Boom! This Is How To Make A Brand Pop.

We all look in the mirror. Sometimes it's to check our teeth, other times our hair, or maybe even a blemish or two. What about your business? Do you spend too much time watching yourself build widgets in the proverbial mirror that you miss what everyone else is doing around you?

When running a business, it's easy to be so deep in the trench that you can't see beyond the weeds. This was the case for National Window Coverings. This high-end brand spent a majority of its time servicing the demands of architects, designers, and homeowners, to the point it found itself stuck in the 1990's. The brand looked old, felt old, and didn't have the luxury feel of the products they sold, delivered, and installed.

With National Window Coverings, Wedgie Creative needed to start from scratch. Our Web Team 6, graphics group, and production teams collaborated on the overall brand vision; then, like a precision military operation, began deployment.

Our graphics group designed a fresh, modern logo. Wedgie's Web Team 6, led by our very own Christian Klein, deployed a killer, responsive National Window Coverings website. While these elements were being built, the Wedgie TV production team took the brand to a whole new level. They crafted a brand-new TV and digital commercial to launch the National Window Coverings rebrand. Our team created a custom composition for the ad and designed the entire spot to visually elevate the National Window Coverings brand to the luxury status their product already represented.

Rebranding a company isn't easy. It takes a team of dedicated professionals, a vision, money, and the most important component, client trust. It's a daunting task, but in the end, the results are breathtaking.

Ready to take your brand to the next level? We may know a company that’s ready to help. :) 


Brilliant Marketing Gone Bad | How Keurig 2.0 Screwed Up

I love brilliant marketing. It's the powerful, impactful way we marketers get you to move from point A to point B. To make purchases or make decisions about a product or service.

Brilliant marketing excites me. It's impact isn't lost on me either, even though I am in the industry.

Recently I purchased a new vehicle, and I love it. That new car smell, the technology, the fuel efficiency, everything about this car is exactly what I wanted. The truth is, brilliant marketing convinced me of all of these things. But the reality is very different. You see, the new vehicle has a huge flaw, one that would force most people to return it. The manufacturer built the car a special way so I can't put fuel in my new car at any gas station. Instead, I can only purchase gas at their dealership. I know this is a horrible inconvenience but it's worse than that, they own the monopoly on the gasoline that goes in my car. So every time I need gas, I need to go there.

Why would you purchase a vehicle like that?! That's a great question.

I don't really own such a vehicle, but many of you have been screwed over by the @Keurig company and their new Keurig 2.0 coffeemaker. Keurig has decided to patent the pods that go in their new machines and they have created some technology that makes it impossible for consumers to use any other brand of unlicensed coffee pods in their new Keurig 2.0 machines. What? How is this possible? The company knows they make a great product, and figured they could be making even more money by monopolizing the coffee that goes in their machine. Thus, a brilliant marketing department and technology department came together and had a baby. That baby is called the Keurig 2.0. 

When brilliant marketing screws consumers, it loses its luster. It becomes an abortion, and it makes people dislike, distrust, and dissatisfied with the brand.

Hey businesses: Do good for consumers and don't screw them over. Use your brilliant marketing techniques to actually market things brilliantly and to bring great products and services to the world-- to people.

Keurig needs to learn this lesson. Fortunately, some brilliant hackers out there have already shown the world how to circumvent their system. Hackers? Yes, it's a piece of technology that makes coffee. 

Shame on Keurig for screwing consumers over, and kudos to the hackers who figured out how to bypass the system.

For those of you who have, or are thinking about purchasing a Keurig 2.0, watch this video to figure out how to circumvent the problem. For those of you marketing for Keurig, here's my middle finger.


The Yelp Scam: Is Yelp The New BBB?

Yelp is one of the few websites on the Internet that has the power to make or break small businesses. 78 million users per month visit the site to read reviews on products and services ranging from hair salons to restaurants to repair shops.

Unfortunately, Yelp understands better than anybody how critical these reviews are to the success of local businesses, and in our opinion they are abusing their power to create an unlevel playing field that adds more zeros to their own bottom line.

Review Suppressing

A quick Google search using the words “Yelp scam” brings back a million results detailing the frustrations of small businesses when it comes to how Yelp displays reviews.

