Brand Buzz: Doctor, Doctor. Give Me The News.

Brand Buzz with Jaci Russo on 96.5 KPEL  is now at 7:40AM every Monday, so be sure to tune in on your way to work.

Here’s what we covered this morning.

Travel to any other city comparable to the size of Lafayette, and I guarantee the landscape of the healthcare industry will look VASTLY different.

Around here, you can walk out your house and slam into a doctor’s office or an affiliated office of a bigger hospital. Oh, about the bigger hospitals: there are three of them. We have three (3!) massive hospital systems in town. We’re used to it, but we sometimes forget how saturated we are with healthcare facilities — which is a wonderful thing for us, but it’s got to be tough on the physicians.

I mean, think about: It can’t get more competitive for doctors than right here. How is one podiatrist supposed to get the word out about his practice when there are ten other podiatrists within a four-mile radius?! My point is that here [more than anywhere else], branding is essential to physicians. Here are a few ways doctors can start a branding effort:

Reviews

Read up on what patients really think about your practice. In our agency, we like to get inside the heads of our client’s customers and try to understand how they think. It’s the first step in learning how to speak to them. Reading your online reviews is good, insightful research.

Differentiate

For obvious reasons, it pays to differentiate in a competitive marketplace There are three different pediatrician groups in town that all use the same clip art photo. Seriously. It just goes to show you how badly differentiation is needed.

Online Presence

Even with referrals, patients will go online to find your phone number and address. It’s necessary to have a website—even if it’s a simple brochure site with some About Us information and contact info.

Thought Leadership

It’s necessary to share your knowledge online to build your brand. Doctors who integrate a blog into their website can share their knowledge and establish authority on their practice.

Unlike other types of businesses, patients got to the doctor solely for the doctor’s expertise. That expertise becomes an ownable part of the brand. From a business perspective, it makes sense to market that knowledge as part of the physicians’ image.

Over time, this will build credibility in the community and eventually establish some trust in the minds of prospective patients. They’ll be more likely to turn to your practice when they’re in need because you’re top-of-mind now.

Brand Buzz: Looking Back to Move Forward

Brand Buzz with Jaci Russo on 96.5 KPEL  is now at 7:40AM every Monday, so be sure to tune in on your way to work.

Here’s what we’re covering on Monday, September 8:

Kodak is the company that our parents and our grandparents bought cameras and film from. It’s a brand that carries with it a legacy of nostalgia and Americana. And it just rebranded.

Sort of.

The rebrand [by BIG (Brand Integration Group, Ogilvy & Mather)] stays true to Kodak’s essence, while updating the look and feel. It’s almost a slight-of-hand rebrand with only a few minor tweaks, but when I first saw the logo and system I outloud said, “Awwww.”

Seeing it conjured memories of winding and clicking a little disposable camera and opening a new pack of pictures from the Photo Tech. And I’m pretty sure that’s what the rebrand was going for: quiet oohs and aahs under your breath and a few moments thinking about the last time you held a Kodak camera or Kodak film. Because chances are, you did. And it was good.

The rebrand is a perfect blend of the past and present, which proves that, sometimes in order to look forward, we must first look back at where we’ve been. It’s an old adage, but it’s true—especially if you’ve got history with which to draw from.

Brands with history can sometimes “retrofit” a rebrand to remind people of why they first fell in love with them. Brands like 7-Eleven, The Brooklyn Nets, and Arby’s have all gone “back to the beginning” in their rebrands, respectively.

So if you’ve been around for a few decades and you’ve gone through a few logos, maybe it’s time to revisit the first one and see what you can make of it with some modern tweaks and cleaning up. You might fall back in love with the original. And maybe everyone else will, too.

 

Brand Buzz: Millennials & Brands

In case you missed Brand Buzz with Jaci Russo on KPEL 96.5 this morning at 7:40AM, here’s what we covered:

Let’s face it: Millennials have grown up while the world at large still views them as young and unattached. And now, many have kids of their own. The lesson here is that millennials aren’t necessarily who you think they are. That’s a tough pill to swallow for brands that want to target millennials. But millennials are a perpetually moving target that deserves ongoing study.

