“Transparency, honesty, kindness, good stewardship, even humor, work in businesses at all times.” ― John Gerzema
Human Era businesses know it’s okay to make mistakes; even more so, they know it’s okay to admit them. Instead of glossing over mistakes and attempting to sweep inconsistencies under the rug, they own their blunders. They apologize and explain the issues at hand.
Netflix demonstrated this in their attempt to rebrand their mailer DVD service to Qwikster. Cofounder and CEO Reed Hastings explained and apologized for the lack of communication in a video to the public. Further, Qwikster was axed when they realized their customers didn’t want this feature, reinforcing “we heard you” as a responsive move by Netflix.
On a smaller scale, USAA shows customer ratings on their website regardless if they are positive or not. On those less than stellar reviews, a moderator responds and has the appropriate personnel reach out to try and resolve the issue at hand.
The ability to admit real life mistakes shows consumers a transparency that companies did not exemplify in years past and establishes a layer of trust between the consumer and the brand. With family and friends, truth and integrity are key to relationship growth, and this is no different with the brands we choose to enrich our lives.
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What is one step you can take to begin to be more transparent with your consumers?
No one likes calling a company and getting an automated recording. In the same way, no one likes a brand that’s too stiff and impersonal. Gone is the age of formality; being real is in vogue.
Human Era brands have conversations with consumers. They don’t force their way. They’re cool enough to be welcomed; they’re “one of the guys.”
Ikea demonstrates this on their social media by featuring fabulous before and after shots of how their furniture works in a space. Additionally, they know their weakness, assembling the furniture, and provide do-it-yourself tips on social media to their followers. Recognizing needs and addressing them appropriately is a way to get on a personal level with your consumers.
Another iconic brand to follow for their stellar people skills is Starbucks. Their twitter feed is chock full of personal-sounding tweets, artsy photos and even retweeting of followers. On Valentine’s Day, sweet poems under 140 characters were tweeted throughout the day. They also address a common problem facing many Starbucks customers, not knowing or using Starbucks’ terminology when ordering. They share “pro-tips” on their social media to inform customers of branded nomenclature.
Ikea and Starbucks know their customers’ needs and have met them on that personal level. They are lending a hand to help as a friend would, by being human. This is one way to succeed as a Human Era brand.
The world as we know it is changing. Consumers, specifically millenials, don’t want to be talked at by a TV or radio ad. They want to be a part of something. They would rather support a cause than a brand. They want their chosen brands to support something.
This is the nature of “Human Era” brands. Essentially, brands are attempting to be human. They not only listen to what you and I say, but they welcome input from us. They are also transparent about their values and flaws. Consumers no longer turn their noses up at mistakes by their favorite brands as long as they are recognized by the brand. This openness builds trust, which is key to “Human Era” brands.
There are 5 trends that we will see throughout 2015 that may be uncomfortable for brands to jump into, as they stray from the norm of appearing buttoned-up and airbrushed. In the upcoming blogs we will dive into the 5 ways you can take your brand from the “Institutional Era” into the “Human Era” of branding.
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Are you pondering the best way to evolve your company’s brand? It’s a critically important move and we’d welcome a chance to share best practices in today’s ever-changing landscape. Get in touch with us here.
What do abandoned firehouses, banks and warehouses have in common? To designers, it’s the possibility of more. From California to Maine, developers are finding these local diamonds-in-the-rough and turning them into gems with high earning potential.
Why the growth of these AR (adaptive reuse) projects? Most urban areas don’t have an ample amount of new-build sites and reusing the old is the best option. Urban areas are also seeing an influx in development as the economy continues to rebound. Additionally, those who reside in the city-centers prefer a walkable neighborhood and welcome these developments.
Others who appeal to these adaptive reuse projects are travelers looking for a genuine local experience, something they aren’t able to enjoy back home. It may be a restaurant in an old speakeasy or a museum in what used to be a county jail. Either way, these are stories and experiences that tourists can take with them and remember.
South Tampa has been the site of a few AR projects in the past year, including Le Meridien Hotel in the converted federal courthouse, Ulélé Restaurant in the previous Water Works Building and now the Kress Building, a former department store, which is slated to be developed into a hotel and apartment high rise.
The success of an AR project rides on preserving some of the history and story of the site, while incorporating new and fresh ways to experience that heritage with the best of today’s design, building and technology advances. This is where brand comes in. “How you tell the story so that it’s authentic to the heritage but is evolved and received in a way that is valuable to today’s consumer is key,” says Nancy Walker, president of Walker Brands. “AR projects have an edge over many redeveloped or green field sites in that they are a treasure trove for distinct content and experiences which are critical to and integrated and engaging brand program in today’s landscape.”
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Everyone has a story, regardless of how historic it is. We’d love to show you how to leverage and weave your story into branded “place” design and experience, whether you’ve got an old building, a cool office, or a unique facility or any place your customers visit. Get in touch with us here.