One of our clients in particular, RYCO Plumbing, has had an especially difficult time with this. Of the 10 reviews RYCO has received, only the two most negative reviews are prominently displayed. The other 8 reviews, which tend to be very positive, have been suppressed.

 

How could Yelp possibly suppress all of these?

Wait—that’s right—Yelp has an algorithm that helps them “recommend” reviews to users, so apparently none of the more positive reviews were legitimate enough to be displayed.

It’s not even worth trying to reach out to a Yelp rep about this, because you’ll probably just receive a condescending comment about how their algorithm is too complicated for you to understand. Then they’ll mention they could move those reviews so users wouldn’t see them . . . for a monthly fee.

Pay to Play

Unless you pay to play, Yelp suppresses the reviews they want to suppress, and they feature the views they want to feature.

Back in 2009, Kathleen Richards put together a 4,000 word article investigating Yelp’s extortion of small businesses. In the article, Richards explains how Yelp exchanges real, honest reviews with paid advertisements, which is exactly what is happening to RYCO Plumbing.

If you search the keywords “RYCO Plumbing,” you would expect RYCO to be first in line, but they’re not.

Instead of being at the top, where they should be, Yelp has put a different plumbing service there with an overall 5-star rating. RYCO’s overall 1-star rating (a result of suppressed positive reviews) doesn’t seem to stand up to the other service, but if you look closer, you’ll notice that the other service has 23 5-star reviews . . . 23! Not a single 4-star mixed into the bunch.

Does that seem right to you?

Yelp spokesperson Kristen Whisenand claims that, “There is no amount of money you can pay Yelp to manipulate your reviews, and we do not punish people who don’t advertise.”

But our experiences and research have taught us differently.

A study done by the Harvard Business School suggests that 16% of all Yelp restaurant reviews in the metropolitan Boston area are fake. Another study done by MarketWatch reports that up to 20% of reviews are fake and that many of these fraudulent reviews are written by freelance writers from the Philippines, Bangladesh, and Eastern Europe for $1-10 per review.

While Yelp claims that these statistics only show the importance of having an advanced filtering system in place, how can they explain a 5-star rating resulting from 23 perfect reviews? That just doesn’t happen organically.

And are we supposed to just look past the fact that this same company is paying Yelp to feature their service?

Final Thoughts

Thousands of business owners AND customers have taken to sites like Yelp Sucks to voice their opinions about how unfairly many reviews are being suppressed and sometimes even deleted.

We’re tired of seeing our clients like RYCO Plumbing get bullied around by a website that extorts small businesses into either paying for advertisements or living with an undeserved 1-star overall rating.

We want to know your thoughts on all this. What are your experiences with Yelp? Has stuff like this been happening to you too or to a business you know?

Share your experiences in the comments area below.

When It Comes To Current and Potential Customers, Why Are You So Negative?

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Time and time again I hear people in business say things like, “No one will want ________,” “Nobody cares about ________,” or “People will never use ________.” Why won’t your customers want, care, or use a certain product, idea, or widget? Have you so little faith in your brand, or in your early adopters, that you would ignore innovation? Let’s hope not, cause a business that’s not progressing is a business that’s dying… there’s no in between. Not all ideas are created equal, and we get that. Some ideas flat out suck, but they still need to be expressed and need to be heard just as much as the good ideas. However, the worst thing you can do as the leader of a growing business is assume that your customers will “never” jump on board with a new idea. This attitude of negative assumption will ultimately kill innovation in your business. When innovation dies, so does the business… slowly… but it inevitably dies.

Alright, so the movie “Jobs” wasn’t all that good. However, there’s a great quote from the movie and from the character of Steve Jobs (Ashton Kutcher) that epitomizes the success of Apple. The quote is in response to negative assumption of consumer behavior, and it’s this, “how does somebody know what they want if they haven’t even seen it?” When brainstorming and evaluating new ideas (no matter how large or how small) it’s up to the leader to give the consumer more credit, and view the positives of each idea. This makes evaluating the risk/reward equation far easier than if you assume “no one will buy into ________.” Next time you’re faced with a new idea from a team member, begin evaluating how much failure would hurt your business, rather than assuming how your customers will react to the idea. It’s not the fear of the failure that’s motivating your decision, it’s whether or not you can take the hit. If you can afford to take the hit, start evaluating how the idea will work, then how to make the idea a successful reality. Why? 9 times out of 10 you will wrongly predict how people will feel. How many times have you assumed your spouse would dislike an idea only to end up completely surprised by their approval of it? Happens all the time! The difference is, that’s just one person (one that you know better than anyone else), imagine assuming how hundreds, thousands, or millions of people will feel. You can’t. So live in the positive.

