Yearly Archives: 2014

Brand Fever Walks the Employer Brand Talk & Wins Top 10 Best Places to Work

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On Friday, September 12th, Brand Fever piled into a crowded World Congress Center to see where we ranked as “Atlanta’s Best Places to Work,” a prestigious accolade bestowed by the Atlanta Business Chronicle.

Over plates of scrambled eggs and hash browns, the count down from 60th—to—6th place was intense and exhilarating. Landing in the top 10 of  “Atlanta’s Best Places to Work” was an incredible honor!

Interestingly, there is irony in this big win—more and more clients are coming to Brand Fever to define and articulate their employer brand story. According to Gallup, “an unengaged employee costs $3,400 for every $10,000” in salary? It’s a problem that our team has been solving for mid-market companies over the last two years. We have always believed that any rebrand is incomplete without full employee engagement. Recently, a prospective client looking for a new employee value proposition said, “We want our company to look like yours—it’s really clear you walk the talk.”

In celebration of our award and sharing creative ideas, we wanted to share a behind-the-scenes look at Brand Fever and what makes our organization such a great place to work:

  • A warm welcome. You will always be greeted by a welcome sign at our red front door.
  • Gifts. We love attending meetings with a red gift bag full of Brand Feverized fun; our favorites—red hots and fireballs.
  • Caffeine. Fresh ground coffee or espresso—always on.
  • Celebrations. It’s normal to find an explosion of red décor above your desk for awesomeness, birthdays or if you just need a lift.
  • Tuesday account reviews. Where we dive into each project and make sure it is being handled with excellence.
  • Community service. Roll up your sleeves and dig gardens for City of Refuge.
  • Beer and pizza. A must for project brainstorms. Or because it’s Friday.
  • Sharing intelligence. Weekly team critiques, Lynda.com, Harvard Business Reviews, Monday morning trivia.
  • Team extraordinaire. A diverse group of cross-generational creative thinkers from all backgrounds and talent.
  • Voxer. How we talk to each other so we don’t text and drive.
  • Openness to new ideas. You will never hear “no”, or “I am too busy” or “we don’t do it that way here”.
  • Client centric thinking. Every day.
  • Catalytic coaching. Our process to help you grow personally and professionally.
  • Yammer. Where we post everything from ice bucket challenges to client requests that need team input to marketing industry news
  • Red Hots. Our peer-to-peer ‘above and beyond’ award.
  • Education. Continual investment in out staff with seminars and webinars.

Hot Minute #36: Web Components: The Future of Web Development

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HTML has a problem. If you’ve ever looked at the source code of a website, you’ve likely seen it – a spaghetti-like mess of <div>, <p>, <span>, and whatever other tags the developer chose to use. And don’t even bother looking at a JavaScript file if you’re not a developer. This type of code gets the job done and creates beautiful, fast, responsive websites. But it’s lacking two essential attributes – readability and modularity.

Readability is, well, exactly what it sounds like. That soup of div tags and variables and functions might be like a second language to the developer who made the site, but to another developer brought onto the project, there may be a high learning curve, especially if unorthodox development procedures were followed. And to the average person, it’s unintelligible.

Modularity is the ability to mix and match and reuse certain components. For example, if one developer makes a really great slideshow plugin, another developer might want to borrow that code and use it on another site. As it stands, this is totally possible, but is less than elegant. For a typical plugin such as an image slider, a number of dependencies, such as JavaScript files, CSS files, and often backend files have to be brought over and integrated into the new site, which may be built on a totally different framework, making conflicts very likely. There are dependency management solutions available, but many require command line interfacing, which often scares away even advanced developers.

Web components to the rescue. This growing new technology aims to make the web totally readable and modular. It does this with a few very clever tricks that have the potential to cause a sea change in the development world.

The first is custom HTML elements. Let’s go back to our image slider example. With current development standards, you would likely encapsulate the whole thing in a <div> tag, then assign it a class or ID, like “image-slider”. This works fine, and allows you to target the element with CSS and JavaScript easily. But what if we could make this more intuitive? What if instead of a <div>, there was a tag called <image-slider>? Well, that’s exactly what web components does.

With web components, developers have the option to name their HTML elements whatever they like, whether they are totally custom names or names that come along with a web components library like Google’s new Polymer. So now, instead of messing with divs and CSS classes and tons of dependencies, a developer has the ability to pick out a module they like, install it on their web server, then use it by simply writing its custom HTML.

This gets into the modularity aspect of web components. When a developer installs a new web component and calls it on the frontend of the website, the component always maintains its original integrity, regardless of what other code might be present on the site. The goal of this is to eliminate conflicts between advanced modules. By separately encapsulating each one and protecting it from rogue CSS and JavaScript already on the site, we ensure that the module always looks and works exactly as it was originally intended.

