8 Values You Should Steal From World’s Best Brands

You have a brand and you want it to be successful. You know that brand image is not something that successful brands “get” from somewhere, it’s what they create by themselves. So, you need to create a brand image that comes ‘from the inside’, that reflects your company’s values and standpoints.

But where to start? What should your brand be like? “Best”, “excellent quality”, “providing great value for consumers”?

Here are 9 values that describe the world’s most successful brands: Google, Apple, IBM, Microsoft, McDonald’s and Coca-Cola. We researched for the core values of these brands and picked out the ones that they have in common.

 

1. Quality as top priority

 

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Apple: We don’t settle for anything less than excellence in every group in the company
Coca-Cola: Quality: What we do, we do well

The world’s most successful brands value quality as their top priority. They know that perceived quality is also one of the main elements when measuring brand equity, and also one important factor which makes consumers select a particular brand in front of its competitors.

Although quality can be measured in different scales – high quality vs. shoddy quality; best in category vs. worst in category; consistent quality vs. inconsistent quality; finest quality vs. average quality vs. inferior quality – it is worth aiming to be associated with only the best results on those scales. Perceived quality level determines consumers’ attitude to the brand and also the brand’s general equity.

 

2. Focusing on innovation

 

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Apple: We are constantly focusing on innovating.
IBM: Innovation that matters – for our company and for the world.

Research shows that firm innovativeness influences product innovativeness and instrumental brand benefits. In addition, it has positive effect on symbolic brand benefits and partnership value as well. Innovation is an advantage, but in today’s markets you can even say that it is a pure necessity for every company.

Some scientific research indicate that brands that are perceived as being innovative, make the company look more credible and expert, more attractive and trustworthy.

Thus, brand innovativeness has much wider impact than just on the one side of brand image. It significantly enhances consumers’ attitudes towards the brand in general.

 

3. Knowing the importance of customer experience

 

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IBM: Dedication to every client’s success.
McDonalds: We place the customer experience at the core of all we do. Our customers are the reason for our existence. We demonstrate our appreciation by providing them with high quality food and superior service in a clean, welcoming environment, at a great value. Our goal is quality, service, cleanliness and value (QSC&V) for each and every customer, each and every time.

Research has found out that customers who had the best past experiences in the transaction-based business (like Apple or Coca-Cola), spend 140% more compared to those who had the poorest past experience. The same applies to subscription-based business (like Netflix and Spotify) – a member with the poorest experience has only a 43% chance of being a member a year later, while a member who has one of the top experiences would have a 74% chance of remaining a client for at least one more year. In conclusion, several studies confirm that in today’s world it is all about creating the customer experience.

Of course, the number 1 brand mastering the art of customer experience is Amazon, outperforming even luxury brands like Moët & Chandon, Mercedes-Benz and Tiffany.

 

4. Being self-critical and ready to change

 

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Apple: We have the self-honesty to admit when we’re wrong and the courage to change.
Microsoft: Self-critical, questioning, and committed to personal excellence and self-improvement
McDonalds: We strive continually to improve.

Being self-critical (viewing your brand honestly) and developing yourself constantly is a central issue in personal branding – among the smallest brands who often need to fight hard in order to survive. However willingness to change is important in case of big and already-successful brands as well.

Jack Welch, the former CEO of General Electric, has said that “Willingness to change is a strength, even if it means plunging part of the company into total confusion for a while”. He seems to be right.

The willingness and ability to respond to market changes, challenges and opportunities is one of the core characteristics of successful global brands. The Interbrand Best Global Brands 2013 study has said it nicely: “The brand should have a sense of leadership internally, and a desire and ability to constantly evolve and renew itself.”

The world’s most successful brands seem to know and accept it.

 

5. Doing rather less, but doing it well

 

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Apple: We believe in saying no to thousands of projects so that we can really focus on the few that are truly important and meaningful to us.

As a famous Danish physicist and Nobel Prize winner Niels Bohr has said: “An expert is a person who has made all the mistakes that can be made in a very narrow field”, narrowing down your field of operations is a first step in becoming an expert.

Specialization leads to well-defined focus and requires staying in your core business, developing yourself in this certain area, researching the specific customers and their needs and expectations, and being thus more productive. Last but not least – it allows a brand to ask a price premium.

