In Clear Focus: Episode 4

Insights-Led Marketing Strategy

In Clear Focus this week: Bigeye’s senior strategist Dana Cassell joins host Adrian Tennant to discuss the role that strategy plays within a marketing and communications agency. Dana offers case studies highlighting how consumer insights and audience research can be applied to differentiate brands from their competition, plus practical tips and career advice for anyone seeking to enter the advertising industry.

In Clear Focus: Insights-Led Marketing Strategy

In Clear Focus this week: Bigeye’s senior strategist Dana Cassell joins host Adrian Tennant to discuss the role that strategy plays within a marketing and communications agency. Dana shares case studies highlighting how consumer insights and audience research can be applied to differentiate brands from their competition, plus practical tips and career advice for anyone seeking to enter the advertising industry.

Episode Transcript

Adrian Tennant:     You’re listening to IN CLEAR FOCUS, a unique perspective on the business of advertising produced by Bigeye. I’m your host, Adrian Tennant, VP of insights at Bigeye. For those of you who don’t know us, Bigeye is an audience-focused, creative-driven, full-service advertising agency. We’re based in Orlando, Florida, but serve clients across the United States and beyond. Providing audience research, branding, creative, media, and analytics services. Thank you for choosing to spend time with us today. For this episode, it’s my pleasure to be joined by Dana Cassell, Bigeye’s senior strategist. Dana has been with Bigeye almost a decade and focuses on consumer behavior, interpreting the results of findings from primary and secondary research. Dana synthesizes data into actionable insights that help Bigeye’s clients build strategically differentiated brands. Welcome to IN CLEAR FOCUS, Dana.

Dana Cassell:       Thank you. Glad to be here.

Adrian Tennant:     What does your role as senior strategist at Bigeye look like? Describe a day in the life, if you will.

Dana Cassell:       I love that question, “What does a day in the life look like?” I spend a lot of time on-site with clients in a discovery meeting. So, generally at the beginning of an engagement with a client, we have an on-site day where we have the leadership team in the room and our team in the room. And the first half of that discovery is a strategic discovery and we’re working on things like a SWOT analysis, key messages, understanding of the target current state of affairs. So I’m generally leading that conversation. I like to think of myself as a client advocate, so I’m basically trying to get myself up to speed and understand where they are in the business, what they’re trying to do. So I do a lot of that and I like a lot of that. I’m also on calls with clients a lot catching up on those types of items. And then the kind of other half of what I do is staring at the computer screen, blinking cursor by myself because I do a lot of documentation. So if we have a strategic engagement, I’m going to be documenting that entire discovery process and setting forth the strategic plan to move forward. So I’m either kind of with everybody or by myself. I like both of those pieces.

Adrian Tennant:     So what are some of the most common challenges you see clients facing today?

Dana Cassell:       I think differentiation is a challenge. In the, in the global economy, you know, there’s just not really a new idea anymore. So a lot of our clients have a solid product, they have a great internal organization and they’ve just either lost market share or other newer competitors have come on the scene and they’re having trouble differentiating. We also see a lot of lack of understanding of the audience. So maybe an organization, a client might have known their audience 10 years ago. They did a lot of research, they had a better understanding and they’ve just grown and changed since then. So they just haven’t, not a modern understanding of their audience. So I think that’s a challenge a lot of people see. Another one I see is our clients having trouble getting to a place where they can be more strategic rather than reactive. And that’s generally in my assessment, kind of – it’s like a legacy problem. So the organization just runs a certain way and the marketing team can’t catch up and get far enough ahead that they have time to breathe and be strategic. So it’s like the weight of the organization is forcing them to be reactive. It’s not that they’re not strategic thinkers, they are, they just don’t have permission internally to push pause on being reactive and move into a more strategic place. And I think often we help in those engagements because we can come into the room with the C-suite and make the case for why reactivity is not the best marketing strategy.

Adrian Tennant:     So that being said, if you’re a new challenger brand, I’m looking to gain market share in a category with an established brand leader, how can strategy help?

Dana Cassell:       I think the audience understanding and insight is, is a key piece of that game. There are industries where the leading brand is taking their position for granted and they don’t really have deepened relationships with their consumers. And that’s always an area of opportunity. I think we’ll probably also talk, I’m hoping we’ll talk about direct-to-consumer today. That’s another great example of ways that challenger brands are gaining market share sort of by a really deep specific understanding of their audience and an extremely clear focus. So I think new challengers that really get the audience have a singular focus and do that thing well, have a great opportunity to gain some market share.

Adrian Tennant:     Great answer. Strategy can seem a bit abstract. What do tangible deliverables from strategy planning typically look like?

