Search Results for: case study

BNBranding golf industry marketing case study (GNL Golf — Lady Lake, Florida)

Golf industry marketing and advertising (a case study)

Let me tell you a success story from the golf industry. Not a rags-to-riches thing, but a success story, nonetheless.

It began back in the golden age of golf, when Johnny Miller and Jack Nicklaus were battling with even older greats like Arnold Palmer and Sam Snead.

John S. Ford was a young, hippy prodigy who worked in the custom club department at MacGregor Golf. He made clubs for the top-name pros, and made a name for himself in the golf industry.

Fast forward 30 years…

John Ford’s still making hand-crafted golf clubs, but for the average, retired golfer out of a shop in Central Florida that he called The Golf Institute.

When I met Ford he was running an inefficient, old-school operation.

No different than most golf industry marketing and advertising. He relied entirely on word-of-mouth, and he spent at least 45 minutes pitching every person who walked through the door. His closing rate wasn’t bad, but he also scared off a lot of people. It was not an efficient system.

He knew he needed a better method, so we went back to the drawing board. Together.

The first step was to discover the heart of his business. Show me your soul and I’ll show you your brand. It’s a proven process that appealed to Ford’s analytical nature.

While Ford studied marketing I studied his business. I witnessed the miraculous work he does with lousy golfers. I went through his process myself. I felt it all… Skepticism, curiosity, hope, and finally, my own ah-ha moment.

Then I wrote the book on Ford’s brand.

We narrowed his audience. We identified the key storytelling element, the archetypes involved, and a pyramid of marketing messages.

It was a crossroads, both for Ford’s business and for his golfing customers. They could stay on the common path of frustration, or they could take a more direct route to lasting improvement.

Our insight proved that it’s not about club heads, shafts, or even Ford’s engineering prowess. It’s contentment after every round of golf. It’s hope, preparation and payoff.

The name “Golf Institute” didn’t jive with the core brand concept, so step two became a quest for a new business name.

That’s where Ford and I disagreed.

“Golf at the Next Level” was not my first recommendation. Nor my second.

It ranked low on our “memorability” scale. And it didn’t have a nice ring to it.  (Also low on the audio quality scale.)

But it’s very literal, which he liked. And the tag line, “Up you go,” sealed the deal for him.

While our designer was working on the brand identity, I was showing Ford how he could transform his selling process from a time-sucking nightmare into a money making proposition.
BNBranding case study golf industry marketing
“Why don’t you do classes,” I suggested. “Get 10 or 20 people at a time and have them pay you to hear the sales pitch. Wouldn’t that be a lot easier?”

That’s how the “See Putt Sink” putting workshop was born.

Ford wanted to keep the classes simple, so we came up with the minimum viable product… For just $29 Ford would change your perspective on putting forever.

That’s a value proposition that resonates.

We built a website that pushed prospects to the putting workshop and enabled them to sign-up and pay online.

Then we did direct mail and local newspaper advertising to push traffic to the website. Everything is integrated, with the same messaging and the same graphic style.

Anyone who contends that print advertising is dead should talk to John Ford. Every little ad that he runs in the local paper fills up weeks worth of workshops. The ROI is indisputable.

The biggest challenge with the advertising was the amount of information, and the process of elimination. Ford wants to say everything, in every ad. We prefer brevity.

He wants to explain. We want to entice.

Today, 93% of Ford’s revenues come directly from the workshops. His sales pipeline stays as full as he wants it to be, and he doesn’t have to spend time making individual sales pitches.

Not only that, his closing ratio has improved.

The people who attend his classes are more informed because they’ve been to his website. Their expectations are set, they ask better questions and they’re more primed to buy.

So in a nutshell, Ford has an efficient new sales pipeline that’s constantly full of well-qualified leads. They pay him to listen to his sales pitch, and he closes 80% of those who attend a class.

Wouldn’t you like to have that business model?

It’s easy, and it costs a lot less than you might think. In fact, the first meeting is free.
Just click here to schedule a call. 

3 Keen brand strategy on the brand insight blog BNBranding

Keen Footwear is a great branding case study. If the shoe fits.

Keen brand strategy on the brand insight blog BNBrandingApparently, I have peasant feet.  At least that’s what the nice sales person at REI told me… Back in medieval Europe, peasant’s feet were short and stubby, with toes that were close to the same length. The nobility, on the other hand, had narrow, pointy feet, with toes that tapered off like an Egyptian profile.

Keen shoes seem to be tailor-made for peasants. But I don’t think that’s part of the brand strategy at Keen.

I’ve purchased two pairs of Keens for work, one pair of sandals, and two pairs of light hikers because they fit my feet perfectly. I’ve never heard anything from Keen about fit. ( Or about catering to peasants, for that matter.) Instead, the Keen brand strategy revolves around the theme of the “hybrid life.” Continue reading

Clients

Case studies from some of our recent clients…

Branding in the natural foods industry

Client: Leslie’s Organics — Petaluma, CA

 

Brand: Coconut Secret

 

Initial Assignment: Update an old, outdated website.

 

Solution: Launch an ecommerce operation and turn the website into a profit center.

 

Leslie Caren was drawn to BNBranding through the Brand Insight Blog.

“When I read John’s article on the yin and yang of marketing, I just had to connect with him,” Leslie said. “I knew we needed to update our website, but John and his team ended up delivering much more than that.”

It was a classic case of delivering what’s best for the client, rather than what the client thought she needed.

Coconut Secret did not have its own ecommerce store, and we would have been doing her a disservice by not proposing that. So it wasn’t a case of migrating old content onto a new website, they needed a whole new approach to their online branding.

“They really went above and beyond, with a new tagline, new photography, new shipping methods and a whole new way of doing business.,” Leslie said. “I never dreamed we’d have this type of online store. Their service has been tremendous.”

 
BN Branding

 

 

Golf Industry Marketing

Client: GNL Golf — Lady Lake, FL

 

Initial Assignment: Rebrand the Golf Institute and create the company’s first website

 

Solution: Build a new business model that turns the sales pitch into a money-making educational service.

 

John Ford has been a client since 2006. We started with brand strategy, a value proposition and brand identity, then continued with a website, point-of-purchase advertising, direct response and print advertising. He’s one tough customer.

