Would you want to have dinner with your brand personality?

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This isn’t about creating your brand personality.

If you’re looking for that, you’ll find an overwhelming number of sources ready to teach you. Most of them will tell you how easy it is: Five Ways, Seven Simple Steps, Do It In Ten Minutes or Less! I’ll credit you with the wisdom to know it’s not that easy and to search out qualified brand creators with names, faces and credentials.

What the happy, helpy online folks don’t tell you is just how difficult it is to get your brand personality right. This isn’t a task done unilaterally by one marketing person. Or even by the whole marketing department. Or even by them and an external agency. It takes everyone from the CEO to the kid in the mail room with the Death Druid tattoo on the back of his neck.

Many of you are nodding your heads and thinking, “I know all that.”

Good. You’re whom I want to talk to. You either have a brand personality or are creating one. Here’s the question you need to ask yourselves, the litmus test of whether or not consumers find your brand likable and credible: “Would you want to have a drink with Mr. or Mrs. Your Brand?”

If you’ve done your brand personality creation correctly—assessed your strengths and weaknesses, aligned your brand strategy, listened to your customers, and spent the time to know what your brand looks like, how many kids it has, what it drives, whether it gives to charity and the brand of shoes it wears—you’ll see a living, breathing person before you.

The most thorough brand personality creation of which I was part (for a hospital), we even had a name: Dr. Henderson. I felt like I knew the guy and, yes, I found him intriguing enough that chatting over drinks was not an unpleasant prospect.

The trick is seeing the brand as consumers see it. People flying Virgin Airlines aren’t greeted by Richard Branson. From the minute they step to the Virgin gate, they interact with a brand beyond its creator’s personality.

Amazon vs Craig’s List? Let’s see, one is confident, organized and seems to really care about me, while the other is shady, faceless and doesn’t seem to care if I get scammed. Target vs. Kmart? I like both of the linked spots for branding purposes, only Target delivers the brand upon entering its stores. Kmart doesn’t.

One of the most brilliant branding campaigns belongs, of course, to Apple. It puts faces and voices to what I can only write about. While the PC isn’t a brand, the brands selling it—IBM, HP, Etc—are saddled with a bumbling oaf of a product that, were you to have dinner, would expect you to pick up the tab…after it had dropped its entrée onto the floor and broken its water glass. Apple I would expect to be a fascinating conversationalist and even recommend a better place to eat.

So, after your months of toil crafting your brand personality, put it to the final test. Would you like to sit across from it at Chez Gourmet or just stay at home and order carryout?

–From the braintrust @ Creative Dimensions

What’s Your ROI IQ?

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You’ve just presented a brilliant new advertising/marketing campaign when, from the tar pits, rises this: the dinosaur who, drawing from some Triassic-aged bank of analytics knowledge, says, “Show me a good ROI or I’ll show you the door”? You cannot take the threat lightly, because the dinosaur in these cases is almost invariably powerful enough to rip your efforts to shreds and search elsewhere for the tasty ROI it believes exists.

To manage the beast, you must have an evolved sense of what ROI really is, how to capture it and how to present it successfully from new perspectives.

First, let’s look at the term, itself. BusinessDictionary.com defines Return On Investment—in short—as, “The earning power of assets measured as the ratio of the net income (profit less depreciation) to the average capital employed (or equity capital) in a company or project.” Can marketers say they are investing in a company or project? A television or Internet campaign is much less tangible. Some would even argue that marketing is more an expense than an investment and, as such, belongs in the advertiser’s P&L.

Nobody’s saying ROI isn’t an important metric. The trick is understanding the many relevant interpretations of the term.

Modern wisdom, embodied in this case by a pundit from Forbes Magazine, looks at ROI from different angles and finds value in each. She asks us to consider ROI in the digital realm as Return on Impressions (self-explanatory), or in the social media space as Return on Opportunity (as in opportunities that arise when a branding effort takes on a life of its own), or Return on Engagement which comes from analyzing the interaction of consumers with your brand. There’s also Return on Objectives, a calculation of potential once the objective of a long-term effort is reached. All of these versions of ROI examined together can give a clearer picture of value versus expenditure.

