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If you haven’t heard Tim Tebow is the starting quarterback for the Denver Broncos, and he has taken the league by storm. He is getting an immense amount of media coverage in the process, and has achieved moving the Broncos from last to first in the AFC West. In addition to these accomplishments, he is a Heisman Trophy winner and formerly lead the University of Florida to a national championship.
His media coverage in not solely surrounding his amazing football ability, but also his focus on Jesus Christ as his savior and inspiration for his performance. This has been viewed as controversial to many including Kurt Warner, saying it could have a repelling effect. Whether you endorse his religious outspokenness or shun it, one thing is certain, he has sparked the team.
Before Tim Tebow joined the team, the Denver Broncos were lifeless and facing a long and hopeless season. Tebow came in with not only a belief in Christ, but in himself and his ability to lead the team back to contention. His teammates are on board to work hard toward producing unheard of and frankly unbelievable results. Champions not only perform well on the field or at work, but they inspire others to perform well around them. They share a vision and drive that motivates themselves as well as others around them to win and achieve great results. Brand Champions win not only because of their talent, but because they have faith and believe they can and will win. Brand Champions have faith in themselves and believe they can and will achieve greatness. Tim Tebow is a champion, and a great Brand Champion for himself, the Denver Bronco’s and the Lord, regardless of what happens.
One of Tebow’s teammates stated earlier this year, that a player either has a stellar presence on the field or an outstanding effect in the locker room, but usually not both. This same teammate stated that Tebow is the lifeblood of both the locker room and the field, and has been the driving force in changing the course of the team from last to first.
The remainder of the season should be fun to watch, making winter around here much more palatable, and giving everyone in Denver something to cheer about.
Is Tim Tebow for real? The jury is still out, but as far as this year is concerned, he has energized and lead the team as not only the starting quarterback, but as the inspiration, leader and Brand Champion of the Denver Broncos. Tebow’s brand stands for Christ, winning, and being one of sports’ good guys.
The process of developing an identity and marketing plan for a company is no easy task. It involves delving into the very heart and soul of the company and creating an image that has to speak volumes – from its inner workings and intentions to its mission, value and promise to its potential customers. Taking this into consideration, how do you create a logo for an entire country?
Not just any country.
How do you create a brand image and marketing strategy for the United States of America? Other countries (Peru and Mexico) have successfully developed identities giving homage to their centuries-old cultures. The United States is a noted melting pot of all cultures. How would you define that?
The Corporation for Travel Promotion (CTP) was given this lovely task. Saddled with a not-so-modest marketing budget of upwards of $200 million* annually, CTP looked to create the first unified marketing strategy to promote tourism in the United States, aimed to reach international travelers. What they came up with was Brand USA, Inc. and the tagline, “The United States of Awesome Possibilities.”
According to Brand USA’s website, the identity is meant to “capture the American spirit and create a fresh new brand identity that welcomes the world to come experience the boundless possibilities in America.” The first initiative of the marketing campaign is a consumer website, DiscoverAmerica.com, meant to offer a user-friendly experience of planning travel around the United States. It offers general guides for major cities, a deal finder (coming soon), and U.S. travel tips. The campaign, scheduled to launch in the spring of next year, ultimately looks to generate more American jobs through the bump it hopes to gain in international tourism.
*Rest assured taxpayers, no tax dollars were spent to fund the Brand USA campaign. As stated on the website, half of the budget will be funded by private investment and the rest from a $14 visitor fee for those traveling to the States from countries that do not require a visa, applied by the Electronic System for Travel Authorization (ESTA).
Thoughts From the BI Team
Justin – Art Director
I definitely have mixed feeling about the brand. At first sight, the logo left me unimpressed. It’s just a bunch of dots, right? Hasn’t this been played out by the telecom industry? However, after I stopped to think about the direction I would have taken, it started to make sense. Even though most people would agree that the logo is generic, doesn’t it have to be? Due to the extreme diversity found in our country, this is probably one of the few cases where something as generic as this is actually a good solution. The best solution? Probably not. But with the strong concept, there is a lot of great possibility for the other marketing pieces. I even like the tagline. “The United States of Awesome Possibilities” is the new “The Land of Opportunity”. Although new, the tagline feels like it has roots. +1.
