News + Blog : Marketing Principles

My Recent Video Playlist

December 17th, 2013 | Posted by Hunter Lansche

I’ve been watching a lot of videos online lately. Ads, short films, “viral” aspiring videos. Much of the time I watch them to get new ideas for shooting techniques or how the story is visually put together. I’ve come across quite a few ads lately that use some great PR tricks or that have a great twist in copy writing. I wanted to highlight one, but I couldn’t narrow them down. Here are a few thoughts from me, paired with videos you simply need to watch.

Canadians are stereotypically known to be a friendly bunch — not a bad stereotype to have. The friendly bunch at WestJet Airlines kept that true by pulling a very clever stunt at an airport. The airline set out to garner at least 200,000 views for the video, at which point they said they would donate free flights to a family in need. It’s been on YouTube for 10 days as of December 17. It’s approaching 30 million views.

This series of online Acura ads are completely frivolous and I love them for it. They purposefully do a terrible job of selling Acuras. Retro/vintage and reminiscent of the style in the recent Ron Burgundy Dodge ads, my favorite quote is from the sixth commercial, where the spokesman tells the audience about one of the car’s features: “She’ll love this ladies’ beauty vanity mirror, with its own mirror and little door, and with a rubber thingy that you could force a pen into if you had to.” It seems like it was great fun writing the copy for these spots, which, by the way, was written by Jerry Seinfeld. Here’s a playlist of the whole lot:

Some ads are so well conceived and executed that when you want to tell someone about it, you can’t say much without completely ruining it for them. I swear, that’s not a cop-out for not wanting to write more. Take a look at this one from Robinsons, a British juice company.

If you want to kill more time, check out this great list of ads compiled by AdWeek. You’ve undoubtedly seen a number of them already.

Categories → Design & Culture, Marketing Principles, Media, Travel & Tourism

What Does Ancient Chinese Philosophy Have To Do With Marketing?

November 11th, 2013 | Posted by Georgia Relich


I didn’t think it did . . . until I read this article in The Atlantic. The article talks about an immensely popular Harvard course in Chinese philosophy whose three core tenets provide a way to approach everything from relationships to career decisions, and I think, marketing and branding.

  1. The smallest actions have the most profound ramifications. From a Chinese philosophical point of view, small daily experiences provide endless opportunities to understand ourselves and others. When we notice and understand what makes people tick, we develop a better sense of who we are. From a marketing standpoint, we know we can’t speak to people in a relevant way if we don’t understand them. It’s not about what we want to say about ourselves but what they need to hear about us.
  2. Decisions are made from the heart. In Chinese, the word for “mind” and “heart” are the same. But, not for most marketers. They insist that we make decisions in the rational mind, but new studies in behaviorial psychology prove that the heart makes the decision, while the mind rationalizes and validates it.
  3. If the body feels, the mind will follow. Here, the article cites not only the Chinese philosophers, but Artistotle who said “we are what we repeatedly do.”  Consistency, consistency, consistency. We can’t say it enough in branding. Make the promise and then live it, say it and be it . . . over and over again and in every interaction.

Categories → Branding, Marketing Principles

Personal Value Trumps Business Value

November 5th, 2013 | Posted by Susan Weissman


For many years, marketers followed the adage of communicating benefits, not features. Tell your customer what’s in it for them. Right? Wrong. We weren’t going far enough. All of the research now tells us that one of the biggest mistakes B2B marketers make is communicating business values (which drives consideration)  without communicating the “personal values” inherent in buying the product or service you’re selling.

So what is the difference? Business values are functional benefits and business outcomes. They speak to your mind,  not your heart. I know we all want to believe we’re making very logical decisions based on data. And yes, we need to check the data and make sure we’re getting the basic characteristics we are looking for. But all the research indicates that even when we are making multi-million dollar decisions, we are making them based on emotions. The emotions can be categorized into three personal values (according to CEB/Motista Survey):  professional benefits (I will look good, smart, maybe I’ll get a promotion); social benefits (everyone is doing it, this is a popular trend, I feel like I’m in the know moving in this direction) and emotional benefits (I feel confident, safe, empowered by purchasing from this organization).

