One of the things I love most about brand management and marketing is absorbing data from many sources, analyzing the information and developing applicable strategy and engaging creative based on what I’ve learned.
I recently read an article on “Post-Demographic Consumerism” (the idea that traditional demographic segmentation is indeed a thing of the past as people across all demographics are increasingly able to construct their own identities - and rapidly adopt innovations) in November’s Trend Briefing from trendwatching.com.
One of the ideas that I found most compelling conveyed in the article, and a trend that I believe we’ll increasingly see in 2015 and beyond, is the phenomenon of “Heritage Heresy”. This idea explores the notion that decades of brand tradition and historical positioning will change (subtly or radically) in efforts to attract “tomorrow’s younger-yet-experienced and wealthy-yet irreverent consumers” ~ ultimately a result of the proliferation of, and access to, information-on-demand and the shift in marketing from telling ~ to engaging.
A cited example in the article was that this fall, for the first time in the brand’s history, Rolls Royce made an appearance in the gaming world ~ (Xbox One’s “Forza Motorsport 5”).
Another example is the partnership between Sotheby’s and Ebay formed this summer to livestream art auctions on the site and allow consumers to bid and purchase in realtime.
I believe that we will continue to see this trend with not only big, traditional brands – but with niche, fluid businesses - and will witness very untraditional, surprising coupling of concepts, resulting in some pretty delicious recipes for the ingredients of demographic soup that will whet the appetite of a new mix of discerning (or not?) tastes.
-Studiothink CEO and Founder Christine Lobas
At Studiothink, an full-service agency, it’s extremely important to remain organized as multiple departments within the agency work together to create a fully integrated strategy.
From graphic design to web development and marketing, here are a few of the ways the Thinkers stay organized:
- Write a to-do list. Whether you take it old school and handwrite your list, or are tech savvy with a note on your phone, writing a to-do list is a simple and easy way to get a clear picture and manage tasks. Plus, who doesn’t like the feeling of accomplishment when you get to cross off a completed item?
- Prioritize your list. Star, highlight, underline, whatever your system is, make sure you know what on your list is most important. Looking at a long list of tasks can be daunting; prioritizing helps you take them one at a time and feel less overwhelmed.
- Post-it notes. Arguably the best invention ever, these little guys are perfect for writing down a quick reminder or task. And it’s equally as rewarding to un-stick and throw them way when the work is done!
- Set calendar reminders. Reminders are great tools for planning ahead. Know you have big project due next month? Set reminders to ensure you are tracking toward your goals and deadlines. They are also great for avoiding those “senior-moments” we all occasionally have.
- Keep it clean AND functional. Tidying up your workspace is great, but go one step further and ensure your organization is functional for you. Doesn’t matter how nice it looks if you can’t use it.
- Give yourself deadlines. We all have those “when-I-have-time” tasks, but giving these items finite deadlines ensures you won’t be rushing around later trying to complete them quickly. Make a deadline and stick to it for even the littlest of projects so it’s completed and you can move onto your next to-do.
- There’s an app for that! Apps are an on-the-go lifestyle’s best friend. The Post-It Plus app is great for capturing and sharing your notes. Trello is another great app that helps you organize and share tasks, and is amazing at keeping on track for team projects. Check out different apps and see which one (or ones) fit your organizational needs.
- Avoid multi-tasking. Yes, this sounds impossible, but trying to juggle a million things at once just gets a few things halfway done. Focusing in on one task at a time is shown to be more productive and time-efficient.
- Plan to not follow your plan. Doesn’t make sense? Think about it. Life is messy and unexpected (that’s the joy in it) so things are bound to pop up and take precedent over what’s already scheduled for the day. Plan to be flexible so when life does happen, you’re ready.
- Make the time to organize. None of the above is possible if you don’t take the time everyday to organize yourself and your tasks. Take just five minutes every morning to look at your day and what needs to be done. You’ll be happy you did come 5 o’clock.
What helps you stay organized?
At Studiothink, we are firm believers that your brand is made up of much more than just your name and your logo.
Your brand is everything from overall perception, employee engagement, customer experience, the level at which people believe your message and of course what employees and customers are saying about you.
Top Ten Ways To Build a Strong Brand
- Do your research. Ask questions, conduct research, have thoughtful discussions, get input and insight, and brew ideas. Find out how you can stand out among the crowd.
- Build brand loyalty from inside out. Your employees can be you biggest supporters. Engaged employees = happy employees. Happy employees = happy brand.
- Tell your story. Sharing your story with customers creates a positive perception of the brand and helps to build a strong relationship.
- Listen. It is so important to listen to what is being said about your brand. Constant monitoring is encouraged, allowing you to react timely, fixing any problems and promoting any praises.
- Enforce brand consistency. From the message to the design, everything should be communicated according to a set of brand guidelines that ensure uniformity.