I’m not a developer, I don’t even know what HTML is! How does this affect me?

Faster, more stable websites. Quicker development times. Responsiveness across all platforms and devices. By standardizing and modularizing the web, we are eliminating much of the JavaScript spaghetti code that is so prevalent in slowing down websites and causing code conflicts. These new modular elements will allow the best developers in the world to come together and make their components available to everyone, making the web a happier place for both developers and end users.

This is a technology that is still in its infancy. As it stands, browser support for web components is limited to the latest version of Google Chrome only. However, some of the best developers in the world from companies like Google and Mozilla have been working hard to push this technology forward while also making it more backwards compatible, ensuring that web components have a very bright, very modular future.

Hot Minute #35: Designing for Immersive Experience

We live in image-obsessed times. With photo-driven apps and websites in high demand, it’s no wonder that brands want to take their story to the next level. “Immersive experience” is a buzzword that has been thrown around lately to describe the envelopment of consumers in a brand by creating an experience that completely absorbs their attention (In other words, sucking them in). Usually engaging multiple senses, companies have begun using various platforms – from film and interactive media to live audience engagements – to connect with consumers in this experiential way.

The internet is now full of websites with sleek pages containing videos and animations paired with audio bits that draw their visitors in instantly. One great example of this is www.life-saver.org.uk where Unit 9, a UK-based agency, takes their viewers on an interactive film tour through how to save a life via CPR. This interactive approach created awareness and action that a less immersive website design may have achieved.

As human beings with a desire for experiences that delight, immersive design has the potential to connect with consumers in a way that previous, less accessible design hasn’t. Why have a static website with an “about page” when you can have your brand story unfold as a user clicks or scrolls through your site?

With the recent advancements in HTML 5, more and more brands can create captivating experiences through enhanced interactivity and graphical immersion, leaving their consumers with a real emotional response to their brand. When the focus shifts on the totality of their consumer’s experience, brands have the capability to create a journey that drives people to want to stay on their site and has the potential to make their company more accessible, trustworthy, and (hopefully) loved.

Hot Minute #34: Micro UX – The Future of Digital Design in Advertising

I sweat the small stuff. Despite what prevailing new-agey ethos says, the small stuff can make or break a digital experience and greatly enhance or diminish – what the user sees as – your product.

Micro UX takes that into account, examining and enhancing the smallest building blocks of interactivity and assuring ease of use and aesthetic appeal at every turn. When programs are adapted to better suit typical user activity, this “microinteraction” gives the program an advantage over other similar programs, which may not ostensibly have the same features.

Take, for instance, the once very real rivalry between Facebook and MySpace. Facebook tackled refresh rate on their platform right out of the gate ensuring users got the latest most relevant content whenever they were on the site; MySpace didn’t. And you know who won that battle. Basically, savvy digital content purveyors are putting their money on micointeractions, and have been for the past decade. And your experience is that much better for it.

Micro Interactions – What Drives Micro UX?

A “microinteraction” is a brief exchange with a singular purpose. Whether it’s a little sound effect, the quick process of logging into a website, the ability to give feedback through a single click, or one of a million other little details, a well-designed microinteraction can connect you to a website. By focusing on Micro UX and these increasingly important “microinteractions,” designers and developers are making their creations more and more interactive and inherently more effective.

Don’t be Afraid of Beta – Let the User Guide Your Design

We love beta, and users love beta too. A soft launch is a perfect way to bring customer feedback into the design process and test ideas. Letting users interact with the raw version of an advertisement or website can make a good digital piece great: and effectively real-time qualitative research with clearly defined actionable results.

The Future of Micro UX

When you’re talking digital design and development, it really is all about the little things. We love the little things, and most designers understand there’s power in small design and development. It’s our job as digital marketers to anticipate trends in Micro UX, and support enthusiasm for detail-oriented web development. Mark my words: Micro UX will become a dominant process in any build over the next couple of years, so think little if you want to get those big results.

Hot Minute #33: The World Is Watching: Brands Making Moves Ahead of the World Cup Kickoff

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The World Cup. The beautiful game. ESPN said it best: today, we all live in one time zone.

Whether viewed in a backyard or a bodega, the world will be watching, waiting, and anticipating what stunts their favorite brands will bring out next.

To marketers and creative teams, this is an enormous opportunity to engage both globally and locally. Ads that are broadcast during the event are often years in the making, developed shortly after the host country is announced by FIFA.

No matter your hometown or preferred jersey colors, the World Cup exists to unite and engage fans the world over in the spirit of camaraderie and renewed global optimism.

Here are a few brands that are making moves today:

Beats by Dre, Activia, Coca-Cola, and ESPN are a few brands sharing their World Cup anthems via social media. With stunning cinematography and local musical talent, these anthems are a reminder that music will always serve as a powerful lingua franca.

