The Brand “Family”

 

Inspired by David Airey's post  "The Illusion of Choice", here's an interesting view on how our favorite and beloved brands may well be under the same family. "We still have choices, but the money tends to go to the same few places."

Ahh, the irony.

(Click on the image for a larger version)

 

 

The Evolution of Marketing

Marketing as a recognized profession has a brief, yet significant history, stemming from a company's need to set itself apart in a crowded marketplace. Fascinated with the events that led up to what we know today, here's a post that I've been wanting to write ever since that Marketing 101 course in college... 

Times are changing. A 1950's edition of The Journal of Marketing.

In a lot of ways, Marketing is as old as civilization itself. From Ancient Greece to our modern days, culture has based its trading and selling upon communication in order to move products faster than the man next to him. I've always seen it as a concept much like Darwin's "survival of the fittest" - or what we will call in this case - "the act of persuasion." Man is undeniably always trying to outshine others, and when it comes to selling, the concept is not far from it.

Nevertheless, much of the philosophies we know today are rooted in techniques and developments from the Industrial Revolution. Mass production coupled with advancements in transportation and technology meant that businessmen needed a better strategy when it came to the movement of goods. With nations applying laws against monopoly, how exactly does one sell something when one's competitor is producing the exact same thing? Ahh, enter the marketer. This is when our profession is officially and truly born.

Corporations became aware of the need of induviduals that would study markets and consumers - it's behavior patters and steps to be ahead of the game. What started out as a resource that determined what an organization would produce, has transformed into a science that coordinates why, when and how much of a good will be manufactured and where it will be sold. Companies went from inward to outward thinking, and our contribution has never been as clear as it is today.

There have been major stages in the history of marketing, which are:

The Trade Era: Production consisted in handmade goods that were limited and generally traded through exploration.

The Production Orientation Era: Enter the industrial age. Since goods were scarce, businesses focused mainly in manufacturing. As long as someone was producing, someone else would want to buy it. This orientation rose to popularity due to shortages in the market, hence creating the foundation of Jean-Baptiste Say's famous remark: "Supply creates its own demand."

The Sales Orientation Era: After the Industrial Revolution, competition grew and focus turned to selling. Marketing, branding and sales became an important pillar as outputs surpassed demand, and companies competed for customers.

The Marketing Orientation Era: From the second half of the 20th century onward, the saturation of markets led companies to bestow upon marketers the opportunity to perform on a more strategic level. Through a profound knowledge on the customer, these professionals were involved in what the company would produce, its distribution channels and pricing strategy. Employees within an organization were also motivated to acquire marketing knowledge, which set the grounds to clients obtaining a general brand experience.

But wait, there's more... According to recent publications, two new eras have been added to the list:

The Relationship Marketing Era: The focus of companies shifts towards building customer loyalty  and developing relationships with clients. Authors such as Don Peppers, Martha Rogers and Philip Kotler were instigators of the importance of creating bonds, considering that "the cost of attracting a new customer is estimated to be five times the cost of keeping a current customer happy." (Kotler, 1997)

The Social/Marketing Era: Concentrates on social interaction and a real-time connection with clients. Businesses are connected to current and potential customers 24/7 and engagement is a critical success factor.

Consider how much marketing has changed in the last century and will continue to shift as channels of communication, production levels and a society alter. As markets expand and new marketing platforms emerge, the science and practice of this profession is being transformed by the minute. What we consider today to be the fastest way to reach our customers might be obsolete tomorrow. Therein lies the beauty of this profession... change.

In light of our topic, here are the major developments that have influenced marketing, especially when it comes to communication mediums:

 

 

How to Lead a Creative Life

 

One of my favorite definitions for Creativity goes something like this:

"People who experience the world in novel and original ways. These are individuals whose perceptions are fresh, whose judgements are insightful, who may make important discoveries that only they know about. The have changed our culture in some important way..."

What you've just read, written by Mihaly Csikszentmihalyi from his book Creativity - Flow and the Psychology of Discovery and Invention, is still as relevant today as the day in which it was written.

The truth is, when we think of creativity, we generally refer to it in the context of art. But in reality, we apply creativity to every aspect of our lives, and every day. Societies that embrace this concept as a means to improve all aspects of itself - work,  products, market strategies, advertising - are far better equipped to produce groundbreaking solutions to daily activities that may change the course of nature, habits and traditions. For them, it's the means as it is the end. Edward de Bono once said: "There is no doubt that creativity is the most important human resource of all. Without creativity there would be no progress, and we would be forever repeating the same patterns."

A few months back I stumbled onto this section of the Fast Company site and loved it. Besides having the coolest writers on the planet, they always come up with interesting topics that are devoted to the concept of vision and creation. "How to lead a Creative Life" is no exception. This part of their website focuses on this age-old concept coupled by interviews, facts and infographics on the subject of those who think outside the box.

"For most businesspeople, realizing any creative vision--while addressing concerns about scale, tradition, and profitability--is a Herculean task." 

How can we lead a creative life on the job? Jason Feifer's illustrates it for us in this guide::

Last, but not least, check out these two videos. When it comes to ideas and creativity, they are just too cool to miss:


 


 

Sensory Marketing and Branding: The power of the senses

In this post we will discuss a topic that refers to the work carried out by marketers in order to position a certain brand, maintain its validity on the market and enhance its value; i.e. branding. But also, how it relates to a practice increasingly prolific in the world of marketing: the use of the senses.