“Marketing is kind of an obsession of mine,” Ford said. “I’ve studied it. I’ve read tons of books. And I worked with big-name advertising guys all across the country, but I keep going back to this little Bend advertising agency.”

“They have a process that I like, and they always deliver what they say they’re going to. And damn… some of the advertising they’ve done for me is just brilliant. We have more leads and a better sales process than we’ve ever had before. We’re killing it with our putting clinics.” Read more about the GNL case study here.

 

 

BN Branding

 

Marketing in the natural foods industry

Client: Azure Standard — The Dalles, OR

 

Initial Assignment: Increase ad revenues in the company’s quarterly catalog.

 

Solution: Revamp the publication, launch a content marketing effort, and build industry goodwill.

 

Results:  Increased advertising revenues 10x in just 12 months.

 

Azure Standard is a national distributor of natural foods and organic products. We devised the Azure Indie Partner Program that targeted Azure’s vendors, industry partners and potential vendors in order to build the Azure brand from the inside.

“Sometimes the best branding projects aren’t focused on end customers,” said Debbie Pantenburg, CMO at Azure.

“What John created was a strategically brilliant concept that transformed Azure’s position in the industry. He connected suppliers, team members and customers in a common cause. The idea went right to our core values, and helped define a business model that differentiates Azure from the competition.”

“John was a key partner on the marketing team. He was also instrumental in the launch of our content marketing effort and advertising.”

 
BN Branding

 

 

Real Estate advertising and branding

Client: Morris Hayden — Bend, OR

 

Initial Assignment: Naming, brand identity and website design

 

Results: Successfully launched a new brand in a highly crowded market

 

Morris Hayden is a property management company and real estate brokerage in Bend, Oregon. We created this brand identity for them and built a highly functional website that differentiates them at a glance.

“Bend is overrun by realtors, investors and property management companies, so it’s tough to stand out,” said Erika Morris, owner of Morris Hayden.

“There are also a lot of companies that specialize in websites for realtors, but those sites all look the same. That wasn’t going to cut it for us,” Morris said. “We needed the site to be just as functional as all the rest, with the MLS listings and all that, plus it had to look different.

“The idea of Rosey the Riveter was perfect for us. We get compliments on that site all the time. It’s an integral part of our business.”

 

BN Branding

 

Branding and advertising in the software industry

Client: SaleFish Software — Toronto, CA

 

Initial Assignment: Build a new website

 

Solution: Rebrand the company with a new identity, new value proposition, new website, new sales materials and digital marketing.

 

Results:  Stay tuned…

 

We talked with Rick Haws for two years before he decided to pull the trigger on a new website. His company’s one of the entrenched leaders in the proptech arena, and he needed some help taking SaleFish to the next level.  In order to go global he knew he needed a better web presence. But he also needed a whole new way of looking at his value proposition.

“John was very thorough, in his process, and he determined that we needed to change the way we sold our software,” Haws said. “In a nutshell… We quit selling the nitty-gritty features, and started focusing on the outcomes that we achieve for our clients.  And the response was immediately positive.”

The BNBranding team devised all new messaging, a new brand identity, new website and new collateral materials. Work is ongoing on an animated explainer video, info graphics and digital marketing to drive traffic to the new site.

“I’m very, very happy with the new branding. It’s all coming together fabulously,” Haws said.

 
BN Branding

 

 

Bend, Oregon advertising agency software industry case study

 

Client: Black Butte Ranch

 

Assignment: Brand re-fresh, advertising, resort signage, collateral, direct mail.

 

Results: A record number of heads in beds

 

We literally wrote the book on the Black Butte Ranch Brand. We also ran a ground-breaking radio ad campaign, devised seasonal promotions and produced new signage throughout the resort.

“When I was at Black Butte Ranch  BNBranding was our advertising agency of record. They started out by doing the research and writing the book on the Black Butte brand. Then they refreshed our brand identity, produced new signage throughout the resort, and did some great advertising for us. Their work put heads in beds and helped us increase our golf revenues.”

“I think the radio campaign that John did for us was some of the best radio work I’ve ever heard. It was “out there” for Black Butte and yet it was right on brand. The story telling, the script writing, the choice of talent… it was amazing.”

 

BN Branding

 

 

 

Branding a Non-Profit Organization

Client: Working Wonders Children’s Museum

 

Assignment: Launch a new non-profit brand from the ground up… Naming, identity design, advertising

 

Results:

Launching a start-up is hard. Launching a start-up non-profit organization is even harder.

BNBranding was the advertising agency that helped build Working Wonders Children’s Museum from the ground up. We devised the name, tagline and brand identity, helped with fundraising and board development, wrote their mission statement and acted as the museum’s ad agency. We even helped create and build the playful, hands-on spaces in the museum itself. It was a labor of love.

 
BN Branding

 

 

Marketing to Restaurant Owners

Client: The Where To Eat Guide — Bend, OR

 

Initial Assignment: Create sales materials and a pitch deck

 

Solution: An integrated, in-your-face campaign that opened up two new markets.

 

The owner of The Where-To-Eat-Guide wasn’t afraid to offend restaurant owners. He hit them right between the eyes with ads, email, direct mail and printed sales materials that helped him expand his publishing business from Bend, to Portland, to Seattle and eventually Napa.

“I didn’t think I needed a branding firm,” said John Herbik. “I figured I could do a lot of it myself, with just some freelancers. But I need to thank John for his insight on branding and marketing. The stuff he did really got attention and opened a lot of doors for my sales people.”

 

BN Branding

examples of copywriting from BNBranding

 

 

 

 

 

 

Here's what they say about us:

 

“As a CFO, I’m pretty leery of branding firms. Most of them just end up costing the company a lot of money, without any measurable results. But John Furgurson has a good head for business and he grasps the importance of results. His batting average is very good. Plus, he looks for ways to save money, not just spend it. I wish we would have spent more with BN Branding, and less with the other firms we’ve hired.”

Carl Rigney

CFO and franchise owner
 

“From a branding standpoint, we were pretty well lost before we hired BN Branding. They’ve helped us organize our product lines, create a comprehensive brand strategy, and design two fantastic brands. It’s been a great combination of strategic consulting and creative design… I’ve been very impressed.”

