Archives for posts with tag: Brand Experience


It’s a fact: companies have become more accountable because of Social Media. They can’t just hide behind mission statements, phone trees and corporate rules anymore. All of us should love that fact. Embrace it. And we should hold each company to the basic objective of being accountable and transparent.

It doesn’t mean, you shouldn’t be accountable for your own behavior.

The anonymity of the Social Web, the constant avalanche of information often leads to misinformation, skewed messages and subjective interpretations that aren’t based in reality. The need to be heard, retweeted and seen as a thought leader makes it even worse. So-called influentials (sanctioned by Klout silliness) waste all of our time discussing their bad product/service experiences, cheered on by the legions of followers and people that believe everything they say blindly. More importantly, companies waste a lot of time trying to keep these influentials happy and calm down the mob they tend to drag along. It’s easy for anybody now to start a rumor, to share a subjective customer service experience without having to face the consequences. There are always two sides to a story but we tend to hear only one side and immediately blame the corporation.

Recruit your own army of loyal followers

Facing an army of followers as a solitary brand will never end pretty. At best, you will be able to take care of the influential and their followers will disperse, looking for the next victim. At worst, you might start a brushfire. You can’t win this battle by yourself. You need to recruit your own army of loyal customers. People that will stand up for you when something goes wrong. Even to a person with 30,000 followers. The basic task in Social Marketing is to listen and engage. The real task is start building a group of loyalists, your brand guard that will fight for you when times get tough. Don’t try to buy mercenaries, or get professional soldiers. Deliver a great experience, amazing customer service. And, when something goes array, these people will pick up the fight for you.


“When we are narcissistic, we are not on solid ground (earth) or thinking clearly (air) or cought up in passion (fire).  Somehow if we follow the myth, we are dreamlike, fluid, not clearly formed, more immersed in a stream of fantasy than secure in a firm identity.” – Thomas Moore

Mediocre brands love to talk about themselves. Just like the dull dinner companion or date that can only talk about him or herself. It’s hard to escape a dinner date, it’s easy to escape mediocre brands. I just tune them out, throw their stuff in the garbage, don’t even see them.

Great brands talk about what they believe in. What they are passionate about. What they love. They take a stand and tell you what they’re standing against. Sharing with the world what your really believe in is inspiring. Sharing a passion with the world makes people want to connect with a brand. It’s so much easier to connect with people when you share your real identity with the world.

What is your brand passionate about?


Unless you lived on the moon, you realize the global economy is struggling because most corporations are not constructed to produce any real value. They are designed to maximize shareholder value while stakeholders are getting squeezed to improve the bottom line and introduce as many efficiencies as possible. Add to that corporate welfare, Fed and Treasury policies, regulations (or lack thereof) and you end up with a toxic mess of an ongoing banking crisis, mind-numbing landscapes of mini malls, toxicity in assets, the environment and the overall capitalistic world we are living in. And, while people are crowding the bargain bins, corporations continue to develop cheaper ways to satisfy the need for the bargain. Interestingly, when you produce a mediocre product/service (create thin value, as Umair Haque calls it), the price is all what matters. When you create real value/thick value, price becomes a tertiary consideration. Call it awesomeness, call it being amazing, call it being a linchpin.

With a few, rare exceptions, advertising has focused on creating thin value. Rather than inspiring people with marketing for products that add value, most of marketing/advertising is focused on brainwashing people into buying stuff that makes no difference. Just another item I can use and throw away/forget about effortlessly without considering the implications for the rest of the world. (Labor Conditions, Environment, Export/Import Structures)

Now, let’s look at the advertising/marketing industry. It’s not a dying industry but an industry in deep trouble. We are not considered partners, we’re just another vendor that sells questionable value. Media Buying has become a commodity, media planning to follow soon. The people we market to are busy tuning us out because they don’t feel marketing creates any real value. While we continue to communicate to people as they were still consumers, they are busy producing, communicating and building networks. We have commoditized our industry to death, starting to hop on a dangerous death spiral. Just like the whole economic system.

Advertising is just one pillar of the economic system we’re living in. Advertising can’t change the world or make it a better place. But, as part of a new economic system, advertising can be an inspiration, an artistic expression of the paradigm change. As an industry, we need to focus on the drastic changes the economic system is going through. We can safely say, the end of creating slim/thin value for profit is fast approaching. No matter how good your strategies/tactics/ideas are, unless you create real value for society with your products and services, you will fail in the long run.