Dana Cassell:       That’s a great question. So target market analysis is often one that we’ll deliver and this is related to audience and audience insights. So we’ll work with a client to understand primary, secondary, tertiary audiences. We’ll develop brand personas, key messages for those targets, where we find them in media, what their consumer behaviors like. So we kind of blowout a big profile of those target markets. So that kind of analysis is a real actionable deliverable. Often key messages is a piece of that. So I really like the kind of four-by-four model where we have four things that we like to say about the brand over and over maybe four words long that everybody in the organization can get behind. These are like little memorable key nuggets about a brand that we can work into. Public relations interviews we can use in social content we might use in our email signature. I love helping a brand kind of come up with these key messages that are like part of their identity, something everybody can understand and start to be a driver for a brand. So I often like to work in key messages. We’ll also make key messages as part of that target market strategy. So what are the key messages that resonate most with each message, each segment of that target market? Sometimes a platform analysis is a good one too. So we’ll have clients that are involved in a variety of social media and this is something I love to do as a strategist. So we’ll get a client that is doing a lot of social media and none of it beautifully. And I get the opportunity to kind of go in and consume all of that data, all that content they’ve been putting out over the years and understand what’s been working and resonating. I love looking at the data behind social platforms and coming back and being able to say, “the good news is you’ve been doing too much and we have an opportunity to narrow your focus and then really do what you’re doing well.” So platform analysis as a tangible deliverable. And then content planning is another one that happens often we’ll see organizations that are they know strategically what they need to be doing, but then the tactics of how to execute that strategy. So often one of my strategic deliverables will be a plan for creating and deploying content. So strategic recommendations on what types of categories are going to work best on their different platforms. So what should their blog focus over the next year be? What should their outbound marketing focuses be? So that content planning roadmap, that happens a lot too.

Adrian Tennant:     I’m really interested to know how you get up to speed on a new client industry. Have you got a particular process that you’d like to share with us?

Dana Cassell:       Sure. I’m just an avid consumer of that brand. I just try to think of myself as obsessed, kind of brand obsessed, and I’ll just literally sit at my computer and absorb everything I can find about them online. And then I do that for any brand that thinks they’re a competitor or any brand that they think is a competitor. And then also aspirational brands. So this is a question I love to ask clients. What are brands that you think are similar to yours that are killing it? And it might not be in their same market and might not be in their same service, but a brand that it’s like, I really like the way they do business, so then I’ll go absorb everything I can about those brands. And if they don’t have an idea of who those are, I probably have an idea of who this might be for them. So I like doing that. And then I’m also a data nerd at heart, which I would encourage anybody who wants to be a strategist to become a data nerd at heart. I love to go look at whatever data they want to give us. So one of my favorite places to start is with good old Google Analytics to understand what’s happening on their digital platforms. Sales data. I don’t know, I just, I like to… Annual reports, gosh, I love annual reports. Am I the only one maybe?

Adrian Tennant:     I think you might be, Dana.

Dana Cassell:       I love a good annual report. So I just consume all of the data, you know, and then I do a lot of listening so I love to read and then I love to hear from them. That’s kinda how I get up to speed. I also like to read things like job descriptions to learn how the brand thinks about the people they want working with them. So that’s a little hacks to learn how the brand thinks about themselves.

Adrian Tennant:     Some really good strategic tips there, I liked them. Thank you. Dana, what brands do you most admire – and why?

Dana Cassell:       This is a great question. I love this. I feel like I can answer in lots of different ways. So I like to think of Southwest Airlines and Publix as the same brand in my head and they’re kind of big ones and obvious ones that a lot of people love. So it’s maybe a bit of a cliche answer, but the things that I love about them are, I believe them and I believe in authenticity and transparency. I just don’t think there’s a way in 2019, 2020 to live in a non-transparent way for long. So these are brands that I think have been being super transparent for a long time. They have people who are happy to work there, which I think is a real key to long-term success is internal culture. So I think they’re doing that really well. And I also think they are trying to be exactly who they are. So they’re in a growth mindset as a brand. Neither of them are giving up market share anywhere, but they’re also not trying to be something that they’re not. So I love that about them. They’re authentic, they have happy customers, they know who they are and they’re living into that identity. So I really liked that about those brands.

Adrian Tennant:     I should just explain for any listeners that are not based in the Southeast of the United States, Publix Supermarkets, the leading supermarket for sure in our region, privately held, and a Fortune 100 company.

Dana Cassell:       Right. And originally a Floridian brand, now found widely across the Southeast and likely in a Northern market near you soon because like I said, they have a growth mindset.

Adrian Tennant:     That’s meant to be a secret, I think. Not really, worst-kept secret now.