When you’re authentic and distinct, branding comes naturally.
We’ve experienced this first-hand in working with our client, Aubrey Organics, since 2012. It’s been our pleasure to assist Aubrey – the pioneer of all-natural beauty products – with evolving their brand on the shelf, in person and online. And now their refreshed brand design has earned national accolades.
Walker team members (from left) Heather Hall, Senior Brand Coordinator; Nancy Walker, President; and Joy Galatro, VP Brand Strategy (at right) present the GD USA American Graphic Design Award to Aubrey Chairman/CEO Priscilla DeFrancesco.
The new lineup of Aubrey hair care packaging recently won a “2015 American Packaging Design Award”from Graphic Design USA. This is on the heels of Aubrey winning last year the “American Graphic Design Award” by Graphic Design USA for the company’s all-new trade show booth.
Featuring stunning images of nature and paired with memorable quotes from the company’s founder, Aubrey Hampton, the new trade show booth and product packaging were purposefully designed by Walker Brands to convey Aubrey’s reverence for nature and industry distinction as a truly “all natural.”
We applaud Aubrey for leading the way since 1967 and staying “true” in today’s cluttered marketplace filled with “me too” brands.
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The best brands celebrate their distinction and authenticity. When you stay true to who you are while delivering products or services that people are passionate about, you’ve got the recipe for brand success. Is your brand story out of synch with your brand strategy? Connect with us today and let Walker help you refresh your brand to reconnect with today’s customers.
“No one is useless in this world who lightens the burdens of another.” ― Charles Dickens
There are many incredible organizations changing lives and bringing some joy to those who would otherwise struggle to give gifts to their children on Christmas morning. We honor and celebrate that calling this holiday season. And we wish you and yours every blessing.
In the spirit of Thanksgiving, we pause at Walker to share our gratitude for brands that delight us over and over again.
Nancy Walker, President
I am thankful for PSFK.com. This site provides brilliant examples of how innovation is changing lives every day; how creativity doesn’t have to be expensive, rather damn good, to help people feel the value of a great idea. A daily shot of PSFK inspires me to push the boundaries further, to take chances and to fall in love with our industry all over again. Want a taste of inspiration yourself? Check out the idea and watch the video that moved me today.
Ron Walker, Vice President of Finance
1) Every morning while Mother made Dad’s eggs and bacon, a pot of water boiled and in went six family size Luzianne tea bags and one cup of sugar, enough for a one gallon pitcher of tea which was enjoyed as soon as breakfast was over and until bedtime or it was gone. Every. Day. Iced tea. Today is just the same for me. 2) Southern Living held the revered holiday recipes for fudge & divinity, chess pie, fried chicken, chicken salad, grits casserole, and a thousand other relied upon recipes. The fall addition always was a “Football” edition- highly anticipated and dependably inaccurate. Mother’s friend talked over canasta and tea about the latest deviled egg recipes or what the girls at Ole Miss were wearing this year. Everyone read Southern Living. It was a common language among us then, and a visit home in my mind and heart now.
Joy Galatro, Vice President of Brand Strategy
Let me count the ways I’m grateful for Anthropologie! Personally, I love their artsy, flowy, bohemian chic style. But from a branding perspective, I truly admire the immersive experience they create in their retail environments. Beyond their clothing, the store itself exudes their “artisan” niche — from handmade, limited edition housewares to the crafted, BRILLIANT window displays that change with the seasons and holidays (and are unique in each market). They also smartly create experiences in the stores for their customers to participate in the act of creation with cool crafting events, etc. Everything they do builds their brand cohesively and memorably — their website, blog, catalogues, packaging, merchandise — everything says and feels “Anthropologie.” Bonus: their pin-worthy blog (blog.anthropologie.com) is one of my faves to follow on Pinterest.
Tara Robinson, Director of Brand Service
I am thankful for the Pinterest brand! The social sharing app inspires me with visual discovery of holiday recipes, gift ideas, visions for decorating and style influence. The brand was recently named The Social Search Goldmine in an article on marketingland.com due to increasing statistics that show high engagement and web traffic generation for companies. Pinterest has become more dominant when tracking key word terms around inspirational themes such as beauty, hair styles, clothing and cosmetics, with search engine traffic increasing from .5% in December 2013 to 10.92% this month. Check out more of what I’m thankful for on Pinterest at tarajrobinson.
Matt McEachern, Creative Director
A brand I am thankful for every day would be Apple. Being in front of an Apple product 12+ hours a day, I’m thankful for their consistent delivery of a true “Apple” experience. From using the computer all day, to playing with my kids on their iPads or watching Netflix on the AppleTV, they have made the purpose more important than the product. Thank you, Apple!
