10 Lessons for Brands From The Huffington Post

​The way The Huffington Post sees it, brands need to move at the speed of Twitter.

The Huffington Post is acting as an adviser to brands, helping them navigate through the content-creation waters in today’s high-metabolism marketing world. For example, the Huffington Post gives advertisers tools similar to those its editorial department uses to create content. It also lets brands dip into its trove of content. The Huffington Post helped Cisco gather HuffPo articles around technology and social.

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15 Alarming Stats About Banner Ads

There’s much debate over just what “native advertising” means. Talk to enough publishers, however, you’ll find agreement on one thing: it isn’t banner ads.

The banner ad is now 18 years old. It has become a symbol of all that’s wrong with online advertising. It is more often than not devoid of creativity; it stands out as an intruder on webpages; and it is mostly ignored by readers.

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5 Unusual Things You Should Trademark

Filing a trademark shouldn't stop at words and logos. There are many other ways to protect your brand that you may be overlooking.

Grand chocolatier Nestle recently won a trademark battle with rival confectioner Cadbury.  The case was about the unique shape of Nestle's famed Kit Kat bar. The case began years ago when Nestle sought to register the four-fingered shape of the Kit Kat bar as a trademark in the European Union (EU). In 2002, the Office of Harmonization for the International Market (OHIM), which registers EU Community Trademarks, allowed Nestle's trademark to register.

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Color Branding: The Meanings Behind Colors

Blue: Cool blue is perceived as trustworthy, dependable, fiscally responsible and secure. Strongly associated with the sky and sea, blue is serene and universally well-liked. Blue is an especially popular color with financial institutions, as its message of stability inspires trust.

Red: Red activates your pituitary gland, increasing your heart rate and causing you to breathe more rapidly. This visceral response makes red aggressive, energetic, provocative and attention-grabbing. Count on red to evoke a passionate response, albeit not always a favorable one. For example, red can represent danger or indebtedness.

Green: In general, green connotes health, freshness and serenity. However, green’s meaning varies with its many shades. Deeper greens are associated with wealth or prestige, while light greens are calming.

Yellow: In every society, yellow is associated with the sun. Thus, it communicates optimism, positivism, light and warmth. Certain shades seem to motivate and stimulate creative thought and energy. The eye sees bright yellows before any other color, making them great for point-of-purchase displays.

Purple: Purple is a color favored by creative types. With its blend of passionate red and tranquil blue, it evokes mystery, sophistication, spirituality and royalty. Lavender evokes nostalgia and sentimentality.

Pink: Pink’s message varies by intensity. Hot pinks convey energy, youthfulness, fun and excitement and are recommended for less expensive or trendy products for women or girls. Dusty pinks appear sentimental. Lighter pinks are more romantic.

Orange: Cheerful orange evokes exuberance, fun and vitality. With the drama of red plus the cheer of yellow, orange is viewed as gregarious and often childlike. Research indicates its lighter shades appeal to an upscale market. Peach tones work well with  healthcare, restaurants and beauty salons.  

Brown: This earthy color conveys simplicity, durability and stability. It can also elicit a negative response from consumers who relate to it as dirty. Certain shades of brown, like terracotta, can convey an upscale look. From a functional perspective, brown tends to hide dirt, making it a logical choice for some trucking and industrial companies.

Black: Black is serious, bold, powerful and classic. It creates drama and connotes sophistication. Black works well for expensive products, but can also make a product look heavy.

White: White connotes simplicity, cleanliness and purity. The human eye views white as a brilliant color, so it immediately catches the eye in signage. White is often used with infant and health-related products.

It’s important to remember that colors can have different meanings in different parts of the world.  If your business operates globally, make sure you research the color selections for your brand to ensure your colors accurately communicate your brand image in international markets.

Can you think of any brands that use color to communicate their brand message particularly well?

Read more: http://www.everyjoe.com/2007/08/14/work/color-branding-the-meanings-behind-colors/#ixzz2Mh6HFw7l

The New Rules for Marketing

What works today is the exact opposite of what worked a decade ago.

