With mask-wearing compulsory in some parts of Victoria, Roger Hogan suggests that marketers, and governments, should create branded face masks. It would help brands, but it might also just encourage the public to widely wear them.

On the weekend, the Victorian government made face masks compulsory in Melbourne and the Mitchell Shire. As the pandemic develops, the same could happen in other states, perhaps across the whole country. But before other governments rush to follow Victoria’s example, it should consider an alternative, or at least complementary, strategy: branded face masks.

If the goal is to protect our health with as little cost as possible to our civil liberties, harnessing the power of marketing, business competition, and consumer choice is likely to be a better option than compulsion.

Even if we take civil liberties out of the equation, there are still reasons to think that a private-sector solution – branded face masks sold by retailers and given away as promotional items – would be more effective and efficient in the medium and long terms. It would certainly be more colourful.

Imagine a street full (to the extent permissible under lockdowns and other restrictions) of faces half-obscured by anonymous strips of fabric. The word ‘dystopia’ comes to mind.

Now picture that same street, where those strips of fabric advertise footy teams, rock bands, celebrities, super heroes… whatever expresses the passions, interests and humanity of the people behind the masks.

I know which one I’d rather walk down, and I suspect most people would feel the same. But creating a private-sector solution for a national public health emergency would require high-level collaboration between Australia’s governments and the marketing industry.

Compulsion has a short shelf life

Clearly, compulsion is necessary right now in Melbourne and Mitchell, and the Andrews government has understandably extended the state of emergency to 16 August. It’s likely, however, that the requirement to wear masks will last well beyond that date.

That’s relevant, because there are reasons to think that a compulsory mask-wearing regime will become less effective and efficient the longer it stays in place.

The most obvious measure of effectiveness would be the compliance rate—and this is where, in my view, the compulsion model becomes risky for governments. Public trust in governments and other institutions had sunk to an all-time low before the COVID-19 outbreak, and the public’s patience has been stretched further by virus-related lockdowns and other restrictions.

It would take only a few incidents of mule-headed refusal to wear a mask and one or two arrests to darken the public mood further, with potentially adverse consequences at the ballot box.

And how efficient is it, from a taxpayer’s point of view, to spend money on enforced mask-wearing when so much is being spent, and so much debt incurred, on measures already in place?

While compulsion might be necessary, and even desirable, in the short term, a private-sector solution could prove effective and efficient over longer periods.

A branded solution

It’s true that most Australians have not become regular mask-wearers since the pandemic began.

As ABC Melbourne Radio noted recently, this is partly for cultural reasons and partly because of mixed messages in the pandemic’s early stages about whether or not masks were proof against COVID-19.

Messaging should no longer be an issue, as informed consensus now favours wearing masks.

Better still, from a marketer’s point of view, designer masks have begun to pique consumer interest, suggesting there is scope to leverage that interest into sales of masks that carry popular brands. On that basis alone, branded face masks – compared to the compulsion model – would be pushing at an open door. There might (might) be a longer-term pay-off if branded face masks prove so popular that people wear them during normal flu season, once the pandemic has run its course. That would be a major behavioural, even cultural, change for Australians.

There would also be a much lower, perhaps very low, cost to government (i.e. the taxpayer) if the private sector, driven by the prospect of profit, finances the initiative.

Harnessing the profit motive to a national public health outcome would require top-level collaboration between governments and the industry. Perhaps a Zoom call between the federal government and, say, the Australian Marketing Institute would be a start.

Scott Morrison, you’re a marketing man—how about it? And all you marketers out there: You and your brand-owning clients could make some money. You’d certainly be doing a lot of public good.


Sourced from Mumbrella


FutureBrand has been working with computer and electronics retailer Currys PC World on a total refresh of its brand and identity for the past 18 months, creating a “bright and optimistic” new visual identity.

The new designs used instore and online look to reflect the stores’ core values: modern, stunning, witty, a “smart cookie” and “infectiously passionate” about helping people to use and enjoy technology, according to the agency.

The FutureBrand and Currys PC World teams worked in close collaboration and approached the rebrand from the unusual stance of focusing on raining, tools and education. Aside from this, though, the new designs look to align the brand in terms of its visual assets, too.

“Currys PC World had accumulated several different legacy assets which had led to inconsistent use of colours and visual language across different stores,” Katie Revell, account director at FutureBrand says. “Our challenge was to move Currys PC World away from its existing assets to a new visual identity which will consistently communicate the brand’s unique personality and consumer offer across all physical and digital touch-points.”

The Currys PC World globe logo will remain, and this was used as inspiration for the rest of the designs, which FutureBrand bills as a new “bright world”: a bold visual identity based on colourful circles that expresses “a sense of openness, optimism and excitement about life and technology”.

The circular themes are used across all assets, which include a new series of icons, animation guidelines, photography, videography and the website. FutureBrand also worked with Colophon Foundry to create a unique bespoke typeface, Currys Sans.

FutureBrand created an online ‘Brand Hub’ to host all brand principles, assets and guidance in one place. “Not only does this ensure everyone has the latest and most up-to-date information, but it’s also a living site, updated and strengthened with each new challenge as the new branding is rolled out,” says FutureBrand.

The new colour palette centres on purple alongside a complementary palette of pink, yellow, green and purple. A vivid magenta has been introduced into advertising and marketing communications.


Sourced from CREATIVE BOOM

By Bill Gardner.

Each year, I write a report on logo trends, and I always look to the past before looking ahead. You can’t tell where something is going if you don’t know where it has been. There’s always a reason something goes viral or takes off—something set it in motion, good or bad. So let’s start by addressing the white elephant on the planet: COVID-19.

Crises often accelerate trends in society and design. It’s very reactive and rushed; if there were a 10-step program that we typically follow to get from point A to point B, we skipped steps six through nine to get there during a crisis. Next year, we’re probably going to see a lot of logos that emerged as a result—some will be brilliant, many more probably won’t be. No matter what, I believe the design industry is going to come out of this better than we were. Some firms will not recover. It’s going to be survival of the fittest. Having said that, we’ll see an emergence of little startups and uncover some talent we’ve never seen before. People will regroup, find their niche, and come out of this with a new resilience. This is a shared generational experience that we’ll never forget and hopefully we’ll all learn from. Next year’s batch of logos will surely reflect this.

