Launching A New Product Or Service? 15 Creative Ways To Showcase It

With so many newly released products and services constantly being announced, it can be difficult for companies to get the attention of consumers when they bring something new to market. Many marketers rely on traditional ad campaigns for launches. In the digital age, however, there are countless ways to garner attention for a new offering. What’s the best way to help it stand out from the rest?

Forbes Agency Council

We asked members of Forbes Agency Council to tell us about creative ways a company can showcase a new product or service being launched. See 15 of their best suggestions below to find out how to make sure new offerings make a splash in the market.

1. Challenge The Current Status Quo

A creative way to showcase a product or service your company is launching is by differentiating from tradition. Take on an expansive view of your customers’ current lives, how they are interacting with the service and how they will benefit from it. Challenge the current status quo to appeal to a new audience and reinvigorate your current base. – Sarah Tourville, Media Frenzy Global

2.Preview It With Your Customer Advisory Board

Your customer advisory board likely provided the impetus for creating it and may have even helped to test it with you. They may have some insights and ideas for how to best communicate its value and reach other prospects as well. – Eyal Danon, Ignite Advisory Group

3. Push The Envelope With Video

Video is the powerhouse. Make it short, original, humorous and authentic. The best content is produced when one is willing to push the envelope. For example, let’s say you have a new line of shoes. Instead of hiring models, hire the best long-legged poodles or labradoodles with colored fur, do a photoshoot and create a video. – Ally Spinu, USA Link System

4. Tell A Compelling Story

For a new product or service launch, companies should create an engaging piece of content that tells the story of the product or service. Explain why you created it and how it will make the potential customer’s life better, easier, etc. There is so much competition for attention in the market right now, so products and services that tell a story stand out. – Aliza Freud, SheSpeaks, Inc.

5. Run Targeted Ad Campaigns Across Social Media

One creative way to showcase a product or service your company is launching is by getting ahead with your digital marketing efforts by running paid content distribution across social media. Paying to get in front of your target audience by leveraging targeted social media advertising campaigns will create the meaningful awareness needed for a successful launch. – Jonathan Durante, Expandify Marketing Inc.

6. Tie It To An Event

If there is a local or national event happening, your company can help support it with a new product or service. This naturally shows the benefits of your new service, but also cross-promotes the event where your product or service will be in action. – Jessica Hawthorne-Castro, Hawthorne LLC

7. Tap Into Existing Viral Conversations

Tap into existing high-profile, highly viral conversations to promote your product or service. If you are promoting a virtual event service, identify popular, real-world examples that you can use to promote yourself. For example, you could repost a Twitter post of Britain’s Got Talent going virtual and suggest that, if they can do it, so can you! – Mike Boogaard, MOI Global

8. Try TikTok If Your Audience Is There

This advice is not for every business, and it’s definitely not for B2B, but if you’re working with your customers directly, have you considered TikTok? With a little creativity and a pinch of humor, you have all the chances of reaching a pretty big chunk of your audience, if not going viral. – Solomon Thimothy, OneIMS

9. Plan A Multi-Touch Campaign

Depending on the magnitude of the product or service, a multi-touch campaign is powerful. Think email, social and direct mail to your existing clients. – Michael McFadden, eAccountable

10. Perform A Live Case Study

A creative way to stand out is to perform a live case study prior to your launch. Customers love to see the proven value before buying a product or service. Using the opportunity as an educational resource will also help spread the news through word of mouth and social media. – Jonas Muthoni, Deviate Agency

11. Host A Virtual Press Conference

New products or services can be launched with a number of creative initiatives, including press releases, videos, short videos for social sharing, digital marketing and direct mailers. Virtual press conferences and promotions help to make it a true “event.” It can be cost-effectively achieved and still keep true to some major tech consumer launches, such as Apple’s. Have fun with it and celebrate it. – Ilissa Miller, IMiller Public Relations

12. Create An Interactive Digital Experience

Create an interactive digital experience to walk someone through your solution. This may be dynamic images with mouse-over information boxes, quizzes, product configurators or chatbots. Webinars provide another great way to engage with prospects through in-session surveys and Q&A. These tactics provide a richer and more memorable experience for prospects as well as opportunities for you to gain market feedback. – Wendy Covey, TREW Marketing

13. Collaborate With Influencers

Collaborating with influencers can be a very effective way of showcasing a recently launched product or service. Having these creators try your offerings early on and sharing with their communities what they really think about it will not only raise awareness directly with your target audience, but also offer them a relatable and trustworthy opinion that can move the needle for you. – Emilie Tabor, IMA – Influencer Marketing Agency

14. Collect Testimonials

Testimonials are a great way to showcase what your company is capable of. The main reason for this is that, when you are sharing what is possible, you will see many new people interested in the products and services that you are offering. – Jon James, Ignited Results

15. Send A Creative PR Package Via Mail

With the digital era that we live in, sending a package via mail definitely holds its weight and cuts through—especially when dealing with the press. Sending a creative PR pack to prospective clients or journalists through the mail, rather than simply emailing them a link to your website and attaching a press release, will put you above the rest. – Adrian Falk, Believe Advertising & PR

How To Bring A Brand To Life: 14 Lessons In Effective Storytelling

An agency doesn’t just sell a product; it builds a story around the item that gives it a life of its own. Effective storytelling is one of a marketer’s most critical skills, and while practice can help you improve your ability to craft a compelling narrative, learning from the masters is an important part of excelling at any art.