Heather Hall, Senior Brand Coordinator
Aside from the obvious reason that Starbucks provides me with the Monday morning caffeine surge my veins need to get the workweek started, there are several other reasons why I am thankful for this brand. Unlike other competitor brands who focus solely on coffee, Starbucks is a place that encourages gathering. I’ve spent many hours lounging in Starbucks catching up with old friends – in fact Starbucks is where I met a friend who was recently engaged so she could tell me the story about how her fiancé proposed. The barista even gave us both our coffees for free as a means of congratulations because she noticed I was gushing over my friend’s new engagement ring. Which leads me to another point – the staff is constantly attentive and friendly, regardless which of their 20,000 stores you go to. Additionally, Starbucks continues to push the envelope in sustainability efforts, from building LEED(R) Certified stores to focusing on energy conservation and renewable energy; they continue to reduce their environmental footprint every day and that’s a brand I can stand behind!
Whitney Owings, Office Manager
Three years ago, I went to my college post office to pick up my mail and was handed a bright pink box. This mysterious present was gifted to me as a surprise from one of my closest friends and, from then on, I was addicted to my monthly Birchbox subscription. These monthly boxes, which are tailored to your personal profile, always come like a present, wrapped and tied with ribbons, and a sweet note and how-to guide from their staff. If you’re like me, you like trying new skincare and hair care products, without risking the price of tossing an unwanted full size product in the trash. Additionally, this start-up is a great example of a brand that stays consistent on all platforms. From their online magazine, to the website and their video tutorials, you will find the same attention to detail, mixed with the fun, best-friend-I-never-had voice. With 800,000 subscribers in just 4 years, this is one brand that anticipates customer needs before the customer even knows they have them.
“Stories cultivate emotion, and emotion drives consumer decision-making. When people emotionally connect with a brand, the buying behavior begins, loyalty is created, and bottom line benefits are achieved.”
– Nancy Walker, President of Walker Brands
As humans, we long for that connection with others. As consumers, when we find that connection with a brand, we become loyal. We will drive 10 minutes out of the way, and spend $5 more just because we believe in what that brand represents.
Once such brand that is utilizing the power of stories is the bar that fuels your journeys, Cliff Bars. They are inviting you to share your stories and experiences with them. Cliff Bars are now including adventure challenges on their bar packaging and daring you to #MeetTheMoment with them.
Bank of America used the concept of story telling to show how their cash back program made Norm the Barbecue Champion. Not only is this ad very endearing, but it makes you want to run out to your nearest barbecue joint.
What story is your brand telling? If you can harness what you want to say and develop that story, your company will benefit right down to the bottom line. Your brand instantly become more memorable and gains an advantage in the marketplace.
This kind of strategy takes thoughtful planning and resources to not just make noise but also realize bottom line value. While you may not have the time or the experience in developing your brand voice, we do. We are the experts at uncovering authentic and distinctive brand stories and getting them out to the correct target markets. Contact us today and look forward to connecting to your customers in new and powerful ways.
What is the difference between a logo and a symbol? A better question: do you know if your company utilizes one of the two?
To put it simply, a logo is a word, and a symbol is a picture. While any word or picture that represents a brand generally gets called a “logo,” there is a distinction.
Logo is the abbreviated form of logotype, which literally means “word imprint” in Greek. You may also hear a logotype called a “wordmark.” Essentially, true logos are stylized letters. Coca Cola and Ray-Ban’s emblems are great examples of such.
Due to the global economy and the ever-increasing effectiveness to communicate quickly, many brands opt for a symbol, as they translate well across all alphabets, while American logotypes only translate across those countries that share our Latin alphabet. Apple, Target and now Starbucks all successfully utilize a symbol.
For all the exposure brand identities receive, the essence of a brand and the strategy that supports it are paramount to making sure that audiences understand what they stand for, consistently, truthfully and distinctly.
Do you need assistance discovering what works for your brand? We would love to meet you and learn how we can best position your brand and the symbol that represents it, for success. Contact us here.
Southwest Airlines is famous for their fun flight attendants and overall stellar customer service that aligns with their “Luv” branding. They have now taken that one step further by including an iconic heart in their trademark, leveraging their past and setting the course for the future. The heart is one of the first things travelers see when boarding the plane. Ginger Hardage, Senior VP of Culture and Communications, discusses this very important touch point that is integral to Southwest Airlines.
Another key element to Southwest’s successful branding are their employees. It’s the flight attendant rapping the safety announcement. It’s the ticket agents who decorate the gates. They just do things differently than other airlines, and it’s working. They broke the mold and decided to distinguish themselves by simply showing the luv and delivering great customer service in an otherwise hectic travel environment. However without the entire team committing to live the Southwest brand, it would not have been a success.
Read more about how Southwest’s rebrand here. If you would like to know more about how your employees can strengthen your brand, read up on that here.
Are you still searching for a way to strengthen your brand? Reach out to us here, and we’ll show you how we’ve helped other companies strengthen their position and their profits.