Category Archives: branding

The 6 Essential Steps to an Effective Brand Plan

The Brand Plan.  

The first step in any successful branding or rebranding effort is the creation of the brand plan. The brand plan provides a roadmap for creating, marketing, launching and promoting your brand, and is relevant for both your internal and external activations.

How do you create a brand plan? It can take months of research, discovery, analysis, and creative development, but here’s a slimmed-down version to help get you started:
 

Start With a Vision
Your vision statement is aspirational. It’s about the future, not the present; it’s who you want to be as a company and where you want to be in the marketplace. It’s a goal that you will try to attain for the next three, five, or 10 years. Don’t be timid! A vision statement can be grand, bold, and optimistic. It should be an ideal worth aspiring to. This step involves research and discovery from everyone in the organization, as they’ll all be asked to contribute toward the goal.

Plan the Mission
The vision is where you want to be; the mission is how you get there. How will you achieve your goals and how will you know when you’re successful? At best, a mission statement also includes a brief version of your company’s philosophy and purpose. As Entrepreneur.com says, “Your mission statement doesn’t have to be clever or catchy – just accurate.” Spend time fine-tuning every single word, since your mission statement will be your guiding principles for the life of your vision.

It’s all right to have your head in the clouds when writing your vision and mission.

SWOT it Out   

A brand plan includes an analysis of your company’s place in the market, broken down into four parts: Strengths – including your expertise, uniqueness, resources, or anything else that gives your company an advantage. Weaknesses – issues that may be holding you back from your potential; what knowledge or capabilities are you missing? Opportunities – such as an emerging customer need that you can meet, a new technology that will change your market, or a reduction in regulations or costs. Threats – problems on the horizon such as a customer need, technology, or law that make the market worse for your company.

Strategize Tactically
You now know where you want to go, how you’ll get there, and your current and future advantages and disadvantages. Now you can create a strategy that will help you get from here to there, using your strengths to take advantage of the opportunities and avoid the obstacles. This means creating a strategy, the large-scale plan for success. Within this are tactics, the individual programs, products, and initiatives that contribute to the strategy. In war, strategy involves which battles you’re going to fight; the tactics are how you fight them. Don’t get them mixed up or you can find yourself wasting resources on a tactic or overlooking the importance of a strategy.

Bring in the Numbers
Visions and missions can be “touchy-feely,” but a brand plan should include numbers. If you’re launching a new product, how many will be in your first shipment? What are your metrics for success – sales, hires, press mentions, social media responses? What’s the minimum ROI that will allow you to move on to the next step? And what’s the budget for each of your tactics? Don’t let your enthusiasm make you neglect the most important numbers – time and money!

 

Some brand plans are measured in months; others in hours

3, 2, 1, Launch!
The plan is in place. Now it’s time to execute. Put that new budget to use and start designing, writing, creating, and activating. After so much discussion and preparation, everyone will be eager for results. Help them out with a quick win, an easily achieved goal that boosts your employees’ confidence and builds momentum for the next round. Quick wins silence doubters and give you something to point to at the first few status meetings and say, “This worked.”

Your brand plan is finished. Guided by your mission statement, you’re implementing your strategy and tactics, making your vision a reality. You’ve made some quick wins, you’re analyzing the metrics, and you’re aware of both the perils and the promise of the future. You’ve put in place a solid foundation for success.

At Brandemix, we specialize in brand planning, brand architecture, brand positioning, and branding initiatives. If you’d like to learn more, contact me. I’d love to share our knowledge with you.

Social Media Fun Facts 2013

I frequently give presentations on social media marketing, social recruiting, and Social Media Superstars. During my research, I come across all sorts of interesting facts and statistics. This week, as I prepare for a presentation with HR.com’s Quality of Hire event, I thought I’d share a few of the more surprising with you.

The most popular hashtag on Instagram is #love, followed by #instagood, #me, and #cute. (ReadWrite)

San Francisco’s AT&T Park, once the most photographed location on Instagram, is now fifth. The #1 slot is now filled by Suvarnabhumi Airport in Bangkok. #2 is in the same city – it’s Siam Paragon Shopping Mall. (Mashable)

The most retweeted tweet of all time is a photo of Barack and Michelle Obama, tweeted by the President after winning re-election. It has more than 810,000 retweets. (Twitter)

Most retweeted tweet ever - Obama's re-election

The most-followed person on Google Plus is Lady Gaga, followed by Britney Spears and Google CEO Larry Page. 69% of Google Plus users are male. (Social Statistics)

Still the champion after more than a year, Hartsfield-Jackson Airport in Atlanta is the most visited location on Foursquare, with more than one million check-ins. (Foursquare)

