Love is blind

You have heard the phrase “love is blind”… Often a flippant remark when we notice a seemingly mismatched couple. But often this cliché runs true. When we are in love, we are more forgiving of the little problems and imperfections. In fact we can come to value these imperfections and personality quirks and become some of the reason we love so much.

When people love a brand, they will forgive that a product is a little more expensive, or that they have to go out of their way to find it. They will refuse to admit another brand can be as good, let alone better. They’ll purchase the product(s) over and over again, and they’ll rave about it to friends and colleagues. A great example is Karen recently professing her love for her new Apple Mac.

On a recent blog post, Seth Godin writes about Love and what he considers its opposite… Annoying. Check out Seth’s full post here: Love (and Annoying). He gives some great examples of companies and products that aim to be loved by their customers and others that aim to be less annoying.

The ultimate goal in branding or designing a product is to be loved by our customers. While we would all love to have a brand that is universally loved by everyone, it is not always possible. Seth suggests, “If you can’t do that [be loved], perhaps you can make your product or service less annoying”.

The problem with love is that not everyone loves alike, and those who don’t love your brand will likely find you annoying. If your business model will work with fewer, but more loyal customers, then love maybe you should try to create a brand for people to love. But if you need more customers, then spend your effort making sure you are less annoying.

Is your Advertising an expense or an investment?

There are two camps in viewing advertising. Some people consider it an expense while others regard their advertising campaigns as an investment. The raw truth is that it can be either. To know which, you need to know how many customers your advertising campaign brings you and how much they spend.

If an advertising campaign brings in more profit than you spend on it, then it is an investment

If an advertising campaign brings in less profit than it costs, then it is purely an expense.

Of course, a loss making advertising campaign is still getting your name and brand out in front of an audience, and there is some long-term benefit in this. BUT wouldn’t you rather get paid while keeping your brand in the public eye?

The secret to successful advertising is to find out what does work and what doesn’t. Measure, measure and re-measure!!! Double the advertising that does work and quit that which doesn’t.

Print Finishes

Design in print is one thing. But the design OF YOUR PRINT is another thing altogether. AND well worth taking a look at exploring.

Within the realms of paper finishes and print finishes there is a whole new element to design and the influence it can have over the completed job.

 A designer can and should consider the end product when developing a concept. This means more than taking into account the most appropriate paper stock. It means thinking about how a myriad of other tricks and techniques (within the budget) can be used in tandem with the graphics to meet the brief.

Our son was given an organic cotton toy that was packaged in a special brown shoe box, printed in natural ink colours and die-cut at the side to expose the logo. Everything about the packaging screamed “natural!” to me and even though it had a matt finish and was predominately brown (think paper bag), the overall impression was one of absolute quality and that the product was worth treasuring.

A simple business card doesn’t have to be on clean white stock like everyone elses’ UNLESS this supports how your business is positioned. Sometimes a different finish, such as an emboss or metallic for example, can set your business apart from others as well as saying more about your brand.

 

 

Targeting your brand

First, your brand won’t appeal to everybody.  Don’t worry this is a good thing;  it shouldn’t appeal to everyone, because not everyone will want to buy your products or services.  An 18-year-old boy isn’t going to buy a crotchet kit, and a 65 year old couple are highly unlikely to purchase a new wakeboard.  With this in mind, ANY time, effort or money spent marketing to these groups is completely wasted.

To increase the effectiveness of your brand and all related advertising and marketing, you need to know who your most likely customers are.  Lets be honest, you already know this… it isn’t rocket science.  It is easy to slip into the “I’ll take money from anyone” mindset (and so you should, but you shouldn’t market to them), or consider it too hard to define your core customers; I’ve been there myself.  But it is CRITICAL to the success of your brand.

Think about it.  If I told you, that you could have all the profits from any nappies you could sell to one hundred people, would you ask the first hundred people you meet? or would you do better asking the next hundred people pushing a stroller?

The more knowledge you have of who your customers are, the easier it is to target them with your branding and marketing.  You can draw better conclusions as to what they want to buy, and why.  What their likes and dislikes are, and how they want themselves to be perceived.  It also gives you an insight into what radio stations they listen to, and what newspapers and magazines they read.