Dan Corrigan

Organic 3
 

“As an interior designer I really appreciate the art and craftsmanship of the work they do at BN Branding. Their design work is meticulous and very well thought out. John Furgurson is the consummate professional… always delivers what he says he’s going to deliver. They did my website and some very nice printed sales materials. It’s first rate. I would definitely recommend them.”

Lisa Slayman

Slayman Cinema
 

“My “aha” moment with BN Branding was truly remarkable.  They helped me recognize a far broader application for my product.  They also went above and beyond with their namestorming process and came up with Kittigan Crossboats. My relatively small, early investment with BN Branding was immensely worthwhile.  John is a skilled strategist with some mad creative skills. “

Michael Grant

Kitigan CrossCanoes
 

“We didn’t think we needed an ad agency, but when we found BN Branding, our website was in a state of emergency. They took great interest in our products and took the time to get familiar with our business model and our clientele. John came up with the new name and logo. And when the site was finished and launched, our selling proposition was much more clear, which led to more online sales without the “pre-call”.  I would recommend BNBranding to anyone looking for any marketing.”

Scott Beydler

Beydler CNC
 

BN Branding News

Big things happening for our client in the proptech software industry.

July 16, 2019

SaleFish Software is a SAAS company out of Toronto that serves residential real estate developers. Rick Haws, SaleFish CEO, hired BN Branding initially to do a new website. However, as the research & discovery work progressed we determined that SaleFish needed to rebrand itself in order to achieve the goals that Rick set out.

The scope of work has progressed from a simple website refresh to a new brand identity, collateral materials, video production, content marketing and digital advertising.

“I’m very happy with the new branding,” Haws said. “It came together perfectly… with the new logo and the new site, and some new sales materials… now we’re poised to expand our global reach.”

 

Bend branding firm redesigns GutPro packaging

Jan 2, 2019

Organic 3 Inc., makers of Gut Pro probiotics and owner of Corganic Ecommerce has hired BN Branding to design a new brand identity and packaging for their GutPro line of probiotics and enzymes.

 

 

Bend, Oregon advertising agency BN Branding chosen to help launch a new health benefits company in California.

Nov 15, 2018

Bend, Oregon branding firmIncentive Health of Bakersfield, California has hired BN Branding to help them stir things up in the health benefits arena. The Bend, Oregon branding firm is working on a brand strategy, go-to-market plan, website, sales materials and a tactical marketing plan for the new company.

“This is a fantastic opportunity for us to help create a disruptive new brand, from the ground up,” said John Furgurson, owner of BNBranding. “We’re going to change the way CEOs look at health benefits. It’s exciting.”

Until now, CEOs have faced a difficult decision when doing their annual review of health benefits.

“It’s always been a trade off,” Furgurson said. “They had to choose between their people and their profits. It’s a no-win. But now there’s an alternative to that.”

 
 

BNBranding launches new website and ecommerce store for Coconut Secret

Aug, 2018

BNBranding website for Coconut SecretWe’re proud to be working Leslie’s Organics, makers of the Coconut Secret Brand of natural foods. Leslie and Randy chose BN Branding to launch an ecommerce website and provide tactical marketing assistance.

Coconut Aminos is the nation’s #1 selling brand of soy-free Asian condiments. They also have a delicious line of candy bars, chocolate bars and granola bars, all sweetened with coconut nectar. So we’re getting some tasty photography for that. (Thanks to Mike Houska, at Dogleg Studios.)

www.coconutsecret.com

 

Read more news »

Some of the brands we’ve helped over the years…

Brand identity design by BNBranding


Black Butte Ranch brand identity design by BNBranding


Coconut Secret logotype and tagline by BNBranding

Print advertising for Desert Orthopedics by BNBranding




client list of BNBranding

advertising and content marketing for Azure Standard

BNBranding client list

Advertising for Bend Cable - now BendBroadband

Broken Top brand identity by BNBranding

Advertising for COPA in Bend, Oregon

trade advertising for Clif Bar

golf industry branding by BNBranding


About

Smiles make sales. Disarm them with optimism, and build on a friendly platform of genuine passion.

 

As an advertising agency, here's what we're all about:

Progress, across the board. We can take your business to a whole new level. We get results by applying our strategic thinking and creativity in three key areas:

Branding. We build new brands from the ground up with a thorough brand strategy, brand name, brand identity, brand story platform and on-going branding campaigns. We also turn ordinary businesses into iconic brands.

Advertising. We’ll never abandon our roots in the advertising agency world. We produce effective advertising in all forms, but as our name implies, our branding efforts go deeper than that. It’s creative work based on solid, strategic thinking that touches all facets of your operation.

Marketing management. We help business owners navigate the complex landscape of modern marketing by integrating all the pieces and providing exceptional client services.

We’re here to help you succeed. Simple as that. Nothing gets us more fired up than seeing our clients achieve their dreams.

Get Started.

Here's who we are:

John Furgurson, CEO/Advertising Agency Creative Director

John Furgurson branding expert bend oregon advertising agency ownerJohn’s been called an anomaly… A creative guy with a penchant for business. A poetic entrepreneur.

He can devise an insightful strategy in the morning, and craft award-winning ad copy over lunch. He has a left-brain, right-brain one-two punch that few marketing executives offer.

John cut his teeth writing direct response ads — where sales were the only litmus test of success. From there, he worked for several Portland-area advertising agencies on a vast array of print and radio campaigns.

John also did a stint in the video industry where he wrote scripts and helped produce long-format videos and direct-response TV for big, national brands.

John Furgurson CEO of bend oregon advertising agencyEventually, John moved to Bend, Oregon to raise his kids and strike that delicate balance between work and play.

His first Bend advertising agency was named AdWords, which worked out well when Google decided they really, really needed that URL.

So he rebranded the firm.

BNBranding has touched many of Oregon’s most iconic brands, such as Black Butte Ranch, Sunriver Resort, and Bend itself. John and his team have helped plan, manage and execute marketing programs for companies across the U.S. and Canada.

John shares his expertise regularly on the Brand Insight Blog, which he’s been writing since 2007.

Find John Furgurson on LinkedIn:

Elissa Davis, Art Director/Designer

Elissa Davis bend Oregon branding expertIn this day and age, inspired design often takes a back seat to the bells and whistles of modern technology. Too bad.

