditure on Halloween products in the United Kingdom (UK) from 2013 to 2018

 

 

Mintel claims it is pre-family adults who are most likely to spend big on Halloween, with 58% of 16-24 year-olds and 55% of 25-34 year olds buying into themed products and services. With related categories, like alcohol, also enjoying spikes at the end of October, the evidence strongly points to an adult audience driving the Halloween experience. Adult social media environments are packed with Halloween inspiration: from pumpkin-carving skills to creepy craft and cookery ideas to costumes. The range of approaches to each and every one of these areas show that, when it comes to the adult shopper, more consideration is needed by brands if they hope to connect in an engaging way.

 

We have picked out a few of the key trends for Millennial Halloween shoppers, which most definitely differentiate from the kids market we are so familiar with. For relevant brands, moving assets on from ghosts and ghouls will demonstrate an understanding of how adult consumers want to connect with the day.

 

Premium Frights

The premiumisation of Halloween has reached an all-time high in 2018. Items like John Lewis’ spooky wreaths and Hotel Chocolat’s ‘novelty’ range are clear signals that the mass market won’t cut it for everybody anymore. Adult shoppers don’t want to regress for Halloween, instead, they demand a grown-up take on the occasion.

 

 

Bad Taste

Another, specifically adult, and very Millennial, take on Halloween is the bad taste vibe. The US has embraced this filter on Halloween for many years, and it is fast catching on in the UK. From Jimmy Saville Costumes (*yes, really: £27.99) to Zombie Brain cakes at Tesco, bad taste is blossoming for British shoppers.

 

Gore and the Grotesque

Related to bad taste, but definitely, a camp of its own is the grotesque. Celebrities rolling into Jonathan Ross’s annual bash have been perfecting this trend from a costume point of view, but in food too, it now seems the more realistically gory the better. Bloody eyeball anyone?

 

 

Real World Fears

The scares delivered by witches and ghouls may suit the kids but, for adults, Halloween can create the perfect opportunity to talk about real world fears. Jemima Khan’s 2016 outfit for Unicef’s Halloween Ball is a brilliant case in point. After the event, her controversial costume was auctioned in aid of refugee support. Using this time of year to make an important political, social point is increasingly appropriate.

 

 

 

3 SEO Split Tests You Should Try

Yes, split testing for SEO is a thing, and a powerful one at that. In How Split Testing Is Changing Consulting, Will sums up why high priority SEO changes linger in developer backlogs, and how we’re addressing these issues with our ODN platform that allows us to test and roll out these recommendations without using our clients’ developer resources: we can substantiate best practices like H1 changes, alterations to internal links, and rendering content with and without Javascript.

Let’s get started with three tests you should try to see if you can increase organic traffic to your site.

1. Do H1 changes still work?

It won’t come as any surprise to SEOs that testing on page elements can produce significant changes in rankings. That said, I’ve found that folks can put too much stock in on page elements: we tend to get keyword-tunnel vision and chock up our rankings to keyword targeting alone. As a result, being able to test these assumptions on Google can help (dis)prove our hypotheses (and help us prioritize the right development work).

For iCanvas.com, prioritizing web development work is key: they’re a canvas print company with a robust team of developers, but like most companies, they have limited resources to test technical changes. As a result, dubious SEO-driven changes can’t be prioritized over user experience-driven ones.

We did, however, notice that iCanvas was not targeting product type in their H1 tags. As a result, this is what a typical category page (like this one) looked like.

Here, the H1 tag was simply “Beach Decor.” iCanvas was communicating the style and subject of their products in their title tags–that product being canvas art prints–but that context was lost on a given category page. We hypothesized that if we told the world (and, more specifically, Google) what the products are (canvas prints), that we would better meet users’ search intents resulting in more organic search traffic to our test pages. Here’s what the H1 looked like for the test::

After less than a month, we had our answer: our test pages with canvas prints appended to H1 tags gained significantly more traffic than our control pages. How’d we measure that?

It helps to know how ODN works (also check out Craig’s post, What is SEO Split Testing?). The most important thing to know in understanding the chart above is that ODN observes the organic traffic your site captures in real time to develop a forecast for the organic traffic we’d expect to receive in the future. That’s how we got to the nice “7.7% uplift if rolled out” estimate. There is of course volatility–forecasts are rarely perfect, and ours isn’t an exception. Which is why we also measure statistical significance within the normal range of variance we’d expect.

