|Product dimensions:||5.70(w) x 8.40(h) x 1.10(d)|
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About the Author
NICK WESTERGAARD is Chief Brand Strategist at Brand Driven Digital; host of the popular On Brand podcast; and producer and host of the Social Brand Forum, the Midwest’s premier digital marketing event. An in-demand speaker, he also teaches branding and marketing at the University of Iowa.
Read an Excerpt
Smarter Digital Marketing for Businesses Big and Small
By Nick Westergaard
AMACONCopyright © 2016 Nick Westergaard
All rights reserved.
THE BRAND BEHIND THE MEGAPHONE
Is digital marketing really that complex? Just start a Facebook page. Publish a blog. Record a podcast. Share photos on Instagram. What's the big deal? We can do all of that in about an hour? Why are we making a fuss about how hard all of this is?
That's the siren call of Shiny New Things. Sure, it's easier than ever to start. The tools and technologies that can help you be a better marketer are deceptively simple to employ. However, when you take a step back and consider the Scrappy Mindset — putting brains before budget, marketing like a mousetrap, and seeing ideas everywhere — you know that you can do better. You have to do better.
That's why the first step in getting scrappy is getting smart. Putting strategy first and ensuring that you know what it is you're trying to do in the first place. This not only leads to better marketing out of the gate, it also helps you measure what matters so that you can optimize your work for the long haul.
Sounds pretty logical, right? And yet, too many marketers are quick to rush in and start marketing without a plan in place. That's why we're beginning our journey with three critical smart steps you can't skip. Here in Chapter 1, you'll discover that although marketing has changed significantly in recent years, what's behind it has not. The tactics may have changed but the underlying strategy remains. You still need to build a strong brand with something to say. This is easier said than done. Along the way, we'll unpack a simple five-step blueprint you can use to help you define your brand.
In Chapter 2, you'll throw stuffy strategies out the window and instead map a path to marketing success. With a brand packed up and a journey plotted, you can start selecting the social media and digital marketing tools that will take you to your destination. Once again, Shiny New Things distract. That's why you'll need the digital compass presented in Chapter 3. This compass will help you find your way and determine what digital channels work best when.
As you build a smart, scrappy foundation, you need some context to understand how we got here.
* * *
THE CHANGING MARKETING MEGAPHONE
Why is marketing so different today? As astrophysicist Neil deGrasse Tyson says in explaining a simple little topic like the universe, "Knowing where you came from is no less important than knowing where you're going." Marketing has always been a tool for helping people and organizations share their wares with the hopes of producing profitable exchanges. Marketing communication has essentially been a megaphone for gaining attention.
But that marketing megaphone has changed a bit over the past several centuries. You could say that new media was born in Germany in the 1400s when Gutenberg revolutionized printing technology, enabling the first form of mass communication. And for the next 400 years, marketing was driven by print, from posters and newspapers to magazines and catalogs. There probably weren't as many books about navigating media shifts as several centuries passed without any major shifts!
It wasn't until the early 20th century that we had our senses of sound and sight awoken by radio, television, and the birth of broadcast media. This new media shift had an easy-to-understand dynamic. As there were only a few ways to reach the masses, more radio and TV ads sold more products and got companies more shelf space, which they could use to buy even more ads. Bigger was better, making this the birth of the Myth of Big as well. Only big brands with big budgets could do truly big things.
While we didn't go hundreds of years before the next media shift, broadcast advertising ruled most of the 20th century. In addition to bringing us Nirvana and 90210, the '90s also brought the first widespread use of the Internet. And with it, the most rapidly evolving form of media. From email marketing (still a formidable force which we'll discuss later in the book) to this past decade's Facebook, Instagram, and Snapchat, each new digital innovation has quickly found its way onto the radars of marketers.
It's easy to look at this timeline and think only of the rapid rate of change — the chaos that has disrupted the slow and steady climb of traditional, bigger-is-better media. However, we can't lose sight of the baseline. The common denominator. All of these tools help us build better brands. Now we have even more tools to do this. But to fully leverage this new marketing megaphone we first have to ensure that there's something behind it.
We have to take a look at the brand behind the megaphone.
* * *
DO WE REALLY HAVE TO TALK ABOUT BRANDING?
Branding? Really?? Yes, really.
Like the Amy Poehler and Seth Meyers Weekend Update bit from Saturday Night Live, we really do have to talk about branding. (I said these were steps you can't skip.) Some roll their eyes at the very mention of branding. To some it's a dated construct. For others it's esoteric, touchy-feely homework that seems disconnected from bottom-line impact. Marketers may even view branding as yet another obstacle standing in the way as they launch their new digital efforts.
Even in today's fragmented culture, brands still matter. We're constantly reminded of the climbing user rates on social networks like Facebook and Twitter, yet another metric often falls through the cracks — something called "brand-following behavior," a measure of the rate at which individuals follow brands on social networks. In recent years, along with increases in engagement on social networks, brand-following behavior has doubled according to The Social Habit study conducted by Edison Research. In their more comprehensive Infinite Dial study, Edison and partner Triton Digital found that one third of Americans age 12 and up knowingly follow brands on social media.