- Be authentic. Being transparent and trustworthy
- Believe in your product/service. It doesn’t matter what anyone thinks if you don’t believe in your own business. Do everything with intention and customers will follow suit.
- Don’t be afraid to innovate. Innovation is rarely easy and it’s almost never painless but it is the key to staying in front of competition and staying on the cusp of trends and your customer’s desires.
- Always take chances. If you don’t take risks, you won’t learn. Get out of your comfort zone and try new things.
- Manage your brand. After creating a strong brand, upkeep is important. Continue to monitor and evaluate what’s working, making changes accordingly. Brands are ever evolving.
What do you think makes a strong brand?
As an agency, it’s important to start a client relationship off on the right foot. This includes making clear expectations, vowing for open communication and setting the rules at the beginning. Since ALL of our clients are perfect partners, here are some of the things they do to make us happy!
Top Ten Ways To Be A Good Client
- Give realistic timeframes. Agencies have processes in place to ensure only the best work is created. When things are rushed, this gets more challenging. Clients should do their best to give an appropriate lead-time for all projects and understand that perfection takes time.
- Know what you want. Vague ideas can lead to wasted time when projects are developed not as expected. The more details the better!
- Communicate openly. It’s extremely important to communicate often and effectively. Constructive feedback is praised, however rounds and rounds of edits can be overwhelming and counterproductive.
- Be respectful. Let us know how you feel – respectfully.
- Give credit when credit is due. Enough said.
- Be honest. If you’re thrilled with what we’ve done, great! If things aren’t what you wanted, tell us – we can fix it!
- Take our advice. You’re looking to us for a reason. We value your opinion but you should trust us for our expertise.
- Build a relationship. Don’t only come around when you want something. Our goal is to create a long lasting partnership. We love lunch, drinks after work and pictures of your dog!
- Make your goals and expectations clear. Outline these at the beginning and communicate if these are (or aren’t) being met throughout the relationship.
- Let us know how we’re doing!
What would you add to the list?
With so many business events planned for the summer, what’s the best way to spread the word about yours? How can you get your event to stand out from the crowd?
Here are Studiothink’s top 10 ways to market your event:
- Start early! The more lead time given for an event, the better. More time means a well thought-out plan of action and a strong execution strategy.
- Create a landing page. All of your messaging should push your audience to the site for more information. Make the content clear, compelling and complete. You want your audience to leave the website with a clear understanding of what the event is and feeling motivated to go. If preregistration or tickets are required, allow them to do so here.
- Know your audience. Create the best messaging to reach your targeted audience. What are the buzzwords that grab their attention? What appeals to them? Also, think about which promotional material will work best.
- Understand your competition. Are their other similar events occurring at the same time? Find a way to differentiate yourself. It is also beneficial to find out what they’re doing and learn from their mistakes or successes. On the flipside, are there other events that you can piggyback off of or time your event around?
- Use social media. Find and use the social media channels that will best reach your target audience, and pick an event hashtag so news and updates are easy to follow. Include photos and videos promoting the events that are easily shareable, and improve SEO with properly tagged blog posts.
- Highlight the speakers and main events. By promoting a well known speaker or performer that will be at your event, you have the chance to connect to their network. Most of the time, they will already have a strong following you can take advantage of. Video interviews make great social content!
- Submit the event to local event calendars. Many media sites, especially the hyper-local news sites, let you post events.
- Media Relations. Keep the media updated on your event. Send the press release, media alert and event passes to a targeted list of relevant members of the media. This is important when trying to gain pre- and post-event coverage.
- Find events where your target audience will be. Having a presence at these events, puts you in a position to directly reach the people you want at your event.
- Be consistent! It’s extremely important that your messaging is consistent throughout. When your audience is able to recognize your design and messaging, they are less likely to be confused and more likely to attend.
- BONUS #11 (because we couldn’t stop at just 10)! With your budget in mind, create a promotional plan that expands your reach. Marketing an event should include any of the following: press releases, social media, traditional advertising, trade advertising, digital advertising, sponsorships and partnerships as well as signage, flyers and hand outs.
Every organization experiences turnover. In the days where working at the same company for an entire career is an endangered practice, employees will inevitably leave your organization. Whether these people are moving on to other opportunities or it is necessary for mutual parting of ways, turnover happens.
This doesn’t mean, however, that we should sit idly by and watch high performers leave our organizations. Instead, let’s value our people and welcome their consistent feedback to create a culture so attractive that employees don’t want to go anywhere.
Imagine sitting around a conference table as a leadership team, asking yourselves why you are losing good people. Chances are you’re racking your brain, desperately searching for these reasons and the magic potion to getting this to stop. It’s likely that this conversation is mentally draining, confusing and frustrating.
