Wednesday, December 28, 2011

Thursday, December 22, 2011

Have a happy and prosperous holiday season, from all of us here at Brandemix.

Monday, December 19, 2011

360: Does Your Brand Have What It Takes To Go The Distance?

One Brand.

At Brandemix, it’s our vision. If you think it’s simple, think again.
Organizations, from healthcare non-profits to global financial firms, actually convey different messages to different audiences. These companies have one mission statement and set of values for employees, another for customers, yet another for shareholders, and possibly a fourth for talent they’re trying to attract. But some customers become applicants; some applicants become employees. Employees are also investors.
Put this in the new marketing landscape, where brands communicate globally to audiences 24 hours a day. It soon becomes obvious that a single, focused brand improves marketing, retention, recruiting, and return to shareholder.
Here’s how the process works:
Most people in your audience are customers first. We all know the reasons why branding is important in the general marketplace: it creates awareness, distinguishes you from competitors, and makes an emotional connection with buyers. Advertising has gone beyond answering questions like “What does the product do?” and now addresses “How does this product make me feel?” and “What does this product say about me?” Good branding creates loyalty and evangelism, as followers sing the brand’s praises to their friends through social networks. Look at the passion for Apple productsFord Mustangs, or even Oreo cookies.

That love leads some customers to want to work for the brand.
Check your home page, then your careers page.
Is there a value proposition? Are the branding and messaging still the same? If not, that potential employee might wonder which identity is the “real” one – and suddenly the idea of working for your brand doesn’t sound so desirable. It’s crucial that the marketing and HR departments share the same vision and values; otherwise, job-seekers may feel like they’re applying for a position with Jekyll & Hyde.

You passed the first test, now what?
Let’s say that your careers site is branded perfectly and the employer value proposition is consistent with your corporate brand. The customer, who became an applicant, got the job and is now an employee. What happens now? Are they exposed to and trained with the same branding that made them love the company in the first place?

This is an important question; a recent study by Aon Hewitt showed that the companies with the most engaged employees outperformed the stock market in 2010, and the Harvard Service Profit Chain states that engaged employees result in a 22% increase in revenue. So the internal communications office must also be aligned with the HR and marketing departments.

“One Brand” ensures that your customers, employees, and business partners all share a core belief in your brand.
Did your brand go the distance—360 messaging consistent across internal, external, candidate, employee, investor, alumni, and vendor?
 If your branding isn’t a singular, consistent message shared by your entire company, maybe it’s time to consider a re-branding effort. Brandemix can help. 

Monday, December 12, 2011

This Week in Social Media

Angry tweets ground Alec Baldwin
When an American Airlines flight attendant chastised Alec Baldwin for playing Words With Friends on his mobile phone as the plane was ready to depart, he immediately took his outrage to Twitter. “Flight attendant on American reamed me out 4 playing WORDS W FRIENDS while we sat at the gate, not moving. #nowonderamericaairisbankrupt,” he tweeted, referring to the airline’s November 29 bankruptcy filing. His verbal abuse of the flight attendant got him kicked off the plane, prompting him to tweet that American was “where retired Catholic school gym teachers from the 1950’s find jobs as flight attendants.” American responded with a press release on its Facebook page, standing by its employees for following federal safety rules. Hours later, Baldwin suspended his Twitter account.
Zynga shows its support for Baldwin
The Takeaway: This is another reminder not to tweet when you’re angry, as your words may come back to haunt you. Baldwin joins Ashton Kutcher, Gilbert Gottfried, and Chris Brown who were a little too candid on Twitter. I also find it funny that this entire episode couldn’t have happened a few years ago, before Twitter and Facebook and Words With Friends were invented.

Facebook’s most popular fashion brands are on your feet
The most-liked fashion brand on Facebook is Converse, with almost 21 million likes. This wasn’t a big surprise to me, as I covered the shoe company’s great social media efforts back in May. Second place goes to Adidas, third place to Burberry, and fourth place to Levi’s. I think it’s interesting that a luxury brand is nestled among two brands of footwear and a jeans company. Keep in mind that these are only fashion brands; the most-liked brand of any kind on Facebook is Coca-Cola, with over 36 million likes. Coke, after all, is the most valuable brand in the world.