As a result, we were confident that this change would positively impact traffic to their site, so we declared this test a winner and rolled the change out to all of their category pages through ODN. This meant that we didn’t have to hijack our developers’ work queue in order to see an immediate benefit. Additionally, we had evidence we could bring to our devs instead of relying exclusively on the promise of following “best practices” in keyword targeting.

2. Will altering internal links give you a big payoff?

Testing changes to internal links is often an ill-defined endeavor. Do you measure changes to PageRank (dubbed local PageRank by Will Critchlow)? Should you look at your log files to observe changes to Google’s crawling behavior?

In our case, iCanvas had a somewhat simpler internal linking issue we wanted to address: self-referential links. As an art company, it’s essential to attribute the creator’s name to their work of art.

As a result, they had made the decision to include a link to the artist of the work on every product listing.

For instance, in the above screenshot of a category page, you can see that each product has its artist listed, and those artists’ names are linked to pages listing all of their available artworks on iCanvas. While this application made sense for category pages where various artists’ products are featured alongside each other, it resulted in redundant links on those individual artists’ pages.

Each of these artist attributions, on the artist’s category page, were linking back to themselves (thus: self-referential links). Our hypothesis was that if we removed these redundant links, we’d better consolidate our PageRank. We knew this change could have a dramatic impact on artists’ products, resulting in more organic traffic flowing to their product pages. Our test, however, would measure the impact of organic traffic acquisition to our test group of artist pages. So how did it turn out?

As it turned out, our test was a success: artist pages in our test group received more organic traffic than our control pages. We were again able to test something that would’ve been touted as “best practice” before rolling it out sitewide, or manually setting up test and control groups and measuring the results ourselves. Once we saw the positive impact (less than a month later), we rolled this change out sitewide and the validation we needed to get the necessary development work prioritized.

3. How good is Google at crawling JavaScript?

If you follow our blog, you’ve already read about how we tested Google’s ability to crawl and render JavaScript. We posited that, because Google wasn’t reliably displaying iCanvas’ products in its Fetch and Render tool, iCanvas’ category and product pages would receive more organic traffic if we used a CSS trigger to load their products instead of relying exclusively on JavaScript.

Above is a screenshot of what we saw (and, presumably, what Googlebot saw) in Fetch and Render of a category page.

After our tweak, however, we plugged one of our test URLs into Fetch and Render, and we could finally produce what users see in their browsers with JS enabled. But did it actually result in additional organic traffic to our test pages?

As you can see above, it did. Based on the performance of our test pages, iCanvas would see an extra 88 pageviews daily with their products triggered through a line of CSS instead of JS. Measuring the impact of this relatively simple change could have taken much longer than this month-long experiment. By the end though, we were ready to roll this out sitewide to ensure that all iCanvas products were crawlable and discoverable.

Split testing something as simple as on page SEO can produce meaningful traffic changes that’ll allow you to validate best practices and get necessary evidence for your stakeholders (and developers) to buy into your suggestions. Is it time for you to try SEO split testing?

Less Talk and More Action

In his New York Times best-selling memoir, Shoe Dog, Nike founder Phil Knight recalls the morning he found out about the death of dear friend and famed runner Steve Prefontaine:

“I heard that something was happening at the spot where Pre died. It was becoming a shrine. People were visiting it every day, leaving flowers, letters, notes, gifts – Nikes. Someone should collect it all, I thought, keep it in a safe place. Someone needed to curate Pre’s rock, and I decided that someone needed to be us. We didn’t have money for anything like that. But I talked it over with Johnson and Woodell and we agreed that, as long as we were in business, we’d find money for things like that.”

Prefontaine died tragically in a car wreck in 1975 at just 24 years of age. At the time of his death, he held every American distance record from 2,000 meters to 10,000 meters. His importance to the popularization of running in American culture cannot be overstated, nor his role in Nike’s growth as a nascent shoe brand in the 1970s.

It wasn’t Pre’s accolades that drew Phil Knight’s affection; it was his spirit. Pre was famous for saying, “Someone may beat me, but they’ll have to bleed to do it.” Knight saw in Pre an ethos that he wanted his young company to embody: A fighting spirit, the will to never give up, and, ultimately, the realization of one’s athletic potential. The day the light went out in Prefontaine’s life, Phil Knight committed to carry that spirit forward in the best way he knew how – through his fledgling shoe company.

