Car porn (but this time with a plot)

So BMW did it over 10 years ago with The Hire but who cares. Here’s another gorgeous piece of car porn from Jaguar directed by Ridley Scott Associates which showcases the new Jaguar F-TYPE in all its glory.

15 minutes of brand entertainment at its best.

The true value of strategic leadership

Here’s a useful reminder by McKinsey of the value strategic leaders can bring to a company. Whilst the article is geared more towards business leaders/CEOs there are a lot of similarities for account planners. Providing leadership and direction, representing the voice of reason, seeing strategy through to execution, constant reassessment and invention…these are all key attributes or skills which planners need to emulate in order to add value and provide strategic leadership.

Facebook: Going back in timeline

Facebook Timelines is opening up a range of new and exciting opportunities for brands to express themselves and engage with their fans. One aspect I particularly like is the timeline itself where brands can retrospectively publish posts to mark important milestones in their history. It’s a great way to showcase a brand’s heritage as well as reflect on its remarkable journey to the present day.  But it also acts as a virtual time capsule from a bygone era and can be strangely engaging in its own right, particularly for those who are passionate about your brand and its distant past.

But perhaps most important of all is that it creates the perfect environment for storytelling and rekindling some of those brand mythologies which make up its DNA. So here are some of the best examples I’ve seen to date but feel free to add to the list in the comments below.

Louis Vuitton

Louis Vuitton has been around since 1856 so they have a rich history of interesting stories to draw from to add context to their brand, from the time they opened their first workshop in Paris to some of their first innovative designs which have helped to define the luxury luggage category.

New York Time

The New York Times will have a huge back catalogue of worthy newstories to choose from so I imagine it was quite a job to distill the best ones.  They appear to have documented the history of the paper mixed in with events of the time so you can read about when Marilyn Monroe paid a visit to their newsroom to when the very first crossword puzzle was published.  What I like about this timeline is that they’ve actually tried to humanise the brand rather than simply provide an archive of all their achievements.

Ford

Once again, Ford pave the way in social media to show how automotive brands can use Facebook Timeline. They’ve made the most of their long history and backfilled their timeline with important milestones and achievement in automotive history, dating back to their inception at the start of the last century.

Coca-cola

Coca-cola was founded way back in 1886 so they’ve charted their history by showing how the soft drink seemlessly fitted into the daily lives of American society at any given point of time, whether that’s couples who met over a glass of Coke during World War II or drinking Coke whilst watching the first man go to the moon.

Burberry

Like Louis Vuitton, Burberry has been around since  1856 and have a rich history of stories to recount from opening their first store in Basingstoke to intrepid pilots from 1919 wearing Burberry Aviator suits for their first transatlantic flight.

Manchester United

I’m not really a football fan and if I was I doubt I’d support Man U! But supposing I was fanatical about this team I’m sure I’d enjoy dipping into their Facebook timeline to see my childhood heroes lifting the FA Cup. 

Coldplay

And finally, for all those Coldplay groupies out there you can look back at their meteoric rise from rather more humble beginnings!

#clienttweaks

I read this hilarious post on Asbury and Asbury’s blog today which outlines some fictitious client tweaks to the 20 best loved slogans of our time, as documented in Creative Review.  This list was generated on twitter via the hashtage #clienttweaks.  It’s a perfect illustration of how seemingly inocuous feedback, however well intentioned, can totally undermine the impact of the original strapline.  Brilliant.

1. Beanz Meanz Heinz
Nice – just a couple of typos:
Beans Mean Heinz

2. Just Do It
Love the sentiment, but it’s a bit abrupt – can we make it more of an invitation?
Feel Free To Do It

3. Does Exactly What It Says On The Tin
Not all our products are in tins, and we need to emphasise how we add value:
Does Exactly What It Says On The Packaging – And More

4. Make Love Not War
Can we cover ourselves by adding in a message about safe sex? Something like:
Use A Condom, Not A Cannon
(Needs work)

5. Every Little Helps
Sounds small-time – please amend to:
Every Massive Saving Helps

6. Have A Break. Have A Kit Kat.
Let’s not confine ourselves to breaks – we need to occupy the entire snack territory:
Have A Kit Kat Any Time, Anywhere.

7. Vorsprung Durch Technik
Love it – this will be ideal for our German market.
Please let us know the English version.

8. Think Different
Pretty sure this should be an adverb:
Think Differently

9. It is. Are you?
Definitely use this, but need to tweak it as we’re not independently owned any more:
It is, in spirit. Are you?

10. It’s Finger Lickin’ Good
Nice – just missing the ‘g’:
It’s Finger Licking Good

11. Say It With Flowers
Too generic – need to own it:
Say It With Our Flowers

12. Keep Calm And Carry On
Please change to:
Keep Calm Going Forward

13. It’s The Real Thing
Please change to:
It’s The Genuine Article

14. You Either Love It Or Hate It
Love the opening – rest seems a bit negative. Please change to:
You’ll Love It!

15. Because I’m Worth It
Love this. Any suggestions for making it more exploitative would be great.

16. Snap! Crackle! Pop!
Nice three-part structure, but can we get more selling points into it? Something like:
Taste! Nutrients! Value!
… not quite the same ring to it yet, but I’m not the writer.