Forbes Agency Council

The key is to help audience members see themselves as protagonists in your brand story. Below, 14 experts from Forbes Agency Council discuss how lessons they’ve learned about storytelling have informed their approach to the process.

1. Be Yourself

In other words, remain authentic. I realize this may sound as though I have personified the brand, and that was purposeful. Brands need to have their own identities, and the story behind each brand has to not only be believable, but also true. If a brand is shrouded by mistruths or misleading claims, it will likely not survive, and it will definitely not thrive. – Dave Wendland, Hamacher Resource Group

2. Aim To Inspire And Motivate

Stories should inspire and motivate. A story simplifies complex messages and helps a viewer or listener feel more connected. We have seen a 20% to 30% increase in brand engagement through storytelling marketing. – Mandeep Singh, SEO Discovery Pvt Ltd.

3. Make Sure The Timing Is Right

It doesn’t matter how good a story is, if the timing is wrong, especially in times of turmoil, it will come across as tone-deaf. Keep in mind what is going on in the world and assess whether it will impact how people respond to your message. If you don’t, you run the risk of losing the opportunity—and your audience—completely. – Valerie Chan, Plat4orm PR

4. Incorporate Trust Signals

When telling a story, it’s important to send trust signals that communicate your story’s authenticity. That’s what makes your narrative relatable and believable to buyers. Trust signals include customer testimonials, verification of your story by third-party experts or data and many other forms of validation. Your story simply won’t have the impact you’re seeking if people don’t believe it. – Scott Baradell, Idea Grove

5. Focus On Creating An Emotion

Great storytelling is focused around creating an emotion, and brands need storytelling to create an action toward purchase, sharing, awareness or recall. During the creative process, make sure that the desired action is the focus of the creative, then test and measure prior to launch. Creating a great story without a desired response in mind will usually be a waste of time, resources and money. – Brian Meert, AdvertiseMint

6. Make It Compelling For The Audience

The most valuable lesson I have learned about storytelling is that, when it is done well, it makes others want to retell the story. The story can’t be about the person telling it; the story should be compelling for the audience. If the audience members (employees, customers, etc.) are moved, they will carry the story on to others. – Chris Wallace, InnerView Group

7. Remember That Great Stories Are True

Over the years, we’ve learned that understanding what matters, combined with being honest about what you can deliver, creates brand value. The day a brand starts to follow trends that don’t align with it or makes changes to make customers happy is the day its story starts to become hollow. And, sadly, the brand begins to die. – Bo Bothe, BrandExtract, LLC

8. Reflect Your Brand’s Purpose And Values

Stories that are disconnected from purpose and values will backfire because they won’t be authentic or believable. But when an audience sees a clear connection between your story, values and purpose, the storytelling will be more credible, and your audience will feel an emotional connection with your brand. – Don Scales, Investis Digital

9. Be A Problem-Solver Rather Than An Expert

Being a problem-solver rather than an expert has paid off immensely. People are not interested in digging through archives of information. Tell the story, provide immediate value and help with a challenge your prospect is facing. It’s no different with brand marketing. Position your brand to serve your customers, focusing heavily on creating a buyer-centric experience. – Melissa Chang, PureB2B

10. Don’t Go Out Of Your Way To Reinvent The Wheel

Stories have conventions, and audiences are familiar with those conventions because we have been telling each other stories for thousands of years. Also, high production values are nice to have, but they won’t matter if your narrative is not compelling or emotionally engaging. The content matters much more than the sheen. – Tripp Donnelly, REQ

11. Immerse Yourself In Your Client’s World

The best way to be successful as a storytelling agency is to immerse yourself in your client’s world before choosing words to create their narrative. I’ve spent time on the campuses of education clients, sat in classrooms and been a fly on the wall at staff meetings, and those experiences have helped me understand what truly makes my clients’ hearts beat. – Lynne Golodner, Your People LLC

12. Don’t Make The Brand The Hero

Do you know the most common mistake some brands still make? They make the brand the hero of the story: “Our product does XYZ. It’s amazing; look how many people use it.” This is the wrong approach. What they want to do instead is put the limelight on the potential buyer: “You have XYZ problems, and here’s how you can solve them using our product.” – Solomon Thimothy, OneIMS

13. Provide Value Or Entertainment

When it comes to effective storytelling, a brand needs to realize that, before selling to an audience, it must provide one of two things: value or entertainment. The most valuable lesson I learned about storytelling is to make sure we create a strong foundation for our brand’s persona and the right framing prior to pushing our content. A strong plan will create a strong result. – Garrett Atkins, VIE Media

14. Tell Stories Of Real People

Telling stories of real people whose lives have been positively impacted by a brand or product continues to be one of the most authentic ways to bring a brand to life and reach consumers on an emotional level. Consumers can relate to another consumer’s story and see for themselves how a brand can also enhance their own lives. – Jessica Hawthorne-Castro, Hawthorne LLC

How To Ensure Authenticity In Marketing: 12 Critical Tips

Consumers have to deal with so much advertising daily that they are very particular about the ones they listen to. Thanks to the sheer volume of marketing efforts, buyers have become clued-in to what inauthentic marketing looks like. Consumers treat businesses that try to perform inauthentic marketing with disdain, and modern cancel-culture can lead to massive PR disasters.