We believe subtle, aesthetic considerations have a pronounced affect on your brand and your overall business. That’s why Elissa’s been a key team member at BNBranding since 2005.

Elissa has the uncanny ability to absorb brand strategies and translate them into gorgeous, relevant design work.

Over the years, she’s been the design talent behind many award-winning brands, like the playfully random eBay logo, for instance, and the brilliantly simple Malibu Country Club brand identity.

Elissa’s talents extend far beyond logos, into print and web design as well. And she sweats every detail. From the psychological effects of a color change to the usability implications of a specific website font, she works with the precision and care of a true craftsman and artist.

Erik Zetterberg, Web developer

EZ head shot for websiteErik’s our web master/programmer/technology consultant. Here’s how it usually goes with Erik…

We approach him with our initial concepts for a website or a digital advertising campaign. He tells us it can’t be done. No way. Then we go back and forth arguing the merits of the idea vs. the realities of HTML programming. (We’ll spare you the details on that.)

Eventually Erik goes deep down into some technological rabbit hole, and we don’t hear from him for a couple days. But he always emerges with a workable solution. Every time.

The results are stunning… Websites that look as good as they perform. Web-generated leads that actually lead to something. With Erik’s help you get higher conversion rates and analytics that your CFO will love. It’s better with Zetter. Berg.

 

Raise your right hand. Find your truth. Use it as a competitive advantage.

 

Here's what we believe:

Successful brands have meaning beyond money. They’re built on a solid belief system of authentic values that attract like-minded people.

As an advertising agency, BNBranding is built on these core beliefs:

We believe that creativity is the ultimate business weapon. Inspired, innovative thinking is behind every great brand, from Apple to Zappos. We also believe that it’s hard to be creative when you’re up to your neck in day-to-day operations. Most business owners need a spark from the outside.

We believe that strategy is a creative exercise. Strategy drives the execution that produces results. If you have a me-too strategy, no amount of creative trickeration is going to produce the outcome you’re looking for. Creative strategy plus creative execution is a formidable combination.

BNBranding bend oregon advertising agency branding process

We believe that process matters. This is a service business, so how we work is often just as important as what we produce. We don’t take shortcuts. For us, it’s Insight first, then Execution. Every time. It’s a process designed specifically to produce maximum results with minimal headaches.

We believe that every company needs a seasoned marketing generalist. A generalist can help you navigate the entire marketing landscape and make sure you’re maximizing every marketing tactic by effectively managing the necessary specialists. Something you’ll never get from a digital advertising agency.

We believe in the persuasive power of disruptive words. Fact: The human brain automatically screens out the normal, mundane language of most business pitches. It’s in one ear, and out the other. Creative, well-crafted messages, on the other hand, fire the synapses and trigger an emotional response. Here’s an example of great messaging.

We believe that emotion trumps logic every time. Research it yourself… the latest brain science proves that people make emotional purchases, then use reason to justify the decision. No great brand has ever been built on reason alone. Not one. In branding, it’s what they feel, not what they think.

We believe the marketing mix is more important than ever. The marketing landscape is evolving quickly. Social media provides exciting new ways to tell stories and make connections, but you still need a healthy mix of marketing tactics. Some high tech, some high touch. Some old school, some new school.

We believe in the glory of a good story. Every great business has an engaging story to tell. So tell it! We can help you find creative new ways to spin that tale… in ads, on your website, in presentations, tweets and Facebook posts.Bend, Oregon Advertising Agency

We believe in skeptical optimism. As creative thinkers we’re naturally skeptical, but not in a pessimistic way. We question the status quo in order to move your business upward. Tell us that something can’t be done, that it’s too hard, or too “out there” and we’ll be positively skeptical about that.

We believe Design belongs in business school. Tom Peters calls it “the soul of new enterprise.”  It’s Design that differentiates the world’s most valuable brand – Apple.  It’s Design that made Nest a billion dollar brand. Design evokes passion, emotion and attachment… all required elements of great brands.

We believe in the art of persuasion. Data is a big deal these days. But effective marketing communications still comes down to saying the right thing, and saying it well. A brilliantly crafted combination of words and images will always be more motivating than data. Here’s a relevant case study.

 We believe in the power of collaboration. Advertising agencies can be pretty possessive when it comes to creative work. But great ideas can come from anywhere. We don’t have a corner on that market, so we collaborate with you to uncover ideas and insight that we may never have thought of. Then we take that ball and run with it.

BN Branding

Here's where we choose to work:

Yep, it’s a Bend, Oregon advertising agency, but we serve clients all around the country.

The fresh air, the beauty and the outdoor action in Bend is beneficial to our creativity. It’s the juice that keeps the ideas coming. If you’d like to mix business with pleasure with a visit to Central Oregon give us a call. We can arrange a rejuvenating, brand-oriented business trip that will inspire you – and tire you.

Bend Oregon branding company

Schedule a meeting



Golf Industry

Golf is a tremendous passion of ours. So is advertising. So a golf industry ad agency makes sense. We provide golf industry branding and advertising that produces tangible results. No one knows the golf market better than we do. Forget-About-It!

Ad Agency BNBranding. Golf industry branding and advertising agency. Here’s the case study on GNL Golf

4 ipod branding on the brand insight blog

Successful Branding — Zero-in on the Main Thing for Brand Loyalty.

BNBranding logoI love this saying: “The main thing is to keep the main thing the main thing.”  I think Steven Covey coined that one.

Choose one main thing BNBrandingWhen you boil it all down, that’s the essence of successful branding: Zero-in on one thing you can honestly, passionately, expertly hang your hat on, and stick with it.

Then when it comes to marketing communications, come up with one idea to convey the main thing, and just pound that home in every way, shape and form you can afford.

One idea, multiple executions. Do that long enough — and handle your operations well — and you’ll achieve brand loyalty.

Unfortunately, most business owners and brand managers don’t have that kind of focus. Once they get a taste of success in one little niche, the temptation is just too much… They take their eye off the main thing, and dive into a lesser thing, hoping it will become the next big thing.

It seldom works out that way. The single biggest barrier to success, especially for young brands, is lack of focus.