The website, on the other hand, is undeniably – a disaster. Keep in mind that the budget is 200 million dollars a year. Aesthetically, it’s embarrassing. The landing page looks like a bad knock-off of a flash sale site. The homepage is busy. The background photo ends abruptly at the bottom of the page, yet scales to fill the browser window horizontally — a half-assed attempt at a common technique. If China can do it, we can do it…can’t we? It’s not like they couldn’t afford a decent developer — the border around the content area isn’t even aligned properly for crying out loud. Is the strategy to barrage the viewer with photos? They get it, there’s a lot of variety, there’s no need to let it govern the design. I’ll stop there — but, really? It’s unwelcoming, unprofessional and it isn’t representative of what we as a country can produce. For 200 million dollars a year, I want to see design equivalent of a 3-D video music montage of me and the Statue of Liberty performing a choreographed dance through the top tourist destinations of America. Instead, we get what looks like an outdated and broken template that they grabbed off the internet, for free.
Instead of taking the obvious direction using any combination of red/white/blue/stars/stripes/guns, they’ve come up with a good concept with some great potential. As far execution goes — The Brand Union either completely missed the mark, lost a brutal battle against design-by-committee, or saw this as their chance to fulfill everyone’s childhood dream of throwing a Scrooge-McDuck-style pool party.
Leilani – Graphic Designer
My first impression was, “It looks like a boring corporation.” Upon further investigation of the marketing materials beyond the logo, my impression was, “It looks like a semi-boring corporation.” The logo feels predictably generic, even in the multiple color variations. The dotted logos have been a trend for several years now and lack longevity. It’s already outdated. Though I commend the CTP for finding a solution without the use of the blaring stars, stripes, and red, white and blue color palette. The concept behind the logo is quite compelling, however, the execution leaves something to be desired. If their aim was to create a brand to “capture the American spirit” and invite global visitors to “experience the boundless possibilities in America,” then America seems like it would bore me to tears, and try to sell me insurance, or Tupperware® from a suitcase.
The opening page of the website is interesting in design, almost successful with large modern typography and lovely photographs. Except, this page is unnecessary and makes me work for my information instead of welcoming me with open arms. The overall design would be a good attempt, if you were a first-year design student showing an interest in pursuing the profession of web design – eight years ago. The design tries to be hip and modern, but instead is confusing and as outdated as the new logo. The photographs are pretty, but you can’t rely on a good photograph to carry an entire design. Their solution? Place a ton of large photographs all over the site. The interior page content is dense and made difficult to read through lack of attention to typographic styling, (particularly the leading). One of my biggest problems with the site is the language issue. Currently, it can only be viewed in five languages. For a marketing strategy that is meant to reach people across the globe, this seems a bit limiting. For this size of budget, the site should be able to translate content into Klingon if one so wishes! I could nitpick this site to death but the bottom line comes down to one thing – with a budget of $200 million PER YEAR, there are no excuses for poor design or lack of options.
Ben – Design Intern/Lackey
Brand USA tells us that part of their astronomical marketing budget for Discover America comes from the “nominal $14 fee paid by visitors from visa-waiver countries,” and that “No U.S. taxpayer dollars” were used. At the end of the day, at least I didn’t pay for it. Who am I kidding…I don’t pay taxes.
Kaitlyn – Brand Manager
Coming up with content and messaging around why people should come to America is by no means an easy task. In fact, I might almost say it’s impossible to describe who we are, all that we’ve got to offer, and why we are appealing in a way that grabs people from all around the world. And not to mention in a way that makes them get out their checkbooks and actually book a trip.
So does “The United States of Awesome Possibilities” do the trick? I have to say, the word awesome sort of threw me off at first. But then I thought about what other options I could stick in there: Inspiring? Wonderful? Stunning? None of those seem to do the trick either. In fact, I think we are kind of awesome, and awesome is a new way to say all the other words I could come up with anyways. But what I’m not sure about is how well this will resonate with the target of this campaign – our international travel friends. Will they understand how we take “awesome”? And does that word translate for them? I think that will be the true test for how well this slogan backs the new campaign.