As for this year’s trends, we’re seeing some intriguing clusters of design innovation driven by technology and tools. For instance, there are a lot of logos that employ variable fonts and effects filters, maybe for no other reason than we have the capabilities to do it. When new tools are introduced, designers start with the obvious effects and objectify the coolness (which gets tired after a while). Fortunately, there were many great examples by designers who took these tools to the next level, exploiting their capabilities and creating logo experiences that we’ve never seen before.

We’re also seeing two opposite trends that hearken back to the best of the 1970s. Wordmarks with big fat fonts came out roaring this year, perhaps as a counter to the minimalist sans serif aesthetic we’ve gotten used to the last five or six years. At the same time, there are a lot of ultra-minimalist vector images with clean positive-negative fields that may have resulted from a desire to return to clarity and simplicity, a la Saul Bass and Paul Rand—the pendulum swings both ways.

There’s also a tendency toward minimalist effects using transparencies, where one surface hovers closely to another. It’s getting tiresome, and I see a movement away from this. On the other hand, we have what I like to call “Potter Pics,” which reference the little animated movements in some logos, like the wink of an eye. They’re subtle and clever.

Hand-drawn naïve symbols that are more crude are emerging. They’re kind of a New Age throwback. In a similar vein, there are logos with flowers and leaves referencing organics and natural products. Expect to see more of this as the cannabis market expands in the next few years.

Gradient solutions are rampant, but they have taken on a new level, and they’re being applied in novel ways. The simple ways of washing green to blue or red to orange are tired, so now there are more fashionable applications. For instance, there are waves of purple to pink, then zooming into a black hole or interacting with colors that aren’t necessarily adjacent to each other on the color wheel. It’s quick and busy and interactive.

I never grow tired of reviewing the thousands of logos I receive every year. It’s always a fascinating study of creativity and innovation.


[Image: courtesy Logo Lounge]

There’s no better way to endear the public to a mark than to build margin in the design for them to participate. Recognizing the consumer’s intelligence and leaving room for discovery and the aha moment in these logos allow them to live on multiple levels. A tread forms an S, as well as a pair of arrows intersecting where diverse content joins together. A series of parallelograms represent structures with a sunset gradient on the horizon crafting a mnemonic reminder of the letter H. These marks tend to work best when simple and relatively geometric in construction.


[Image: courtesy Logo Lounge]

Whether you look at a maze as a delight, a mystery, or a punishment, it is a challenge that visually represents many of the objectives a client may wish to associate with their brand. As a rule these marks are a continuation of the monoline aesthetic with an even distribution of positive and negative weight.Some of these marks identify a path that enters at point A and exits at point B, while others guide you directly into a blind dead end or a goal or starting point, depending on the perspective. Either way, there is a specific pathway that leads you to a timely completion of your task. Having a guide for the journey that might otherwise be interminable is the underlying promise these marks address. As addictive as click bait, they invite consumers to visually trace their route.


[Image: courtesy Logo Lounge]

People like to create order. It gives us a sense of well-being. This is all part of a bigger conversation associated with the Gestalt theory, but for the purpose of this trend, it’s driven by our comfort with symmetry. This group of logos are most often crafted from two identical elements either mirrored or rotationally nestled together after a 180-degree rotation.

It’s not uncommon for the end product to assume the shape of a letterform or be constructed by reflective letters. The symmetry of these logos creates a sense of assurance in much the same way you find harmony in a yin-yang symbol. It conveys the idea of a strong partnership that is well suited and beneficial to both sides. Rotational pairings can easily represent a sense of motion or action that may demonstrate a positive aspect of the client’s nature. Like the siblings this trend is named for, the two distinct elements may be in perfect harmony or reference co-joined elements rife with tension. Regardless they will work it out. After all, they are family.


[Image: courtesy Logo Lounge]

Sometimes an aesthetic meets it demise and no one remembered to tell it. A bit like my feelings for designs that trod out the old circuit board solder pathways careening around like a pair of Tron cycles abruptly flaring out to terminate in a silver dot cul-de-sac. That technology probably took us to the moon and back, but for designers it provided an immediate visual language we relied on and abused right up until the night we met pixels. Now in some karmic incarnation, the two trends bore an offspring with a perfect 50-50 genetic split.

Samsung committed to this trend with their Exynos mobile processor using a mark laid out like a pixel chessboard that softly melts together with a soldered bridge at every corner. Walk away from these marks without a sense of tech and you probably forgot to look. The checkered framework of these logos demonstrates an affinity for building links and pathways between entities. They express the idea of multiple elements coming together to create a greater good, but corner-connecting just enough to maintain modest autonomy all the while keeping their social distance in check.


[Image: courtesy Logo Lounge]

Each trend report manages to identify a shape or two that rapidly populates every designer’s kit of parts like words that enter the news cycle based on a sheet of talking points. The best I can do to identify the cause of this eruption is to look at the previous year’s trends and designers’ affinity for the use of canted parallelograms. Those previous shapes strongly resemble this year’s crop, but these shapes have approachable, organic curves.For each rounded bend there is a counter corner that draws to a point like the tip of a leaf. No surprise that this shape has found its home in a number of marks that are eco-centric and hope to reflect the language of nature’s building blocks. Foliage, feathers, grain, cresting waves, or any number of other receptive contoured forms. This shape stacks, reconfigures, and pairs well with other soft shapes or blends with harsher geometrics to soften their effect. It serves as a refreshing addition on a number of stiff sans serif fonts, to add a wisp of nature and whimsy.


[Image: courtesy Logo Lounge]

I’ve always thought of a petri dish as a fully contained ecosystem that investigates bacteria and other phenomenon. Those clear dishes serve as our little round window into discovery of the unknown, while sealed to protect us from their content. Exactly like these logos. These micro views of a macro world are tightly cropped shots, often framed in a simple circle or square. That cropping purposefully focuses the consumer on just enough detail to extrapolate the rest of the story.