17. Never Knowingly Undersold
Love the simplicity, but legal have asked if we can tone down the ‘never’:
Infrequently Knowingly Undersold

18. Liberté, Egalité, Fraternité
Très bien. Fraternité est un petit peu sexiste, n’est-ce pas? Tant mieux!

19. Refreshes The Parts Other Beers Cannot Reach
Like it, but the url and Twitter handle will be a problem. Can we go with:
Refresh Yo’ Head

20. No One Likes Us, We Don’t Care
Really brave. Can we try flipping it round to emphasise the positive? Something like:
Everyone Likes Us, Because We Care

Otherwise, all good to go.

Amplifying Random Acts of Kindness

CRM has been using Random Acts of Kindness (RAOK) for years to help build brand affinity, loyalty and advocacy. But traditionally it’s always been delivered on a one-to-one level either to reward the most valuable customers or to prevent attrition from high risk defectors.  The best outcome in those days was that the recipient would remain loyal and sing the brand’s praises with a few mates down the pub!  But now that we live in a more connected society there are infinitely more opportunities for these Random Acts of Kindness to reach a far wider audience. Nowadays you can cherry pick a few unsuspecting customers, offer some form of surprise and delight, document it and then amplify this by publishing or seeding this content in various social media platforms.  The net effect is that a mass audience can see that you care about your customers and that the brand has a human side which can only do wonders to your brand equity.

The best example of this I can think of is Coke with their Happiness Vending Machine (see below) but if you want more inspiration then you must read this latest Trendwatching briefing. Not only does it highlight the growing importance of this trend but it also provides some useful and imaginative examples of how different brands have tried to apply it.

Turning the mundane into a positive brand experience

When it comes to website design we can get so preoccupied with website strategy, usability, IA, wire frames, copy and design that we sometimes forget to challenge some of the more functional, hygiene aspects of website development. However, with a little bit of effort one can turn the mundane into innovative brand experiences.

Pre-loaders

Everyone hates waiting for a website to load and yet many websites still default to a standard pre-loader.  Considering slow site speed is one of the biggest factors affecting bounce rates it’s probably money well spent investing in an engaging pre-loader to keep them entertained while they wait.

If you need some inspiration, there’s a fantastic site called Pretty Loaded which is dedicated to the wild and wonderful art of pre-loaders. I should warn you now it’s strangely hypnotic and addictive!

404 Not Found

When you think about it, the standard ‘404 Not Found’ message is such an anachronism – it’s not only out of sync with the rest of your carefully crafted, consumer friendly website but it also looks like it’s been written by some random technogeek. I came across this great list by Mashable recently which gives loads of examples of how some brands have tried to add their own personal twist to the standard 404 message. This one below happens to be one of my favourites:

Error prompts

Just because someone types in the incorrect email address doesn’t mean you have to chastise them for inputting incorrect data!  Why not inject your brand personality into the copy to turn their mistake into a slightly more positive experience?

Registration forms

Everyone hates filling in forms so it really makes sense to make it as inviting and effortless as possible.  When Unilever asked  TMW to drive handraiser traffic to their Lynx Lounge login area we decided to ‘sex up’ the registration form by including a rather attractive virtual assistant.  When you enter your details you’ll find the virtual assistant delivers a personalised response which was a nice touch I thought.

CAPTCHA advertising

Even if you’re not familiar with the phrase Captcha you would have come across it by now. It’s an acronym for “Completely Automated Public Turing test to tell Computers and Humans Apart”  ie it invites the user to submit a code to determine whether they are human or a bot. But who would think to turn a Captcha into an ad? Solve Media, for one. The company have worked with the likes of Toyota, Microsoft and Dr. Pepper to create an ad message out of the text. For Dr Pepper, for instance, instead of typing in the usual gobbledegook, users were prompted to type in “There’s nothing like a Pepper”. 

Search box

So you want to help people find stuff quickly on your site?  Well, you can do the easy thing and plonk a standard search box in the top right hand corner of the website.  Or you can tinker with it a bit to add a bit of charm which might present the brand in a more favourable light.  



Tag clouds

I’m seeing more and more fancy tag clouds these days – it’s almost becoming an art form in itself. There are some rather cool 3D animated tag clouds like the example below or if you understand jQuery (which i don’t!)  there’s a plug in you can use here. Or why not follow the example of Nowness and give your audience a selection of interactive ways to navigate tagged content?

Navigation bar

The navbar has obviously been around for years and is a vital way of signposting content on the site.  But for that very reason it’s easy to opt for the status quo and use a standard format. However by changing the aesthetics or functionality of the navbar can help to convey the brand personality as well as enhance general usability of the site.   

Domain name

Now I’m not suggesting you ditch your existing domain name starting from tomorrow but there are times when it pays to come up with something more inventive. I love the way Converse have done it where every page is literally hosted on a different domain. My particular favourite is this one http://www.icantbelievethisdomainwasntalreadytaken.com/

Summary

It’s all too easy to overlook these hygiene factors and either take them for granted or neglect them due to other priorities, especially when we’re all working at 100 miles an hour or to tight budgets. But as the above examples hopefully demonstrate, it’s possible to deliver a very positive brand experience from even the most mundane aspects of website design. I’m sure there are other examples I’ve missed so feel free to add them to the mix below.

Brand strategy terminology explained in plain English

Do you ever get your Brand Essence mixed up with your Brand Promise? Or maybe confuse your Brand’s Positioning Statement with its Brand Value Proposition?

Me neither!

But I have to say I thought this explanation on the Branding Blog articulates the subtle nuances of each term very well. Worth reading even if you just want a simple refresher 😉