As an isolated example, the remembrance of a friend seems like a good deed that may or may not break into the 24-hour news cycle, much less be the beginnings of a Cannes case study or have any sort of tangible business impact. However, we know how the story ends: We can trace Phil Knight’s actions since the day after Pre’s death to see how Nike continually follows its values and “finds money for things like that.”

This is a company that has a sense of self. That has clear and present values. A company with a spine. Better yet, a company that takes action.

 

The Brand Dilemma

We live in an era of brand commoditization. Packaged good companies pace the floors over Amazon and the knockoffs that hit the shelves weeks after their new product launches. Service companies wring their hands at consumer-review sites. Seemingly every category has a price aggregator or upstart chipping away at their market share. The response is to ask, “do brands even matter?” It’s a fair question. Havas Media’s recent “Meaningful Brands” research showed that almost 75 percent of brands are so meaningless to consumers that they may as well not be there.

While external threats are often pegged as the cause of brand commoditization, the truth is that people are moving toward the companies that create value or offer tangible solutions not previously available. More pointedly: In this era of transparency where consumers know and share more than ever, brands are simply being found out. It’s no wonder that 84 percent of Millennials don’t trust traditional advertising, and the discrepancy between what brands advertise vs. what they deliver is at the core of the issue. Brands can no longer divorce what they say from what they do.

Where there’s adversity, there’s opportunity. As savvy consumers dismiss the vast majority of brands as meaningless, there lies a significant opportunity for meaningful brands to fill the void. Having a powerful, relevant brand matters more than ever. The question, then, is not whether brands matter, but rather: In this shifting landscape, what is the new approach to creating brands that do?

 

Brands That Matter

At The Richards Group, we preach the gospel of brand as promise. When we say brand, we mean the intangible beliefs and perceptions that people hold about your company, product, or service. That promise lives inside your consumers’ hearts and minds, and everything that your customer experiences on behalf of your company – intentional or not – either reinforces that promise or undermines it.

Defining a brand’s promise allows large companies to simplify the complex to a set of core principles or values that can be easily shared and explained throughout the organization. A well-defined brand promise makes it possible for employees from the C-suite to the front line and from marketing to operations to merchandising to R&D to execute consistently against these core values with a shared conviction.

The dilemma, however, is when a brand promise is relegated to a marketing strategy or, more limiting, an advertising strategy. Hence the separation between what a company says (advertising) and what it does (operations). Gareth Kay has defined the problem best:

“My biggest concern with the notion of the brand: the fact that it is far too theoretical and tends to live (and die) in the meeting room. The very notion of the brand is one that is theoretical and conceptual; it lives in words and diagrams, not in actions in the real world. This has allowed the brand to be reduced to a messaging mechanism and verbal construct that we use to judge whether what we do is ‘on’ or ‘off’ brand.”

When we, as marketers, allow a brand promise to be reduced to a messaging strategy, our impact on the world around us falls short. Our audiences are so inundated with “messaging” that they have becomes masters at filtering it, and they’re tired of being sold. Whether we call it advertising or content does little to affect this challenge.

We’ve long heard – and quoted to each other – the words of Simon Sinek, “People don’t buy what you do, they buy why you do it.” And, it’s important to note, nobody cares about your why unless you do something. When a brand does nothing – or says nothing of importance – no one cares, no one talks, and therefore sales stagnate. But when a brand does something, people take notice. People don’t want to be told; they want brands to prove the why in the actions they take.

How, then, do we bring our brand promise to life in a truly meaningful way? In the words of Elvis, it’s time for a little less talk and a lot more action.

What Is a Brand Action?

Knowing that brand is a construct that lives solely in our consumers’ hearts and minds, our brand strategy should focus on how to create meaningful, powerful emotional associations over time.

The most powerful emotions rarely come from something that’s read or watched; rather, they spring from shared experiences. Iconic campaigns throughout history created an emotional connection through television when watching TV was our communal activity. We all watched Friends at the same time on the same night, and shared our experiences of the show – and the advertising within it – on the day after. But as culture has changed, media has fragmented, and technology has proliferated, we no longer bond over the shows we watched last night, leaving a void for shared experiences to fill.