Swimming in these pools are right angles, arcs, points, and curves—just enough to telegraph the actual contents as circles, squares, stars, or whatever the visual totem happens to be. This places faith in the public’s participation and their deductive skills at ferreting out the intended message. Dana-Farber captures the arc of a D and the right angle of an F coming together to form a human with a focused Venn diagram at the intersection. Investissement Quebec crops in on its proprietary Q just enough to show a profit chart with a sweeping upward trend. You have to appreciate an entity that avoids pure literal solutions in favor of placing faith in our ability to attain our own aha moment.


[Image: courtesy Logo Lounge]

When evaluating the liftoff thrust of any trend, success is often measured between the born-on date and the rise to critical mass. If momentum doesn’t build, you’re doomed. On the other hand, popular trends tend to burn out overnight. We find variable type on a strong pace to have an influence on logo trends for some years once we figure out how to drive them. Just this last year, more designers embraced the basic bag of tricks generally reserved for demonstrating variable type capabilities. Diminishing or contorting type in a sequence of thick to thins or squat to tall, and even animating it as such, are eye candy but probably not the use the original developers of variable type had in mind. In fairness, these fonts weren’t created just for logo designers, but we tend to gladly appropriate shiny things.Unfortunately, the only time variable type can be identified as such is when it’s shown in contrast or motion. Amsteldok, the WPP offices in Amsterdam, have really done an astonishing job of embracing regional and historic influence for their proprietary font, and have used the variable capabilities to create a highly flexible system. That system manages to hold together admirably but also is designed to morph and gyrate.


[Image: courtesy Logo Lounge]

Hard to throw too much shade at a font that was Europe’s only choice from the 12th to the 17th century. Blackletter fonts never completely vanished and became the preferred text for Germany, which probably explains its recent resurgence with the vast array of microbrew pubs dotting corners across the globe. It’s never truly been out of mind, serving as the font of choice for nameplates on hundreds of newspapers worldwide. It even worked pretty well on your diploma and for Disneyland, but how did it make the jump to AC/DC and Snoop Dog? Now that’s some kind of flexibility!

Though it’s no friend of legibility, it will never be accused of lacking personality. That may be the reason it’s on every designer’s casting call as we investigate counter measures to the blandification of wordmarks crafted from soulless sans serif sameness. The slab and angled strokes have a sharp graphic appeal that allow for abundant customization and retooling. Plenty of Blackletter-inspired fonts are popping up with myriad weights, in-lines, swashes, ornaments, and other iterations. It’s a perfect mouthpiece for demonstrating a client’s heritage and craftsmanship—and expresses both with inspired drama.


[Image: courtesy Logo Lounge]

I like to imagine the conversations that take place in designer presentations I’m not privy to. After you’ve worked with enough clients you start to recognize some of the signs of client fatigue that lead a designer to give in on this thing or that. I picture the designer whose work has been stripped down to a company name in a lowercase bold sans serif. Dejected and brow beaten after numerous attempts to interject some color or life, the client finally concedes a spot of color on the dot. Of course, this is pure conjecture, not having seen the actual design briefs for said projects.After seeing too many solutions like Dimple or Medallia using the color dotted “i” only, I have tried to show a broader range of applications under this umbrella that demonstrate some of the stronger conceptual thinking. Admittedly the lower case “i” is often cast as the person in the letterform with the dot serving as the head. Often a few extra colored dots on letters that don’t really call for one, help describe the family or a team. Uplight flopped their “i” and lit their bottom, while Mitto is just burning its “i” at both ends. Clever.


[Image: courtesy Logo Lounge]

Take a look at this beautiful array of hands that are abundant this year. Dramatically different in illustration style, and beyond the hands themselves, there’s one distinct commonality: They all have something either hovering above them or we captured these elements in free fall. This may be symbolic of the magical essence of the relationship between the product and the user. Granted, the bird has reason to hover but there is some kind of special levitation going on when a bottle not only rises out of the hand but GLOWS!

When a hand appears as part of a logo, it’s often to represent a human experience that’s part of the brand assurance. I think these demonstrate a receptive attitude with palms up, open and at ease. These hands impart a New Age culture and are likely to be accepted in an artisan boutique or definitely in a business-to-consumer category. Handcrafted products seem to fit this genre, but more likely these are associated with an experience with an extraordinary promise. These marks tell enchanting stories and ask the consumer to both suspend belief and to believe at the very same time.


[Image: courtesy Logo Lounge]

A symbol is only a representation of a thing or concept. We know a human heart looks nothing like the symbol we use to represent it. Nor does a star, or fire or a cloud. The ancient Greeks used a symbol for lightning that looks nothing like our modern-day interpretation. And our interpretation looks nothing like the real thing. Even so, it was in abundant supply in this year’s crop of logos.

For millenniums, lightning was almost exclusively looked at as a weapon or punishment from the gods. They were in charge of it and could release it at will. We’d not really fathomed the idea of electricity so it’s not surprising that the idea of a bolt representing energy, illumination, or a flash of brilliance is only a recent association. The Top Hat design used lightning as a small detail that’s a universal representation of action. I like to think that these phenomenon represent an inexplicably awesome event. Stick around and it may happen again.


[Image: courtesy Logo Lounge]

Those who follow this report annually may recall a few years back we identified the expanded use of four-pointed stars to which we assigned the name Sparkle. At the time, this group was fledgling, but typically appeared as a nonaligned star avoiding jingoistic or religious connotations with more points. Four points were enough to get the idea across with minimal detail, making it ideal for logo design. Much like many of the logos from those “Sparkle” stars were primarily used in a space-filler mode to add some magical charm to an illustrative mark with a capricious attitude.We evolve and so do the trends. That planting of seeds a few years back not only sprouted a healthy set of legs this year, it’s grown into an Olympic sprinter. Leman Jewelry laid claim for the center stroke on their letter E, where every stone has that glint. This trend has pressed forward to the obvious, which is creating a star as the negative space at the convergence of four curves. For a client, this builds a good story of coming together to create a brilliant solution or a star from many. Remove any one of the pieces, and the achievement vanishes.


