brands online

Behavioral economics in branding

 

Over the last few years, a growing number of brands and agencies have been applying principles of behavioural economics to position and build brands.

 

Behavioral economics is all about considering social, cognitive and emotional factors in understanding consumer behavior.

 

Behavioral economists are interested in the same things that standard economists are interested in: Why do people buy certain things? What are the market forces behind their decisions? But as opposed to standard economics that assumes that people behave rationally, behavioral economics does not have this starting assumption. Watch this video by Dan Ariely, a professor of Behavioral Economics from Duke University, who gives a good summary about the subject:

Behavioral economics has been slowly but gradually prompting marketers to take a step away from simply promoting a certain message, towards looking for more subtle and less invasive ways of finding connections to consumers.  According to this article on brandrepublic.com, digital marketers have been early adopters of behavioral economics in its application to user experience and design of web sites. And in fact, it makes perfect sense -- in the online environment, it's often about a choice between clicking on one link as opposed to another. Understanding irrational factors which drive people's choices on the web is crucial in building good brands online.

 

Nike Just Does It Digitally

Today I want to share a very good overview of how Nike is keeping its brand alive digitally. It's quite a lengthy article, but those funky brandsters with a lot of curiosity for building brands online should definitely check it out here. According to this article, Nike doesn't do TV ads. At all. Most of its advertising budget goes into creating cool video content. Promotions kind of "take care of themselves" virally because the content is good to start with -- entertaining and enjoyable.

"We don't do advertising any more. We just do cool stuff," says Nike's UK Marketing chief Simon Pestridge. "It sounds a bit wanky, but that's just the way it is. Advertising is all about achieving awareness, and we no longer need awareness. We need to become part of people's lives and digital allows us to do that."

And here are a couple videos that can give you a bit of a flavor of Nike's digital mindset:

All material on this site may be freely cited provided the source is given. Please use the permalink of the article. SCHMOOZY FOX  is a trademark of Creative Generation Lifestyle Services Ltd, a company incorporated in the UK. © 2009 CGLS Ltd. All rights reserved.

An example of co-branding: Naked Wines and Naked Chef

jamie_oliver_naked_wines In June I featured an interview with Rowan Gormley, founder of Naked Wines, a funky online wine retailer from the UK. And here is some awesome news about Naked Wines: just recently, the company has entered into a partnership with Jamie Oliver, a popular chef.

This is a great example of co-branding, an alliance between two companies whose co-operation can enhance reputation of each brand. The partnership is very logical, not only because food and wine go hand in hand. In fact, both brands are "naked" -- Naked Wines, and Jamie, who's also referred to as Naked Chef.

So, it´s just natural for two ¨naked¨ funky brands to team up. Let´s keep an eye on their great project. And now, watch a video about it.

YouTube make-up star Lauren Luke launches her own beauty line

Wow. This is a great example of how to create a storm with the help of social media, acquire millions of fans and followers on YouTube, Twitter and other online channels, then tap into this massive following by launching a new product. Lauren Luke, a 27-year old single mother from the UK, started her amateur make-up tutorials on YouTube a couple of years ago. Shooting all videos at home, she showed millions of women from around the world how to look like Angelina Jolie or Rihanna. Or Samantha in Sex in the City. Like this:

And here you go. The new beauty collection called By Lauren Luke has been recently launched. It features 5 make-up kits accompanied by videos explaining how to use them and create certain looks using each of them.

Many celebrities launch fashion and cosmetics brands tied to their names and celebrity status. But becoming a celebrity on YouTube is a whole different story.  Congrats, Lauren, you are authentic, and it's one of the strongest winning factors of the best brands

Small businesses in Rome do their marketing on Facebook

I've just come back from a trip to Rome. During the four days of my visit, I managed to see an overwhelming number of amazing historical sites, museums, and charming piazzas. Apart from that, I couldn't help doing my usual "screening" of brands and their marketing behaviour.A jewellery boutique in Rome

My most surprising discovery was this: lots of small Roman shops and restaurants advertise their presence on Facebook. I have come across a number of artisanal jewellery shops, "trattorias" and "gelaterias" proudly displaying Facebook logo in the most visible parts of their establishments, usually right next to the entrance. In most cases, it was a small poster containing a Facebook logo, name of the shop, and an invitation (only in Italian) to join a respective group on Facebook.

It is of course an interesting trend -- after all, even tiny businesses begin to realize the power of cost-effective marketing through social media. What many of them probably don't realize yet, is that they have to get down to business basics before employing any funky social media channels to promote their businesses.

