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BRANDE : blog archives for July 2012

July 31, 2012

Brandemix Website Makeover Contest!

As Brandemix looks forward to the launch of our own new website (coming soon), it’s time to recognize and celebrate great website makeovers!

We’re holding a contest to reward the best refresh, revamp, and relaunch of websites (Click here for contest rules). Any organization, any size, profit or nonprofit.


Simply submit “before and after” images to website@brandemix.com and we’ll post it the top ten judged entries on our Pinterest board during the voting period. 
Feel free to post as a web designer or a fan, even if you weren’t responsible for the change. Don’t have the “before”? Use the Wayback Machine. 

The redesign with the most total likes, comments, and repins will win a free press release, distributed to hundreds of outlets, announcing both the design achievement and the victory. 


We’ll also capture the success and and those responsible for it on video, and post it here on our blog and 
our Facebook page. The whole world will learn all about the website and the brand.

What kind of things are we looking for? Here’s the Lindal Group, a manufacturing company, before their website refresh:


Not bad, but heavy on text, and with no real branding. Navigation is on the left, the top, and the right, making for a confusing interface. Now look at the current site:

Much more visually interesting! Plenty of images of the products that Lindal actually makes. Clearer navigation and a search function to make browsing easier. And you’ve got to love the branding: “Your Innovation Partner.” The previous website didn’t have a tagline.

This and other website makeovers are on our contest pinboard on Pinterest. Vote by commenting, repinning, liking — or all three! The website with the most total votes by Monday, September 17 wins the free press release, video interview, and eternal internet fame.

Submit your site, or any other, by emailing website@brandemix.com. Remember to include both a before and after shot.


Good luck!
July 23, 2012

When Brands Collide: What Happens to the Logo in an M&A?

Branding and marketing executives beware. Although this year has seen a precipitous fall off in M&A activity, economic signs point to a strong finish buoyed by signs of recovery in Europe.

Is your company a future hunter or prey? What might this mean to your brand?

“Historically, the decision on how to merge two large companies’ brand identities and logos seems to have been made haphazardly,” write Ellen Sluder and Neil Wieloch of consulting firm CoreBrand“Rarely do companies take the time to consider how to [re-brand] most effectively.”

URLpulse compiled a gallery of “before and after” images of merger logos. It’s clear right away which companies tested and evaluated their new branding and which ones didn’t give it much thought.

In a Harvard Business Review article, Jonathan Knowles, Isaac Dinner, and Natalie Mizik recently showed that companies that “fuse” their two logos perform better financially than mergers in which one partner’s identity is discarded or both partners’ logos are maintained separately. So it’s better to be a logo united than one divided.


Speaking of united, 
many branding experts criticized the logo that resulted from last year’s merger of United Airlines and Continental Airlines. The new company kept United’s name and a very similar font, along with Continental’s blue globe icon. Basically nothing changed, and an opportunity to showcase a new, stronger airline was lost. Supporters claimed that changing signage at hundreds of airports all over the world and repainting two fleets of planes would cost millions of dollars. But what if the change was phased in? And how much money is the new, boring brand losing for the airline? Did the leadership examine all the options before they decided not to change anything?
Take it from the expert. Brandemix Creative Director Clarissa Zorr weighs in based on her own experience with merger logo design. “The brand design should take into consideration the reasons for the merger and what the new brand will stand for,” she told me. “Is it a paradigm shift, a hostile takeover, or are they simply joining forces?”

Good advice. So what are the “fused” logos that get it right? Verizon comes to mind. It’s the result of Bell Atlantic acquiring GTE. But you don’t see either of those companies’ logos, colors, or typefaces. The new company positioned itself as a 21st-century high-tech innovator totally unlike its old-fashioned parents.

I also like the new AB InBev logo. It updates the 130-year-old Anheuser-Busch image and tones down the futuristic InBev font to create a new look that’s both classic and forward-looking.

The takeaway? Never overlook your branding. As Zorr says: “Time, budget, PR, and overall marketing efforts all play a role in the decision-making process.” A merger or acquisition can be exciting, tense, or even confusing for employees. Make sure they have a strong brand behind them and you’ll be on the path to success.
If you’re interesting re-branding your organization, talk to us. Been through a recent M&A? we’d love to hear from you.

July 11, 2012

Six Steps to an Effective Brand Plan

You’ve heard about it at meetings – possibly from me. But what is a “brand plan”? It’s both an internal and external document. Internally, it describes your organization’s focus and goals, to align all employees with your mission. Externally, it provides a roadmap for marketing and promotion.

How do you create a brand plan? It can take weeks of research, discovery, analysis, and creative development. But here’s a slimmed-down version to help get you started: Start With a Vision
Your vision statement is aspirational. It’s about the future, not the present; it’s who you want to be as a company and where you want to be in the marketplace. It’s a goal that you will try to attain for the next three, five, or 10 years. Don’t be timid! A vision statement can be grand, bold, and optimistic. It should be an ideal worth aspiring to. This step involves research and discovery from everyone in the organization, as they’ll all be asked to contribute toward the goal.

