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  • feedwordpress 15:32:15 on 2020/04/06 Permalink
    Tags: brands, , , , ,   

    An Open Letter To American Corporations: It’s Good Business (and Smart Marketing) To Support Quality Journalism 


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    Brands and journalism need each other.

    “Outbreaks have sparked riots and propelled public-health innovations, prefigured revolutions and redrawn maps.” The New Yorker, April 2020

    “Nothing will be the same.” 

    That’s the overwhelming takeaway I’ve heard from dozens of conversations I’ve had with C-suite leaders, physicians, policy experts and media professionals these past few weeks. 

    When it comes to the business practices of large corporations, there’s no time to debate whether or when things might return to normal. If corporations truly stand for something – and nearly all of them claim to nowadays –  the time to prove it is right now, as the crisis deepens and consumers look to corporations to step up and lead. Companies that wait this crisis out will learn – quickly – that once loyal customers will readily turn to competitors who made it a priority to be in service during this extraordinary moment.

    Communicating that message of service means marketing. With that in mind, here’s a list of fundamental truths given today’s media landscape:

    • Context matters more than ever. Every customer is consumed with understanding the threat and implications of the pandemic. High quality, trusted information is critical.
    • Given this new context, marketing messaging can and must shift toward communicating how a company is adding value to society and its customers. Companies must recognize the severity of our times – brand messaging becomes serious and information dense. 
    • The majority of global marketers have frozen or cancelled their marketing plans, and all are struggling to identify and roll out relevant new messaging.  
    • When those messages are ready, marketers will find that traditional vehicles for messaging have shrunk or disappeared, or seem frivolous and out of context. No NBA or MLB, no Olympics, no live entertainment, and most advertising-driven television production has been suspended. 
    • Stuck inside and online, consumers are glued to news outlets, and have retreated to streaming video for escape – and the lion’s share of those services are ad free. Those with advertising models (Pluto, Roku, etc) have previously been viewed as nascent and unproven. This will change, but at present the connected TV sector lacks the inventory to satisfy the marketing needs of the world’s biggest brands.
    • Pushing context-driven marketing messaging on audience-driven services like Instagram or Facebook Newsfeed will come across as tone deaf. Again, context is now king. Where can serious, service-driven marketing messaging find the right context?   

    Turns out, there is a massive media channel that lives in a serious and information-dense context every minute of every day. This channel has nearly unlimited inventory, deep and consistent consumer engagement, and is eager for partnership with brand marketers.

    This channel is called news. And if marketers are smart, they’ll realize that running their messaging in high quality news channels isn’t just good business, it’s good for society as well.

    For decades, marketers have been eschewing journalism as a serious marketing channel, claiming that brands can’t be built adjacent to coverage of plane crashes, natural disasters, politics, or other staples of the news business. This misguided philosophy has led marketing agencies to create massive blacklists of terms like “Trump,” “guns,” and now, “COVID.” These lists direct tens of billions in programmatic advertising away from local and national news outlets, and toward “safer” channels like live sports on television and Facebook or YouTube online.  

    But it’s time for that to change. Perhaps the most important element of society’s response to the global pandemic lies in the curation and communication of high quality information, and calling that truth to those in power. Who but journalists will hold the governor of Georgia to account for mistruths, or the President of the United States? This has always been the role of journalism – and despite decades of declining revenues, most news outlets are rising to the challenge. Traffic and engagement to news channels has skyrocketed since the COVID outbreak – at The Recount*, we’ve seen spikes of up to 10-20 times our normal viewership. 

    It’s time for brands to rethink news as a marketing channel. This doesn’t mean brands should abandon their metrics of success – but forward thinking leaders in the industry have already proven that news channels can offer more engaged and receptive audiences. A friend and industry leading marketer (who prefers to not be named) has led the way in this regard, investing at least one in three of his media dollars in news channels last year. He tells me that not only are news audiences influential and affluent, they are five times more likely to recall advertising than general audiences, and six times more likely to engage with ads when they recall them.

    Right now, we need more leaders like him to step up and support the news business. And it’s not just good business: journalists are keeping people informed at one of the most important and perilous times of our history. As our finest corporations bend to the work of finding ways to be in service to their customers, they can and should partner with the one media channel that has been committed to serve the public since its inception: Journalism. 

