Society is obsessed with consuming and creating content—we simply can’t get enough of it. Every second, there is more content being produced than ever before. In a world where attention is the most valuable commodity, if you aren’t producing solid storytelling, it’s like shouting into the wind.
Enter branded content into the conversation.
There are so many articles written about taking the brand out of branded content. Yet, funnily enough, most aren’t written by brand marketers. They are written by people begging brand marketers to stop making branded content. So where does this leave the brand marketer in a world where content is supposedly king?
All too often brands look at branded content as a means to put themselves front and center, making it all about me, myself and I. As a result, the content feels like an elaborate and over-produced ad. Therein lies the problem: Brands look at branded content as the brand’s content, forgetting about the viewer.
As a result, brands are being told to simply sponsor the story, make it “brought to you by” or to appear only in the credits. Essentially, brands are being asked to sit on the sidelines and hold up a poster with their logo on it.
It shouldn’t be about removing the brand from the content but instead about providing a more meaningful role for the brand within the story. What that doesn’t mean is simply inserting the logo or product in the middle; that’s where things can go incredibly wrong.
To create a meaningful role, the brand/product must be critical to the story. This character must build the plot, push the narrative and add substance. For example, is the product the connection point between two strangers? Does the product enable a function to happen? Does the brand provide a unique point of view on a situation? When done correctly, if you were to remove the brand—or in this case, the character—the story should fall apart.
But above all, any story worth telling must be inherent to your brand’s DNA, the fabric of your past, present and future. Even the best-told story coming out of the wrong brand’s mouth will immediately seem disingenuous, and the internet will very quickly sniff you out. So, as a marketer, you must first ask yourself, “Is this a story that my brand can credibly tell?”
And believe it or not, there are some brands that not only create great content, but they also create great branded content. The role of the brand or product can have a multitude of rules. Ranging from a highly integrated character, such as Lego’s insanely successful Lego Movie, where an entire story is developed around the brand’s product to an online video where the product—in this case, a Heineken beer that acts as the connector between two people with very diverse points of view—to less integrated but just as meaningful that showcases the brand’s values coming to life, just as when Netflix’s hit series Orange Is the New Black leveraged The New York Times to continue to shine a light on the struggles facing female inmates through a thought-provoking, interactive article that could only be written in partnership with the prison drama.
At the end of the day, branded content can’t only get the viewer to learn about your product. The best content keeps the consumer in mind, aiming to entertain, inspire or educate, whether the brand is there or not. Because, always and forever, good content will be good content.
Want to create a compelling user experience for your customers? User experience design is a journey, not a destination. Constantly iterate and improve or you'll fall behind.
Follow these five rules to make that happen.
Know Your Users
Before you can design a pleasing user experience, you need to know what users actually want. Unfortunately, many brands don’t do enough to understand their customers and how the business can meet their needs, says Jonathan Goldmacher, managing director for Valtech in New York.
“You need to start with the audience you’re serving,” he says. “Understand their lives intimately, the role your category and brand play in their lives, and the places where you have an opportunity to do things in an exceptionally better way. You also need to understand the business you’re in and what’s possible inside that environment.”
Look Beyond Your Category
You might be doing a fine job keeping up with other brands in your competitive set, but you also need to keep up with Amazon, Netflix and other digital startups.
“People bring their expectations from every category,” says Elephant vp Kevin Kearney. “You may be best in your category, but if you’re not thinking about where people’s expectations are going and what their needs are, someone will enter your category and meet those needs the way other brands do.”
But Don’t be a Copycat
There’s a long history of brands imitating other successful products. That’s a really dumb idea, says Charming Robot CEO Dan Maccarone, because that brand’s strategy and audience might be entirely different.
“A few years ago, every company would come to us and say, ‘Our homepage needs to look like Pinterest because Pinterest is successful,'” says Maccarone. “Well, maybe it’s successful for their strategy, but that doesn’t necessarily mean it’s right for your strategy. And just because someone else is doing it, doesn’t mean they’re doing it right.”
Go Where Your Customers Are
Brands spend millions trying to lure customers to their own sites, when they should focus on improving the customer experience across all platforms, says Linda Holliday, CEO of Citia.
“Most companies spend most of their money trying to drag attention back to their own website,” says Holliday. “If you’re Condé Nast and you want readers to have an extended experience with Vogue, it doesn’t matter whether it happens on the company website, YouTube or Instagram when the alternative is ‘not at all.'”
User experience design is a journey, not a destination. You need to keep constantly iterating and improving or you’ll fall behind.