 

6. Not afraid of challenges

 

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IBM: IBMers love grand challenges, as well as everyday improvements. Whatever the problem or the context, every IBMer seeks ways to tackle it creatively — to be an innovator.
Microsoft: Willingness to take on big challenges and see them through

Most successful brands don’t take thoughtless risks, but they aren’t afraid of new challenges either. Microsoft expresses its willingness for challenges, IBM claims to LOVE grand challenges.

But what kind of challenges? Starting from small, everyday-challenges that employees have to solve in their jobs, to the wider ones that have to be dealt with on the company level.

A study from February 2014 indicates that the biggest challenges facing executives in the current year include customer experience, employee engagement, deploying strategies, and skill development for leaders and managers.

 

7. Being honest and ethical

 

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Microsoft: Integrity and honesty
Coca-Cola: Integrity: Be real
McDonalds: We operate our business ethically. Sound ethics is good business. At McDonald’s, we hold ourselves and conduct our business to high standards of fairness, honesty, and integrity.

Just like in other relationships, honesty and trust are in the heart of customer relationships with companies as well. Honesty towards company’s own workers, towards its clients and wider audience – this alltogether creates a perception of integrity and honesty of a firm.

As Michael Lowenstein has said: “Trust has become an essential, differentiating element in creating customer loyalty behavior. In fact, trust may well be the only truly sustainable competitive advantage for an organization.”

Being sincere, trustworthy and ethical often leads to positive feedback and referrals from the customers. “Without trust and authenticity, companies can quickly find themselves back to square one with their customers, where everything they offer – price, design, convenience, service, etc. – can easily replicated by competitors.”

It is thus essential for a brand to communicate its nature and values honestly, and that’s what the most successful brands have done.

 

8. Passion

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Microsoft: Passion for customers, partners, and technology
McDonalds: We are committed to our people.
Coca-Cola: Passion: Committed in heart and mind

Probably the last value is the key why truly successful companies have got so far. Being passionate about what you do is the number one thing customers notice and what separates great brands from the average ones. People notice passionate brands and that inspires them becoming passionate and loyal towards these by themselves as well. All the other values (innovation, quality, ethical behavior etc) lost their meaning when a brand is not committed to its work (or to its vision, employees, customers and significant others).

However, some marketers doubt if companies should use this p-word to differentiate themselves from others. Passion alone doesn’t guarantee quality, and thus the word is often exploited by companies who may have a lot of energy and dedication for their work, but who still lack expertise, tools or something else to fulfill its customers’ needs.

When everyone claims to be passionate, the word loses its meaning and becomes a clichè. Passion is something that consumers should notice in your eyes and behavior by themselves, and be then positively surprised.

 

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Of course, it can be argued about how well these most successful brands have managed to respond to these values in reality. For example: has IBM always been focused on innovation? Has Coca-Cola always been acting honestly and ethically?

However, a brand image in consumers’ minds may be and often is different from the values that brands communicate by themselves in their brand identity. In addition, values meant for company’s employees and organizational functioning may differ from those that are visible to the consumer side. Nevertheless, the values that are expressed loudly, have their impact on the brand, and thus it is always benefitial to take a look at the success stories in the market – even if it is just to get some inspiration 🙂

 

Photo credits: penjelly, Nathan Rupert, camknows, Gadgetmac, Neil Moralee, Matt, stoha, Cristian Dina.

9 Reasons Why You Are Losing Your Loyal Customers (Or Might Be Soon!)

Once upon a time, in the “good old days”, there was an unwritten law – when a brand did its job well and delivered good quality products so that its customers were satisfied, the brand could count on a number of loyal clients. They came back to buy more, to buy frequently and they suggested their friends to do the same.

Today many researchers and marketers must admit that these days are over. One recent study from Canada revealed that about 75% of the respondents had switched away from a “preferred” brand in the past year, and nearly 70% are planning to do it during the year ahead. Similar conclusions about the decline of loyalty have come from many recent studies, so can we talk about loyalty at all any more?

Here are 9 common reasons why you are (or might soon be) losing your “loyal customers”.

 

1. They Are Getting The Same Quality For Lower Price Elsewhere

One comprehensive study conducted in the U.S. has shown that brand loyalty has been decreasing for years already. Their report from 2014 says that “one out of five “Must Have” brands were downgraded during the recession because consumers were drawn to lower-priced brands and private labels.” When they don’t perceive the quality difference between national brands and store brands (which is in some categories true in case of 9 out of 10 consumers!), then of course the cheaper one ends up in their basket.

Yes, consumers still are price sensitive or at least they try to spend rationally!