    ###

    *Yes, this post can be seen as self serving, and I’m fine with that. I’m convinced that the thesis is sound regardless of my position at Recount Media.

     

     

     
  • nmw 15:18:20 on 2015/01/07 Permalink
    Tags: , , brands, mean, meaning, meaningful, meaningless, name, ,   

    A Brand is Nothing More than a Cup You Fill with Meaning Later 


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    a brand is nothing more than a cup you fill with meaning later

    http://battellemedia.com/archives/2015/01/three-golden-rules-naming-something.php

    I agree — except I would add that a brand not only is empty and meaningless now, but will remain so forever. It is more like an “ID tag” — like your social security number or some other “unique identifier”. The whole purpose of a brand is to identify, not necessarily to impart any meaning.

     
  • nmw 15:28:55 on 2014/12/17 Permalink
    Tags: , , brand name, brand names, , brands, commercial, community, core, , , generic, magazine, magazines, must read, proprietary, publication, , , target audience, top level domain, top level domains, trademark, trademarks   

    Must Read Dot Com 


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    To me, just one question matters when it comes to a publication and whether it has a chance of long term success: Is it a must read?

    http://battellemedia.com/archives/2014/12/media-must-succeed.php

    This relationship (the “must read” obligation) is also the way many people feel about the “Dot Com” top level domain.

    I agree that for commercial activity (i.e., for trademarks, brand names, etc.) this obligation to appear in the “dot com” registry seems reasonable.

    What John says about the core community (the core “target audience”) of any publication is also something I wrote about with respect to the new proprietary top level domains — see http://www.circleid.com/posts/20141121_experience_and_evidence_point_to_strong_renewal_rates_for_new_tlds/#10369

     
  • nmw 19:32:23 on 2014/09/29 Permalink
    Tags: American Express, , , brands, conversation. experience, conversations, discussion, , , , markets, , success, successful   

    We Don’t Need Your Conversation 


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    let’s start with a successful experience that is media – American Express’ Open Forum

    http://battellemedia.com/archives/2014/09/every-company-experience-company.php

    If open.com were a place where I could find information about “open”, an “open” experience, open commerce, or something like that — and if I were interested in that topic, then I agree: It would be something I would regard as “success”… but that would have little or nothing to do with the “American Express” brand per se. The point I wish to make here: Instead of “open” being use to promote “American Express”, the company should recognize that its brand name is simply a meaningless string — but if the company wishes to actually engage in a conversation about “open” (and I am interested in a conversation about “open”), then open.com might be a good basis for such a discussion. Just remember to leave the “AmEx” meme at the door (or the entire campaign might even backfire with shedload of negative junk).

     
  • feedwordpress 22:21:20 on 2014/02/28 Permalink
    Tags: brands, , , , , , , social platforms,   

    To Be Clear: Do Not Build Your Brand House On Land You Don’t Own 


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    The post To Be Clear: Do Not Build Your Brand House On Land You Don’t Own appeared first on John Battelle's Search Blog.

    Too07(image) I took a rigorous walk early this morning, a new habit I’m trying to adopt – today was Day Two. Long walks force a certain meditative awareness. You’re not moving so fast that you miss the world’s details passing by  - in fact, you can stop to inspect something that might catch your eye. Today I explored an abandoned log cabin set beside a lake, for example. I’ve sped by that cabin at least a thousand times on my mountain bike, but when you’re walking, discovery is far more of an affordance.

    Besides the cabin, the most remarkable quality of today’s walk was the water – it’s (finally) been raining hard here in Northern California, and the hills and forests of Marin are again alive with the rush of water coursing its inevitable path toward the sea. White twisting ribbons cut through each topographic wrinkle, joining forces to form great streams at the base of any given canyon. The gathering roar of a swollen stream, rich with foam and brown earth – well, it’s certainly  good for the soul.

    I can’t say the same of my daily “walks” through the Internet. Each day I spend an hour or more reading industry news. I’m pretty sure you do too – that’s probably the impetus for your visit here – chances are you clicked on a link on Facebook, LinkedIn, Twitter, Google, or in email. Someone you know said “check this out,” or – and bless you if this is the case – you actually follow my musings and visit on a regular basis.

