Yearly Archives: 2015

Debunking the Millennial Myth


Ah, the coveted millennial. Employers want to hire them. Business wants to sell to them.

Those within the millennial age bracket – generally defined as currently being between the ages of 18 and 33 – represent the largest generation on earth, by some estimates comprising roughly a third of humanity.

As employees, some of the stereotypes that color the perception of millennials are that they want workplace flexibility, care very strongly about a company’s impact on the community and environment, and that they demand transparency.

But who doesn’t want those things? Who would turn down the opportunity to have a flexible schedule? Who’s thrilled by the idea of working for a company that makes no effort to use its power to affect others’ well being? Who wants to spend their limited and valuable time contributing to an organization that shrouds its activities and culture in mystery?< Probably no one, regardless of generation. There’s a conception that millennials distrust big business – perhaps a symptom of having so much access to information – but based on a 2014 Pew study that speaks to millennial marketing, millennials and their elders share an equally favorable view of corporations.

Because millennials represent such a huge fraction of the population, it’s only natural that marketing to this group effectively is a priority for businesses. But because there are so many millennials, it’s also important to recognize that they are not all one and the same.

In fact, millennials are the most racially diverse group of American – with approximately 42 percent being non-white, a number that’s doubled since the Baby Boomer generation was the same age. The number of millennials born in a foreign country is estimated to be at 15 percent – the highest it’s been since the 20 percent peak in 1910, during the country’s last great immigration wave. There is no singular face representative of the millennial generation.

And while millennials are often credited with the increased attention to corporate social responsibility efforts and the shift in wanting to support locally-produced items and goods – they’re actually less likely than previous generations to claim the environmentalist label. The aforementioned Pew study found that “in 1999, when Gen Xers were under age 35, roughly four-in-ten (39%) embraced this self-description. Today, only about a third of Millennials (32%) say the word ‘environmentalist’ describes them very well.”

In a world that’s increasingly enhanced by and dependent on technology, millennials are the first generation to be raised with the Internet and social media – and they know how to use it.

Millennials are more likely to engage with your brand via social media – for better, and especially for worse. But according to research conducted by HubSpot, a developer of inbound marketing software, 95% of millennials expect a company to have a Facebook page – compared to 87% of Gen X’ers and 70% of 45-to-60 year-old. In short, everyone’s “doing” social media. And your marketing efforts should take that into account – regardless of the demographic you are attempting to attract.

The point is that millennials aren’t some mystic demographic no one understands –the “millennial mindset” represents the shifting norm of customer expectation.

If you’re looking for corporate role models of brands that millennials report as being especially effective at utilizing technology – via apps, mobile messaging and social media – look to the usual suspects, Apple and Amazon, as well as Starbucks, Whole Foods, and Victoria’s secret.

Instead of using a blanket approach in an attempt to appeal to millennials – a very broad range of individuals – maybe it would be wiser to target demographics based on some more traditional marketing segments – such as interests, needs, and lifestyles. Focusing on deeper characteristics and attributes of your target demographic – their needs and how you solve them – will lead to better marketing ideation and connectivity with your audience. You might even attract millennials along the way.

Brand Fever Acquired by Phase 3 Marketing & Communications

Creative excellence. It’s defined us since 1997.

It’s still the heart of our company, the core of our foundation. But the world has changed, and so have we. Through it all, Brand Fever has distinguished itself by working at a fever pitch to produce engaging brand experiences online and off.

We believe in fostering growth and innovation for our clients. And because part of Brand Fever’s DNA is walking the walk instead of simply talking the talk, we’ve taken a big step to elevate our work to the next level.

We are very excited to announce that we are now a part of Phase 3 Marketing & Communications, a leading provider of marketing solutions that span from ideation to execution. This means that the insight-driven creative work we pride ourselves on is now supported by end-to-end PR, print, and marketing logistics services – so we can better meet your needs and continue to expand the way we help brands build value and distinction.

Founded in 2001, with offices in Atlanta, Charleston, Charlotte, Dallas, and Nashville, Phase 3 Marketing & Communications is composed of roughly 200 employees and has been named one of Atlanta’s top 50 advertising and marketing firms – in addition to being one of the fastest growing privately held companies in the region.

For now, it’s business as usual in our current Brand Fever office, but we’ll begin operating under the Phase 3 name and move a few blocks to a newly-renovated, five-story, historic building at 60 Walton Street by the end of the year. These offices will be the vibrantly dynamic creative hub of Phase 3’s marketing, public relations, creative, corporate, and sales departments.

Brand Fever is proud to be part of Phase 3’s expansion, and we look forward to this exciting transition that will allow us to further enhance your brand and marketing initiatives.

Thank you for continued support throughout this pivotal moment in Brand Fever’s trajectory.


Vicky Jones
President & CEO

Ceasefire: Peaceful Collaboration for Brilliant UX


The relationship between designers and developers can feel like a high-stakes political standoff – and at Brand Fever we know firsthand that it’s easy to get caught in the crosshairs of these opposing forces.