Even if you don’t buy in to her rationale, you have to agree simple, one-dimensional ROI isn’t enough on which to base an integrated analytics picture. One must factor in the strategic intent of all marketing investments a company makes. Your representative’s visit to a client is supported by your print campaign that earns credibility by word of mouth endorsements which prompt action at point of purchase and so on. This gets into return on incremental investing and a look at not how much consumers bought, but at how much MORE they bought, because of your marketing spectrum.

In another twist of the term, ROI can stand for Return on Influence. This regards social media marketing and the ripple effect that occurs when like-minded people pass the word about your brand. Immediate dollars returned can’t be quantified. Analytics must instead focus on lead generation, customer acquisition and moving the customer along the purchase life cycle—and the registers ringing as a result.

This single blog entry can’t provide the content you need for an in-depth understanding of how to use ROI as a metric or how to counter those who believe it is the ONLY metric. It can (this blogger hopes) inspire you to look at ROI differently and go on to educate yourself. A Google search with parameters as simple as “New ROI” will start you down the right path.

As every intellectually astute article should begin and end with Einstein, I quote: “Whoever undertakes to set himself up as a judge of Truth and Knowledge is shipwrecked by the laughter of the gods.” This is certainly applicable to those stuck in old thinking about ROI—and perhaps to certain bloggers who think they know everything.

–From the braintrust @ Creative Dimensions

Creative Dimensions Launches Problem Gambling Outdoor Campaign for Talbert House

One of our longtime clients, Talbert House, reached out to us recently for creative development of an outdoor billboard campaign for problem gambling, which is being sponsored by the Mental Health Services Board of Hamilton County. Approximately 34 billboards will be visible throughout Hamilton County for the next two months. The project required a very quick turnaround, and true to form, Creative Dimensions was up to the task. Four campaign concepts were created, presented, and the final boards were approved and sent to the outdoor companies within a span of about a week. Nothing to it!

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Just Brakes Website—Down From the Lift and Ready to Roll

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Like getting a tune-up, lube and a new coat of paint, auto repair chain Just Brakes is rolling out in fine style at the wheel of a newly updated website, designed by Creative Dimensions. All of Just Brakes’ signature services are listed, along with helpful information about hours and locations. Money-saving offers remain in the spotlight, and arranging an appointment can be done in seconds. For mobile users, we’ve customized the site fit their style. Show your car, and yourself, a little love. Stop by the new justbrakes.com.

CREATIVE DIMENSIONS TEAMS WITH HALL-OF-FAMER MARTY Brennaman

Creative Dimensions Advertising & Marketing recently wrapped up production on a television commercial for Covenant Village, a member of The Health Care Management Group. The spot features Major League Baseball Hall-of-Famer and Cincinnati Reds broadcaster Marty Brennaman. The spot, shot and edited by Curtis Productions, will air throughout the Reds baseball season on Fox Sports Ohio.

Covenant Village of Green Township is a physical therapy rehabilitation center dedicated to getting you home faster. The state-of-the-art equipment, techniques and environments we employ are more than innovative. They’re proven to make the road to recovery more pleasant and a faster route to get patients home, healthy and independent.

To view the spot, click below.

 

Is Your Advertising Brave Enough?

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Ordinary advertising can work in the short term. Brave advertising, assuming it’s not also stupid advertising, can hook into the consumer’s consciousness and work for years. If you ever saw this for Apple, you haven’t forgotten it: 1984

Being brave means having the guts to be really good or really bad. Both cut through the clutter by either making a bid for the consumer’s affections (good) or by being memorably annoying (bad). In between are pansy ads that take no risks.

Excellent advertising aims for high-level (not necessarily high-budget) creativity that’s relevant to the product or service, appeals to the viewer’s values and delivers something memorable, whether it’s hilarious or touching or dramatically stylish.  See how Axe Peace did it with only the most tenuous of benefits: Axe Peace

Horrible advertising does much the same thing, but dares to be so annoying, it burrows into the brain, lays eggs and won’t leave. Low budget is not the defining factor here. Some brands throw garbage trucks full of cash at perfecting “horrible.”   See how Subway did it: Subway $5 Footlong

Being brave begs the question: Is it worth it?