Abbey – Brand Manager
The Brand Union shared that this new identity is designed to capture the spirit of our homeland – a place that is supposedly: Authentic. Optimistic. Unexpected. Inclusive. Endless Possibilities. Yet, I’ve always been a believer in branding that is consistent with realistic perceptions of the company, or at very least, branding that is reflective of a mission that the company is able to truly manifest. In America’s case, my guess is you’d be hard-pressed to find very many international visitors who would describe our country using any of these terms other than perhaps, ‘Unexpected.’ ‘Authentic’ certainly doesn’t speak to a place that has long been referred to as ‘a melting pot.’ And it doesn’t help that the agency launched this new identity at a time when the biggest trend here is occupying. I can’t be the only one with a raised brow as to who The Brand Union went to as the source for our collective so-called ‘spirit.’
Before too much more opinion about the new brand, let’s give it time to gain some traction. We’ll see if the investment behind Brand USA translates into campaigns that actually engage the international audience, and if they actually embrace the brand – enough so to come on over.
- Categories: Brand
From the desk of Michael Doyle:
If you hadn’t noticed campaign season is kicking in, which means it’s time for political advertising and marketing to get started. It is fascinating to pay attention and observe how candidates “brand and package” themselves. In many cases, the branding and packaging efforts are lack luster. Politicians produce contradictory and convoluted messages that are lost in translation when they attempt to convey them to the average voter. However, one candidate has taken a different approach. Herman Cain had been branding himself brilliantly, until his recent sexual harassment accusation, and has jumped from an obscure fringe candidate to a GOP front runner because of his efforts. In this blog, we will not focus on his recent sex scandal and instead focus on the power of his simplified message and brand prior to the accusation.
With a crowded field of GOP presidential candidates, the only way to get noticed is to come up with something different, unique and easy for voters to put their arms around. Step up a former businessman who understands the power of branding and packaging. Yes, he probably learned a trick or two from his pizza days, but the old “KISS” adage sure applies here, “Keep It Simple Stupid”. Cain and his team came up with this simple and easy-to-understand 9-9-9 Tax Plan to jump start our economy.
The 9-9-9 plan, since its debut, has generated significant buzz. Every other GOP candidate and President Obama are all talking about his simple tax plan. So much talk and notoriety in fact that Cain has vaulted himself from the fringe to the front of the class.
A common criticism of this plan is that running the country isn’t like running a pizza company. But the thing that Cain understands that all the other candidates don’t is that it takes effective branding and packaging to succeed in today’s challenging business and political environment. Those that are able to clearly and concisely communicate why they or their plan is different, unique and better, will appeal to those looking for an answer. Despite your political views, Herman Cain is setting precedent for all politicians to place high emphasis on how they brand and package their message so that people can clearly grasp it and make decisions based on it.
- Michael Doyle
How to Cheat Your Sales Numbers and Increase Your Odds of Success
As a branding agency, we think of branding and marketing as a way to support sales and drive revenue. By thoroughly understanding your company’s revenue goals, you can learn how to work backwards to “cheat your sales numbers” and make sure your efforts are going to produce the desired results. The more you know how to cheat your numbers, the more you increase your odds of getting new business. Here are eight ideas you should apply to your business to increase your odds of success:
1) Know your numbers
Know just how much marketing and sales activity you need to have in your pipeline in order for you to obtain your forecasted revenue goals and objectives. Understand and know your close ratio and how that affects your numbers.
2) Have a large pool of prospects in the database
Most companies don’t understand that marketing and sales is a numbers game, it takes a large pool of quality suspects and prospects in the database to make the numbers work in your favor. So to cheat your numbers and reach your sales/revenue goals, you must have a big pool of prospects that you consistently stay in touch with.
3) Use a CRM tool/database
It is consistently baffling that there are a number of companies that don’t have enough suspects and prospects to call upon to get the results they are aiming for. Even more surprising is the number of companies that do not utilize a true Customer Relationship Management (CRM) tool. A CRM system can help manage the client information and provide help and real-time information on how you’re tracking against those numbers. Many companies are still relying on an outdated excel sheet to “manage” their clients, when using a CRM tool is far more effective.
4) Regularly reach out and touch prospects
They say most sales people give up after 3-4 touches, which sounds about right; yet they say it takes 7-12 touches in order for a prospect to get to know your company and make a purchasing decision. Make sure you are a company that makes enough touches to get them in your store.
5) Use strategic partners to help build relationships
One of the most effective things companies can do is to tap into strategic partners for referrals and co-market each other’s products or services to both customer bases. Utilizing a key contact for leverage and an introduction is priceless and often can be one of the most effective things companies can do to shorten the sales cycle. Get a quality referral, and stretch your marketing efforts.