Most of the Roman shops with Facebook posters that I saw were located in tourist zones. Unless a small business is into e-commerce and can ship goods overseas (which is hardly a case for a local ice-cream shop!), why would a Japanese or Ukrainian tourist find it interesting to join its Facebook group? If there are any incentives for tourists to do so, besides perhaps a mere fact of demonstrating nostalgia for all things Roman to their Facebook friends, maybe it would make more sense to explain these incentives in English?

restaurant

If you have come across similar trends in other cities, post a comment on Schmoozy Fox!

Flirting with your customers: funky, cool and seductive brands on Twitter

agentprovocateur

Do your flirt with your customers on Twitter? If not, maybe it's time to give it a thought. Twitter is growing like crazy, and brands are beginning to embrace its simple yet powerful capacity to enable dialog with us, real people (aka consumers). Well, at least the online geeky addict kind!  Some of these brands join just because it's a trendy thing to do, and once there, don't really know what to do with it. Others get a bit more creative, attract many followers and use the Twitter medium for their own benefit.

For already quite some time I have intended to take a closer look at Twitter to determine the presence of funky brands there. Funky in the sense of zesty, innovative, and modern. AND, importantly, VERY customer-oriented.

Let’s face it, such great brands, often referred to as lovemarks, are quite hard to find on the web and in real life. My hope was that Twitter, which is known for creating close connections between brands and consumers would attract some of the funkiest brands like a magnet. Or, maybe just being on Twitter makes a brand more funky by definition?

As a point of departure, I considered the UK list of coolest brands and checked if any of them were on Twitter. Also, I added some of my own hand-picked brands.

Some cool brands that I checked, didn't appear to have official profiles on Twitter, but instead, boasted numerous fan accounts, or at least, accounts which contained references to the  brand in question. This reminded me of an article I once saw. It was warning brands about the so called “brand-jacking” on Twitter, but I don't think this is such a bad thing, actually. On the contrary, if your brand already seems to be present on Twitter in the form of your fans' accounts, it can definitely suggest only this: you are a true funky brand.

Here is a selection of some funky brands on Twitter that I have hand-picked for the Schmoozy Fox readers, in no particular order. Follow them and see how their funk-appeal evolves in the Twitter-sphere.

Funky fashion

Agent Provocateur (@msprovocateur), : a famous lingerie brand. Apparently, the brand created a Twitter profile in December 2008 to prepare for Valentine's day, but I see that their enthusiasm for Twitter didn't last long – the last post went out on February 26th. Was it just a short-lived campaign? Come on, @msprovocateur, you should give it another try!

Nike: some strange stuff goes on here. There are several Nike-like accounts, and one of them is called @notofficialnike, supposedly written by the “official” Nike's social media guy. Kind of confusing!

Funky Technology

iPhone: this one has been definitely “brand-jacked” on Twitter as there are many iPhone-related profiles there. Conclusion: great for iPhone, this only suggests its strength.

Apple: same story here, lots and lots of “Apples” on Twitter!

Bang & Olufsen (@Bang_Olufsen) This ueber-cool Danish company which manufactures high end audio products, TVs and phones opened its Twitter account on March 23rd. Only 10 followers by now, but I am sure the numbers will grow pretty quickly.

Funky vehicles

Vespa, an Italian line of scooters produced by Piaggio. It must be a true lovemark, I don't think it has an official Twitter account, but look at the amount of Vespa fan profiles!

Funky personal brands

For me, number one funky person on Twitter is Gary Vay-ner-chuck from Wine Library TV: @garyvee (I already wrote about him on my blog). His Tweets are sometimes very personal, sometimes informative, and often fun. Obviously, lots of stuff about wine. I have no idea how the guy manages to run all these sites, businesses, give numerous speeches, launch TV channels and send messages on Twitter. @garyvee, do you have time to eat and sleep?

Also, Google's founders Sergey Brin (@SergeyBrin) and Larry Page (@LarryPage) are on Twitter. Many people follow them, but they follow only each other. Not too many tweets from them though.

Truly yours is on Twitter as well, feel free to connect with @FunkyBizBabe!

Do you know more funky brands on Twitter? Post a comment!