Combine this with the fact that people by and large enjoy interacting on social media, and the opportunity for brands is clear. (When was the last time data reported high engagement levels with billboards and press releases? Has your brand-following behavior doubled for print ads?)
If you need further proof, The Social Habit also shows that even among a large national sample, when asked "which brand stands out on social media," we see it's a list of the usual suspects: Nike, Apple, Starbucks. At a glance, you could think that this just confirms the Myth of Big. A closer look reveals that these mega brands with millions of dollars and several decades of marketing muscle behind them all only rank in the single digits.
What does this mean for us? It means that these new forms of digital media have the potential to be a great brand equalizer. Scrappy marketers might not expect to fare well on a poll of who's the most dominant TV advertiser, but new media levels the playing field in ways that we've never seen in the history of marketing.
It's only fitting that Lee Clow, the adman responsible for some of broadcast media's most prolific work, including Apple's 1984 and iconic iPod ads, would issue the best caution to marketers too quick to jump into the next big thing without first defining their brand. "The reality of the new media world is that if your brand does not have a belief, if it does not have a soul and does not correctly architect its messages everywhere it touches consumers, it can become irrelevant. It can be ignored, or even become a focal point for online contempt." In short, you have to be something before you can build something.
The marketing megaphone may have changed, but making sure there's something behind it matters more than ever. That's why the critical first step in getting scrappy with your marketing is making sure your brand is clearly defined. As long as we're defining things, let's consider the definition of a brand.
* * *
SO, WHAT IS A BRAND?
Any good semantic exploration should start in a dictionary with a basic understanding of the word. Surprisingly, in a number of dictionaries our modern business-focused definition has overtaken the word's earliest meaning, which, according to the Oxford English Dictionary is "a piece of wood that is or has been burning on a hearth." The American Heritage Dictionary shows as its first (not earliest) definition: "A trademark or distinctive name identifying a product, service, or organization." This sense is also first in the Random House Unabridged (dictionary.reference.com).
Not a bad definition, but instead of relying on a dictionary, let's use the definition I employ when working with clients and speaking with businesses big and small:
A brand can be any noun (person, place, or thing) that needs another party to take action (purchase, promote, advocate, and so on). A brand does this by creating a series of ideas and touch points that build a larger message which draws the desired audience close, engages them emotionally, and inspires them to take action.
Any brand can get scrappy, which is why it's important to make sure we have a broad definition of what a brand is. Using this definition we can apply these insights and those that follow to any personal, professional, organizational, or product brand.
A brand can be a ...
– Business: Nike, Apple, Starbucks
– Product: Air Max, Apple Watch, Verisimo
– Organization/institution: Humane Society, Planned Parenthood, Harvard
– Person: Professionals, politicians, and celebrities such as Tony Robbins, Barack Obama, and Taylor Swift
– Place: Communities, cities, or countries such as North Carolina's Research Triangle, Chicago, the United States
– Something undefinable: Things that fall in the spaces between but still need others to rally around them, like our landmarks and special causes
It's not a stretch to say that really anything in this day and age can be a brand. It doesn't matter if you're a solo entrepreneur, a corporate marketing manager for a Fortune 500 company, or a communications manager for a town of 500. We're all in the brand-building business.
Now that we have established the comforting fact that we're all brands, let's take a look at some of the misappropriations of this construct as we look for a smart solution for defining your brand.
Your brand is not just ...
- Your logo
- Your slogan, mission statement, or whatever that nice copy under your logo says
- What your website says
- What's on your business cards
- How your employees engage customers and prospects online and off
- What others say about you
- What you do on sites like Facebook, Twitter, Pinterest, Instagram, Google+, YouTube, or the latest greatest social network
Can these items be a part of your brand? Of course. All of these items working in concert help create your brand. However, to correctly inform all of these touch points, you need a solid understanding of your brand's identity. You can't simply say that your brand is your logo or the new branding PowerPoint that your agency made for you. Many marketers grab hold of these brand fragments as it's an easy way to check that "branding thing" off the list without doing the work to ensure that, as Clow said, your brand has a belief and a soul so that you can correctly architect your messages across all forms of media.
But where do you start with this?
* * *
YOUR BRAND'S BLUEPRINT
When we were discussing the topic of branding on my podcast, Patrick Hanlon, one of the leading brand practitioners in the world and author of the books Primal Branding and The Social Code, quipped that, "Conversations about branding used to be like molding fog." How can we bring this sprawling topic down to earth? We need a more systematic approach for defining our brands.
Brand building, like building anything, starts with a blueprint. Just as an architectural blueprint defines structure through design and dimensions, a brand blueprint defines who your brand is and how you tell your story. Like the girders of a skyscraper, you can't always see your brand but it's what the rest of your work stands on.