6) Identify your unique position and own your space
It is critical to not only be different, but also have strong value points spelled out clearly and concisely. These value points need to verbalize why you are better and what differentiates your company, making you the clear choice and the only real option available.
7) Utilize a strong call to action
In order to help get the response you need for your marketing, advertising and sales efforts, make sure you have a strong call to action. To do this, utilize an impending date or deadline that a special offer expires, a value add that they can only get for a limited amount of time, or an added incentive or bonus to sweeten the deal if you act now.
8) Reevaluate and refine your efforts
To ensure you’re going to reach your goals, you need to consistently evaluate whether your efforts are producing the desired results. If they aren’t, you will need to make adjustments, tweak your offer, or find other strategic partners that understand the benefits of a reciprocal partner relationship.
Cheating your sales numbers is like adjusting the carburetor on your car, a little fine tuning is sometimes required to have a smooth running engine. Once you get the engine running just the way you want it, you can blow the doors off your competitors.
CEO of Brand Iron
America needs a Brand Champion
It’s July – we just had our Independence Day and we have been in a recession for years. Millions of people are and have been out of work. We are facing a debt and budget crisis. Our political parties seem to just be jockeying for positioning instead of getting real things accomplished. The people of America want and a need a Brand Champion.
Brand Champions don’t come up with catchy slogans or cool-looking logos. No, they understand that real results come from developing a brand promise that people can get their arms around, and they deliver on that promise by creating a great brand experience, consistently.
America is just like any other business or organization that needs a leader to take charge. Who will define what an organization wants to get accomplished, craft and create how that is going to happen, and execute that on a consistent basis. We need someone – anyone – within our government to step up and be our Brand Champion, and act as a leader who builds consensus and builds bridges. We need someone who has not just an idea or an agenda, but a real action plan. Someone who has tactics that will help us as a country overcome our problems, (debt and budget) and put people back to work. This requires a Brand Champion that all people, not just one party or the next, but all people can believe in, stand behind, support and have faith in.
Like other brands our Brand Champion has to be real, in that he can connect with his constituency with real ideas. He must use tactics that will show signs that we are making real progress. He can’t be all hat and no cattle, he has to deliver the goods and produce economic stability that helps businesses and the markets buy into his plan. This plan needs to work and signal stability, and with that stability, businesses can start to hire again: bringing down the unemployment rate, stabilizing the housing market, and generating cash into the marketplace.
America and I need a Brand Champion that we can believe in, whoever this Brand Champion is will probably get elected or re-elected this coming year. Whether that Champion is our current president or someone else, I pray that this Brand Champion stands up soon and leads the charge to a real plan that produces results, because that is what real Brand Champions do. They deliver real results through their leadership, consensus building and ability to get things done and execute.
Will our America’s next Brand Champion please stand up, NOW?
This week the retail giant Old Navy launches its first campaign specifically targeting men. While previous ads have featured men’s clothing through a broad family advertising appeal, they are trying a new tactic speaking directly to the 25- to 35-year-old male target.
Adage reports that the new campaign “pokes fun at men’s fashion with “Supar Tool,” an overly metrosexual man and “Corporado,” a corporate cowboy type.” The campaign introduces the characters through videos to be distributed on YouTube and Facebook, while print ads will run in publications including Maxim. Mobile elements will include a game, style-finder, video gallery, store locator and coupons. http://adage.com/article/news/navy-targets-campaign-men/228051/
You may also recall recently a predominantly female driven advertising push for weight-loss turned to males during NBA and NHL playoffs with Weight Watchers unveiling its male targeted campaign featuring the “Beer Cheat Sheet”. It’s commercials about weight loss come about as the company claims to have seen a dramatic spike in male interest.
And about a year ago we posted this blog http://www.brandiron.net/what-gets-your-attention on the Dockers ad targeting “real men” who “wear the pants.”
So why the big push for male targeted advertising? According to Adage “The timing for a men’s apparel push is right.” According to NPD, the men’s apparel market was up 3.3% in 2010, ahead of the overall apparel category, which was up 1.9%. And for the three months ending in February, the men’s apparel category was up 12% compared to the same period a year ago.
Do you think about your value proposition and how it is helping your business? According to a recent survey by Marketing Experiments only 10% of businesses are considered to have a strong, unique value proposition and an overwhelming 30% have no real value proposition.
