Monday, December 17, 2012

Why I Love the Wendy's "Hot Drinks" Video

As a specialist in employer branding and HR communications, I’m always looking for hiring, onboarding, and training samples and ideas. Here’s one I recently came across. It’s a training video, produced by Wendy’s, instructing employees on how to prepare hot beverages. The video seems to have been produced in the late 80s or early 90s.

Here’s why I love it:

It’s actually informative.
I work just a block away from the Wendy’s on Fifth Avenue but rarely have a reason to go inside. Watching the video, however, I learned that Wendy’s sells not just coffee and decaf but also hot tea and cocoa. I honestly had no idea that I could get hot chocolate at Wendy’s. And who wouldn’t want their drink served with a “juicy slice” of lemon?

It wasn’t posted by Wendy’s.
At least, as far as I can tell. The video is posted on a personal YouTube account with no affiliation to the restaurant. The video is so entertaining (or so kitschy) that someone decided to post it for the world to see – and more than 225,000 people have viewed it. Rather than trumpeting this video to the public, Wendy’s was simply trying to educate and amuse their employees; the fact that it’s going viral without their help makes its success completely authentic.

It didn’t have to be fun.
The training video for preparing four hot drinks could have been straightforward. A smiling Wendy’s employee could have conveyed the information in two minutes, at little cost. But Wendy’s took this video to a whole new level, writing an original song, adding effects, and turning a simple one-shot setup into a production with multiple cuts and angles. I’m sure that employees watching the video would go from smiling to laughing to tapping their feet. Even if they’re laughing for the wrong reasons, they’d at least know they’re joining a company that values fun.

This video is proof that it’s possible to be cheesy, fun, and informative all at the same time.

The next time you’re about to create training materials, remember “Hot Drinks” and ask yourself: Is this as fun as it could be? Will it keep the employees’ attention? And if an employee posts it online – a real possibility in the digital age – how will our brand look?

If you have training or onboarding content this compelling and engaging, send it my way. If you don’t, let’s get together

Monday, December 10, 2012

The Most Popular Blog Posts of 2012

As the year comes to a close, I’m looking back at this year’s most popular blog posts. The topics range from examples of the best social media to some of the worst, and from internal branding to external. In case you missed them, here are the BrandeBlog’s five most-read posts of 2012.

2012 brought us a number of recruiting studies that turned conventional wisdom upside-down. How many employers said they had an employer branding strategy? How many employees leave a company for reasons other than money? How many companies plan to increase their investment in employer branding? The answers may surprise you.

Sometimes you can learn more from a failure than a success. That was certainly true of our story on McDonald’s Twitter debacle, in which an innocent hashtag was taken over by critics and pranksters in a matter of hours. See how McDonald’s reacted and learn what to do (and not to do) when your brand encounters a similar social media crisis.

The best social sites have stated goals: Facebook is for friends, LinkedIn is for business, Instagram is for photos. But what about Foursquare? Is it for sharing local finds with your friends? Posting reviews for strangers? Competing for discounts with other customers? Discover Foursquare founder Dennis Crowley’s answers to these and other tough questions in this post.

Ever come out of a social media planning session with your head spinning? New forms of marketing have created new buzzwords like optimize, reciprocity, and engagement. But you don’t have to learn all the jargon to have a successful social media campaign; you only need to answer three basic questions.

The most popular post of the year was an exploration of State Farm’s social media recruiting. The insurance company has a dedicated Facebook Page and answers questions and comments within 24 hours. The State Farm careers site features videos testimonials from interns, a rarely seen part of a company’s workforce. Finally, State Farm’s interactive website takes online recruiting to a whole other level. See how your brand can attain “Superstar” status here.

What do these posts' popularity tell us? That there a lot of people with an interest in  and a need for  social media trends, marketing, and branding. As it so happens, they are also specialties of ours! 

Put Brandemix on your to-do list for 2013; we want to be popular, too. 

Monday, December 3, 2012

Four Steps to a Successful Rebranding

You’ve read my blog post “Four Signs You’re Ready to Rebrand” and realized it’s time for a rebranding. Now what?

It’s important to have a well-executed, well-timed strategy that generates the most buzz from all audiences – both internally externally. A bad launch can undo much of the hard work you put into the rebranding itself.

Here are four steps to ensure your rebranding is successful.

1. Announce the Change
Every one of your channels and materials should announce the new name, logo, focus, or services. That includes your website, your email signatures, your newsletter, and your blog. Make it clear that your operations won’t be interrupted and that current customers have nothing to worry about. Give a link or email address where customers can ask questions.

I also recommend a press release distributed through
PR Newswire or free services like Online PR News and Newswire Today. Here you can go into more detail about the how and why of the rebranding. Accentuate the positive and promise there will be no problems with customer service or product offerings. Include quotes from your CEO. And press releases are great for SEO – especially if you’re changing or adding keywords to your brand.

2. Change Your Social Media
If you’re rebranding is just in the form of a new logo and tagline, it’s pretty easy to change your social channels’ profile pictures, icons, and “About Us” copy. But if you changed your name or even your focus, get ready for more of an overhaul.

