Need help growing
your brand?

Call Lee at 212.253.7500

or email lee@digobrands.com

Tag : Advertising Blog

7 Things Challenger Brands Do Differently

The following post is an excerpt from Digital@Speed, authored by digital marketing guru Mark DiMassimo. Visit the official website here to download your free copy today.

Apple. Virgin. Southwest. JetBlue. Crunch. Snapple. Groupon. BlueFly. Zappos. The Motley Fool. What do these brands have in common? They’re challengers, and successful ones at that.

They’ve mastered the art of zagging where others have tended to zig. They’ve taken on the goliaths of their industries and come out on top. The truth is, it’s a challenging world out there, and every marketer these days needs to be a successful challenger or go down.

Market leadership doesn’t create an exception. Look at Citibank and IBM, for example. By becoming their own best competition, they’ve looked like ready challengers, reinvented their businesses and continued to grow.

Here’s what challengers do differently:

1) The top dog is INVOLVED. Intimately.

Some folks think the reason they got degrees and big titles was so that they could independently run their own empire. Some of these people are actually pretty smart. But nine times out of ten, this attitude will do them in.

A boss is not a meddler to be avoided. If you were playing chess, you wouldn’t leave your Queen in the background and try to fight it out endlessly with your lesser pieces. Or would you?

Forget the org chart. Every player on the board is on your team. Use them!

If you want to make things happen @speed, you want the least distance between you and your boss. And you want to access the power your boss has to smooth situations and to make good tactical decisions into great strategic initiatives. Plus, you want the power to change things that you’re not personally responsible for, because changing those things will make all the difference in your ability to create success. So, you bring your boss in as a collaborator and ally. As much as possible, you lead hand in hand. It’s the challenger’s way to use every last person.

2) The advertising conversation and the business conversation are THE SAME CONVERSATION.

Don’t separate what you’re doing from why you’re doing it, even for a moment. You never want to be the one saying, “But we failed with work that was on the strategy we were given!” That is a level of responsibility, but it’s the wrong level.

You want to be responsible for the success of the enterprise. You want the brand and business to reach its full potential. You want to use not just your authority but your influence. Because nothing beats being a part of something great and you don’t want to leave that to chance.

In this context, great advertising is advertising that works for the business and brand. It brings the business strategy to life. It creates the connection that reflects the intentions of the business while both suggesting and fulfilling its promise.

This is where experience meets selling meets branding.

3) The work is seen as the ultimate weapon for conquering the competition.

Where is the unfair advantage to be found? You are not in a position to outspend. You’re not going to break the law. Or trying to change it to favor you. But you can pack more power into the product, the packaging, the service, the story, the propaganda. You can be smarter about the technology, the testing strategy, more ingenious and industrious about the optimizations.

You can win it in the marketplace of ideas. So, do that.

4) The brand is seen as a precious asset and the ultimate defensive fortification against copycats and commoditisers.

Challengers build unique brands and they value them above all else. Customers are intensely loved, but they come and go. Employees are highly valued, but the sort who are attracted to a challenger business can only be held by a great brand. A unique culture and point of view is often the only thing to hold onto in the perfect storm of growth.

A brand is armor and a full tank of gas. A brand is everything. And you only need a business to build one!

5) The VISION of the top dog drives the advertising.

Steve Jobs met every other week for intensive sessions with Lee Clow, the creative chairman of his advertising agency. In the most successful challenger businesses, the vision for the brand and advertising comes from the top. No question about it.

That kind of courage and purity of vision can’t be bought. It can’t be outsourced. No committee could sustain it. For a business that has its founder to get the full advantage of that fact, the vision must be owned and driven from the top.

6) The vision of the agency and the vision of the client are complimentary and synergistic.

The mutual inspiration society should include client and agency, vigorous discussions, sharing inspiration, lots of choices, and plenty of going back to the well.

The most sophisticated team wins.

7) Decisions get made in meetings, not just in between.

In big, bloated bureaucracies, meetings only ratify decisions that are made elsewhere. Which is why most people in those places feel that there time is wasted in meetings. Because it is.