If you think of marketing as the same thing it was twenty (or even ten) years ago, you're basically screwed. The reason is simple. What works today is the oppositeof what worked in the past.

The Old Rules

Here's are the rules for marketing that are taught in most business courses, and are common inside most companies (many of whom are struggling):

  • Step 1. Create a product that has a broad appeal to a large number of consumers or buyers.
  • Step 2. Reach as large an audience as possible with a message that appeals to  many of those potential buyers.
  • Step 3. Create a recognizable brand name that can be extended into additional product categories.

While it's true that companies following these rules have, in the past, been able to build strong brands like Sony and Coke, this type of "broadcast marketing" no longer works because:

  1. The Internet and wealth of media outlets has fragmented consumers and buyers into ever smaller groups, each with its own characteristics and interests.
  2. Messages that appeal to those consumers and buyer must be highly customized and specific in order to gain any attention.
  3. The proliferation of brand and brand messages has become so overwhelming that consumer and buyers simply tune them out.

In other words, what worked for Coke ain't gonna work for you.

The New Rules

Here's what DOES work:

  • Step 1. Create a product that addresses a very specific type of consumer and buyer.
  • Step 2. Target your initial messaging at that audience in order to "convert" them into your advocates.
  • Step 3. Have those advocates define your brand name and the future of your offerings.

Note that this is the exact opposite of what worked in the past.

  1. Where the old rules were "broadcast" and used various forms of mass media, the new rules are "narrowcast" and use highly targeted media.
  2. Where the old rules were all about reaching the masses, the new rules are all about reaching small groups of individuals.
  3. Where the old rules left you in control of your brand and destiny, the new rules puts that control in the hands of your customers.

Ignore these new rules at your own peril.

Helicopter Branding: Why It’s Bad And How To Avoid It

Just because a brand may feel like your baby, doesn’t mean you should become an overbearing parent. Here’s how to let go of the reins, for long-term benefit.

A famous piece of wisdom from child-rearing expert Dr. Benjamin Spock is making the rounds again: “Better to relax and make a few mistakes than to try too hard to be perfect … Children are driven from within themselves to grow, explore, experience, learn, and build relationships with other people. A lot of good parenting lies in simply allowing your child to go with these powerful drives.”

It’s refreshing to see the parental pendulum swinging to the point where mistakes are now considered a key aspect of growth. Let’s hope it doesn’t take too long for this trend to trickle into the world of brand innovation. Unfortunately, it seems that “helicopter branding” still continues to thrive in corporate America, as companies hover protectively over their successful brands, sometimes stifling growth in the process.

Developing adjacent product ideas can breed creativity.

Like helicopter parenting, helicopter branding actually comes from a positive space: The deep love for--and, therefore, drive to protect--a successful brand. Counterintuitive to any “brand parent” is a willingness to set their “brand child” up for potential innovation failure. Often we hear that it’s an overall low appetite for risk that’s to blame. But a brand’s crash can also stem from its company’s inability to give that brand the freedom to grow.

Here are four Dr. Spock-esque ways to loosen the parenting reigns to raise healthy, growing brands and foster innovation:

1. Remember that every child brand is driven to explore boundaries

Manufacturers who deliver one specific offering might not realize that there are plenty of in-between ways to stretch the brand and push the boundaries of that core product or service. Developing adjacent product ideas that align with brand and business models can breed creativity within existing capability and unlock ideas that not only are doable but also change the game for a brand.

Look at Tide, for example. Expanding from laundry clean to fabric care through form and function innovation, the company stretched its one key offering--detergent--into several things: pods, sprays, stain sticks, and more. In doing so, Tide changed consumer perceptions of their own idea of what doing laundry means.