Forbes Agency Council

If you want to connect with your clients, you need to do it in a way that resonates with them authentically. Below, 12 members of Forbes Agency Council share several critical tips to help businesses be more genuine in their marketing endeavors.

1. Make Your Customer The Superhero

If you make your product or people the superhero, you’re putting your brand above your customer and looking down at them. This positioning makes you appear inauthentic and untrustworthy. In your marketing, the superhero is always your customer. Your product or service is the tool that enables them to achieve the superior results they’re seeking. – Douglas Karr, Highbridge

2. Understand Your Brand Promise

Businesses should first of all understand their brand promise. What is it that their consumers expect of them? What is their core philosophy? What is the brand’s DNA — not its ideal, but the truth of its culture and impact? Once that is known, any message that strays from that brand promise will be inauthentic. – Stefan Pollack, The Pollack Group

3. Project What Your Brand Stands For

Every clever marketing campaign should project the heart of the brand and what it stands for. All marketing projects must be consistent in messaging to truly connect with the consumer and showcase the values of the brand, ensuring authenticity. – Jessica Hawthorne-Castro, Hawthorne LLC

4. Develop A Brand Style Guide Early On

Branding is storytelling, and authenticity and consistency are key. Developing a brand bible and style guide early is a helpful tool to crystallize your story. You should include elements like positioning, mission, pillars, dos/don’ts, visual identity, etc. These will serve as a North Star internally and will also enable partners, agencies and other extensions of your team to know your story. – Marc Becker, The Tangent Agency

5. Gather As Much Feedback As Possible

What you think customers want and what customers actually want are not always the same. Gather as much customer feedback and engagement metrics as possible to learn how they talk about your product/service and what they want or need from it. Use that information to build a marketing strategy and you will be sure to resonate with your target audience in an authentic way. – Donna Robinson, Collective Measures

6. Focus On Providing Value And Educating

The single best way to have authentic marketing is to give value first. Instead of always trying to sell, sell, sell, make sure you take the time to educate. We pride ourselves on our blog, training and learning hub. We give access to all of them for free because we believe in value first. If we can get our customers to trust us, then the selling will come even easier later in the funnel. – Marc Hardgrove, The HOTH

7. Feature Your Subject-Matter Experts

People trust people, not brands. It’s important to look for ways to feature the subject-matter experts behind your company because it’s easier for someone to connect with a person than a brand. People want to buy from people they trust, and learning about your founders’ stories, values and experience can help build that trust. – Kelsey Raymond, Influence & Co.

8. Have A Story With A Human Touch

Make sure your brand has a story with a human touch. Showing why customers need your product or service is not enough, you have to connect with them on a deeper level — and that’s where storytelling comes in. What’s the story behind the brand? Why does it exist? When your brand has a proper story behind it, you’ll win the loyalty of consumers and that’s priceless. – Randy Soderman, Soderman SEO

9. Focus On Product Benefits, Not Features

Authentic marketing always focuses on product benefits, not product features. To ensure authenticity, first understand how your product makes the customer’s life better, easier or more enjoyable; i.e., the product benefits. Then ensure that marketing content focuses on telling that product benefit story. This approach helps your marketing content resonate and keeps it authentic. – Aliza Freud, SheSpeaks, Inc.

10. Keep Your Message And Tone Consistent

Keep your message and tone consistent. If you’re clever, be clever. If you’re snarky, be snarky. It’s the inconsistency of this tone that can sound fake. If the written content on your site is a bit casual and loose, but the videos on your site are overly “corporate,” your brand will reek of inauthenticity. Clever and catchy are OK, but don’t do it halfway. – Bernard May, National Positions

11. Always Test Before Launch

Even the best creative can have a blind spot, so it’s critical to test before launch. Test it! Too often, campaigns come out without input from a variety of demographics. If you want to be authentic, you must first test it with your internal team and collect feedback based on how it makes them feel and how they expect the outside world will react. – Kathleen Lucente, Red Fan Communications

12. Don’t Be Afraid To Be Vulnerable

Be vulnerable. Nobody’s perfect, so if your marketing suggests that you are, it will always come off as inauthentic. I saw a restaurant that advertised that its rooftop bar was “well worth the three flights of stairs.” That’s clever and self-deprecating in a way that resonates with consumers. – Scott Baradell, Idea Grove

7 Smart Ways To Assess The Quality Of Your Brand’s Content

Anyone in or adjacent to the marketing world knows that “content is king.” Everything you create and share with the public should always be of high quality, as it’s a representation of your brand and is what will draw people to your business. But with a never-ending demand for branded content on your blog, social media channels and website, how can you be sure that each piece is top-notch before it goes out?

AdAge Collective

We asked the members of Ad Age Collective to share some unique ways to gauge the quality of your work before it gets published. Here’s how they recommend assessing your content.

