Category Archives: Brand Management

Lovers Give Diamonds. Dog Owners Give Harnesses.

My Boston Terrier, Winston, is zealous about his daily walks. Despite thousands of dollars on private training for this pup, he insists that strolls are for geriatric dogs and an Alpha like him needs to seize the path. He is an explorer, a canine Lewis and Clark. He is incapable of walking a straight line, and he pulls to lead the way, then stops abruptly to sniff some grass or inspect a tree. To get him back on track, I have to tug on the leash.

He is such a rambunctious, erratic walker, that it took a toll on my hands, and I ended up with something called “trigger thumb,” which basically meant my thumb squeaked when I bent it, and it throbbed considerably. I was able to fix the pain through the help of a doctor, but, the saga with Winston and his walks continued. My main concern was that he would break free of the harness.Thankfully, he never did, but the fear lingered.

He was running through harnesses every three months. They would stretch out and the rapid aging reminded me of the before-and-after photos of presidents at the end of their term.

I took Winston to my favorite dog store in Studio City, Maxwell Bark, and the sales lady, after taking one look at him, pointed me in the direction of some dog harnesses made by Puppia. I have not looked back since, except when I’m having to pull Winston on a walk. His Puppia harnesses, tough as they are, lasts about a year before I start feeling like it needs to be replaced.

Being a fan of Puppia, I Liked their Facebook Page, and as I scrolled down the wall, I realized something: I have never seen such passionate brand advocates on any Page. I am the primary social media person for my company, and I wish I had the raving lunatics they have.

So what is the lesson learned here? If your product solves a problem, people will love you. Sure, but why does this page have fans taking the time to upload shots of their dog, wearing Puppia clothing and harnesses, and saying things like, “I will NEVER use another brand”?

I think its the combination of solving a problem and love. Dog owners love their dogs, some of them as deeply as others love a child. I haven’t investigated any children product sites, but I wonder if there is a great brand, that solves a problem for moms and has them raving?

Being in the jewelry industry, I think of jewelers, and how many of them desire that level of brand advocate that Puppia has. You would think that a diamond ring would engender the same kind of ardent appreciation, and it comes close, but not quite. Diamonds represent love. A dog harness represents keeping a loved one safe. Maybe it’s not a stretch to say that a harness is a dog owner’s version of a diamond. It’s what we give our dogs to show love. Puppia has pulled off the ultimate sales and marketing trick and built a better mouse trap.

This reinforces a lesson taught in any Marketing 101 class, but is often overlooked: The very best marketing concepts fail when the product doesn’t live up to the hype. Let’s face it, without a great product, you’ve got one out-of-control dog with a weak harness.

“Pretty Hurts” Christmas Card

Ten years ago, I used to get cards in the mail. Now, I get very clever video and flash holiday cards in my inbox. Rand Rusher sent me this video card and I just had to share. When you click on the photo in the card, it takes you to a video. Rand, who makes the women of Beverly Hills look fresh and youthful, will be starring in a reality show called “Pretty Hurts.” This clever video playfully makes fun of, well, botox, while promoting the show. Congrats to Rand. I guess this means his rates are going to skyrocket now, ladies.

Be Still My Heart(s): Hearts On Fire Launches E-Shopping

If you are like me, you would probably rather get root canal than fight the holiday traffic and manic shoppers. Thankfully, for people like us, there is online shopping. However, I like to know first-hand what I’m buying before it arrives in the mail. Specifically, I want to feel confident about the quality of the product. When I heard that Hearts On Fire had just launched e-shopping, for the first time ever, I thought, “Thank you, Santa! Thank you.”

Hearts On Fire’s stunning diamond jewelry is now available for purchase at Heartsonfire.com and select retailer websites. Within 24 hours, and free of delivery charges, you can shop for an assortment of their diamond pendants, earrings and bracelets. And when you do, remember your favorite blogger over at Audacious Ink. Baby would like a new pair of diamond earrings. And pendants. Okay, I could use a bracelet, too. Don’t go overboard, though, okay?

I’ve had the pleasure of working with Hearst On Fire on a variety of projects, and with different associations, over the years. Their tagline is “The World’s Most Perfectly Cut Diamond.” Judging by the sparkle, they are on to something. They get the fierce kind of brand attention we all crave. A happy consumer recently commented in a jewelry blog that she loved her Hearts On Fire ring “because it sparkled across the room.” That’s the kind of stuff that you want people to say about your brand.

Ellen Malony, EVP at Hearts On Fire says that by selling Hearts On Fire jewelry designs online, it “allows our retail partners the opportunity to attract new web savvy consumers to the brand and provide added service and convenience to existing customers who may prefer to shop online.” In other words, customers like me who can’t stand the idea of fighting traffic, or crazed shoppers determined to buy all their gifts in one outing. I can just sit at home and buy me some pretty sparkle.

So shop in peace, and buy someone you love something sparkly for the holidays. Oh, and please avoid the crazed shoppers . . . and root canal, too, if you can.