Dana Cassell:       I love the Grocery Wars. Honestly, what’s happening in the grocery stores is great. We were talking about this for banking yesterday, following the way that grocery stores are moving Northern brands to the South, Southern brands to the North, and then expansion into the Midwest is a great case study for any industry that is looking to gain market share in a volatile environment. Because grocery is about loyalty. It’s grossly about consumer behavior. And it’s just a really fascinating idea to watch how grocery stores move into markets where they’re, they’re not, they’re markets of origin. I love groceries.

Adrian Tennant:     Excellent. So what do you think about the success of direct-to-consumer brands, such as Dollar Shave Club, StitchFix, Casper, Warby Parker, Barkbox… there are many, many, many to choose from. What do you think about them?

Dana Cassell:       I love it. This why, I love it. So it’s not, it’s not dissimilar from the Southwest and Publix idea. These brands are singularly focused on doing one thing really well. Warby Parker is going to deliver glasses that you’ll love, that you have control over the experience. I love that Casper mattresses, it’s a focused effort. They know who they are, they know what they’re going to do well and they’re not going to do anything beyond that until they can do it well. So that’s not to say that DTC can’t expand and grow their service line. They can, but they’re doing it in a way that feels authentic to the brand. And also all of these brands that you’re mentioning are obsessed with consumer experience and I think that’s been the key to their success. So the whole idea that there’s this user-generated content library of people unboxing mattresses, this is like watching paint dry! I mean unboxing a mattress theoretically couldn’t be a more boring thing! This has taken over the Internet. I think it’s amazing, but they’ve created a user experience that is engaging people in a category I don’t think anybody would have predicted. So I love that they also have streamlined billing. I think this is really important, now in our mobile environment, in our Apple pay environment, that the billing process is smooth and simple and transparent and these brands are doing that really well. They’re also giving people choice and control. So any sort of subscription direct-to-consumer brand that cannot be customized or that you feel like you’re going to lose control of your credit card or you’re going to be billed in a month. “I didn’t know I was going to be built. Oh, you know, I’m frustrated.” It doesn’t last. You know, that will work for a few months until somebody realizes that charges recurring and then they’re not only quitting, they’re also not a brand advocate. So what I love about these brands that you mentioned, Dollar Shave Club, you’re getting an email every month that says, “Hey, your box is about to ship. Do you wanna make any changes? Do you need this box?” And if you don’t skip a month or skip three months, they’re giving control to the consumer. And I think that’s just building trust and loyalty.

Adrian Tennant:     So these are all great lessons that we can learn from DTC brands.

Dana Cassell:       Yeah. And simplify, you know, they’re all, that’s what I was starting with the idea of being focused, knowing who you are, knowing what you’re doing. If the business is complicated and you’re on the inside, imagine how that feels from the outside.

Adrian Tennant:     That’s a great point. Well, let’s change gears. Tell us a little bit about your background. How did you get to where you are today?

Dana Cassell:       Hmm. Okay. So, um, I grew up in Louisville, Kentucky, and I don’t know when this started, but I think I always wanted to be an advertising because I really can’t remember a time that I didn’t. I have this four-H project from third grade, I’m left-handed. And it was called living in a right-handed world and it was an advocacy base about the challenges of being left-handed. Scissors can openers, it’s a right handed world. So I had this presentation that I loved and it was just this like little piece, understanding the way that it feels to be in the world and being a consumer of right-handed things as a left-handed person. And I look back and think that might’ve been my first piece of consumer research. So I think I was kind of always into it. And then I was looking for universities that had advertising as a field of study and I was not impressed with an advertising school that would send their materials in a white envelope that laid on my dining room table with all the other college envelopes. And then SMU – that’s Southern Methodist in Dallas – sent me their piece and it was what I wanted it to be. It was shiny and brilliant and well done. And it looked totally different when we threw it on the table. And my parents had drawn this radius on the map of two-hour flights and Dallas was right on the edge of the two-hour flight line. So I thought we should do it. So I went to school in Dallas at the Timberland Institute and had a wonderful time there. They have a relationship with The Richards Group, which was amazing as a student. And then graduate school in Austin studying consumer behavior where I had the opportunity to work on a team that was rebranding the university. They ask a few grad students in the ad program to help rebrand the university. And we came up with that tagline, “What starts here changes the world,” which was first recorded by Walter Cronkite, which was just an amazing experience and still can be found on football sometimes today. My dad calls when he hears it. So that was neat and I was able to document that process as my thesis. So that was a really fun experience and just kind of confirmed my love of advertising and branding. And then I always worked then, so that was 2004 when I graduated. It was kind of the boom of monetizing the dotcom. So I worked for a local newspaper as they were trying to figure out how to make money on their dotcom and got some really cool opportunities to collaborate with sales and technology and really start to understand the data that drives websites and how you can translate that data into sales and also leverage audience understanding and the use of a website to target advertising. So that was a very cool time to be in that world and it wasn’t as big then as it is now. So I was in analytics and I got a crash course in analytics, loved that and then moved into strategy after that. I think strategy and digital analytics are very closely linked. It’s a just a great place to start when you don’t know where else to start. So that’s been kind of my journey. I’ve been in analytics and consumer behavior and strategy since then.