[Image: courtesy Logo Lounge]

I cheer on any designer who create a product so engaging that the public becomes inextricably involved in it. I mean isn’t that one of design’s ultimate goals—to captivate the public and create a symbol that can’t be ignored? Optical illusions often do that as do single perspective murals that shift appearance with our vantage point. We’re readily mesmerized by the sidewalk artist who creates such illusions as making it appear there’s a waterfall or a gaping canyon in the middle of a plaza that’s no more that a deceptively realistic rendering.Designers understand that there are many triggers for consumer engagement and deceptive dimension is one of them. Anytime we can extend that mental participation in what we design for our clients, we are creating neural links with their brand. We refer to these as “Cornered” because each has manufactured the illusion of space by wrapping their design around an artificial reality. These all reside on a flat plain of white that gives no hint of dimension, but that can serve as the perfect canvas for these to dimensionally exist in undefined space.


[Image: courtesy Logo Lounge]

There are things in life that can make us feel uncomfortable or on edge but that captivate us nonetheless. It’s the old theory of a train wreck and not being able to look away. Feeding the public’s mind with the unexpected or seemingly impossible is not just a way of creating disruption; it’s also the way of communicating a promise, achieving the impossible or scouting a path to the unobtainable.

Virile strains of these marks have cropped up this cycle, with many using letterforms as a mnemonic reminder of the entities name. As if lifted from the pages of a book on optical illusions, these marks range from linear outlines like you’d find with DIY instructions, to the fully illustrated with gradients, shadows and spectral light pings. The use of graphic illusion is nothing new, but the abundance this year hints at a rediscovery of miraculous problem-solving skills and a unique perspective—or possibly the ability to teach your customers how to achieve the same. And when you can’t quite explain a client’s complicated process, laying claim to a little bit of magic is a great fall-back explanation.


[Image: courtesy Logo Lounge]

Demonstrating dimensionality of form is a foundational way of shifting a flat image from second to at least third gear. Finding that hybrid between committing to gradient tone and graphic surfaces that imbue reality and a simple vector outline really only offers up a handful of tricks. Shadow has long been a staple of the designer to convey space in a flat graphic. They are less about the absence of light than they are about defining a light source. Harsh shadows on these marks can help to communicate a client’s desire to be under the focus of a spotlight and open for complete inspection with nothing to hide.

What differentiate this group from other shadow marks are the 45-degree angular cuts that would ordinarily be cast if the surface it appears on is a separate plain angling away. This is modestly troublesome in trying to actually model the realism of the light conditions. I’m convinced these designs are less about crafting reality than they are about creating a dramatic fictional dimension, embellished by stark shadows with flexible rules. The mass appearance of this effect is mostly played out on sans serif letterforms and tends to hearken to the angled effect of a serif, excised from the letters in a chiseled dimensional form.

By Bill Gardner.

Sourced from Fast Company

By Mike Hambright

Branding: We either love it or we hate it.

As real estate investors, our brand and our message can be a deciding factor in whether a seller reaches out to us to potentially purchase their home. Before you ever speak to them, your brand speaks to them.

It’s important to think about how a seller sees your business. Think about your logo, your message, your website and any other marketing you’re putting out there. You have to stand out from the crowd.

Think about what you want your potential seller to know about you:

• Do you enjoy helping others who are in tough situations?

• Do you give any of your profits to charity?

• Are you locally based?

• Do you have a family?

• Do any of your family members work with you in the business?

• How long have you been in business?

• How easy is it to work with you?

• Are you able to assist with cleaning out the property?

• Is it OK if the property needs a lot of work?

Your branding should focus on the positive aspects of your business, with the seller in mind — not the money. They want to know that they can trust you.

On social media, anytime you post or share something on your business page, consider how it will be perceived by future sellers. This is a key reason many real estate investors have two brands or companies. One is for buying distressed properties, and the other is for selling those properties. When you think about it, your audience for both brands is drastically different, so it only makes sense to separate them.

For any marketing you do, ask yourself if your parents or grandparents would look at your mailer or other marketing piece and give you a call. Get their honest feedback. They’re usually part of your target market, and if there are areas of your marketing that turn them off, it’s important for you to know and to potentially make changes.

In addition to thinking of how your parents or grandparents would react, also consider reactions from those who have:

• Lived in their home for decades.

• Raised their kids in that home.

• Inherited the home from a family member.

• Struggled with health and finances and just can’t handle the upkeep of their home.

You can impact their lives for the better if you focus on the seller and solving their problems. When you build your branding around this (and it is true), a motivated seller will be more likely to reach out compared to a brand that’s not personal.

No matter what market you’re in, you need to stand out in a positive way. Having your brand and marketing showcase how you can help a seller out provides a positive first impression. If they reach out to you, continue providing value that is helpful to the seller. You might not get every deal, but helping as many people as you can will only yield positive results down the road.

Ask yourself now: Are your brand and your marketing showcasing your best features?

Feature Image Credit: Getty

By Mike Hambright

Mike Hambright is a real estate investor, mentor and coach, and is the Founder of FlipNerd.com and the Investor Fuel Mastermind.

Sourced from Forbes

Sourced from abdz

Andstudio . shared a beautiful branding and visual design project for Ignitis, an international energy group, uniting over 20 companies and operating across the Baltics, Poland and Finland.  It turned to us for a brand identity that would stand the test of time and unite all of the company’s ventures under a cohesive brand.

Aiming to become the region’s main competence center for energy solutions, Ignitis needed its new brand to reflect its progressive agenda. For this, we created an identity system that consists of five building blocks, each representing a major business unit, with a foundational Holding symbol at the top. Put together, they form a human-like shape, embodying the company’s client-centric approach. Color coded modules visually highlight separate business units, which can be successfully used in classical and digital communication, both as a system as well as separate dynamic portals.

Branding and Visual Identity


Our logotype represents a stylized human shape as a visual anchor. Shapes and colours express adaptability to customers needs and a consumer-centric approach. At the same time it aims to represent a spark – symbol of versatility and innovation.


To fully broadcast the message, the brand uses graphic element that supports the principles already established by the logo. The graphic components are embracing moments of both clear structure and visual impact, leading with a solid color palette, mixing headlines with color-blocked shapes and icons. The whole identity system is based on Ignitis’ expertise, trust, versatility and innovation.