You can change your Twitter name at anytime, but your Facebook Page URL can only be changed if you have less than 100 likes. You can request a change from Facebook directly or simply create a new Page, encouraging your fans to follow you there. Then taper off your posting on the original Page.

As for YouTube, don’t worry about uploading all your videos to a new account. Though you can’t change your username, you can create a vanity URL that directs viewers to your original YouTube channel. Personal Pinterest usernames and Google+ names can be changed with only a few clicks. The hardest site to alter your name? LinkedIn, which requires a special email request.

A great example of a blog post explaining a company's rebranding
3. Make Corrections in the Field
Personally inform any blogs or publications that have covered you or listed you of the rebranding.

Do a search for your brand. If you see it mentioned in a blog or message board, write a comment that notifies readers of the rebranding. It can be as simple as “Kentucky Fried Chicken is now KFC.” Informative without being too promotional.

In fact, you can even enlist your employees. We once worked with a major financial client that held a contest, giving a prize to any worker who found an example of its old logo anywhere on its websites.

4. Do a Final Sweep
Make sure your partners, clients, and vendors are aware of the change and have your new branding on all their materials. Shut down or redirect any legacy sites or links that may confuse your customers. Make sure your Google AdWords or Facebook Ads accounts have your new keywords. Search several pages deep into search engines to see if there’s any website you missed.

Of course, there’s always a small chance that the public won’t respond to your new branding. Look at what happened when the Gap changed its logo. The same thing is happening to JCPenney – but the Gap had the sense and humility to switch back  

As our name implies, Brandemix specializes in branding, rebranding, and employer branding. If the process seems overwhelming, or you’re ready for a major change, we’d love to get into the mix!

Monday, November 26, 2012

Guest Post: Create a Zappos-Like Culture of Customer Service With Performance Metrics

We've written about Zappos' great social media efforts, but the online shoe retailer has other impressive qualities, too. In this week's guest post, Software Advice's Ashley Furness tells you how to create a Zappos-like culture of customer service using performance metrics.

It seems traditional marketing increasingly turns away customers in today's Yelp and social media-obsessed world. Advertising, PR, and other promotional spending fall on deaf ears while bad messages travel further, faster.

This has prompted a sea-change in the way some companies approach their marketing budget. Could a Zappos-level of customer service provide a better return on investment?

“Zappos invests in the call center not as cost, but the opportunity to market,” Zappos Loyalty Manager Joseph Michelli explained to me recently. He authored a whole book on the concept, called The Zappos Experience. This has resulted in as much as 75 percent of their sales coming from return customers, who spend on average 2.5 times more than first-timers.

So how do you create this Zappos-like culture? It starts with the basics – performance metrics.

It's About the Wow Moments
Making the customer feel appreciated is a priority for Zappos. They do this by grading calls on a 100-point scale they call the “Happiness Experience Form.” Every agent is expected to maintain a 50-point average or higher. This score is based on several factors, including:

    Whether or not the agent tried to create a personal emotional connection with the caller
    Whether or not the agent continued the conversation if the customer responded positively
    Whether or not the agent identified and responded to the customer's unstated needs
    And whether or not the agent gave a “wow” experience or went above and beyond

“Customer service creates an environment of one-to-one communication. That intimacy creates a special opportunity to build a relationship as opposed to a top-of-mind impression through advertising,” Michelli said.

At the end of the month, management identifies agents with less than a 50-point average on the Happiness Experience Form. Those agents receive extra training. Top performers are rewarded with paid hours off and other incentives.

Watch Those Idle Chats
Zappos also monitors “abandonment time,” or periods when an agent has a chat session open even though the customer already disconnected from the chat. The reason this is so important is two-fold:

One, idle chats are a symptom of chat avoidance - or the agent purposefully creating conditions so they don't have to respond; and two, when agents aren’t responding, customers wait longer. The longer they wait, the more apt they are to abandon the session. 
This strategy zeroes in on the cause of unproductivity in the chat setting – idle chats – without deterring agents from expressing the values in the Happiness Experience Form.

Still Measuring Call Quantities?
Zappos’s longest call on record lasted more than eight hours, and guess what? This interaction was lauded by leadership as a stellar example of serving the customer.

“It’s more important that we make an emotional connection with the customer, rather than just quickly getting them off the phone,” says Derek Carder, Customer Loyalty Operations Manager for Zappos.

Instead of valuing quick time to resolution or processing high call volumes, Zappos looks at the percentage of time an agent spends on the phone. Every agent is expected to spend 80 percent of their time on the phone, in chat, or in an email response. This metric is a way to empower the team and to utilize time in a way that best promotes customer loyalty.

Attendance is Key
Absenteeism can be a huge detractor from your customer service productivity. Zappos uses a program they call Panda to combat this trend. Employees receive a point for every day they miss work or come in late. Staff with zero points in a given period receive a varying number of paid hours off. These hours can be accrued and stacked for an entire paid day off.