Now let’s flip the script. I want to challenge you to ask this question instead: “Why do we stay?” And ask your people that same question. From their perspectives, what is it about your organization that has kept your longest tenured employees around, and what would it take for your newer people to make this their permanent home? This exercise is a more positive discussion. It is energizing, it takes people back to their own “why” and it enables them to provide honest, constructive feedback. It also shows that their opinions are valued.
Asking “Why do you stay” may not solve all of your issues relating to turnover, and truthfully, some will be necessary and inevitable; however, you’ll likely find this to be a valuable exercise that your people will genuinely appreciate.
Nice weather in Cleveland is hard to come by. While the sun is shining, get out and explore your city! Cleveland is full of things to do, places to visit and festivals to attend. Here are a few places you can find the Studiothinkers this summer.
Top Ten Things to do in Cleveland this summer
- Go to a concert at Jacob’s Pavilion at Nautica, Blossom Music Center, or the Q
- Join a sand volleyball league
- See a show in the newly renovated Playhouse Square Neighborhood
- Visit the Cleveland Museum of Art (for free!)
- Check out one of Cleveland’s Summer Festivals
- Explore the new Uptown developments during Uptown Thursdays
- Head to Walnut Wednesdays in the NineTwelve District for lunch
- Relax after work with drink in hand at a one of Cleveland’s Happy Hours
- Grab a towel and some sunscreen, and spend the day at one of Cleveland’s beaches
- Explore a new neighborhood and try a new restaurant
What’s on your summer bucket list?
One of the easiest and most difficult culture exercises to practice regularly is Appreciative Inquiry. Literally meaning, “Inquiring into the positive,” Appreciative Inquiry is nothing more than studying what is going well in an organization.
This is easy because it doesn’t require much time and effort, and employees are typically more than happy to discuss positives. It’s difficult because, hey, we’ve got work to do and problems to solve! To varying degrees, we are all problem solvers. But what if we could eliminate some of those problems altogether by simply investigating successful habits or processes and figuring out how to get more of those?
In the management book, First, Break All the Rules, Marcus Buckingham and Curt Coffman present the perspective that great managers and leaders spend more energy utilizing the strengths of employees than trying to fix their weaknesses. As the authors argue, employees are hired based on their strengths, so why abandon those strengths and focus on the negative?
With that in mind, I want to challenge you to devote time on a regular basis to asking “what went right” in the last week, month, etc. Add Appreciative Inquiry to your next staff or leadership meeting agenda, even if it’s for five minutes. Hold an emergency meeting just to discuss a project that your team knocked out of the park. Discuss a recent scenario where your team was operating at a high level, and dig into why that was happening.
You’ll likely be surprised at some of the great ideas shared and “aha moments” that appear when you spend purposeful time inquiring into the positive. Chances are, these pockets of greatness can be replicated in your organization. Get started today; your culture will thank you for it.
Every Mom deserves to be celebrated on Mother’s Day. She puts up with a lot, she does it all and she keeps our world spinning. Needless to say, we love Mom!
This month, the Thinkers shared just a few reasons why they love their Mom:
She’s a rockstar at….
- Anticipating my needs before I even express them
- Loving me unconditionally
- Giving more than she receives
- Always knowing what presents to get for Christmas
- Making the best Green-ie Bean-ie Casserole (NOT the same as Green Bean Casserole!)
- Being my best friend
- Making me laugh
- Being a good role model and inspiring me everyday
- Supporting me no matter what
- Being superwoman
Don’t forget to thank your Mom on Mother’s Day, Sunday, May 11, for everything she does! Share the reasons why you love your Mom with us using the hashtag #10years.
So you’ve invested time and money into a team-building program for your department, leadership team, organization, etc. Now what?
The return on investment for a team building doesn’t need to end when the last bit of dirt or sweat from the event gets washed off. Frankly, if the positive momentum ends that fast, both you and the event’s facilitators have done something wrong. In our experience, it’s typical for positive energy to follow employees back to the workplace for at least 30 days. However, without intentional reinforcement of themes and behaviors learned during the event, all constructive effects will disappear within 90 days.
With this in mind, here are a few ways we’ve helped organizations keep momentum alive following team-building programs.
- Build a calendar – However you choose to reinforce the experience, a calendar is useful in scheduling messaging and tactics.
- Touch points – Whether weekly or monthly, consistent commitment to desired behaviors will prove to be worth the effort.
- Thought provoking articles & exercises – Encourage people to think and enhance their own development within the team; Be sure to include a tie-in to your event (whether in theme, activities, or work parallels).
- Internal newsletter – This can include pictures from the event, funny/rewarding stories and a variety of perspectives.
- Express sincere appreciation to colleagues – Effective team building accomplishes a higher level of appreciation among individuals. It breaks down walls and removes participants from their day-to-day tasks. Purposeful time spent on expressing appreciation for co-workers will go a long way in sustaining positive results far beyond the end of an event.