Considering how important value propositions are in every process of business plans and branding this is startling and makes us wonder how you can set yourself apart and captivate your audience.
Paul Cheney, a blogger for Marketingsherpa Blog offers some important advice on these issues and how to distinguish yourself among competition. He notes how in the movie “Elf,” Buddy, played by Will Ferrell, believes a storefront sign boasting “The World’s Best Cup of Coffee.” We as consumers know not to believe such a claim so, the issue many companies are faced with is creating a value prop that is believable and different from competitors.
Cheney says that a value prop will not be determined it is discovered. This involves a certain shift in thinking and can be created with the implementation of these steps.
1.) Why buy from you over your competitor?
2.) Compare what you are saying with what your competitor is saying, if your competitor can say the same thing about their products and business without lying then you do not have a strong value proposition.
3.) Your value proposition must be instantly credible, use a statistic with as much specific information as possible.
4.) You need to be able to test your value proposition by making it visible in every step of your sales process.
Check out the full article below…
For the last several months I have seen this building rise up in the south of Denver, in a prime location right next to the freeway and Light Rail line. In the last short while, that building has become a big, branded box – bright blue with touches of yellow. This last week, a huge branded sign finally appeared to announce just what this box/building was.
I have known for a while just what this building was to be. Now branded, everyone who hadn’t previously heard the rumor is finally in the loop. The conspicuous location, the giant sign, and the template-design of the building really signify that the owners of this bright-and-shiny, big, blue, branded box get branding.
Opening a store in a new market has become a science for this company. While specific regulations might vary, the company knows what it needs to do to get approvals for a sign and building of this magnitude. Both of which vastly dwarf other retailers nearby. Check out this clip covering the installation of the massive sign that has now appeared:
Despite complaints from some who are calling it an ‘eye-sore,’ this sign and the big, blue box beneath it definitely get attention. Talk about creating buzz to tease an opening – these guys know how to do it.
And it’s not just the sign. Even before inking the real estate deal, rumors of the company coming to town caused a stir. With its near-cult following, I wouldn’t think it’s a challenge for this company to generate excitement among consumers in any community they come to. In all mediums – underground, word-of-mouth, and traditional – the market-entry process earns the company media every step of the way. Its expansion strategy and branding formula is the mark of success.
I happen to like the idea of an international retailer coming to town. (Another is rumored to be coming to the Pavillions.) Introducing big brands like this helps put Denver on the map. It pulls in consumers from all over, it contributes to the economic growth of our city, and this time, it’s nicely branded in a beautiful, big, blue branded box called IKEA.
What’s Your Favorite Color?
Most of us have a favorite color, all of us know what color our mother thinks looks best on us (and which colors look horrid) and consciously or not we all associate certain feelings with certain colors:
Orange – energetic, excited and hungry (wonder why Weight Watchers used the Orange Monster as a brand character? http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=49WjrRJ_DLw)
Blue – calm and serene
Red – intense emotions either of love or anger
Yellow – cheerful and happy
Green – free, fresh and natural
Our eyes absorb light, convert it into a form of energy and allow us to see color. The way that people feel or react to certain colors, or why they choose to favor one color over the next, alludes to how it makes them feel. Scientists have studied this energy for years to understand how certain colors affect our moods, health, and thought-process. And it’s a good thing they have because color has the ability to condition an action, for example (and for effect), consumer buying habits. In layman’s terms, the color of a product or a brand can encourage or dissuade a sale.
Let’s do a quick mind test. Think of a brand for each of these colors:
Now, think of a color for each of these brands:
- Campbell’s soup
I bet that when you pictured each brand you immediately knew how you felt about that brand, if you liked it or not. In some cases, you may have remembered the last time you enjoyed a warm bowl of tomato soup or how you could really go for a cool refreshing soda right about now.
The color of a logo, website, package, etc. is the first impression that is remembered and registered by consumers. It will be the color associated to the brand. If the color sends the right message and invokes the right feeling to a consumer, the company may encourage a sale and a brand ambassador. There’s good reason why brand management is occasionally referred to as the study of science and art. To have a successful, lasting brand, it takes more than listening to the customer, it takes understanding their emotions and how those emotions trigger their purchasing decisions.
So the next time someone asks you what your favorite color is, know that they may actually be reading a little farther into your personality.