Geoffrey Moore spelled it out in his seminal work, “Crossing the Chasm: “Target a specific niche as your point of attack and focus all your resources on achieving dominant position in that segment. It’s far better to be the big fish in a smaller pond, rather than flopping around in several small puddles.”

Al Ries and Jack Trout call it the most violated of their “22 Immutable Laws of Marketing.”  They rail against line extensions and point to IBM, Microsoft, Levis, Heinz and this classic case: Crest.

viewdental116successful branding case study on the Brand Insight BlogIt used to be very clear… Crest fights cavities. That was the micro script for the brand. The Main Thing.

Crest was the “first mover” in the cavity prevention category and it was a strategy that worked brilliantly, cementing Crest as the #1 toothpaste for more than 30 years.

Unfortunately, over time, other toothpaste brands entered the same niche.  Everyone started offering cavity prevention toothpaste, so Crest abandoned the claim and didn’t find anything to replace it. After holding almost 40% of the market through the 1970s, Crest’s position began to erode at about the same time they launched their first brand extension”Advanced Formula Crest.”

Now there are 41 different kinds of Crest toothpaste. Count ’em!  Crest Complete Multi-Benefit Extra White, Crest + Scope, Crest Lasting Mint, Crest Pro-Health Clinical Gum Protection, Crest Invigorating Clean Mint, Crest glamorous white, Crest vivid white, Crest baking soda & peroxide, Crest gel, Crest liquid gel, Crest whitening, Crest gum protection, Crest fluoride anti-cavity and sensitivity relief and even Crest Night Toothpaste.

Give me a break. The Main Thing now for Crest is just the next new gimmick. And it’s no longer the #1 brand.

Marty Neumeier in “Zag” says… people want choice, but they want it among brands, not within brands.”

More and more line extensions is not the key to successful branding. All that Crest clutter just dilutes the brand and confuses the consumer. We have no idea what Crest stands for anymore.

It’s natural for successful business owners and marketers to lose focus and start adding stuff to their portfolios of goods and services. They don’t want to miss any opportunities, and they argue that many successful companies have a wide range of products. Apple, for instance.maxresdefaultsuccessful branding examples on the brand insight blog BNBranding

ipod-advertising1But every Apple product is designed around the one Main Thing: Delightful Simplicity. All the innovation, design and technological prowess of Apple comes together in those two words. That’s the heart of the Apple brand.

Remember this spectacular product launch for the iPod? The product design was disruptively simple and elegant. Even the advertising was delightfully simple.

There were plenty of other MP3 players on the market, but the white cord let everyone know you were listening to something different. And the graphic execution of the ads was brilliant. Overall, it was tremendously successful branding.

But you’re not running the world’s most valuable company. And chances are, you don’t have The Main Thing really nailed down like Apple does. When you do, things will become easier.

Ries and Trout say: “Focus is the art of carefully selecting your category and then working diligently to get your self categorized in people’s minds.”  In other words, successful branding is a long-term process that involves more than just the marketing department.

A good way to start is by saying no. Because when it comes to successful branding, what you DON’T do is just as important that what you do do.

Say no to the new investor that thinks you should add a mobile app to your mix.

Say no to the engineers who say “we can do this, wouldn’t this be cool.”

Say no to the marketing consultant who says you’re missing a great opportunity.

Say no to the guy who thinks you should open another location.

Sometimes you even have to say no to your biggest customer. It’s not easy, and it’s often unpopular within the ranks, but that’s what focus is… NOT trying to be all things to all people.

If you’d like some help zeroing in on your main thing, call us. Because focus is the fundamental element of successful branding.  541-815-0075. For more on developing a clear brand strategy, try this post. 

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Non-profit branding (A story of start-up success and failure)

In 2009 I called it “A feel-good brand in a bummed out world.”  It was the type of organization that genuinely touched people, and put smiles on little faces. For me, a few minutes at Working Wonders Children’s Museum was a sure cure for a crummy day. It was also a great example of non-profit branding.

WWLogo - smallOur story of success, and failure, is valuable for anyone who’s starting a new business or running a non-profit organization.

When we started Working Wonders we did a lot things right. It was non-profit branding “by the book” all the way. First, we thoroughly researched the market and determined that there was a gaping need. (We conducted large-sample phone surveys as well as focus groups.)

Once we saw encouraging results from the research, we wrote a mission-focused brand strategy and built a business plan around that. After our strategy was clear, and the business plan written, we came up with a great name, designed a nice logo and put an operational plan in place based on our cohesive brand platform.

non-profit branding case study by BNBranding bend oregon

Print ad for Working Wonders Children’s Museum

At first, it was just a concept. A “museum without walls.” Initially we raised enough money to build some traveling exhibits and we went to every event in town to introduce kids, and their parents, to our brand of educational play.

And it caught on! Before the days of Twitter, it went viral.

Our bootstrapping, “museum without walls” strategy achieve the immediate goal: Proof of concept.

Parents and kids loved it. In less than three years we raised $400,000 and arrived at that crucial, “go or no-go” point. We had a location and we had enough money to open the doors. Just barely.

The argument TO go: We figured it’d be easier to raise money once people could see a finished children’s museum. We knew we could spend years traveling around, trying to raise more money. (Many Children’s Museums spend a decade doing that.) Or we could get the doors open, and go from there.

The argument to NOT go:  We’d be undercapitalized. Cash would be tight, and there was no endowment safety net. We were relying on the on-going generosity of a couple key donors and most of all, corporate sponsors.

We chose to go. Damn the torpedoes!

A team of volunteers scraped up donated materials, did the heavy lifting, and created a children’s museum that was small, but delightful. We launched in less than one-third the time and for one-fifth the cost of most children’s museums. It was a labor of love. A thing of beauty. A non-profit branding success and the biggest accomplishment of my marketing career.

Working Wonders ran successfully for four years. It broke my heart when it had to close because of the economic tidal wave that hit our town in 2009. Despite our best efforts and exceptional marketing, it was not sustainable.

Some people contend it was actually branded too well.

Many customers and community leaders thought we were part of a national chain of some sort. Never mind that our marketing was done with volunteer labor. (mine) Never mind that our advertising was mostly donated space. The general public simply couldn’t conceive of a little, local non-profit doing things so professionally. They figured we had all the money we needed, from some, mysterious, out-of -town source.