Adrian Tennant:     So as you know, we have a very active intern program at Bigeye. What advice would you give someone wanting to pursue a career in brand planning or strategy?

Dana Cassell:       I think to have a growth mindset is really important because it’s always changing. The entire field is always changing. And to be somebody who is interested in learning every day and as much as there are common elements among our clients for strategic difficulty, everything is unique. Every client need and strategy is new. So to be able to grow and change except what you don’t know and go figure out what you need to know, I think that’s really important. So growth mindset, obsession with data. I’ve said it a few times. It’s my experience that some people, and there are even some holdovers in academics, that advertising is a creative endeavor and that means it’s an artistic endeavor and that that’s sort of like not congruent with data analysis, math. And I think that’s totally inaccurate. And I think data is creative and I think it’s really, really important to understand. And I think our creative team here would tell you that a data-driven creative approach is central to our philosophy. So obsession with data, growth mindset. Also, I think a solid business background. A lot of what I end up doing could be business consulting work. And I love that. You know, I love the Bigeye wants to get their hands in that. It’s not like, Oh, that’s not proper advertising. We’re not interested. Marketing and operations are closely linked, although I will say every day of my life, great marketing can’t fix operational challenges. We have to get the operations intact. By being able to understand that as a strategist is really important. So I think a little bit of business background is helpful and to enjoy problem solving. I’m a gameplayer. I love solving problems, doing puzzles, riddles. If somebody tell me a “knock, knock” joke and doesn’t give me time to try to figure it out, it makes me crazy. It’s like holding in a sneeze. So, you know, I think being a problem solver as another piece of that.

Adrian Tennant:     So again, thinking about our interns at Bigeye, what kinds of resources would you point them towards to help them?

Dana Cassell:       People. I was thinking about this. I had an amazing copywriter professor in undergrad who wrote the GI Joe “Real American Hero” jingle and also, “What would you do for a Klondike bar?” So he was a really neat professor who inspired me and gave me a different way to think about advertising. And I can think about my first boss that gave me permission to understand the Internet and the way that it worked and how that impacted advertising. That was a lot, that was a lot. There was a time where being on social media at work was not a thing, you know, and so to have offices that understood that while it didn’t seem like the right thing to do at might be. And then I can also think about people in the industry who inspired me to think differently about strategy. So I really think the best resources that I’ve had have been people and that is also like a life strategy of my own to find someone who’s a step ahead of me that I really admire. Look, aspirational brand – I do it in my personal life and understand what they’re doing and why they’re doing it and just seek their wisdom. So yeah – people.

Adrian Tennant:     Excellent. You’re so on-brand – your own brand!

Dana Cassell:       Thank you!

Adrian Tennant:     So what is one common myth about working in advertising that really needs to be debunked?

Dana Cassell:       Yeah, so I think this one is that it’s super cut-throat, and every man for themselves, and unbelievably competitive, and it can’t be trusted. I think there’s this idea that it’s kind of all one big kind of battlefield in a way. I have not experienced that in 18 years of working in the industry. Obviously, there are some places that feel that way, but for me the best work I’ve ever done has been highly collaborative, very team-oriented. I have a personal philosophy that it’s very hard for me to work with people if I don’t have a connection. You know, I like to have a personal connection with the people I’m making these big decisions for brands with. So I have never been in an environment in advertising and done great work and that be the case. So I find advertising very collaborative, friendly, helpful – you know, the best work happens when there’s somebody from research, planning, creative, digital, everybody at the table working together.

Adrian Tennant:     That’s great. So what have you read or listened to recently that really inspired you?