It’s extra work to get to the personal value. You need to think about what your customer needs and wants, what problem she is dealing with and how your service or product helps to solve that problem. If you can translate your business values into personal values — you’ve got gold.

Categories → Best Practices, Marketing Principles, Trends & Research

Going Beyond: Three Keys to Successful Rebranding

August 13th, 2013 | Posted by Jenna Green


A great resource to our industry, the American Association of Advertising Agencies (4A’s), recently released a report of research insights on corporate branding, from The Conference Board’s “Corporate Image and Branding Conference.” We have a few clients going through the corporate rebranding process currently, a process which can be fraught with indecision, emotion, delays, conflict and more delays. Of little comfort to any client going through this process is that these are normal occurrences.

The document released by the 4A’s contained case studies of six corporate brands, of varying size and industry, that went through the corporate rebranding process for varied reasons. David Leis, of Lippincott, a global brand strategy and design consultancy, presented three interrelated components that allow brands to connect with customers:

1. Beyond Communications — More holistic delivery of the brand concept throughout the customer experience. (Don’t just say something, BE something.)

We see this with many of our clients. Consumer purchase behaviors are no longer defined by the old purchase funnel. The market is crowded, and new players emerge daily. Consumers are seeking brands that connect with them on a deeper level — brands that say something about who the consumer is and how he or she sees and defines him- or herself. Additionally, the end point of a purchase is not the holy grail of consumer behavior — brand advocacy is the new standard for customer loyalty.

2. Beyond Consistency — Brand balances authenticity with freshness. (Strive to embody both the true and the new.)

A brand must remain true to its core values, mission and vision to deliver a consistent experience to its customers, employees and other stakeholders. A brand must also engage in new and meaningful ways to provide continuing value to those stakeholders, and keep consumers engaged.  Achieving balance between these two ideals is tantamount to a brand operating in its sweet spot.

3. Beyond Customers — Focus on inspiring employee belief and enabling internal action. (Employees may be just as important a target audience for communications as customers.)

As I mentioned in a previous post, employees are such an important and also incredibly overlooked aspect of a successful brand. If your employees don’t buy it, your customers sure as heck won’t. Selling a new brand, and brand vision, to your employees must be done with as much thought and effort as the sale to the customer. Employees who buy in are empowered by the feeling of ownership and the ability to contribute to something bigger than themselves. Leis gives the example of Zappos’ hiring policies to illustrate: they only hire people who “get” the brand, which means they’re 90% of the way to representing the brand upon being hired. Some of our clients tend to overlook the importance of their employees’ role in their brand and business, which can make for a disastrous brand launch. Conversely, some clients over-involve their employees at the wrong point in the reinvention process, and have the wrong voices at the table when strategic decisions need to be made, miring and bogging down the process.

Leis illustrates that embracing these three rules is important to the bottom line: companies that implement these components have a 12-16% better year-over-year shareholder return.


Categories → Best Practices, Brand Engagement, Branding, Industry Info, Marketing Principles, Trends & Research

Communication sure has changed since 1987

July 18th, 2013 | Posted by Susan Weissman

There’s an interesting blog you might want to check out if you enjoy writing, correspondence and the like. It’s called Letters of Note and it features fascinating letters, postcards, telegrams, faxes and memos. Very untruly yours, is a letter written to Nike in 1987 by a consumer who is offended by the use of the Beatles’ song, “Revolution”, in a commercial for Michael Jordan shoes. The consumer states, “Your only motive is to make more money for your greedy selves, and in the process you seemingly could not care less that you have trampled and befouled the precious memories of millions and millions of people throughout the entire world.” Wow. This kind of advertising is part of our culture today, it’s hard to believe someone could take such a strong stand, promising to never buy Nike shoes again. It’s true, the song was used without permission and the surviving Beatles sued and won. (Today, we simply pay for the rights and leverage the songs popularity or meaning to make our communication stronger.) But that was not the issue for this consumer, he is furious with the idea that this amazing song will be sullied by it’s use in advertising and concludes his letter like this,  ”Very untruly yours. I hope you choke.” Sheesh!

Categories → Design & Culture, Marketing Principles