Digital Identity System

Investing into a visual identity should have a return for years to come. That’s why we create identity systems that can be adapted to different formats and marketing materials or even extended to cover new business ventures or side projects when a brand expands.


I’m a Brazilian product designer based in Oakland, California currently working for Google as a Staff Designer. I am also the founder of Abduzeedo, an award-winning digital publication about design and a personal project that has become the source of inspiration for millions of designers and enthusiasts.

Sourced from abdz

Sourced from Reuters

(Reuters) – Nestle (NESN.S) said on Monday it would appeal a Dutch court’s ruling that prohibits the Swiss food giant from selling its plant-based burgers in Europe under the “Incredible Burger” name after a challenge from U.S.-based Impossible Foods.

Last week, the District Court in The Hague granted an injunction filed by Impossible Foods to prevent Nestle from marketing its burgers as “Incredible” after arguing that the signage bore a strong visual, phonetic and conceptual resemblance to the U.S. company’s EU trademark and could confuse consumers.

In its ruling, the court agreed that Nestle had infringed Impossible Foods’ trademarks and prohibited the KitKat-maker from using the “Incredible” name throughout Europe, giving it four weeks to withdraw its products from shelves or face 25,000 euros ($27,772.50) a day in fines.

“We are disappointed by this provisional ruling as it is our belief that anyone should be able to use descriptive terms such as ‘incredible’ that explain the qualities of a product. We will of course abide by this decision, but in parallel, we will file an appeal,” Nestle wrote in an email.

The company said it would now re-brand its plant-based burgers to “Sensational Burgers”, saying the new name evoked “the senses that are stimulated by our burger.”

The ruling comes at a time when Impossible Foods is working hard to enter into Europe.

In October, the company filed with the European Food Safety Authority to market soy leghemoglobin, a genetically modified ingredient, that is key in making its Impossible burgers bleed like their animal counterparts.

But the process for approval has taken long as the EU has a comprehensive and a strict legal regime on genetically modified food, with each product undergoing strict evaluation and safety assessment tests that usually take months.

Feature Image Credit: The “Incredibly Veggie” plant based vegetarian burger of Garden Gourmet is pictured during a media presentation at Nestle in Vevey, Switzerland. REUTERS/Denis Balibouse

Sourced from  Reuters

By Marshall Bowden.

A great brand doesn’t start with a product.

It doesn’t start with a business plan.

Every big idea, every legendary brand, begins as a story. The story is sometimes deeply entwined with the personal story of the founder/owner, but the brand’s story is a distinctive story all in itself. If you don’t know the story, if you haven’t spent time thinking about it and working it into a narrative that explains what makes the heart of your business beat, then you really don’t understand your business at all.

Good marketing will bring people to your product or service, hopefully in sufficient numbers to keep the doors open. But marketing alone will not keep them coming back. It won’t create a bond between you and them.

Solid branding will. Branding animates your product, your company, your employees, and your clients or customers. When branding is strong and a company consistently focuses on the values that their story embodies, their products or services can become part of people’s lives. In the best cases, those companies can actually influence the culture of an entire business sector and beyond.

Author and social researcher Brene Brown says that “maybe stories are just data with a soul”. Businesses are driven by data, and the collection and analysis of ever-increasing amounts of data has become a huge part of any business. But without branding, without a compelling story, how do you even know what data is going to be most valuable to your business? How will you focus your marketing if you can’t articulate what’s important to your business?

How will you convey the soul of your brand? With a story that gathers the threads of core values, uniqueness, and style your brand will show that it understands both itself and its customers or clients.

Core values are important to your brand and they help drive your story. Core values are the DNA and foundation of your business. Other things about your business change with conditions and markets and data, but your core values do not. They dictate how you will conduct business and react to change, but they don’t keep you from evolving.

Core values are important to define and for those within the company to understand, but they are not always explicitly stated. Instead they are frequently demonstrated by the company’s product, service, innovation, etc. But the stories the company tells about itself — about its workers, about its way of doing business — help to define these values in the minds of clients and customers.

Some companies will have core values that customers are willing to pay higher prices to support. At other times their values will be simple and straightforward because their business is that way. For example, customers look to a bank to be dependable and keep their money safe, not to be especially innovative.

Key to the importance of core values is that customers and clients will look to see themselves reflected in the values of companies whose products they use. If customers see themselves as dependable providers for their families they will respond to products and services that reflect a belief in dependability and security.

Your unique selling proposition is something you want to identify within your brand. What differentiates your product or service from those that have gone before? Why is your business worthier of your customers’ money than your competitors?

According to this article by ConversionEngine’s Joe Putnam:

“A unique selling proposition is what your business stands for. It’s what sets your business apart from others because of what your business makes a stand about. Instead of attempting to be known for everything, businesses with a unique selling proposition stand for something specific, and it becomes what you’re known for.”

He goes on to say that companies and their brands need to decide what they are going to be known for. Being too general, trying to be good at everything, leaves a company without a competitive advantage in this area.

Put another way, a unique selling proposition defines your brand’s niche. In simple terms, when you decide to offer low prices, you will not offer other services that would raise prices. When you decide to offer the highest quality, you will not compete on price because that’s not possible based on your selling proposition niche.

If you are operating in a crowded market or have a product or service that is difficult to differentiate, your brand provides the key to the niche that you alone can occupy.

Your brand has a style. Identify it and align it with your story. The style can be visual, as in a logo, or a concept such as “relaxed” or “flexible”. It may be certain colors or a signature theme song, or a certain way of communicating.

Consider the visual and written style of the J. Peterman Company’s catalog. Their catalogs differed profoundly from others being printed in 1987. They used long copy that didn’t merely describe the article of clothing they were selling, it told a story about it. And instead of color photographs, the catalog utilized simple but artistic line drawings of the clothes.

J Peterman Company

J Peterman Company

Their original motto was “People want things that are hard to find. Things that have romance, but a factual romance, about them.”

That’s a core value that directs the company’s story and expresses itself in the uniqueness and style of its products as well as its presentation. That is a brand.

The story is the central element in the J Peterman brand. The company’s website still uses drawings, now with color added, and photographs, which are necessary to sell products online.

