Marketing & Strategy

How Brands are Using Snapchat and Other Messaging Apps

The new revolution of mobile messaging apps began in a very innocuous manner. The basic idea was to bypass the charges involved in texting by creating an app that does essentially the same thing, but between smartphones over wireless networks. Although text messages are unlikely to go away anytime soon, for those who send hundreds of texts every day and are limited by a restrictive plan, messaging apps are a suitable alternative.

Messaging applications like Whatsapp, LINE and WeChat as well as more recent innovations like Snapchat, Jelly and Whisper have understood this requirement and taken these charges completely out of the equation.  WhatsApp has around 450 million users. WeChat has around 350 million and dominates the Chinese market, where American giants are not allowed to operate. Snapchat, which is only a couple of years old, is closing in on 100 million users. Newer ones are also quickly expanding their footprints and getting millions of new users every week, tailored to the new, clean mobile look of the Internet.

So, the question here for the businesses is how to capitalize on this new social development. Surely something that has hundreds of millions of subscribers needs to be at least explored and experimented with, especially when traditional social networks like Facebook and Twitter are getting a bit overcrowded and reaching a point of saturation. The good news is that despite their newness, they are no longer a mystery to clever marketers. While they are likely to change and evolve in the near future, many brands have found out ways to use these apps to engage with their potential customers

Image courtesy of

Image courtesy of

One-On-One Interaction

The main benefit of these apps is that they are capable of ensuring privacy and allow people to interact with each other without the entire world witnessing these interactions. Instead of craving for mass operations, businesses can use this opportunity to have more intimate conversations with their customers. At Coachella festival, Henineken sent cropped images as clues to its followers on Snapchat. Whoever identified the artists from these clues correctly got entry to events at the Heineken House, the branded stage of the beer giant.  Essentially they used the unique characteristics of Snapchat to promote their branding event.

Offering exclusive and interesting content

Taco Bell made an exclusive film for Snapchat that combined footage from an MTV award function and tied it with a new product line. Due to the exclusive nature of the video people rushed to see it and made it a success. Similarly, HBO promoted its series Girls by making its stars post their images and letting the followers get them directly. They were posted regularly till the season lasted and was perfect for the younger followers who are obsessed with celebrity culture.

Direct Sales

Chinese mobile brand Xiaomi created a stir by organizing flash sale of its handsets through WeChat last year. It was a huge success as it managed to sell 150,000 units in little time. Promoting or branding keeping long terms benefits is one thing. But why bother about all that when we can directly sell it anyways? These apps are yet to fine-tune themselves completely for such purposes but they will surely do it in the near future. Some effort may still be required in order to sell physical goods, but they can be extremely useful for easily selling items that can be consumed digitally. For instance, selling a song or a small piece of graphic art can be easily done through such apps.

Customer Service

The private as well as ephemeral nature of networks such as Snapchat may be ideal for customer service. People often have genuine queries and grievances and they do not like to discuss such things in public. Such apps are ideal for these purposes. General Electric is using Jelly to answer scientific queries while Travelocity is considering the same for helping travellers.

All these messaging apps are not necessarily replacements but compliments for the existing social networks. They are offering features that the traditional networks cannot provide due to their very nature. These apps are still very new but it can be said that they will grow very fast in the next few years, just like Facebook and Twitter grew five years ago. Business would do well if they would spend some time considering how to use them and secure that early bird advantage before others realize the same thing.

Brand Experience: The Modern Narrative


Nike's strategy is cemented on determination: the story of a hero's journey, emerging triumphant against the odds.

When it comes to human connection, what good is your brand if it doesn’t evoke an experience? Campaigns may come and go, but in today’s world, brands should strive to focus on creating memories. Experiences are part of the things people carry for the rest of their lives. Brands such as Nike, for instance, base their vision on elevating the experience of the athlete. Authenticity is a key aspect when it comes to creating a brand experience. Ask yourself,  “Is there a real reason why the client is using the product at that particular moment?” Brands that will succeed in the future will harness this power and add the extra value to people’s life.

Media companies and brands are the same business: the business of telling stories that influence behavior and change minds. Understanding a consumer’s journey is key in order to leverage opportunities of having a voice during each step of the way. One way to approach brand stories is through the premise of having something interesting and creative to say. The news needs to be interesting enough to want to be shared.

It all starts with the user experience. After studying the consumer, think of what the person will take away from your brand and what this experience is translating into. What do you want people to think, to feel? Do people understand the story and what we’re conveying? Does the story adapt to the medium? And last, but not least, would people be compelled enough to want to share that information?

Digital platforms such as social media are excellent opportunities to ignite conversations revolving a product that often lead to one of the most powerful assets a brand could have: a community. Creating an environment suitable for user-generated content is the ideal scenario that not only provides a snapshot, but an ongoing story with people.

GoPro's Youtube channel features user-generated footage shot with their own cameras.

GoPro's Youtube channel features user-generated footage shot with their products, which has seduced viewers everywhere.

As a brand who creates stories worth sharing, what does it take for a person to want to share branded content? If you’re a brand and if you’re going to create content, you need a consumer centric approach that considers: the channels in which they consume content, the information they want to consume, a content that inspires credibility and that people might think their friends are going to like, and last, but not least, content that must add value.

We live in an age that demands constant reinvention. We can’t just do something and go “Phew, I’m glad that’s over.”