2. Let your child brand negotiate the landscape

Allow a toddler innovation to find its own road, while sticking around for course correcting. Sometimes brands surprise us by slipping into our behavior unannounced--and sometimes the brands surprise themselves (who knew we’d be running our homes with iPads?). Sometimes a parent notices an opportunity and gives the brand a little push in the right direction.

We can see this through the lens of Instagram. The photosharing sensation started out as a Foursquare-esque app called Burbn, until the business noticed that the photosharing capability was getting all the action. So the brand insta-evolved into what it is today, and hasn’t looked back since (certainly not after it was purchased by Facebook for a cool $1 billion).

3. Nurture your child brand through all developmental stages

Parental guidance is invaluable as innovation passes through subsequent growth stages. Needs may change depending on the stage, but continuing to nurture breakthroughs through transitions, post-commercialization, is part of the process. Don’t let poor marketing strategy and execution errors or distribution challenges curtail development. Test, analyze, guide, and re-tack in real time. 

That’s what happened with Dr. Scholl’s, which launched its Custom Fit Orthotic products in retail kiosks equipped with diagnostic foot-mapping technology that can “see” through stockinged feet. Unfortunately, in test markets, a merchandising flaw came to light: When people took off their shoes, there was nothing to stabilize them in the kiosk space. Dr. Scholl’s went back and overhauled the units to rectify the problem and make the kiosks more consumer-friendly. The company also raised the pricing by 30%, to reflect the premium nature of its offering, without losing volume--a literal return on nurturing investment.

Know what the innovation goals are for your brand, apart from profit targets.

4. Allow your child brand to skip math finance class occasionally

Know what the innovation goals are for your brand, apart from profit targets, and calibrate financial expectations against important metrics that will affect brand growth over the long haul. Maybe it’s a door-opener in a new category, maybe it’s sexy flypaper in a merchandising brand block, maybe it’s a way to slowly take over the universe. Whatever the tactic, it may very well lead to big money down the road, if not in the immediate future.

Red Bull has been back on people’s lips again, thanks to its Red Bull Media House. This business model departure into content has a finger on the pulse of sports and culture. Red Bull Stratos dropped a guy from outer space and became the most buzzed-about brand in the social-networking stratosphere. Is Media House turning a profit? Not yet. But is it garnering attention for the brand? Absolutely.

Sure, these are the success stories, but we’ve all seen how helicopter parenting can get in the way of growth. The fear associated with loss of control keeps some brand folks up at night (much like a newborn would keep up first-time parents) and makes them hesitant to do anything at all. Unfortunately, this can lead to the creation of disastrous offspring. Whether supporting ideas for growth or supporting mistakes, letting go of the reins a little--and supporting the brand-child as it naturally evolves--is essential for long-term success.

WRITTEN BY:  Christina Papale

6 Email Marketing Myths

Everyone knows you shouldn't send the same email twice, right? Wrong.

Email marketing is one of the most effective ways drive traffic and increase sales. But there are many misconceptions about how to make a great email pitch. Many companies don't send enough marketing emails--and the ones they do send rarely get opened. Here are some of the myths that could be getting in your way of becoming an amazing email marketer. 

Myth 1: If you send a lot of emails, you'll annoy your customers.
In our extensive testing, we have found that as long as your e-mails and subject lines feel fresh, varied, and not spammy-feeling, it is nearly impossible to send too many emails to your clients. Yes, some people may unsubscribe. But the impact you get from sending more emails far outweighs the loss of a few subscribers.
Besides, you can reduce the number of unsubscribes by giving customers an option to reduce the number of emails they receive rather than unsubscribing completely. For example, our unsubscribe page helps us retain more than 10 percent of people who wanted to unsubscribe. 

Myth 2: You shouldn't send the same email twice.
We always send the same email twice, but with a twist. Every email that we send is followed 48 hours later by what we call a "remail." Basically, it's the same content, but with a different subject line. We send remails only to those customers who didn't open the first email. We've found that remails can often double our results (we see a 60 percent lift, on average). And all without the effort of writing more copy or designing a second email.