Although the more florid descriptions have given way to a more practical product description online, the site contains a blog entitled ‘Peterman’s Eye” which covers all manner of topics under subjects like Americana, Curiosities, Adventure, and Travel.

So yes, they’ve evolved in their look and feel, but the story is the same.

Branding and marketing are ritualized forms of storytelling that form an epic saga about a company and their products or services. This constant need to continue telling the story is one reason that the need for so many content providers has evolved. Writers, content marketers, SEO specialists, social media marketers and influencers, and even customers all participate in the storytelling, compelled and guided by their understanding, both explicit and subconscious, of the brand’s core values, uniqueness, and style.

By Marshall Bowden

Sourced from UX Magazine

By Ted Kitterman

The pandemic has many organizations looking to craft messaging about health and safety, but what messages are appropriate and relevant for audiences? Here’s some expert guidance.

Is your organization looking to engage your audiences around issues of well-being and health?

It’s an important topic during the current crisis. Whether you’re looking to talk about public health issues or trying to offer guidance for anxious workers during a time of uncertainty and disruption, it’s important to get a handle on what kinds of messages are working for audiences during this pandemic.

We spoke with Mary Zalla, global president of consumer brands for Landor, who shared how she and her U.K. marketing and advertising firm are thinking about well-being and wellness for audiences and clients.

“Even before the COVID-19 pandemic, consumers’ attitudes toward wellness were evolving from a point-in-time solution for an injury or chronic illness to a daily, conscious pursuit of better physical, mental and emotional health,” Zalla says. “Especially during the pandemic— when consumer anxiety is at all-time high and economic uncertainty is looming—if a brand has a role to play in helping a person reach his or her wellness goals, that brand should share it.”

However, she cautions against inauthentic messages.

“Brands that stay true to themselves, and keep close to the insights of their consumers, will be able to navigate these waters,” she says.

A huge topic

If the term wellness feels amorphous or vague, Zalla says that’s because the word encompasses a vast area of information, messaging and products.

“Even before COVID-19, the global health and wellness category was estimated to be in excess of $4.2 trillion,” she says. “Consumers today look far beyond healthy food and beverages and vitamins and medications to help them on their wellness journey. Some always have, but more people now have expanded the health and wellness category again to include cleaning products.”

So what makes a wellness product work? Zalla recommends finding a way for your brand to promote calm.

“Products that help consumers calm or de-stress [themselves] are the ones consumers invite into their lives to help them attain their wellness goals,” she says. “Even before the outbreak, consumers needed help reducing stress in their lives and finding ways to slow down.”

In order to really understand how your product can help anxious, health-conscious consumers is to ask.  “Now, more than ever, brand managers need to truly understand their consumers and all that they are going through and determine what role they have to play,” Zalla says. “The most important question all brand managers should be asking themselves is: ‘How can we help?’”

Avoiding opportunism

Zalla warns there is a big risk for brands that miss the mark on authenticity.

“No brand should look like they are exploiting a crisis to drive sales,” she says, “but if your brand can help with a functional or emotional benefit, even if it is a lift through messaging, then by all means help. Brands that lead with deep, personal connections can win the hearts and minds of consumers who need them.”

Some opportunities during this crisis are familiar: isolation, monotonous routines, mental health and self-care.

“We are always hungry for little escapes to capture our imaginations,” Zalla says. “Brands should always seek to be interesting in relevant and authentic ways. Have a personality. Develop a tone of voice. Think about how your brand sounds. This is every bit as important as the visual symbols.”

A chance for everyone

It’s not just health care brands that are succeeding in talking about health and well-being. “Many brands have used the pandemic to reinforce their role in consumer lives through safety, security and resiliency,” says Zalla.

She cites these companies that are doing well on themes of wellness and well-being:

  • Papa John’s has started to tactically talk about some health and safety aspects of their brand, some of which were in place before the crisis—it just wasn’t as relevant to talk about,” Zalla says. “For instance, given that pizza comes out of a 500-degree oven, I’m sure the product was not touched by human hands before, but now this is an important reassurance of safety and worth mentioning.”

“They go a few steps further,” she adds. “You can order online and specify contactless delivery. You prepay, and the order is left on your stoop. A quality seal is applied to the lid of the box, so you know it’s not been opened.”

  • What about serving front line workers? “Zappos and Crocs have come together to create the ‘Free Pair for Healthcare’ project,” Zalla says, “which provides free Crocs to front-line health care workers.”
  • Another company is Gillette, which is donating more than a million razors around the world to health care workers and first responders “following the news that the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention has issued guidance that encourages shaving when wearing N95 masks to ensure proper fit and protection.”
  • And then there is serving consumers homebound during this crisis. “Lego is giving science lessons to homebound kids,” says Zalla. “They are repurposing their existing #ExplainWithLego content for children being home-schooled with topics ranging from ‘How do volcanos work?’ to ‘Why do we have seasons?’”

Authenticity and the bottom line

The biggest giveaway that your campaign is inauthentic or opportunistic comes down to your stated goals for the effort. If you are taking action to drive sales or even raise brand awareness, you’re in it for the wrong reasons.

“Just as the world around us has changed, so, too, has the idea of campaigns,” says Zalla. “Campaigns that seek short-term financial gains have missed the point. Instead, brands should be using this time to create true and authentic connections and relevance that ties back to their brand purpose and essence.”

However, she says there are still a few things that an organization must do “to be truly vital.” Even in a crisis, some branding lessons won’t change. For example, Zalla exhorts brand managers to show a little “personality.”

“Within health and wellness branding, there is often only one note that gets played, and it is played in the key of ‘E’ or ‘earnest sincerity,’” Zalla says. “People engage with brands that they are drawn to and that leverage identifiable human traits. Authentic brands should employ a captivating identity and visual language that both reinforces key strategic equities and invites consideration.”

Stick to science 

Zalla warns that there is danger in not checking your sources when touting health benefits from your products or services.

“There is major risk in claiming that a brand or aspect of a brand or service is health and wellness oriented when it’s not scientifically proven to be so,” she says. “Brands should never knowingly trade in misinformation.”