But if your brand is targeting millennials and seeking to engage them, here are five lessons to keep in mind:

1. They celebrate brand purpose. Millennials are one of the most compassionate generations with regard to social issues. They will seek out and buy brands that support a cause that aligns with their values. When you analyze brands they love — Whole Foods Market, TOMS, Chipotle — each is strongly connected with a social purpose. The purchase then makes the buyer feel better about him or herself.

2. They want a personal connection. Millennials don’t want to be spoken to; they demand to be spoken with. They engage with brands that allow them to make personal connections. Want an example? Look no further than hashtags. Hashtagging on Facebook, Twitter, Instagram, etc. let’s you see who else referenced your “thing.” Many brands (most notably TV shows like Breaking Bad, The Walking Dead, Scandal) can attribute much of their success to grassroots social-media efforts. Viewer connection has become such an integral part of the TV experience and it speaks volumes for what millennials want.

 3. They embrace disruption. Vice, DollarShaveClub.com. Kanye West. Enough said.

 4. They accept difference. Brands like Dove are winning with millennials, while brands like Abercrombie & Fitch are faltering. While the old adage “sex sells” can ring true for any generation, it’s in its stance on personal confidence and acceptance that A&F falters. As this generation continues to mature, brands that portray a message of negativity and body image shaming will look more and more archaic. At the start of Dove’s Campaign for Real Beauty, some critics felt it seemed false for a beauty brand to promote acceptance of superficial flaws. By facing this challenge head-on and offering a solution embedded in the brand, Dove is able to inspire confidence in its audience. Almost a decade later, Dove continues to create messages that resonate with Millennial.

5. They expect a dialogue. The days of pushing a brand message only through storytelling are over. Brands must embrace a two-way dialogue and feedback-loop-closure. Give consumers the opportunity to co-create products, services (or ideas if you are starting a movement); the experiences by which the products/services/ideas are delivered and enjoyed; and the marketing and social-media messages.

Brands that talk back understand that consumers who act as participants feel better about themselves when they support a brand and share with their peers. And that they are the most influential and passionate consumers.

The truth is: All millennial trends will be applicable to every brand.  But brands that understand millennial behavior can reach them.

Oh, and don’t forget: Brand Buzz with Jaci Russo on 96.5 KPEL has moved to the Monday morning drive! The show is now at 7:40AM every Monday, so be sure to tune in on your way to work.

Brand Buzz: Eating Brands [Not Bran]

In case you missed Brand Buzz with Jaci Russo on KPEL 96.5 this morning at 7:40AM, here’s what we covered:

If I asked you to list some of your favorite locally owned companies here in Lafayette, there’s a pretty good chance a few of those are going to be restaurants. Am I right?

Obviously, eating is a significant piece of our culture and it’s how we connect. And here in Lafayette, we just so happen to have a huge number of easting establishments from which to choose (more than 450!).

The food and beverage industry is fully embedded in our community and it’s where many of us feel at home. We love the restaurants we love and we join their tribe. In fact, we have a culture of institutionalizing certain restaurants. Places like La Fonda, Agave, Blue Dog Café, Old Tyme Grocery, and French Press are so beloved that they’ve become synonymous with the city itself. They’ve become brands — fostering very special connections with the people who cherish them. So how can other types of businesses harness some of that brand magic?

 

Great restaurants provide experiences, and so do all great brands.

 

You don’t go to Tsunami because they have the best miso soup in town. You go because it’s an experience from the moment you walk in. The music is chill, the smells are delicious, the space is modern, and the vibe is relaxed. Plus the food and service are expectedly reliable. We gather, we share a meal, we have a nice experience, and we return. Which brings us back to you. You might think you’re all about your products and your services, but that’s not why people do business with you. It’s because you’re providing a positive experience for them.

