There are hundreds of candidates for "world's best logo", particularly when there are hundreds of opinions about what makes a logo great. One of the frontrunners, though, would surely be the FedEx logo (left). Many marketing and design professionals (myself included) recognize that the negative-space arrow in the logo between the "E" and the "x" make it truly special (many would call it the best logo for that reason). Not only is the logo simple and recognizable on its own (which every logo should be), but it goes a step further by using design to offer supplemental meaning. In this case, a subtle arrow that represents movement and even speed - an association that surely enhances FedEx's brand message.
Global Fund for Women has also accomplished that same elusive feat with their logo (above). Do you see it? The two purple dashes help outline the letter "E" of course, but they also create the mathematical equality sign ("="), which also happens to be the primary cause of the organization (equality)! Genius!
This logo is simple and recognizable (the prerequisite for design quality), but has also introduced a subtle design element that adds a powerful, supplemental meaning. In my opinion, that makes the logo equal in stature (see what I did there?) to the FedEx logo. Well done!
LESSON FOR MARKETERS:
Your logo should be simple and recognizable. That's the minimum requirement. And many high-profile logos are just that (think Nike, Apple, Pepsi). If, however, you can take it a step further by introducing meaning that strengthens your brand message, that's what makes your logo exceptional!
What other logos are exceptional (because of the presence of supplemental meaning)? Comment below.
You should donate to the Global Fund for Women. They're doing some great things over there.
Those who know me best know that I have a bias against domestic manufacturers. There is plenty of evidence to support my belief that Hondas are worth the extra money. More on that in a future blog, I'm thinking. But in the meantime, I need to give credit where credit is due. This is a BRILLIANT idea from Ford.
Ford created a crib that rumbles and vibrates, simulating a car ride. How cool is that?! Those with children don't need to be told how helpful that would be when trying to get a baby to sleep in the middle of the night.
Sure, it's a great idea on its own. But what makes the idea especially great is that Ford apparently reads this blog (I'm sure they do, right?) and has realized that (as I have been saying for a long time) in a crowded, highly competitive market (like the automobile market), the more creative or memorable you can be, the more likely you are to create brand awareness and recall when it's needed most: when it comes time to shop for an automobile. Who knows if anyone will buy this crib. But who cares, really? This is an extremely unique idea that bings the Ford brand to the forefront. The bigger point is that no other car company thought of it before they did.
Well done Ford. (Honda, you let me down!)
LESSON FOR MARKETERS:
I can't emphasize enough the importance of doing something unique and memorable, especially in markets that are highly competitive. Make brainstorming a part of your day-to-day, and create an environment where unique, or even odd ideas are welcome.
Can you think of any other examples of companies that did something truly unique that made their brand more memorable? Let's hear it!
If you're ordinarily selling a handbag for $3,300, is the Groupon audience really your target audience? If someone can afford to pay $2,412 for this item, can they not afford to pay $3,300?
Proponents of this offer will say that an $888 discount might inspire people to make the purchase. Others may argue there are presumably very few people on Groupon looking for $2,400 handbags, and in the meantime, they are acting as a discounter, which very few high end brands aspire to be. That disconnection between their brand positioning and their promotional activity might create brand confusion among the handbag shopping audience, which ultimately may cause them to shop elsewhere.
LESSON FOR MARKETERS:
One of your most important jobs as a marketer is to figure out who your audience is, and where they make their purchase decisions. THAT'S where you advertise. Advertising elsewhere may not be a total waste, but it's certainly a less efficient use of your advertising resources.
Where do you stand? Is this a valid promotional effort that can only lead to additional sales? Or is it an offer that's not even reaching the target audience and causing brand confusion in the meantime?
Advertising builds Brand Awareness. And you always need Brand Awareness. You need it when you're starting out and want to establish yourself, you need it when you're growing and want to steal customers from the competition, and you need it when you're the market leader (as Tim Hortons clearly is) and want to solidify your spot at the top.
LESSON FOR MARKETERS
To stop advertising when you feel like you don't want or need more customers is to make yourself vulnerable to those businesses that are trying to steal the ones you have.
What do you think? Is it a waste?
