How small is your brand?

Often, we see the world of brands in terms of large – and derivatives of such. Numbers point to the worldwide retail locations of Apple; burgers sold in a McDonald’s; how many Subway restaurants you can see in one block.

But, big branding is also about small branding.

How often have you looked at the tiny aspects of any product – are they an extension of the brand? Or just some off-the-shelf component. Over the years I’ve been amazed at the attention to detail (and to the brand) so many companies have worked at to convey. The best example I can think of right now (there are countless more) is the Nike logo that appears on the pull-tab, on a zipper, on a my sports bag. This swoosh is maybe 8 points in size (take that metric system!). It is embossed in the plastic – therefore only visible if you look carefully and the light catches it the right way.

There are larger versions of the swoosh on the bag itself. And on this bag they are subtle – being applied as if a version of using Varnish on a print piece. That actually was one of the reasons I purchased the bag. I was not wanting a flashy item, but I did want it to be a Nike.

There are myriad brands around the world that are recognized by a shape (e.g., Coke), colours (e.g., IKEA) and design (e.g., Ferrari). But all of these cases, and many more, the true beauty is in the details that each of these companies put into their iconic artifacts. It’s something that we all could be better at – whether it be a multi-national or a personal brand. How many people put the effort into customizing their social media exposure – twitter, Facebook and LinkedIn pages, etc. Hey I’m the first to admit – I don’t do as much as I should for my own brand.

Do you?


Is advertising an option?

There is a tremendous amount of focus on social and digital media – relative to pushing a brand forward in these turbulent times. Many books have been, and will be, written about this topic – from Seth Godin to Mitch Joel. Including relative newcomers with such lofty titles for their books like Social Media is Bullshit.

It would be great if all the hurdles of marketing could be solved by applying just digital and social media (d&sm). It would be. But ultimately impossible.

There are a lot of positive stories associated with d&sm – kickstarter, warby parker and many more. But the biggest companies are still the biggest companies – Starbucks, McDonalds, Nike – you know the rest of the list. You know the list because they never stop advertising. I’m sure there are people in this world that do not know the companies I’ve listed. There has to be. Surely, somewhere – people don’t know what Nike is, or what they make.

But for the other 98.4%* of this water-based sphere – those companies are ubiquitous. And one of the main reasons – advertising. Sure they are getting busy in the d&sm space – but their world-wide presence is cemented by hard-core advertising.

It’s not just that they advertise – they Advertise. All the time.

And I think the take away on this for all is – whatever your channel of promotion – fill it all the time. The areas of d&sm are like children – and what I clearly remember the judge saying is that children need (read are legally required) to be feed.

*this stat may, or more likely may not be accurate.

Media of the most (un)social kind


It was going to be a great social marketing success. I’m pretty sure that is what most people on the team thought. Granted, I’m not with McDonalds, or the agency that put this hashtag campaign forward – but I’m guessing that it was along the same lines as introducing NEW Coke – ‘it can’t miss’.

Well – miss it did. And ultimately it has to do with being honest about who you are as a client or who you are as an agency. Period. Now, Don’t get me wrong – the interent allows people to just be Haters – cause it’s easy. That being said – the number of people that openly trash McDonalds (without a social marketing amplifier) is quite significant. Although, for all the bashing that the golden arches takes, you’d think there would be fewer line-ups in one when you go. And yes, I go, not that often – but I do go.

See there – I told the truth about going to McD’s. And what was needed was for someone to say – you know, this may not be the best use of social marketing for us (or you – depending on whom was going to be honest first – or at all).

Sometimes we as communication experts need to bite the bullet and tell our clients what the score could be. Otherwise why are we doing the work – yes, to pay the rent, win awards, etc., – but hopefully it’s because we (as a firm, consultant) will ask the hard questions. And, also, it’s important for companies to understand where on the price/quality matrix they fall – and what the general public perception could be.

What might be the lesson here is to understand how social marketing can be used in both one- and two-way communications – and to decide which will suit the client, campaign, etc.

How honest to you think you could be with a client?