1. Set clear standards.
In order to assess anything, you need to have clear standards. This goes for content as well. So, create a clear set of standards that cover things like tone, visual elements, key messages, restricted topics, etc. Standards may need to vary by media type. Then, the key is to have someone other than the content producer assess the content against the standards. – Dan Beltramo, Onclusive (formerly AirPR)

2. Make content on-brand, on-strategy and interesting.
High-quality content, like all marketing, answers three questions with a resounding “yes.” Is it on-strategy? It must have a clearly defined goal, target audience, etc. Is it on-brand? From logo usage to the tone of the messaging, it must look, feel and sound consistent. Is it interesting? It must be unmissable and unskippable, which is easier said than done. – Chad Robley, Mindgruve

3. Show the true worth of your content.
Make sure your audience can see the true worth of your content by making it different and clearly better than the competition. Connect to solutions people seek now, and show the impact it will make on key profit and loss line items. Once that happens, then your content quality is above par and it puts you on the path to being one-of-one (and not one-of-many). – Arjun Sen, ZenMango

4. Read it out loud.
This is such a simple step, but reading your content aloud helps you understand how it sounds to others. You’ll find any awkward phrasing or repeated words. Hearing your content spoken aloud also gives you the chance to assess if it’s conversational. It becomes easier to make changes to make it sound better. – Syed Balkhi, WPBeginner

5. Test it out with a focus group.
Test your content and images with simple online focus groups to quickly see what resonates the best. This will help you determine which content is of the highest quality and connects best with your audience for the brand message you are trying to project. – Jessica Hawthorne-Castro, Hawthorne Advertising

6. Put it in front of non-marketers.
Content is primarily the function of the marketing department. The risk is that piece of content comes across as too salesy or bloated when it comes solely from a marketing team without vetting. A good quick trick to see if your content is quality is putting it in front of other team members before publishing. My personal favorite: engineers. They’ll always tell you if a message is grounded enough. – Patrick Ward, Rootstrap

7. Make sure the right consumers see it.
Part of producing quality content is ensuring it resonates with the right consumers, but equally important is making sure they see it. When producing content, writers and promoters need to be on the same page about distribution, what part of the funnel it represents and what persona it targets. This plan, produced for all content, is a prerequisite for reach and efficacy, and therefore also quality. – Reid Carr, Red Door Interactive

Stumped On Your Business Name? 8 Tips For Choosing The Right One

You’ve identified a need in the market, a product or service to fulfill it, a business plan to guide you and a team to make it all happen. You have everything you need for success — except a name for your startup. A business name should be memorable, descriptive and unique, which can be a challenging set of criteria to fill at once.

The members of Ad Age Collective know the importance of a brand name, as well as how to come up with a great one. Below, eight of them share their best advice for testing and choosing names for your company, product or service.

AdAge Collective

1. Test ideas with your audience.
There are so many factors to naming, such as inspiration, branding, legal and more. The real hurdle to get over is subjectivity. Years of experience can cause bias. Fresh ideas won’t reflect historical cycles. From the list, select your top picks and test them with your audience. Aren’t they the ones who matter at the end of the day? Use their insights to cut out consensus and inspire great work. – Nicole Oliha, City National Bank

2. Create mock-ups.
Creating design mock-ups of your products with the potential brand name can be very impactful. It will make your name more real. You can also print out content with your name and possible logo to get a feel for it. Then, when you’ve spent some time with it, you can get a sense of whether your name will work in the long run. – Syed Balkhi, WPBeginner

3. Brainstorm as much as possible.
It’s a volume play to find the needle in a huge haystack of established businesses, existing trademarks and purchased URLs. Brainstorm like a mad person. Scribble everything down without editing yourself. Make up words like a modern-day Shakespeare. With hundreds of options on the wall, you can begin to narrow down the list based on the names that both reflect the brand positioning and are currently available. – Chad Robley, Mindgruve

4. Explain what your product is.
If you’re launching a complicated product to market with a limited budget, sometimes choosing a descriptive name can be helpful. A descriptive name does some of the heavy lifting on the marketing side. – Jessica Hawthorne-Castro, Hawthorne Advertising

6. Reflect your passion and excitement with a story.
Names can be literal or creative. It is up to you to build it over time. It must reflect your passion and excitement, and you must have a story to tell. My daughter came up with the name of our business, ZenMango. Her logic was “zen” is a position of wisdom and rhymes with our last name, “Sen,” and “mango” is the world’s fastest-growing fruit and allows us to migrate current brand colors. When asked about our company name, I love telling the story with pride. – Arjun Sen, ZenMango

7. Make sure the name is available.
The mistake many business owners make is thinking that the name matters. What matters far more with a name is if you can claim the appropriate digital assets. Running a Google search along with a social media check for the availability for your particular name is crucial as you begin to market your business. Don’t stress on the name itself; make sure you can claim your digital real estate first. – Patrick Ward, Rootstrap

5. Weigh descriptive names against generic.
Begin by deciding if you want to choose a descriptive name, like “Precision Tools,” or a generic name like “Amazon.” Descriptive names are often helpful early on because they require less explanation, but they can be confining if you think your business will grow into new areas over time. Some names like Netflix are abstracted enough to provide a bit of latitude in both directions. – Dan Beltramo, Onclusive (formerly AirPR)

8. Ensure it doesn’t feel ‘wrong.’
Don’t get hung up on finding the perfect name, because rarely does any name feel totally right at first. However, it is critical that you make sure it isn’t wrong. Always confirm that it is culturally sensitive, isn’t confusing, is available and so on. People often mistake that a name is a brand, but the company, culture and behaviors will create the power behind the name and make it “right.” – Reid Carr, Red Door Interactive

Need To Reinvent A Beloved Brand? 9 Important Steps To Take

No matter how well-established a brand is, there may come a time when it needs to reinvent itself. Whether the company is working to keep up with modern sentiments or reach a new target demographic, the process of reinvention should be carefully considered and implemented. Otherwise, you may end up alienating the very customers who built your brand in the first place.

