Category Archives: Product branding

Loyalty or Frustration: What Are Your Rewards Programs Fostering?

reward program

Over the past decade, as online shopping has grown in popularity so has the customer reward program. In an effort to encourage more repeat sales, retailers all over the web – and the world – have started to offer points-based systems. These allow customers to earn rewards or even cash toward future purchases just for buying something from a store.

While the underlying purpose of these programs is obvious – to boost customer loyalty – the truth is they often do the exact opposite of that.

In fact, if done improperly, rewards programs may even turn a customer off to a brand.

It’s true: Retailer reward programs have the power to create long-term customer relationships or actually prevent them.

How the Reward Program Can Go Wrong

It may sound weird that a reward program may actually push customers away from your brand, but I promise you it happens – and a lot more often than you’d expect.
Here’s the scenario: You offer customers points for every purchase they make. Say Sally buys two shirts from your store. She gets 20 points per shirt. At the end of her purchase, she finds out she has earned 40 points.

But to turn those points in for a reward, she needs a minimum of 50 points.
That means she’s merely 10 points away from something free … and who doesn’t love freebies?

Though you’d think this would make Sally say, “Great! When I buy a new bathing suit this summer, I’ll use this shop and get the reward then!” That’s logical. But is everyone logical? Definitely not.

In reality, you leave Sally thinking “They do that intentionally. They make their shirts 20 points each, so you have to buy a bunch in order to qualify. That’s how they get you!”

Even if her purchase arrives quickly and Sally loves the shirts, she’s still likely to leave your store with a bad taste in her mouth. You tried to con her. You tried to get her to spend more money than she should.

Now, I’m not saying every shopper thinks like this or even that rewards programs can’t work. The moral of this story is that you need to know your customer first. How much is the average person going to spend? Are your products something they will need to purchase often or just once in a while?

You don’t want to make your rewards too hard to come by. In fact, if you can help them get a reward on their first purchase, you’re even more likely to get repeat business after that. That’s definitive.

You also need to be careful about how you advertise your rewards programs. Make sure customers know about it – and the rewards you’re offering – before they make their purchase, and be very detailed in describing the system and how it works.

Poorly articulated programs will only make your customers feel ripped off and frustrated!

Implement the Right Program

Rewards programs can certainly work, but they’re not for every brand. If you’re looking for a way to inspire customer loyalty and foster long-term buyer relationships, let Haley Brand Intelligence help. We can craft a customized solution that can help your company reach the right buyers in the right way. Contact us today to talk.


5 Times Branding Failed – and Why


Most of our blogs revolve around making your branding great – how to ensure it appeals to your target market, how to translate your branding to your products and services, and how to keep your branding fresh and relevant no matter how long you’ve been around.

But just as important as what TO do in branding? That’d be what NOT to do. So today, we want to take a look through history and talk about some of the biggest branding fails of the past – the times brands went a little too far or tried a little too hard to launch a new product.

Without further ado, here are some of the worst branding mistakes we can remember. Study them, learn from them, and avoid them at all costs!

  1. Cocaine energy drinks – We’ve all heard the tales of Coca-Cola’s early days, when cocaine was actually an ingredient in the drink’s recipe. Well, this isn’t like that. In this case, Cocaine is just the name of an energy drink – one that has the caffeine of more than three Red Bulls. Its makers probably thought giving the product a shocking name would generate some buzz, but their branding ploy came back to haunt them. The FDA said the product was being illegally marketed as an alternative to street drugs, and it was banned from U.S. sale.
  2. 2014’s U2 album release – A few years ago, U2 had the bright idea to forget marketing its new album to existing fans and force the release on millions of unsuspecting Apple product owners instead. Without any notice, 500 million desktops, laptops and iPhones were automatically updated with the rock band’s latest tunes – whether they wanted it or not. While I’m sure there were a few music fans excited about the freebie, it was mostly just an annoyance for Apple owners throughout the world. They then had to delete the music from their accounts, sync their products, and go through a long, tedious process just to get the unwanted music off! It undoubtedly turned many off to U2 for good. (And that’s just about the opposite of what they were going for.)
  3. Breakfast Mates cereal – At one point, Kellogg was looking for ways to make cereal even easier to eat – especially for kids. They launched a new product called Breakfast Mates, which includes cereal, milk and a spoon all in one handy box. Ads showed kids pouring their cereal while parents napped and marketed the product like an easy, one-stop shop for hungry little ones. Unfortunately, those scenarios never became a reality. It turns out, Kellogg didn’t test its packaging, and kids couldn’t get into the cereal, let alone pour themselves a bowl!
  4. Clairol’s Touch of Yogurt Shampoo – Back in the late ’70s, Clairol thought it’d be a great idea to go more “natural,” launching a product called “Touch of Yogurt” shampoo. The product bombed almost instantly. For one, people found the idea of washing hair with yogurt to be just plain gross, and on top of that, a number of buyers made the mistake of thinking the product was edible. They became very ill as a result, and Clairol learned an important lesson: Test your product ideas first!
  5. BenGay aspirin – We’ve all used Ben-Gay before. It has a sharp smell – almost like menthol. It’s not something you’d ever want to ingest, right? Well, Ben-Gay failed to think of that little hold-up when it expanded its brand into the aspirin market, with Ben-Gay Aspirin Analgesic Tablets. As expected, no one was excited by the thought of swallowing Ben-Gay in pill form, and the product failed to take off.