And while storytelling is a powerful way to create emotional connections, an ever-evolving consumer is forcing brands to move beyond storytelling to action-taking. Doing things that matter. Not for the sake of impressions or reach. But for the sake of the brand, the people behind it, and the people who choose to opt in to it. These brand actions serve as an outward manifestation of the company’s very reason for being. And they create a connection so meaningful that people can’t help but want to be a part of it.

As marketers, the questions we ask ourselves are: What is the most powerful emotion that I can create in the hearts and minds of my consumers? And what set of meaningful actions can I take to evoke or strengthen that feeling?

Put simply: A brand action is a real-world manifestation of your brand promise. A brand living out its DNA. A brand creating a shared experience that connects audiences with one another – and with what the brand stands for.

Brand actions vary as widely as the brands that create them. They can range from pure fun to an articulation of a brand’s commitment to its customers to a cultural or political stance. They can be a business move – such as CVS’ refusal to sell cigarettes – to activations that are born of marketing. They can be a shift in a product or service, a special touch in a customer service experience, or even a stunt (yes, we said it).

Most important is that your brand’s actions are authentic to your brand, who it is, and what it stands for. Beyond that, there are lots of ways in:

Meaningful Brand Actions Clearly Align With or Serve to Establish a Clear Set of Values
Think Fearless Girl. Commissioned by State Street Global to demonstrate the power of women in leadership, the statue of a young girl facing down the Wall Street Bull sent a clear and moving message about the brand’s commitment to gender-diverse companies.

On the other end of the spectrum is Dr Pepper’s surprise gift of a Dr Pepper fountain to its most ardent fan and Kansas State college student Claire Daniels. The brand is committed to fun and refreshment for its customers, and the life-sized fountain, installed in Claire’s front yard after she tweeted her love for Dr Pepper, delivered on those core values in spades.

Meaningful Brand Actions Target a Specific Audience or Even a Specific Individual
By definition, a brand that’s clear about its core values won’t be all things to all people.

High school football is a way of life in many communities, so it was especially heartbreaking when 106-year rivals from Phillipsburg, Pennsylvania, and Easton, New Jersey, ended their 1993 season in a tie. Honoring the spirit of athletic competition – and broadening the idea of what it means to be an athlete – Gatorade gave the teams the opportunity to break that tie 16 years later during a Gatorade – Replay match. The two teams reunited, trained, and faced off in front of 15,000 football fans – cementing Gatorade’s positioning among high school football fans across the country.

Meaningful Brand Actions Give People a Platform to Tell (and Enhance) Their Story
When Kevin Blandford posted on Reddit that he won a vacation but had a miserable time in Puerto Rico because he couldn’t bring his wife, Puerto Rico stepped in to make things right. Puerto Rico Tourism Company brought Kevin back – with his wife this time! – giving the couple a vacation do-over. Puerto Rico even made sure the couple re-created the photos that were previously evidence of Kevin’s misery as proof that the couple had the time of their lives in Puerto Rico.

Meaningful Brand Actions Leverage Partnerships With Brands Who Share Your Values
Speed demons dream of the open road and an opportunity to go FAST.  To make that dream a reality, Audi partners with Airbnb to offer “a once-in-a-lifetime travel and driving experience,” complete with a stay at the renowned Rondolino Residence and an Audi R8 built for speeding along the desolate Death Valley roads surrounding the home.

Meaningful Brand Actions Heighten the Brand Experience
Pizza Hut Cinema steps up the typical “dinner and a movie” with a pizza box that turns into a projector and screen for enhanced viewing of movies watched on your smartphone.

Another pizza purveyor, Domino’s, is enhancing the brand experience in a very different way, by literally removing a barrier to enjoying fresh, hot pizza. The brand’s “Paving for Pizza” initiative helps to “smooth the ride home” for pizza deliveries by repairing potholes in towns that are nominated by its customers.

Or, The Next Pinnacle, Meaningful Brand Actions Help People to Alter Their Reality
Anybody who travels by air knows that it’s far from glamorous. Heineken decided to up that experience by offering travelers a spontaneous trip to a surprise destination. The catch in Heineken Departure Roulette is that travelers have to leave right then and there. Talk about upping the ante on air travel!

