Posted on July 21, 2014 by Beth Meadows
So I guess I’m on nerd warp-drive as I get closer and closer to Comic Con.
The other day I was watching Resident Evil: Retribution (don’t judge me!) and I had to pause at the scene where Jill Valentine (played by Sienna Guillory) “boots up” and her eyes turn from her normal color to the Umbrella Corporation logo. At first this is kind of cool, even though I’m pretty sure Jill is supposed to be organic and not a machine, but whatever! I’ll give it to Paul W.S. Anderson for at least creatively butchering one of the greatest video game series of all time (unlike Michael Bay and his not-to-be-mentioned upcoming movie this August). This got me thinking about branding, and while I don’t think there are any corporations out there that are going to go to the lengths of Umbrella, I had to wonder if there are any out there that are guilty of excessive branding.
This might be a touchy topic as it really comes down to a matter of opinion. Is over branding when companies that almost everyone everywhere knows still shell out millions of dollars for Super Bowl ads? Or is it when they’re in our face all of the times regardless of popularity? What about the idea above, in which excessive and unnecessary lengths are taken to advertise in manners that no one would really ever notice? (I don’t think anyone was going to stop Valentine in that movie and debate whether the proper shade of red was reflected in her eyes, most were just trying to avoid getting killed by her.) Maybe all of these qualify? Maybe it depends on the brands? Below are a few arguments that were made on excessive branding.
What do you think?
- Tennis Shoes by Kool Aid
Don’t you step on my Kool-Aid shoes!
First of all, what?
Yes, these were apparently a thing. Now from what I can tell these are not age specific, but I don’t think anyone at any age loves Kool-Aid so much that they would want it branded on their sneakers. Some of the styles are pretty subtle, but others are blindingly abhorrent on the color spectrum. The only thing that would make these more distasteful is if with every step you heard the Kool-Aid man’s “Oh Yeah!” resounding somewhere from your heel region. I’m not sure who was on the board meeting when this was approved, but electroshock therapy should have been administered at some point in time thereafter. This brand marriage doesn’t even make sense! I do not think of shoes when drinking Kool-Aid, nor do I think of Kool-Aid while shoe shopping!
- Cologne by Play-Doh
I’m still not entirely convinced that this isn’t a joke, but Amazon reviews seem at least moderately legit. Why this was ever a thought in anyone’s head I have no idea. I’ll just briefly revisit my comment on electroshock therapy. Reasons this would be necessary…maybe?
Oh baby, is that Red Play-Doh by Demeter you’re wearing?
- Your two year old has a really hot play date.
- You are one of three Play-Doh collectible fanatics on the globe.
- As a gag gift.
That’s it. Seriously. What is this, and why? I thought the Kool-Aid shoes were insane, but this takes the cake. Or the Play-Doh.
- Romance Novels by Nascar
I used to work at Borders back in the day, and I remember my reaction when I first saw these on the romance novel end cap. It was somewhere along the lines of “Seriously?” and “Wow, something worse than Twilight finally hit the market.” I was wrong on the latter point as I don’t think anything worse than Twilight could do the damage that series did to literature everywhere. (Before you argue, the 50 Shades of Grey book series originally started off as Twilight fanfiction – so yes it is responsible for catastrophic damage.) I digress. I have a few issues with romance novels by Nascar that may come off as callous as a non-Nascar fan:
- Do Nascar drivers really look like this?
The quick answer is no, they don’t. My parents watch Nascar, I grew up with Nascar, and no one involved with Nascar looks like these people do! It’s fine if you think Jeff Gordon is okay-looking, but he is not Fabio or Brad Pitt. And why are so many of these men wearing suits? Romance in general is responsible for a lot of unrealistic scenarios, but these books I’d wager make fun of themselves with how seriously they’re presented. I’m PRAYING there are no racing innuendos in these books, but let’s face it, based on some of these titles, there probably are. And on that note…
- Aren’t a lot of these titles things you DON’T want to happen on a race day?
Running on Empty? Over the Wall? Overheated? Into the Corner? There are no corners on race tracks, just walls, and generally you want to avoid hitting or going over those, right? Especially at a hundred miles per hour! I’m going back to the reflection that these are likely puns or innuendos, and if this is what the writers came up with I’m not overly confident in the quality of prose for the next couple hundred pages.
I’m pretty sure Nascar isn’t hurting for money, and based off what I’ve seen they have no problem drawing in female fans, so why romance novels? Are race car drivers really the next apex of desirable athletes? (Can they even be called athletes?) These are questions I don’t have answers for, and actually hesitate to give my opinion on. It’s definitely another one of those marriages of products that I can’t put my finger on.