Reinvent Your Brand - AdAge

To help businesses that are considering a rebrand, we turned to the experts of Ad Age Collective for their insights. Below, they share nine steps a company should consider when reinventing a well-known brand.

1. Leverage your historical emotional insights.
When brands need to reimagine their future, it is important to understand why customers had an emotional connection to the brand in the past. Leveraging that emotional insight to refresh the branding and marketing around a product in a new light is often where you can start. – Kristen Anna Roeckle, Concentric Health Experience

2. Conduct research and reinvent based on data.
Reinventing a well-established brand doesn’t mean starting from scratch. Be sure to conduct research with your customers to find out what they currently think of your brand. What parts of your brand are still relevant? What parts need to go? What do customers believe you can credibly stand for? Use a fact-based approach to create a refreshed brand that audiences will connect with. – Aaron Hall, Siegel+Gale

3. Involve your existing fans and employees.
Reinvention can be exciting, but for some it means changing the brand they have come to know and love. Avid fans and employees should be considered in any reinvention plan. How do you ensure continuity and inclusion for this passionate base? Involve them early and bring them along for the ride. This will ensure they are not left behind and remain ambassadors for the new brand. – Maggie O’Neill, Peppercomm

4. Expand the audience, but don’t alienate the core.
We are frequently tasked with repositioning a well-established brand to reach a younger demographic. An important step in this process is to consider options for a reinvention that avoid alienating the existing core consumer. For a brand that has established equity, new strategies should expand brand relevance to a younger audience, not leave long-time brand fans behind. – Issa Sawabini, Fuse

5. Test your strategies first.
When reinventing your brand, it’s vital to test the changes you’re going to make. Make sure that you do your research and test your new brand image with a small group of your core audience. Continuous testing and getting feedback will ensure that you don’t alienate your core audience. It will also help you make changes in the right direction. – Syed Balkhi, WPBeginner

6. Go back to your ‘why.’
Brands often need to reinvent themselves because they either lost their way or their momentum fizzled. They probably lost their way because they lost their “why.” Or, they lost their momentum because they lost their drive. If companies can retrace their steps to remember why they started the business in the first place, they can inspire new direction or refill the tank with passion. – Reid Carr, Red Door Interactive

7. Make sure you have a clear path to engage new customers at scale.
Ask 20 adults to rewrite history or direct a do-over and what’s the response? No one chooses a gradual approach. Huge success scenarios with visions of landmark breakthroughs are voiced. This also applies to brands reinventing. Pursue outsized results by driving trials with solely new prospects. Proceed only if a path to engage new customers at scale is evident. If not, why reinvent? – Sean Cunningham, VAB

8. Stay true to the core brand.
Staying true to the core elements of a brand that have stood the test of time with the consumer should not be undervalued. A brand can do a face-lift by updating color scheme, images, messages and even refocus themes, but this should not deter dramatically from its brand equity and the value it spent building over time. – Jessica Hawthorne-Castro, Hawthorne Advertising

9. Have fun and give the keys to your new brand ambassadors.
Classic brands like Converse and MINI really set the pace in terms of giving the keys to the brand to their customers. They didn’t necessarily need to reinvent themselves. But by allowing their customers to collaborate and use digital tools to “design their own Chucks” or “dream cars,” they got crucial brand insights while appealing to modern shoppers. What they did is now common. – Lana McGilvray, Purpose Worldwide

13 Ways To Update Your Brand Without Changing Everything

Whether a business is updating a marketing strategy or simply trying to keep up with modern sentiment, sometimes a company needs to refresh its brand a little. But while change can be good, a business might not want to do a complete overhaul—especially if the organization lacks the resources to do so, or if its existing brand is well-established and popular.

As experienced agency leaders, the members of Forbes Agency Council know how to successfully brand and rebrand businesses. Below, they share 13 ways a company can refresh its image across platforms without risking its established brand equity.