Dana Cassell:       I’m an avid podcast consumer, so I listen all the time and I have this wide variety of podcasts I listen to. But I think something recently that inspired me was Tal Ben-Shahar on “Armchair Expert,” which is Dax Shepherd’s podcast. So Dax is married to Kristen Bell and he, I mean in his own right, was Crosby on “Parenthood.” He’s done lots of wonderful things, but he has this really interesting background in anthropology and psychology. And so he has this podcast about a year-and-a-half old and Tal Ben-Shahar was on recently. So he is a PhD-educated, Harvard-educated lecturer and just intellectual thought-leader. And he famously held the record for having the two largest classes in the history of Harvard at one point. And they’re all on positive psychology and happiness and leadership. And I love this because it’s data-driven approach because it’s a PhD style of learning and it’s about the impact of positivity on life and on the bottom line. So I really love this about him and I just found his time with Dax really inspiring because he just talks a lot about organizational leadership. And it’s like a data-driven approach to happiness, which I think there’s so much in the zeitgeist about positive affirmation. I love all of that, but I also love that there’s like data behind this idea of the power of happiness for economic success, like corporate kind of branding success. I don’t know. I really liked him.

Adrian Tennant:     Excellent. Well, I’ll make sure that we include a link to that podcast in the show notes. (NOTE: the podcast Dana referred to can be accessed directly at: https://armchairexpertpod.com/pods/tal-ben-shahar)

Dana Cassell:       Okay. I can’t be held responsible for everything Dax says, okay?

Adrian Tennant:     Understood.

Dana Cassell:       Okay.

Adrian Tennant:     So finally, Dana, what does having a CLEAR FOCUS mean to you?

Dana Cassell:       Having a CLEAR FOCUS to me means knowing who you are because I don’t think it’s a given that we all know where we’re going next. I think it’s really important that if we know who we are, we can figure out where we’re headed.

Adrian Tennant:     Deep…

Dana Cassell:       Maybe?


Adrian Tennant:     Dana, it’s been a real pleasure. Thank you to our guest, Dana Cassell, senior strategist at Bigeye. You’ve been listening to IN CLEAR FOCUS, a unique perspective on the business of advertising. Produced by Bigeye. If you have questions about the content of today’s show, please contact us at info@bigeyeagency.com. You’ll also find a transcript of today’s show on our website at bigeyeagency.com. I’m Adrian Tennant. Thank you for listening. Until next time, goodbye.

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How to Make Brand Videos That Move Audiences

If you aren’t taking advantage of the power of brand video, then you’re ceding an important edge to your competitors. Here’s what you need to get started.

Let’s say you’ve got an exciting new product and you want to introduce it to consumers in the most impactful way possible. How would you go about it? If you’re not immediately thinking “brand videos,” then we urge you to keep reading.

Why Brand Videos Have Become an Indispensable Marketing Tool

Right now, you’re reading a blog — and there’s nothing wrong with that. Blogs are a tried-and-true medium for short, informational content. Yet the blog should be merely a single arrow in your quiver. Audiences don’t always have the time or inclination to read, yet they can almost always find time to watch a short video — provided it reaches out and wrests their attention away from the other dozen things competing for it.

That’s one reason you’ve likely been deluged lately with explainer videos and all other sorts of branded video content. Videos simply work. People engage with them at higher levels than seen with ads or written content.

There’s another factor motivating the brand video proliferation: The learning curve and production costs associated with professional video creation have declined radically in recent years. This means that brands have no reason to avoid joining the revolution.

So How Do I Tell My Brand Story Through Video?

Here’s the good news: Connecting with audiences via video is relatively simple, provided you can follow a few smart practices. When creating brand videos, here are some key things on which to focus:

Story is paramount — and so are people. Creating brand videos simply because “everyone says people prefer video” won’t accomplish much. You still need a compelling narrative that audiences will relate to. Think about a simple yet effective way you can frame your brand story around human characters. Any newspaper editor or photographer will tell you that images of static buildings or landscapes don’t reach people or move copy. As humans, we are naturally drawn to each other, and this extends to our engagement with photos and video. Forego the facts, figures, and product features (or at least consign them to secondary status) and put people front and center in your videos. By focusing on one person, brands can make larger and more complex issues more relatable.

Our Approach

Take a deep dive into how we approach our work. Learn about our creative thinking and our strategical approach

Forge an emotional connection. Savvy brands have long known that a true emotional connection with audiences is the gold standard in advertising and marketing. Nothing converts and builds long-term loyalty like sparking a visceral, emotional reaction. Fortunately, brand videos are a fantastic format for forging these kinds of connections. By using images, dialogue and music to full effect, a great brand video can tell an emotionally resonant story in as little as 30 seconds.

Reach for the original. Remember how we mentioned that proliferation of video? That’s why it’s essential that you take creative risks and push for something original. Audiences today are extremely savvy and cynical about brand messaging. Yet you can penetrate their defenses by delivering something that delights or inspires. Here’s one great example. It’s important, however, to understand your limitations — nobody is looking for an avant-garde HVAC brand video.