Your brand blueprint is made up of five critical elements:
– Spark: The spark that ignites everything your brand does, usually a single keyword such as helping or innovation. This is not a public-facing piece of your branding. Rather it's an internal keystone that anchors everything.
– Promise: More than a slogan, tagline, or mission statement artfully placed under your logo, a brand promise defines your ethos. Instead of being a message about you, it's a promise of what you'll do for whom.
– Story: From Thomas Jefferson (life, liberty, and the pursuit of happiness) to Apple (thinner, lighter, and faster), great communicators tell their stories with three key ideas.
– Voice: Whether it's a 140-character tweet or a 140-page e-book, words matter more than ever in marketing today. What does your brand voice sound like?
– Visuals: Beyond your logo, these include icons, colors, visual movement, patterns, and more.
Let's take a look at each of piece of your brand's blueprint.
The Spark That Sets Your Story in Motion
What does your brand stand for?
Branding can fall prey to checklists. You can get so consumed checking all of the identity items off your list (Business cards? Check. Letterhead? Check) that you can forget to answer this simple question. And yet making a clear statement about what you stand for is the difference between a Mac and a PC, a Ben and Jerry's and a Häagen-Dazs, or a Nike and a Reebok. Knowing what you stand for infuses your brand with soul.
Your brand spark is the catalyst that starts this fire, not the fire itself. It activates and stimulates. It's the inspiration behind everything. Ben and Jerry's spark is social justice; it informs everything about their ice cream. Defining the intersection of technology and liberal arts is the spark that started Apple. Note that neither of these focuses solely on their product offerings of ice cream and technology. Instead, these sparks speak to bigger issues that bring these brands to life.
If you are an entrepreneur or the owner of your business, you probably have a good idea of why you got into the game. However, it may be hiding as you have every other aspect of your business from payroll to logistics on your mind. In any case, grab a legal pad — longhand is best for an exploration like this — and take a moment to write out your brand's creation story. Underline or capitalize keywords that could be your spark in hiding.
But what if you didn't start the business? If possible, find the founder or someone close to him or her and repeat the exercise above in an interview format. If you don't have access to these people, take a look at your organization and assemble a group of trusted team members who best embody your brand. Once gathered, work through defining why your brand is in business.
In the end, you should be left with a simple word (or two) that exemplifies your brand's purpose and passion such as helping, innovation, or social justice. Remember, it's your brand's fire. Only you know what kind of spark it requires.
A Promise Is More Than Pretty Words Below Your Logo
As clever as we marketers are, it's ironic that our industry words suck as much as they do. Nowhere is this more evident than in the tired phrases we use to describe those words that sit under our logos. Is it a tagline or a slogan? Or are you more of a mission statement type?
Slogans and taglines are predominantly promotional constructs. At best they are campaign themes or something you roll out with a new look. A mission statement gets us closer to your brand promise as it relates to what you do and how you do it. However, each is burdened with excess baggage.
Slogans and taglines tend to focus on form over function. How does the proposed line sound? Is it "catchy" enough? And what does it look like with the new logo? And mission statements often get lost in the tall grass of intellectualism — We work to foster the ability to better understand the importance of XYZ and how the people of X and Y including but not limited to Z are impacted. Furthermore ... You can imagine where it goes from here.
In order to create a brand that stands for something, you need a clearly distilled statement of purpose to rally your troops. The idea of a brand promise works for many reasons. Rather than the carelessness implied with a tagline or slogan, a promise endows your words with greater purpose. Who is this a promise between? Your brand and those you serve. The power of the word "promise" is that it brings the most important player to the forefront — your customers. To build a brand, you must make a solemn promise to those you serve. If the paying customers aren't at the end of what you're doing at every level, then you're spinning your wheels.
Excerpted from Get Scrappy by Nick Westergaard. Copyright © 2016 Nick Westergaard. Excerpted by permission of AMACON.
All rights reserved. No part of this excerpt may be reproduced or reprinted without permission in writing from the publisher.
Excerpts are provided by Dial-A-Book Inc. solely for the personal use of visitors to this web site.
Table of Contents
ContentsForeword by Ann Handley, xi,
Part One: Smart Steps You Can't Skip,
1 The Brand Behind the Megaphone, 15,
2 Map Your Marketing, 34,
3 Follow Your Digital Compass, 55,
Part Two: Do More with Less,
4 Create a Question Engine, 75,
5 Embrace Your People Power, 92,
6 Connect Your Digital Dots, 111,
Part Three: Simplify for the Long Haul,
7 The Simplification Game, 133,
8 Measure What Matters, 152,
9 Putting It Together, 172,
Get Scrappy: A Reference Guide, 195,
Discussion Group Questions, 201,
Further Reading, 205,
About the Author, 226,
Free Sample Chapter from Do It Marketing! by David Newman, 228,
About AMACOM, 240,