Justin Bieber’s video for his song “Baby” is no longer the most popular YouTube video of all time. Korean pop sensation Psy now has that honor; his “Gagnam Style” video has around 1.5 million views. (The Daily Beast)

25% of all employee profile views on LinkedIn are by co-workers. 14% of LinkedIn members have no college degree. (LinkedIn)

The most repinned image on Pinterest is a photo of “garlic cheesy bread,” repined more than 102,000 times. Twelve of the top 20 most repinned images are photos of food; none of the top 20 shows a human or animal face. (Repinly)

The most repinned image: Garlic cheesy bread

The Facebook careers page with the most “likes” is Verizon, with 165,489 followers. The Twitter careers profile with the most followers is Park Place, a group of luxury car dealerships in Dallas. @ParkPlaceCareer has 69,264 followers. (Social Recruitment Monitor)

Besides Facebook itself, the most popular brands on Facebook are YouTube, Coca-Cola, MTV, and Disney. (Fan Page List).

Want to learn more about these and other social media sites, and how Brandemix can use them to help your consumer branding or employer branding campaigns? Contact me.

 

Brandemix Bonus Reel: Authentic Employer Branding

How can a company offer an authentic employer brand even during negative publicity? Director of Interactive Branding Jason Ginsburg shows how it’s done.

How to Avoid the 3 Biggest Employer Branding Pitfalls

I travel around the country giving presentations on employer branding and building and promoting an employer value proposition. I usually highlight employer brand success stories. But as major brands like Goldman Sachs and Zynga stumble into PR crises, I thought it might be useful to help your company avoid the most common employer branding mistakes.

Don’t be inauthentic
Your employer brand embodies your employees, your culture, your vision, and your values; these are impossible to fake. So if you’re a fast-paced company with an entrepreneurial culture, don’t market yourself as a laid-back environment with unlimited vacation days.

I remember looking at the careers site for BP several months after the 2010 oil spill and being shocked to see that it looked the same as before the spill. Surely the eco-minded Generation Y or Gulf Coast residents affected by the disaster might hesitate joining the company afterwards? But there was only one acknowledgement of the situation – a tiny text link on the sidebar that asked “Why is it a good time to join BP?” Why indeed?

BP Careers, November 2010
Don’t get lost in the crowd
The are dozens of salty snacks on the market, so how does Doritos stand out? By having an attitude: Coming in crazy flavors with cool names and bright packaging. In the same way, your employer brand has to be distinctive. Avoid bland themes like “Grow your career with us” or “We offer work-life balance.” Almost any job can become a career and almost every job lets its employees go home at night.


Don’t get stuck in the facts
So many careers websites begin with, “Company X was founded in 1950 and now operates out of 75 offices in 12 countries.” Does that year mean the company is old-fashioned? Do those 12 countries mean employees get to see the world? Do the 75 offices mean employees can be transferred against their will?

Stand-alone facts like those can be both boring and confusing, a deadly combination for anyone looking to top motivate talent. Remember, you’re trying to create an emotional connection, so facts and numbers can only get you so far. Instead, talk about how your company helps people’s lives. Let employees share their stories. Show your workplace. Highlight employee events, rewards, volunteer work. Never be boring.

Be authentic and differentiated, and add an interesting and emotional component to your recruitment messaging.  If you can’t always leave them laughing, at least leave them hungry to learn more.

Let me know If you’d like to learn more  on LinkedIn, on Twitter, or right here in the comments.

Thanks to My Curators and Creators – From Yourr #1 LinkedIn Voyeur

Last summer, Pew Internet Research reported that 46% of adult internet users were Creators; that is, they have shared photos and videos that they’ve created. 41% are Curators; they’ve reposted, retweeted or repackaged information that they’ve found
online. 32% are Creators/Curators.

I presume it also implies that 54% are Internet Voyeurs — neither posters nor creators. And while I don’t fall into that category (I’m in the 32% batch), I have been getting a tremendous amount of inspiration from my LinkedIn network of generous professional friends, many of whom I’ve never actually met or spoken with.

Today I want to thank:

Kate Billing
We’ve never met but share a passion for branding and bagels. Your updates  about leadership, happiness, and inspiration are always uplifting and I’m sure you are too. Also loved this great video about putting purpose into marketing (imagine that?).  I promise to get together on my next trip to New Zealand.

Debbie Laskey
According to my inbox, we’re actually celebrating a 2-year anniversary of connecting.  Your updates are tailor-made for me. From the hottest trends in digital marketing to matching a consumer brand with a consumer experience, I’m always clicking, reading, and agreeing. Please keep it up.