13 Ways to update your brand

1. Communicate Changes With Your Audience

The fear of rebranding whether large or small comes with the brand equity you’ve built with your audience. If you’re very active in communicating with your audience and customers on your journey, a small or large rebrand will not dissuade them in following your mission—they will stand excited and supportive. Your brand relationship with your audience and customer will allow changes to be made easily. – Tony Pec, Y Not You Media

2. Repackage Your Product, Service Or Knowledge

You can add a little sizzle to the agency in a number of ways. Create an information product that can be sold or given away online. Create a new software tool that supports your company and solves issues for your clients. Create and hold a live event. Write a book teaching things that you specialize in. Interview other specialists that benefit your clients in a podcast. – Breynan Hammons, Innvio

3. Find Ways To Connect To New Markets

As brands age, so does their target market. Brands find themselves stagnant because they have failed to remain relevant and evolve into new generations of consumers. Brands need to remember that equity is based on the perception of their target market. If a brand does a good job and understands and evolves with its consumers, it will remain relevant and “fresh” without the need to rebrand. – Revecka Jallad, DIVISA

4. Launch A New Campaign

Just like a beautifully executed haircut, you can easily give your branding a fresh look without making huge changes. We do this with new campaigns. There are a few ways to approach this, but right now, you should start with an idea that demonstrates your greatest values as an organization. Remember, public relations is about building relationships and creatively giving people things to share. – Jennifer von Stauffenberg, Olive Creative Strategies

5. Audit Your Existing Content To Enhance Your Brand Voice

A complete rebrand can be costly. Uplift your brand without the commitment of a complete overhaul by enhancing your brand’s voice. The key to success is a distinctive voice that is consistent in all aspects of your brand. This change will require an audit of your content and communications channels to ensure your new brand voice is positioned to connect with your external audiences. – Ana Miller, A2 Communications Group

6. Actively Engage In Conversation With Your Customer

If you want to raise brand equity without the risk of a rebrand, talk more. Actively engage in a two-sided public conversation with your customer. Social media has made this near-effortless. Extol your values, priorities, humor and brand by being an active member of the community you are trying to grow. You don’t always need a new logo; your customer needs to know you. – Kirk Westwood, Glass River Media

7. Rethink Your Content Strategy

An effective way to shift how your target audience views your brand is to re-tool your content strategy to focus on the intersection between your brand values and what’s important to the end-user. So consider re-aligning, re-interpreting and re-strategizing how your brand guidelines, personality and tone apply to your communication channels, including emails, blogs, social media, video and visuals. – Carey Kirkpatrick, CKP

8. Make Small Changes That Don’t Detract From Your Core Message

A little goes a long way. A facelift can be done by updating color scheme, images and messaging while still staying on brand so you don’t lose the core message or competency. – Jessica Hawthorne-Castro, Hawthorne LLC

9. Create Foundational Messaging And A Consistent Story

A brand needs a consistent story to feel cohesive and streamlined. It’s less challenging to introduce clear storytelling as a sort of refresh—identifying the concepts and stories that your brand stands for is a great way to create a sense of freshness while keeping the same style and brand aesthetic. – Lynne Golodner, Your People LLC

10. A/B Test Your New Messaging

We don’t know what we don’t know. Create your new message and A/B test. If it works, use it. Always study your data, as the story is in the data. I have seen many big agencies sabotage this by creating a “wow” factor for the client, but it fails miserably. – Qamar Zaman, KISSPR.COM

11. Aim To Better-Align Your Image With Core Brand Facets

Giving a brand a fresh new look doesn’t have to have anything to do with the core of what the brand is. The company’s vision, mission and values don’t change. In fact, any facelift should be done with the goal in mind to better align a brand’s image with these core facets. – Dmitrii Kustov, Regex SEO

12. Add A New Marketing Element Or Channel

When you feel that your brand could use some refreshing, try adding something new to your marketing. For example, if you only have corporate LinkedIn and Twitter, add Instagram and YouTube. Or slightly change the direction with your video content strategy by filming something you’ve never done before. Customers’ tastes are dynamic and unpredictable; just don’t be afraid to experiment. – Solomon Thimothy, OneIMS

13. Keep It Simple

There are a lot of tactics a brand can implement without a full redesign. If brand equity exists, a brand can refresh by introducing secondary visual elements to their identity—complementary colors, new patterns or illustrations, updated photography styles, and so on. Even very minor adjustments such as correcting technical aspects of a symbol or word mark can give a brand the boost it needs. – Tripp Donnelly, REQ

11 Things To Avoid If You Want To Maintain Consistent Branding

Most consumers don’t stick to one marketing channel. It’s very likely that a consumer that follows your brand’s account on Facebook also does so on Twitter, Instagram or several other social media channels. Mass marketing like billboards or radio and TV ads also impact these same consumers.

AdAge

A company’s brand is its promise to the customer, but consumers might be confused if the message they get from a brand has mixed signals. So when someone sees a different message or tone in one advertising channel for a brand is distinctly different from another advertising channel for the same brand, it creates a disconnect. Consistent branding is a vital method of establishing the company’s face and tone, which are essential to engaging the right demographic. Consistent branding is such a necessary foundation for a company’s brand marketing that introducing inconsistency between marketing channels can be disastrous for the company’s customer engagement.

Eleven entrepreneurs from Ad Age Collective have raised their brands to prominence over the years, and they are well aware of the things that a company should avoid if it wants to maintain consistent brand messaging. We consulted them about some of the most troubling things to avoid — here’s what they had to say.