Take a queue from your favorite restaurant. Start at the door. How are you greeted? What’s the vibe? How’s the lighting? Do you feel taken care of? What’s special about this place?

This little exercise is exactly what every restaurant developer [from Ray Kroc to Ricardo Valerio over at Urbano’s Taqueria] did at the beginning of the project. Do the same. Begin to look at your company from your customer’s point-of-view.

Creating an experience will provide you and your business with tremendous power and trust. And for as long as you have this trust, your customers will be more loyal, and the word of mouth surrounding your business will spread more quickly and fiercely.

People will eat it up.

Get it?

Oh, and don’t forget: Brand Buzz with Jaci Russo on 96.5 KPEL has moved to the Monday morning drive! The show is now at 7:40AM every Monday, so be sure to tune in on your way to work.

The New World Trade Center Logo: A Teaching Moment

In case you missed Brand Buzz with Jaci Russo on KPEL 96.5 this morning at 7:40AM, here’s what we covered:

So last Friday we posted a blog that [very candidly] expressed our thoughts on the new World Trade Center logo. Click here for context.

Look, sometimes we get a little riled up about silly branding decisions and we have to call it out. But we’ve cooled down and we’d like to use it as a teaching moment. So today, we’d like to take our rant a step further and discuss the lessons we can learn from it instead of just shrieking and shaking our heads in disapproval. Because that’s the only way we become smarter, right?

Okay. So. That’s the new logo. Is there anything good about it? Well, it’s simple. It’s conceptual. It can easily be reproduced. It can exist in any color and on any environment. Those are all very valuable qualities in a good logo. But a great logo needs to be more than those things: It needs to inspire. And there is nothing inspirational about this logo, and that’s the biggest issue we have with it. Because it absolutely should be.

We fully believe there were more literal, exciting logo options. But we also know how this process works and odds are, the one we see before us was the product of A LOT of compromise. The client/agency compromise is part of any branding initiative. But the WTC is probably one of the most sensitive icons on the planet. And like we said last Friday, branding the WTC is nearly impossible because there are endless conflicting ideas about what the WTC site is, and should be. But we believe the deciding part chose the least offensive, most vanilla, painfully boring option on the table.

We’re not saying this logo should be ballsy, but we would love to see some emotion and maybe just a little more to hold onto. Especially for something so important.

So how does it this apply to you: If anything, we hope it will motivate you to see the significance of important logos and maybe take bring some of that passion to your own. We don’t expect everyone else on Earth to share our anger when major branding opportunities are missed or jump up and down like we do when something really smart comes along. But we’d like you to understand how influential these efforts can be; they impact the way consumers and members of the general population behave, react, and believe. And you have the power to harness that. If you do it right.

Oh, and don’t forget: Brand Buzz with Jaci Russo on 96.5 KPEL has moved to the Monday morning drive! The show is now at 7:40AM every Monday, so be sure to tune in on your way to work.

Okay. We Have To Talk About The New World Trade Center Logo.

You guys. Have you seen the new World Trade Center logo? Well it’s right here so take it all in:

Like. What?

I Mean…

Huh?

In fact, that’s what the logo looks like: a big HUH?

It’s clearly a work of space and negative and I guess it’s supposed to be intentionally open for interpretation (see whatever you want to see, etc.), and that’s all fine and poetic. But now ask me how much it cost. This logo, part of the WTC’S branding endeavor, cost $3.57 million.

Seriously. Let that sink in.

We agree that branding the WTC is nearly impossible because there are endless conflicting ideas about what the WTC site is, and should be. But what is this supposed to do? There are five new towers going up so those are clearly the five white bars, which form a weird 8-bit “W.” That’s cool. But this. Of all logos, globally and historically, this one should inspire a little emotion — if not A LOT of emotion. There should be a soul and reverence.

But let’s pretend Landor Associates (the hired firm) convinced the client they needed to move the image to feel more like a business. We’d buy that. But this logo doesn’t even feel corporate. It feels tech. Why?!

