Being an Authentic Brand on Social Media via Mashable

Today’s blog post comes via Mashable writer Valerie Beckingham. Beckingham explains to readers the importance of your social media efforts as a brand and why it is important to keep your social media efforts authentic.

If you want your brand’s social media efforts to come across as authentic, you need to know what you stand for and what’s meaningful to you. In other words, authentic social communication requires you to be honest about what your brand represents, what you have to offer, where your weaknesses are, and what’s really important to your audience.

If you’re not listening and engaging in a candid manner, you run the risk of having a message that doesn’t resonate, or worse, creates a backlash, calling into question not just what you’re trying to say via social media, but across all outbound communication channels. For a brand, that’s bad news. Here are four tips for keeping your social-media outreach authentic.

1. Focus On The Individual

Your people are your greatest asset when it comes to social media because they offer a real human perspective rather than a pre-packaged marketing message. The problem is social media can get stripped of its authenticity by strict brand guidelines that mandate an omniscient company voice. Instead, imbue your social channels with the many unique individuals who work for the company.

Think of your audience in the same way. Don’t assume that they are a homogenous mass. This will help you develop a social communications plan that takes into consideration whether this audience is just getting to know your brand or if they are loyal followers. As individuals, we speak differently to different people. Remember that a brand is no different.

2. Listen Up!

It’s impossible to tap into sentiment without a system for listening. As brand communicators, we need to constantly have an ear out for changes in the consumer landscape and be tuned into what’s important to our audience.

For example, a key group influencing the tech industry is millennials, which loosely includes consumers born between 1980 and 2000. You might think you already know it all when it comes to millennials: that they’re all rebels, that their values are vastly different from their parents, and that they’re obsessed with changing the world. In reality, when you listen to young people today through research, you find that they defy those traditional stereotypes. Today’s millennials actually admit they love their parents and list them as friends on Facebook. They have no strong desire to leave home. They’re not even skewed liberal. This new generation is also questioning consumerism more than ever before, and they’ve proven to have very little brand loyalty. Most importantly, they’re currently defining what is real, cool, and interesting. That’s why listening is crucial.

3. Keep It Real

Today’s millennials are not just good at figuring out what’s authentic, they can also spot what is inauthentic from a mile away. Having grown up in the Internet age, they expect brands to talk to them with a real voice, and they’re not afraid to engage them in a public forum.

One great example of authenticity in action is a program recently run by airline KLM. KLM kicked off their social media program by asking, “What do we know to be true about how people interact with our brand?” The conclusion: people waste a lot of time in airports.

Starting with that simple truth, KLM set their campaign up for authentic direct-to-consumer engagement. They decided to surprise passengers that mentioned their KLM flight via Twitter or Foursquare. The teams used social media profiles to learn a little more about these travelers, enabling them to respond with appropriate perks such as a travel book for the hopelessly lost or a sports watch for the casual runner. These random acts of kindness took a little more effort than generic communications, but the response was rewarding. Travelers were only too happy to share their KLM experiences online with others. And let’s face it, what’s more authentic than consumers speaking on behalf of your brand? So don’t be afraid to change your message to suit your audience’s real needs and desires. Then reap the rewards.

4. Follow This Guiding Principle

Given the speed of social media, your message can go from trusted to falling out of favor in the blink of an eye, and it could all hinge on what you say next. That’s why the number one thing you can do to ensure authenticity and trust when connecting with fans, customers, and partners is to think about what your message means to them.

Source: Mashable

Student Designers Capture Personality of Brands in Shoe Packaging

Every so often, The Dieline features packaging designs by student designers that are titled “Student Spotlight.” We found a common theme lately in these student spotlights in that a lot of students are designing for shoe packaging. We found a few package designs that we thought did an excellent job of conveying what the brand stands for and gives the brand a personality.