“People don’t understand how much failure goes into every successful interface they see,” says Khoi Vinh, principal designer at Adobe. “They also don’t see how essential it is to continue to experiment with new ways of doing things to adapt to users’ changing habits. No UX design can stay fixed for very long; it needs to evolve with the user if brands want to stay relevant.”
By Dan Tynan | July 23, 2018
This story first appeared in the July 23, 2018, issue of Adweek magazine.
As human beings, we get used to "the way things are" really fast. But for designers, the way things are is an opportunity... Could things be better? How? In this funny, breezy talk, the man behind the iPod and the Nest thermostat shares some of his tips for noticing - and driving - change. Learn more from this insightful TED Talk.
Why You Should Listen
Tony Fadell became a tech superstar as a colleague of Steve Jobs and developer of the iPod, which rejuvenated Apple, rebooted entire industries and changed the way the world consumes entertainment.
After leaving Apple, Fadell founded Nest on a familiar experience - frustration with household technology, still resolutely frozen in the 20th century. With its first products, Nest has brought the modern household one step closer to becoming a truly connected “smarthome.” In January 2014, Nest became Google’s second-biggest acquisition to date, positioning both companies to become revolutionary players in home technology.
Check out more illuminating talks at TED.com
How Women Want Tech to Shape the Shopping Experience
62% believe same-day shipping will become the norm
Women are embracing more personalized, speedy and seamless customer experiences. New research reveals that while in-store shopping is still king in some areas—90 percent of women still purchase their groceries in-store, for example—online is steadily gaining traction in others, including apparel and accessories (63 percent of women make these purchases online), beauty and personal care (54 percent) and consumer electronics and tech (59 percent). That said, a whopping 94 percent of women are at least somewhat interested in in-store experiences beyond just shopping.
Learn more about how women want tech to shape their shopping experience (62% believe same-day shipping will become the norm) in Sammy Nickall's article published in Adweek, August 5th, 2018
Sammy Nickalls is departments editor at Adweek.
Previously, she was night editor at Esquire.
She's also the creator of #TalkingAboutIt.
Grey Partners is honored to help Pause4Paws, a new Tulsa non-profit, establish a strong brand and craft their digital footprint through branding, website and social media.
On behalf of our entire team, thank you. We are honored to be a small part of your mission.
Pause4Paws, Inc. is a new Tulsa non-profit that arranges foster homes for pets while their owners experiencing homelessness, mental illness or addiction receive urgent medical, mental health, or substance abuse treatment.
That care often is a matter of life or death.
Pause4Paws foster services are limited to pet owners who have been referred by an agency or organization that helps individuals experiencing homelessness, mental illness or addiction.
The mission of Pause4Paws is to help these pet owners receive necessary emergency services without their pet being a barrier to available care.
Learn more at https://www.pause4pawsok.org/ or https://www.facebook.com/Pause4PawsOK/
Apple’s new ad cinematically captures the pressure of remembering yet another password and transforms our shared frustration into a high-stakes quiz show
Recalling a password becomes a high-stakes quiz show in Apple's visually detailed new spot.
Remembering a new password, even one you just created this morning, can stump you in any situation. Sometimes it can even feel like you’re in the spotlight, sweating in front of a gleefully tense and elegantly dressed audience of hundreds—or at least, that’s the metaphor Apple is going with in its new spot for the iPhone X.
In the ad, we see a golden-age quiz show contestant doing the mental gymnastics of remembering his newest password, as the crowd becomes increasingly worked up and borderline hostile.1:3
With the payoff being that the iPhone X makes password management simple by using your face as a universal login, the spot is rich in costume and set design, among other fun details. In a few fleeting ...
In a world of too many options and too little time, our obvious choice is to just ignore the ordinary stuff. Marketing guru Seth Godin spells out why, when it comes to getting our attention, bad or bizarre ideas are more successful than boring ones.
How consumers experience marketing communications has evolved in profound ways over the past decade. Interestingly the insights revealed in this 2003 Ted Conference have proven to be a tremendous help in shifting mind-sets to embrace brand-building strategies so that we can help clients succeed in our brace new world.
This talk was presented at an official 2003 TED conference.
Seth Godin is an entrepreneur and blogger who thinks about the marketing of ideas in the digital age. Check out this 2009 talk The Tribes We Lead.
Digital marketing is oversaturated. Brands wield billion-dollar budgets like the internet is about to go out of style—and maybe that’s because, in some ways, it is. So how can you better guide your brand through this cluttered space?
“Saturated” does not begin to describe the channels for digital marketing. Brands wield billion-dollar budgets like the internet is about to go out of style—and maybe that’s because, in some ways, it is.