Probably not for everybody. If you’re a visionary like Steve Jobs or have a good imagination or have hired an agency who knows a great idea when it births one, you should by all means go for the gold ring. If you don’t trust your instincts or your marketing people, your agency or your product, stay in known terrain and dare to be what you are. Being ordinary can work. There are plenty of work-a-day ads that get the job done.

If your advertising resembles someone else’s, you’re not brave enough. In fact you’re a chicken for hiding in the comfort of familiarity, even though it does nothing to distinguish your brand and may help your competition by looking like them.

If you blame the size of your budget, you’re not brave enough. Swinging for the fence takes good ideas more than big dollars. Lavish productions may dazzle, but do they deliver substance? Strong ideas do. Here’s one for FedEx: We Apologize

Bravery gives you a shot at commercial immortality. Nike, Capital One, Old Navy, Geico, Volkswagen, Coke, Dos Equis and others are household names because of it.

If you’re good with being good, fine. If you have a vision for greatness, then gather your best guns, go forth and conquer.

– From the Brain Trust @ Creative Dimensions

Seven ways to get effective work from your ad agency

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As tempting as it is to simply point a finger and place blame, here are a few more tips that work better in the modern work place.

1. Communication. This is the key point from which all the others fall. As in so many things in life, just making the effort to express your thoughts and listen to those of others pays dividends. Deadlines, office cultures and different time zones can make it a challenge, but one you need to rise to or face eventual disappointment, frustration and perhaps the loss of goals.

2. Understanding Your Agency. Whether you hired them or even like them, you need to understand their strengths and weaknesses. Do they communicate well? Are there egos creating impediments? Do you trust them as strategists? As creatives? As long-term planners? If you believe your key contact at the agency isn’t transmitting your wishes accurately, ask for one or more others to be brought into the loop. You’re the boss. You can do that.

3. Understanding Yourself. Apply much of the above thinking to your own company, especially to the people interfacing with the agency. Are their agendas in sync with yours? Are you communicating your wishes clearly to them? Do either or both of you know what you want from your advertising? You and yours must come to the war with a clear vision of what victory looks like. (Amazing how few do that. Don’t be one of them.)

4. Common Purpose. Assuming you’ve achieved points 2 and 3, you can align with the agency to share a goal. Most agencies will do their utmost to help you get there, IF they know where “there” is. Too many man hours have been lost by agencies foundering in the miasma of not being sure what the client wants. If both parties are truly conscientious, there is no reason for this to happen.

5. Partnership. You row my oar, I’ll row yours. Nothing will sink an effort faster than the lack of partnership. When there is success, include your agency in the revelry. When there is failure, call a discussion among the account heads on both sides to identify the “whys” and plan for better “hows.” Most agencies, when gaining your account, will begin to refer to your product or service as “our” product or service. Both sides of the business must avoid an “us and them” model, so you, too, must think in terms of “we.” Sounds simplistic, but the effects are quite profound.

6. Motivation. This is a corollary of #5, but it’s important enough to have its own rubric. Motivation: We all respond better to it than condemnation. Instead of pointing fingers when there’s been a disaster, be an adult and find where the blame lies—even if it is with you—and use your managerial skills to help everyone get back on course before losing much time dead in the water.

7. Persistence. It’s as with those inspirational speakers and their spiels for “getting rich” or “losing weight” or “having more energy.” You must stick with it or you’ll see short-term gains turning to long-term disappointments. Make communication with your agency part of your culture. Keep “positive” top of mind. Go forth and conquer!

– From the Brain Trust @ Creative Dimensions

Nine Questions to Ask Before Using Humor in Ads

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So, a guy walks into a bar and orders a Slurpo brand beer. (Were this an actual humorous commercial, I’d provide a punch line. As it’s only to make a point, I’ll ask a question.) Why did he order that particular beer?

Humor has the power to inspire and incite, defuse emotional time bombs and add new perspectives to old concepts. It can also diminish the credibility of a brand or misdirect attention from deceptive messages. Sometimes it’s taken too seriously and results in articles like this. Unless you are fluent in Meta-speak, click at your own risk. It’s insightful, but the antithesis of funny.