Five Ten climbing shoes

In the designers words…

“My goal was to design a shoebox that would be a better user experience and would better reflect the brand. There is a lot of photography on Five Ten’s website. I wanted to take this idea and apply it to the box design. The photography incorporates both outdoor and indoor climbing, so no one is left out. The pull out drawer function also gives a fresh take on the typical shoebox. Leave No Trace policies are also something I wanted to push in this project. Leave No Trace gives tips on how to clean up after your climbing day and not to disrupt or litter the environment. This is the reason why there are no people climbing on the box.” – Ryan Huettle, University of Wisconsin-Stout

Vans shoes

In the designers words…

“With my packaging for Vans shoes I wanted to pay homage to vans roots in the late sixties and early seventies, in the California skate and surf scene. I chose extremely contrasting colors, which I felt were reminiscent of the period I was aiming to speak to. I also chose these colors because I felt they would be effective in attracting attention, even at a quick glance. The graphics covering the package are intended to reinforce Van’s brand image, as well was act as something that members of the skateboarding / surfing community can connect and identify with. I chose to use a non traditional shoebox shape, because I saw it fitting, as Vans has always been an alternative shoe brand, for alternative athletes. The new box design uses less cardboard than regular shoeboxes, and is size flexible, in that by varying the way the shoes overlap it can house most shoe sizes without needing alterations. In addition to being more efficient, the new box design is more appealing visually, both in that it is more dynamic in shape than rectangular boxes, and displays graphics more appealingly.” – Nate Eu, University of Wisconsin-Stout

Jeffrey Campbell shoes

In the designers words…

“This shoe box design was created for Jeffrey Campbell Shoes. I selected Jeffrey Campbell because I love the unique, creative, bold colors, styles and design. The brand is all about a tremendous love for shoes by those with a creative sense of style. I wanted to show off their unique, artistic style by creating watercolor and hand-drawn illustrations. This is a box that would be in a boutique for when you want to give (or receive) Jeffrey Campbell shoes as a gift! I designed it this way because shoes are a gift that you buy yourself and it should feel like opening a present. I also added a scratch-off element under the lid to provide an interactive experience. When you scratch it off, it reveals a fun quote about shoes. I utilized the Jeffrey Campbell signature in combination with my illustration work to create a bright, memorable, and iconic box design.” – Katy Verbrugge, University of Wisconsin-Stout

All three designers have a clear understanding of the brands they are promoting with their packaging designs and have and knowledge that the brand messaging needs to align with the design and look of the package because the packaging is what makes a product sell.

Source: The Dieline

New Look for the New Year

Popular cosmetics and beauty brand, L’Oreal, recently redesigned its on-shelf bottles for its Pureology brand professional hair products. L’Oreal has a strong understanding that package design is crucial to the success of a beauty brand.The brand hopes to combine sustainable packaging with the professional, sleek looks expected in the beauty industry.

The Pureology brand professional products features shampoos, conditioners, masques, and treatments. The brand has not been redesigned since being bought by L’Oreal in May 2007, so the French brand based in Paris decided it was time for a new, modern, and fashionable look.

The brand professional products have been literally flipped over on-shelf and are contained in pearlescent toned, multi-tasking bottles in order to reflect their 100 percent vegan formulation and sustainable packaging.

The Pureology redesign, by Robert Bergman, the founder of Mpact and former L’Oreal creative director, takes the form of a curved set of bottle designs that are manufactured from a single mold. Bergman has a rather simple philosophy for when it comes to package design.

“No matter what a brand’s tone or message, a package must always be stunningly beautiful,” he says. Bergman, whose appreciation for beautiful aesthetics came from working in fashion, says, “Image and status are so important in fashion and beauty, so package design is especially crucial to the success of a beauty brand.

The creative brief for the package redesign presented two challenges to the team
1. Give the brand, whose original structure was inspired by classic olive oil bottles, and had not been redesigned since its purchase by L’Oreal, a modern, upscale look cool enough to be sold at Colette, in Paris
2. Correct a structural design flaw in which the thin-necked bottle prevented the popular flash-foam effect of the luxuriously viscous liquid.