My headline “Why advertising professionals need to be economic professionals” didn’t imply you need to watch Bloomberg all day, read each article in the WSJ or get a degree in economics. Most of what you read or see there is just an expression of times almost passed. All of us need to understand that our whole economic system is transforming and changing into something much more substantial, sustainable and human. Advertising is just another expression of this change. Please work, create, add value accordingly.


This column appeared first on Jack Myers’ MediaBizBloggers

You don’t know you’re part of a revolution unless it’s over

I was born in West-Germany. The Wall was around since I was born. It was a fact just like air, taxes and great German soccer. Nothing would ever change that fact. Throughout 1988 and 1989, it became apparent to some that the era of Cold War Communism was approaching the end. The majority of people, pundits, experts and politicians still believed the Wall would stand for another 1,000 years. A few days later, people were dancing on the Wall.

Human beings are incremental creatures. We don’t recognize revolutions, even if we’re part of it. We just recognize them when they’re over. We didn’t see the demise of newspapers coming. We didn’t see the amazing advent of Facebook and Twitter coming. We had no clue about the iPhone, iPad, mobile evolution, the emergence of blogs as a supplement/replacement of mass media news sources. Most importantly, we had no idea how these new tools, toys and platforms would affect our daily behavior. It happened incrementally.

Incremental doesn’t mean it’s not a revolution.

We’re definitely in a Gutenberg moment: I can publish my opinion through all these new, shiny tools in seconds. I can comment on opinions of other in seconds. All of us have become producers: pictures, words, videos. Too many in the advertising world continue trying to grab on to the old world, trying to bury their head in the sand while the world continues to change. Dramatically. Each and every day. These dramatic changes don’t just affect Marketing and Advertising. It’s a business revolution, an entertainment revolution, an education revolution, a behavioral revolution – it encompasses everything we do.

The digital revolution is far more significant than the invention of writing or even of printing. – Douglas Engelbart

We don’t know what the future will bring. Mass Media will be around for a while, while Social Media is developing. We don’t know yet how we will work and live when all of us have close friends that we’ve never met, apply for jobs that don’t exist yet, how new forms of expressions will transform our way to communicate. Our physical bodies might be equal with our networked brains, we might not distinguish between the “real” and a “virtual” world. Human Beings have been around for hundreds of thousand years, but the changes we’ll experience in the next 10 years will be more dramatic than the transformation from Neanderthaler to U.S. suburbanite in 2010.

All of us are responsible for the future.

Each one working in the advertising and marketing is responsible not to waste this opportunity. We are too transfixed on get-rich-quick stories, talk too much about little features a platform adds every other month, and we’re too busy proclaiming the death of (TV, Radio, Newspaper, Magazines, Web, Social Media – you name it).

We’re just at the beginning. This new world is changing fast and our mind has problems understanding the dimension of this transformation. This is our opportunity of a lifetime. Don’t miss out on it. Or worse, don’t screw it up because all of us determine the outcome of this revolution.


My favorite airport in the world is in Amsterdam. And my least favorite airport is LAX. I do anything to avoid that horrible experience. What Amsterdam gets and Los Angeles doesn’t understand: an airport experience represents a brand experience.

Imagine traveling to Los Angeles for the first time in your life: Palm Trees, Sun, Beverly Hills, Hollywood. The dream of a lifetime. And then you land at LAX. You leave the plane exhausted, walking down dark hallways, paint peeling off, the smell of a non-ventilated locker room in your nose. Immigration makes you wait in endless lines for hours, the lights reminding you of an interrogation room. Everything screams: “You’re not welcome.” Finger prints, thumb prints, a photo: Is this Rikers Island or LAX? By the time they graciously let you in, your luggage has been offloaded from the conveyor belt. If you’re lucky. If you’re unlucky, your luggage is gone. Now it’s time to stand in another line: Customs. Finally, you’re done. A refreshment would be nice, right? No luck. The arrival hall is bleak, nothing for you to do. Except leaving. Time to stand in another line: for a cab, the rental shuttle or the bus. When your Los Angeles adventure begins, you already have an impression of this city: It smells, they don’t care about people and their needs.

Compare that to Amsterdam: immigration takes a few minutes, the building are well-lit, everything screams: “Welcome.” Customs is a breeze. I’m greeted by open shops, restaurants, ATM’s, rental car counters and easy access to cabs. My arrival experience turns into a real Amsterdam experience within minutes. Amsterdam airport enhances my travel experience. LAX diminishes it. Amsterdam airport accentuates the Dutch brand. It communicates modern values. It communicates to me an open society, a dynamic community that welcomes me immediately.

