Archive for the ‘Brand management’ Category

Hybrid Marketing and Fostering “Super Fans”

March 25, 2011

I love to find a smallish business doing a kick-butt job at marketing. And indeed I did find one (actually several) while at SXSW in Austin. I found Heyday Footwear who does a spectacular job of blending online marketing, social media, event marketing and good old fashioned face-to-face meetings to develop their following. At the end of the day, what do they have? A strong following of brand ambassadors they refer to as “Super Fans” who help passionately spread the word about the cool footwear from Heyday.

This article from MOO sums it up nicely.

How about you? Know any cool businesses using a full array of marketing approaches to build their brand? If so, let us know.

Microsoft Bing Brand Decision

August 4, 2009

Microsoft brought Bing to market in early June of this year. I can only imagine all the time they spent debating the important decisions relating to their market introduction. One of these decisions was whether or not to associate Bing with the Microsoft brand, or let it stand on its’ own.

Usually when you have a strong brand (as Microsoft does), you leverage it as you introduce new products. Microsoft did not take this path. They are very much letting Bing be a stand-alone brand. Only time will tell whether this was the right decision.

Good or Bad?
I’ll start first with the cynical view (one of my personal favorites) of this decision. Microsoft chose not to associate Bing with their master brand. This may be because Microsoft is seen as some circles as the “evil empire.” A more likely, but still cynical reason may have been to distance itself from the failures of Microsoft search efforts and brands such as MSN, Windows Live and Live Search. Or perhaps the Microsoft brand is becoming too “old school”, too corporate or just too easy to overlook.

Now for the positive view. There are a lot of good reasons to let Bing stand on its’ own. For one, Microsoft is attempting to position Bing as a decision engine and not a search tool. This in itself is a mighty challenge, and having a strong brand will help in the effort.

Secondly, Microsoft is attempting to alter the category definition. If they can help the world see that they need something beyond a search tool and if they get them to buy into the thought process they actually need an advanced decision engine, then Microsoft may have an opportunity to change the market dynamics for Google.

Third, Microsoft is competing with a formidable competitor in Google. Amazingly Google has become a verb, and more amazing – a verb that my 70-something mother uses on regular basis. (It creeps me out every time.) It’s hard to picture someone using “Microsoft Live Search” as a verb but I can imagine people using Bing as an action word.

Is the Bing Brand Taking Hold?
In evaluating this topic I’ve discovered a few interesting things:

  • I conducted a totally unscientific and statistically unsound survey with my Facebook friends. (My apologies to Shaun, my statistician hero.) These friends vary from a geeky Silicon Valley crowd at one end of the spectrum to stay-at-home moms who are most concerned about nap schedules and feedings at the other end. Almost all of them are familiar with Bing, and 75% of them know it comes from Microsoft. Surprising to me, and impressive that their awareness is that high already.
  • Until a few days ago, when you searched Wikipedia for Bing you didn’t find it. Instead you found a barbershop in Germany, a Power Systems company in Germany and some info on Bing cherries.
  • News reports indicate Microsoft is spending between $80 and $100M on advertising Bing. This will help, but for the brand to truly stick, they need more than a hefty ad budget. They need a strong and persistent PR strategy, and they need the entire Microsoft employee-base behind it.

Time Will Tell
Good or bad decision? Time will tell. Are you going to start “Bing”ing info on the Web, or continue to Google? Let me know your thoughts.

Actively Monitor Your Brand on Social Networks

April 8, 2009

As social networks expand and become more influential it is critical to regularly monitor discussions related to your brand. Some of these discussions you will want to actively engage in while others you will just want to read from afar.

So how do you get started and how long will it take? Hubspot offers great advice on How to monitor your social media presence in 10 minutes a day.

What Ingredients Make Up a B2B Brand?

March 18, 2009

For those of you out there thinking about brand strategy, what are you focusing on? If it’s logo design, naming, colors and fonts… I would counter with an opinion that those thoughts are necessary but not sufficient.

Why? Because a brand is so much more than those basic elements. In a B2B technology company a brand is being formed with every encounter your customer has with your company – in any shape or form. Your brand is the sum of all the information communicated about your company, your products, your services and your people.

I’ve started a list of “ingredients” that contribute to the brand in your B2B company. This list is not exhaustive and I invite you to comment on this post with additional ideas you would like to see added to the list.


The B2B Brand Ingredients:

  • the way your receptionist greets people as they walk in the door
  • your phone system. How easy or difficult is it to reach a human being? 
  • the interactions of your sales team, whether they are by phone or in person 
  • your pre-sales engineers (I once worked for a start-up where we discovered that pre-sales engagement and the initial professional services team had a direct and strong correlation to long term customer satisfaction)
  • your website
  • your PR people and the way they treat key (and not so key) journalists
  • the ease of parking at your offices
  • the cleanliness of your bathrooms (I’m not joking)
  • the reading material in your lobby
  • your ads, whether they are in print, on radio, online.  They all contribute to your brand.
  • your tech support personnel – their proficiency and their attitude
  • your naming architecture
  • tradeshow booths (and the people who staff them)
  • job descriptions, ads on career boards and the process your prospective employees go through when interviewing with your company
  • profiles on LinkedIn (both company-level and employee-level) and other social networks
  • your invoicing system and accounts receivable personnel
  • your purchasing agents and supply chain teams
  • and certainly not least in importance – your CEO and other key figureheads

The take-away from this post is to remember that every interaction your company has with customers contributes to the meaning of your brand. Every communication contributes to it too. Publishing a brand style guide is absolutely critical. I wouldn’t run a marketing organization without one. But while you’re thinking about that, also be thinking about all the other ingredients that help make up your brand!

Image: Scott Liddell