Want to make sure you don’t make a list of branding fails in the future? Then let us help. Contact Haley Brand Intelligence today, and we’ll make sure your branding is at the top of its game no matter what.

The 5 Ways to Drive Home Your Branding

5 Ways to Drive Home Branding Graphic

It’s not enough to just develop your brand.

If you want your brand to be effective, powerful and, of course, lucrative, you need to really drive it home with your customers.

They should remember it. They should resonate with it. They should feel connected to it.

All this is much easier said than done, though, and many brands aren’t able to accomplish it. They simply shout their brand values into the oblivion, never to see another dollar or loyal customer because of it.

Want to make sure you’re not in this group? It’s time to start ingraining that brand in your customers’ minds today.


How to Insist on Your Branding

Branding is all about insistence – insisting your company is known, recognized and remembered for what it stands for and what it does best.

In general, there are 5 ways to attack insistence. Doing just one will help your branding a little, while doing all 5 will give you the full momentum you need to dominate your market.

Here are the 5 ways to start insisting on your brand today:

  1. Awareness – There are a few facets of awareness. First, you need to make sure customers are aware that the products and services you sell exist. Second, they need to be aware of your specific brand or line of products. The goal is to be the first (or only) brand they associate with your marketplace. And third, customers need to be aware of where to buy your products and how to do business with you.
  2. Differentiation – To make your brand the go-to choice in your industry, you need to focus on differentiating it from others in your space. This means literally (different colored logos, websites, product designs, etc.) but also from a consumer benefit standpoint. How does your brand better help the customer than your competitors? Make this known, and you’ll be stealing away business in no time.
  3. Emotional connection – This one’s a biggie. Once a customer knows your brand and is aware of what you sell, they must also like your brand. They need to feel something for it and have an emotional connection with some facet of your business. Though it seems like an emotional connection would be hard to establish, the web actually makes it quite easy. Interacting with customers on social media platforms like Twitter and Facebook, creating helpful and valuable blogs, and even just delivering killer customer service can all help. In-person and sponsored events can give your efforts a boost too.
  4. Accessibility – This one’s a no-brainer. For customers to make your brand a part of their life, you have to be accessible. That means having a store location in their area or having an online shop where customers can purchase products from anywhere in the world. There’s no point in having a loyal fan if they can’t do business with you!
  5. Value – Last but not least, your brand needs to deliver undeniable value to your customers. No matter your price point, they need to feel like they’re getting the better end of the deal – that they’ve come out on top. Focusing on quality assurance, great customer service and fast delivery are great ways to drive home your value, as are well-timed specials and sales. The key is to just know your audience, and give them the benefits they’re looking for every time.

You’ve worked hard to establish a smart, well-positioned brand, so don’t let that go to waste. Drive that branding home with your audience, and really use it to improve your sales and customer base. Want more help doing that? Contact Haley Brand Intelligence today. Our branding experts are here to help.

Three Ways to Find Advocates for New Products or Markets

Going viralBy now we all understand the important role customer reviews, testimonials and recommendations play in growing your brand online. Now that you have those reviews in your arsenal, it’s time to take it to the next level by engaging your brand advocates.

Brand advocates provide positive feedback and an additional marketing lift to your brand.  They further extend your marketing reach and give your brand an extra oomph of credibility and stamina.

So how do you identify your brand advocates?

Pay Attention to What Your Consumers Are Saying

The good news is that your brand advocates aren’t hiding in the shadows or behind a tree somewhere; they are standing in full sight, already participating directly with your sales team, customer service or other consumers online.

Review your social media postings and customer service communications from the past three months. Locate users who are posting likes and favorites on your social sites, who are sharing your content, and who are commenting on your posts and providing feedback to customer service. These are your strongest candidates for brand advocates.

Analyze Your Findings

Now that you have a pool of potential brand advocate candidates, it’s time to narrow down your list. Look at all of your candidates and see who fits your consumer profile. Based on gender, age, buying habits and location, you can quickly narrow down your list and come up with your brand advocate target list.

Reach Out and Build Your Advocate Army

Once you have your target advocates, engage them. Send survey emails asking for feedback. Create promotions and special deals for those who engage with your brand online most frequently. Most importantly, publicly say thank you when one of your advocates comments or shares something positive about your brand, product or service on social media.

Developing a strong front line of brand advocates will not only give you instant credibility with potential new consumers, but it will also provide your marketing efforts with an extended reach and life.

Prediction for B2B Social Media in 2014

8-ballSocial media has proven to be a useful tool for marketers in B2C, and this past year B2B began to discover that there is value for them as well. It is predicted that 2014 will be the year that B2B moves fully into the social media realm and begins to reap the same benefits previously garnered by its B2C counterparts.