And thanks to Michelle Sybert for this image!

And thanks to Michelle Sybert for this image!

Davar Azarbeygui
You made my morning with your share of TBWA Transforms Briefs into Art, from Branding Magazine. Inspiration is everywhere and today you brought me mine.

Pat Wadors
Finally, someone I actually know. Making the Most of Your “Aha!” Moment” was a fun read. I can only hope I have more of them because those gamma activities are the foundation of Brandemix’s creative currency.

A friend recently wrote that thinking doesn’t start when you arrive at the office and end when you go home. It starts when you wake up and continues when you read the news, when you look around, when you read books and blogs. It doesn’t even stop when you go to bed. You dream your job. That’s how you become great.
 
So thanks for all my #1LinkedIn connections for helping me be great every day.

Why Bridgepoint Education Careers is a Social Media Superstar

I recently discovered Bridgepoint Education’s clever use of Twitter and Pinterest to hire for its campuses and offices in San Diego, Denver, and Clinton, Iowa. I then had the chance to speak with Christina Hastings, Director of Talent Acquisition and Development, about her philosophy, her strategy, and her success.

Christina runs a personal Twitter, @aRecruitersPOV, as well as @BPEdCareers. Like many organizations, however, social media is no single worker’s full-time job. An associate, KelliAnn Holly, contributes to the Bridgepoint accounts.

On Twitter, Christina and KelliAnn create themes for each month: January’s was #NewYearNewYou. February’s was #WhatDoYouLove. March’s is #GiveBack, which emphasizes charity and volunteering. The duo also came up with themes for each day of the week:

Monday – #HotJobs
Tuesday – #JobAdvice, tips for resumes, interviewing, and the job search)
Wednesday – #Development, as in “How do you become a better you?”
Thursday – Throwback Thursday, as in “What was your recruiter’s first job?
Friday – What to do around town, highlighting shops and restaurants near Bridgepoint’s locations in San Diego, Denver, and Iowa.

aRecruitersPOV on Twitter

“It’s important to speak on behalf of the brand and as a member of the brand,” she told me. She believes in “profersonalism,” a combination of individual personality and corporate culture that conveys a personal yet professional message. “People would rather connect with a person than a company,” Christina said.

Christina has three expectations for anyone contributing to her department’s social media: Be yourself, support the brand, and drive everything back to the brand.

Bridgepoint’s TAD department is responsible not only for hiring, but also developing, training, and engaging employees. Christina uses the hashtag #TADculture to give an inside look at the employee experience. Her goal is to tweet three to five times a day, with at least one photo. When she and KelliAnn recently ran out of images, they spent their lunch break roaming their San Diego office, taking photos.

For inspiration, Christina looks to @FordCareers and @GenMillsCareers, who communicate their culture “without being one giant billboard.”

Christina and KelliAnn also manage Bridgepoint Education Careers’ 11 boards and more than 400 images on Pinterest. “We visually showcase what the culture looks like on the inside,” she told me. “It lets candidates peek behind the curtain. If someone’s cousin says, ‘this company looks cool and my cousin should work there,’ then we did our job.”

One board features photos of the Bridgepoint recruiters, complete with Twitter handles (and the #TADculture hashtag for good measure). Another is devoted to inspirational quotes. Christina is planning “Behind the Bridge,” a board that will serve as a tour of Bridgepoint’s San Diego workplace. “We’ll show you where you’ll park on your first day, and pin photos of our gym – and even the best time to use it!”

Bridgepoint Education Careers on Pinterest

Christina says she models her efforts after the Pinterest boards of Intuit Careers, Target Careers, and a Brandemix Social Media Superstar, Taco Bell Careers.

She plans to expand to YouTube, but is waiting for a bigger content library. “If we can’t produce videos on a consistent basis, is it worth it to be on YouTube? I want to have 20 videos before I feel like I can create a YouTube channel.”

Social media recruiting efforts can be difficult to measure, but Christina says she increased social hires from 4% to 7% of all hires last year. Most companies peak at 10%, but Christina would like to eventually reach 20%. With goals that bold, it’s obvious why Bridgepoint Education Careers, and Christina Hastings, are Social Media Recruiting Superstars.

Video

Video: Are You Ready to Rebrand?

Brandemix Bonus Reel: Rebranding from Jody Ordioni on Vimeo.

The Most Popular Blog Posts of 2012

As the year comes to a close, I’m looking back at this year’s most popular blog posts. The topics range from examples of the best social media to some of the worst, and from internal branding to external. In case you missed them, here are the BrandeBlog’s five most-read posts of 2012.