But there was no endowment. By the time we identified the perception problem and started addressing it with overt messaging, it was too late.

Our lessons learned from Working Wonders tie-in directly to an online discussion that I’ve been following about non-profit branding for marketing for 501c3 organizations. It’s an informative conversation between branding professionals that everyone can learn from. Profit or not.

One key question that came up:

1.What happens when the public image of a non-profit organization suffers because of commercial branding strategies?

One could argue that’s what happened with Working Wonders. However, there’s more to the story than that.

If not for commercial branding practices the children’s museum never would have opened in the first place. That’s how we were able to touch so many kids. In hindsight, the execution of our marketing was not the issue. We did a great job of reaching the parents of young kids. They came in — over and over again.non-profit branding by BNBranding Brand Insight Blog in Bend Oregon

Unfortunately, in the non-profit world customer satisfaction and brand loyalty doesn’t always translate to financial viability. For children’s museums loyal, repeat customers aren’t enough. They also need loyal, repeat donors who can provide an endowment.

That’s what we missed… the big dollar benefactors. In a town of only 100,000 people those are hard to find, so we relied heavily on corporate sponsorships, and those dried up overnight when the economy tanked.

As the online discussion points out, nonprofits are often torn between two marketing objectives. But the biggest effort HAS to be directed at board recruitment and fund raising.We woulda, coulda, shoulda spent less time getting kids in the door, and more time on a grass roots effort to raise money and load the board of directors with wealthy supporters.

So if you’re working with a small, local-level non-profit, by all means, do a professional job with your marketing. Non-profit branding is absolutely important! But first and foremost, make sure you’re telling your story of need to the right people. Solidify the base of financial support first, then open your doors.

more effective advertising from BNBrandingIt’s always a delicate balance to demonstrate that dire need without looking desperate. That’s your challenge as a non-profit marketer. And keep in mind, if the organization does not appear grass-rootsy, potential donors might jump to unfortunate conclusions about your funding sources.

If you’re in a for-profit venture, look closely at the passion and commitment of the people who help build non-profit organizations. At Working Wonders, we were all deeply passionate about the needs of our young kids. That cause is what fueled us.

What’s your “cause?”  Every great brand has one, beyond just making money. Is it written down somewhere? Is your operational plan aligned with that? Does anyone really care? These are some of the key strategic questions you need to ask yourself, before  you worry about executing your go-to-market plan.

And, of course, you have to balance that thinking with the practical, numbers and sense question of, “where’s the money coming from?”

For more marketing tips and non-profit branding advice, check out THIS post:

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1 How to sell more stuff online.

Awwwww,  the traditions of autumn… Halloween candy, the first snow in the mountains, and holiday shopping. You’ve heard of Black Friday… the mayhem-loving bargain hunter’s favorite day of the year. And “Cyber Monday,” the online equivalent. They’re coming up quickly.

The Wall Street Journal predicts there will be ninety six million online shoppers. That’s almost one-third of America’s population Googling for bargains. And there are probably nine million shopping sites to choose from.

Every e-commerce site from Amazon to Aunt Matilda’s Potato Mashers will get their fair share of the buying frenzy. But most e-commerce businesses could get a bigger piece of the pie, if only they’d do something — anything — to differentiate themselves from pack.

You can’t just regurgitate the manufacturer’s product spiel. You need to customize your pitch, improve your copy, and mix up the words a bit.

Besides a ridiculously low price, what do online shoppers want? Most are looking for information. If they’re not quite ready to fill their shopping cart, they need facts, reviews, articles or some kind of credible content that helps them narrow their search.

Amazingly few e-commerce brands actually fit the bill when it comes to informative content and sharp, convincing copy.

Take ski shops, for instance. I’m in the market for new ski boots, and I can’t even get enough information to research boots on line, much less purchase them. After hours of work I know a lot more about boot fitting, but I don’t know which models are most likely to fit my feet. In fact, I’ve been to every online ski shop I could find, and only one – REI –  provides anything more than just the manufacturer’s stock product spiel.

My final choice: The Salomon with the custom fitting

If you want to establish a successful on-line brand you have to do more than just copy your competitors. You can’t just cut and paste the same exact blurb, same photo and the same specs and expect more market share than anyone else. You have to differentiate your store. Somehow.

You could offer unique products. (Most niched e-commerce sites offer the exact same products as their competitors. But even if you could find something they don’t have, it’s not a sustainable advantage unless you have an exclusive arrangement with the manufacturer.)

You could offer lower pricing. (Tough if you don’t have the volume of Amazon or Office Depot.)

Or you can have better content presented in your own, unique voice. That, you can do!

I have to admit, I’m not even entertaining the idea of buying ski boots on line. (For me, it’s hard enough buying sneakers online.) But if I were, I’d want a retailer that obviously understands the pain ski boots can inflict:

Toenails blackened and torn. Crippling leg cramps. Wasted $90 lift tickets. Ruined vacations. Endless trips back to the ski shop.

Those are the honest-to-goodness repercussions of getting it wrong. That’s the stuff of compelling sales copy. Not bullets from the manufacturer’s spec sheet. But not a single online ski shop capitalizes on those emotional hooks. They’re all just lined up, offering the same brands at the same prices with the same pitch.

That’s not retailing. That’s virtual warehousing.

Early in my career I wrote copy for the Norm Thompson catalog. Before J. Peterman ever became famous Norm Thompson had a unique voice that resonated with its mature, upscale audience. We wrote long, intelligent copy that told a story and filled in the blanks between technical specs and outstanding photography.

When the product called for a technical approach, we’d get technical… I remember writing a full page spread on the optics of Serengetti Driver sunglasses.

For other products we’d turn on the charm and use prose that harkened back to more romantic times.

Helpful.

Heroic.

Practical.

Luxurious.

Comfortable.

These weren’t just adjectives thrown in to boost our word count. They were themes on which we built compelling, product-driven stories. The narratives explained why the product felt so luxurious. Where the innovation came from. How a feature worked. And most importantly, what it all meant to the Norm Thompson customer.

It was the voice of the brand, and guess what? It worked. The conversion rates and sales-to-page ratios of the Norm Thompson catalog were among the highest in the industry.