But you don’t have time to waste. So you’re not going to protect your own ego or anyone else’s by pretending for a second to agree with what you don’t. You’re going to have real conversations. In front of whoever is there. And when some people complain about that and they try to negotiate with you to stop the open, inclusive, challenging, passionate dialogue, you are going to say, “I understand how you feel. And, no. Absolutely not. Because that would be replacing occasional discomfort with the endless pain of mediocrity and failure. Which you wouldn’t tolerate for long… you’d be gone. So, no! Let’s just agree to be respectful to each other, to put the good of the work first, and to say exactly what is on our minds.”

 

7 Habits Of Highly Affected People

The following post is an excerpt from Digital@Speed, authored by digital marketing guru Mark DiMassimo. Visit the official website here to download your free copy today. 

Great brands are like great individuals. Authentic. Idiosyncratic. Unique.

But most brands, like most people, fall into bad habits. And the bad habits cost them dearly. To help you avoid them, here are the Seven Habits of Highly Affected people.

1) Trying to be cool. The coolest clients never brief in “cool”. They focus on relevance.

2) Falling into The Aspiration Trap. Usually, you’re not the target audience. Neither is your Hamptons-dwelling agency head. Remember: it’s about the target’s aspirations, not yours.

3) Briefing from the Trend Report. Great brands create trends.

4) Management Fads. Quality is not job one! Professional management has buckets of specialized concepts. They don’t belong in great advertising, even to professional managers.

5) Believing: “You don’t get it because you’re not the target.” Your job is to get it or you shouldn’t be signing off. Period.

6) Wishful Thinking. Advertising can be a tool for leadership. More often it is a reflection of corporate denial. Advertise the target’s wish, not the company’s.

7) Mistake execution for ideas. It’s easy to fall in love with something beautiful, novel, funny, poetic, witty, or profound. Do fall in love. But first make sure there’s a powerful, convincing idea in the middle of all the artistry. If you’re in the right sort of place, your job depends on it.

Most brands have fallen into one or more of these habits. That’s why great brand change agents will always be busy.

 

Inspiring Action Brand Of The Week: Everlane

Have you ever wondered where your clothes come from?

Sure you have.  Maybe you’ve noticed, even examined the tags. Possibly uttered a small sigh of relief when you saw that your shirt had been made in America; dismissed any gut-wrenching thoughts when you saw it had been manufactured overseas.

But what do you know about your clothes beyond that?

Know your factories. Know your costs. Always ask why.

This is the mantra of the newly established clothing manufacturer Everlane, whose mission is to sell high-quality clothing, honestly. They believe every product has a story, and they want to tell it in the most radically transparent way possible.

The idea of radical transparency is demonstrated in their “true cost” for each item – a sum of pricing for materials, hardware, labor, duties and transport. The cost is then doubled (versus marked up 8x, as in traditional retail) for the Everlane price.  Not to mention, they give you extra information on the fit, how the style originated and even facts about the factory it was created in. It won’t be the cheapest item you have ever bought, but not the most expensive either.

Now you might be thinking: wait a minute – what secrets are all the other retailers hiding?

Just by offering all of this information to their consumers, Everlane makes people realize what they don’t know about their clothing and its production process. The current world of retail is tainted with skepticism and distrust because of what is hidden. Exposing the truth in retail production has not only challenged the existing status quo, but it has upped the ante for every other retailer out there.

Before searching ravenously for the nearest location, you might be interested to know that no brick-and-mortar Everlane stores exist. They are online only, to reduce costs even more for their customers. Don’t worry, their website is better than a store – and if you live in New York or San Francisco, they will deliver your clothes to your location, free of cost.

Recently predicted to be “the next J-Crew,” Everlane will be even less of a secret in 2016.

And hey, next time you’re shopping for clothes, do yourself a favor: know your factories. Know your costs. Always ask why.

To see the full case on Everlane, click HERE.

-Ali Chastain, Junior Behavioral Strategist

 

Deeds, Not Words

Today’s Google Doodle says it all. Alice Paul, a leader in the Suffragette movement of the 1910’s, was born today in 1885. The Suffragette movement can teach us a lot about Inspiring Action. People had been talking about a woman’s right to vote for decades. But these brave women knew that talking was not getting them anywhere. So they took action.

They did all the conventional actions that protests are known for. They marched. They organized. It got them some press. But it also got them ridiculed. Indeed, the name “Suffragettes” was first used in a derogatory way by a journalist, adding “ette” to the word suffrage to feminize the idea of freedom and thereby make it oh so cute. “Look at these adorable little women pretending to want to choose their leaders! Bless their pretty little heads!” But instead of fighting against that ridicule, they embraced it. They even hardened the G and began pronouncing it “suffraGETs” implying that they intended to GET everything they were asking for.