Employer Branding Numbers Everyone Should Know
2012 brought us a number of recruiting studies that turned conventional wisdom upside-down. How many employers said they had an employer branding strategy? How many employees leave a company for reasons other than money? How many companies plan to increase their investment in employer branding? The answers may surprise you.

Social Media PR Disasters: #McDStories
Sometimes you can learn more from a failure than a success. That was certainly true of our story on McDonald’s Twitter debacle, in which an innocent hashtag was taken over by critics and pranksters in a matter of hours. See how McDonald’s reacted and learn what to do (and not to do) when your brand encounters a similar social media crisis.

What’s Foursquare Really For?
The best social sites have stated goals: Facebook is for friends, LinkedIn is for business, Instagram is for photos. But what about Foursquare? Is it for sharing local finds with your friends? Posting reviews for strangers? Competing for discounts with other customers? Discover Foursquare founder Dennis Crowley’s answers to these and other tough questions in this post.

Social Media Marketing Simplified
Ever come out of a social media planning session with your head spinning? New forms of marketing have created new buzzwords like optimize, reciprocity, and engagement. But you don’t have to learn all the jargon to have a successful social media campaign; you only need to answer three basic questions.

Why State Farm is a Social Media Superstar
The most popular post of the year was an exploration of State Farm’s social media recruiting. The insurance company has a dedicated Facebook Page and answers questions and comments within 24 hours. The State Farm careers site features videos testimonials from interns, a rarely seen part of a company’s workforce. Finally, State Farm’s interactive website takes online recruiting to a whole other level. See how your brand can attain “Superstar” status here.

What do these posts’ popularity tell us? That there a lot of people with an interest in – and a need for – social media trends, marketing, and branding. As it so happens, they are also specialties of ours!

Put Brandemix on your to-do list for 2013; we want to be popular, too.

Four Steps to a Successful Rebranding

You’ve read my blog post “Four Signs You’re Ready to Rebrand” and realized it’s time for a rebranding. Now what?

It’s important to have a well-executed, well-timed strategy that generates the most buzz from all audiences – both internally externally. A bad launch can undo much of the hard work you put into the rebranding itself.

Here are four steps to ensure your rebranding is successful.

1. Announce the Change
Every one of your channels and materials should announce the new name, logo, focus, or services. That includes your website, your email signatures, your newsletter, and your blog. Make it clear that your operations won’t be interrupted and that current customers have nothing to worry about. Give a link or email address where customers can ask questions.

I also recommend a press release distributed through PR Newswire or free services like Online PR News and Newswire Today. Here you can go into more detail about the how and why of the rebranding. Accentuate the positive and promise there will be no problems with customer service or product offerings. Include quotes from your CEO. And press releases are great for SEO – especially if you’re changing or adding keywords to your brand.

2. Change Your Social Media
If you’re rebranding is just in the form of a new logo and tagline, it’s pretty easy to change your social channels’ profile pictures, icons, and “About Us” copy. But if you changed your name or even your focus, get ready for more of an overhaul.

You can change your Twitter name at anytime, but your Facebook Page URL can only be changed if you have less than 100 likes. You can request a change from Facebook directly or simply create a new Page, encouraging your fans to follow you there. Then taper off your posting on the original Page.

As for YouTube, don’t worry about uploading all your videos to a new account. Though you can’t change your username, you can create a vanity URL that directs viewers to your original YouTube channel. Personal Pinterest usernames and Google+ names can be changed with only a few clicks. The hardest site to alter your name? LinkedIn, which requires a special email request.

A great example of a blog post explaining a company's rebranding

A great example of a blog post explaining a company’s rebranding

3. Make Corrections in the Field
Personally inform any blogs or publications that have covered you or listed you of the rebranding.

Then do a search for your brand. If you see it mentioned in a blog or message board, write a comment that notifies readers of the rebranding. It can be as simple as “Kentucky Fried Chicken is now KFC.” Informative without being too promotional.

In fact, you can even enlist your employees. We once worked with a major financial client that held a contest, giving a prize to any worker who found an example of its old logo anywhere on its websites.

4. Do a Final Sweep
Make sure your partners, clients, and vendors are aware of the change and have your new branding on all their materials. Shut down or redirect any legacy sites or links that may confuse your customers. Make sure your Google AdWords or Facebook Ads accounts have your new keywords. Search several pages deep into search engines to see if there’s any website you missed.

Of course, there’s always a small chance that the public won’t respond to your new branding. Look at what happened when the Gap changed its logo. The same thing is happening to JCPenney – but the Gap had the sense and humility to switch back  

As our name implies, Brandemix specializes in branding, rebranding, and employer branding. If the process seems overwhelming, or you’re ready for a major change, I’d love to help