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Happy Holidays from the Walker Team

Posted by Walker Brands in Branding, Community Service, Employees, Holiday, Hospitality, Identity, Interaction, Places, Uncategorized

 “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.

Brands We Are Thankful For

Posted by Walker Brands in Beauty, Branding, Design, Education, Employees, Environmental Graphics, Food & Beverage, Health and Fitness, Hospitality, Identity, Interaction, Places, Positioning, Product, Social, Sustainability, Technology, Travel

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 Pinterestarticle 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.

 

The Power of Story

Posted by Walker Brands in Beauty, Branding, Design, Employees, Environmental Graphics, Food & Beverage, Health and Fitness, Identity, Places, Positioning, Product, Promotion, Social, Travel

“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.

Cliff BarOnce 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.

Logo or Symbol?

Posted by Walker Brands in Branding, Design, Food & Beverage, Identity, Product, Promotion

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. Screen Shot 2014-10-08 at 10.37.13 AMApple LogoRay-Ban Logo

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.

Starbucks SymbolDue 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’s Brand Soars to New Heights

Posted by Walker Brands in Branding, Employees, Identity, Interaction, Positioning, Promotion, Rebrand, Travel

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.

The Heart of Your Brand

Posted by Walker Brands in Branding, Education, Employment, Hospitality, Identity, Interaction, Uncategorized

Restaurant Photo 3

Have you even been to a restaurant and had such stellar service you left telling others they had to try it? Conversely, we have all been to restaurants where we have been overlooked and treated poorly, and we left feeling underwhelmed.

The defining factor of these two very different experiences is the customer service. Your team has the ability to empower or cripple your company’s brand.

Joy Abdullah, Organizational Advisor in Brand-based Business Sustainability, writes in his article, “Employees are the Heart of a Brand,” “Brand experience has a far greater impact than the advertising the brand does! A key area where such experience, is either strengthening or destroyed, is the way the brand’s eco-system (its consumer, partners, vendors) perceive the employees of the brand they interact with.”

Southwest Happy WorkersThis is why recruiting those who truly share your company’s vision is vital to your brand’s success. Creating an environment where employees are informed and are encouraged to “live the brand” will inspire them to extend greater value to the customer.

Zappos A few brands that currently demonstrate this principle are Southwest Airlines, Loews Hotels & Resorts and Zappos.

Read more about how employees can be the heart of your brand here. However, if you don’t know what your brand stands for or how to educate and engage your team, contact us. With over 20 years of experience in brand strategy and education, we’d welcome an opportunity to help empower your brand.

Welcome Back, Matt!

Posted by Walker Brands in Uncategorized

The roster at Walker Brands just keeps growing. We are beyond thrilled that Matt McEachern has rejoined our team as Creative Director! Matt heads up the agency’s overall creative strategy for all client accounts. This involves develMatt McEachernoping conceptual strategies for brand programs and overseeing consistent execution of integrated branding campaigns, including all offline and online touch points.

Matt has a plethora of past experience from directing branding projects and overseeing rebranding efforts as Creative Director at OttLite Technology. He also was the Senior Art Director for Cryo-Cell International and led rebranding endeavors including new packaging and collateral as well as a Website redesign. Additionally, Matt held posts at Walker previously as Art Director (2000-2005) and Studio Director (2007-2011) and was instrumental in many of the firm’s award-winning brand programs. Experienced in packaging, environmental graphics, social media campaigns, pull-through strategies and cause-related marketing efforts, Matt is our Super-Brand-Man.

In addition to loving his new job at Walker Brands, Matt also enjoys photography, illustrating and spending time with his beautiful wife and three kids. A Tampa native, Matt loves the variety our amazing city offers. His only request would be a couple of new mountain ranges.

Places ThBlue Ridge Mountainsat Connect With Us

Matt’s Favorite Place: Blue Ridge Mountains in North Carolina

“My favorite place in the world would be the Blue Ridge Mountains in North Carolina. There is nothing quite like a cabin in the mountains with just your wife, kids, dog and camera to make you feel off-the-grid. As long as the wifi is strong.”- Matt McEachern; mmceachern@walkerbrands.com

 

“The New Age of Casualism”

Posted by Walker Brands in Branding, Design, Identity, Interaction, Places, Positioning, Real Estate

It’s amazing what you can do with 500 square feet.