The next wave of marketers should beware of the possible effects of digital marketing fatigue and consider getting inspired by some of the most front-running and innovative brands, like the ones who leverage physical elements as anchors in their marketing campaigns.
Traditionally, creating physical products for the purpose of a marketing campaign would be costly and inefficient. But as tech continues to accelerate faster than ever, we’re seeing traditional processes like manufacturing become much more accessible.
Advancements in AI and robotics have significantly decreased the costs and increased the capabilities of custom manufacturing and therefore custom products. Nowadays, getting a physical product made is comparable to the process of ordering business cards online, which is arguably easier than implementing an effective digital marketing campaign.
Perhaps, this generation of marketers may want to think twice before pouring their entire budget into digital marketing.
With each passing year, consumer audiences become harder to impress, making it increasingly difficult to leave a lasting impression on a cohort who believes they’ve seen it all. Ads can be great, but remember the feeling of finding a surprise gift in your cereal box?
Unlike fleeting digital experiences, physical products create a long-lasting emotional and nostalgic connection. Appealing to emotion is known to be an effective marketing strategy, but tapping into fond memories to serve up genuine nostalgia can truly be invaluable.
For brands already selling physical products, this kind of nostalgia-focused marketing might manifest itself as a “free gift with purchase.” Beauty powerhouse Glossier includes a pink bubble wrap makeup bag and branded sticker set in each order, not only delighting the customer with thoughtful relics of yesteryear but indoctrinating them into Glossier’s massive influencer network. Whenever that customer uses their Glossier makeup bag in public, for a brief moment, that customer is a walking talking Glossier billboard. By incorporating this kind of sustained physical touchpoint in your marketing strategy, you can stay top-of-mind in the consumer psyche.
That said, even solely digital brands can incorporate a physical element into their marketing strategy. For example, a mobile gaming company might consider moving away from an in-game rewards model and try out a physical item (think personalized trophies or figurines of the game’s characters) to give players a tangible reward for their achievements in the virtual world.
This is important because physical real-world moments are shareable in a way that digital experiences are not. Creating opportunities in your marketing strategy for physical touchpoints is more likely to help your brand’s reach than even the most nuanced and targeted ad content.
When you’re thinking long-term about your brand, opportunities to deliver a personalized experience are key. Consumers want to feel like they’re purchasing from somewhere small and from somewhere that can give them a bespoke experience—even if they’re purchasing from a giant conglomerate.
Novelty is shareable, especially when it is physical. In addition to offering limited edition and short-run specialty products, brands can go so far as to engage users with opportunities to design their own text, colors or shapes into a product. These kinds of personalized products can become treasured items.
Between digital marketing resources, insights we have about customers and flexible supply chains using digital manufacturing, there has never been a better time to add a physical layer to your brand’s marketing strategy.
Product manager at Voodoo Manufacturing.
A visitor takes action, a contact form is submitted, a lead is born.
It happens millions of times each day. It’s common, but not simple. There are dozens of little factors involved in lead generation. When it works, a stranger who needs help finds a webpage offering a product, service or advice. They learn, they trust and they take action.
Some websites do it well and generate leads all day long. Most don’t.
A lead generation website has a specific set of pages, each with specific elements. Each element aligns with the expectations and psychology of the visitor and the marketing program of the business.
Let's break it down. The flow often looks something like this:
Learn more in the complete post from Andy Crestodina of Orbit Media, as he guides you through what a purposeful lead-generation process should look like as he breaks down best practices that you can put to work now.
Struggling to understand why your domain can’t be transferred? Frustrated that you’re being told that because of a new European Union law, your domain transfer has stalled?
You’re not alone. There are three pieces of the puzzle to understand before we proceed:
ICANN is the entity responsible for managing the WHOIS database. ICANN helps deliver ‘One Internet’ for the world by coordinating and administering the DNS system which is comprised of: Domain names, Internet Protocol (IP) addresses, and Protocol parameters. The DNS system is vital - the internet simply cannot function without it. DNS enables your computer to reliably find and connect to other devices, things, or information sources on the Internet no matter where you are physically located in the world so that you can seamlessly find what you want, when you want it.
GDPR went into effect despite the fact that there were known and unresolved compliance issues. ICANN is working towards GDPR compliance. Because of the global scope and impact, a committee of 130 different entities is working to resolve these issues. The committee has created a temporary, next generation directory known as RDAP to replace WHOIS.
Registrars are currently struggling to provide services to clients because ICANN has implemented significant changes that are not GDPR compliant and without providing guidance to registrars as to how they can use RDAP. Registrars must be extremely cautious as GDPR imposes significant fines for companies that fail to comply. Non-compliance penalties and fines can be 2-to-4% of a company’s global revenue.
