Monday, January 30, 2012

Clients: Are They Allies or Adversaries?

Want to go deeper into the client-agency relationship?  Take a few tips from Brandemix's own Kathryn Wandling, Director of Client Services. Here’s what she's gleaned after a decade of successful experience "in the trenches".
Secrets of Great Client Service
I’ve found every client to be very understanding and appreciative of the load we take off their backs. Though we may sometimes disagree, my clients and I share the same goal: To produce great work that solves business objectives. 
My philosophy boils down to these points:
Build Brand Equity at Every Touchpoint
While the client is the keeper of the brand, they may not always be keen on the best way to promote it. My job is to keep the brand top-of-mind.

Know the Client’s Business
This is critical when making marketing recommendations. Only through truly walking in their shoes, can I research and present best practice, and act as an advisor and consultant. I do my best to make sure I understand their industry, along with their industry-speak as quickly as possible. We carefully review everything that I think they should do, but I also listen to what they want to do and attempt to understand all the factors that led to their decisions. It is through this collaboration, that consensus emerges.
Teach Clients the Agency Business
Any learning that I can impart to my clients makes them look good and makes my job easier. While it's not important to know what a vector file is, or the difference between an .ai and .psd, it's important to understand our process and strategy, and how their goals have impacted the creative decisions we've made.

Learn the Rules
Every channel of communication has their own rules, and it's my business to know them. If we're building a new website, important items should never be more than three clicks away. If I'm executing a social media campaign, I need to discuss metrics for success -- whether it's likes, retweets, mentions, hires or sales. Our goal is always measurable success.
Hold their Hand and Watch their Back
My client's feel like I have one client, and it's them. I attempt to be the “level head” when dealing with the creative people on my side, and the crazy pressure from the CEO on their side. I can be a therapist, a policeman, a bean-counter, a devil or saint, depending on what's called for in each unique situation. It's not always an easy job,  but I always have my client's back. That's why they come back.

Got a question? My virtual door is always open.

Tuesday, January 24, 2012

Extending Your Brand Through Your Careers Site

After years spent studying how brands communicate their mission, vision, and values through messaging and design, here’s the Golden Rule:  Whether speaking to shareholders, management, employees, new hires, or job applicants, a brand must be consistent and compelling to be effective.

You’ve seen how I’ve highlighted companies that make great use of branding. In contrast, here are two brands that might be missing great opportunities to extend their brand within their careers site:
NBC Universal
NBCU is a media powerhouse with a century of history. Universal produced the classic 1930s horror films and has created some of most beloved film franchises of all time: JawsBack to the FutureJurassic Park, and the Bourne movies. NBC’s contribution to television includes Friends, The Cosby Show, Cheers, Seinfeld, ER, and Law & Order – not counting the shows from its cable channels USA, SyFy, and Bravo. The combined company also includes five theme parks that feature attractions based on Harry Potter and Shrek.
With all that entertainment history, what might they show on their careers site? Are you thinking movie stars, rides, aliens, dinosaurs, or monsters?  Nope. Just plain text.

Compare that to CBS, which provides five images of its entertainment properties.

Condé Nast
This publishing house brings you a wide array of magazines: Vogue, Glamour, GQ, Architectural Digest, Wired, Vanity Fair, and The New Yorker, to name a few. In all, Condé Nast publishes two dozen magazines that feature amazing photography, beautiful locations, and cutting-edge fashion. The titles cover architecture, food, and travel. The company must have millions of visual assets from almost 30 years of publishing.
So what images does Condé Nast show prospective employees on its careers site?

A single window of ten rotating images, which are supposed to evoke passion. I’ll let you decide. 

What about your brand? Are you showcasing your brand’s assets on your careers site? Are you displaying your products, exhibiting your office space, presenting your history, or showing off your employees? What do applicants see when they first encounter your brand?

If not, we’d be happy to help. At Brandemix, we love branding.

Monday, January 16, 2012

Why State Farm is a Social Media Superstar

As many of you know from my speaking engagements around the country, I like to discover brands that are using social media in innovative ways. I honor these organizations with the name “SoMe Superstars.” Recent winners include PepsiCo and Moleskine.
Today I’d like to recognize a company that’s using social media for recruiting: State Farm. I like how the insurance company recently rebranded with its clever “Magic Jingle” commercials, alongside funny ads featuring everything from falcons to giant robots. But the company has continued its transformation with a big push in social media and interactivity as well. Here are the three superstar ways that State Farm engages job applicants:
First, State Farm has a dedicated careers Facebook Page with more than 16,000 Likes, featuring lots of interesting content from both the corporate communications department and individual agents. Responses to questions and grievances usually come within 24 hours. The page’s admins go beyond typical stories of disaster recovery to include posts that are useful to job-seekers, such as asking “What’s the strangest thing you ever sent a recruiter?” and giving “Tips for networking at holiday parties.” This makes the Page a destination for anyone looking for employment, even outside the insurance field.