I’ve pored over several discussions on the subject, and here’s my net—and what I hope will be a useful guide for you.

1. How Do We Define Humor? In this instance, we’ll define humor as a device intended to make you laugh out loud, as opposed to cute, which only wants to make you feel good.

2. Do you have a serious brand? To state the obvious, humor isn’t for everyone. If you’re in health care, finance, government or another field from which people want respectability, humor will be tough to pull off. I used to think this about the legal profession, but the rise in goofy ads for lawyers makes me think it’s working for someone. (For you Breaking Bad fans: “Better call Saul.”) If you represent cell phones, laptops, fast food, lingerie or any consumer-oriented offering with a demonstrable benefit, you can go serious or funny, especially when drawing the humor from real life (think of Honda’s “Darth Vader” spot. If you want to sell beer, soda or other things with no tangible benefit, humor is probably your best choice. Or a song.

3. Does your audience have a sense of humor? Everyone enjoys a good laugh, but not all the time. Talking to cancer patients? Stick to serious. Talking to bored teenagers on almost any subject? Yuck it up. Consumers looking for information or trustworthiness usually want facts and might find humor frivolous. Is your viewer religious? Educated? Blue collar? Over weight? Are they one thing but aspire to another? Cornpone humor isn’t going to sell Armani suits, even if the potential buyer has every season of Hee Haw on DVD.

4. Can your agency produce humorous work? Humor is an art, one that not every creative person can perform. If your agency’s presentation doesn’t make you laugh, test it against representatives of that audience, if necessary. (See #5 also.)

5. Are you objective enough to entertain humor? Be honest with yourself. Is your sense of humor outside of mainstream? Are you not given to laughter? If you don’t ‘get’ the funny ad you’ve been asked to consider, can you see its potential for your audience? Can you try?

6. Who Used Humor Successfully? Gee, where to start. How about with the classic, “Where’s The Beef” for Wendy’s. It turned their business around and made them a major player in the hamburger/fast food category. How can you think of Budweiser without remembering the frogs or why the chicken crossed the road or a jillion others? Advertisers in almost every category have made humor work. Geico, McDonald’s, Lee Jeans, FedEx, etc. etc. Even Melbourne Metro in this train safety spot with 68,976,232 views currently.

7. Whose Funny Ads Failed? Clear Eyes, Casio and others show what NOT to do here.

8. What’s the Potential Risk? The biggest risk of humorous ads comes from the creativity overwhelming the message. Consumers might laugh till they cry, but not remember the advertiser or product, much less take action. The humor should be inextricable from the product and relevant to the message.

9. What’s the Potential Gain? Funny ads, when done right, make people feel good about the advertiser, increase memorability and can strike that richest of ad gold mines, viral social sharing—when funny seriously pays off.

Creative Dimensions Gets Green Light for Large Auto Repair Chain

Agency becomes the AOR for Dallas-based Just Brakes.

Cincinnati—January, 2014—Creative Dimensions has recently partnered with auto repair specialists Just Brakes, one of the nation’s largest brake specialty chains. They’ll provide full agency services, including branding, advertising, strategy and research, as well as planning and buying across a full range of media, from broadcast and print to online and social.

“As an agency, we have extensive auto repair, tire and automotive dealership experience,” says Steve Schaeffer, Creative Director of Creative Dimensions. “We are excited to add Just Brakes to our client roster, and to get started on building the brand and driving traffic to their stores.”

In addition to Just Brakes, Creative Dimensions provides advertising and marketing services for Teasdale-Fenton Carpet Cleaning and Restoration, The Health Care Management Group, Contractor’s Financial Services, Grant County Drugs and others.

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About Just Brakes.

The first Just Brakes opened in 1980 in Bryan, Texas. Within a couple of years, Just Brakes expanded its array of services and number of locations, with openings in Denver and Colorado Springs. They now serve many major markets with 135 locations providing Factory Scheduled Maintenance, including oil changes, shocks and struts, air and cabin filter replacement, tire rotation, coolant, power steering, and various fluid exchanges, fuel system services, battery replacement, windshield wiper blade and engine belt replacement, and in select locations, alignment and tire balancing.