Maintain your messaging. Your brand videos are ultimately an extension of your overall brand messaging. They should speak with your voice, project your values, and be calibrated to appeal to your specific audience. While it’s important for your content to reach for creativity and originality, this must still occur within the larger context of your brand messaging.

Don’t skimp on video production. This one is easy — there’s no excuse for a cheesy (unintentionally, at least) or cheap-looking brand video. The cost and skill needed to produce respectable content has plummeted.

The Benefits of Working With the Right Brand Story Agency

At BIGEYE, we’re experts at both brand story and video production, and we can help you take your brand videos to the next creative level. Contact us today for more information. 

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Apartment Branding: The Missing Piece of the Marketing Puzzle

Most multifamily marketers know the importance of promoting the features of their communities, but fewer fully grasp the importance of apartment branding.

Multifamily marketers tend to spend a lot of time highlighting their available vacancies, touting structural and functional details that range from vaulted ceilings and granite countertops to scenic views and smart appliances. While this marketing approach is certainly valuable, trying to implement it without first establishing a solid apartment brand is like trying to put a coat of paint on a building before pouring its concrete foundation. 

Real estate industry statistical research firmly supports this view of apartment branding as supremely important. The Harvard Business Review, for example, reports that 64% of people cite shared values as their principal motivation for developing a consumer relationship with a particular brand. Covering the other side of the consumer/business coin, the Bank of America Small Business Owner Report has shown that 57% of small business owners regard strong relationships with consumers as the chief force behind ongoing/repeat business.

In short, it is absolutely essential to create, institute, and cultivate an apartment branding strategy that says something powerful and unique about your multifamily community. Furthermore, it is vital that you continually monitor the overall effectiveness of your exiting brand to ensure that it is squarely connecting with your chosen audience.

Building an Effective Brand from Scratch

When it comes to establishing a brand that reflects your company priorities and values, creative and strategic apartment naming and logo design are key…but they are only the beginning. Your name and logo will serve as a launching pad for all of your subsequent marketing strategies from overall messaging style and content delivery to the development of specific promotional efforts and advertising campaigns.

Want to optimize your apartment branding process to make a tremendous impact on the marketplace? By following the three steps outlined below, you can ensure that your branding efforts get off on the right foot and continue down the path to success.

1. Research

Surprisingly, this important first step in the apartment branding process is one that many multifamily marketers fail to invest in. This is, quite frankly, ridiculous. In the absence of adequate preliminary research, your branding efforts will be little more than a shot in the dark, and you will have little chance of hitting that elusive branding bullseye. Key areas of branding research include consumer demographics/psychographics, consumer behavior/lifestyle choices, and geographical/financial market analysis.

2. Brand Identity

After conducting in-depth research, you must give extensive thought to your proposed brand identity. Keep in mind that this identity must extend throughout every element of your comprehensive marketing efforts, from the color of your chosen logo to the tone of your written promotional copy to the videos and images that appear on your social media page. The two keys to brand identity are relevance to company values and consistency across all media channels.

3. Implementation Strategy

The final step in the brand-building process consists of positioning your fully developed brand within the marketplace. This necessitates a comprehensive implementation of all brand elements (signage, letterheads, promotional messaging/events, website/social media design, etc.) with a firm focus on lead generation and positive public relations. It is absolutely essential to develop a prudent implementation strategy that fits the specific characteristics of your brand. As Executive Magazine contributor Samantha Chalmers puts it, “when promoting a LEED-certified community with composting stations and community gardens, it wouldn’t make sense to place a print ad in a Range Rover catalog” or “serve coffee or water in Styrofoam cups in the leasing office.”

Brand Optimization and Rebranding

No matter how much time, effort, and care you took to develop your initial apartment brand, it is important to realize when, in the words of Multifamily Executive Magazine contributor Jamie Matusek, “your brand becomes more of a liability than an asset.”

When this occurs, it is time to optimize your brand or rebrand entirely.

A successful rebranding effort requires marketers to follow the same comprehensive steps that drive the initial branding process. But when is the right time for your apartment complex to rebrand? Events and situations that often trigger a rebrand include planned remodeling or structural capital improvements, a floundering reputation in the consumer marketplace, and a general desire or need to expand your overall audience base. 

Your specific brand optimization or rebranding strategies will depend entirely on the events that necessitate them and the weaknesses in your brand as it currently stands. If your apartment complex is plagued by poor resident ratings, for example, you will want to reach out to existing tenants to precisely identify key areas of concern and then reformat your brand to address those areas specifically. In this case, your new brand should reflect a distinct break with the old brand, clearly stressing the value of a fresh start. As part of your rebranding efforts, it will be absolutely essential to communicate what, exactly, will be different about your company as you move forward. Furthermore, it will be even more important to honor those messages through conscientious action. 