The Takeaway:
 Converse does a lot right. Most of its tweets are responses to fans; its Facebook page is filled with great photo and video content; it reaches out to its artistic audience by offering free rentals of a Brooklyn recording studio; it posts music videos on its YouTube channel. CEO Geoff Cottrill’s philosophy is “Know yourself as a brand, be confident in your POV, and act that way wherever you are.” I couldn’t agree more.
Mexican restaurant tweets get spicy
An employee of a Boston restaurant tweeted that her job “sucks.” She then not only named her employer but also @replied it: “I work at this place called @boloco on Newbury Street.” Boloco CEO John Pepper tweeted back at her: “Sorry. Not anymore.” But Pepper took back his Twitter termination, giving the employee her job back without even a reprimand. “We’ll try to help her find more things to enjoy,” he told the Boston Herald. He may have been worried that the employee would sue over cause, or for being publicly humiliated; the law still isn’t very clear on these 21st-century issues.
The Takeaway: As Alec Baldwin has learned, be careful what you tweet. That goes both for the unnamed Boloco employee and for the CEO, who both looked impulsive and juvenile to the entire Twitterverse. And check with a knowledgeable lawyer about hiring, firing, and interviewing via social media.
Students find safety in social media numbers
The power of social media was shown again during last Thursday’s shooting on the campus of Virginia Tech. The student newspaper, The Collegiate Times, provided updates on its website; when that went down (probably due to traffic volume), the student journalists spread information through the paper’s Twitter account and Facebook Page. As the news changed minute to minute, other outlets were breaking the story on Twitter.
The Takeaway: A number of posts were from students, alerting others to the danger or telling their friends and families that they were safe. Between the school communicating with students, students communicating with each other, and the press communicating with the public, it’s obvious how much social media’s speed and scope have changed our world.

Sunday, December 4, 2011

The 5 Secrets of a Great Intranet

What’s an intranet? A site where employees can read their about their benefits? A list of departmental phone numbers? A place where press releases go to die?
You’ve got it all wrong. A good intranet allows a company not just to inform and educate employees, but also to engage and inspire them. In a large enterprise, it might be the only way that employees connect with each other and the senior leaders. If you’re not using your intranet to build brand equity, you’re missing a crucial opportunity to improve employee engagement, satisfaction, and performance.
As the internet has evolved, the important characteristics of an intranet have changed. In fact, intranets don’t have to be accessible only on office computers – how about an intranet app that employees can access on their mobile phones?
To insure that you have an engaging and compelling intranet, make sure it has these five important elements:
Intranets should allow communication from employees, not just to them. A weekly poll on the front page is a an easy, no-pressure way to get insights from your staff. A simple question like “How can we best improve our sales channel?” can lead to all sorts of interesting ideas.


It’s almost 2012 – is your intranet still just text? Employees can only look at copy for so long. You should include photos of the senior leadership team, audio of the CEO’s speeches, and videos of company events. You might even allow employees to post their own photos and videos of company parties or field trips. Facebook’s own bloggers have said that sharing pictures is one of the most popular activities on the social network.

Effective intranets engage employees.
Nothing turns employees off like old news. No matter what exciting content the site has, if an employee sees “Get ready for Election Day 2008!” they won’t take the intranet seriously. Update the site at least once a month; once a week would be preferable. “Breaking news,” such as an employee getting a major reward through the recognition program, can keep employees checking the site frequently.
You’re going to archive a lot of information on an intranet: benefits information, press releases, company directory, HR documents. But if the employees can’t find the information, the intranet is useless. Have a robust search system that lets users quickly get what they need. Place navigation at both the top and the bottom, with clear and simple drop-down menus. Use the front-page poll to ask employees what information they’re having trouble finding and rearrange the navigation accordingly.
All our favorite sites are personalized, from Yahoo homepages that show local weather to sports sites that feature our favorite teams. Make sure that one section of your intranet home screen has a section that employees can personalize with their preferred links. Someone may want to see the company’s stock price while another might want to see how many sick days they have left. A “quick links” section not only saves the employees time; it also gives them a sense of ownership for the page.