CVS Pharmacy: Walking the Talk

Marketing is all about reputation, a notion that CVS Pharmacy embraced when it surprised the world by banning the sale of cigarettes in their stores - a bold move that may hit their revenue by US$2 billion, only in the very first year.
When it comes to building a brand, you have to practice what you preach. Within the scope of a “health-oriented" positioning, selling products that can harm said health clearly goes in the opposite direction. Which is why we can't help but conclude: in order to build a great brand, you must put purpose beyond profit.

Reaching New Heights: How Airline Marketers Seduce Travelers

“So the crew fly on with no thought that they are in motion. Like night over the sea, they are very far from the earth, from towns, from trees. The motors fill the lighted chamber with a quiver that changes its substance. The clock ticks on. The dials, the radio lamps, the various hands and needles go through their invisible alchemy. From second to second these mysterious stirrings, a few muffled words, a concentrated tenseness, contribute to the end result. And when the hour is at hand the pilot may glue his forehead to the window with perfect assurance. Out of oblivion the gold has been smelted.”

- Antoine de Saint-Exupéry, Wind, Sand, and Stars, 1939.

“On January 1st, 1914, Abram C. Pheil, former mayor of St. Petersburg, Florida, made a decision that would change the world – to become the first ever paying passenger on a commercial flight.

Since that historic moment 100 years ago, commercial aviation has transformed our lives. It has re-united loved ones, connected cultures, expanded minds, opened up markets, saved lives, and allowed people worldwide to dream of a bigger, brighter future and turn it into a reality.

"Today, over 3 billion passengers and 50 million tonnes of cargo reach their destination through the wonder of flight every year, supporting over 57 million jobs and $2.2 trillion in economic activity.” – IATA.

100 years have passed since that first flight, and today it seems an everyday thing. Going abroad for a meeting with a client, visiting a relative, or just enjoying a few days off at some amazing place seems to be something we take for granted without stopping to ponder the engineering marvels that allow our feet to take off the ground.

According to Deloitte, airlines, along with banks, are the providers of services less loved by consumers around the world. Still, for some people, this is a necessary evil in order to sustain the global economy by making agreements and business transactions. In addition to this conception, most people agree that flying is stressful. Anyone who has done so, regardless of the joy of traveling and visiting new places, has experienced eternal and tedious waits at airport halls; some others, the uncertainty of delays, connections and lost luggage, not to mention security issues, all of which have become a sensitive matter in recent months.

So how do airlines deal with this bad reputation and figure out a way to seduce travelers around the world? The answer is in marketing - good marketing - which some brands have taken to new heights, whilst other companies suffer vertigo.

Here are some of the best practices by major airlines today:

Passenger experience as cornerstone

Finding the way to avoid or minimize bad experiences at all costs is what keeps airline marketers awake at night. They have as a number one priority to provide the most comfortable and relaxing journey as possible, by reducing passenger’s stress and allowing them to be productive at the same time. In order to achieve this goal, airlines make major investments in creating home-like spaces and in-flight offices that satisfy all user’s needs.

Staying tuned to the connected traveler

As part of the evolutionary process of communication, today’s traveler is connected 24/7. In the aviation industry, this matter is unavoidable if companies want to maintain continuous contact with their passengers. In order to gain customers’ preference, airlines need to be able to answer questions, inform, entertain, and allow users to communicate and interact with others through their mobile devices.



 Entertain and conquer

Few things can be as tedious as a long, boring trip. From new and creative ways to ensure passenger’s safety (as done by companies like Air New Zealand, United, Virgin America, TAP, SWA and Delta), to concerts aboard, fashion shows, and significant investments in proper and modern IFE (In Flight Entertainment) technologies, the commercial aviation industry has turn its attention to innovative and out of the box practices in order to make long trips more enjoyable to its customers. Certainly, it pays off!

You’ll know them by their idols

Airlines such as Emirates, Turkish, Qatar, British Airways have harnessed the power of linking their brand with the most popular sport legends and teams today. Emirates is particularly one of “FIFA’s major partners, which reportedly pays some $25-50 million per year, along with brands such as Adidas, Coca-Cola, Hyundai Motor Group, Sony and Visa”. – Forbes.

Fly Emirates

Fly Emirate

Design, design, design

Good design means good business and marketers know it. A well distributed and elegant cabin design, as well as a unique branded livery, can make the aircraft itself such a powerful tool to communicate, create brand awareness and seduce passengers. On the other hand, designing a sophisticated airport lounge and making the waiting process much more comfortable has given outstanding results to many airlines that realize the profitable benefit of great design.

Design Livery

Down to Earth

But not all strategies take place in the sky. When it comes to creative terrestrial activations, airlines have demonstrated that they have mastered the art of inviting, surprising, informing, and even being capable of making people believe in miracles.


Social networks are friends

As every marketer knows, social media can be a double-edged sword, and no company, especially large ones, is exempt from making a slip that unleashes a crisis, in which case, diffusion is maximized. Nevertheless, there are always great opportunities to transform a specific or fortuitous event into a smart move for the brand, as demonstrated by Aeromexico’s clever answer to KLM’s tweet and the emotive Lufthansa’s tweet, all during the last FIFA’s World Cup.




Innovate or die

Peter Drucker said: “Business has only two functions: marketing and innovation”.  And that has become airlines’ credo during the last 100 years. From aircraft manufacturers, such as Boeing and Airbus, to in flight services and food suppliers, the entire chain of value has an extreme approach to the generation of high-end products and services based on passenger needs and mega trends, which makes air travel industry a benchmark of luxury,  creativity and customer experience.

No doubt that the aviation industry can be a great source of inspiration for marketers in other industries since it provides an example of continuous innovation and out of the box thinking while creating memorable experiences for those who appreciate the everyday miracle of air travel.

Infographic Airline Marketing