So how is the B2B social media and online consumer engagement experience expected to change in the coming year? Here are just a few predictions:

Creation of Efficiency Cycles

Now that the B2B marketing realm understands the basics of social media, 2014 will be the year they take it out of a one-off initiative and incorporate it into their overall brand strategy.  In doing so, brands will look for ways to make social strategies more efficient, returning a higher ROI with less effort than before.

2014 will be the year that B2B marketers find more efficient processes for creating original content on current and new channels. Along with the standard content found in blogs, newsletters and social postings, marketers will incorporate more socialized ebooks, infographics and presentation-style content in order to supplement white papers, research reports and expanded articles.

Development of Platform-Specific Content

In the past, B2B marketers have handled content with a “one size fits all” when it comes to supplying content for various platforms. As the B2B market now has enough experience under their collective social media belts, many have discovered that what works on one platform doesn’t typically perform the same on other platforms.

It is estimated that 70 percent of brands now have a presence on Google+. Although Facebook is still considered to be a required staple of a brand’s marketing portfolio, Google+ has now become a stronger performer and more important for B2B brands.

In 2014, B2B brands will begin focusing their attention on the platforms that best suit their target audience, specifically LinkedIn and Google+, and will begin to design content that is specific to the user behavior and activity levels for each platform. While the end messages might be similar, the method in which the messages are delivered will vary and will be customized for optimal performance in each platform.

How to Successfully Launch a New Product or Innovation

Your company has developed a new product, innovation or line and you’re ready to launch.  The trick to launching a new product or innovation in today’s market centers around the success of your online launch efforts.

We’ve outlined the eight key elements of a product launch plan to increase your odds of a successful new product or innovation launch:

  • Discover your “what’s in it for me?” position.  To gain the attention of any potential customer, you must first provide them with the answer to their main question, which is “what’s in it for me?”  Regardless of the product or new innovation, if it doesn’t connect with the end user and offer a benefit to their needs, your product or innovation will be destined to fail.
  • Grow your user base.  Obviously, the most critical element to growth is to create and grow your customer user base.  Regardless of their size, every new customer counts, plays a pivotal role and is important to your overall success.  Quite often smaller customers become larger, longstanding consumers as your brand relationship develops and grows over the years.  Newer customers tend to be more vocal, providing more brand word-of-mouth advertising; whereas longstanding customers aren’t often as publicly vocal, they share brand support when asked by their inner circle, which typically provides stronger, qualified referral leads.
  •  Create a successful online social strategy.  A successful online strategy provides continued relevance to the consumer.  The easiest way to gain a new follower or obtain a “like” from a user is to provide a promotion or discounted offer; however, your real goal is have that consumer interact with you in an ongoing, two-way conversation online.  To do this, you’ll want to create content that not only draws a user in but also maintains their interest and incents them to interact with you on a regular basis.  Surveys and open-ended questions are a great way to get consumers involved.  Sharing curated content on relevant and timely issues and topics that relate to your brand is another great way to not only get consumers involved but to also provoke them to share content from your Facebook or Twitter page.  The activity of sharing content could extend your overall reach and introduce you to new potential customers.
  • Develop the mindset of speed.  Gaining new customers and growing quickly requires online mass reach in today’s global marketplace.  The fastest way to jump-start any marketing effort is to create a buzz.  Buzzworthy content (content thought to be worthy of being talked about or shared online) such as infographics, dynamic photo galleries or YouTube videos, will spread virally and rapidly, giving you access to a wider consumer base.  Buzzworthy content is also more prone to receiving feedback, which opens the door to natural two-way conversations and additional sales opportunities.
  • Add a splash of traditional flare.  Although the goal is to get consumers to interact with your brand online in order to impact sales, one of the easiest ways to get new, qualified leads to your online doorstep and jump-start the growth of your new product or innovation is to reach them via television or radio.  Adding television or radio to your marketing mix can drive new customers to search for you online or ask others about you.
  • Establish your marketing plan of attack.  To ensure optimal success, define your marketing product launch plan and control your message and frequency.  Create a content calendar which outlines the topics you want to cover at a high level and specifies the activities for each day.  You’ll want to connect with your users on a consistent basis, without spamming or overloading them.  Too much information too fast could be perceived as information overload and cause a potential customer to be turned off or a current customer to stop following you.
  • Measure your performance and map consumer engagement.  Not only should you keep close tabs on the performance of your product launch marketing performance, but you should also follow your consumer behavior.  What article, blog or social piece drove the new consumer to your doorstep?  What topic or conversation starter caused a current client to interact with you or make an additional purchase from you?  Knowing these statistics, as well as your overall sales numbers, will help guide and define your ongoing product marketing efforts.
  • Continue to add fuel to your fire.  Many marketers and business owners make the mistake of thinking their launch is the end of the event, when in fact it is simply the launching point for a never-ending process.  Doing a big push and then pulling back, assuming your launch is over, will no doubt have huge negative impact on your sales performance.  Prepare yourself for the mindset that your launch is simply the beginning and that your support and continued marketing efforts will be an ongoing effort.

While each of these elements on their own can have a positive impact on your new product or innovation launch, their value comes from combining them together.  Using all eight of these elements together can help you create a powerful launch strategy and provide you with a roadmap for product launch success.