Friday, August 28, 2009

Brand Friendship

(photo: Mirror, UK)

I was having a conversation with a client the other day about how brands are human. They evolve over time (hopefully), make mistakes and try to surround themselves with people who support them. And as I'm spewing existentially, I realize that thinking of brands as human is not enough.

Brands have to be friends, because friends...
  • are there when we need them
  • tell us the truth
  • make our lives better
  • change with us
  • figure out the best way to communicate with us
Now that there are so many communication tools and networks connecting us to our real friends (and family), we have developed intense expectations. We are conditioning ourselves to expect brands to be willing, excited and always available to add value to our lives and fix our problems.

Is this a logical expectation? I'm not sure. But I do know that the expectation is set, so brands must adapt to survive. Whether they like us or not, they better be our friend.

Monday, August 24, 2009

Grow experience

Our new, talented friends at Grow Interactive from Norfolk, Virginia really understand the importance of creating an experience. I'll explain...

I became acquainted with Grow's work at this year's AIGA Grade Awards where they won a bunch of awards. After weeks of emails, Drew Ungvarsky (Owner/Creative Director) and I finally met-up at a local coffee shop in Richmond. We had a good time talking.

About a week later, I received an email from him. It was a nice note explaining how he had a good time getting together, and at the bottom of the email was a link for a free Grow shirt. Cool.

So, I clicked the link, and it took me to a personalized page where I could choose from about 10 different shirts. Each shirt was modeled by one of Grow's people who also created an interactive experience with a marker and clear screen. See for yourself.

A day or two after I ordered my shirt, it arrived. It wasn't just thrown into a FedEx box with a business card. They packaged it in a nice box with beautiful paper, quality stock envelop and letter and of course, a kick ass shirt.

Branding an experience is all about the details. The little details. The ones most people forget or ignore. In this case, the focal piece of the gift is the shirt. But, the experience of the entire package is far more valuable in creating a perception about Grow. The shirt will eventually wear-out, get lost or fall victim to my 2 year old's magic marker (hopefully not). But the experience is permanently burned into my brain. Thanks again, Drew.

Saturday, August 22, 2009

Art and Copy

Check out the trailer for Doug Pray's (Hype) new film, Art and Copy. It's packed full of powerful insights from some of advertising's most influential leaders.

"The frightening, most difficult thing about being what somebody calls a creative person is that you have absolutely no idea where any of these thoughts come from - and especially, you don't have any idea about where they're going to come from tomorrow."

Wednesday, August 5, 2009

Banking on the Community

We've worked with a lot of banks and financial institutions in the past, and they all sincerely want to "get involved" with their community. For some, that means hanging a banner on the 9th hole of local golf tournament. Others talk about "educating the children," which usually equates to a brochure or poster in the window. The thought is there, but the strategy and tactics are sometimes a bit stale.

In this economy, financial institutions need to work extra hard in gaining back trust. Small banks are less associated with the negative fallout than larger ones, and they have an amazing opportunity to gobble-up market share.

Umpqua Bank, based on the west coast, has launched the best campaign I've seen in truly educating, participating and improving its communities. The Save Hard Spend Smart initiative offers people the opportunity to vote once a week until Septmember 2nd for 1 of 3 non-profit organizations. Every vote equates to a dollar donation from the bank, and the group with the most votes will receive $15,000.

Also featured on the micro-site are profiles of Savings Heroes, tips, peer support and savings tools. And like any good campaign, it's highly portable through an array of social media tools and channels.

Now, if I could just figure out how to pronounce the bank's name.

(via PSFK)