It’s tough to find anything remotely close in the on-line world. And unfortunately, Norm Thompson hasn’t maintained that unique voice in the e-commerce arena. (If you know of any brilliantly different online retailers, like Patagonia, please let me know. I’d love to add a positive case study.)

Ski boots don’t exactly fit into the category of top on-line sellers. They aren’t impulse items that you need on a weekly basis. They’re heavy to ship. And returns on ski boots must be astronomical.

But on-line retailers could cut down on those returns simply by explaining the single most important thing:

Fit.

Most boots don’t even come close to fitting my feet, so no technical feature is as important as fit. And yet no website that I’ve found provides the simple problem-solving content that says: If you have a D width foot, try this make and model. If you have a high instep, try these. If you have a narrow foot, try these.

It’s not rocket science. It’s just simple salesmanship . The kind you’d get if you walk into any decent ski shop.

And I guess that’s what I’d like to see more of on line. Better salesmanship. At least for the product categories that require more than just a quick glance at the price. Like ski boots.

And one other thing… If you choose to sell like everyone else, at least make your site convenient to use, and functional from a usability standpoint.  I visited one online shop that didn’t even have a working search function. I typed in “Soloman Ski Boots” and got dozens of Soloman products, but not one ski boot. I’ll never go back. Online shoppers often know exactly what they want. Might as well make it easy for them to find it.

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Successful branding – 3 logical reasons why brands need more emotional thinking

BNBranding logoIn the battle between right-brained marketing people, and left-brained finance people, the left brainers usually win. Our entire culture is driven by the left-brained rationalists.

They have data, spreadsheets, and the graphs to support their decisions.

We have gut instinct, intuition, experience, taste, style and emotion on our side. But we also have neurobiologists who can prove that successful branding hinges more on emotional thinking than on logic. In fact, in the three-step branding process — Gut, Heart, Head — the rational head comes in last.

“Joseph DeDoux, professor of Neuroscience at New York University says, “The amygdala can literally hijack our mind and body, causing us to respond emotionally while completely bypassing our cerebral cortex, the seat of conscious awareness.”

Dodge Viper example of successful branding at Chrysler

The Dodge Viper was not an analytical decision.

Bob Lutz, former CEO of Chrysler and Vice Chairman of GM, once said he vetoed the finance guys and made a gut decision to develop the Dodge Viper.

In a Harvard Business Review column, Lutz said “There were those at Chrysler who thought the budget could be spent more prudently, but those of us who looked at it from a right-brained, emotional perspective saw what the car could do for the company.”

The Viper wasn’t exactly a hot seller – only about 500 were sold in 2016, the last year of production. But the world’s first moderately-priced supercar certainly is a case study of successful branding. And there was nothing rational about it.

“The best companies balance the perspectives from both sides of the brain when making decisions. The problems occur when the left brainers wield too much power in senior management,” Lutz said.

So here are some good, logical reasons to embrace emotional, right brain thinking in your business. It really is the secret to successful branding in the long term.

1. There is no such thing as a completely rational decision. 

Don’t kid yourself. Even when CEOs methodically assess every detail of raw data and attempt to be completely rational there’s still an element of gut instinct at work.

Spock-like analysis is tainted by knowledge of who did the spread sheets, where the data came from, what other, similar data they’ve used in the past, and a dozen other factors.

Humans make decisions in the blink of an eye, and every one is influenced by a hundred factors, beyond the facts.

We like to think we’re rational and fair in our decision making, but we’re not. The human brain reaches conclusions before we even know it has happened.

Before any conscious thought or choice occurs, we FEEL something. Something emotional and completely irrational. It might be curiosity. Amusement. Desire. Arousal, Or, quite possibly, repulsion. But whatever it is, it’s not rational.

So before anyone has a chance to analyze any of the facts, the adaptive unconscious has already sent a gut reaction coursing through their veins. The conscious, analytical brain doesn’t have a chance. Therefore, branding success hinges on powerful, immediate, emotional connections.

In Harry Beckwith’s book You, Inc. he says, “People don’t think, they stereotype. They don’t conclude, they categorize. They don’t calculate, they assume.”  And they do it quickly.

Malcom Gladwell’s bestseller Blink is all about that.

2. Simple is better.

An analytical approach to marketing communications is inherently more complex than an emotional approach. And in the battle between complexity and simplicity, simplicity wins every time.

When the guys in the white lab coats start wagging the marketing dog, you get fact-filled ads and mind-numbing PowerPoint presentations devoid of any emotion at all. There’s no heart in it.

successful branding from BNBrandingIn the absence of emotional context, listeners/viewers/users simply check out and move on to something that does resonate subconsciously.

Say you’re pitching a new idea to your bosses, or to a group of investors. You’ve analyzed the problem from every angle. You’ve devised a brilliant solution and written a compelling argument for it, backed with tons of data. But you never get past the snap judgment.

By the time you get to slide #5 of 75, they’ve already made up their minds.

People don’t wait around for their analytical brain to kick in and say, hey, this is worth my time. That train has already left the station. The gut feeling of irrelevance has already won out, and that gut feeling is far more powerful than any most people care to admit.

So successful branding hinges on the gut.

3. Sometimes the data is just plain wrong.

The market research industry has revealed many useful facts over the years. But when it comes to predicting how new ideas or new products will be received, market research data often misses the mark.

examples of successful branding from BNBranding

Market research could not predict the success of this chair

When the Herman Miller Company first designed the Aeron chair, all the pre-launch research pointed to a dismal failure. It didn’t look comfortable. It didn’t look prestigious. People didn’t even want to sit in it.

It became the best selling chair in the history of the company and the inspiration for countless knock-offs and imitators.

The successful branding of the Aeron chair stemmed from the gut reaction to the feeling of sitting in it. Their butts and backs were talking, which led to a love affair of customers who weren’t shy about sharing their passion.

And what about the famous marketing debacle called New Coke…

“Coke’s problem was that the guys in the white lab coats took over,” Malcom Gladwell said.

First, Pepsi launched something called The Pepsi Challenge, and proved that people preferred the taste of Pepsi over the taste of Coke.  It was a brilliant move in the Cola Wars, and it provoked a bit of panic from Coke.

For the first time in history, the folks at Coke started messing around with their famous, patented formula.  They tweaked it and tested new versions until they had something that beat the flavor of old coke in every taste test.