 In 1909, Alice Paul and Amelia Brown took a brave action that they knew would land them in jail. They disguised themselves as cleaners at a banquet for English Prime Minister Asquith and other cabinet ministers. When Asquith stood up to speak, Paul and Brown threw their shoes and broke stained glass windows, screaming “Votes for women!” They were arrested and put in jail, where they began a hunger strike. Their jailers force-fed them with tubes.

The movement began selling a board game based on this story. It was called “Pank-A-Squith” (based on the names of Suffragette leader Emmeline Pankhurst and Prime Minister Herbert Asquith). The goal of the race-style game was to reach the Houses of Parliament, the pinnacle of achievement for the campaign for Woman’s Suffrage. But first you had to get through the dark stuff. Like going to jail. And being force-fed. And laughed at. The game was sold in shops and could be ordered by mail. The proceeds went to the movement.

 

Board games were the social media of the time. Imagine daddy being forced to sit and play a game of “Pank-A-Squith” with his wife and two daughters. “Oh, poor Daddy! You’ve been thrown in jail for asking for your rights again!”

Next time you think your brand is too serious to make something fun or to engage in social media, remember Alice Paul and the Women’s Suffrage Movement. What would they do? Roll the dice. You might just win.

-Tom Christmann, Chief Creative Officer

 

Inspiring Action Brand Of The Week: ThePointsGuy

This is Brian Kelly, but you can call him ThePointsGuy.

Screen Shot 2015-12-15 at 11.54.20 AM

Who is he?

Well, as he states in his twitter bio, he’s “living proof that frequent flyer miles and credit card points are not worthless”.

I was first introduced to ThePointsGuy, by our Chief Mark DiMassimo a few short weeks ago. I had just taken a red-eye flight from San Francisco to Newark. Situated uncomfortably in my middle seat, in between a snoring businessman and a mother holding her crying baby, I accumulated a total of one hour’s rest on the five-hour coast-to-coast adventure.

crying-baby

I try not to let snobbish and pompous thoughts infiltrate my conscious, but with a long day of work on the horizon, I couldn’t help but peak my eyes over the seat in front of me and glare into the first class cabin.

Like a child jealous of his best friend’s toy, I thought to myself  “I want that. No, no, I NEED that.”

The idea of kicking my feet up in luxury quickly escaped my mind. As a recent postgraduate, the hypothetical of taking first class excursions is likely more than a decade away, if not more. In my current situation, it’s just outside the realm of possibility.

ThePointsGuy would say otherwise.

Screen Shot 2015-12-15 at 12.15.53 PM

ThePointsGuy would probably tell me about the different champagnes that they offer. He might even tell me about the time a personal Italian Chef named Enrico brought him a Thanksgiving meal while he was 35,000 feet above the Atlantic. But he would almost certainly tell me that he did it all by using earned miles and credit card points, before explaining that if I took his advice, I could too.

And perhaps I could. He makes it all sound so easy with his 10-step process for beginners like myself.

Brian Kelly has been taking advantage of flier miles and credit card points since he was a 13-year old booking his father’s business trips.

DSC00021

This hobby of maximizing points and earning great deals only grew to an obsession when he was flying 180 days out of the year as a Wall Street road warrior. It wasn’t until people started taking notice and asking for tips and advice that he realized he could turn it into a profession, and so he did. In 2011, he kicked the Wall Street gig to the curb and started growing his site, www.ThePointsGuy.com, where he shares his unique skill to 1.5 million visitors a month.

Brian inspired action by mapping the pattern of behavior he wished to change, which is #7 on our list of the ten signs of an inspiring action organization

He knew there was an entire world of luxury travels that people were missing out on, not because they didn’t have the money, but because they didn’t know to properly take advantage of the deals offered to them. And so he sought out to change their behavior. Through his website and social media channels, he began building a following. Now, with over a million devotees, ThePointsGuy is educating the masses on how they too can trade in the hostel bed for a 5-star suite.

Bon Voyage indeed.

Screen Shot 2015-12-15 at 12.16.09 PM

 To see the full case study on ThePointsGuy, click HERE.

– James Nieman, Integrated Marketing Manager