The worst presentation I have endured in my entire life…

University festival of design, last night I went to the open evening and I wanted to share my experience!
I arrived a little late to a packed lecture theatre with a still atmosphere as the first keynote speaker was introduced. He was a design engineer from mobile phone manufacturer, a 30 something who had been at the company since his first job as a tester, which he got whilst studying. During the following hour the audience were subjected to the most dry, boring and drab journey of this uninspiring, un-engaging individual. I often refrain from criticising others, especially when they are qualified individuals, respected within their profession.

This chap had all the qualifications, had some great experiences over his career and holds an influential role, but I have to tell you this was the worst presentation I have endured in my entire life. What was the point to the keynote… Your guess is as good as mine, I learn’t some trivial information about his early years, about where his office was, how many cars he has and all of his qualifications. Maybe I had missed the point, but speaking to everyone after it was a widely shared opinion that is was truly terrible. Had it not been for the second keynote speaker who totally got it I would have been asking for my time back! He showed passion, energy, told an engaging story and awakened an audience who had been left in a coma from the first guy.

This made me realise that despite good qualifications, experiences… and before you are fighting this mans battle he said he was an accomplished presenter around the world to teams and schools, this was a ‘keynote’ for this there are no excuses. He was unable to read or engage the audience, prepare a good presentation and deliver with any zest what so ever. To top it off, the most awful PowerPoint slides made this a memorable event for all the wrong reasons.  This becomes even funnier as the event was about celebrating design innovation! Shocking.

So, I was hoping that the student’s work would make up for this… I was drawn to the sustainable graphics and packaging course grads, in a small room was a dozen or so people from another Uni, and a mix of standards. Some good concepts and ideas with poor execution, and vice-versa.

Now sat in the gardens waiting before my next meeting I remember two individuals; One, a young chap who’s work was already at a commercial level, he talked with a clear drive and an understanding of the subject. I have no doubt he will find work and will be an asset to whom he joins. The other was a mature student, an ex designer in an advertising agency who had created an interesting concept, a working retreat for designers to escape. An environment to learn, reflect and design in a harmonious way. Aptly named ‘The tree house’. I would love to see this concept become a reality, so I can take my team for some ‘time out’ whilst still producing project work. I am compelled to help connect her to a few contacts that I think can help her pull this off.

It’s a great idea, and I am sure many design teams would love to spend a day or two to re ignite their passion for their craft, which is often lost in the hubbub of the working environment. The 4 hour event soon flew by and had filled me with excitement, knowing there is good talent coming through. With the lasting bonus, experiencing how not to present! Something I hope I will never be responsible for inflicting to an audience in the future! Sorry Mobile phone man, but please, please,  ‘step it up’ or stop presenting!

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Creating Brand Love

Believe it or not, us human beings are programmed to respond to emotion and we often make many important decisions based on how easily we are influenced by feelings and emotive language around us. For example, making purchases in a shop or from a website based on emotion is quite normal. Just like the age old head over heart argument, we know what we should do; the logical, sensible and often safe option, but the most successful marketers understand that successful products appeal to the heart, not the mind. Going by our emotions is usually what creates the action, and this is where the magic happens!

Creating Brand Love

The RT Media Brand Love Mix and effect

If we take this philosophy and apply it to marketing, it could translate as: be inspiring, be adventurous and bold, or why bother? It’s entirely possible that if you are not inspiring or causing people to feel emotions, then your brand is just ‘existing’. Emotive branding is about taking everything you do today and creating a focus. These intentions can only be realised when everyone working for the brand is reading from the same page and embrace the brand’s emotive center.

However, there is a difference between using emotion in advertising and having an emotive brand that builds meaningful connections from the foundations of everything that you do. While using emotion in advertising can help consumers buy into your concept you will need to keep this ‘promise’ as it were so that it runs seamlessly into all aspects of the customer experience from creation all the way through to implementation.

Emotive brands engage their entire organisations so that every message induces a similar set of thoughts and feelings – consumer’s thoughts about brands are made up of groups of associations: feelings, sounds, memories and images as well as facts. Studies on how the brain processes and stores everyday messages and associations suggest that knowledge, experience and emotions are the three things called upon first to make up our representation of a brand.

If these are positive connotations, the recalls should bond the customer (and the employees) to the brand. Think of the infamous Coco-cola, ‘Holidays are coming’ adverts shown on the run up to Christmas- the resulting brand harmony means brand loyalty. The idea is to genuinely bond with your target audience through  shared values, attitudes and behaviour which needs to be a long term creation not just a 30 second fling.

However, don’t lose sight of your realistic and rational benefits and values, the backbone for a ‘right decision’ is based on reason and marketing should highlight both the rational and emotional components of the brand promise to create a balance.

Ultimately, it’s the difference between indulging in meaningless marketing activity and striving for meaningful connections.

It’s a choice every brand can make.

If you would like help with creating brand love then please do get in touch. ross@rtmedia.com

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Defining a new category with a game changing name. Fibreband is launched

Brand design by RT Media for FibrebandWhen C4L gave us the challenge of creating a new brand in 7 days we said “let’s go”.

