Category: Branding

Marketing Traditionalists and Marketing Scientists: A Collision or Collaboration?

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I would like to be crystal clear up front. When it comes to the characterizing types of marketers, most people don’t truly understand the definition of “traditional and scientist.” Many believe a traditionalist is all about “old school” media channels like TV, radio and print. Old guys like me grew up calling these “old school” channels “above the line” marketing. Often, the “scientist” is bucketed into newer channels like digital, social, mobile, or “below the line” marketing. Nothing could be further from the truth.

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3 Things Apple Did to Build Their Empire That You Can Do, Too.

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Unless you live in a tree fort in the Congo, you’re familiar with the Apple brand. They’ve not only built a business, but a brand that’s become an empire. Their competitors can’t even come close to seeing the success that Apple has seen in the technology niche.

For example, did you know that the iPhone alone brings in more revenue than all of Microsoft combined (to the tune of tens of billions of dollars)?

How do you get there?

How does that happen?

How does a guy start with an idea that becomes a technology cult several years down the road? Is the iPhone that much better than other smartphones? I don’t think so.

So what’s going on here?

What has Apple done to see so much success and what you can you and your team (if you have one) start doing today to emulate them?

Tip #1: Build Your Brand

The first thing you need to realize about Apple is that they built more than a company, product, or a business. They built a brand.

And that brand has made them billions of dollars.

So what is a brand? What does that mean? A lot of people mistake a company’s logo for their brand but a logo is just a bunch of pixels somebody created on a screen. A brand is something entirely different.

A brand is something that’s intangible yet simultaneously very real. Marketing and branding guru Seth Godin defines a brand this way:

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Did you catch that?

A “brand” is what people think of you and your business when you’re not around. It’s the perception that you create about yourself that sticks with people- good, bad, or ugly.

Everyone has a brand whether they like it or not. So why not make it shine?

People connect with brands not products. The iPhone craze isn’t about the product it’s about the brand. when people stand in line for week at a time, they want to be seen by others. They want to be seen with an iPhone, and they want to be identified with the Apple brand.

Douglas Van Praet has studied the science and psychology behind this type of attachment and writes that:

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He explains in the article that our brains are hardwired to attach and connect. We can’t help it. So when a business or marketer gets this and works tirelessly to create this kind of attachment- you get something like Apple:

Cool, sophisticated, uncomplicated.

People dig it.

So how can you build a brand like that?
You have to do it at the identity level.

You have to create a feeling in your audience that makes people say, “me too!” because they know that you get them. When you can tie your brand into people’s self narrative (the story they tell themselves about themselves) you’ve won. How does that happen?

  • You have to make emotional appeals that lead to emotional connections.
  • You have to speak to the heart, not the head.
  • You have to know your audience and speak to their felt needs.
  • You have to give people something that helps them improve who they already are.

Notice that none of this has to with your sales pitch or product. It’s all about creating meaningful personal connections with your market. Listen to what these iPhone fans had to say about the phone and notice, it has nothing to do with the actual product features. Instead, they talk abut how having an iPhone makes them feel:

“It’s the hype of getting it and having the latest technology. That is compelling to everybody. I have one, and I can not live without it.”

“Everyone’s just talking about it. It feels like you have to get one, because it’s out there.”

You can’t buy that kind of loyalty. It happens at the neurological level. So when you can position your brand in a way that evokes that type of response, you’re already ahead of your competition.

Your competitors are still marketing with cliches, platitudes, and free coasters. If this is you, please stop. You don’t build a business or give away free pens to be successful.

You need to build a brand.

Tip #2: Tell Your Story

After Apple built their brand, what came next was their story. They know how to tell a story in a way that resonates and sticks with people. Everyone on the earth has a story that they place themselves in that helps them make sense of who they are and what their purpose is.

Every brand has a story too.

The goal of every marketer should be to get both stories to intersect.

Apple tells stories that create wonder, are educational, true, and most importantly, inspiring. They create a felt need that makes people take their 2 weeks vacation and use it to stand in line for a phone.

They know how to create wonder and highlight emotion. They tell customers, “You’re more powerful than you think” and display online galleries of things people have created with their products.

Apple doesn’t just create products, they help you solve your problems. It’s what’s missing from your life and you need it. And if you’re still not hooked, they tell stories of how their brand has changed the lives of others and how it can change your life too.

And it works.

According to some of the world’s leading neuroscientists, our brains come alive during stories. We attach ourselves to them and find meaning and purpose in them.

So why not use them in marketing?

How do you begin telling your story?

Simple — you need to be intentional about it and you need a framework.

When you’re thinking through who you are and why you do what you do (i.e. your brand) a story will start to unfold. I highly suggest downloading Donald Miller’s free e-book, “How to Tell a Story” because it’ll give you the framework you need to frame your narrative properly and help you think through it.

You need to be a student of story, study story, Google it, focus on it, and make sure you tell your stories to everyone you meet. When you stop “selling” and start telling stories about the people you’ve helped, who you are, and why you’re in business…

…people will listen.