“L’Oreal wanted the new Pureology bottle to appear organic and natural in form, while looking different from all other salon products. Toward that goal, Bergman made dozens of exploratory sketches before rendering the finalists in 3D. “If there is a name for that bottle shape, I would call it ‘organically professional,'” said Bergman. “I’m constantly aware of masculine and feminine package design cues; Pureology is definitely feminine, yet highly functional with its wider neck and flip-top cap allowing for easy one-handed use in the shower.”

“It’s a complete redesign, from shape, to color to graphics, and it has to appeal to current Pureology users while attracting new customers so every nuance must be carefully considered to achieve the brand’s growth goals.”

The Social Media Platform

Social media has encompassed our world and lifestyles. Not only is social media used for personal reasons, but now businesses have put their mark on social media. Marketing via social media is a great way for businesses to get connected with a vast amount of people at the same time. It creates communication among consumers and has the potential to attract new ones. One of the main benefits of using social media is that it is free and easy to use. All you basically have to do is create a profile and let the marketing begin! Keep in mind that content is key to having a successful social media campaign. If your content is not interesting or useful, you will have no luck with social media.

Social media allows you to share, network, publish, and discuss. Although social media has these benefits for businesses, it is hard to decide which ones to use. There are so many social media outlets to choose from that it can get confusing. Let’s take a look at the most popular social media networks and what benefits they provide.

LinkedIn: LinkedIn sets the stage for networking with business professionals. It allows you to personally brand your business and market yourself to others within your industry. It is also a great outlet for providing knowledgeable content that informs and educates users. Lead generation is the most valuable outcome of using LinkedIn.

Facebook: Facebook has more than half a billion users, making it a great way to share a message and reach a large amount of people simultaneously. It opens up a communication portal and creates social interaction. Facebook works great as a promotional tool. You can promote your products, services, and events to a mass audience, giving your business the opportunity to expand. Frequent and interesting posts will help to keep users attracted to your business.

Twitter: Twitter is your outbound messaging tool. It consists of tweeting 140 characters or less messages to users. These tweets are short and concise, creating a social buzz. This buzz creates interaction with users. While you are tweeting it exposes your business and brand, and then you get to hear who is talking about you and what they are saying. Twitter is all about listening to others through feedback.

YouTube: Known as the largest video sharing community, YouTube is also a marketing and advertising tool. It gets an informative and positive message right in front of existing and/or potential customers. Creating and sharing a video on YouTube provides the opportunity to share knowledge, market products, show off expertise, and connect with users. Videos that are compelling and entertaining will catch the attention of users, also creating interaction for your business.

Kung Fu and QR Codes

 

QR codes (quick response) are those black and white symbols that can be found on all types of packaging, print ads, and billboards. These codes provide a wealth of information such as text, websites, and other data that is embedded and decoded with a mobile device. All this mobile device needs is a camera and the down-loadable app and the information is unleashed. Usually QR codes are embedded with some type of promotional tool such as a contest, special offer, or an unique website. It is a great way for marketers to engage and attract consumers. These codes are designed to invite customers to participate, discover, share, save, and interact with brands.

Sun-Maid, the famous raisin brand, is utilizing QR codes to promote the animated movie by DreamWorks, Kung Fu Panda 2. Sun-maid has put these codes on their packaging to take customers to a special website where they have a chance to win a trip to Zoo Atlanta. Since entering the contest is as simple as having a mobile device, Sun-Maid hopes the number of entries will be high. They have also used Facebook to promote this contest as well. Sun-Maid brand designed their packaging with these QR codes in hope the special contest will entice consumers to buy their raisins. The packaging design also gets consumers engaged in the Sun-Maid brand as well as provides consumers a way to interact with the brand.