Plan the Mission
The vision is where you want to be; the mission is how you get there. How will you achieve your goals and how will you know when you’re successful? At best, a mission statement also includes a brief version of your company’s philosophy and purpose. As Entrepreneur.com says, “Your mission statement doesn’t have to be clever or catchy – just accurate.” Spend time fine-tuning every single word, since your mission statement will be your guiding principles for the life of your vision.

It’s all right to have your head in the clouds when writing your vision and mission.

SWOT It Out
A brand plan includes an analysis of your company’s place in the market, broken down into four parts: Strengths – including your expertise, uniqueness, resources, or anything else that gives your company an advantage. Weaknesses – issues that may be holding you back from your potential; what knowledge or capabilities are you missing? Opportunities – such as an emerging customer need that you can meet, a new technology that will change your market, or a reduction in regulations or costs. Threats – problems on the horizon such as a customer need, technology, or law that makes the market worse for your company.

Strategize Tactically
You now know where you want to go, how you’ll get there, and your current and future advantages and disadvantages. Now you can create a strategy that will help you get from here to there, using your strengths to take advantage of the opportunities and avoid the obstacles. This means creating a strategy, the large-scale plan for success. Within this are tactics, the individual programs, products, and initiatives that contribute to the strategy. In war, strategy involves which battles you’re going to fight; the tactics are how you fight them. Don’t get them mixed up or you can find yourself wasting resources on a tactic or overlooking the importance of a strategy.

Bring in the Numbers
Visions and missions can be “touchy-feely,” but a brand plan should include numbers. If you’re launching a new product, how many will be in your first shipment? What are your metrics for success – sales, hires, press mentions, social media responses? What’s the minimum ROI that will allow you to move on to the next step? And what’s the budget for each of your tactics? Don’t let your enthusiasm make you neglect the most important numbers – time and money!

Some brand plans are measured in months; others in hours

3, 2, 1, Launch!
The plan is in place. Now it’s time to execute. Put that new budget to use and start designing, writing, creating, and shipping. After so much discussion and preparation, everyone will be eager for results. Help them out with a quick win, an easily achieved goal that boosts your employees’ confidence and builds momentum for the next round. Quick wins silence doubters and give you something to point to at the first few status meetings and say, “This worked.”

Your brand plan is finished. Guided by your mission statement, you’re implementing your strategy and tactics, making your vision a reality. You’ve made some quick wins, you’re analyzing the metrics, and you’re aware of both the perils and the promise of the future. You’ve put in place a solid foundation for success.

At Brandemix, we specialize in brand planning, brand architecture, brand positioning, and branding initiatives. If you’d like to learn more, contact me. I’d love to share our knowledge with you.

July 4, 2012

How IBM's Intranet Improves Employee Development and Retention

At  HR/NY’s fabulous social media recruiting panel (which I moderated,) the audience and I were wowed as Nabeel Ahmad, Learning Developer at IBM, rocked the New York Times Building. 

He showed how IBM, the conservative corporate giant, has been letting its hair down and opening its intranet to new ideas. The results have been greater collaboration, better retention, and more advancement opportunities. Here’s how IBM did it, and how you can too:


Employees Thank Each Other 
Instead of a top-down rewards program, IBM allows its employees to recognize each other with “Blue Thx.” These can be sent to any colleague anywhere in the world. And it’s not a private interaction; a leaderboard shows who’s received the most “Thx” in the last 30 days. Kind, simple gestures like these help unite IBM’s global workforce of 400,000. 

Employees Shadow Each Other
IBM’s ShadowMe program connects employees with senior executives based on department and location. A search for “social learning,” for example, brings up more than 800 IBMers across the entire company. Employees can physically shadow their mentors at the same office, or virtually follow mentors anywhere in the world. An employee never has to miss a learning or development opportunity because the expert in their field is in a different building, city, or country.


Employees Learn From Each Other
IBMers have access to a crowdsourcing resource, allowing them to ask their colleagues questions about any topic. An HR question posted here, for example, yields much faster results than an email submitted to HR…and it cuts down on HR’s workload. While there’s a danger that employees might give each other wrong answers, I’ve found that, like Yelp restaurant reviews, the truth usually rises the top. 

Employees Don’t Have to Email Each Other
Nabeel asked us if we cheap viagra canada agreed with the statement “I live in my email.” That attitude is a problem at IBM, so senior leaders look for any way to keep employees’ inboxes clean. When new CEO Ginni Rometty took over in January, she didn’t send an email announcement; she put her speech on video and made it available only on internal channels. This showed everyone at IBM how serious she was about cultivating the intranet.


IBM’s collaborative spirit even extends to live events. Before a recent technology panel, employees were asked to submit questions ahead of time. But instead of picking his favorites, the moderator made all the submissions public and allowed employees to vote for the best ones. This ensured that the panel addressed the issues most pressing to the largest group of people. If you’ve been to an event where someone asks a question that’s relevant only to them, you know how important this is.

Nabeel showed us that IBM’s conservative image doesn’t really reflect the true nature of its employees’ creativity, resourcefulness, or satisfaction. If your business is large enough for an intranet, we’d love to put the lessons of IBM and other corporate superstars to work for you. Contact me for more details.