From my days at Borders I think I can safely say that romance is like fantasy for most of the female reading population, so maybe the play here is to hit the demographic of women who instead of being whisked away by Conan the Barbarian would rather be driven off into the sunset by Dale Earnhardt Jr. I never got into the romance genre and doubt that’ll change anytime soon, but maybe the ability to use familiar cars that are owned by the Nascar franchise helps drive (no pun intended) the reality for the reader?
Let us know in the comments if you’ve seen other examples of excessive, nonsense branding or marriage of brands.
Posted on July 14, 2014 by Beth Meadows
Last month Business Week released a short blurb talking about advertising and online marketing, saying that only 5% of Americans claim that social media has a large influence on what they buy and 30% claiming that it had only some influence. The percentages shift slightly amongst millennials, but not a great deal. Some feel that this might validate skepticism towards online marketing despite some $5.1 billion being spent on media advertising in 2013, but let’s hold our horses for a second.
The article then switches halfway through with information from a new report stating the opposite as far as the potency for online advertising and social media. While people put less trust in social media ads and more in word of mouth and consumer opinions, one has to wonder – isn’t that what social media is? I rather like following my favorite companies and brands on Facebook, and I like it even more when they have representatives managing the page and posting live responses to compliments or complaints (especially the latter). It shows me that the company is invested, even if only somewhat, in getting to know their customer base on a more intimate level, and in a world where everyone’s pretty much caught up in themselves, that small step speaks volumes.
Example: Early this year I downloaded a month long free trial of the software Camtasia – a screen sharing/recording software that allows for a lot of editing capabilities. (The software itself is almost $200 so you better believe I’m testing this baby first!) Towards the last few weeks the recording side got a little buggy, and while I’m certain this was my computer and not the software, I posted a joke about it on Twitter, not even tagging the company. In less than an hour I had a reply from Camtasia’s Twitter account asking me what the issue was and what they could do to help! This is, by far, the most amazing example of customer service I’ve seen on any social media platform. I wasn’t bashing the software, I wasn’t calling them out on a shoddy and buggy demo, I simply made a joke. There was no real reason to save face, yet they wanted to help. I’ve yet to see Comcast, Walmart, or any other company however big or small make this sort of effort. Honestly, this makes me want to buy the software simply because the creators obviously care about how their creation works and how happy their customers are. If I have a problem I can rest assured that it will be addressed.
Maybe this is the reality of online advertising? Not sponsored ads that are just waved under your nose upon login, but the actual ability to reach out to someone on the other end of that consumer/seller spectrum with a helping hand reaching back.
So maybe advertising, or advertising alone, is the wrong way to look at things after all but I don’t think this justifies not having a social media presence or putting your company out there. Here at Show Your Logo many of the sales and marketing team manage our social media platforms. It’s a great way to get different personalities across while still wholly representing ourselves, and allows for a more personal conversation with our customers who wish to post, comment, or just drop us a line or compliment.
I therefore think it’s safe to say that if your company is already on Facebook, Twitter, Pinterest, or anything else, you’re already advertising. How you choose to follow up with that advertising and those ads (which I recommend – just make sure they look professional) is what will ensure your overall success with any online marketing.
Facebook image obtained from http://www.telegraph.co.uk
Shopping bag image obtained from http://www.ju.edu.jo
Posted on July 7, 2014 by Beth Meadows
True story: I’m not much of a board game player, but in my opinion there’s no better ice breaker than a game of “Would You Rather.” I’ve only ever played a few times because I usually cannot contain my laughter at every other player’s answers, but that’s primarily because the questions in general are SO ridiculous! For example: Would you rather: Have to eat a pine cone? Or have to poop a pine cone? (Never mind that the former would eventually lead to the latter). The good thing about this game is that ridiculousness. None of these are real world scenarios–unless you do have an insatiable appetite for pine cones, in which case I might suggest talking to someone close and trustworthy about your issues.
OK, so the pine cone scenario is ridiculous, but the fact of the matter is that life often requires each and every one of us to engage in unpleasantries. Would you rather shop for health insurance or get a root canal? Would you rather be stuck in line at Wal-Mart or lick the cart? Do you see what I’m saying?
Can businesses use life’s unpleasantries to their advantage?
If your promotional products create simple solutions while displaying resourcefulness and creativity it will increase your exposure for sure, as well as giving your company props for being aware of exactly what your customer base needs. Each of the items listed below are affordable and offer a great deal of reusability which means your name is out there more which, in the marketing world, translates as “free advertising,” and I’m pretty sure I don’t need to explain the wonderful perks of anything being free.
- Would you rather go to the airport or go to the DMV?