Yesterday the Toronto Maple Leafs revealed their new logo for the upcoming season, which is its Centennial season. It is "inspired by" the version seen on the jerseys from the 40's through the 60's and makes multiple references to the team's history. There are 31 points on the leaf, representing the year the team moved into Maple Leaf Gardens. There are also 13 veins at the top, representing the number of Stanley Cups won (I guess we're just supposed to ignore the veins at the bottom... or assume those are reserved for future Cups, whenever they might arrive).
I can't decide how I feel about the new logo, since I believe they got part of it right and part of it wrong.
WHAT THEY GOT WRONG
It's old! They introduced it as their "new" logo, but it looks just like their old logo. Can they really call it new? A logo redesign is meant to inject vibrancy and excitement into a brand, but this logo does nothing, really, but regress to a previous version. No one will be excited or inspired. It won't lead to as many new apparel sales, since the older generation of fans probably still has an old version of the logo somewhere, and the younger generation of fans wants something flashy and cool. Some might even call this redesign... dare I say it... lazy.
WHAT THEY GOT RIGHT
Iconic, time-tested brands are not supposed to mess with their logo. It's too important, and it carries too much equity. The Gap got absolutely roasted when they deviated from their iconic mark, and some of the most established brands in the world, including Nike, Coca Cola and Ford, have recognized the importance of maintaining the design and heritage of their brand mark through the years. Toronto realized that if they came out with something that deviated too far from the brand mark that fans have come to know and love, they would do themselves a disservice. Interestingly, each of the "Original 6" NHL teams (Toronto, Boston, Chicago, New York, Detroit and Montreal) haven't really touched their logos, probably for the same reasons.
What do you think? Did they do the right thing, or miss an opportunity?
Every day in every business a customer asks for something to which the business replies "no".
There are lots of reasons why that response might be valid and appropriate, but this post is about the value of understanding which questions were answered that way that should not have been!
That retailer should be tracking how many times someone asks for a water softener. That recruiter should keep track of how many times a job candidate is presented to them from an industry outside of the ones in which they specialize. That tracking will identify trends that could lead to product and service diversification that opens up new revenue streams!
Why bother? First of all, if you start selling water softeners when otherwise you didn't, you'll make more money! Second of all, and perhaps more importantly, if the market thinks you might sell something that you don't, you should. If it's perfectly reasonable for a customer to ask for it, you should sell it. Of course, if someone asks a car dealership if they sell waffle makers, that's not reasonable and not worth considering. But if the market requests it of you and it's a reasonable request based on the brand positioning you have established, your answer should be "yes".
The biggest question is whether or not a product or service would be (reasonably) expected of you by the marketplace ("Do my customers really expect that I would sell water softeners?"). The best way to determine what is expected of you is to listen when they ask!
LESSON FOR MARKETERS
Start keeping track of what people are asking for. It matters not what YOU think you should sell to the market, it matters what the MARKET believes you should sell.
Any examples of businesses that unexpectedly answered "no" to you?
Social media costs money.
We get it.
By now we've all come to realize that social media isn't "free". There are many costs, such as staffing and advertising (which this insightful infographic demonstrates) that marketers and business owners need to consider.
What I LIKE MOST about the infographic is that it goes on to list all the BENEFITS of an investment in social media, most of which are immeasurable. They (Social Media Today) list these benefits (which were gathered via an eMarketer survey) as a way of illustrating that marketers have dismissed "low cost" as a real benefit. A valid point to make, and an important one for their purposes. But to me, the most important point of this whole infographic is the fact that there are MANY benefits of social media, most of which are immeasurable, and all with considerable impact on the success of a business. Sure, we may not be able to calculate a numeric ROI (since we can't measure the total return), but the length of this list of benefits makes it hard to justify NOT investing in social media.
IMHO, there are a few missing from the list! Notably:
LESSON FOR MARKETERS
The case for investment in social media is compelling (perhaps overwhelming). The real question is whether or not you're taking advantage of all the benefits.
Any benefits that I missed? Don't forget to also check the ones in the infographic.
Too many businesses forget that social media is.... wait for it.... SOCIAL!
Social media is (supposed to be) a collection of real conversations between real people. They just happen to take place on a screen, rather than in person. Too often, though, businesses use social media as a channel to talk about their business, their offers, their events and so on. They treat social media as another channel for promotion. In other words, they talk about themselves.