 

2. They Are Reading Product Reviews Online

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Personal great experience isn’t enough any more. A PwC study found that 80% of consumers do some research online before making major purchases by reading product recommendations, reviews etc. As the technology and websites are developing every day, we do not just have a lot of information out there waiting for us, but this information is also well-structured and thus relevant for us.

So, having positive feedback online is absolutely necessary, but when your competitors also have positive reviews, it’s a big chance that your loyal consumers will get curious and try them out. Will they fall in love with these new brands or come back to you – you can’t be sure!

In addition, because all the data about your competitors products and customer service is so easily available, you are now evaluated against the best experiences on the market. It doesn’t matter if your budget or market share is so much smaller than in case of market leaders – when your customer gets her best experience from there, she expects it from you as well. It’s all about quality now, and information about it moves fast through social networks and Internet in general. Thus, weak brands are punished faster and more severely than in the past.

YOU have to be the best.

 

3. They Just Are Not Emotionally Attached To Your Brand (Any More)

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A Norwegian study distinguishes between affective and emotional attachment to the brand. The study has found that when the customer is emotionally tied to the brand, then she has the highest probability to buy the brand again in the future.

The same is found also before, in many other studies: f. ex. that emotionally very loyal customers visit their favorite brand stores 32% more often and spend 46% more money than those without emotional bonds and so on.

So maybe your brand has just lost this spark that made the consumers love you? Rational reasons can’t substitute this, they need to FEEL the emotions tied to your brand!

 

4. You Have Paid Too Much Attention To Attracting New Clients

It is easy to count the new likes on your Facebook page or new clients buying your product. However, the hardest part is to keep the “old ones”, those who have been quietly consuming your products for a long time. Don’t try to fix it when it’s working already? – Nope.

In almost every study we have conducted in the telecom sector, some respondents have complained about that their service provider seems to have forgotten them. They attract new customers with much lower prices, free smartphones and tablets, while existing loyal customers (who also notice these offers!) are left aside.

Research has shown that a loyal customer base can melt away in just 12 months.

Are you sure that your loyal customers haven’t felt the same?

 

5. You Haven’t WOW!-ed Your Loyal Customers For A Long Time

Be generous towards your loyalists. They prefer you because they consider you special. So you have to show them that they have a special place in your heart as well.

Just like in a good marriage – try to wow! your loyal partner once in a while. In addition to the warm and helpful communication (customer service) that is needed on a daily basis, send your fans something that would suprise them in a positive way. Something that they didn’t expect but that would give them the signal that you appreciate them. Besides the increased loyalty coming from such a nice act, the customer will most probably share this great customer service experience with others too.

However, the present doesn’t have to be overly expensive, but in line with your brand’s quality perception. For example Yamaha suprised its customers who had bought a digital piano by sending them a free sound modul months after the purchase. Cosmetics’ company Bare Escentuals gives their loyalists personalized gifts at random times and of course on their birthday.

Invite your loyal fans to a special event organized just for them, or just send them a personally signed Christmas card from your company’s main office. What is important, is the feeling it creates.

NB! As some research shows, delighting your customers is worthless when you do a lousy quality job on your regular basis. So, first things first: offer your clients great products and customer service before you start suprising them with this “little extra”.

Loyalty is earned by meeting and exceeding expectations. Do that, and you can maintain loyal customers. (Edward Hare)

 

6. Your Focus Is Too Much On You And Less On Your Customers

Shift the focus: be loyal towards your customers, instead of waiting for them to be loyal towards you. Put your customer in the middle of your communication, finding out about her needs, dreams, habits and preferences. Personalization is here the key – you have to know your customers to offer them what they as individuals would love.

Social media provides very good tools for this, getting into dialog with your brand fans instead of the one-way communication about your products. Use it smart!

However, the issues of Big Data remain: a lot of customers are concerned about the information you collect about them, when they find out about this and think about it.

Maybe you have heard about the case in Target, where an angry dad approached the store’s manager:

“My daughter got this in the mail!” he said. “She’s still in high school, and you’re sending her coupons for baby clothes and cribs? Are you trying to encourage her to get pregnant?”

The manager didn’t have any idea what the man was talking about. He looked at the mailer. Sure enough, it was addressed to the man’s daughter and contained advertisements for maternity clothing, nursery furniture and pictures of smiling infants. The manager apologized and then called a few days later to apologize again.