Ideas move people. Not only the good ideas, but sometimes the new ones. Think about how many people love Reality TV. How many of those shows do you hear about and say to yourself, “Who came up with such an awful show concept?” Yet, people watch. They don’t watch the show because it’s a great idea, they watch the show because it’s a new idea, or a different idea. “We are drawn to leaders and to their ideas, and we can’t resist the rush of belonging and the thrill of the new […] And if you give us tools and make it easy, we’ll keep joining.” – Seth Godin, Tribes.

Your challenge:

  • Live in the Future. The positive future.
  • Embrace new and different ideas.
  • Assume the best of your consumers.
  • Coach your team to follow suit. 

Your Company's Mission vs. Your Company's Accolades

Too often I see companies that want to brag about their awards, their affiliations, their records, or even their media mentions. Why? Are they trying to send a message to their competition? Or do they actually think customers or clients care to know these things? Most companies will say, “It builds immediate trust” or “These things build our brand.” I beg to differ.

What’s your company’s mission? What’s your company’s purpose in this world, this market, your industry? If you answered, “To grow and make more money” then I hate to break it to you, but it’s time to close up shop. Put your business 2nd and your clients or customers 1st. Your mission should be how you’re going to best serve a client or a customer.

 

Compelling = Propelling:

 

Your company’s mission is what compels customers and/or clients to give you a try, commit to you and, even better, remain loyal to you. Once you’ve established this “service first” mission that compels the market into action it eventually propels your business up the success curve. The market (in just about every industry) will always be more concerned with what your company can do for them rather than what your company has done for itself… or what your company has achieved… or what big brands your company has ties to… or how many times your company is mentioned in the media. These accolades might help strengthen your credibility but again, put them 2nd, and put your mission 1st.

 

The Wal-Mart Greeter:

 

Wedgie Creative’s mission is to help companies grow and achieve success. One of the ways we do this is by helping companies develop their “greeter”: their website. Most companies realize (and if they don’t realize this, now’s the time to learn!) that their website will be a client’s or a customer’s first impression of their business. Well if that’s the case then you should immediately make sure that your homepage is loaded with all of your awards, TV and radio mentions, “dealerrater.com’s number one something rather 2 and ½ years running with a So-and-So’s company recommendation,” right? Absolutely not.

Imagine this: You’re rushing to Wal-Mart to buy some last minute, inexpensive running shoes because the shoes you own are busted. You’re in a rush because you have a charity walk in less than two hours. You do your I’m in a hurry power-walk through the door, only to be halted to a complete stop by the greeter. “Hi, sir. Welcome to Wal-Mart, the 2009 Green Choice Award Winner.” You try to nod, maybe smile, whatever it is you need to do to keep walking and get those shoes! But the greeter steps in front of you again to say, “Did you know that we won the Sustainability Excellence Award?” You respond, but only to end this and get to your shoes, “That’s nice. Congratulations. Where can I find the-” The greeter again cuts you off, slows you down, only to say, “Did you know that the new age of Wal-Mart was given great praise by CNBC’s Emmy Award winning anchor and reporter David Faber?” You scream, “that’s it! I’m outta here!” You can’t take it anymore. All you wanted was some shoes. Is that so much to ask? You heard they had great prices, and you wanted to see for yourself, but nope. Instead, you were bombarded at the homepage before you could click through the service options. The store put themselves first, and you second. As a result, they lost your business. Now, Wal-Mart would never have their greeters do such a thing, but the analogy makes the point. Those are actual Wal-Mart accolades that you’ve probably never heard about. Why? Those accolades are a result of their mission, not the other way around. Their mission begins with you, the client, the customer. Their mission compels you, causing you to propel them to success.