Like it or not: We’re all in the experience business. It used to be enough to have a decent product, a good price, an accessible place for me buy it, coupled with a good promotion. Let’s count the money. Not anymore. You need to create experiences. It can be a Redbox experience: Give me a movie for $1 now. It can be a Virgin Atlantic Upper Class experience: Treat me like a rockstar. But it has to be an experience.

People often confuse experiences with flashy things. That’s why so many companies continue to build these monuments to Flash as websites. Because they want me to experience the brand. More often than not, the best experience is getting a task done on my terms in the shortest time possible. The metrics “Time Spent” should be considered a warning sign, not a success metrics. Brands should rather focus on “Task achieved in”. Companies need to focus less on making things efficient for them, more on making all brand experiences more efficient for each of their customers.

Take a look at your store: What experience are people getting out of it?

Your website. Does it only serve your purpose (sell, upsell, cross-sell) or does it serve your customers?

Your marketing. Are you just talking about yourself or do you help people, add value, make their lives better?

Which brings me back to LAX.

Times are tough, no money, no budget. I’m not asking for a billion dollar renovation of LAX. I’m just asking for changing our attitude when designing these places. Paint is not that expensive, let’s make the hallways a little bit more brighter and colorful. Let’s have all school children in Los Angeles paint pictures about their community and hang those up in the Immigration area. Let’s have a close look at line management in Immigration and Customs. Let’s have volunteers help people with their paperwork before they meet the Immigration officer. Let’s create an experience of Los Angeles as a community, as a place where we welcome the world. Is that too much to ask?


This post appeared first on the site

1. The strategy includes the fragment “we will drive traffic to the micro-site”

Micro-sites had their time but it’s a time long past. Building brand experiences totally removed from the platforms people use daily and share content with their Social Graph is a strategy destined to fail. And cost you a lot of money to “drive” people to that solitary microsite.

2. Customers are considered an audience

The majority of your customers have transformed from passive consumers to active producers. They review, link, share, write, create. Marketing is about behavior change. In this age, it’s almost impossible to turn passive consumption into active participation/behavior change. Instead, focus on digital initiatives that allow people to participate: polls, question, interactions, and co-creation.

3. A reliance on buying attention

Buying disruptive advertising to get attention is not as effective as earning attention through interesting content or collaborative efforts. Good marketing earns attention. It draws you in, it makes people give away their precious time to engage with the marketing product. It’s a story well told. It’s an insight revealed.

4. The strategy includes the word ‘viral’

The viral metaphor has been abused and misquoted until it lost all its meaning. You can’t create something that just self-propagates. People pass things around in the digital world for their own social reasons. Tap into those social reasons and you will be able to create a piece of content people want to share with others.

5. Social Media is regarded as another channel

All your traditional media (offline and online) has to be social: Feeding the social platforms you chose and feeding off them. Social is not everything but everything is social.

6. They talk all day long about brand positioning

We learned a long time ago that brands can’t be everything to everybody. Brand positioning was born. In an age where brands are defined by people, brand positioning has lost its value. Modern brands have a point of view. A very strong point of view that will turn off many people and turn on your customers.

7. The majority of objectives and goals are about media metrics, not your business goals

Would you rather have an advertising campaign with an engagement rate of 20% and sales increase of 0.2% or a marketing campaign with an engagement rate of 4% and sales increase of 12%? Real brand-agency partnerships look at the business holistically, not judge the performance by the media spreadsheet.

And a bonus sign:

It’s just about you and them. Not the customer.

Take your marketing hat off for a second: As a customer, would you like to get spammed 532 Foursquare offers when you walk around a mall? Or do you want something useful, something that improves your life? It’s so easy to fall into the trap of bright, shiny objects and squeeze everything out of them until they’ve become another spam bot. It might be beneficial for the short-term but it doesn’t do anything for long-term brand equity. Customers are not a walking wallet, they are a key stakeholder in the success of your company.


All this talk about branded experiences makes me wonder why upstarts like redbox are so successful. Sure, there’s a time and a place for branded experiences, retail experiences and experiential platforms. But there’s also a time when I just want to buy a product/service and leave. That’s why I’m so annoyed when I have to listen to upsells and I just wanted to activate my credit card. Or when an associate tries to sell the Best Buy warranty while I just want to go home and use the product.

Superior customer service doesn’t always mean eye contact, smiles and a human connection. Superior customer service sometimes just means help me get my task done quickly. And let me go my merry way without some brand blah blah, handshake and efforts to sell me more.