The executives were absolutely sure they should change the formula to make it sweeter, like Pepsi.  The market research showed people would buy it. But as Gladwell says, in the most important decisions, there is no certainty.

It’s not the flavor that sells so much Coke. It’s the unconscious associations people have with it, including the advertising, the shape of the bottle, the brand’s heritage, the childhood memories associated with it… It’s THE BRAND!

New Coke marketing failure

One of the all-time biggest branding failures

The guys in the white lab coats at Coke-a-Cola didn’t take the brand into account, and they could not possibly imagine the fallout.

No one knew how much Coke-a-Cola was truly loved until it was taken off the shelves and replaced with “better tasting” New Coke.

This was 1985 — way before Twitter, Facebook and blogs — and still, the company was deluged with immediate customer rants.  “How dare you!” was the overwhelming sentiment.

Sergio Zyman, CMO at Coke-a-Cola at the time, called it “an enormous mess.” It took the company only 77 days to reverse their decision, and go back to the original, “Coke Classic.”

The fact is, if the leadership at Coke had listened to their instincts, instead of just the data, they never would have done it.

Which brings me back to Bob Lutz who said the all-powerful voice of finance is a familiar enemy to innovation.

“It’s a classic example left-brained thinking shooting its pencil-sharp arrows straight into the heart of right-brained creativity.”

That’s what kills successful branding.

Here’s more on successful branding of the Dodge Viper

For more on the emotional side of branding, try THIS post. 

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6 Porter airlines brand advertsing

Airline Industry marketing (One Canadian brand stands out)

BNBranding logoHere’s a news flash for all of you who are 35 or under: Flying wasn’t always this bad. There was a time when racking up frequent flyers miles was, actually, a little glamorous. You could fly the friendly skies and have a pleasant time. Sometimes the experience even lived up to the airline industry marketing hype.

Sorry you missed it.

In the age of strip searches, baggage fees, dying dogs, laptop bans and physically bouncing people from flights, most airlines are as bad as Greyhound busses. Cattle have it better on the way to the slaughterhouse. Every time I board a flight I think, “wow, there’s gotta be an opportunity here for an airline to do things differently.”

Sure enough, a small airline out of Toronto is jumping in, and turning the clock back to better days in coach.

Porter airlines brand advertsing airline industry marketingIt’s still too early to tell if Porter Airlines will become a long-term success story in the airline industry, but there’s a lot to be learned from their launch. From a branding standpoint, they’ve done it right.

In 2006, Robert Deluce, Porter’s CEO, made a conscious decision to build his airline around the brand, and vice-versa. According to Marketing News, he approached branding agencies with his vision, a business plan and a well-defined value proposition built on three things: speed, convenience and customer service.

Convenience was guaranteed by making Toronto’s City Center Airport the home base, eliminating a long commute from Pearson International.

Speediness comes from fast turboprop planes and streamlined check-in and baggage service. And customer service… well the bar was pretty low, and Porter’s a fairly small airline, so it’s been easy to provide service that one customer described as “a real joy.”

Early on, Winkreative, a branding firm with offices in London, New York and Tokyo, was hired to coordinate the entire affair. They handled everything from naming the company to the interior design of the airplanes, website development and furniture selection in the airline’s lounge.

Rather than splitting it up between three or four firms, it was a well-coordinated effort based on a solid brand premise and a single creative approach. And it’s carried through in every aspect of the operation.

“It was meant to be something fresh, something innovative, something stylish,” Deluce said. “There’s a part of it that’s a throwback to the past… to a time when travel was a bit more fun.”

I love the simplicity of the name. “Porter” conveys how the airline would carry passengers with care and help lighten their load. And the tagline, “flying refined,” sums it up without pouring on the fluff.

Thankfully, the graphic design falls in line perfectly with the idea of refinement. If you say you’re refined, you better look refined!

The sophisticated, subdued color palette and the quirky raccoon character work tremendously well together. Sorta reminds me of Olympic mascots from years past. You can debate the wisdom of using a raccoon, but the design work is fun, distinctive and superbly executed in every medium. No one’s going to forget it once they’ve experienced it.

Porter airlines branding case study airline industry marketingFrom the blog, Design Sponge:

“This Canadian boutique airline is the most well-designed airline I’d ever been on and seemingly every detail had been given a lot of thought (including their adorable lunch boxes and chic on-board magazine named Re:Porter).

In terms of airline industry marketing, and a sophisticated brand design, Porter stands 30,000 feet above everyone else.

But the Porter brand is a lot more than just pretty pictures and a fancy in-flight magazine. From what I’ve heard and read, the entire operation is living up to its brand promise and exceeding expectations.

Travelocity says: “From top to bottom, inside and out, Porter Airlines has raised the bar. This new standard in air travel is evident not only in their ultra-modern facilities, but also in the quality of their staff. Each team member has been specially selected and trained to put travelers first with impeccable and innovative service.”

Nine out of ten customer reviews on SkyTrax are overwhelmingly positive.: “It’s exactly what it advertises: flying in style… thanks for bringing back the type of air travel everyone should experience and expect!”

And after scouring the travel blogs, I couldn’t find a single negative review.

From the World Hum travel blog:  “I loved flying Porter Airlines… A smooth operation, friendly staff, and free snacks. It was a pleasant reminder that air travel doesn’t have to be a succession of minor inconveniences and discomforts.”

launch of Porter Airlines BNBranding Brand Insight BlogMany people have never known anything but discomfort and inconvenience in air travel. So for them, Porter will be an entirely new experience, somewhat foreign and unexpected. And once they’ve flown Porter, their perception of the other brands will be forever tainted.

For older generations, Porter is a throw-back. An emotional trigger that harkens back to a simpler time when all the airlines did a better job.

I haven’t flown Porter, but I hope to. (It’s almost enough to justify a trip to my grandma’s hometown in Nova Scotia.) I hope they can succeed in a tremendously difficult and competitive industry. I hope they can scale up their operation without sacrificing the heart of the Porter brand. And I hope more airlines follow suit.

But I’m not optimistic. Few airlines are built on such a solid brand premise, and most are just too darn big to change direction in any substantive way.  So the opportunity for little carriers like Porter, will still be here for the taking.

If they can just remember those good ‘ol days.

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