Tip #3: Cook Your Bacon

Have you ever noticed that Apple doesn’t try to reach everyone? They have a very specific niche that loves them and they’re unapologetic for being who they are and doing what they do.

Apple just does their thing.

They don’t try to appeal to everyone and they definitely aren’t people pleasers.

Fans love them

Haters hate them

In the meantime, they’re making billions of dollars and staying true to their brand. Just like Apple, to successfully gain brand exposure and build an audience, you need to do what you do without compromising or selling out.

You’ll never please or reach everybody- so stop trying to.

Brand Strategist Justin Foster came up with a branding metaphor that likens the most exciting and interesting brands to bacon. Mmmmmmm, bacon.

How do you sell bacon?

You cook it.

Bacon doesn’t apologize for being so insanely delicious and tasty. It’s bacon- it can’t help itself. Some people hate bacon (shame on them) but most people love it. Bacon doesn’t pretend to be lettuce and it doesn’t try to take center stage at the Vegan Convention.

In the same way — you have to be true to yourself, ignore the haters, court your fans, and do your thing. If you let fear or criticism govern your decisions you’ll end up being boring, uninteresting, irrelevant, and status quo.

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Listen to your audience.

Traditional marketing is humdrum.
It’s boring.

People are instantly turned off by it.

You have something you do that is awesome and the world needs to hear about it.

People need what you have to offer so … go give it to them.

Brian Lenney is an online entrepreneur who helps brands tell their stories. You can download his free e-book on storytelling by clicking here:”Six Storytelling Techniques Every Brand Marketer Should Know.


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Top Super Bowl Spots: Are They Worth $4.5 Million?

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On Super Bowl Sunday, I was interviewed by CNN International to talk about this year’s crop of Super Bowl commercials.

Before being picked up by the car from CNN, I had an email dialogue with Dr. Reshma Shah who is a marketing professor at the Goizueta Business School at Emory University. (She’s also my co-author on How to Make Money with Social Media.)

I figured if anybody could share some light on the value of a Super Bowl commercial, it would be Dr. Shah.

Here’s what she shared with me via email on two topics — brand authenticity and ad campaigns, as well as social media and the impact of branding:

1) Brand Authenticity and Ad Campaigns

I teach the Dove case study and spots from their Campaign for Real Beauty – which has several parts to it – aired on the Super Bowl a number of times. 

Despite their good intentions to get people to start thinking differently about beauty and what is beautiful (because only 2% of the world’s women think they are beautiful) Dove’s efforts were criticized. Why? Because Unilever, the parent company, also markets the AXE brand.  Axe’s brand positioning is based on the objectification of women to sell product.

In the end, the Super Bowl campaign didn’t help Dove sell more soap. Worse yet, social media exposed a huge contradiction in their approach questioning their real motives. 

Today, an estimated 80 percent of American women feel dissatisfied with their bodies and 81 percent of 10-year-old girls are afraid of becoming “fat.” Can a series of ad campaigns really change institutionalized body hatred or people’s deep rooted beliefs and behaviors around domestic abuse?

These companies and brands have to walk the walk 100% of the time or run the risk that people find them to be nothing more than emperors with no clothes on.

2) Social Media and the Impact on Branding

Not long ago, a Nielsen study showed that trust in advertising was in decline. Between 2009 and 2012, global trust in TV advertising declined from 71% to just 47% worldwide.

Fueled by social media, trust in peer opinions is rising at the same time that trust in advertising is falling. Nielsen reports that the most trusted source of recommendations (close to 90%) is a recommendation from somebody a customer knows personally.

While this number has always been high, it’s never been higher on an absolute or relative basis. A recent McKinsey study also noted that, unlike advertising, word-of-mouth is the only source of influence that remains critical at all stages of the sales cycle for most goods and services.

In the word-of-mouth era, customers do not always repeat what you say to them, but they do talk about the experiences that they are having with your brand. Brands that are at the heart of experiences that matter to their customers can earn their loyalty, their trust, and their recommendations.

In fact, this “customer experience effect” is so powerful that recent research by Forrester showed that customer’s perceived “quality of the customer experience” was the single best predictor of future purchase intent (0.71 correlation) and of likelihood to recommend (0.65 correlation).

As you can see from what Dr. Shah wrote above, there’s a lot of good data about the impact advertising and word-of-mouth has on the brands we love.

With all that in mind, here’s the segment on the Super Bowl ads from my appearance on CNN International where I reference some of Dr. Shah’s perspectives.


Jamie Turner is the CEO of the 60 Second Marketer and 60 Second Communications, an Atlanta-based advertising agency and digital marketing firm that works with national and international brands. He is the co-author of “How to Make Money with Social Media” and “Go Mobile” and is a popular marketing speaker at events, trade shows and corporations around the globe.

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How to Use Digital Asset Management to Protect Your Brand

This guest post contributed by Liz McClellan

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“If this business were split up, I would give you the land and bricks and mortar, and I would take the brands and trademarks, and I would fare better than you.”