Coca-Cola, one of the world’s largest creative giants when it comes to shared experiences, has built a Photomosaic flag designed to broadcast 223,206 “selfies” on the Sao Paolo kickoff field today. The story behind the flag is an interesting one: working side by side with Speto, a Brazilian street artist, and Tec, an Argentinian creative, the company sent off a collaborative painting to be digitized for the special canvas. Hear James Sommerville, VP of Global Design, explain the creative concepts and build-out behind the “Happiness Flag”.

Nike has jumped leaps and bounds ahead with its video content, created in partnership with ad agency Wieden+Kennedy, by producing this 5-minute animated piece as part of its “Risk Everything” campaign. An in-game meets fantasy football style video, Nike is letting imaginations run wild — quite literally.

Of course, with all the branded campaigns surrounding the beautiful game, there will be some confusion.

Flip-flop brand Havianas, popular with beach-going brand lovers, has gotten into some hot water for producing these Brazilian flip flops without FIFA approval.

Either way, fans are eating it up and enjoying the show. For more on tropical vacation getaways, click here.

Hot Minute #32: Is a Lack of Reciprocity Costing You Business?

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It’s one thing to broadcast, but another to listen. Broadcasting never was the point of social media, after all.

If you want to be a rare brand — a really rare brand that people regard with high honor or view as a friend — then reciprocity is key.

Humans reciprocate all the time. If brands are serious about being (not just acting) authentically human, then reciprocation is part and parcel with brand DNA.

Reciprocation means:

– Liking a fan’s Instagram photo from the weekend
– Following someone who admires you on Facebook
– Admiring someone YOU (you, as in you, representing a brand) admire on Facebook
– Doing small favors, like sending a few samples or covetable freebies
– Going out of your way to call someone after a purchase, to simply ask, “So, how is it working so far?”

Short bursts of delight add up to big brand impressions.

Nine out of ten times, we’re surprised that a brand would go the extra mile to seek *us* out, or to show interest in our lives. It makes us feel good, and we support people that support us back.

Today, what can you do to return the favor?

Hot Minute #31: Your Brand’s Messaging Lives Where Your Audience Does

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A short list of places where your brand’s messaging can live at any given time:

  • On your website’s landing page
  • In a Tweet to a happy customer
  • On a sign in your storefront
  • On a shopping bag
  • On a product package
  • On a tradeshow display booth
  • In a 30-second TV spot
  • On rubber wristbands
  • In your email signature
  • On bumper stickers
  • On pins that your employees wear
  • On posters inside your break room
  • On mugs you send as holiday gifts
  • In a hand written letter you send to an investor
  • On an Instagram photo caption
  • On a shipping container
  • On a car or van wrap
  • On a napkin
  • On a restaurant menu
  • On paper letterhead
  • On a magnetic bumper sticker
  • On a canvas tote bag that encourages recycling
  • On a drink label
  • On a YouTube ad
  • On a new team member’s business card
  • On a coffee cup sleeve
  • On the side of a bus
  • On the inside label of a pair of jeans
  • On a video bumper
  • In a full page ad
  • On a shoebox

The Theory of Effective Frequency states that a viewer must be exposed *X number of times to an advertising message before responding to it, and before exposure becomes wasteful.

Align your brand’s content with your audience’s context, however, and the message becomes clear the first time.

*Frequency varies.

Hot Minute #30: 3 BIG Brand Benefits to New Twitter

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Exactly one month ago, Twitter announced that they would be rolling out “new Twitter” to a select group of users like Michelle Obama, the Australian Football League, and Floyd Mayweather. Since then, Twitter has opened up its new features to most users who opt in to the new design, as well as brands who have already begun experimenting with the new features.

Here are three BIG brand benefits to the new web interface:

(1) Put a pin on it.

Marketers and social managers are thrilled to see the new “pin” function take effect, a move away from what’s been seen on Facebook, where brands are experiencing dramatic, frustrating cuts in visibility to audience news feeds. Like LinkedIn’s Company Pages, brands can now “pin” Tweets to their pages, giving social marketers control over their most notable content. Users have already begun sighting the benefits, like emergency situations, safety recalls, and customer service announcements, circumventing the need to go through additional search steps via a website or search engine.

(2) Brand fans always get what they want.

Although brands will have more control over what gets seen and when, users will also have the ability to choose which content they want to see, in the form of written Tweets or visual Tweets like Instagram photos and Vine videos. The filtering system changes how audiences choose to interact and engage with content, so a strategy around subtle differences in voice and tone will be necessary.

(3) Meet your new billboard — the header image.

Chobani, Xbox, Windows, Ford and McDonalds are already grasping the importance of shareable, likable, and “favorite”-able visual content. Some, like Xbox, are using the space as an advertising hub, switching up the header image to communicate new game releases.