However, you might have more room to maneuver than you think. “Consumers are looking far broader and wider when they think of their health and wellness goals and how they can achieve them,” Zalla says. “According to Mintel, 77% of U.S. adults are actively trying to improve their health. There are many ways they are seeking to do this, and brands shouldn’t believe they need to boil the ocean to help their consumers with their goals.”

The future of health

Regardless of the immediate future of our current crisis, Zalla says it is a safe bet that the wellness and health sector will gain ground.

“While we cannot now understand the full scope of the COVID-19 pandemic, we know the health and wellness category will continue to grow, and more consumers will develop an interest in it,” she says. “People may more intensely appreciate the essential role many consumer package products play in our lives, and how important the channels are that bring them to us, whether that be our neighborhood grocery store, club store, drug store or online retailer.”

She says brands with an established identity should be leading the charts, despite all the disruption.

“Coming out of COVID-19, tried, true and trusted brands will likely have the edge,” she says. “Yes, due to outages, consumers are rotating new and different brands into their carts, but trusted brands will emerge forward from this pandemic.”

By Ted Kitterman

Sourced from Ragan’s PR Daily

As a nation, we came together for a few brief hours. We set aside our political, cultural, economic, and demographic differences, and although we were sharply divided over who we wanted to win, we applauded the process wholeheartedly. Together we laughed, we cried, we cheered, and we feared.

Of course, I am talking about the most recent Super Bowl. Not the game, but the commercials.

The Super Bowl’s commercials are anticipated as much as the game itself. The super-expensive, highly condensed stories are designed to evoke a strong emotional reaction, which is supposed to make viewers feel favorably about the brand being advertised, and ultimately, purchase those products.

But does a television commercial that makes people laugh or cry actually help a company sell more products? Let’s dive in and find out.

Emotional advertising aims to influence behaviors and evoke responses. According to a 2009 study titled “Emotions, Attitudes and Memorability Associated with TV Commercials,” as consumers are exposed to these messages their feelings about products or brands shift.

“Advertisers try to create positive attitudes by evoking a favorable or positive emotional state in the consumer,” according to the study’s authors. The researchers concluded consumers prefer advertisements that elicit a positive feeling such as love, joy, or nostalgia. They also found advertisements that evoke emotions are more likely to be recalled.

In an article in Fast Company titled “The Rise Of Sadvertising: Why Brands Are Determined To Make You Cry,” the author wrote marketers believe consumer decision-making is driven by the unconscious instead of logic, because “most of the business of life happens through our emotions,” and “a good cry” has become “an engine of social sharing.”

Ultimately, any advertisement will be judged on whether it motivates consumers to purchase the product being advertised. So why is appealing to the heart and not the head in advertising so effective?

It is interesting to note the word “motivation” and “emotion” share the same Latin root, movere, which means to move. By soliciting an emotional response, consumers are unconsciously moved toward taking action.

In other words, feeling, not thinking, is key to advertising success.

Advertising executive and author Douglas Van Praet believed we don’t think our way to logical solutions; we feel our way to reason. “Emotions, not words, are the universal language of humans,” he wrote

Van Praet had a hand in creating the “Darth Vader” commercial for Volkswagen, which elicited such a strong emotional response that it became among the most shared Super Bowl ads ever, amassing a staggering 56 million views on YouTube and earning a reported 6.8 billion impressions worldwide and more than $100 million in earned media.

Not coincidently, it helped VW achieve its best market share in thirty years.

In an article in Psychology Today, author Peter Noel Murray, Ph.D., wrote, “Most people believe the choices they make result from a rational analysis of available alternatives. In reality, however, emotions greatly influence and, in many cases, even determine our decisions.”

Furthermore, research indicates consumers’ emotional response to an ad has a far greater influence on their intent to buy a product than does the ad content—by a factor of three to one for television commercials and two to one for print ads. This “emotional branding” helps differentiate companies from their competitors and creates deep intrinsic relationships between brands and consumers.

The concept was summarized best by a fictional character. In the television program Mad Men, advertising executive Don Draper talked about how a product can create a deep bond with consumers by using one of the most powerful emotions: nostalgia. “It’s delicate, but potent,” he said. “In Greek, nostalgia literally means ‘the pain from an old wound.’ It’s a twinge in your heart far more powerful than memory alone. It takes us to a place where we ache to go again; to a place where we know we are loved.”

And love, after all, is the most powerful emotion of all.

Feature Image Credit: Image: Sandor Szuhoterin / Shutterstock.com

By Randall Huft.

Randall Huft is president and creative director at Innovation Agency, an advertising, branding, and public relations firm specializing in the cannabis industry. While working with blue-chip companies including AT&T, United Airlines, IBM, Walgreens, American Express, Toyota, and Disney, he discovered what works, what doesn’t, and how to gain market share.

Sourced from mg Magazine

By Nicholas Morpus

The world today moves at a breakneck pace, so what worked for your brand one day might not work the next. A brand audit will give you the insights that you need to stay on top of your market demands.

hen Toyota created Scion, their brand position was to sell these cheaper and smaller vehicles to younger buyers. However, after a couple years into the brand’s lifespan, Toyota realized that their Scion vehicles were more sought after by older buyers despite the intentions of their marketing plan.

This was the perfect example for the need of a brand audit. Building a brand is difficult and will require many revisions as you learn more about your target audience. Obviously, you don’t want to needlessly spend money when it isn’t producing the results you were hoping for.

That’s just marketing 101. That’s why a brand audit will give you the opportunity to realign your branding and marketing tactics to where they’re most needed.

Overview: What is a brand audit?

Simply put, a brand audit is an in-depth look into your business’s current market position and effectiveness when juxtaposed against the competition. It is an evaluation of your efforts in the eyes of your audience for the purposes of pointing out shortcomings, inconsistencies, and gaps in your market strategy.

Should your small business perform a brand audit?

Yes. It doesn’t get any simpler than that. Even if your business is experiencing tons of success, there is always room for improvement. In fact, when you’re succeeding is a fantastic time to perform a brand analysis in order to ensure that you’re not getting comfortable while potential competitors are addressing new market demands.