On the phone, though, the father was somewhat abashed. “I had a talk with my daughter,” he said. “It turns out there’s been some activities in my house I haven’t been completely aware of. She’s due in August. I owe you an apology.”

Their experience has teached them to continue collecting personal information about their customers but to hide it, so it doesn’t look so obvious to the client side:

“Then we started mixing in all these ads for things we knew pregnant women would never buy, so the baby ads looked random. We’d put an ad for a lawn mower next to diapers. We’d put a coupon for wineglasses next to infant clothes. That way, it looked like all the products were chosen by chance.”

“And we found out that as long as a pregnant woman thinks she hasn’t been spied on, she’ll use the coupons. She just assumes that everyone else on her block got the same mailer for diapers and cribs. As long as we don’t spook her, it works.”

 

7. You Haven’t Really Listened And Reacted To What They Have To Say

Tied to the previous one (personalization), your brand has to really show its loyalists, that their opinion is listened to and valuable. You have to show that you are willing to adjust yourself to the customers’ needs.

That is an important result of a recent research conducted among the Millennials: 52% of Millennials want brands that are willing to change based on consumer opinions and feedback. 44% want to have open dialogue with brands through social channels. 38% want brands to be more about the consumer and less about the brand.

So, in case of the today’s youth and probably also other consumers, you have to listen to their feedback and respond to it in a human and personal way. When you forgot (or are afraid) to do it, your competitors will – and they will improve their brand image, get the most valuable information and thus competition advantage in front of you.

 

8. They Think They Can See You Through

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As Mark Coldstein once put it: “People hate advertising in general, but they love advertising in particular“, this is still true, and becomes even more true year after year.

It’s information overload, advertising overload and constant researching going on everywhere. We use surveys to find out what consumers want, track data about their behavior, use neuroscience measures about their reactions and unconscious motivators, and different types of marketing actions (included subliminal advertising) to make them behave the way marketers want. Thus, it’s no wonder people have become cynical and sceptical about brands’ attempt to sell them something.

Consumers love those marketing pieces that distinguish from others in a good way and are believable. But when they suspect that the real cause behind your marketing campaign is actually not what YOU say it is, your loyalists quickly change their mind about your brand.

That’s what has recently happened with the Lego and Shell partnership, where Lego added a collection of Shell-branded toys in its product line. This activated Greenpeace members who revealed Shell’s attempt to clean up its disreputable image that Shell has got by its nature-damaging actions in the Arctic – by using children!

Even if you haven’t planned or done anything wrong, you have to be extra convincing and open, to be believed.

 

And the last and the worst option:

9. You Really Have Tried To Cheat A Bit

In this summer, a premium-priced brand conducted a nice campaign in social media and announced the rules for this competition. Unfortunately the timing was wrong (it was in the hottest summertime when almost everybody was away from their computers), the campaign had had some technical barriers and maybe they didn’t advertise for it as much as needed either. As the final deadline came, they had a very modest number of participants and shares. However, those who had participated, were mostly the brand’s loyal customers, who were emotionally attached to it.

The deadline when the results should have get announced, went by (it looked like they wanted to lengthen the contest period at least a little). After the deadline, they changed the participation rules so that they wouldn’t have to give away so many prizes (for a failed campaign). If so few people saw it, what damage could it make to “cut the costs” a bit, right?

Yes, in a big picture, no real harm was made, the number of likes and shares on the Facebook page is the same. Except the brand lost some really attached consumers, who used to admire it and talk about it to their friends. Now they are hurt – who would want to admit having preached something that was not worth it? Something they believed in for its identity and values, and considered expressing their own personal self?

Passionate but frustrated users are like a boomerang that you have thrown away, believing that it won’t come back to you. Consumers are smarter than you think, and most probably then can see you through. Don’t even think about it.

 

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Photo credits: David O. (CC), Carly Lesser & Art Drauglis (CC), Alex (CC)

 

Brandicom Meetup 2014 in France

Brandicom has been a totally remote project since its very first moments. Nobody of us has worked in an office from 9 to 5 to develop Brandicom. Instead we have chosen to work together but from the place and at the time that suits best for each of us separately. 99% of the time the whole team hasn´t even been in the same country. And to be honest, before this meetup we had never even been together under the same roof!

In the beginning of June we suddenly came to the idea to meet up somewhere, at some nice place in the middle of Europe, to work together and of course to have some fun as well. Thank you for the inspiration, Buffer and Automattic! 😉 As it was the beginning of summer, we all agreed that this meetup should take place somewhere where it´s warm and sunny.