We haven’t had our coffee yet. Excuse the early-morning aggression.

But c’mon. $3.57 million!!!

Oh, and don’t forget: Brand Buzz with Jaci Russo on 96.5 KPEL has moved to the Monday morning drive! The show is now at 7:40AM every Monday, so be sure to tune in on your way to work.

Brand Buzz: Keeping Up With The Chipotles

In case you missed Brand Buzz with Jaci Russo on KPEL 96.5 this morning at 7:40AM, here’s what we covered:

Due to a significant decline in sales, and a continued damaging reputation as a purveyor of unhealthy eating options, McDonald’s announced this week it will spend the next 18 months undergoing a rebrand to combat it’s image. This raises the question of why would a company with such a powerful brand decide to alter it? There are two reasons.

  1. The gradual erosion of their brand image.
  2. Competition from Chipotle, forcing McDonald’s to step up it’s game.

IMAGE EROSION

The long-term plan is to transition the company from just a cheap-food destination to a high quality food destination. This won’t be a full-scale rebrand, though (new logo). Instead the company wants to focus on improving the menu, customer service, and retooling their marketing initiatives. McDonald’s is not facing a life or death situation, it’s taking the precautionary steps to improvement before the situation becomes more serious.

Gradual degradation of their brand and sales has occurred ever sense Super Size Me exposed their health issues ten years ago. Even though McDonald’s has tried to add healthy options to their menu like milk and apple slices, it has not been enough. This sort of gradual decline can happen to any brand, McDonald’s is just on a bigger scale.

THE CHIPOTLE FACTOR

Chipotle recently surpassed McDonald’s in sales growth from year-to-year. Chipotle stresses the use naturally raised animals and organic vegetables in all of their food. They appeal to the health-conscious lifestyle of many Americans. This obviously sparked something inside McDonald’s to move in the same direction. Emulating the competition and adapting to the market is a necessity for every business, and McDonald’s is going through that now. Whether or not they succeed at rebranding without overhauling their goods is yet to be determined.

Every business, big or small, can learn from this. They are one of the biggest brands in the world, but that doesn’t make them invincible. In fact, their situation isn’t different from one any brand may encounter. McDonald’s is looking to change their image for the better because they’re thinking long-term.

This obviously takes time, money, courage, and great marketing to be successful, but is completely possible for anyone to accomplish. So if you’re a small business in Lafayette and you are looking to improve your image, or you’re experiencing a brand crisis don’t be afraid. The best way approach rebranding is to view it as an opportunity rather than critical junction. With the help of a good agency your new brand could take leaps and bounds over the old one, and you’ll be wondering why you didn’t do this sooner.

Oh, and don’t forget: Brand Buzz with Jaci Russo on 96.5 KPEL has moved to the Monday morning drive! The show is now at 7:40AM every Monday, so be sure to tune in on your way to work.

Brand Buzz: Is It A Logo? Or A Symbol?!

 We often have clients who ask us to explain the differences between a logo and a symbol [or a font & typeface, or a tagline & slogan], so when we saw this recent article on FastCompany.com, we felt compared to share it so that we could spread the knowledge.

Pentagram’s Michael Bierut and Ammunition Group’s Brett Wickens had this to say on the matter:

“Although most people call any emblem that has been designed to visually represent a brand a logo, ‘logo’ is usually taken to be short for ‘logotype,’ which literally means ‘word imprint’ in Greek. This is why we sometimes call logotypes ‘wordmarks.’ According to this line of thinking, the only true logos are the ones that contain nothing but stylized letters, representing the literal name of a company. In its curlicue cursive, the distinctive Coca-Cola emblem is a logo. So is Paul Rand’s Venetian Blind IBM wordmark. Other logos include CNN, Sony, Samsung, Ray-Ban, Dell, NASA, Fed-Ex, and even Fast Company. Basically, if you see something in a company’s emblem that can’t be read, it’s not strictly a logo. Or, at least, a logotype.