Whole Foods’ Twitter Experiment

I love wine. I love Twitter. I love Whole Foods. My head almost exploded with happiness when I saw that Whole Foods was running a Twitter Wine Tasting. The detail that caught my eye though was exactly that, the detail of the details. Read how they are hosting it. It’s a great how-to manual for a Twitter event. Not only are they giving wine-loving tweeple something to tweet, they are giving marketers the blue print to having their own event. It’s a very well-thought out plan. Kudos, Whole Foods, and cheers.

Be Still My Heart(s): Hearts On Fire Launches E-Shopping

If you are like me, you would probably rather get root canal than fight the holiday traffic and manic shoppers. Thankfully, for people like us, there is online shopping. However, I like to know first-hand what I’m buying before it arrives in the mail–specifically, I want to know that I’m ordering something of great quality. When I heard that Hearts On Fire had just launched e-shopping, for the first time ever, I thought, “Thank you, Santa! Thank you.”

Hearts On Fire’s stunning diamond jewelry is now available for purchase at Heartsonfire.com and select retailer websites. Within 24 hours, and free of delivery charges, you can shop for an assortment of their diamond pendants, earrings and bracelets. And when you do, remember your favorite blogger over at Audacious Ink. Baby needs a new pair of diamond earrings. And pendants. Okay, I could use a bracelet, too. Don’t go overboard, though, okay?

I’ve had the pleasure of working with Hearst On Fire on a variety of projects, and through different associations, over the years. They get the fierce kind of brand attention we all crave. A woman left a comment in a jewelry blog recently, saying that she loved her Hearts On Fire ring “because it sparkled across the room.” That’s the kind of stuff that you want people to say willingly about your brand. They are the kind of brand that doesn’t just have consumers, they have brand evangelists.

Ellen Malony, EVP at Hearts On Fire says that by selling Hearts On Fire jewelry designs online, it “allows our retail partners the opportunity to attract new web savvy consumers to the brand and provide added service and convenience to existing customers who may prefer to shop online.”

So shop in peace, and buy someone you love something sparkly for the holidays. Oh, and avoid manic shoppers–and root canal.

Gap Returns to Old Blue Logo After Fans Gripe

The Gap is returning to their old blue logo. I blogged about this in my last post, and so naturally, I will be bragging today to all my friends how I blogged about The Gap’s new logo and forced them to change it back to the old. The power of blogging, the power of Audacious Ink. . .(cue the needle scratching abruptly across the record.)

Okay, delusions aside, seriously, wow: the power of the masses. The Gap was a trending topic because of the logo flap. No one liked it. Graphic design blogs were sounding in, marketing blogs, fan blogs, fashionistas blog, probably pet blogs even sounded in, who knows, but seriously, half the Internet was talking about this. The Gap realized the mistake they made strategically and reversed it.

Will this be a case study in future marketing classes? It’s gotta be.

In this article, there is a great, succinct quote about brands that I am going to reuse myself in the future, as it’s the best I’ve heard. “Logos are key to brands because they convey meaning and are something fans feel connected to.” Emily Fredix, the AP marketing writer who wrote the story gets credit for that one. I think she hit the nail on the head, and it explains, in part, why there was such an uproar. It’s a logo, right? Who cares?

We did, and the Gap listened and responded quickly. I’m so misty-eyed over this marriage of branding and t-shirts that I think I’m going to shop at The Gap today in Sherman Oaks. Look for my Foursquare check-in.

Silence is Golden on Your Website

I have said this before right here in this blog: do not greet people on your website with a person talking. It is not a great marketing strategy and it serves one purpose: it pisses off your visitors.

Nobody likes it. Nobody wants it. Most of us have traveled to your website not wishing to share our business to anyone sitting in the room with us. Social networking may be social, but in general, when we surf the net, we want a level of privacy. Not that we are downloading porn or doing anything illicit. We just don’t want to be greeted with a blasting voice going, “HI!!!! WELCOME TO OUR WEBSITE!!!!!”

Here’s what I do when it happens to me: I exit the website quickly and I never go back. Is that what you wanted? Then mission accomplished.

Loud noise should never come from dogs, children, women (or men) with high-pitched voices, or a website.

Turn off the noise.

Beyond the Expertise

During a visit yesterday with my pal Robert, our conversation drifted toward a subject he is passionate about: the art of acting. Robert, an actor and acting coach, related an incident about an acting student of his. The student was nervous about going into an audition, and was very focused on what the casting director was looking for.

“Don’t focus on what the casting director wants or needs,” Robert told him. “Focus on what qualities that you have that you know this role needs.”

As someone who is obsessed with marketing, I, of course, instantly translated this idea to my field. Robert’s sage advice on acing an audition is really no different what any of us do if we do our jobs well, be it acting or marketing, or dog-walking.

As a consultant, I look at my clients’ projects and consider what I can bring to each one beyond my expertise. Don’t get me wrong: I’m not advocating that I do not focus on their needs–I wouldn’t be doing my job, and as someone who spent much of her career in-house, it always bugged me when consultants we hired weren’t really listening to our needs and goals.