Time to "reconstruct" your intranet?
At BRANDEMiX, we apply the principles of branding to employer branding, which covers the entire experience. If you’d like to learn how we can create or improve your intranet, visit our website or call 212-947-1001.
For the latest on social media, online recruiting, mobile marketing, and other branding trends, please like BRANDEMiX on Facebookfollow us on Twitter, and join our LinkedIn group, Your Digital Brand.

Wednesday, November 23, 2011

A Very Augmented-Reality Christmas

The holiday season means big marketing campaigns that often feature cutting-edge technology. I recently wrote about Starbucks’ cool Cup Magic promotion, which uses augmented reality to bring the coffee chain’s products to life. Other brands are using AR to grab attention at the end of 2011. Here are a few, along with the reasons I admire them.
The famous French fashion label is promoting its J12 line of watches with an iPad and iPhone app that includes an augmented reality feature. By holding their phones over their wrists, or by holding their wrists up to their iPad cameras, shoppers can virtually try on the luxury watches.
Why I like it: Many prospective customers are too intimidated to go into a store and try on Chanel watches. Augmented reality makes it easy to see what these gorgeous timepieces look like on your wrist. And seeing yourself wearing a Chanel product is a powerful motivator for purchase. Studies have shown that if you touch a product or try it on, you’re more likely to buy it.
The Masquerade line of Bratz dolls comes with one mask for the doll and another for the child. The mask launches an augmented reality feature on the Bratz website. While looking at herself via a webcam, the girl can get a “virtual makeover,” adding lipstick, face paint, and a wig to her masked look. The image can then be saved, shared, and printed.

Why I like it:
 No toy has ever included an interactive element like this, so it stands alone in the holiday gift marketplace. Also, it lets girls play with makeup without any mess!
Debenhams Stores
This British department store added a gaming element to AR. Shoppers visited one of five pop-up stores and used an app to find ten “invisible” party dresses. Once they did, they could take a picture of themselves virtually “wearing” the dresses and then share the photos with friends.
Why I like it: Turning shopping into a game is one great idea. Letting shoppers see what they look like in the dresses is another, since it increases the likelihood of a purchase. And a third great idea was that anyone using the app received a 20% discount on the Debenhams mobile site, which encouraged participation and drove awareness of mobile shopping – a big trend for 2012.
Our Herald Square neighbors have a fun interactive promotion for the holidays that ties in to their “Believe” campaign, benefitting the Make-A-Wish Foundation. Shoppers download an app and point their phones at an in-store camera. The result is a photo that includes a character from the charming animated special Yes, Virginia. The photo can then be shared on Facebook or through a holiday e-card. Shoppers can even post the image on the Macy’s Facebook Page. Each week, whichever photo gets the most “Likes” will become Macy’s Facebook profile picture for that week.

Why I like it:
 Obviously this campaign brings kids into the store, but the Facebook photo competition keeps the promotion alive days after you’ve left. In fact, you don’t even have to visit the store to participate: by printing out a marker and pointing the app at it, you can see an animation of Virginia ice skating.
Get ready for more AR campaigns as the technology improves, the price comes down, and agencies come up with more exciting ways to use it. Until then, have a happy Thanksgiving and a very augmented-reality Christmas!
For the latest on social media, online recruiting, mobile marketing, and other branding trends, please like BRANDEMiX on Facebookfollow us on Twitter, and join our LinkedIn group, Your Digital Brand.
P.S. Speaking of Macy’s, we’d like to wish good luck to Katie, our Director of Client Services, who will be a handler for the Uncle Sam balloon in tomorrow’s parade. Stay warm!

