The Future of: Brand

by addmustard chairman and managing director, Lawrence Hunt.

We lift the hood on our digital specialisms in a new TED Talk style series: The Future Of.

Regardless of whether you’re part of a well-oiled in-house marketing team, or flying the flag agency-side, we all have a tendency to get blinkered by the day-to-day marketing grind. Tell me about a time where there haven’t been campaigns to optimise, media plans to prepare, budgets to reconcile and tactical emails or social campaigns to schedule, and I’ll tell you about the time Peppa Pig flew with the seagulls over Brighton Pier.

Yet we all know that there’s danger in only being focused on the right now. Namely, that the future (or innovation), that very one that seems so far away one moment, will soon come creeping up to knock you off your marketing pedestal. And more worryingly, that future will most definitely be in the form of your competitors.

Future thinking means smarter campaigns, new technology, more efficient processes, and bigger and better ideas. So, each month, we’ll be looking at exactly that. Kicking off with…. Brand.

Data is a currency that brands must adopt

“Times, they are a changin’”. (sang Bob Dylan, the only man in history to win an Oscar and a Nobel prize).

In 2011, the American Marketing Association defined a brand as “a name, term, design, symbol, or other feature that distinguishes an organization or product from its rivals in the eyes of the customer.” But in the last fifteen years, or perhaps longer, the way digital marketers have had to look at brands has radically changed. In fact, much like in accountancy, the idea of a brand being a tangible asset to marketers is becoming less and less the case. When we opened the question ‘What is a brand?’ out to the addmustard team, they responded with everything from: ‘a story to a ‘feeling’, ‘a lower CPA’, and ‘a higher propensity to convert’ and of course ‘more loyal customers and repeat purchasers’.

So, what has changed?

There are all sorts of transformations going on in the world of brand building. But probably the biggest and most influential is the relentless development of digital technology and media. Twenty years ago, marketeers had to worry about little more than ads, PR, packaging, mail drops and brochures. Now we need to build brands using social media, search, digital outdoor media, online display networks, retargeting, website, apps, aggregator sites, email, electronic messaging, vouchers, and a million types of content formats.

The digital environment has also radically shaken up the laws of brands. Here’s how:

Customer choice has boiled down to one click

Data is the new marketing currency.

Trust takes years to build, minutes to destroy.

Consistency across channels is essential to building value in the brand.

Prospects & customers are defined by attitude and motivation, not solely by age and income.

Brands are subjective, but everyone knows a great one when they see one.

How to respond?

The complexity of digital media is driving these changes. To counter this complexity, we advise simplicity.

Here’s how.

A marketing strategy should be distilled down into three, simple elements:

Brand owners need to take time to crisply define their customers and prospects (man) in terms of attitudes & motivations; to sum up the brand meaning (message) into a single, unique brand thought, and to create a long-term plan (media) which encompasses all marketing channels and customer touchpoints.

Defining your audience

We advocate talking to customers, objectively and independently, mining data about them to find the “nuggets” of information which will help to understand your loyal followers, or advocates; your recent converts and your long-term prospects. Understanding the motivations (why they interact with your brand) of these different groups will help you to define a consistent message and the creative focus of your brand.

 

Defining your message

We start with a single, simple brand thought. Like Monzo’s “a bank for everyone”. Or Xero’s “love doing beautiful business”. Or easyJet’s “Generation easyJet”. It doesn’t have to be a strapline, but it does have to run through everything you do: written, verbal, and creative communication. On social media, on your website, your app, email. And, of course, your advertising. And you must do it consistently.

Creating a plan

Once you know your loyal followers, recent converts and long-term growth prospects, you then need to plan your media (including all of your digital assets) to deliver your message and creative consistently.

We recommend continuous testing on search and social media channels, to refine message variations, measuring interaction factors, conversion and retention. As the message and creative becomes refined, it can then be rolled out into your always on and peak and promotional campaigns.

Measuring

And finally, it is imperative to continuously measure the performance of your brand: share of impressions, share of brand and direct traffic; interaction of your loyal followers, recent converts and long-term growth prospects with your brand. We live in a world where brand measurement tools and the availability of data provides us with a goldmine of information that we can use to continually test and refine our brands until we really create a great one.

 

So, in this increasingly complex, dynamic word in which digital plays such an important role, it’s imperative to understand the motivations and attitudes of your customers; simplify your brand message, and apply it consistently across all of your media channels and assets.

 

“You can’t go back and change the beginning,
but you can start where you are and change the ending”.

C.S.Lewis (probably)


Opinion Piece: Social Media - Pub or Shop?

by addmustard chairman and managing director Lawrence Hunt.

I don’t know about you, but I struggle to clearly define the value and purpose of social media for brands, considering its indomitable rise and ubiquity.

