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Variations on a Theme

Friday, January 21st, 2011

The Google logo. I look forward to seeing what Google will cook up on Mother’s Day, Halloween, Martin Luther King Day, or even better, what they’ll teach me on obscure days like the anniversary of Dr. Suess’ birth (pictured).

There was a time, and some would still argue same, when playing with branding like this was a cardinal sin. “You don’t want to confuse the customers!” It was thought to dilute the message or worse.

Luckily today, most brands have finally realized that their consumers are smart, and are capable of ingesting, interpreting, understanding and identifying with what I call branding’s version of variations on a theme. In fact, by Google digging into culture,history, science (ie: life) and playing with its logo, they’ve actually demonstrated and enhanced the brand. Think about it. What do you do on Google? Search for stuff. If you’re looking for French Post-Impressionist painter, Paul Cezanne’s birthday (pictured) or other item, you can find it by typing it right into that little bar on Google.

Making a connection with culture and at the same time elevating your brand’s mission gives people something to talk about, take away and remember.

MailChimp, my preference in email marketing, has a lovable (at least to me) chimpanzee as their mascot of choice. While they don’t go as far as Google with their manipulation of the logo, they do have fun putting their monkey in different situations or styles that represent something that resonates with them as a company, and hopefully with their audience, too. Pictured is the one they did in tribute to A.A. Milne, the English author best known for Winnie-the-Pooh. By playing with their brand’s logo, they not only keep it fresh, but communicate the whimsy, the levity of the brand itself.

I encourage you to find out how you can use cultural references, whether historical, current or offbeat to better connect with your audience. BUT — yes, there’s a but — I implore you to know who you are and what your brand stands for first. The reason MailChimp and Google do this well is because they worked long and hard to both know what they wanted to portray as a brand, as well as, who the audience they wanted to reach were/are. Have fun, but have a reason, or you will in the end, confuse your customers and dilute your message.

What are the brands you see having fun with their image?

Tags: branding, Design, image, Logo
Posted in Advertising, Advice, brand, google, marketing | 4 Comments »

Facebook Ads Work!

Monday, September 20th, 2010

Dear Non-believers,

As a marketer and advertiser, I must inform you about the joys of using advertising like Facebook Ads and Google’s AdWords. Unlike print media, TV or radio, Facebook Ads and AdWords give you the ability to directly target a specific audience. It is truly a marketers dream come true! No more do you have to wonder if your message is getting seen by the right people, or if anyone is even paying attention to you ads.

With Facebook and Google’s platforms easily accessible to advertisers and marketers, not only can you pinpoint the audience you are trying to reach, but you can also see how many people clicked through, joined your page, and (if you have your Google Analytics funnels set up properly) when a consumer purchases what you’re selling. I know what you’re thinking – it can’t be true! But it is. I can testify to you that on the ad campaigns I’ve worked on, I’ve seen up to a 400% increase in “fans” on Facebook in 24-hours. I’ve also seen sales increase by 25-30% in 24-hours. Now THAT’s results!

The best part is, you can monitor the results of your campaigns hourly. If you notice one ad picking up while the others are lacking, you can evaluate the differences, adjust the campaigns, and see virtually instant results.

I have noticed that you should wait until one 24-hour cycle is completed. As indicated by recent research, most Facebook users in the USA use the platform between 7pm EST-12pm EST. Therefore, if you change the ad during the day you may not see results until that night. There are also days where Facebook use peaks – so be on the lookout for events (think Olympics, VMAs, etc.) that promote using Facebook that might affect your results.

Sadly, I’m not getting paid by anyone to tell you the good news. I’m just the messenger. If you do decide to move forward with Facebook and/or Google advertising, I wish you the best of luck. I look forward to hearing about your endeavors and successes!

Best wishes,

Taylor Vick
Your Social Deviant

Tags: advertising, AdWords, Facebook, google, marketing, online advertising, results
Posted in Advertising, Advice, Facebook, google, marketing, social media, Social Networks | No Comments »

MEIEA Conference Recap

Wednesday, April 7th, 2010

Several months ago, I was asked to moderate a panel at the MEIEA Conference for Advanced Social Media Strategy. It was a great opportunity and I was thrilled to be asked to moderate. The conference coordinator asked me to put the panel together as well, and frankly, that was the hardest part! None of the panelists were compensated for their time beyond admission to the rest of the conference so imagine my surprise when all of my top candidates for the panel agreed to sit on it. Here they are:

Fran Vincent – Retro Island Productions/MySpace for Musicians
Katherine Stimson – Bennett Law Office/Suman Entertainment Group/Farm to Market Music
Janet Hagan – Social Deviants/Naxos of America
Tony GrotticelliTOGA Entertainment

Each panelist I invited has exceptional experience in social media marketing. Fran even wrote MySpace for Musicians, and the 2nd edition is about to go to print! (Highly recommend the book for anyone looking to get into MySpace – she even has medium-advanced HTML code and actually EXPLAINS what it means in lamens terms. I do own the 1st edition and have used it for many projects).

The questions I had for the panelists were all questions that Janet and I receive on a nearly daily basis. You have profiles – now what? What are the tools that you use to maximize your time spent online? What is the next big thing?

Now what? – Have a plan. Know why you’re on the networks. If your fans aren’t there, why are you wasting your time? If your fans are there and want to interact with you (as evidenced by their timid interaction on your profile), then how do you interact with them? Every company should have a marketing plan in place – social media is no different.

Helpful tools? – Tools I use to help streamline my social media initiatives are:
Twitter: Hootsuite | Posterous | Bit.ly | Ad.ly
Facebook: Hootsuite | Mashable has great articles on what applications to add to your facebook page that will not only enhance content you post, but will keep fans coming back
MySpace: MySpace for Musicians (disclaimer: I know Fran & bought the book!)
Discovery: Search.Twitter.com | Technorati | Google | BlogCatalog
Blogs: Google Analytics | IceRocket.com | Digg | Delicious | StumbleUpon | Technorati

Bloggers you should follow: Check out Mashable’s article
Video: MeFeedia | Vimeo | YouTube

NBT? – Location based applications! Enter Yelp, Hot Potato, and FourSquare. I personally am an avid FourSquare user, and there’s nothing better than checking into a location and getting the inside scoop on what to do and not do at that location. I’ve gotten some pretty great food recommendations that way!

Other companies are starting to use location based applications to enhance their incentive programs. Others are using them to shout out to their fans to increase brand awareness. Still others are incorporating them into a larger strategy where fans communicate to each other at live events over those platforms, and exchanging pictures, comments and experiences at the live event with everyone at a location. Use your creativity to tap into the potential of social media, especially location based apps as they are the future for at least the next year.

What apps are you using? Have you jumped on the FourSquare/Yelp bandwagon yet? Is there anything out there that you’re using?

Posted in analytics, blog, delicious, digg, Facebook, foursquare, google, mashable, mefeedia, myspace, posterous, social media, stumbleupon, technorati, Twitter, vimeo, yelp, youtube | 3 Comments »