A recent study just showed that between the two of these places, both run just about neck and neck as qualifying for the ninth circle of hell. Frankly, I can understand with about one exception: The DMV literally has no long term desirable outcome. If I’m at the airport I can at least be sustained by the fact that I have some nice sandy beaches to look forward to within the next 24 hours (after getting to second base with a TSA agent), and if it’s a return trip the fact that I will soon be sleeping in my own bed again is equally comforting (no more San Diego sidewalks during Comic Con! – anyone who has ever attended knows exactly what I mean) but the DMV is literally a haphazard stumble through legal documents, paying fees, getting my picture taken, and leaving all while dealing with screaming children and not-even-pretending-to- be-happy government workers (but no groping from them in this instance so I guess that’s a plus). Then there’s the fact that you’re either lacking or exceeding in the required documentation (despite following the guidelines for what you need to bring) the former of which will elicit a trip back.
No matter which facility you’re visiting it helps to have those said documents ready though, especially if you like hopping the pond once in a while like I do. For those who know exactly what I mean a six pocket travel carrier is a godsend. There’s nothing more assuring to a neurotic traveler than all their documentation being in one easily accessible location. For those travelers who will never (or rarely) take to the skies I would still probably recommend a portfolio to keep necessary roadside paperwork together, or if you just want to drown out the noise until your number is called ear buds are a great choice! Just thank your lucky stars you don’t have to deal with the New Jersey Department of Motor Vehicles!
- Would you rather attend an event with a dead phone or charge your phone while missing an event?
We have ALL been here. Every. Last. One of us, especially us iPhone 5 users (hey, we all make bad choices; I just happen to have a two year contract for mine) and it’s a bit of a Catch-22. Naturally we need our phones in the event of an emergency, but if you’re going somewhere fun you’re probably going to want to take pictures, videos, text, etc. However, if you go and charge your phone you end up missing the event you originally wanted to get that social media coverage with. I see this happen at conventions a lot as well as sporting events. It’s funny to think that not too long ago we were not so dependent on these things called cell phones and tablets but thankfully the truly trendy among us have portable chargers that can make life easier and make you the talk of the party.
- Would you rather wait in line at the grocery store or wait on hold on the phone?
I’ve spent many a cumulative hour on hold, and in line at the grocery store. What makes both situations worse is that I am by no means a patient woman. I can be down to my last three squares of toilet paper at home and if there are more than two people in line at each register I’m already considering just leaving. Seriously. “Ain’t no one got time for that” is a fact of life. At least when I’m on hold I can use my hands, or at least one of them, and then I can use my shoulder to hold the phone – until that starts to ache, and is that “Call Me Maybe” they’re playing as a waiting tone? That’s some frustrating irony right there! I’m probably never going to call you again as we’ve well surpassed the eight minute mark now.
What makes the grocery store experience so bad for me is that I usually go in for one thing and leave with twelve, which means I didn’t bother to grab a cart or a basket on my way in so now I’m juggling my groceries and my spiking blood pressure. It’s one of the reasons I love those grocery tote bags, not to mention they’re environmentally sound! Now I just need a promotional item that reminds me to bring them when I go shopping.
As for waiting on the phone, if you really need to put the cell phone down those little blue tooth speakers can be a great help if you want to amplify the caller for when they finally do pick up again. You can then easily switch back to your handheld or continue to yell from across the room, if only to help alleviate some frustration.
Airport image obtained from freeimages.com; Convention image obtained from freeimages.com
Posted on June 30, 2014 by Kila Harwick
With the booming popularity of DVR’s, it would seem like commercials are a thing of the past. If this is true, why would large companies still want to promote products using this form of advertising? The answer is simple: because they work. Ever been at the movie theater and swear to yourself that you wouldn’t buy a popcorn and Coke only to–moments later–curse the mouth-watering ad you saw during the previews that made you purchase the large combo pack? Yeah, I’ve been there too.
I mean, LOOK at that butter! Mmmmmm!
When I have to watch the commercials, say at the theater, or during the Super Bowl (or any live show), I have come to realize that commercials really do work. No, I may not want to buy a Soul after watching those hamsters dance, but the commercial did do one thing important. They got me thinking and later talking about Kia. What the heck is the point of a hamster that loses weight and drives a Kia? I don’t know, but I am talking about Kia now.
Although some would argue then, that bad publicity is still good because it gets the name out, I believe commercials can also have a negative effect on the consumer. This negativity actually pushes away business. So what are these ads and commercials that make me flip out, or just flip the channel? Follow along as I take you through some of the worst advertising pieces and explain the do’s and don’ts of their promotional attempt.