Celebrating European Entrepreneurship: Funky Brands at Plugg 2009

plugg-logoYesterday, I had a lucky chance to attend the Plugg 2009 conference in Brussels. For those who are not familiar with this annual event, it’s a conference that brings together European Web 2.0 start-ups and gives them a chance to pitch their business ideas to a panel of venture capitalists. It’s also an annual celebration of entrepreneurship in Europe. The event was organized by Robin Wauters, a well-known Belgian blogger and serial entrepreneur active on the Web 2.0 scene. The atmosphere of the venue was quite futuristic and incredibly geeky, with most of the attendees photographing the event with their iPhones, their MACs on their laps, with TweetDecks visible on the screens. It was simply cool to be there. Many in the audience attempted to engage in Q&A sessions with presenters via Twitter – that’s how geeky this stuff is! However, Mike Butcher, the UK TechCrunch editor, made sure the interaction within the audience was free-flowing, uninterrupted by Twitter-mediation.

I was there mainly to spot potentially funky online brands amongst the 20 presenting start-ups. Although fascinated by the technology behind some of the presented business ideas, I wanted to see which of the entrepreneurs would be capable of transforming their high-tech ideas into concepts understood by final consumers.

mendeley

And guess what? Although the majority of the 20 semi-finalists dwelled on technological superiority of their business models, the 3 finalists (Jinni, Myngle and Mendeley) were those whose business models:

1) Concentrated on the final customer and clearly explained their value proposition; 2) Didn’t make technology the driving force of their businesses, but simply an element required for strategy implementation; 3) Were either already profitable, or at least had a more or less clear idea about HOW to make money.

jinniFor the rest, it was surprising to see how much irrelevant stuff presenters put into their pitches – techie language, “we’re the best” messages with no supporting arguments. And almost NOBODY ever addressed this: how is my business going to bring value to my customers, and why would anybody care to pay for it? This basic stuff seems amazingly straightforward, but it didn’t come up in many presentations.

And now, the final word about the finalists. Myngle is an online language learning community (I could draw a lot of similarities between Myngle and busuu.com, which I covered in one of the previous posts), Jinni is a recommendation site dedicated to movies and other entertainment, and Mendeley (the winner of Plugg 09), launched by a bunch of PhDs is the platform which can be used for search and exchange of academic papers within the global academic community of researchers and scientists.myngle

Many thanks to Robin Wauters and Veronique Pochet for organizing this inspirational event. What I find most refreshing about the event is this: even in this chilly economic climate, there is still a bunch of enthusiastic individuals in Europe, who care about creating value and changing the world. And this is great news.

Right moment, right message, right place: how to build luxury brands using social media

Is it time for luxury brands to get engaged in more pro-active marketing in social media, or does the concept go against their brand values? This blog posts addresses these issues and gives a couple of examples to illustrate them.

A one-man wine show: Gary Vaynerchuk and Wine Library TV

Gary Vay-ner-chuk: a true personal brand and a successful business, developed through accessibility of social media. This article is about Gary's views on branding.

Let's speak Busuu or Foreign Language Learning 2.0

Busuu.com is an online language-learning community set up by two guys from IE Business School. It is also a potentially funky brand, that's why it is featured on Schmoozy Fox!

Noukie's – a soft and cuddly Belgian brand


It's been a while since I last posted a story on my blog! I have a good excuse though for my silence in cyberspace – my own “funky project”, a little boy Jason who was born at the end of May. Now he is almost 4 months old, and I decided to restart blogging with a small review of a Belgian kids' brand called Noukie's (www.noukies.com).

I discovered Noukie's 3 years ago, when my daughter, then a small baby, received a toy horse Pinto as a present. I thought it was an amazing toy – very colorful, cheerful and, importantly, amazingly soft. The softness of Noukie's toys and baby clothes is what makes them so special. Every time I pass by a Noukie's store in Brussels, it's full of people touching, touching, touching the soft toys and clothes.

In my view, one of the best things about Noukie's is that the company never stops producing its initial range of toy characters – so that, if a favorite toy is lost, it can be easily replaced by a duplicate which can be ordered online. Recently, the company has started producing DVDs and books with films and stories featuring its famous characters and apparently kids love them.

All the fluff and softness of the brand, however, doesn't come across when visiting the company's site. Although Noukie's was named the company of the year in 2007 in Belgium (a title awarded by the local branch of Ernst and Young), I think it will have to do some serious work on their web site in order to continue carrying this title, and becoming a true love mark. Right now, the user experience on www.noukies.com is nothing to write home about. Small text, seemingly random placement of tabs, and a bit annoying for my taste flash animations. In short, one of the many examples of a potentially funky brand which is not using the power of the World Wide Web to its advantage!