    But the truth is, we now mostly find content via aggregated streams. Streams are the new distribution. We dip in and out of streams, we curate and search our streams, we abandon barren streams and pick up new streams, hoping they might prove more nourishing. Back before streams ruled the world, of course, we had a habit of visiting actual “pools” – sites that we found worthy because they did a good job of creating content that we valued. (Before that, I think we read actual publications. But that was a long, long time ago…)

    Which got me thinking. What makes a stream? In the real world, streams are made from water, terrain, and gravity. To belabor the metaphor to the media business, content is the water, publishers are the terrain, and our thirst for good content is the gravity.

    As publishers – and I include all marketing brands in this category – the question then becomes: “What terrain do we claim as ours?”

    Deciding where to lay down roots as a publisher is an existential choice. Continuing the physical metaphor a bit further, it’s the equivalent of deciding what land to buy (or lease). If your intention is to build something permanent and lasting on that land, it’s generally a good idea to *own* the soil beneath your feet.

    This is why I wrote Put Your Taproot Into the Independent Web two years ago. If you’re going to build something, don’t build on land someone else already owns. You want your own land, your own domain, your own sovereignty.

    Trouble is, so much of the choice land – the land where all the *people* are – is already owned by someone else: By Google, Facebook, Twitter, LinkedIn, Yahoo, and Apple (in apps, anyway). These platforms are where are the people are, after all. It’s where the headwaters form for most of the powerful streams on the Internet.  It’s tempting to build your brand on those lands – but my counsel is simple: Don’t. There’s plenty of land out there on the Rest of The Internet. In fact, there’s as much land as you want, and what you make of it is up to you as a publisher.

    Quick: Name one successful publisher that built its brand on the back of a social platform? Can’t do it? Neither can I, unless you count sites like UpWorthy. And those flying near the social network sun risk getting seriously burned. There’s a reason publishers don’t build on top of social platforms: publishers are an independent lot, and they naturally understand the value of owning your own domain. Publishers don’t want to be beholden to the shifting sands of inscrutable platform policies. So why on earth would a brand?

    Despite the fact that my once-revolutionary bromide “all brands are publishers” is now commonplace, most brands still don’t quite understand how to act like a publisher.

    Which takes me to this piece, Facebook is not making friends on Madison Avenue (Digiday). Besides the quippy headline and the rather obvious storyline (a burgeoning Internet company failing to satisfy agencies? Pretty much Dog-Bites-Man), the thing that got me to perk up was this:

    One point of frustration is Facebook’s ongoing squeezing of traffic to organic brand content. A digital agency exec described a recent meeting with Facebook that turned contentious. In what was meant to be a routine meeting, the exec said the Facebook rep told him the brands the agency works with would now have to pay Facebook for the same amount of reach they once enjoyed automatically. That position and Facebook’s perceived attitude have led to some disillusionment on Madison Avenue, where many bought into the dream peddled by Facebook that brands could set up shop on the platform as “publishers” and amass big audiences on their own….

    …The cruel irony in all of this is that brands themselves greatly helped Facebook by giving it free advertising in their TV commercials and sites, urging their customers to “like” the brand — and paying Facebook to pile up likes. Facebook has returned the favor by choking off  brands’ access to those communities. That’s one expensive and frustrating lesson that it’s better to own than rent.

    Put another way: “Wait, I did what you asked, Facebook, and set up a big content site on your platform that drew a fair number of visitors organically. Now you’ve changed the rules of the game, and you want me to pay to get their attention?!”

    Yup. You leased your land, Mr. Brand Marketer, and the rent’s going up. If I were you, I’d get back to your own domain. Spend your money building something worthy, then spend to drive people there. Your agencies have entire creative and media departments that are good at just such practices. They might even spend a fair amount carefully purchasing distribution through Facebook’s streams. I’m guessing Facebook will be happy to take your money. But there’s no point in paying them twice.

     

    The post To Be Clear: Do Not Build Your Brand House On Land You Don’t Own appeared first on John Battelle's Search Blog.

     
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