1. Setting it and forgetting it

Too often, companies assume that digital branding is a one-time investment. They are eager to be visible across the web but forget about the commitment they are making to uphold their brand value online. To keep a brand fresh and consistent across channels, companies need to be constantly updating their digital content to reflect seasonal deals, promotions and marketing initiatives. – John Ghiorso, Orca Pacific

2. Keeping brand-related information undocumented

When it comes to branding, details matter. A tiny inconsistency can become glaring to your audience. A lack of consistency can create a poor impression. It’s important to document exactly what hex color code, font type or aesthetics you use, and where you use them also matters. Keeping your brand appearance consistent makes them recognizable to customers and builds a professional image. – Syed Balkhi, WPBeginner

3. Putting on an act

People want to buy from people — and how buyers view your brand is a huge factor in how they feel about your product. Steer clear of the false advertising and keep it real. Using an authentic voice across all platforms and allowing buyers to see the real you is the best way to build a true connection with your audience and deliver a better all-around experience with your brand. – Latane Conant, 6sense

4. Rushing to publish content

Content marketing was king in 2019, and likely to also be very important in 2020. In the mad rush to pump out as much content as possible, companies can create fragmentation in their message as different content writers and designers produce material of varying quality. It might take a little longer to publish, but be sure to appoint an overseer who ensures every piece is consistent with the brand. – Patrick Ward, Rootstrap

5. Placing identical creative across all platforms

If there’s one mistake I see more than any other, it’s when brands treat social platforms like ad units, placing identical creative across places where platform users expect unique things from that platform. Different platforms have different social use cultures. Be consistent in your principles and story, but execute with authentic sensitivity to each platform’s culture. – Scott Montgomery, Bradley and Montgomery (BaM)

6. Using too much stock photography

It’s impossible to create a consistent brand narrative if you rely excessively on stock imagery. Every platform is becoming more visual in nature, and, like it or not, the photos, graphics and videos you share say as much about who you are as your tone and choice of words. When you use too much stock imagery, you water down your visual narrative and risk looking like every other company out there. – Todd Morgano, Falls

7. Confusing consistency with replication

Never duplicate your content from platform to platform. Otherwise you’ll just burn people out and they won’t care. A lot of brands confuse consistency with replication. It’s not about copying your look and feel across platforms. Remember that consistency is driven by point of view — by tone of voice, by your personality and by the stance you take in the world. – Marc Landsberg, SOCIALDEVIANT

8. Straying too far from the familiar

Changing your style guide to be completely different, whether it’s a new color scheme or unrecognizable and unconnected images, will degrade the brand equity you have built on other platforms. Content should be very specific and personalized for different formats, but straying too far from the main brand will lose the customers’ association with the mother ship and all that has been invested in it. – Jessica Hawthorne-Castro, Hawthorne Advertising

9. Assuming everyone ‘gets’ the brand

With the breadth of platforms and tactics available to marketers — media, social, website, email, etc. — we often have diverse experts managing each tactic independently. Alignment is critical. If brands leave individuals on islands and don’t architect each tactic’s role in building the brand story, platform experts may drive their own agendas rather than contribute to a cohesive brand story. – Reid Carr, Red Door Interactive

10. Treating platforms as silos

People jump from device to device, and have hundreds of digital touch points with brands. To make sure messages are consistent across all of them, brands cannot treat the devices and channels as isolated campaigns. Brands can leverage advanced analytics, such as machine learning, to connect these touch points together and better understand their customers, leading to a true omnichannel campaign. – Kevin Dean, Experian

11. Using multiple providers

Companies shouldn’t use multiple providers. Using one provider per communication channel creates a disconnect, along with chaotic data and ad experiences. Having one omnichannel partner to keep it branded and relevant to the consumers on all channels is important to keep branding consistent across all platforms. – Oz Etzioni, Clinch

7 Strategies For Gaining Better Customer Data

Your quality of engagement with customers hinges on how useful your customer data is. With deep insight into customer behaviors and thinking processes, you can make an impact on your core consumer base. However, getting this customer data isn’t as easy as it initially seems. The accuracy of data depends on how the business intends to collect it. The methodology shouldn’t be invasive and should encourage the consumer to trust the company with their data. That trust is built on a rapport that the brand needs to establish with its customers over time.

7 Steps for consumer data

With better customer data, the insights that you generate to connect with your consumers would be more substantial. You’ll find that your marketing efforts have more direction and engagement with the audience. However, the success of these efforts still depends heavily on the quality of data used to obtain those insights. The principle of “Garbage In, Garbage Out” is as true for data analysis as it is for any other technical field.

The entrepreneurs from Ad Age Collective are well-versed in how good customer data can impact their business’s efforts in marketing, so we asked them their secrets when it comes to wrangling higher quality data from their consumers.

1. Start with the source.

More accurate customer data needs to start with the source. Assign the individual or the demographic cluster a unique customer ID. You can then input various strategies across different platforms, changing the creative, media and messaging, but targeting the same customer or demographic to see which elements of the campaign strategy are more effective and deliver the highest ROI. – Jessica Hawthorne-Castro, Hawthorne Advertising

2. Go after the ‘why,’ not just the ‘what.’

Tons of data is available on what customers do, both at your brand and away. That data does not tell us why they do it. Accurate data comes from identifying insights into the core of a customer and unlocking the drivers of behavior. That insight makes it easy to connect with customers and make action inevitable. – Arjun Sen, ZenMango