With Bournemouth set to have super fast internet via fibre optic cables, our client C4L, (the Deloitte Technology Fast 50 company) were keen to make their mark. The brief to create a new brand for this new super fast broadband service was not only tight in deadline but it also has an increadibly competitive landscape. Entering into the market where big fish like BT, Virgin Media and SKY are fighting for customers, we needed to box clever.
With the in-house teams shortlist of names; BEAR, BULLET and JUCIE broadband we first knew a name could make or break this brave new business launch.

Following an evening workshop with Ross Thornley, the South’s branding expert innovator led them through a process and into a market changing name. It was his plan to create a whole new category for the internet connection. Enter FIBREBAND, no longer will users be looking for broadband providers if they wish to experience the unimaginable speeds fibre optic cables offer, they will be asking for FIBREBAND.
This ticked so many boxes from protectability, multi lingual understanding, domain name availability and word defining opportunities.

We are proud to show the value of expert innovation coupled with great design principles will ensure the best possible chances of success.

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5 Reasons Why Small Businesses Should Invest in Brand Research

Small businesses can often overlook the notion that their brand isn’t entirely managerially constructed. One may tightly govern brand communications, but in reality, how these are received is partially beyond our control.

Consider this – perceptions of your brand that exist within the four walls of your office may not be totally (or at all) aligned with those held by your customers. That’s right. Your brand identity not only exists on your business cards, website or brochure, but also in the mind of the consumer.

It is frightening to think that consumers may interpret your brand in their own very subjective manner, but at the same time, this realisation should also be seen as an opportunity to re-discover the various (and often unexpected) meanings attached to your brand, adapt your communications accordingly, and ultimately reap the rewards of becoming a business who truly knows their audience.

So how do you discover how your customers make sense of your brand?

In short, you ask them.

Qualitative research, principally involving focus group discussions and in-depth interviews, can be an extremely useful strategic tool for businesses of all sizes. Research is vital, and here are a few reasons why:

•    Provides a forum to explore and extrapolate ideas, which can act as an effective springboard to make your visions a reality.

•    Enables you to drill down and understand the specific needs of your different market segments, providing a creative environment for consumer optimisation.

•    Enables you to fully understand reactions to your marketing materials and packaging; identifying strengths, weaknesses, and uncovering any previously unmet needs of your customers.

•    Helps you make informed business and marketing decisions, with confidence.

•    Protects you from completely ‘missing the point’ with your brand communications, ensuring that you build a brand that strikes resonance with your target market.

Above all, it simply makes sense that a strong and current picture of your consumers’ mindset should underpin the strategic and creative process of building and maintaining a brand. You wouldn’t create a gourmet meal with your eyes closed would you? Well, you might try, but you would probably end up getting burnt.

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The top 10 brand tagline trends for 2009

After reading a study of more than 150 taglines that debuted in 2009 this morning from an agency who solely focus on the development of taglines I felt I should share some of the insights found. What we can learn and what I think.
According to Eric Swartz, president of Tagline Guru, “The goal of the survey was to discover the most frequently used words in this year’s taglines, and whether they reveal how companies are strategically recasting their brand message to forge a closer connection with their customers.”

The most commonly used words or concepts (alphabetically):
1. believe
2. far/further
3. future
4. imagine/see
5. innovate/innovation
6. more
7. new
8. save/savings
9. together
10. you

Are these 10 words that matter most to consumers?

“Whereas one tagline offers telling insights into a company’s brand strategy, a whole bushel of taglines reveals a brand lexicon that speaks volumes about what’s important in the minds of consumers,” says Swartz.
“This year’s tagline harvest is all about working harder and smarter, communicating greater value, and creating lasting brand affinity, which, in today’s tough economy, is crucial for cementing relationships and building customer loyalty,” Swartz notes.

Some of the taglines that echo this include:

  • Airbus New standards. Together.
  • Baker & Taylor The future delivered.
  • Buick The new class of world class.
  • Chrysler Come and see what we are building.
  • Dentsu Good innovation.
  • Home Depot More saving. More doing.
  • NBC More colorful.
  • Sony Make. Believe.
  • Syfy Imagine greater.
  • Wells Fargo Together, we’ll go far.
  • Yahoo It’s you!

Although the impact of “innovation” has been diminished from overuse, and words like “new” and “more” are typical sales jargon, concepts such as “together,” “you,” “imagine,” and “future” paint a picture that is decidedly more intimate, inclusive, and optimistic.

“Money is tight, consumers are worried, and corporations aren’t content to rest on their laurels,” says Swartz. “The overall message is that we’re all in this together so we need to set the bar higher, do more, and deliver greater value.”

Swartz continues: “Essentially, this tagline-generated brand lexicon tells us that big business wants to be perceived as a neighborly partner that is industrious, accountable, and forward-thinking. Consumers are tired of being talked at and misled. They’re looking for better ideas, better results, and, ultimately, a better relationship.”
Knowing this is really important as it indicates shifts in the market, and highlights what to avoid. To me these examples show not just a shift in the market but how easy it is to get lost and diluted in the nose as we follow like sheep: for example,

  • Target’s “Expect More. Pay Less.”
  • Wal-Mart’s “Save Money. Live Better”
  • Home Depot’s “More Saving. More Doing.”

Sure, consumers are looking for ways to save, but what in these taglines truly drives differentiation? And is that important? I think it is. I think this lack of distinctiveness show lack of creativity and becomes background noise.

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