If that hasn’t convinced you, here are three key benefits of performing a brand audit:

1. Discover flaws in your brand

A thorough brand audit is likely to turn up all sorts of inconsistencies and issues in market targeting that are affecting your sales, website conversions, page views, or any other metric of success you’re currently tracking.

At worst, your branding might be way off the mark, and at best, you’re only dealing with minor perception issues. Either way, a brand audit will bring these problems to your attention.

2. Pave the way for improvement

Once you understand a problem, it is much easier to contemplate a solution. Brand audits give you the opportunity to fix the issues that are dragging down the perception of your brand and provide you with honest feedback on what your target audience is looking for.

3. Provide insights for future development

Brand audits not only highlight pain points in your brand perception but also open the door for new ideas and developments in your business efforts. Perhaps the brand assessment will inspire a new product, service, or idea based on the feedback you received from your target audience.

How to perform a brand audit

Now that you understand the invaluable benefits of this process, here’s a simple five-step brand audit checklist to help walk you through the process.

Step 1: Conduct an audience survey

Starting out, this is where you’ll probably have to invest some money into auditing your brand. While some of the steps in this list require you to make some best-guess efforts to narrow your branding focus, an audience survey is the perfect way to get a direct insight into the mind of your market.

In order to net the best results, it’s best to hire an outside company to conduct market research for you.

Tips for conducting an audience survey

There is nothing more valuable in business than understanding your audience. Without these insights, you are running into the market blind and will inevitably waste tons of money and time. Here are a few tips for conducting an audience survey that’ll benefit your brand targeting efforts.

  • Know your target market: Surveys are only useful if they’re conducted on your target audience. If you’re looking to sell a product to customers in the United States between the ages of 22 and 45, then it does you no good to include Australian teenagers in the data pool.
  • Aim for a large sample group: Surveys are only useful when the group is large enough to eliminate the wide swinging results of potential outliers. Make sure your survey sample size is large enough to provide meaningful results.

Step 2: Audit your analytics

Google Analytics is an extremely powerful tool that you can use to understand your business website traffic once you know how to harness its full potential.

First off, your traffic analysis will give you an idea of which countries are most likely to visit your website, which sources are driving traffic to your website (Google searches, social media, etc.), and the quality of that traffic (are they converting?).

Tips for auditing your analytics

There are so many tips for using Google Analytics that I could write an entire guide on the subject. However, these are the two most important tips for getting the most out of your website marketing metrics while conducting a brand audit.

  • Take your bounce rate seriously: Sometimes it’s not your product or service but actually your website itself that’s causing the problem. Your bounce rate (the metric determined by those who visit your site and leave immediately) is affected by all kinds of factors. Make sure your page load times are quick, your landing pages are relevant, and your website content is compelling in order to combat high bounce rates.
  • The right market: Your website analytics will tell you where your traffic is coming from, including the geographic location of your traffic. If you’re seeing traffic spikes from countries you aren’t looking to market to, then there is obviously an issue you have to address. Traffic spikes are useless if it isn’t quality traffic from a source you hope to convert.

Step 3: Audit your social media

Not only is social media a godsend for small business marketing, it’s also treasure trove for consumer research. Performing a social media audit will give you an insight into not only your likes, shares, and referrals, but also audience insights such as age ranges and gender ratios.

This information will help you further narrow down where you should increase your efforts and where they are wasted.

If you’re interested in more information, you can read our detailed guide for auditing your social media accounts that’ll walk you through each step.

Tips for auditing your social media accounts

If this is your first time ever auditing your social media accounts, here are a few tips to help you smooth out the process.

  • Use an audit spreadsheet: Conducting a social media or brand audit isn’t a one-time deal, so it’s important to maintain a record of your progress. Here’s an audit spreadsheet template that’ll help you keep track of all of your social media marketing KPIs for comparisons during each regular audit session. This data will help you build out your future social media content calendar tailored to your audience insights.
  • Where to find the data: While it is possible to gather all of this information individually from each platform’s proprietary marketing analytics tools, for the sake of convenience, a social media management tool is perfect for tracking your metrics. In fact, some tools like Sprout Social or Hootsuite are capable of gathering data that Facebook or Twitter don’t usually track.

Step 4: Evaluate your competition

If your business is dealing with any direct competitors and you see them succeeding where you’re falling behind, it’s time to evaluate what they’re doing differently. The great thing about competition is that it not only incentives you to improve, but also opens the door to new ideas that you would’ve never thought of otherwise.

Tips for evaluating your competition

While you can hire a professional market intelligence expert to evaluate your competition, it’s entirely possible to learn quite a lot through some research of your own. Here are a couple tips to get you started.

  • Find the comparative advantage: Evaluate how your competition markets to their audience, how they treat their customers, what services they provide, and how their website functions. Try to find what they’re better at and make improvements based on those advantages.
  • Check their SEO: There are lots of analysis tools out there, like Brightedge, SEMRush, and Ahrefs, that analyze your competition for organic keywords. Use one of these tools to assess the SEO of your competitor’s website to see what keywords they are targeting and how to maximize your website content based on their actions.

Step 5: Make adjustments to your brand

Now that you understand all of the issues plaguing your brand, be it audience targeting, website function, customer service, or any combination of shortcomings, it’s time to take those lessons and make improvements.

But once you’ve made these improvements, your work isn’t over. It’s important for you to monitor these changes and take note of any fluctuations in business, web traffic, and customer response.

Tips for making adjustments

This step isn’t as simple as making the changes to your brand and forgetting them. Here are a couple tips for making the most of your efforts.

  • Consider running your potential changes through focus groups: You started off this process with consumer input, and it’s best to end it the same way. A focus group is the perfect way to get feedback on your changes and make the final tweaks before implementing your brand shift.
  • A/B test every change: Once you’ve made the adjustments, it’s important to A/B test all of your core metrics to see if there are any improvements to your business, website traffic, etc.

The Blueprint will help you get your branding and marketing on track

Success in business doesn’t begin and end with a comprehensive brand audit. There’s lots more you’ll have to do to ensure your marketing efforts are reaching the right audience, and we at The Blueprint want to help you supercharge your business.

By Nicholas Morpus

Sourced from the blueprint