With that in mind, look back at your posts, read them in succession, and imagine that you're saying all these things, in person, to real people. How do you sound? Do you sound like that annoying guy who only talks about himself? Are you saying anything that would be interesting to real people? My guess is (based on what I see every day on social media), NO.
You need to dedicate a considerable portion of your social feeds to interesting dialogue about things that have nothing to do with your business, just like you would in a real social setting! Real life conversations include all kinds of dialogue about current events, pop culture, and...wait for it... interesting topics! Eventually, the conversation may turn professional, but if you compare your social media feeds to what you talk about in real life to real people, there are surely vast differences in tone. And there shouldn't be.
The best example of real social engagement on social media is Mashable. They talk about all kinds of interesting things that have nothing to do with them. In the illustration above, I captured three recent posts: one about a nasty sea slug, one about the Paris attacks, and one about the Biebs. None of those posts are about about Mashable, a digital media website which describes itself as a "source for news, information and resources for the Connected Generation". They started in 2005 as a site focussed on technology and new media, but they quickly realized that when it came to their social media activity, they needed to be... wait for it...you know what's coming...SOCIAL! They talk a LOT about things that are interesting, regardless of how closely they relate to their business or their offerings. Slugs have nothing to do with tech. The Paris attacks have nothing to do with the Connected Generation. They talk about these things because they are interesting, and people listen. A LOT of people (they currently have more than 6 million Twitter followers).
THE LESSON FOR MARKETERS
You want to be interesting on social media, not self-promoting. Why? Because people listen to interesting brands. And the more interesting you are, the more likely you are to be remembered when those people need to buy a product that you just happen to sell. Social media's not for inspiring a purchase. It's for engaging in dialogue that makes you memorable. It's that brand awareness that will lead, one day, to purchase consideration.
How will you know if you're doing it right? Go back to your social media feeds and pretend you're saying what's in your posts to real people in real life. Do you like what you hear?
How much of your social media activity is dedicated to interesting conversation that is unrelated to what you sell?
Jared Fogle, the ex-Subway spokesperson, did some really bad things. I'd rather not talk about what they were. Yesterday he was sentenced to 15 years in prison.
None of that deserves any of my time or attention.
I am, however, interested in whether or not this scandal changed your opinion of Subway.
They of course did the only thing they could do. They severed all ties to him when the scandal broke.
Since then, though, have you eaten at Subway less? Or the same? No one would blame you for continuing to eat there. They hired him before any of it started, and they distanced themselves from him once it did. The question is: did the scandal have any impact on your consumption of Subway products? Consciously or otherwise.
LESSON FOR MARKETERS
Your BRAND is the collection of thoughts, opinions and impressions that the consuming public has of you. It is formed through every interaction they have with you. You must be vigilant in your efforts to keep the promise you make to them, in every area of your business. We will never know the impact Fogle's scandal had on Subway's brand. The point is that your brand is your most important asset. It's precious and must be protected.
Did Subway's brand take a hit? Or are they absolved of responsibility (and therefore protected from any brand damage)?
Car and Driver wrote a very interesting article recently (via Road & Track) about the proliferation of 'crossover' vehicles in the market and specifically, crappy ones. Automakers so quickly responded to consumer demand for an enlarged station wagon that "considerations as varied as styling, performance, efficiency, and handling have been overlooked." In their opinion (and they would know) these products weren't well built, they were quickly built.
This begs the question: is it good or bad for your brand to launch a 'me too' product to capitalize on escalating demand if the product will be made too hastily and as a result, quite poorly?
Toyota is credited with starting this 'sport cute' trend with its popular RAV4 crossover. They are the real geniuses in this discussion because they identified the market need and created the first product to fulfil it. Others scrambled to keep up with the trend at the expense of product quality, which did some level of damage to their brand image. On the flip side, of course, is the brand damage that would have been done if an automaker forewent the timely introduction of a competitive product in the interest of perfecting it first.
Which is better? Launching an inferior, 'me too' product to merely keep up with competitors' offerings? Or, instead, dedicating resources to identifying the next market need and creating a product for that?
LESSON FOR MARKETERS
Think about your industry and your own product lineup. Are you in catch-up mode? Or are you in a market leadership position?
We know what the automakers ended up doing. Would you have done the same thing?
This blog is written by Glenn Cressman, Share Of Marketing's founder and Chief Share Builder (bio). It covers all things marketing. Feel free to comment!
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