This decreases the days missed by employees, but also increases job satisfaction. What Zappos-level strategies does your company use to create a customer-centric culture? Let us know by commenting here.

Ashley Furness is a market analyst with Software Advice.

Monday, November 19, 2012

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 struggling communities, whether as far away as Africa or as close as Staten Island and New Jersey.
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.

Tuesday, November 13, 2012

Why Taco Bell Careers is a Social Media Superstar

As Jobvite’s recent survey has shown us, social recruiting is here to stay, so we at Brandemix are constantly looking for the brands that are doing it innovative ways. This year, we’ve honored Zappos and State Farm, and now it’s time to recognize another Social Media Superstar: Taco Bell.

Here’s the restaurant’s employer branding statement: “At Taco Bell, we know what it’s like to blaze some trails, kick up some dirt, and take tacos to where they have never been before. We are a brand of firsts and we invite you to join our team. Inspire. Lead. Learn. Grow. Work here and Live Más.”

Lots of unique, differentiating phrases in there. And it includes the new consumer brand at the end.

Photos and Conversations on Facebook

The Facebook Page for Taco Bell Careers has 127,200 likes. The Page features 12 photo albums, with pictures ranging from clever employee events (the Peeps model contest is not to be missed) to celebrities who have stopped by the restaurant (most recently, Lance Bass). One image of Taco Bell products actually addresses the employees, asking, “What’s your favorite item to make?” That’s a bold move that could easily lead to embarrassing answers. But the pic has 34 comments and more than 200 likes. My favorite response: “I like making customers happy!”

Taco Bell’s Careers Facebook Page also features four videos and the BeKnown app with job listings, showing once again that some brands are fully recruiting on social channels. My only quibble with their Facebook effort is the underused Notes section, which has only one entry – for the chain’s college scholarship program.

Active Engagement on Twitter
Taco Bell Careers isn’t quite as popular on Twitter, with 1,339 followers. But what sets them apart is that they don’t wait for @mentions; when someone mentions interviewing at the company, Taco Bell wishes them luck. When someone announces they’ve been hired, Taco Bell welcomes them. When someone says they’re leaving, Taco Bell tells them goodbye. This shows attention to both employees and job-seekers, and that Taco Bell is rooting for its workers to succeed.

Authentic Employee Profiles on YouTube
As for YouTube – which, don’t forget, is the second-largest search engine in the world – Taco Bell has its own careers channel, with seven videos and more than 44,000 views. Four of the videos each focus on a single employee, from a 17-year-old team member to a franchise owner with 20 years of experience.

This may sound silly, but I also like that the videos clearly show the employees preparing and serving food. You’d be surprised how some brands seem to ignore what their workers actually do. Or maybe a career at McDonald’s involves sitting on steps?

Pioneering Pinterest
Taco Bell is one of a growing number of brands that’s recruiting on Pinterest. Taco Bell Careers has more than 300 images on 24 boards on the site. Five boards are devoted to individual recruiters and include pictures of the their pets and hobbies, a great way to relate to candidates. A board of inspirational quotes is cleverly called “Food For Thought,” while another is devoted to “Leadership Development.”

A few of Taco Bell Careers' boards on Pinterest

You can see that Taco Bell reaches out to both current and future employees on four social channels. The chain’s fun attitude can be seen in its fast-paced videos, its whimsical employee event photos, and its active dialogue on Twitter. Taco Bell has also recognized the power of Pinterest and posts images that are both cool and useful. 

For all these reasons, I declare Taco Bell Careers a Social Media Superstar!

Learn about more employer branding superstars at our free webinar, "Employer Brands Undercover: A Behind-the-Scenes Look at Authentic Employer Brand in the Digital World." Tuesday, November 27, at 11 am, 2 pm, and 5 pm Eastern. Register here.

Monday, November 5, 2012

It Takes a Hurricane

Brandemix is always ready to celebrate brands, but this week, I want to celebrate our own brand – and the brand that is New York City. Though many others faced much tougher challenges, we at Brandemix knew that, despite all the hardships caused by the storm, the calendar hadn’t changed.

Our clients throughout the country still had important, immovable deadlines. And while the city canceled the Halloween Parade and the NYC Marathon, we knew we had to keep our commitments to our clients.

Two of us live on Long Island and had to evacuate. One of us lives in Downtown NYC, and lost water, power, and gas. But all of us found a way to continue creating strategies and solutions for our clients.

I took this photo of a fallen tree that's leaning perilously on
power lines above Factory Pond Road in Locust Valley, NY.
In addition to our people, technology is a real star of the story. Through smart devices and software, servers and Starbucks, we were able to continue to work miracles together without missing a beat, a watt or an email (but yes, possibly a bath!).

We’re up and running and back at full strength. We hope you all fared as well. 

At times like these, I’m grateful to be in the city of New York, particularly because I love New Yorkers. And I want to thank the Brandemix team, particularly Kathryn, Dana, Jason, Clarissa, and Mike, who did everything they could to make sure our service wasn’t interrupted despite all the devastation we faced.

Stay safe and stay strong.