The Game Changer

Consider the Game, Changed.



Sales Assistant With Credit Card Reader On Digital TabletWe’ve been inundated with brands since we could first recognize images and shapes. We’ve been surrounded by taglines and logos for most of our lives. Most small children can recite a company’s commercial jingle or tagline and even recognize it’s logo (golden arches, anyone?). But does these things THE brand? No, they are representatives of the brand. Logos, colors, taglines, characters are all elements of the brand that help consumers recognize the company they are interacting with or experiencing. It is not necessarily the brand itself.

The brand is the emotional response a consumer experiences when hearing the brand’s name. It is the memory that pops into their minds when passing by its store or seeing its ad while browsing online. It is something that is intangible. This is why companies are focused on ensuring their brands are well received, protected, and managed appropriately. One bad experience by a customer can officially taint the brand. It is much more difficult for a brand to regain a lost customer than it is for it capture a new one. All companies are aware that customer retention is what keeps their sales numbers up more than gaining new customers.

As of lately, companies have shifted their focus on to customer experience. Providing a total experience for the consumer at every touchpoint that the consumer interacts with the brand. This is how a brand ensures that the brand message received by the consumer is one that the brand itself has created and desires. It allows brands to be more in control of the ‘brand’ that consumers create for their company. Essentially, it sets the stage for the emotion, the mood, and the memory that the consumer experiences. From how customer service interacts with a customer to the feeling a person has when in-store. It’s what Disney has excelled at. From the moment you begin to interact with Disney, you start to live the experience of the brand they want you to have. Stepping into the park, the familiar characters walking around, the rides that are connected to the films/tv shows/stories. It is all created by Disney and experienced by the consumer. It is consistent. The ‘magical’ element is something Disney works hard to ensure each person experiences in their theme parks. That’s how a company controls its brand – uniformity in experience across each touchpoint.

For small businesses looking to truly set themselves a part from their competition, create a strategy that connects your company with the brand you desire. Create THAT experience. Give the consumer something special each time they connect with your brand. Be the generator of the emotional response they receive when interacting with your brand. That’s how you position yourself to be a force in your industry and gain the market you desire.

Sheena Hunt | CEO & Marketing Strategist | Empowered Strategy

Empowered Strategy is a boutique branding and marketing agency based in St. Louis, MO. We are focused on creating comprehensive strategies for brands that allow them to reach their consumers while remaining authentic to who they are as a company. We have a very unique focus in our business of being able to provide the African American experience in our strategies. What does that mean? We create strategies for brands that are looking to reach the urban and African American audience while remaining respectful of the culture and recognizing that neither group is a monolith or exists in a vacuum. We not only create strategies but will (if desired) work with a brand to implement each step of the strategy. We love branding. We love marketing. We believe in changing the game for a brand in its industry. Consider the game, changed.



Not all marketing should be in-house

Big Brands: Use your in-house marketing team for brand management and hire agencies to compete in the marketing landscape

Marketing is changing at lightening speed. As quickly as technology changes and new applications become available, so does the marketing landscape. From the advent of social media, to live video stream to content marketing and beyond, marketing is evolving and there is no slow-down in sight.

Brands are fumbling to keep up. There is now a need for data analysts, content writers, statisticians, as well as creatives at major brands. Yet, the talent is minimal. Due to this being a recent phenomena in marketing, universities and other institutions of higher learning was not prepared with such majors or prepping students. Now brands must look to the math, english, journalism, and other majors to fill the void that exists within their departments.

But is this necessary? Brands need to change their focus and fast. Instead of looking to hire a new type of talent within their organizations, they should look to marketing agencies to fill the void. Marketing agencies are focused on what’s happening in marketing and projecting what will happen in marketing. We are prepping and changing with the evolution as quickly as it happens. Being the most agile, it makes more sense for brands to turn to us to help them remain strong in marketing.

As a strategist, I am baffled that brands are slow to move to this thought. In order to remain competitive, it is a smart tactic to focus on your strengths and harnessing it to remain competitive and ensure quality control. It’s that old ‘do what you do best’ mindset. Hire outside consultants and agencies to transform your marketing and take it to the next level keeping on track of what’s changing and putting brands ahead of competition in communication with customers.

We love what we do. We keep connected and locked into what happening in our industry. We focus on where it’s going and how brands can leverage the changes. It’s what WE do best. We know the markets that brands to need to hone in on. We know how these markets are using different forms of media and how they connect with brands. We know what their interests are. It is our job to know.

So, brands, focus on your product or service and making it the best it can be. Let us focus on how you communicate it to your market and stay in front of them. It’s our specialty.

Sheena Hunt | CEO of Empowered Strategy

Twitter: @sheenad1

When a brand’s attempt to be ‘cool’ goes too far…

Bud Light Lime Ritas Twitter Post
Image Courtesy of @TheRitas Twitter Post

Brands today are desperately seeking the attention of the younger generations and are taking to social media to do so. In an effort to be relevant and be seen as ‘hip’ brands are opting to use terms and phrases that are in use by the market they are seeking. More and more on Twitter we’re seeing brands attempting to fit in by adopting the phrase ‘on fleek’ and the popular term ‘bae.’

‘On fleek’ is a popularized term that stemmed from an Instagram video posted by a user in reference to her eyebrows during the summer of 2014. According to the Urban Dictionary, it basically means something is perfect or ‘on point.’ As of late fall of 2014, brands began using the term in their Twitter posts to describe their products. For example, Ihop had several posts describing their pancakes as being on fleek in an ineffective adoption of the urban vernacular.

‘Bae’ is another term that brands are adopting to make themselves more personable and to fit in with their target demographic. Brands now are directly calling some of their followers ‘bae’ in an attempt to engage consumers on social media. This is creepy, point blank. Brands definitely should not reference anyone as bae. I think some Social Media Managers need to rethink their strategy before clicking ‘Post’ on whatever platform they use to manage their feeds.

Brands have latched on to playing on popular album titles (i.e. Drake’s ‘If you’re reading this it’s too late’) to ‘YASSS’ (which by the way, I use all the time in conversations with family and friends to express my emotions on something). I wonder, sometimes, who is googling these terms, words, and phrases and saying ‘yes, that is our next word to wear out?’ Seriously. As a black owned and operated marketing agency, we are a bit appalled by what we’re seeing coming from brands in regards to their ‘embracement’ of the urban community and vernacular. We get it – using these terms make brands appear to be connected to certain communities, but please stop. It’s ineffective, in my opinion, and likened to a middle-age parents using popular terms to try to fit in with their kids. Corny. Instead I challenge brands to create true strategies that appeal to the demographic they are trying to obtain/grow. For example, Coca Cola did a great job in paying homage to Hip Hop culture by creating a campaign that involves using their Sprite packaging to showcase uplifting lyrics of some of the most legendary hip hop artists. Instead of lazy marketing, brands must find a way to draw inspiration from the urban culture in a respectful manner. Hey, we’re open to help out if necessary because we are very much so over what we’re seeing.

Sheena Office photo

Sheena Hunt, CEO of Empowered Strategy

Twitter: @SheenaD1

Twitter: @EmpwrdStrategy

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