Chocolate and Online Branding – Sweet Dreams or Bitter Reality?

I couldn’t resist an impulse purchase of two tiny boxes of Pierre Marcolini chocolates on Place du Grand Sablon in Brussels this morning; even though I had to pay 16 Euros for the pleasure! I wandered around the stylish shop, carefully examining nicely wrapped chocolate goodies displayed on its two floors and wondering about the relevance of brand building in the chocolate business.

If buying chocolate has mostly an impromptu character, isn’t it just enough to care about having attractive shop windows that are enough of a catch to lure customers in, or do chocolate producers need to care about building longer-term relations with their customers? While the latter option seems obvious to me, Belgium is full of small shops with a very local reputation that sell superior quality chocolate, but who have probably never considered setting aside a chunk of their budget to try to build a brand – or wouldn't know where to start.

Some “chocolatiers”, like Pierre Marcolini, and some others, have embarked on the path of trying to make their names known across Belgium and abroad. Anecdotal evidence suggests that, at least on the local Belgian scene, Marcolini has succeeded in making its name known to chocolate-loving connoisseurs. The major achievement of Marcolini in this respect has, in my view, been an attempt to give its shops an ultramodern look that immediately set them aside from smaller old-fashioned competitors. But if Pierre Marcolini cares about its further growth and international recognition – after all, it has opened stores in the US, Kuwait, Japan, UK, Luxembourg and France –it might consider giving a bit more thought to improving its online presence and making it part of its wider brand-building strategy. In order to do so, it would first of all need to take a fresh look at its web site.

Let’s look at the Belgian site of the chocolate producer -- www.marcolini.be (why not include the name “Pierre” in the domain name?) -- from the usability point of view;

The main page brings us to a flyer for the recently published book “Eclats” that is said (in tiny text that I could read only by moving my face very close to the computer screen) to be available in a range of shops. There are no details about the contents of the book (I suppose it has to do with chocolate) and reasons why anyone would want to buy it.

The main page then gives you some further options for surfing: three language options (French, Dutch and English), as well as “Site Map”. A click on the English version leads to the story about Pierre Marcolini himself, and “Company” provides a snapshot of the main achievements of the brand in chronological order. The tab “Collections” is empty for the moment, and “Events” hasn’t been updated for a while. The page “Contact” briefly mentions a possibility of buying corporate gifts, but the link where further information about them is supposed to be displayed, is “In the construction.”

As I am very used to the fact that on web pages in Belgium content information often differs depending on the language, I attempt to reach the Pierre Marcolini page in both French and Dutch. But it’s not an easy task! I can’t access the language options by clicking on “Home”, so I need to shorten the now expanded domain name address to www.marcolini.be again, in order to reach the main page with the info about “Eclats”. Voila! The French version of the page contains a new tab unavailable in English, “Solutions enterprise” or “Company gifts”. It contains a small collage of chocolate boxes with text below them mentioning that these, indeed, are company gifts. However, no further information is provided on how to order these gifts! Same thing on the page in Dutch – no further info on the subject.

Given its international presence, I was hoping to come across a corporate site of Pierre Marcolini, but what I´ve found was a number or local, country-specific sites. For instance, the US site www.marcolinichocolatier.com gives some facts about the business, but looks quite incomplete. The tab ¨online shop¨ redirects you yet to another site, www.pierremarcolini-na.com. The latter, in its turn, does not seem to be fully functional as some of the goods described just don´t want to go into the shopping cart!

Apart from the imperfections of the mentioned sites, someone at the company must have nevertheless thought about the consistency of visual identity – the shop design, packaging and some elements of the web sites follow more or less the same color and style pattern.

What strikes me in particular, is the discrepancy between Marcolini´s grandiose shop in a stylish location, and its quite undeveloped web sites, mediocre both from the conceptual and technical points of view. Even if strengthening its brand through a variety of online initiatives might not be Marcolini´s strategic priority at the moment, the company should at least boost the look and feel of its web sites, as well as think of using the brand name consistently throughout the country-specific sites. This seems especially important since the chocolate maker is pursuing the path of e-commerce. Imagine how important it would be to help foreign visitors to Brussels relive their pleasant chocolate shopping experience online! Then, thousands miles away from the gorgeous flagship store, they would continue being fans of the brand. And aren´t most brands dreaming of such a ¨lovemarks¨ effect?1

1. Described by Kevin Roberts in “The Lovemarks Effect”, PowerHouseBooks, NY, 2006