People hire you for your expertise, but what more can you bring to the table? What qualities do you possess that can add extra value? Your client has goals, but can you look at problems they have that may need solving, and see where you can contribute added value? Maybe it’s a project with moving parts and you happen to be a stickler for deadlines, or you have an eagle eye for detail. How can what you do well naturally, beyond your skill set, help them even more in the project?

To give a real-life example of this, look at sales people. If you are not a charming person who genuinely likes people, you are probably not an effective salesperson. It may be hard for you to put clients at ease or connect with them, for example. That would hinder closing a sale. Or social media: of late, I’ve heard an increasing number of speakers and social media experts say you might want to delegate social media if you are not a social person becuase it won’t come naturally to you. Conversely, if you have a client who is struggling with their program, and you are a good communicator, offer up some tips or even suggest some content. These kind of things don’t take a lot of time and help further enrich your relationship with your client. It’s what my grandma used to call establishing good faith, and it goes a long way.

When we do a good job, we’re bringing to the table more than our skills. We’re bringing pieces of our character.

If Sinatra Used Facebook

Blame it on the late night pizza, or blame it on too much Facebooking, but the other night I dreamt Sinatra was still alive and was a Facebook friend of mine. He posted on his wall, “Who’s up for a gas? Party at my place this weekend in Palm Springs. Lots of dames, but no booze. Who am I kidding? There will be booze. The faucet will flow. Bring your bird.” If you are a big Sinatra fan, you know the translation for that Frankenspeak, and when he says “Birds,” he’s not talking canaries.

I’ve read a lot of bios on Sinatra in my day, and right now, my boyfriend is currently going through a Sinatra phase. No, he hasn’t resorted to referring to me as his “dame,” or “broad,” but he is heavy into the music and the lore of Sinatra. The crooner is the epitome of Old School. He was a sociable guy who liked to do his socializing face-to-face. These days, I hear the term “Facebook friend” more than I do the term “Friend.” Sinatra, I think, would laugh at Facebook, calling all of us users “Big Galoots,” and “Clydes.”

I’m just old enough to realize that for the majority of my life, I socialized the Sinatra way; well, minus the dames and much of the booze. I now socialize the online way: I update Facebook on a daily basis, multiple times a day—for my clients. On a much less frequent basis, I will update it for me, and when I do, I keep it to cocktail party talk. I know some people who share deep and meaningful revelations on their profile page, and I cringe. Not because I’m embarrassed for them (though I sometimes am. Here’s a tip guys: Never refer to how much the bail for last night’s drunken brawl cost you). I cringe because I have a hard time posting something intimate and personal to an audience that I actually know. It’s easier to confess when you are unsure of who the audience will be, or if there will even be an audience.

Sinatra, on the other hand, was one who shrugged off deep personal confessions. If he wanted to let you know how he felt (so I’ve read, it’s not like I knew him) he’d give you a look. You can’t give a look on Facebook.

Sinatra is probably a good example of why social media is not for everyone. No doubt, his management team would have an official page for him. They would hire someone like me to do the updates. If it were me, I’d probably post something cheery and upbeat like this:

“Name that tune! ”I’d sacrifice anything come what might
For the sake of having you near
In spite of a warning voice that comes in the night
And repeats, repeats in my ear.’ Okay fans, what song is that? Hint: He recorded this song while at Capital Records!”

Then, fans would write in, and because they are fans, would know it’s “I’ve Got You Under My Skin.” Someone would invariably get the song wrong, “No, no, no. It’s Angel Eyes.” Then someone else would comment under their comment, “Moron. Get off this Page.”

And so on.

Now, compare this to Sinatra, the real Sinatra, and what he might post. At first glance, his fan page would be cluttered with thousands of wall posts from fans, saying, “Your music is the soundtrack to my life, sir,” and stuff like that. Or they would post a line from his repertoire. “A summer wind, came blowing in, from across the sea . . ..”

At the bottom of the wall, there would be one lonesome post from Ol’ Blue Eyes. “Every one tells me I should be on this thing called The Face Book. So here I am. Now what do I do? Seems like a waste of time. I’m getting my bird outta here. It’s cocktail time. Where’s my Gentleman’s Jack? Someone call Sammy. Tell him to get over here.”

Social media is not for everyone. It’s probably not for really cool crooners who want to party face-to-face with the Rat Pack and who, in their own playful way, scorn the masses. If Sinatra were alive, Facebook would probably not be for him. That’s okay. And that is the first thing you should ask yourself if you are thinking about launching a Page. “Is it for me?” “Do I have the patience and enthusiasm to stay with this?” “If not, do I have the resources to outsource this or delegate to a team member?” If the answer is “No” to all the above, hold off. Social Media is here to stay, and while it’s better to get in earlier than later, as you are all that much more ahead, it’s disastrous to jump in when you are not fully on-board.

Now if you’ll excuse me, I’m late for a party with some crazy cats in Palm Springs. It will be a gas.