[6/8/2014 10:33:17 AM] Helen Eikla: I found a cool place in Marseille, where we could all meet
[6/8/2014 10:33:27 AM] Mare Loos: oh yes, southern France sounds like super great!

We used Housetrip.com to find a nice apartment in the center of Marseille, France. It was on the 16th floor and we were promised “a panorama view over the city and to the sea“. Perfect. We quickly booked the place, bought the plane tickets and reserved a week in July for our first meetup in Brandicom´s history. Wohoo! (I guess it´s pointless to note that all the ongoing projects started to progress much better after this!).

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When we arrived to our new home on the 16th floor, it was a really strange feeling to see some of our team members for the first time. We had worked together for almost a year, gone through several smaller and larger projects and discussed about almost everything while doing it, but seeing somebody in real life still gives a somewhat different perception of each other.

Another suprise that followed was tied to our working habits. Remote workers are remote workers, even when they are organized together in one apartment. After the first round of socialization and agreeing about our goals for the week, we suddenly discovered that instead of working together, everyone had “disappeared” – hidden in their own quiet corner, to work alone on their “own thing”. One of us closed the door behind her and promised to “come back in a few hours when the work is done“, the other moved to work alone in the kitchen, one of us put the headphones on and dived into music.. “Hey, wait, we were supposed to work TOGETHER or what?!” 🙂

In the next day, the situation was a bit better:

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Our main goal for this meetup was to create something together, from the start to the end. We managed to do this – now the Brandicom model has a new section of emotions mapping, grounded in previous scientific research.

But to make things more interesting, we constantly set up some smaller challenges for ourselves. For example, we agreed upon that by the end of the week we speak French well enough to order food/drinks in a restaurant. None of us knew anything about French before the meetup (okay, we knew how to say “bonjour” and “merci”, but that was it), thus at first this challenge sounded nearly impossible. But by the last days: check! You can only imagine the satisfaction we got from this new skill 😉

Another task we agreed upon was that everyone of us makes a presentation about something that inspires her. This required both self-discipline and dedication, but also taking responsibility: to find an inspiring topic and decide that “NOW it´s the moment when I´m ready to spread this inspiration to others!” And of course, it was interesting to listen to these presentations and discover the passions of the presenters.. I´m sure this was the beginning of a tradition at Brandicom meetups 🙂

We had some other smaller challenges as well. For example the decision that even in the middle of the hottest French summer and after a long day outside, we should ignore the elevator and climb the stairs to the 16th floor (preferrably carrying water bottles!). Or that OF COURSE we go swimming inside a moderately cold water in an unknown little harbor, because all the locals did it as well. Or our 2 hours long climbing in the mountains with the belief that at the end of the road we will experience something extraordinary (which we really did):

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Actually, in this week we extended the boundaries of comfort, but were then rewarded with such experiences that we would not get from anywhere else. Those smells, tastes and this beauty! Those delicious croissants and cakes melting in the mouth, cheese, ham, macarones, crepes, wine.. And on the other hand new knowledge and the joy that came from sharing it all. Did I already mention that the keynote speaker of one evening was Seth Godin?

I think that this meetup can be well summarized by this quote that we found from Marseille, next to a statue of a deer standing upside down:

Remember, remember your first journey… It often starts when you bend over and have a look between your legs, with your head upside down. You then realize that this so familiar world has been completely reinvented through this acrobatic posture. It has become suprising, disconcerting, exciting… A true journey! (Luc Dubost, “Gast Away”)

Summer – a good or a bad time for advertising?

Summer is such a contradictory time for marketing and advertising. On the one hand, in the climate where are 4 seasons, most of the year people usually can´t wait to have summer again. Especially if you live in a northern country where there are basically 6 months of bad skiing weather in a row. You don´t only want a summer then, you NEED it. You idealize it, you dream about it and once the temperatures rise above +20 degrees Celsius, it gets almost impossible to sit in an office and continue working.

Using the images of summer in advertising should bring positive thoughts in everyone´s mind. (It´s like puppies and children, isn´t it?) And what kind of brand wouldn´t want to be associated with something that puts a smile on consumers´ face?