photo by Kevin Harber

Monday, November 21, 2011

Giving Back at Thanksgiving - With Kiva

All it takes is one person to believe in you.
Organizations across America have believed in BRANDEMiX to develop branded communications that attract, educate, and engage their target audiences.
During this time of year, we feel it’s important to give thanks for that trust and to give back as well. That’s why we make regular contributions to Kiva, a nonprofit organization that enables people like you and me to extend microloans over the web to low-income entrepreneurs in impoverished communities, whether as far away as Africa or as close as Detroit and New Orleans.
We chose Kiva out of many other microlending sites because eighty percent of its recipients are women, who are sometimes single-handedly supporting large families. As a certified woman-owned business enterprise, we believe in strengthening women around the world.
No matter how difficult our lives at the moment, people are suffering far more in many places – too many – across the world. Please take the time to visit and give to the worthy cause of your choice. It’s not charity; it’s a loan, and more than 98% of Kiva recipients repay the loan with interest.
Lending through Kiva creates desperately needed capital in some of the poorest parts of the globe. It bypasses corrupt governments and predatory banks and ensures that the money goes directly to those who will use it. When the loan is repaid, you can give the money to another entrepreneur, donate it to Kiva’s general fund, or simply withdraw it. It’s a great way to give.
We hope you’ll join our efforts to fight poverty around the world and here in the US. From all of us here at BRANDEMiX, happy Thanksgiving.

Monday, November 14, 2011

Five Reasons Why Starbucks' Cup Magic Is Truly Magical

You may have read about “Cup Magic,” Starbucks’ augmented reality holiday promotion, but if not, here’s the scoop.
Caffeine lovers are encouraged to download a free app, buy a cup of coffee, and point their smartphone at the character on the cup. Through the magic of augmented reality, the characters come to life, acting out holiday scenes such as sledding and ice skating.


Here’s why BRANDEMiX believes augmented reality will be a major advertising trend for 2012:
  • It’s social. The Starbucks app easily allows you to share the animations through either Facebook or email. So even people who don’t know about the promotion, or even consciously ignore Starbucks advertising, may find a fun little holiday video in their Facebook feed. Starbucks is letting customers do its marketing.
  • It’s great for business. Since each Starbucks cup features only one character, customers must buy at least five cups of coffee to see them all. Then again, even non-drinkers can get into the fun, as 47 Starbucks products are involved in the promotion.
  • It’s great for everyone. Let’s face it, Starbucks doesn’t offer many items for little ones; many locations sell biscottis instead of cookies. With this new promotion, anyone of any age can enjoy the experience. In fact, since the videos have no dialogue, you don’t even have to speak English.
  • It creates urgency. Assuming the promotion runs through New Year’s Day, that means customers have 47 days to experience it. A short timeline encourages consumers to visit their Starbucks as soon as possible (though some of us wouldn’t last 47 hours without our Frappucino). Compare this to summer promotions, where consumers sometimes have more than 125 days to participate. More time means less urgency.
  • It’s fun. There are no coupons, discounts, or special offers associated with the campaign. It doesn’t even cost anything to participate, since the app is free and you can activate videos on products that are just sitting on the shelves. Keeping money out of the equation reinforces the idea that the promotion is for fun and for sharing with friends, a perfect theme for the holidays.

Photo by Liam Gladdy
Starbucks is proving to be a leader in the mobile space. The company’s payment app, which launched in January, has already been used in more than 20 million transactions.  Its QR codes give customers an “evolved shopping experience,” letting them hear music from the region where Starbucks coffee is grown or read reviews from coffee experts.  Cup Magic looks like it will continue Starbucks’ exploration of mobile technology. What’s next?
For the latest on social media, online recruiting, mobile marketing, and other branding trends, please like BRANDEMiX on Facebookfollow us on Twitter, and join our LinkedIn group, Your Digital Brand.

Monday, November 7, 2011

Why Your Brand Needs To Be On Tumblr -- And Why It Doesn't

At BRANDEMiX, when we advise clients on digital branding, we encourage them to create accounts on the Four Essential Profiles: Facebook, Twitter, YouTube, and LinkedIn. However, a fifth social network may be emerging. According to Alexa, it recently cracked the top 50 most popular sites in the world, and the top 25 in the US. The site is Tumblr.
Tumblr is a free, short-form blogging service that combines the publishing ability of WordPress with the social aspects of Facebook and Twitter. Since Tumblr doesn’t replace these other platforms, anyone can use it, whether or not they have another web presence. In fact, Tumblr’s emphasis on short posts make it attractive to brands who aren’t blogging.