Demographic information you need to know about your customers:

·        Age (range)

·        Employment – Are they management, professional, or owner

·        Location – City, town, region

·        Gender

·        Education

·        Occupation

·        Marital status

·        Ethnicity

·        Income – total household income. Can they afford your products or services

·        Family status – do they have children? What age and stage?

 

If you supply products or services to businesses, you can also collate demographic information for the businesses you deal with.  Such as:

·        Industry

·        Size of business (sales, no. employees)

·        Type of business (manufacturer, retailer, primary production)

·        Location

·        Geographic scope of the business (regional, national, international)

 

So how do you get this demographic information for your business?

 

The best way to gather demographic information is through using market research companies.  However, these can be expensive.

It is possible to do your own research: it is relatively inexpensive to run your own phone survey, or observation of your customers.  My favourite method is to ask your customers if they would be willing to complete a quick questionnaire during the purchase transaction.  You could even offer an incentive such as a prize draw, small discount (or better a bonus).

I Love Apple

Unpacking my Mac from it’s box almost brought tears to my eyes… ok a slight exaggeration, but it’s so extremely cool.

I love the way Apple do things. Right down to the slick packaging, every aspect is taken care of. Even the plug that fits into the back of the screen looks carefully thought out.

And you know what? It’s so simple. And they have us eating out of their hands because in terms of design and innovation they are always a step ahead. The consistency in the design style and it’s marriage with their equally clever ad campaigns, has the brand almost perfectly tuned. And by making their products so aestheticly pleasing the buying public are completely won over.  

The customer experience seems a major priority for Apple. They want you to COVET their products above all others (lets face it, often imitations, to varying degrees). Even the process of unpacking them feels special. It’s like coming home with a new baby. You’re super careful with it, gaze at it often, marvel at it’s beauty…

In casting such a spell it’s no wonder Apple can command higher prices from it’s devotees… not to mention, the newly converted.

How does your customer feel?

The local Smith City department store here in Marlborough recently held celebrations for one year in their ‘new’ premises.  They turned it into a great event with amazing bargains to draw in the crowds, a festive atmosphere with barbeque, balloons, and media coverage with two radio stations present.  All in all they did a great job of turning an occasion into a PR event.

One of the bargains was a baby carry pack at a massive discount of close to 70%.  We have a wee man, and love the outdoors, so sent Nana off early to grab us a pack.  The marketing had worked so well that there was a substantial queue of people and baby strollers outside the shop and as soon as the doors opened, the shop was flooded with customers.  Only having 10 packs in stock, they sold out in less than 3 minutes…  As the lucky 10 people happily carried their bargain packs home, many more customers left disappointed and annoyed that they had wasted their time, effort and in some cases money (I know at least two people who took time off work).  This situation left me wondering –

“Do you really want disappointed customers?”

With such limited stock, it was guaranteed that some people would miss out.  Smith City set themselves up to disappoint.

How your customers FEEL about your business, affects your Brand.  In fact, I would go so far as to say, that how people feel about your business IS your Brand.

What’s your opinion?

Your brand is more than just a name and logo

Your brand is the sum of every interaction and communication your customers have with your business.

Too often I see people who name their business, get a logo and a business card, thinking they have a brand.  When really all they have is a name, logo and a business card. Obviously these are the important visual elements in a brand. However they need to fit into a broader framework of communication with your target audience.

When you need to buy business shoes, which shop do you go to first?  Why do you think of these shops?  Do they have the cheapest shoes, or the best quality?  Are the salespeople friendly, professional, knowledgeable?  Do they run a loyalty scheme?  Have you heard good things about them from others?  Maybe a store is running a sale?

All of the above factors, along with many more, are aspects of the shoe stores’ brand.  Often, as customers we are not even aware of these individual factors and we instead assimilate them into a single view of the business.  We then subconsciously use this view to make our shopping and buying decisions.

When branding our own business, we need to ensure how all of these factors express our brand.