However, on the other hand when it´s real summer outside, everyone escapes from their computers. To the nature, to the beach or just to say ´hello´ to the grandma who lives outside the city. This means shutting down the desktop computers, moving away from our regular tracks on the streets (where we notice the outdoor ads) and letting our TVs get covered with dust. Although we carry our little computers in our pockets, we are just not motivated enough to pay attention to brands and their ads around us. It´s summer, give me a break!

In market research you can tell what´s the weather like outside only by looking at the response rates. Unlike other people, we are glad when we hear that it´s going to rain a day or two and ruin this cloudless hot summer vacation everyone has. 🙂 At least someone then comes back to her old routine and notices the efforts that marketers have done to catch her attention!

I have collected here some print ads that express the positive summer feeling. It´s almost a half of August remaining of the “official” summer period, I nevertheless hope you enjoy it to the last bit!

Difference between the perception of TV commercials and print ads

There has always been talk of how new forms of media are driving out the old ones. Interactive media will assume the position of televised media, as it involves the viewer to a much greater degree than watching TV does. When television first arrived, it was seen as more effective than radio, given that it provided an extra dimension, namely image. And radio, in turn, is considered more effective than print media. But does that actually apply to advertisements as well?

Contrary to this idea, studies have shown from early on that watching a TV commercial is a passive activity, whereas looking at a print ad is active. Television involves the person to a very small degree. This means that while watching a TV ad, the person gets few spontaneous ideas where he or she relates the content of the commercial to his or her own life.

One reason for this lies in the fact that when reading a text, you control your own time and attention – the reader can decide for him- or herself when to turn a page and what to focus on. With television, there is no such control. Furthermore, upon the first viewing, the watcher has no idea how interesting the commercial might prove, and hence he or she has a passive wait-and-see attitude.

This topic has also been studied by means of neuropsychological methods. Examination of brain waves confirms that the main electrical brain response depends more on the type of media (whether it’s a print ad or TV commercial) than on the content of TV ads. It turns out that looking at a print ad generates rapid brain waves, whereas watching a TV commercial produces slow brain waves and is therefore a passive activity.

A visual observation of brain waves also shows that the wave amplitude with print ads is consistently about five times larger than that associated with TV commercials. The higher waves generated by print ads may be explained by the fact that the person looking at the print ad must make an effort to adapt his or her eyes to a nearby stimulus (image). In addition, a tension is formed in the neck muscles, as the viewer turns his or her head and tilts it slightly forward. Therefore, it might be just the strain necessary for reading in general.

Nevertheless, studies of brain waves indicate that in case of a print ad, the viewer makes an effort to learn something from the ad. With a TV commercial, on the other hand, the viewer is passive – if the commercial communicates something to him or her, it’s all well and good, but if it fails to do so, there’s no problem either. The commercial ends and the viewer will make no further effort to re-watch it with double the attention (as he or she would in case of a print ad).

Due to this fundamentally different way of viewing, the behavior of people viewing TV commercials and print ads is slightly different as well. If TV audience encounters something or somebody they have previously seen on TV (i.e. have passively let play out before their eyes), they experience a moment of surprise: “A-ha! I have seen this before!” This is the first time they have an active response to the thing in question. As a TV audience, they haven’t had a chance to reflect on what they saw, and hence this outburst of response is vague and formless, spontaneous and often seemingly immature. Thus, it can be said that upon a later encounter with what was seen on television, the TV audience is more active (albeit clumsier) and more experience-oriented.

The viewers of a print ad, on the other hand, have had time to ponder over what they saw and develop their own opinion. Should they then have a real-life encounter with what they saw in the ad, they already have a prepared and “mature” answer. At the same time, they haven’t received all of the pieces of information that the TV audience got, and hence there are many aspects of the thing/person seen in the ad that they are not aware of and do not respond to. Accordingly, the viewers of print ads have a narrower and more specific attitude: they either respond in a deliberate manner or do not respond at all. Upon later contact, they are more passive, more discriminating, more mature and more oriented to information/message.

Although researchers have tried to disprove the claim that watching TV is always a low involvement activity, they haven’t succeeded. It is doubtful whether there is any systematic processing of the ad by the viewer. TV commercials do not sufficiently motivate the viewers to pay the commercial enough attention to be able to become convinced by it. Consequently, if TV ads have an effect at all, it is mainly subconscious.