For more information

Bigeye is an apartment branding agency that places a supreme emphasis on creativity and forward-thinking business strategy. Whether you’re looking for a multifamily marketing agency to build your brand from the ground up or to optimize the brand that you’ve already developed, we can help. Don’t hesitate to contact Bigeye today.

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Frequently Asked Questions on Brand Messaging

Brand messaging is critical to the health of your business. Here’s a closer look at some of the most commonly asked questions about the subject.

Every business owner wants to build deep, long-lasting relationships with customers. Brand messaging is the mechanism by which this is accomplished. Every communication an enterprise engages in should be done with proper brand messaging in mind.

When done right, it inspires, informs, persuades and catalyzes audiences. When done poorly, it can do serious reputational harm.

Now that we’ve understood the stakes involved, let’s take a closer look at some of the most common questions business owners have about brand messaging.

Brand Messaging FAQ

1. I’m a brand messaging neophyte — can you explain what it means in two sentences?

Sure. Brand messaging is the language, voice, tone, and ideas that a business uses to convey its core value proposition and company values.

2. Can you give me an example?

Absolutely. The classic Nike slogan “Just Do It” is a famous example of potent brand messaging. It distills the company’s ethos into three unforgettable words.

3. What are the qualities that make brand messaging effective?

The same qualities that make interpersonal communication effective, for the most part. Great brand messaging resonates with audiences and builds a connection. It inspires, catalyzes audiences into action and engenders a sense of personal identification with the brand. It’s how lifestyle brands are created and lifelong customers are made.

4. What happens when brand messaging goes wide of the mark?

If you’re lucky, audiences simply won’t respond to it. In situations where brands badly misjudge their voice or misunderstand their audience, poor brand messaging can alienate people, anger them, and turn them into another brand’s loyal customers.

5. So how does one create effective brand messaging?

Here’s where things get a bit more challenging. First, brands need to identify and segment their audience. If you don’t know who you’re selling to, you’re just throwing darts in the dark. Do research, identify your audience, and query them. What motivates them? What matters to them? How do they engage with brands?  By understanding the answers to these questions, brands can then draw a line between their customers’ motivations and their own products and services, their values, and their unique value proposition. 

6. What else is important?

One word: Differentiation. When you’re developing a brand messaging strategy, it’s natural to review what your competitors are doing. After all, you’re targeting the same audience, so there should be some overlap between your messaging strategy. That said, it’s critical to differentiate your product or service. Sometimes you can accomplish this through features or innovations, but in many industries, it’s the branding itself that is the primary differentiator. So while you want your messaging to be informed by what your competitors are doing, you don’t want to follow what they are doing. Develop your own unique, differentiated voice and message.

7. Any other tips?

Yes. Consumers are inundated by advertising and marketing messages, so it’s important to develop language and themes that stand out. Seek to be compelling and memorable, rather than aiming for a bland, middle of the road voice designed to appeal to the broadest possible demographic. It’s also critically important to be clear and concise — audiences will disengage immediately if you’re sending confusing messages. Place the audience at the center of the story and explain to them exactly what your brand can do for them. Make sure that your messaging comes through in every bit of content or communication you author, and always ensure your brand speaks in a unified and consistent voice.

Finding the Right Brand Messaging Agency

At BIGEYE, we’re experts when it comes to resonant brand messaging. Whether you’re looking for an innovative approach to brand video or new, tech-forward ways to reach your desired audiences, we can help.

Contact us today to learn more about what a sophisticated brand messaging strategy can do for your firm.

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What Cheap Coffee, Stolen Grease, and Great Explainer Videos Have in Common

Take a sip of the $5 subscription coffee from Burger King and realize the possibilities that could be opened if you used a motion graphics design company.

Generating compelling marketing concepts is any creative agency’s meat and potatoes. However, even after you’ve had a creative epiphany, you still need to figure out the best way to spread your message. For many brands, that means a well-executed explainer video created by a top motion graphics design company.
For inspiration, look no further than Burger King.

A whopper of an idea

Burger King’s been all over the news in recent weeks. First, a Virginia man was caught using a siphon and a 1,600 gallon tank to steal massive amounts of used Whopper grease from his local Burger King franchises.

This viral crime occurred just days after Burger King debuted its Impossible Whopper, a plant-based burger that has drawn national acclaim for its uncanny similarity to beef.

Yet for those in the marketing world, a third recent story proved even more interesting: Burger King’s first foray into subscription coffee.

As any venture capitalist would tell you, subscription plays are sizzling at the moment. Name a product category, and there are multiple brands ready to deliver their take on it for a monthly fee.