We decided to have some fun with the all too familiar battle by creating a video that sums up the frustrations of the web design and development process based on the hard-won lessons we’ve learned about collaboration at Brand Fever since our founding in 1997.

Terms of Agreement – Do’s and Don’ts

Here are some basic tips to establish and maintain a no-conflict zone between designers and developers.

Do: Base your choices – whether you’re a designer or developer – on cold hard facts. In order for both the developer and designer to accomplish the objectives of the client, you need to know what exactly they’re trying to achieve with their website.

Don’t: Underestimate the power of learning to speak each other’s language – at least the basics. Designers can help themselves by learning basic HTML, and developers can display flexibility in adapting to the designers software preferences (e.g. Illustrator vs. Photoshop).

Do: Communicate prior to and during the design to avoid unrealistic expectations for how a design can be implements – and the inevitable crushing disappointment that follows.

Don’t: Assume the developer has the same eye for detail and level of appreciation for your layout. To avoid discrepancies in spacing, padding, colors, etc. provide exact requirements

Do: Gain an understanding of browser limitations and keep them in mind as you design. While you should expect a developer to be able to resolve any issues – you might have to accept that it could mean tweaking the design.

Don’t: Lose sight of the common goal – brilliant UX. User experience should be the primary concern for both the designer and developer – and anyone else involved in creating a website.

Do: Clear your cache before telling the developer that you can’t see their latest round of edits.


Inside Looking Out: A Perspective on Employer Branding


Is your company a great place to work? Do outstanding candidates flood your inbox, or do you have to exert extreme effort to find exactly the right people? Employer branding may provide the solution you need to attract and retain the best talent.

In the worlds of marketing – and recruitment – this discipline is relatively new. But it is not a here today, gone tomorrow trend. It shows every sign of enduring as experts debate whether the function belongs to marketing, HR, or the executive suite, and leading corporations create positions for employer brand managers.

As the leader of a business now involved in this line of client work, but with a history steeped in building corporate and product brands, I applaud the endeavor to apply branding strategies to the realm of the workplace. Yet I have a glimmer of concern about the approach to some campaigns.

One aspect that raises my eyebrows is a tendency to focus on “who we want to be” versus “who we are.” Successful brands are authentic. They reflect the true nature of a product, company, or workplace. Many businesses want to be just like Google or Facebook to attract a generation of millennials whose career goal is to work at such a place. The problem is that most of us can’t replicate that dynamic.

A company needs to be true to its character and the intrinsic value employees will find in working there. False proclamations about “who” a company is will soon lead to workforce dissatisfaction – a costly consequence. According to Gallup, “an unengaged employee costs $3,400 for every $10,000 in salary.” With “false advertising” you risk finding your workers trolling LinkedIn during their lunch hour to connect with a business better aligned with their needs. These sites, by the way, are the best way to reach your targets. According to the 2014 Employer Branding Global Trends Study Report, 76% of companies communicate their employer brand through social media.

Another issue I have is related to research – an essential component of building a brand. Research uncovers the truth and the opportunity to create distinction rooted in authenticity. Employees crave authenticity, meaning, and purpose in their workplace. Some businesses may be inclined to skip the research step because of the time and expense involved. Others may think it’s unnecessary because they feel they already know what it’s like to work there – after all, they also are employees. The process of an outside party interviewing workers – and potential candidates – reveals information to which a company may be blind. It also provides rich detail to help inform a strategy based on facts, rather than hunches.

One final observation is that, sometimes, employer brands seem to be created in isolation. As if the people who work there are somehow independent of the products or services a company sells. This creates a dissonance that won’t serve the business well in the long run.

The best employer branding strategies build a bridge between the workforce, the brand(s) a company takes to market and the culture of the organization. I’d like to think that’s the sweet spot where my firm operates. For our own company, we know it’s working. Brand Fever was recently named one of the top 10 places to work in Atlanta. I love it when the work we do for others is reflected in our own experience.

Hot Minute #37: Paper isn’t Dead


Despite this being an era predominately defined by digital marketing, there still is – and likely always will be – good reason to keep print in mind as a marketing tool.

JC Penney’s on-again, off-again relationship with its catalog is a prime example of the value of touchable collateral. Originally launched in 1963, the company chose to discontinue its staple offering in 2009 under the assumption that catalogs were passé and that customers would transition to browsing the online version of the material.

Turns out, they didn’t.

After losing a lot of customers, JC Penney realized that their online sales were heavily driven by catalog shoppers who simply used the website as a mechanism to fulfill their orders. Catalogs can be costly to produce, but there’s evidence to support that customers who have a relationship with a brand’s catalogs have a tendency to spend more. In fact, Nordstrom customers who have a multi-channel relationship with the brand spent four times as much as those that don’t.

At Brand Fever, we pride ourselves on being hybrid thinkers who understand the value of traditional, digital, and emerging marketing methods. Print is certainly still a critical component in the current marketing climate. That’s why I love being a member Appelton Coated’s Design Council , where I had the pleasure of judging close to 200 entries as part of the annual U360 Design Competition – “a celebration of the role print plays in today’s marketing mix.”