ICANN has been aware of these issues since before GDPR was adopted. Unfortunately, multi-stakeholder models have a history of advancing only by taking two steps backward for every one forward. This is painfully apparent to registrars and domain owners worldwide who appear to have been abandoned without a solution in sight.
Europe’s General Data Protection Regulation (GDPR) has been compared to Y2K, the millennium software bug that caused unnecessary panic about computers crashing—not to mention planes falling out of the sky—before midnight struck on New Year’s Eve in the year 2000. But it’s not much like Y2K at all; conversely, it deserves all the buzz it’s garnering.
When the legislation takes effect on May 25, it will enable European consumers to control how businesses collect and process their personal information. GDPR will impact any organization that markets goods or services in the EU or tracks Europeans’ digital behavior, regardless of where such businesses’ offices or software firms are located.
Additionally, there are a host of unknowns that will impact domain registrants, domain owners and hosting companies as to how the law will be applied. Experts expect significant issues with any processes related to DNS records such as domain transfers as there is no concensus as to how GDPR will
Understand that if you do business online, the GDPR may apply to you. This new data-protection law applies to any size business - even if you have no direct E.U. operations or staff.
Similar personal data protection legislation is being developed here in the United States.
Responsible data management is about protecting your brand and your business. Every day we see new headlines about a data-breach or personal data sharing due to incompetence or unethical behavior – think Facebook & Cambridge Analytica. Enforceable data-protection laws with significant penalties for violators are necessary and should be embraced by businesses.
So, what is the GDPR? The GDPR (General Data Protection Regulation) is a new law designed to protect the “personal data” of E.U. citizens – including how the data is collected, stored, processed and destroyed. This E.U. law goes into effect on May 25th, 2018. The definition of ‘personal data’ under the GDPR far exceeds that of the U.S. and encompasses ‘information relating to an identified or identifiable natural person’. This includes data such as name, ID number, location data, online identifier or other factors specific to the physical, physiological, genetic, mental, economic, cultural or social identity of that person. It even includes IP addresses, cookie strings, social media posts, online contacts and mobile device IDs.
Obviously GDPR impacts U.S.-based multi-national companies. If you are a US-based company with no direct operations in the EU it likely applies to your business too.
US-based businesses with no employees or offices within the boundaries of the EU are subject to GDPR. And, under Article 3 of the GDPR, your business can be liable even if no financial transaction occurs. If your U.S. based organization communicates with and/or solicits members online with some of them residing in the E.U., you are likely subject to the GDPR. However, if your organization operates online or uses Google Adwords and an E.U. resident stumbles upon your webpage, it is unlikely that the GDPR applies. Simply put, if your organization actively fosters relationships with E.U. residents, GDPR applies.
Consequences of Non-Compliance
The GDPR imposes significant fines for companies that fail to comply. Non-compliance penalties and fines can be 2-to-4% of a company’s global revenue. The forth-coming U.S. legislation promises to be just as potent.
Protect your organization from becoming a headline. If you market online, it is vital that you initiate risk assessment and initiate an action plan now.
Prepared by Chris Lowers, May 10th 2018
Without realizing it, you're fluent in the language of pictures. Illustrator Christoph Niemann takes you on a hilarious visual tour that shows how artists tap into our emotions and minds to speak volumes without saying a word.
Niemann believes all people are bilingual, “fluent in the language of reading images,” and most of our fluency comes organically. Enjoy his talk recorded at TED2018 on April 13, 2018, in Vancouver.
Why You Should Listen
Christoph Niemann is the master of the deceptively simple. His work - which often combines line drawing or brushwork with physical objects, or eschews drawing altogether in favor of LEGO - has appeared on the covers of the New Yorker, WIRED and the New York Times Magazine and has won many awards. He has drawn live from the Venice Art Biennale and the Olympic Games in London, and he has sketched the New York City Marathon - while running it. He created the New Yorker's first augmented reality cover as well as a hand-drawn 360-degree VR animation for the magazine's US Open issue.
It seems like everywhere we look there’s some new social media or marketing tactics being touted as the next big thing.
As marketers and businesses, we’re constantly looking for ways to reach our audience in creative ways and so we often jump around from strategy to strategy – often leaving what used to work in the past.
But what about those marketing tactics that once worked like a charm?
Learn all about it in this insightful video conversation between Hailley Griffis and Brian Peters as they host this episode of the Science of Social Media podcast - your weekly sandbox for social media stories, insights, experimentation and inspiration.