But the service is not without its problems – or its controversy. So should you create a “tumbleblog” in this quickly growing community? It depends on your brand, your audience, and your needs.
Why Your Brand Needs To Be On Tumblr
It’s Easy
Easy to set up and easy to use. Yes, even easier than WordPress. The interface is intuitive. It’s no trouble to customize with Tumblr’s variety of themes – or your own, if you know some HTML. You can publish content via email, mobile, or through a bookmarklet in your browser, so you can post new material or share a discovery from anywhere. Tumblr hosts text, photos, video, audio, and links, so if you’re new to social media or don’t have time for elaborate layouts, Tumblr is perfect for you.

It’s Social

Tumblr allows readers to “like” a post, similar to Facebook, or to “reblog” it, similar to a retweet on Twitter. Users can follow other blogs, creating a single content feed like both Facebook and Twitter. Tumblr users love the site’s community, sharing a creative sensibility that you don’t see on other social networks. It’s a great place to engage an involved audience.

It’s Young

According to comScore, 29% of its users are aged 18-24. 20% are aged 25-34 and 20% are 12-17. And the numbers are growing: from 4.2 million visitors in July 2010 to 13.4 million in July 2011. So if your brand is targeting those age groups, you should stake your claim on Tumblr.

It Hosts Some Big Names

Brands with a lot of assets and content are wildly popular on Tumblr. Fashion brands in particular seem to thrive there, including J. CrewKate Spade, andAnn Taylor. In fact, Tumblr hosted a special New York Fashion Week page, sending 20 of its most popular fashion bloggers (such as What I Wore’s Jessica Quirk) to cover all the major events. Media companies and publishers are also using Tumblr, from Comedy Central to The Today Show, and from Rolling Stone to Newsweek.

Why Your Brand Doesn’t Need To Be On Tumblr
It Doesn’t Offer Analytics
Tumblr’s dashboard doesn’t include any sort of tracking. How many likes did one of your posts get? How many times was it reblogged? You actually have to go to each of your posts and count the actions by hand. Google Analytics and Site Meter only partly solve the problem because they can’t track Tumblr’s internal links. If you need hard numbers that can be analyzed on a spreadsheet, Tumblr may not be for you.

It’s Not That Social

There are no comments on Tumblr. You can add a sort of semi-comment “note” or reblog someone’s post on your own blog, but you can’t have a real dialogue with visitors or other Tumblr users. Facebook and Twitter, and even Google+, know the importance of conversing and sharing, but Tumblr simply isn’t designed that way. If you want to truly engage your audience, you might find Tumblr disappointing.

It’s Too Young

Almost 70% of Tumbler users are 34 or under, including 20% who are 17 or under. After that, the numbers drop as the ages go up. If your brand is a luxury product or is aimed at middle-aged or senior consumers, Tumblr’s audience simply isn’t there.

It Has Angered Some Big Names

Remember those top fashion Tumblr bloggers covering New York Fashion Week 2011? Tumblr actually charged the designers for coverage, asking for up to $350,000 for promoted content, even though the bloggers didn’t actually work for Tumblr. Based on an expected one million impressions for the week, this meant a CPM (cost per thousand impressions) of $70, compared to $3 to be featured on the front page of the New York Times website. As I mentioned, Tumblr couldn’t even provide designers with advanced analytics to see if their spend was justified.

Tumblr is simple to use, growing in popularity, and attracting some big brands. It also skews very young, presents problems for marketers, and has some frustrating limitations. Is it right for your brand? That’s up to you. But whether it ends in success or failure, I’m pretty sure the Tumblr story has a long way to go.

For the latest on social media, online recruiting, mobile marketing, and other branding trends, please like BRANDEMiX on Facebookfollow us on Twitter, and join our LinkedIn group, Your Digital Brand.

