Sunday, November 22, 2020

Does Your Brand Communicate with Customers?

Like many of us during the covid pandemic, I shop more online than in the pre-covid days. This translates to purchases made via websites that in the pre-covid era, I would have visited stores in person to make my purchases.

One recent item consisted of three dozen colorful plastic hangers. While this item was not a necessity, it added some smiles when hanging clothes during the challenging covid era.

I chose some teal, purple, red, and yellow hangers on a retailer's website, and completed the online purchase. A few weeks later, in a timely manner, the teal, purple, and red hangers arrived on my doorstep. They were just as advertised, and immediately, they "met" some clothes and were placed in my closet.

But something was wrong. I noticed that the yellow hangers were missing. Soon after the box's arrival, I received an email indicating that the yellow hangers were not available from any nearby stores, but they would arrive shortly.

I don't know about you, but "shortly" means "soon" to me, certainly, within a week or two. Otherwise, the store should have sent another email and either provided a delivery update or asked if I wished to cancel my order.

Two months later, and still no yellow hangers. I only purchased five yellow hangers for a total less than two dollars. But where is the update from the retailer? I have sent a couple of emails asking for an update, and I have received no response to any of my communications.

I understand that we are living in a different world, but if a brand offers to sell products, and those products are not available, and the brand accepts payment, then it owes its customers an explanation or a refund. 

You can probably guess the name of the brand I'm talking about.

What would your brand do in this scenario?

Wednesday, November 11, 2020

Branding and the November Elections

While it is advisable for brands to remain neutral when it comes to American politics, brands should definitely be aware of current events that impact the community-at-large, consumers, customers, and fans. The recent November elections are a perfect example whereby brands should not choose candidates but they can still promote voting.

Here are examples of how five brands participated while staying neutral.

This nonpartisan nonprofit was founded in 2016 with a simple mission: make "democracy delicious by delivering free food for all to polling places with long lines." If you see a line at the polls, go to the website, provide the address, and free pizza will be delivered. Both small pizza joints and large pizza chains are used for deliveries. This happened on election day in 25 cities across America.

Most online news content comes at a cost. But on election day, The Wall Street Journal offered its content for free.

Election day is not yet a holiday, and it may never be, but many people still had to go to work. Zoom provided a background promoting "get out the vote" and "voting" to get users in the mood and so that users could add a vote-themed background to their online meetings during election day.

Many people who voted wore their "I Voted" sticker on election day, so it was cute to see a familiar face, or in this case, a familiar M&M chocolate candy, in this case, Yellow, showcasing his stickers.

If one wore his or her or their "I Voted" sticker to Krispy Kreme, a free original glazed doughnut would be provided.

What brands stood out to you on Election Day? Please chime in and share.

Image Credit: Pizza to the Polls, The Wall Street Journal, Zoom, M&Ms, and Krispy Kreme via Instagram.

Thursday, November 5, 2020

Three Instagram Brand-Building Tips from Halloween


Instagram is an easy-to-use and fun social platform for brand-building. Brands use it to share engaging images, thought-provoking quotes, and timely product or service launches. If a post grabs viewers’ attention, they will comment or like it – thus increasing brand awareness.

While holidays present an opportunity for memorable posts, Halloween provides three useful tips for brands to apply toward other holidays later in the year like Thanksgiving, the December holidays, and New Year's.

Color is a universal way to tell a brand’s story. What brand is associated with red? Coca-Cola. What brand is associated with brown? United Parcel Service. What color provides the nickname for IBM? (Big) Blue. Once October begins, all variations of orange take front and center. Recall the beverages served by your favorite coffee houses and doughnut stores at this time of year: pumpkin spice latte, pumpkin iced coffee, pumpkin spiced iced latte, to name just a few.

My two favorite examples are a post by Pantone, the color company brand, and a post by Sherwin-Williams, the paint store brand. Candy corn, the most popular candy from Halloween is featured, and it is comprised of several colors. Pantone showcases the specific colors that align with candy corn. In Sherwin-Williams’ post, jelly beans are featured, and one specific color is called out. Does your brand integrate color in a creative way during October, November, and December?

When brands introduce characters into their posts, they often showcase humor, and humor is a universal way to attract interaction and support. Who wouldn’t laugh at the Muppets, the Energizer Bunny, or the M&M characters? Does your brand have characters that tell your brand’s story? If not, how can your brand integrate characters and humor into your Instagram posts?

My favorite example is a post by M&M’s chocolate candies. Two chocolate characters, Brown and Red, are featured in a field full of pumpkins. Everyone can associate with the two characters because everyone would like to have fun with their family and friends in a field of pumpkins.

When brands integrate elements of tradition into their posts, their posts become embraceable. When we think of the fall season with colder weather, the beginning of the holiday season, leaves changing color, we often think of times spent with family. And food is often associated with family gatherings. Starting with Halloween and pumpkins, there is the arrival of pumpkin pie. What’s more traditional than pumpkin pie?

My favorite post that demonstrates tradition is by Coffee Bean & Tea Leaf. This post shows how its pumpkin beverage was created by the traditional pumpkin pie. Do your brand’s posts show how your product or service originated or began?

How will you apply these three Halloween tips to your brand storytelling during the remainder of the holiday season? Chime in to share.

Image Credits via Instagram: @MMSChocolate, @Pantone, @TheCoffeeBean, and @SherwinWilliams.