No doubt Linkedin is helping recruiters and candidates to find each other more efficiently, and Instagram has propelled entrepreneurs like Zoella to fame and fortune. But do Facebook, Twitter, Vibe, Pinterest and the plethora of social platforms available really deliver meaningful sales for brands?

The answer seems simple to me: when a consumer is using social media, surely they are, by definition, socialising. Like being in the pub. Or a café.

However when using a search engine (Google) or e-commerce site (Amazon) they are in the shopping centre or on the high street. Coming to these spaces shows a specific purpose or intent to buy something (or at least browse).

There is no doubt that social media has a part to play in the online purchasing decision: customer service and customer feedback (sometimes painfully public) allow companies to differentiate their service. But there are few case studies of successful brand building, increasing product awareness, and personal recommendations driven by social media and even fewer of businesses being built on this channel.

Growth businesses like Amazon, Expedia, ASOS, Booking.com, and Ocado have - on the whole - used search marketing and later supplemented with above the line. This has allowed them to build themselves into well recognised and successful brands. AirBNB, Uber, and Deliveroo initially used word of mouth as their principal marketing channel, but I don’t hear of many businesses shouting about Facebook et al as the reason for their success.

I read lots of rubbish about massive reach, explosive engagement and building global communities, but just I don’t see the results. We all question the value of every marketing dollar spent (at least we should) and want to understand the return. So far, however, I just don’t see the value of investing in this channel (unless you are marketing beauty products to teenagers – well done Zoella).


Our chairman's 5 tips for getting to number 1 on Google

by addmustard chairman and managing director, Lawrence Hunt.

Have you ever typed your top product, service or brand into Google, only to find you’re nowhere to be seen, despite investing time and hard-earned cash on numerous experts who claimed they could get you into that top spot?

And to rub salt into the wound, your most irritating competitor is sitting pretty in the number 1 position.

If that sounds familiar, you may be scratching your head, wondering how to solve this particular problem.

Although it might seem an impossible task, it is vital to get up that list.  Some 93% of people searching for anything on Google do not click on an advert or link beyond the first page of the search engine, and 33% click on the first link.

So, being number 1 matters – it can generate a huge amount of interest, leads and sales for you.

And it is possible to get there, whatever your size.

There are successful small brands that generate a very significant proportion of their revenues from those coveted free links. You don’t have to be a Coca Cola, Hilton, or Vodafone to be number 1.

So how exactly do you do it?

In truth, there’s no silver bullet that will propel you to the top of the rankings in a week, but there are several things you can do to steadily move yourself up the charts.

Here are my top 5 tips for getting to number 1 on Google:

Passion led us here on the pavement

1. Be patient

You won’t get there in a hurry. But do a few simple things well over a period of months and, possibly, years and you might just be amazed at the results.

And the great thing is that once you’ve got up the list, it doesn’t take much to stay there – unlike those paid-for ads, where cost just seems to go in one direction.

 

Whatever it takes sign

2. Make sure Google understands your website

There are clear SEO guidelines for making sure your website is search engine-friendly.  They’re pretty straightforward, so there should be no excuse for your website having the wrong structure or poor performance.

There are also inexpensive, off-the-shelf tools that behave like a search engine and tell you where your website is falling foul of these guidelines.  Ask for a report – it shouldn’t take more than a day or two to get this produced.

Then act on the findings.

 

Creative message in a book

3. Be original

Your website must contain content that is original and easily digestible.

You can write original content, get your customers to generate content for you in the form of reviews, write ups and feedback, and link to other industry-relevant content.

There are also other ways of generating good quality content on a low budget, for example by using networks of freelance writers to produce images, videos and written pages for you.

But don’t copy anyone else’s website – you could end up in jail!

 

Go up and never stop illuminated sign

4. Be relevant

Your copy also needs to be relevant. Search engines above all else value relevance, so they can offer their users a better experience.

You wouldn’t set up a luxury shoe shop on an industrial park, because it probably wouldn’t appeal to people on the site. The principal is the same online - you don’t want visitors coming to you who are not going to be interested in your product.

Instead, you want your website to rank where customers are searching for products and services that you sell. So, your content needs to relate directly to your brand, products and services and, generally, the more good quality content you are able to produce, the more the search engines will give you good marks and rank your website higher.

As well as understanding the search intent of your users, you need to understand what your competitors are up to: make sure you are fully educated on the search environment in which you operate before embarking on creating content.

 

Design relevance message on a mac

5. Make some noise

You need to get people talking about your brand, product and service online.  As a general guide, the more conversations that are going on about you, the more you are likely to rise up the rankings.

Search engines like Google and Bing like “networks”: the more high quality and relevant sites that link to your site and content, the more favourably they will view your brand and web site.

It’s a long game.  But play it well and it can also be a very lucrative one.

Looking for more inspiration?

Read our latest case studies on building organic growth, improving brand visibility in SEO, best practice SEO Migration and successful PR stories.