 

How to Get on Board

Ironically, brand actions aren’t done for profit, but they can strengthen the value of a company. With brand value accounting for 33 percent of a company’s valuation and strong brands commanding a 13 percent price premium, building a strong brand is a pretty important concept to get right.

Just ask CVS, whose brand preference rose 50 percent as a result of its decision to stop selling cigarettes. Or Nike, whose sales grew 31 percent year over year after airing its Colin Kaepernick spot. Or Patagonia, who tripled its profits from 2008 to 2014.

While many brands are still navigating the road from traditional TV to digital video, other brands are taking action. And in the process, future-proofing themselves against a time when even the first three seconds on social media aren’t the panacea for consumer attention. Here’s how to get on board:

Get Clear on Your Brand Promise
People want to do business with companies (and therefore brands) that have a sense of purpose beyond profit. And it doesn’t have to be saving the world. Nike isn’t saving the world by celebrating its athletes. It isn’t donating any money either. What it is doing is showing and telling you that it values the competitive spirit and those who embrace it. Are you one of those? Come join us.

Your brand promise establishes your values. So be clear on your brand’s promise, why your brand exists, and how the world would be different without it.

Understand Who You Serve
Heidi Hackemer, founder of strategy firm Wolf & Wilhelmine, points out that Nike “has always had real street authenticity” because “they are relentless about understanding who they serve.” She argues that this legitimacy comes from a ”combination of qualitative and quantitative insights that make bold creative moves seem easy.”

Take a page from Nike: Deeply understand your audience, moments that are relatable for them, and what they’re experiencing that’s culturally worthy or newsworthy. At that intersection are opportunities to inject your brand into their lives with brand actions that matter to them.

Lead With Action
Do you believe someone who extolls on all the reasons they’re great? Or are you better convinced when they show you? Anyone can make declarations. Lead with action instead. Think about actions that are an outward manifestation of your brand promise, that give your audiences something to experience and relate to, that provide them with a story to tell. Then build your narrative around it. Better yet, you can let your audience tell the story on your behalf.

The Goal Is to Be Understood – Attention Is Merely a By-product
The quickest way to ensure failure is to concept a stunt with the goal of creating media buzz. Rather than focusing on mass impact (although that may occur), strive to create lasting bonds with a few (who then share their experience). The goal is to do something beautiful, inspiring, funny, or useful. Most of all, the goal is to be understood. Whatever you do should create an understanding of what your brand is all about. Therefore, if nothing else, your brand actions have to be authentic.

Act – Then Amplify
And the question you may be asking yourself – what is an article about brand actions doing in a report on digital trends? The simple answer is, the best digital content starts in the real world.

If you need validation on this, just check out Facebook’s recent campaign. As they say, “the best part of Facebook isn’t what happens online.” Rather, it’s the actions that happen in the real world, bringing together people with common beliefs or circumstances to celebrate, to rally for change, or to simply share in their commonalities. Social media is simply the watering hole where we share our experience.

As cords get cut, live TV viewership recedes, social media prevails, cynicism and distrust of marketing messages grows, mass media continues to fragment into niche bubbles, and personalized marketing displaces the broad impact of a mass-communal cross-cultural content consumption, people get harder to reach.

An impressive real-world action on behalf of a brand gets noticed, it gains traction in earned media, it generates headlines and images that stop thumbs in the social feed, it creates the “holy cow, I can’t believe they did that” effect that leads to successful word of mouth, and it results in genuine stories about a brand. Your brand.

Knowing that people want to affiliate with like-minded brands, let’s start doing things that let them know what we stand for. Then, once you’ve struck a chord – once you’ve started showing up in your audience’s feed organically and started gaining some momentum – once you’ve created an authentic platform to stand on, that’s when you can leverage the storytelling power of advertising to amplify the brand narrative. It starts in the real world, then digital plays a critical role in building as much momentum as possible.

 

Conclusion

In the beginning, Phil Knight committed to “find money for things like that” – actions that reflect the purpose and spirit of his company. Today, we have a compelling business reason to follow suit. Beyond that, we have a human reason to do so: As marketers, storytelling has taken us a great distance. Imagine what we can accomplish when we do things that not only prove the stories that we’ve been telling, but actually create a platform for more.

Your brand shouldn’t be relegated to the constraints of a medium regardless of whether it’s measured in inches or seconds or word count. There will be time for talking later. Now is the time for action.

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