Monday, October 31, 2011

Social Media PR Disasters: Moleksine's Logo Contest Has No Winners

Unlike some of my past examples of social media crises, this disaster is unfolding right now. To my amazement, it’s happening to one of the brands that, just three months ago, I honored as a SoMe Superstar. Let’s see how the mighty have fallen.
The Brand
  • 102,000 Facebook likes
  • 14,000 followers on Twitter
  • 571,000 views on YouTube

The Incident

Through its encouragement via social media, the Italy-based maker of journals and notebooks had built a loyal fan base of writers and artists, eager to share their work and their love of the brand. This combination of brand affinity and design skills seemed to make a perfect environment for a design contest. So on October 10, 2011, Moleskine announced a competition for a new logo. The winner would receive 5,000 euro (about $7,000), but Moleskine would retain the rights to all the entries, allowing it to choose a different logo in the future.

The Problem

While many brands find success with similar contests, such as Doritos asking for fans to create Super Bowl commercials, Moleskine didn’t seem to realize that spec work is a contentious issue in the design community, even more so in this difficult economy. And this competition was definitely spec work, since thousands of designers who didn’t win would be working for free and giving up their copyrights. Moleskine was essentially asking its fans to do their regular 9-to-5 work, for free. Even worse, the contest “devalue[d] the role of the designer and the client-designer relationship,” said ad agency New Kind in a post titledBetrayed by the Brand. “When a company runs a contest like this, it sends a message that a brand is little more than a logo…that can be designed by anyone regardless of their level of knowledge of you and your brand.”
The Response
The backlash was immediate and fierce. Comments on Moleskine’s Facebook wall included “This is unethical,” “Shame on you, Moleskine,” and “I will never buy another Moleskine product again.” On Friday, Moleskine made matters worse by issuing a clarification, without apologizing, that basically said, “Other companies are doing this. If you don’t like it, don’t enter.” As you can imagine, the fans became outraged, to the point that Moleskine began deleting angry comments from the wall. The following Monday, Moleskine posted another response, which began, “Let’s start by apologizing for being so late with our reply” – though fans weren’t complaining about punctuality. The post went on to say “It has never been our purpose to exploit any of the authors” and “we made a mistake.” But Moleskine’s only action was to change a single contest rule, saying it would retain the copyright of just the winner, instead of all the entries. The competition would go on, without apology.
The Result
The competition’s deadline is November 10, and Moleskine seems to have no intention of canceling its inexpensive crowdsourcing strategy and hiring a professional designer. As one commenter put it, “I don't see how someone would actually desire to win this ‘contest’ now. You would certainly not be well-received in the design community.” The backlash continues on Twitter and the Moleskine official site.

The Takeaway

How can you avoid Moleskine’s week of disastrous social media PR?
- Know Your Audience
Moleskine knew it had a following of artists but it didn’t seem to know that community’s harsh feelings towards crowdsourcing and spec work. While this attitude wouldn’t necessarily come up in a customer survey, Moleskine has multiple channels where it could have tested the waters. One tweet like “How would you feel about a logo design contest?” could have shown the notebook company that its fan base was against the idea, avoiding this social media disaster with one click.
- Fix The Problem
The company’s responses have been consistently unsatisfying. For five days, Moleskine did nothing. Then it offered a brusque statement that showed no compromise or remorse. Instead of engaging the commenters, it never mentioned the matter on Twitter and began deleting critical comments on Facebook. Finally, it posted a semi-apology and changed one contest rule, never addressing the issue of the contest itself. That latest post has 71 comments, but Moleskine itself hasn’t entered the conversation.
- Friends Can Become Foes
Hell hath no fury like a fan scorned. Moleskine had built a passionate audience…but that passion is now aimed against the brand. Just because people love you doesn’t mean that they’ll love everything you do. Moleskine fans feel truly betrayed. The latest posts on Facebook talk seriously about a boycott, with commenters promoting notebooks from Moleskine competitors Piccadillyand Canson. Still, Moleskine remains silent.
Can Moleskine win back its fans? If the contest goes on, how will the fans treat the winner? How did a company with so many active social media channels fail at all of them at once? The fallout from this social media PR disaster should be very interesting.
For the latest on social media, online recruiting, mobile marketing, and other branding trends, please like BRANDEMiX on Facebookfollow us on Twitter, and join our LinkedIn group, Your Digital Brand.