Commonly, branding is associated with every graphical stimulus that characterizes a specific brand; that is, its logo, colors, images, icons, characters, etc., as well as the transmission of its values ​​through these. However, this is a quite limited appreciation of what the term represents. Let's say that traditional marketing, as well as other related disciplines has been somewhat unfair to reduce branding to a purely visual expression, being such a fundamental and important variable to the success of a company, brand or organization.

It is common to have everyday work conversations with various professionals of the industry, from graphic designers, advertisers, even other marketers, and relate to this issue as a exclusively visual element, setting aside a whole range of possibilities to exploit the identity, characteristics, values ​​and virtues of a brand.

Fortunately, all is not lost. There are companies that exploit the advantages of branding to a higher level, thus obtaining significant economic benefits, a solid market position and competitive advantages over its competition.

As part of a strategy of differentiation and positioning, modern marketing begins to make use of tools that would have never thought in the past, starts to break traditional schemes, and thinks laterally in order to expand and solidify the mental territory each brand occupies in our brains as consumers. One of such tools is known as sensory marketing, i.e. the exploitation of the senses through stimuli designed to be directly related to a particular brand.

It may sound too sophisticated and for many even perverse, however, that link product-consumer through the description of the first and our sensitivity to receive and process information from the environment in which we live makes it a natural process as always has been, only that it had never properly being exploited as a marketing strategy or at the levels that is done in modern times.

Sight

Until today, the most important variable used by brands to generate recognition and develop an identity in the market is the sense of sight. We can appreciate logos, corporate colors, characters and other graphical tools with which one can identify a specific product. It's rare a person who does not recognize the Apple logo, the golden arches of McDonald's, the white wave on the red background of Coca-Cola, etc. The list goes on and on. These elements, so far, are the epicenter of all business strategy in most corporations. However, this is changing. A study described in the book "Buyology - Truth and lies about why we buy"  (Lindstrom 2009) showed how brands like Marlboro, suffering the brunt of the ban on advertising on many places of the world, decided to invest in the atmosphere of bars and nightclubs with motifs of their brand identity: images of horses and beautiful landscapes on the displays of such centers, mountain-shaped seats, images of racing cars (Marlboro is known for its sponsorship of this important branch), among others. This paid juicy profits resulting from the consumption of cigarettes- and this without having to use their logo. The conclusion of this study was that at the end of the day, the use of the logo is not so important (at least for some brands), provided that the product is adequately positioned and associated to other variables with easier access to our brain, given that as people, when watching such advertising information we tend to have an automatic rejection of the stimulus.

Sound

Perhaps the second most used variable by marketing and advertising is the sense of hearing. Corporations realize that visual objects are not sufficient to influence the consumer purchase decisions and decide to provide new features to their products and brands. Certainly we all recognize the famous Nokia tune, the specific Intel notes at the end of each commercial, the Iusacel ringtone of an incoming call, not to mention a few jingles. As well, separately from the previous examples there are others less obvious but equally or more transcendent as is the case of the "click" of Zipo lighters; Messenger alert sounds, even the sound coming out of the doors of many car brands such as GM or Chrysler is designed to be unique and generate acknowledgement in our mind. Finally, many of the sounds derived from the use of certain particular product begin to be taken advantage of overused to contribute to a consumption experience and therefore an enhanced recall and consumer association.

Touch

Perhaps some readers may have this extraordinary ability to change the TV channel and do something even more sophisticated without ever seeing the remote control, or, as in the case of many teens that are able to send text messages on their cell phones hidden under the palette in their seat while attending math class. This shows how we develop a physical memory and include certain products in our daily activities. Textured book covers, labels and some printed shirts, forms that are better adapted to our hands in bottles of mayonnaise, sauces, beverages; plush, furry fabrics pleasant to the touch, not to mention the mobile devices and sensitive touch screen tablets so common today. No doubt brands recognize our singular sensitivity and natural tendency to feel our environment as a means of interaction and involvement with it.

Taste

Nothing like a nice and very distinctive flavor. Variable overused (for obvious reasons) especially for food and beverage brands. Secret formulas jealously treasured, “x” ingredients, grandma's recipe, exotic ingredients, a whole mystique developed around our favorite food or drink. On the other hand, there are medicines with a pleasant taste for children, and bubble gum flavored toothpaste. However, the involvement of the sense of taste in business strategies has come out of their habitat to start their “baby steps” in unexpected areas: pencils and other office supplies (for those who like to bite incessantly), as well as toys and clothing with flavor for toddlers.

Smell

The human nose can distinguish over 10,000 different odors, besides being the most sensitive of the senses; it has a tremendous evocative power of memories and experiences over the years. I still remember as if it was yesterday the smell of my Bubble Gummers (bubble gum scented tennis), the shopping mall I used to visit every Sunday with my family and the characteristic smell of the food court, which I still visit from time to time just for the memories it evokes; my first day at school with the smell of Play-Doh and crayons, not to mention the fragrances that remind us of some person, place or thing. You will agree that like it or not, a myriad of brands have been with us throughout life, which from the cold, commercial standpoint of business quite functional.

Not everything applies to all products, but certainly it's worth experimenting a little and making sure what we are doing for our brand. To find out if it's being seen, felt - to find out if it is actually present.

 

A History of Western Typefaces (Infographic)

 

Hey there designers! Here's a neat infographic created by one of my favorite blogs (Mashable, of course), that illustrates the different typefaces throughout history, its origins and its uses.

A fun treat for the eyes, no doubt. Enjoy!