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Excessive Branding – Is There Such a Thing?

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.df11213b1656fcea3a65041239f252ed

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?

 

  1. Tennis Shoes by Kool Aid

    Look at me in my Kool-Aid shoes!

    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!

 

  1. 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?

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.

 

 

  1. Romance Novels by Nascar

Nascar_Romance_main-425x224

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.

  • What is the point?

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.

Does Social Media Influence Your Purchasing Choices?

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 www.telegraph.co.ukbrands 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. www.ju.edu.jo

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

Game On!

Gamification: Not a word that many hear in the real world (i.e. the physical, 3D plane where there are no re-spawns or cheat codes for instant cash) but its slowly starting to catch fire. What, pray tell, is gamification though? Well, truthfully? Up until recently I was pretty sure there was no official academic definition for it, but some further research has proven me wrong as Oxford has indeed added the term to their listing (although I’m still trying to figure out how “bling” and “muggle” made it in). You can find it here, but essentially it comes down to being “the application of gaming mechanics and design techniques in non-gaming contexts.”

Now we have a definition. Great! But what are “non-gaming contexts?” You probably have to be a gamer for it to click, so again I’ll help you “noobs” along here (gamer language, look it up). Game mechanics are essentially the processes of operations within a game. Can you jump? That’s a mechanic. Can you climb? Yep, that’s a mechanic too. Is your princess in another castle? That’s not a mechanic but instead the work of a disgruntled writer. Now “design techniques” are where the area gets a little gray, but essentially you can think of this as how a reward system might work within your gamified promotion, or training techniques, or whatever it is you’re wanting to do with this concept.

Video-Games-playing

I actually did this once at a previous job where we created a social media promotion that was essentially a scavenger hunt (this is still a game). Via Facebook and Twitter we would post clues as to which memorabilia item our customers were supposed to find on property (it was a casino) and by the end of the week all participants who submitted the right picture won a prize. The top three participants with the highest number of correct submissions at the end of the month won merchandise, points, and other goodies. This, essentially, is gamification in marketing, and it accomplished two very important goals for our property:

1)      It brought patrons into the place of business every week, and;

2)      It increased our number of active patrons on our social media outlets, which increased our overall outreach and analytics scores.

And truthfully? It was also a lot of fun! Our patrons were amazingly happy and got even a little competitive during the course of this campaign. We also caught the attention of a few pretty substantial organizations who liked the idea and subsequently used a few of the promotion’s elements for their own events later on (I won’t drop any names though).

So there you have it: gaming – not just for saving the world anymore. Sometimes, it might just save your business too.

Think about all of the apps out there these days that are gamifying your exercise routine. It’s a lot more fun having an app tell you you’re outrunning zombies than just telling you how many calories you’re burning, right? (Well, for me it is). And what about frequent flyer miles? That’s a reward based program that gives you points for being loyal. Those points? Gamification! Don’t believe me? Okay, fine! But this is a topic Forbes.com has been covering for some time as well. It’s no perfected science, believe me, but it’s certainly a big step in a new and fresh direction.

But why would a logo company care about gamification? If we stop and consider everything we’ve read here today, and all we know about gaming and video games, what’s the one thing we know comes from every gaming experience? Rewards! Whether it’s coins, power ups, loot, or finally finding the right castle – every game leaves the player with a sense of accomplishment, and there’s nothing that says “good job” in the real world like physical merchandise (aka logoed products).

So I, Beth Meadows, gamer geek girl extraordinaire of Show Your Logo, present to you a few quick gamification ideas:

1)      Slim Down = Level Up

The spring and summer season sees a lot of companies try to kick start a healthy eating program to inspire their employees to lose weight and eat right. While this already has most of the elements of gamification worked into it, why not add a little flare? You just got all (or most) of your employees to start eating more conscientiously – gifting them with food seems a little counter intuitive. So how about merchandise? Better yet, how about this:

Instead of making the competition an all or nothing effort for losing so many pounds, change it out so that it’s a bit more realistic. Harry probably doesn’t lose weight like Sally, so expecting them both to shed the same amount of pounds within a certain time frame really eliminates a lot of the participation factor for either candidate. Instead, let everyone name their own (realistic) weight loss goals. At the end of each weigh in period everyone who reached their goal gets a shirt. At the end of the next period, a hat, and so on and so forth.

This is of course subject to change at the program’s leisure, but it’s still a great idea and allows for everyone to feel like they’re included, participating, and succeeding.

2)      The Surprise Bonus

Calm down, I’m not talking about a paycheck bonus (though I doubt you’d receive complaints if you went that route). Most of us who have played Mario remember that super powered star that let you blast through every obstacle in your way and sometimes even offered double the coin collection rate. Well, why not add something like that in your promotions? If you’re enticing sign ups for a reward program, state how random applicants will get a gift card to your store (we make those, by the way!) or a high end jacket (we can get you those too). You don’t have to be a rocket scientist to know that people like getting free stuff, especially if there’s a high perceived value. A bonus program also allows for a lot of flexibility. One week it can be doubled points on a random day, and another week it can be a giveaway item, etc, etc.

3)      Make a Real Game

This might seem like a rather daunting and costly task, but it’s really not. Kids make up games all the time, so why not adults? Why not marketers? We’ve seen McDonalds do it with their Monopoly tie-in, and while we might not have those kinds of dollars lying around, the creative effort that goes into making your own gamified promotion can really let your business shine. This can be as simple as sending out a flyer to keep track of purchases (punch cards?) or creating your own mobile app. Just remember that there must always be a reward system involved, or people won’t play. It has to be fun and mildly competitive, but most of all there has to be a reason to play, and of course, make sure there’s some return value on your own end too.

That’s it for now. Happy gaming, everyone! I hope you enjoyed this super long blog about the benefits of gaming mechanics in our professional lives, and maybe even learned a thing or two about how to apply them to your own.


Image obtained from: “Video games and gaming in emerging markets.” Jana Mobile. N.p., n.d. Web. 22 May 2014. <http://www.jana.com/blog/video-games-and-gaming-in-emerging-markets/>.

 

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