Second, the State Farm careers site includes eight videos under the title “See For Yourself.” These feature testimonials from agents and employees and great photography of the State Farm headquarters. The company offers a section called “Meet Our Interns,” with videos, written interviews, and “Advice and Guidance from Real Interns.” This is a powerful way to reach out to young people by providing content that’s educational but also fun. It also shows an awareness that Millenials would rather watch a video than read a long corporate mission statement.


Third, State Farm offers a unique interactive website,, which the company calls a “virtual job tryout with real-world scenarios.” Job-seekers are put in situations faced by real insurance agents, from marketing a new office and handling staff to dealing with customer complaints. There are no wrong answers; users simply pick the action they’d most likely take, and the one they’d least likely take, from four options. State Farm then evaluates what sort of agent they’d be. It’s a job preview unlike anything I’ve ever seen.

Finally, these career sites add to the overall State Farm online presence, which includes branded accounts on YouTube, Twitter, and Flickr – and an interesting Facebook Page called State Farm Nation, “where fans can get helpful tips, be inspired, and have fun connecting with others.” That Page has more than 1.3 million Likes.
What can you learn from State Farm? First, set up a dedicated careers site, preferably accompanied by a careers Facebook Page and Twitter profile. Then post content that’s useful to anyone looking for employment, not just posts about how great your organization is. Offer photos and videos, showing job-seekers what your office looks like and what your employees love about working there. And, if you really want to stand out, invest in something unique like State Farm Nation on Facebook or the revolutionary “Day in the Life” interactive site.
For communicating with talent in smart, fun, and interactive ways, I name State Farm Insurance a SoMe Superstar!
For the latest on social media, online recruiting, mobile marketing, and other branding trends, please like Brandemix on Facebookfollow us on Twitter, and join our LinkedIn group, Your Digital Brand.

Saturday, January 7, 2012

Four Signs You're Ready to Rebrand

It’s January,  the time of year to take stock of your business and goals for the year. 

Besides upgrading your software or buying a new printer, you also should look at your branding. Whether you want to redesign your website, extend your brand into social media, or align your internal communications with your consumer advertising, January is a great time to launch a rebranding effort.
Are you ready to rebrand? There are four signs that you might be. Do any of these match your company’s situation?
Your focus has changed.
This often happens to small businesses. Sometimes the mission you had when you started the company no longer matches what you’re currently doing. Maybe you opened a deli but found that only cupcakes were selling, so you transitioned into a cupcake shop. Any of your previous branding that mentions, say, breakfast, no longer works…unless you invent a breakfast cupcake, for which I’d be the first in line!

Image via

You have a new market or audience.
Perhaps you’re speaking to a new demographic now, which isn’t responding to your previous messaging. Both Farmers and State Farm insurance were known as solid, reliable – and boring. Both have launched new ad campaigns that add humor to the usual dire insurance company warnings. Both firms were founded in the 1920s, but realized that 90-year-old branding wasn’t speaking to consumers in 2012’s competitive marketplace.

There's been a merger, acquisition, or expansion.
Circumstances might be forcing you to rebrand. If your company merged with another, or was acquired, or launched a new division that modifies your core mission, you’ll need a new brand to reflect the change. Or perhaps your brand is too close to another’s, and you’re pre-emptively changing to avoid legal issues. Or maybe you need to shed some baggage, which is why Philip Morris became Altria or GMAC became Ally Bank.

It's been a while.
Sometimes branding just becomes stale. Some fonts and logos can become dated; maybe yours fell victim to what Marty Neumeier called the Great Swoosh Epidemic, when every company wanted a curved or circular icon. You may find that your logo doesn’t fit well in the icon space allowed by Twitter, or looks good onscreen but not on paper. These missteps are relatively easy to fix.
Image via Concept Genius

If you answered yes to any of these questions, get ready to rebrand.
If youve never been through a corporate or employer rebranding effort, you may be asking yourself these questions:

  • How do I create a plan to rebrand?
  • How long will it take to rebrand?
  • How much will it cost to rebrand?
  • What is the ROI of a rebrand? 
Unique goals and objectives make these questions hard to answer in general terms, but future blog articles will endeavor to add clarity to your quest. In the meantime, if rebranding is on your New Year's resolution list, get in touch with your friends in BRANDEland.