Burger King capitalized on this trend by announcing a new promotion that allows anyone to purchase a month-long subscription to Burger King coffee for the price of one Starbucks latte ($5).

There were, of course, some exclusions: Only one coffee per day, and no iced coffee, specialty coffee or other fancy java concoctions. Strictly black coffee with cream and sugar.

Despite these limitations, the campaign garnered plenty of notice, including national media coverage and lots of social media buzz. That’s hardly surprising, given the burger purveyor’s reputation for being a savvy social media operator — and a skilled creator of slightly salty explainer videos made by their motion graphics design company.

Double espresso shots fired

Burger King’s clever take on the subscription model was supported by an explainer video distributed across the company’s social media accounts. The video gave viewers step by step instructions for signing up for $5 coffee, delivered over a blurting synth line punctuated with retro handclaps.

The video did an excellent job illustrating the ease by which consumers can earn discounted coffee — download an app, sign up, click a button to redeem and head to your local Burger King. The explainer video sealed the deal by taking a couple of pointed shots at Starbucks (“you don’t have to speak Italian to order BK coffee” and “we won’t misspell your name”).”

By creating this explainer video, Burger King accomplished a few important things: It explained the campaign’s value proposition (a month of coffee for less than a latte), it drove more signups for the BK app (driving digital engagement) and it entertained its target audience while calling out a rival.

BK coffee might not be bold — but their marketing strategy & motion graphics design company certainly is.

Looking for a great motion graphic design company? Then “have it your way”

At BIGEYE, we believe that stellar motion graphic design can play a critical role in supporting your marketing campaign’s goals. If you’re looking to jumpstart your brand strategy efforts, we’d love to take you out for coffee and a conversation. Give us a holler when your ready!

The Consumer Experience: Brands Overpromise and Under-Deliver

A brand strategy agency is imperative to building a brand that has its own identity and doesn’t fall into the stream of overpromising and under-delivering.

You don’t have to run a brand strategy agency to understand the importance of the customer experience. Creating a personal connection with audiences through meaningful experiences is the gold standard of modern marketing and its value is repeated ad nauseam.
Yet simply because we all pay lip service to this notion doesn’t mean we’re actually getting it accomplished. Many brands are still falling woefully short in terms of delivering a compelling cross-channel consumer experience.

So what’s the key to unlocking these sought after, but rarely realized, customer experiences?

Building a more human brand.

Taking your brand’s pulse

According to the most recent Forrester U.S. Customer Experience Index, there has been a minimal improvement in the overall quality of consumer experiences. Think about this: Though brands and their CMOs line up to testify to the necessity of great customer experiences, the actual customers are deeply unimpressed.

Clearly, something is fundamentally amiss. Put simply, brands are focusing far too much on product experience and much too little on the human experience. If you want to connect at a deeper level, you need to move beyond the way people interact with products in a narrow use case sense, and instead consider the full range of feelings, desires, hopes, aspirations, etc. that are connected with any product or service.

We certainly have the right tools at our disposal. Today’s digital technologies facilitate the kind of close engagement with audiences that would have been unthinkable just a decade or two ago.

A date with implementation

So how can these tools be deployed in service of more human-centric experiences? Consider the following:

We like to think we are rational creatures.

The truth, however, is that emotion guides us more often than not. A few years ago, leading neuroscientist Antonio Damaso made a pioneering discovery. Damaso studied subjects who had experienced serious damage to the part of the brain where emotions are generated. Everyone he studied had an unusual commonality — they struggled mightily with even the simplest decision-making. Brands need to understand the profound role emotion plays in how consumers respond to marketing messages and optimize accordingly.

The best ideas and intentions are often utterly lost in execution.

It’s one thing to conceptualize human experiences; it’s another thing entirely to deliver them effectively. Forward-thinking brand strategy agencies grasp the importance of digital tools in this process. According to Gartner, 63% of CMOs are expecting an increase in their innovation budget. If you want to deliver personalized experiences, you need to build the architecture to do so.

The consumer/brand relationship is being utterly transformed.

But not every brand is at the same place on the acceleration curve. The days of deploying one size fit all marketing, selling a product and periodically keeping in touch with consumers are long gone. Today, the most successful brands build communities; they encourage constant digital interaction and engagement; they facilitate a continuous relationship that integrates directly into a consumer’s lifestyle. These brands aren’t merely companies — they are, in many ways, an extension of the consumer themselves.

The takeaway

Digital technologies have created tectonic shifts in the ways brands sell and market their products and services. The best brand strategy agencies understand these changes and help position brands for maximum competitive advantage.

If your existing marketing approach needs to be upgraded with a more human-focused, digitally powered approach, please contact our brand specialists today.