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About Creative Dimensions.

Since 1971, Creative Dimensions continues to be what it has been since its inception: conscientious stewards of its clients’ brands, working in partnership to add value, build sales and provide excellent client service. Methodologies and skill sets include Strategic Planning, Design and Branding, Media Planning and Buying, Advertising and Digital Marketing. Find more about the agency at www.creativedimensions.com.

11 Dos and Don’ts of Successful Websites

11 Dos & Don’ts For Successful Websites

Your website is often the first place consumers encounter your brand and your offerings. The First Moment of Truth (FMOT) that used to occur in store aisles is happening more and more on websites. Is yours doing its job to capture sales, awareness and brand engagement?

The most important thing to understand is that not all websites are created equal, nor should they be. A law firm won’t need all the functionality of an online fulfillment company. But each company will have unique needs that aren’t likely to be met by off-the-shelf websites.

Whether you have a website, are planning to build one or want to upgrade, check your plans against this list of proven dos and don’ts of successful websites.

1. Don’t Go Generic. You should confer with qualified web designers and/or your agency to map out a website to meet your needs. Beware the $500 one-size-fits-all offerings. You’ll probably waste your money, and almost certainly disappoint visitors.

2. Navigation, Navigation, Navigation. The header, footer and sidebars of a site can contain navigation links. Understand why each is important and the opportunities you have for guiding visitors easily from what they want to see to what you want them to see, and ultimately to what you want them to do. Poor navigation has rendered more than a few websites useless.

3. A Clear Call to Action. Amazingly, many sites for even top brands fail to guide visitors to a clear course of action. Do you want them to buy? To interact? To donate? Tell them, and not just once, but on every page. Tell them what (Exp: Take a Tour) and how (Exp: Click Here).

4. Be SEO Friendly. You sometimes hear the term “robust” associated with a website. That refers to the strength of its Search Engine Optimization. If you don’t understand the term, search it online and learn its significance. It will make the difference in whether you come up in viewer searches near the top of the first page or hopelessly lost somewhere on following pages. Most viewers select from the top ten choices on the first page of a search (in Google, Bing, Yahoo or others).

5. Craft your Content. You’re not writing simple ad copy here. The content on each page of your site needs to go beyond informing to encouraging interaction. Sprinkle it with links to other parts of your site and with SEO-,friendly words. Unless you’re an online catalog, you don’t need to give away the whole show. Include enough to entice your visitor enough to inquire for more information, make a call or to take other action.

6. Internal Links. This is a continuation of the above thought, but it’s important enough to deserve its own spot on the list. Internal links within your content not only help visitors jump to more information on a topic, they help immensely with how search engines read your relevance and decide your ranking in the golden top ten.

7. Brand Facing. This is a lesson from Advertising 101. Make sure your brand is depicted online in a manner consistent with how it is seen in all other forms of communication, from billboards to magazine ads to television commercials. The content must speak in the voice of the brand, and all interaction with visitors should reflect that same character. We have seen many websites that have inexplicably forgotten this.

8. Inviting Design. Some websites are just plain ugly. Will that keep visitors from exploring your site? Not necessarily, but it sure won’t help your brand or enhance the user experience. Not all web designers are good graphic designers. Make sure you have the expertise of both.

9. Customer Interaction. The online world opens the possibilities for instant consumer action and interaction. This may not be relevant to your company. Then again, maybe it’s something you haven’t thought was relevant. Your website gives you the chance to hear what customers are saying, helping them with their questions and delivering products or information in real time. You can take them on virtual tours, show videos or even let them play games that lead to loyalty to your brand. This is sales muscle you won’t find anywhere else.

10. Consistency of Message. Are you running a promotion on television or in other media? Is your company supporting a cause? Make sure these are communicated on your home page. If your website is not concurrent with your other media, you risk viewers believing it out of date and not returning.

11. Mobile. Is your site mobile specific or mobile responsive? Do you know the difference? Catering to mobile users is hugely important. Understand their needs and how to meet them.

Check your current site against this list or let it guide you in developing or upgrading a new one. Getting it right means getting it to pay you back for years to come.

– From the Brain Trust @ Creative Dimensions