Myth 3: Emails should be short and sweet.
Sure, all of your emails should have a primary call to action, which is above the fold and very obvious. However, don't have the email end there. Some customers want to scroll to learn more or see other content. So give them what they want. Add a row of “best sellers," new products, client testimonials, or other useful information. 

Myth 4: You should always create fresh copy.
Some of the best performing emails are emails that you have already sent. No point in reinventing the wheel! Routinely go back and look at the best performing emails from 4 to 6 months back. Retool them and send them out. Clients won’t remember, and this is a great way to complement the new copy and creative, with far less effort--or creative juice. 

Myth 5: You need descriptive subject lines.
Actually, unless you are having some sort of outrageous sale that people just can’t resist, descriptive, transaction oriented subject lines don't usually perform very well. What does perform well? Creative, catchy, eye-catching subject lines. So feel free to be creative, witty, and funny. If you make people smile, they won't reach for the unsubscribe button.

Myth 6: Companies should send email newsletters.

It's not so much that the classic monthly newsletter is completely ineffective, but rather that the substantial time generally spent on newsletters is time better spent sending a greater frequency of emails. The fact is, people like tiny nuggets of digestible information, which means your carefully crafted newsletters are getting read far less than you’d like. If you spend that effort on creating more emails with lighter content, you'll almost always get a higher return.

Finishline Wins 3 2012 American Graphic Design Awards

2012 marks the 8th consecutive year Finishline Creative Group has won the prestigious American Graphic Design Award for Excellence in Communication and Graphic Design. For the 2nd time we were able to win in more than one category.

This year taking 2 awards in the package design category as well as one in the Displays/POP category. 2012 is 50th year of the national competition which was judged by an international panel of design and advertising professionals. It is the most selective advertising and design competition in North America, honoring only 10% of the 10,000+ entries each year.

Have the Best Trade Show Schwag

Schwag, when done right, has lots of marketing benefits. Here are the three things you should ask yourself for your next trade show:

1. Is it useful?

At Dreamforce, one company was giving out branded silicone speakers that you can attach to your smartphone to amplify your music. My marketing team loved it! Another company was giving out Skullcandy headphones, and there was a line at its booth the entire time. I also heard that shakelights (mini flashlights that don't require batteries, just a good hard shake) and luggage tags were "must haves." If I heard about them through the grapevine, I bet others were talking about them, too.

If what you're giving out is useful, people will get exposed to your brand over and over again every time they use it. There's a reason why there will never be a shortage of backpacks, bags and pens at any trade show.

2. Is it cool, fun or silly?

Several people at my company brought back fun items from Dreamforce that gave us a good laugh, like a stuffed monkey that made a screeching noise when you throw it (fun for five seconds), and plastic eyeglasses with blinky lights (apparently a lot of people were wearing them and posting pics to social media). Never underestimate the power of silliness.

If your schwag is fun and different and hasn't really been done before, people might tell their friends about it, wear it or snap a picture of it. Instant buzz!

3. Does it fulfill an immediate need?

Anyone who's ever been to a big trade show knows--it's rough. Your feet hurt, you're thirsty from making too much small talk, you're constantly pushed and shoved. Wouldn't it be nice if you were handed a chocolate chip cookie ... Or a margarita?

Giving out snacks or providing a place to sit might seem boring or obvious, but believe me, people will appreciate it. Chairs and charging stations were hard to come by on the expo floor at Dreamforce, so the few companies that offered them had tons of foot traffic.

As for VerticalResponse, we had a great idea for Dreamforce this year that we've never done before. We printed up 800 blue t-shirts with a cool cartoon character on the front, and gave them away for free to people we talked to at our booth. But that's not even the best part. Every hour on the hour, we gave away $50 in cold hard cash to the first person we spotted wearing one of our tees. Yup, one $50 bill to one lucky t-shirt wearer, every hour. We collected hundreds of leads and now we've got 800 VerticalResponse t-shirts roaming around the world.