Feb 13 2010

Girl Scouts Think Outside the Cookie Box

by Andrew DiFiore

Juliette Gordon Low would be proud of her enterprising young ladies for utilizing viral marketing to sell Girl Scout Cookies while promoting a positive message about leadership, community service, and financial responsibility. Cookies have been a lucrative tradition of the Girl Scouts since Low’s day (circa 1917), bringing in about $700 million in sales each year. Using social media to reposition this classic American brand is smart and, quite frankly, it is about time.

The YouTube video What Can A Cookie Do? has already received over 35,000 views since its launch on 1/18/10 and is part of a much bigger re-branding effort that will be kicking into gear this Spring. The message: “Every Cookie Has a Mission: To Help Girls Do Great Things.” Hey, isn’t that what we all want.

The video message is clean, simple, and direct; effectively communicating the Girl Scouts’ new mission statement. But I would be remiss if I didn’t note the irony that less than a year ago 8-year-old Wild Freeborn was banned by the national Girl Scouts association from using YouTube to sell cookies online (who, by the way, had 700 order in the first two weeks).

So, what do you think of the video? Are the Girls Scouts re-branding efforts a step in the right direction?

Sep 23 2009

Commoditizing creativity?

by Jeff Propper

The reality is, I’m not sure how I feel about this.  I just received an e-mail promo that iStockphoto will be offering logos for a one time purchase.  They are asking designers to submit their logo designs, and are offering $5 to designers who are part of the first 10,000 approved logos submitted by Jan. 1, 2010.  At the end of the day, these logos will be sold one time only, for a purchase price between $150 and $700, and will be customized to fit the buyer’s needs.

For me, the prospect of diminishing the value of something as important as a company’s mark seems ludicrous, but at the same time, stories of how little Nike paid for the swish, or how Twitter’s logo was simply purchased off the shelf from a stock house, gives credibility to the notion that why should a company pay thousands when a few hundred will do?  I’ve also heard stories of how companies were disappointed when they saw other businesses using the same cut-rate logo they thought was their own.  There will always be exceptions to the rule, but I believe you get what you pay for.

I supposed for the art purchasing community this is terrific — 10,000 logos to choose from, and cheap to boot.  The design community appears to want to embrace it, with potential exposure to millions of prospective logo purchasers to buy your logo—once.   I guess you can make a million dollars designing logos; all you have to do is design and sell about a million of them!

I welcome your opinion.

Aug 25 2009

How Good is Your B2B Brand?

by Bill Amirault

No matter how good your product or service is, we live in a world of very short memories.  We’ve all heard the phrase/question “what have you done for me lately?”  Another version of that is “what have you done for your brand and your customers lately?”

Is what you offer, and the way you describe it, good enough to maintain a long-lasting relationship with your customers?  Maybe, maybe not.  It’s helpful to use iconic mainstream consumer brands (i.e. – Coke, Nike, GE, Microsoft, etc.) as benchmarks for what you bring to the party.

A sound branding strategy will help ensure your customers remember your business as the one to turn to for their specific needs, particularly in today’s competitive market place.  A branding strategy is much more than your company’s name, logo, symbols, web site, etc.  It’s about the TOTAL experience your customers have with you and your associates, and your product or service.  The most effective branding strategy incorporates online and off-line elements, though the internet provides excellent cost-effective ways to promote your brand, especially through search engine ads or interactive customer-focused features on your Web site.

When developing a branding strategy, think of the aspects of your business that are unique, distinct, ownable and long-lasting.  The entry hurdle for any business is quality and service, so avoid those and focus on the areas that truly set you apart.  Having trouble coming up with answers?  A great place to start is to ask your customers why they work with you and what they need from you the most.  They wouldn’t part with their dollars without something of equal or greater value that you provide!

This branding program must be an integral part of the overall marketing strategy, all the pieces need to work together.  It should also be simple, easy-to-remember and not include catch phrases, particularly those associated with low price unless you can truly deliver against that claim.  It should focus on overall value to the customer in a way that your company, product or service will immediately come to mind whenever the customer needs something you provide (like the B2B Marketing Posse comes to mind when you need help with branding and marketing programs :-) .

There are a number of good references to develop a sound branding strategy, but the one I like is “The 22 Immutable Laws of Branding” by Al Ries and his daughter, Laura.  This book also includes a section called “The 11 Immutable Laws of Internet Branding”.  If you’re an entrepreneur check out Peter Montoya’s “The Brand Called You” — great advice on how to promote yourself, personally and professionally, as a brand.

For long-term success, it’s critical to optimize your brand in the minds and hearts of your customers, based on those aspects of your business that they and you value the most.