PITCH YOUR PRODUCT OR SERVICE, WITHOUT GROSSING ME OUT.
Did you just eat? If so, don’t watch this ad! It seriously made me sick to my stomach. Yes, sometimes there are gross things that happen to our bodies, but is there a better way to illustrate the relief this product provides? I am pretty sure I will never remember the name of this product because all I can think about is how gross the human foot really can be. Please, please do not be so graphic!
GENERATE EMOTION, BUT ONLY GOOD ONES. NO SADNESS OR GUILT. COME ON GET HAPPY!
Whenever I start to hear Sarah McLachlan’s “Arms of the Angel,” I am in a mad panic to find the remote to turn the channel to something—ANYTHING less depressing. I just can’t take watching animal after animal being abused. This commercial doesn’t make me want to donate to the cause. It makes me want to kill my flat screen and buy my dog lots and lots of treats! If I followed through with my emotions, I would have to use my $18.00 (times one hundred) and buy a new television, so I wouldn’t have any money to donate or buy my dog treats which could be considered animal abuse if you ask my mom.
If you are going to pull at my heart strings, make sure you yank at the ones that will give you a positive response, like Budweiser does with its Clydesdale and Labrador retriever “puppy love” commercials. (WARNING: Be prepared for cute overload when watching those commercials.)
TELL ME WHAT YOU ARE PROMOTING. NO, REALLY. TELL ME WHAT YOU ARE PROMOTING.
I cannot tell you how many times I am completely annoyed after watching a commercial because I sat through the entire two minutes and I still don’t know what the point was! Xbox did a really good job of this with this ad. Luckily, I only wasted 30 seconds of my time, but it still bothers me nonetheless. First, no woman should ever make that face. Ever. Secondly, I never want to visualize I am looking at someone’s head where their brain should be. Why are there people living in there and watching movies? I am so confused. Apparently, this commercial is about the new technology with Xbox, but I am convinced it’s about some robot lady. Either way, I don’t want to buy an Xbox, or watch movies from inside my head.
TELL A STORY. WAIT, TELL A RELEVANT STORY.
There are an unlimited amount of reasons this commercial makes me flip, but for the sake of really wanting to get to the next commercial (*Spolier Alert* Chipotle actually got it right) I will keep the Bud Light advert bashing to a minimum. I just feel like Bud Light is such an ordinary beer that it needs to show all of its ordinary drinkers that there is no way someone famous is going to hang out and party with you for an entire night just because you are carrying that brown bottle around like a trophy. Go ahead and make the new guy show up with a bottle of Cristal and have him drive a Ferrari F430, and THEN we can talk about gettin’ down with the celebs. These drinkers need to know that you can have twice as much fun without all of the glitz, glamour, and the green. All you truly need is a bottle of Bud to get this party started.
In an attempt to not be such a critical “Negative Nancy,” I would like to say that if you want to produce excellent story through a commercial, you should mimic Chipotle and its “Back to the Start” commercial. Through simple animation and guiding lyrics, we are shown that in the wake of new technological food production, Chipotle supports sustainable farming that still produces fresh and wholesome ingredients.
Oh, and don’t even get me started on their newest “Scarecrow” commercial. You can view it here and it might be even better than the previously mentioned ad. Though two different stories, they do the same things to the viewer. They hook you in with that simple animation that is pleasing to the eye. They have simple songs with lyrics that explain the story so that no boring dialogue is needed. They give you a simple person with a big, heart wrenching problem. Then, they show you how that simple person (like us) can help solve that big problem. They make him a hero and convince you that you can be one too, just by eating their products. Not only does it follow the classic storytelling must haves such as introduction, plot, climax, and conclusion, it also has all four points mentioned above. It showed food production without grossing me out. It generated just enough emotion to make me want to change my actions but not the channel. It was clear on what it was promoting- sustainable farming. Most importantly though, this advertisement told a short story that was entirely relevant and will continue to be to food consumers in the future. So now that Chipotle has successfully figured out how to reach their market (of anyone who eats food….so EVERYBODY) how will you reach yours?
Posted on June 23, 2014 by Steve Brungart
Here at Show Your Logo, we know why soccer has not taken off in the Unites States like has in the rest of the world! It isn’t the perceived notion that there’s more action in hockey and basketball, nor is it that you “don’t get the physical play as you do in American football.” Both of these statements are false–soccer is both action-packed and physical. The real reason? The United States National Team has been screwing up their jerseys for years!