3. Seek noninvasive, regular feedback.

The key to gaining new customers is understanding your existing ones. Tools like Retently allow regular customer data to be gathered without overburdening clients. Doing this will allow you to pick up on trends — similar pain points that caused clients to choose your business or best aspects of working with your business, all of which can be used for more targeted campaigns to attract new leads. – Patrick Ward, Rootstrap

4. Set up loyalty programs.

They are not new, but they have the strong benefit of being “opt-in” in a privacy-sensitive world. They also offer an explicit exchange of value, i.e. your company provides loyalty currency in exchange for certain actions or information from your customers. Sometimes, tried and true is just that. If you are seeking passive data collection, talk to companies that aggregate mobile data. – Dan Beltramo, Onclusive (formerly AirPR)

5. Connect data with other digital and offline points.

Brands rely on first-party data to understand customers, but it only tells half the story. It’s important for brands to connect data with other digital and offline data points. If brands can take the data available to them and connect it using innovative technology, such as AI and ML, they can achieve the elusive single customer view. That leads to more relevant messages and effective campaigns. – Kevin Dean, Experian

6. Say goodbye to siloed point solutions.

Today, the challenge is that each function of the revenue team has its own suite of applications. With disparate data, integration gaps and lack of tight coordination, you can kiss your dreams of accurate insights goodbye. To uncover, orchestrate and utilize valuable buyer data, the entire revenue team needs to utilize one cohesive account-based platform with AI and big data built into the core. – Latane Conant, 6sense

7. Be careful how you define your competitive arena.

Marketers tend to envision zero-sum games within product categories, and design research to report within that arena; meanwhile, customers may be shifting behavior to buy outside your defined arena. Design research that lets you discover if your true competition is entirely off your radar. Who gets a bigger slice of the pie doesn’t mean much if your customers have switched to cake. – Scott Montgomery, Bradley and Montgomery (BaM)

8 Top Tips To Consider When Crafting A Compelling Brand Story

A brand is a promise that a business makes to its customers. You can find this definition littered across the internet, but it doesn’t tell you exactly what that promise should be. Brand promises are crafted through their stories. Brand stories try to communicate the brand’s worth to consumers in a noninvasive way, which allows the potential buyer to connect and form a relationship with the brand. Today, many brands see the brand story as a way to humanize their corporate face so that consumers feel more comfortable with them.

Brand Story

Building a brand story requires a professional to focus on the audience rather than the product. The company already knows in great detail what the product does and how it benefits the consumer. The brand story tries to communicate that to the buyer, while at the same time making the story focus on the customer. The process of changing a brand story from a business-centric model to a consumer-centric model requires a lot of skill.

These professionals from Ad Age Collective have learned how to present the brand story best to engage customers and build a rapport. We asked them what things a company should be mindful of when developing their brand story into a compelling narrative. Here’s what they had to say.

1. Be authentic and consistent.

Be authentic, period. A majority of consumers, especially the younger generations, demand it as they want to feel inspired, to have an honest connection and be part of a like-minded community. Avoid inconsistencies between your image of the brand and its reality, as it will have a material impact on brand perception and equity. – Kurt Kaufer, Ad Results Media

2. Think more about hearing it than saying it.

You want your brand story to say certain things about your company and you are going to put a lot of thought into that. Put a similar amount of energy into understanding how your target personas are going to hear the story and the emotions that it will elicit. The recent Peloton ad that raised some controversy is an example of a story that was heard differently by some than was anticipated. – Dan Beltramo, Onclusive (formerly AirPR)

3. Be honest about who you are.

Another way of putting it is to be genuine. Your brand should be an extension of the honest truth about who you are, what you stand for and your reason for being. And it should connect logically and emotionally with a need or value you and your constituents share. – Todd Morgano, Falls Communications

4. Humanize the brand.

A brand needs to have a personality and something to resonate with. If you can give your brand innate human characteristics that people can relate to, they will feel more drawn to the brand naturally without even knowing why it is so compelling. – Jessica Hawthorne-Castro, Hawthorne Advertising

5. Find balance between what matters and what’s true.

A compelling brand story must converge on the epicenter of three components: It must be culturally relevant, emotionally compelling and built on something true to the brand and organization. Brands must balance stories that matter with their ability to be true to the story. -Reid Carr, Red Door Interactive

6. Elicit an emotional response.

A product doesn’t become a brand until it is connected with feelings, experiences, memories or utility in a person’s mind. A brand is an emotional connection built over time to which consumers default, especially when choosing among products with similar attributes. Your brand story must elicit emotion and be sustainable to create consumer connections that withstand the test of time. -Sean Cunningham, VAB

7. Know your brand’s natural persona.

Every brand has its own natural persona. Authenticity comes from knowing the persona clearly, being consistent and comfortable with it. Connecting to why a brand exists adds purpose that resonates with the customer emotions. The blending of authenticity and purposefulness creates long-term feeling equity, which is essential for meaningful connection. In the end, we are all in the feeling business. -Arjun Sen, ZenMango

8. Be relatable and purpose-driven.

It may be overused, but starting with the “why” is the foundation of a compelling brand story. No one cares about your products, what they do or what you’re selling until they care about you! A brand story that has a strong “why” will always win, because people like to do business with those that share their innate values. The more relatable you are, the more people will care. – Patrick Ward,Rootstrap