John Stuart, former CEO of Quaker Oats

We’ve heard this quote before, but 100 years later it still resonates so powerfully. Consumers love brands and it’s no longer just about paying a price premium for a coveted branded product. We have started to attach huge value to low-cost brands, and it’s always a proud moment when you are complimented on a designer handbag purchased from Marshall’s or Target.

While there may be huge differences between luxury and every day value brands, the common denominator that unites all marketers is the desire to build and protect their brands. Brands after all, contribute substantially to the bottom line of most businesses.

In the omni-channel environment in which today’s marketers operate, this is a daily challenge.  Many marketers struggle to manage the marketing ‘assets,’ the sum of which make up the external face and value of a brand.

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This was underlined by some independent research that North Plains recently commissioned emedia to carry out regarding how marketers track and share their brand assets. Surprisingly, 70% still rely on email to share assets with third party agencies and over 50% of respondents having zero security in place.

Some steps to take to protect your brand identity

There many methods including the obvious legal channels that companies and brands can and do adopt on a daily basis to protect their most valuable assets.  Unfortunately it’s not always possible to control what happens to your brand externally.  This means action to protect brand identity is often reactive and remedial, whereas it should be proactive to prevent problems occurring in the first place.

So, is there anything that marketers can do to better protect their brands?  The answer is yes, because they can control the internal management of the brand and its’ related assets and IP.  This gives a brand owner the confidence that what is being put out into the world is consistent (in terms of tone, visual identity and quality standards) compliant with any regulation and ultimately 100% “on brand.” Bottom-line benefits include reduced risk of litigation and associated costs.

In essence, managing these assets – the jewels in the brand’s crown – comes down to two steps: processes and systems.  Neither sound very sexy, but they don’t have to be onerous or complicated, if the right approach is taken.


This involves creating a culture where people understand a) marketing assets have an intrinsic value and need to be treated with respect and b) they have some accountability for making sure that happens. Think wide: the strategy should encompass every part of the organization involved in external sharing of brand assets. Not just marketers, but anyone responsible for distributing or using assets externally.

A happy customer is a marketer’s strongest tool – For this reason, many companies have begun hiring brand ambassadors to promote  products or services to customers for the sole purpose of creating  customer advocates.  It is imperative that the brand ambassadors reflect the integrity of the company’s brand from a visual and operational point of view.

Legal and procurement need to be involved too; from the perspective of adding that understanding around issues such as rights protection and suppliers’ adherence to how they represent the brand.  Consider mandating that anyone creating assets must follow a rigorous approval or review process. Also consider implementing an internal training program that teaches the importance of brand management, to create internal evangelists of brand values.

Overcome siloed thinking and asset management by creating a marketing ecosystem where all digital assets are in one place, covering content from idea conception through to finished work and on-going iterations.

Systems to support brand identity

So how do you create this single ‘community’ for assets?  Digital asset management (DAM) is the answer to which marketers are increasingly turning, using technology to take the stress out of dealing with multiple assets (even a mid-sized brand might have in excess of 100,000 brand assets).

A good DAM will provide control and visibility over all the assets for a brand, from creation through to distribution and archiving, including approval tracking and rights management.  An immediate benefit of a DAM is that users can see which assets already exist, giving them the potential to re-use existing material, rather than commissioning new content or artwork.  Clearly, this removal of unnecessary duplication saves both time and money for the organization.

One global organization that North Plains works with has estimated savings in excess of $3.3 million per year, just through eliminating requests to external agencies to send over images.

DAM also helps with risk mitigation  For instance, ensuring that the digital rights management information associated with any asset ‘travels’ with the content helps to prevent inadvertent misuse.  Similarly, DAM protects the brand itself, ensuring that its values and visual integrity are retained, regardless of application or location.  DAM can also help ensure adherence to industry regulation and codes, which can be critically important in some industries, where it’s important to ensure the correct processes and supporting technology are in place before they can go-to-market.

DAM comes in all shapes and sizes, from being built in-house to systems offered by a growing brand of third party suppliers.  Here are some ‘best practice’ attributes for which to look:

  • Ease of use – sounds obvious, but people will only use a system that is simple and intuitive to use. If they have to spend lots of time learning how complicated functions work, then they won’t bother.  Access to assets needs to be transparent, without having to scroll through endless menu options.
  • Control – consider giving different people (agencies, management, marketing team members) different levels of access. Also think about having asset ‘gatekeepers’ who are responsible for ensuring that the finished asset is uploaded to the right location in the right way.
  • But not too much control – there is a fine line between control and flexibility: users must be able to not easily access the right assets, but also to use and manipulate them sufficiently (though of course without affecting asset integrity).

Brand is what differentiates companies from one another in the marketplace. Ultimately, the main function of any marketer is to protect this sacred brand identity. For obvious reasons measures in place to manage brand assets are no longer a ‘nice to have; they have become a ‘must have.’ By preserving brand integrity companies can afford to scale and reinvest time, energy and resources into new R&D that anticipates and meets the changing needs of tomorrow’s consumer.

Liz McClellan is CMO of North Plains Systems, a leading provider of digital asset management solutions.