Before I get into the jersey situation, I need to share some relevant information about myself. I am a Chicago sports fan: Bears, Bulls, Cubs, and Blackhawks. (Props to you if you pronounced “the” as “da” at the beginning of each team name!) When you think of these teams I have listed (don’t worry about the ones I left off), the one thing they have in common is that their uniforms have stayed relatively unchanged for thirty or more years. Yes, they may change to have longer shorts or pants, and the manufactures may have changed, but overall, the Bear’s uniform is still a simple mix of navy, orange, and white on a jersey with a navy helmet and that wonderful iconic “C.” The Bulls’ jerseys just say “Bulls.” The Cubs wear pinstripes. The Blackhawks’ Indian head is so iconic that you are not allowed to step on it in the dressing room (we’re looking at you Biebs!). Even looking outside of Chicago there are plenty of uniforms that have stayed consistent through the years: The Yankees, Packers, Lakers, Celtics, just to name a few! Lately there has been a trend to have retro jerseys. There are also a lot of universities that have been going with some crazy uniforms. The streamlined consistency of these team uniforms, their color schemes, and the stylized presentation of their branding makes them recognizable even to non-fans.
There are many soccer uniforms that are the same way. Brazil has a very iconic jersey (or “kit” as it is called everywhere else in the world). The Brazilian uniform is always a yellow shirt with green trim. It doesn’t matter if Nike or Adidas is making it, those are their colors and that is their style. The same goes for Argentina. Their shirts are always white with light blue vertical stripes. England, Italy, France, Holland… all have had jerseys that have stayed more or less consistent during the course of time.
Then there is the United States soccer uniform. The only thing really consistent about our uniforms is that they aren’t consistent. The colors aren’t even consistent! Sometimes the blue is a royal blue, and other times it is a navy blue.
Each of these things is not like the other!
Please do not even get me started on the time they used denim! (See the 1994 away jersey).
From a marketing standpoint, this is bad for business. Like, really bad. You want to build a consistent brand, and that includes the uniform. If this was your logo being bounced all over, you’d be enraged at the inconsistency of the presentation of your brand. So why aren’t we Americans upset about how we are presenting ourselves to one of the largest sporting events of the world?
The uniforms have had some terrible designs. There was the denim start design in 1994 (which while probably appropriate for that time really should never be acknowledged again), the sash design of 2011, the wavy lines of 1993, and that’s just to name a few. The U.S. team needs to start having a modern, youthful design in their look. Let’s face it, in the grand scheme of things, we are a pretty young country. Shouldn’t our uniforms reflect that? Or better yet, what’s wrong with some simplicity? We’ve seen time and time again some fantastic examples of when less truly is more, so go all out! Or don’t! Just make it nice to look at? Please??
The United States National Team needs to get a consistent and moderately aesthetically pleasing uniform, and then the sport will really have a chance to catch on here. If it doesn’t catch on, I will be blaming the years of inconsistent uniforms.
Posted on June 9, 2014 by Beth Meadows
A few weeks ago, Rolling Stones magazine released a photo-set article on the 50 best things they saw at Coachella. Upon the time of publication we still had one more weekend to see one of the largest musical events in the country, but the article still manages to point out some very interesting things about what makes artists stand out among a crowd (literally) and among their peers in the performance industry.
New Zealand artist Lorde ushered in one of the largest crowds of the weekend with her Coachella debut, while others were surprised by the return of Lemmy Kilmister, lead vocalist and bassist for Motörhead, having taken leave due to illness. Then there’s the fact that there was actually a Best Beard rating (Sebu Simonian of Capital Cities – Kangaroo Court, anyone?) and of course: best dance moves, best costumes , best Hasselhoff sightings (spoiler alert: all of them!), best secret DJ stage, most eye popping set, and best/most anticipated reunion.
What we see among many of these artists is bold statements and presentations, but most of all strong passion and talent and the know-how to properly deliver a message, whatever that message might be. This is the key to anything if you want to be heard whether you’re trying to get your brand out there or your lyrics (and let’s face it, is there really much of a difference between the two?).
The most important lesson seems to be: Make sure your message reflects who you are. Plenty of up and coming musicians started in one genre and ended up in another (Avril Lavigne started in the Country genre before becoming the pop/punk princess). Generally this is due to rebranding from within the industry – but let’s face it, most of us know at least half of the lyrics to “Complicated” (even if we won’t admit it). So it stands to reason, if people don’t buy it, they won’t buy it. Make sure your brand, your image, your logo, anything you put your name on, is reflective of you – because that’s what you’re really throwing out there to get your company ahead of the giants out there today, or at least running on the same track.
Make sure to check out the full article here for plenty more stories about this year’s desert rock concert. The 2015 tickets are already on sale, and although there’s still no information on lineups we’re pretty confident that as long as Bieber isn’t there, it’ll be a great event.