To stand out on new Twitter, brand will need to develop a new visual identity that communicates short messages with on-brand characteristics. Preference is given to brands who keep their social profiles “fresh”, swapping out header images, icons, and ways of engaging.

Your cheat sheet on New Twitter’s dimensions:

  • Header photo: 1500px (width) and 500px (height)
  • Invisible area testing template click

While the new rollout has already begun, Twitter says that there will be no changes to mobile — for the time being — even though 75% of Twitter users interact with the social network on mobile devices. However, keep an eye out for updates on Twitter’s mobile UI, where changes to the interface and new focus on visual messaging are sure to change how we engage and interact in short form bursts.

How will your brand develop turnkey visual messaging that’s both “on brand” and on point with what customers want?

Hot Minute #29: Why It Works: Giving Up the Reigns to User Generated Content

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There is a general principle in branded content marketing that creating content in-house is always the best choice. That’s true in part: you want to have a firm grasp on your brand voice and tone, consistent messaging that reflects its true value, and design that’s in sync with overall content.

However.

Brands, especially those that cater to a public, socially active B2C market can and should embrace user generated content. Why? Octoly’s statistics show that YouTube viewers watch user-generated videos 10x more than branded ones. And when it comes to looking for information they can trust, only 16% of customers say they trust branded content or media coverage, while 51% trust content created by others. Before that leaves you feeling shaky, take heart.

When Oprah and Starbucks partnered to launch their signature chai tea to menus nationwide on Tuesday, they saw a massive uptick in social engagement. In fact, you can see it all for yourself in realtime over at Topsy. The brand has leveraged the huge number of Instagram photos, Facebook tags, and Twitter hashtags to communicate the launch’s success, and it will probably continue to until the next big offering.

Overall, Starbucks strikes a healthy balance between brand-generated content (blog posts, videos) and user generated content, that lets its audience feel like it’s contributing to the brand while consuming the brand. An infinite loop, really. This spring, the company announced that it would invite coffee-lovers to share their cup art, which may be selected to appear in its online store this fall. There’s incentive to share when you know you may have an impact on the company’s identity.

In similar fashion – no pun intended – Rent the Runway seized an opportunity early on when it found over 12,000 photos splintered across social channels. The brand instead invited customers to upload and share their unique dress finds to Our Runway, a campaign that lets real women interact with other real women (not models) to find the best fit based on shared measurements. As of today, the Our Runway campaign boasts almost 40,000 “moments” shared by, and for, happy customers.

Successful brands that embrace UGC as part of their own content make a clear distinction.

They don’t have to bribe their audience with freebies or sweepstakes to encourage them to share. Instead, they give their brand enthusiasts a steady stream of inspiring content, with ways to make it all their own.

People love brands because they make us more of who we are. Thus, user generated content strikes an actionable truth: branded content that lets us feel like we have some unique ownership allows us to be more emotionally attached, and therefore loyal, to the brand.

How can your brand hand over the reigns to make customers feel like they’re part of your content marketing strategy?

Hot Minute #28: Why Brand Equity is Like Running with a Candle

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Brand equity is a beautiful thing.

Equity means customer loyalty, industry status, and recognition. People *know* you. Johnson & Johnson, Duracell, and Smucker’s are old familiar friends in the minds of buyers because they deliver a predictable product, at a predictable price, with a predictable packaging or personality that generations have come to trust.

In our last episode of On Branding, Dr. Neale Martin, author of “Habit: The 95% of Behavior Marketers Ignore” described the pitfalls of “cognitive costs” in the mind of the consumer. A brand that was ‘outed’ for using controversial ingredients. A social media feed that Tweeted something offensive. A price hike or ‘new formula’ that feels like the rug being pulled out from under you.

“If I don’t trust you, then I’m always thinking about you,” Dr. Martin explained. Similar to the infidelity of a spouse, he said, it creates mental exhaustion to constantly flip the scenario around in your mind. Likewise, if people trust your brand — perhaps even bought it for years without a second glance — then your brand goes on autopilot in the minds of the consumer. Purchasing decisions, then, are driven not exclusively by trust, but by familiarity, comfort, and habit. Thus, equity.

Brand equity is like running with a candle. You don’t want to spill any hot wax on yourself, and you certainly don’t want to trip and light someone’s front lawn on fire.

It’s important to realize that brand equity puts you at the forefront of doing what you do best, but it doesn’t mean you shouldn’t reinvent yourself either. What are your competitors doing that excite their habitual buyers? Why do people buy *them* on autopilot? How can you market a new product that serves a specific need, on the idea that they already love you?

Equity is not an excuse for your brand to go stale.

Today, think about how your brand’s existing reputation can leverage its hard-earned equity and upper hand to deliver delight, reinforcement, or surprise to the consumer that’s been purchasing from you consistently for the past year. You already know they’ve made the right choice. Now is your time to seal the deal.

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