Twitter Users Defined

Twitter was created in 2006 and since then it has grown into a social media empire. The 140 characters or less network is a place for users to tweet about anything imaginable whether its sharing a blog, providing a helpful link, or tweeting about a celebrity, Twitter allows all possibilities and levels of creativity. Since Twitter is a fairly new social media site, have you ever wondered who uses it and what they use it for? There are 6 categories of users on Twitter, see if you or someone you know fits in one of these groups.

1. The Rookie: This user joins Twitter right away, but then is wary and unsure how to use it. The lingo Twitter has adopted confuses the rookie, but they still try it out because friends or family they know are on Twitter. These users are the ones that tweet messages such as “I am going to take a nap” or “Just went shopping”. The rookie will realize that no one cares about their tweets and they usually abandon after 3 months.

2. The Social Bug: This user is present in all sorts of social media sites, not just Twitter. They think of themselves as a social media guru and want their followers to know that. Their tweets consist of informing others about articles, publications, postings, ect that are concerned with social media.

3. The Reaction Queen/King: This user is the typical “I can sing better than the candidates on American Idol” or “Did you see that new movie? What were they thinking? ” tweeter. They voice their opinions in an annoying fashion about celebrities in the media at a particular time.

4. The Info-Nator: This users is very knowledgeable about a certain field and they use Twitter to promote themselves. The intention of this user is to create a network of people who are interested in their same field. This user will post tweets containing helpful links or sharing what they know.

5. The Helping Hand: This user is the user to follow. They operate with great honor and integrity as they try to help others find answers. This user will use Twitter to look and observe others and use their own expertise and knowledge to help those needing questions answered. They provide helpful links relating to all sorts of things and are available within an instant.

6. The Professional: Twitter is a great tool for those in business and other professional sectors. This user will tweet about information related to their specific type of business. They may use Twitter to tweet about specials and promotions, provide coupon codes, or give links to their website and other pages. The professional either works in some type of social media marketing department of the company, interns, or is in charge of social media. This user is knowledgeable about social media with the intention of attracting people to become followers, hoping they become attracted to their product, brand, or service.

Packaging Successes

Successful packaging can lead to increased sales, monetary savings and a more positive public image. The following are some examples of packaging successes and their outcomes. Now would be a good time to take notes.

Successful-Packaging-Wal-mart-EnviroShellWal-Mart – a company that is known for attracting negative publicity but has been working toward sustainability – received positive attention recently for choosing Winterborne as their packaging provider. Winterborne was awarded a Converting 2007 Innovator Award for its EnviroShell package. EnviroShell is a 90 percent recyclable and recycled clamshell and the use of this packaging product reflected positively on Wal-Mart in the news media. The take-away? Sustainable packaging has benefits for the environment and for your business image.

Successful-Packaging-VaselineVaseline recently redesigned its brand through a packaging change. Prior to the change, the brand’s identity had been lost as it expanded. Different products in the Vaseline line had different logos and package designs and there was a lack of consistency. Blue Marlin stepped in and created a consistent, attractive, brand-cohesive logo that would stand for all Vaseline products. Blue Marlin made sure that each Vaseline product included classic blue plastic lids and they put a great deal of effort into matching the color of the logo to the blue plastic lids. Vaseline is now the fastest-growing personal care brand for its parent company, Unilever. What’s the take-away here? A strong, consistent brand combined with refreshing packaging can lead to an increase in sales for your business.

Successful-Packaging-Mrs-Fields-CookiesMrs. Fields revamped its retail packaging to reflect a design similar to the redesigned Mrs. Fields stores nationwide and to play on the nostalgia associated with the brand. Tempting shots of cookies adorn the new packaging, which is now more consistent with the Mrs. Fields brand. This new packaging has earned positive reactions from media sources, especially within the packaging industry, appearing in such magazines as Packaging World. The take-away? Refreshing your packaging can strengthen your brand image and generate recognition for your company!

Get to know the message behind your brand and whether your packaging reflects that. Not every product needs repackaging, but, as in these cases, refreshing your packaging may lead to positive consequences for your company and brand.