Nevertheless, it cannot be said that a low level of involvement in 100% negative. TV commercials still work – in the year 2000, the average American saw 95 TV commercials a day; in 2010, about an hour’s worth of TV ads and promotions was “consumed” each day. There are various rational justifications for this (e.g. reaching a broad audience at a relatively low price). At the same time, it has been argued that the low involvement level of TV commercials can even be advantageous for the advertisers. The reasons for this are as follows:

1. Psychological experiments have demonstrated that an emotion is communicated more effectively when less attention is paid to the ad, since a low attention level prevents the development of counterarguments. Hence, TV commercials are more successful at imparting an emotional content to the viewers.

2. Neurological studies have found that the most effective ads are those that appeal to our irrational impulses, such as emotions and sex drive. These ads have an effect on our subconscious even while we’re in a passive state in front of the TV. Therefore, emotions are important and the potent ability of TV commercials to (inconspicuously) communicate emotions is the key factor behind the success of this medium.

3. And finally – if the viewers pay less attention to an ad, they don’t process it as thoroughly and can watch the ad for a longer time without becoming frustrated and bored by it.

To sum up, the way TV commercials and print ads are perceived is remarkably different, and that also goes for the viewer who receives these ads either consciously or subconsciously. A TV ad does not involve or teach the viewer; however, it cunningly uses emotions to work it influence 🙂

When tempted to choose bigger advertising volume over a more expensive copy

Every marketer has faced the dilemma of how exactly to allocate the money intended for the advertising budget. How to find the optimum balance between two items of expenditure – whether to invest more in the (better-quality, more convincing, more appealing) copy, or increase the volume, to make sure that the message sinks in?

The bigger the advertising volume, the larger the sales – is that always the case?

To find out the answer, ads for packaged commodities have been tested. A copy that has failed to generate the anticipated sales is shown to the target group in different volumes. The aim of the test is to determine if the advertising volume affects sales. Or more precisely, is it true that the more the advertising volume is increased, the bigger the improvement in sales?

The concise answer is that there is no such unequivocal relation. If the sales don’t improve after the ad is aired, the problem lies somewhere else and a more vigorous pounding won’t save the day. Even if the advertising volume is tripled, there is no increased likelihood of an improved sales volume.

Perhaps, then, the sales depend on the competitors’ advertising volume and whether or not it can be surpassed? Comparison with the competitors has not indicated such a connection either. Increased advertising volume is not predictive of improved sales. Advertising is important, of course, but only to a certain extent. The fulfillment of sales goals cannot be guaranteed with an increased volume; rather, a correction needs to be made somewhere else – in brand or copy strategy, media strategy, of the product category in general.

Small brands need volume

However, it can work in one exceptional case. Namely, with new, unfamiliar products that need to enter the consumers’ field of vision. These are small new brands that are characterized by a lower-than-average (assisted and spontaneous) profile and weak brand image. As long as they are nobodies to the consumer, a loud media entrance will certainly improve their current poor sales.

Another feature of these brands is their goal to increase penetration (i.e. the number of people who buy the brand’s product at least once). This makes sense, as a small consumer base is typical of new small brands of little renown. Accordingly, reliable advertising tests confirm from several different perspectives that the only ones who can benefit from an increased advertising volume are brands that are little known to the consumers.

More penetration for the small, higher purchase frequency for the big

Unlike large brands, a small brand can occupy a new market by means of advertising. Small, little-known brands aim to increase consumer penetration and attract new clients, whereas a major brand can no longer accomplish that. Its penetration ceiling has already been met.

A big brand benefits the most from advertising if it manages to increase purchase frequency among the existing loyal users. Or if it maintains its current market share, even if the sales volume does not increase substantially. (Let this be of solace to all marketers of major packaged food and commodity brands who have had to witness stagnation in penetration numbers, although their marketing activities have been nothing short of exemplary.)

The advertising techniques and expectations of big and small brands should differ accordingly. A small brand can target its current non-consumers and convince them to prefer this particular brand over the competitors. A major brand, on the other hand, should appeal to all of its existing users and help them find reasons to buy this brand more often.

Don’t compromise on the copy to increase advertising volume

Studies have shown that the content of the copy is even more important for new and little-known brands than it is to major ones. First impressions matter also in the world of brands, determining whether or not there will be subsequent sales. This is paradoxical, because although small brands usually have a very narrow marketing budget, they in particular should invest equally in the copy and in spreading it as widely as possible.

With major brands, on the other hand, the question cannot even arise. It makes sense to invest in a good-quality copy right away; otherwise the flaws of the copy will be impeding the attainment of the brand’s goals during the entire airing period. These flaws cannot be compensated with an increased volume.