But logotypes have issues in a global economy. Because they depend upon being read, logotypes for American companies might be confusing to people who live in countries that don’t use the Latin alphabet. Sometimes, companies will modify their logotypes for different markets accordingly: Coca-Cola, for example, maintains a stylistically consistent logotype in many different alphabets. These days, though, many companies prefer to take a more abstract approach, creating a universal symbol that abstractly represents their brand. Apple’s iconic fruit and Nike’s swoosh are such symbols.

A symbol may not be the same thing as a logotype, but abbreviating both logotypes and logomarks as ‘logos’ is totally logical, because both types of logo are meant to do the same thing. In fact, symbols are often referred to logomarks for just this reason. The distinction between a symbol and a logomark might be useful to designers, who may want to pin down what type of logo a client is looking for, or experts who are discussing the distinction between logotypes and symbols academically.”

Does that clear that up, guys?

Oh, and don’t forget: Brand Buzz with Jaci Russo on 96.5 KPEL has moved to the Monday morning drive! The show is now at 7:40AM every Monday, so be sure to tune in on your way to work. This Monday, we’ll be discussing the upcoming McDonald’s rebrand and what we can learn from it. 

Brand Buzz: Quality, Not Quantity

In case you missed Brand Buzz with Jaci Russo on  KPEL 96.5 this morning at 7:40AM, here’s what we covered:

One of the most efficient brands on social media is Xerox. Their team operates like a newsroom: following trends and conversations, quickly engaging, and being topical. But they only say the things their audience wants to hear.

The idea of constantly pumping out content related to your brand is outdated. Xerox realized that if they adopted that method all they would do is add to the clutter. Instead, they decided to bring the audience in with relevant and useful content across different social media platforms. By using multiple platforms, Xerox was able to bring people on a content journey where they would remain engaged with their brand. All of this content helps to close the perception gap between what people thought, and that was actually happening at Xerox.

Small business fan pages should follow Xerox’s lead. Using social media to stay relevant is incredibly important for any business, but the audience-centric mentality is what will set you apart.

In other news, Brand Buzz with Jaci Russo on 96.5 KPEL is moving to the Monday morning drive! The show will now be at 7:40AM every Monday, so be sure to tune in on your way to work.

Brand Buzz: Entrepreneurial Brands

Be sure to tune-in to KPEL 96.5 every Monday at 5:20PM for Brand Buzz. This evening on the show, we’ll be discussing the importance of being entrepreneurial. Here’s the big picture:

The bigger a small start-up gets, the easier it is for it to behave like a big company. It’s only natural, right? Over time, the wild hours, Ping-Pong table, and video games are replaced with 9-to-5ers in suits, rows of cubicles, and sterile ideas. Then, more and more people become afraid to stick out their heads and make mistakes. But here’s the thing: When it comes to entrepreneurship, the size of a company doesn’t matter. Actually, it benefits your brand to keep that cultural spirit. Here are some tips for preserving it:

 

ENCOURAGE IDEA-SHARING

Set a precedent that when you’re people have something pressing, stellar ideas and news, that they can feel comfortable finding you. This, of course, doesn’t work in hierarchical organizations where senior managers believe they know best. You can’t tolerate closed-minded management because they send a message to other employees that they can’t speak up or innovate. Give your people a voice and empower them to use it.

 

BE ACCESSIBLE

Don’t be the CEO who’s barricaded in his/her office. When that happens, the company becomes desensitized to things that may be going wrong because people feel powerless to access senior leadership and get them to make changes. If you’re approachable, they’ll approach you.

 

STAND FOR SOMETHING

You have to believe you’re doing something more important than keeping the doors open. That’s the most important way to keep your people caring. That’s also how teams and tribes stay together and that’s how audiences form. Brands need to work from the inside out.

 

Tune-in to KPEL 96.5 at 5:20PM this evening to hear all of our thoughts on this and more.