This is what many young professionals have to work with in cities such as NYC, Boston and San Francisco. With many students remaining in urban areas after graduation, the opportunity cost is square footage for the central location.Micro-apartment

This growing real estate trend, known as micro-apartments, reflects what Karim Rashid, a brilliant industrial designer and interior architect, said in his interview with Lauren Mang in VMSD:

Karim Rashid

“Contemporary design is shifting into a new language based on comfort that’s an extension of the new age of ‘casualism” and of the digital age, where we have greater experiences with less.”Micro-apartment 2

This quote perfectly encapsulates what we are seeing throughout the country in these matchbox-sized apartments. As consumers, we are choosing location over square footage, minimalism over walk-in closets. Read more about micro-apartments here.

Without an expertly targeted strategy to the demographic, these developments would not be successful. Knowing this information and how to execute it is key to successfully growing your brand. If you just can’t seem to nail down your brand, contact us here.

Merging Brands

Posted by Walker Brands in Beauty, Branding, Food & Beverage, Hospitality, Identity, Luxury, Places, Product, Travel, Uncategorized

In the words of Jack Johnson, “It’s always better when we’re together.” That’s the song that many brands are singing as they team up to reach more consumers: the Sheraton and Starbucks, the Four Seasons and air travel and Coca Cola and OPI. Some of these make sense, and others make you raise your eyebrow along with a “huh.”

Starbucks and SheratonLet’s start with our morning coffee giant Starbucks. Why make your own breakfast at the hotel when the barista at Starbucks can do it for you? The Sheraton in Seattle thought the same thing when they gave loaded Starbucks gift cards out as their room keys. Read more about this merge.

OPI and Coca ColaOPI has dominated the nail polish industry with their nearly 300 polish choices, each as intriguing as the name it is assigned. It’s no wonder they collaborated with soda pop heavyweight Coca Cola to engineer some pretty fizzy colors. With names like “You’re So Vain-illa” and “Today I Accomplished Zero,” your nails just don’t look as good as they did 5 minutes ago. Find more info here.

Four Seasons JetSome people have it good, and others just have it better. They are the ones that will partake in the luxury that is the Four Seasons branded private luxury jet. In 2015, Boeing and the hotelier will be offering trips on this fully branded and designed jet, including 2 “Around the World” adventures that last 24 days. Read more about the good life here.

These brands knew who they were before creating partnerships to reach more consumers. Do you know who you are? Let us help you define and refine your brand. Contact us here.

Hooray, Heather! Welcome, Whitney!

Posted by Walker Brands in Branding, Employment, Identity, Interaction, Places, Promotion, Social, Writing

Please join us in congratulating Heather Hall for her promotion to Senior Brand Coordinator – and giving a big welcome to our new Office Manager, Whitney Owings.

Heather joined us in 2012 and she’s been a multitalented member of our team since day one. As Senior Brand Coordinator, she’ll now be working on many more client accounts with our Brand Service team, in addition to being the “voice” of Walker in our social media. Pre-Walker, Heather worked in the account team with Cotton & Co., an east coast real estate advertising agency. An FSU alum with a bachelor’s degree in Marketing, Heather grew up in Stuart, Florida before moving to Tampa with her adorable Yorkshire Terrier, Rylie.Whitney and Heather

Whitney began her career in TV in NYC as a production assistant and executive assistant at two stations, WTBY and Fox News Channel. She also worked with a creative production studio in Tulsa, Oklahoma. She handled billing, scheduling, and marketing assistance, key elements of her new position with our team. A native of Columbus, Indiana, Whitney attended Oral Roberts University in Tulsa where she earned a bachelor’s degree in Media. Oh, and you know how we always talk about creating memorable brand experiences to “wow” your customers? You’ll get a kick out of Whitney’s email address: wowings@walkerbrands.com.

Places That Connect With UsNYC

Heather’s Favorite Place: New York City

“Famously recognized as the city that never sleeps, and a distinguishably known advertising hub, there’s an excitement about New York City that just grabs you. Flashing lights of competing advertisements, sounds of impatient taxis and smells of endless dining options come together harmoniously and captivate the senses. It is a place like none other.” – Heather; hhall@walkerbrands.com

Bowen's WharfWhitney’s Favorite Place: Newport, Rhode Island

“With miles of coastline, delicious seafood and adorable boutiques, this waterfront city is a relaxing escape from the city life that dots the East Coast. Newport is known for being a summer haven, however it offers many events throughout the year, including all of the Wharf festivals, the Newport Folk Festival, and Jazz Festival. And I love all the colonial history in this seaside town known as the Sailing Capital of the World.” – Whitney; wowings@walkerbrands.com