Your mission, should you choose to accept it:

So what does your “greeter” look like? Do you have the type of greeter that brags about accolades, affiliations, media mentions, and beats the company’s chest in the consumer’s face? Or do you have the type of greeter that’s friendly, easy going, and guides new, existing, or even loyal clients and customers to finding what they want? I hope it’s the latter. If not (or if you’re looking for a younger, more attractive greeter), then we should talk: info@wedgiecreative.com

Right now, I highly suggest either establishing or looking at your current mission statement. Does it serve you, or does it serve the consumer? If it doesn’t put the consumer first, it’s time to revise it immediately and develop a mission of higher purpose.  

 

Buckle Up And Enjoy The Flight

When Virgin America decided to update their inflight safety video, they could have done the same thing all airlines do. They could have played it safe, delivered the generic, FAA mandated safety information in a short video, delivered by b-grade talent, in a stuffy old aircraft. But that's not how Sir Richard Branson rolls.

Virgin America put forth an edict to create an engaging, entertaining and informative safety video. One that people would not only watch but talk about, remember, share, and in the end continue pushing Virgin America's branding into the stratosphere.

As an agency we have created music videos for national brands like Data Doctors, parody commercials for large franchises like Fast Signs, and engaging content for even smaller local clients like RYCO Plumbing. Why? Because they're fun, engaging, and memorable. Oh, and they work too!

We want all clients to have the vision Virgin America has. Your budget may only be a fraction of theirs, but the results can be just as powerful. Anyone up for a branded music video?

-Spanky

 

Delivering The Wong Message

I have a simple question to ask all of you: “When did fortune cookies become lame?”

Remember the anticipation of cracking open a fortune cookie to reveal some life-changing wisdom? Perhaps the fortune cookie delivered an answer to some question that had been pressing you for a while?

In the last 10 years I've noticed a huge shift in the quality of those little white strips of paper stuffed inside our fortune cookies. The messaging has gone south.

Much like branding, advertising and marketing for a business, fortune cookies have lost their messaging. Fortune cookies are no longer manufactured by a company with a brilliant writer, and a staff dedicated to entertaining those who read them. Instead, their messaging has been diluted by having too many hands in the fortune cookie batter.

Good messaging and memorable branding takes consistency. If you have more than one message it automatically creates confusing, mixed messages to the consumer, and your brand will suffer.

So let's look at some consistent messaging that has stood the test of time. Ready to play along at home? Oh, and make sure you’re answering out loud.

If you had hemorrhoids, what’s the one product you'd pick to treat them? There, you already said it, Preparation H. Now, what's Preparation H’s nearest competitor? Not as easy to grab that one out of thin air is it? Let’s move on to the lightning round! When did you last see an ad for Preparation H? Can't remember, right? I know!  It's probably been years. You see, the messaging was so spot on, so focused, and so consistent that you'd pick Preparation H over any other brand.

So what do fortune cookies have to do with this? Fortune cookies used to have one focus and one message: life-changing advice. Now however, you get riddles, you get lotto numbers, imponderables, and a sentence that has nothing to do with anything. Perhaps a dose of Prep H will shrink the swollen pool of bad writers and allow fortune cookies to once again deliver the life-affirming messaging we once knew. If these “fortune” messages get any worse I may start calling them "unfortunate cookies". Either way, the day this new era of “unfortunate cookies” are gone, people will remember the time before fortune cookies started delivering the Wong message.

-Spanky

 

Viral Isn't The Goal, It's The Side Effect

When a client says "we want to go viral" what we the agency want to do is run, run away as fast as we can.

You see viral isn't the goal, it's merely the side effect of a well produced, informative, entertaining piece of content.

Oftentimes clients get stuck on wanting to go viral rather than looking at the big picture. Going viral has little value if the content that goes viral doesn't do anything for your business. Just because you have a bazillion views doesn't put money in your pocket, it just means you have a bazillion views.

Before you start asking your agency, content producer, or whomever it is that's working on your project to "go viral," think about the value in that statement versus the value of creating something worth sharing, worth talking about, and that organically builds a customer base.

After all, your goal is to grow your business, make money, and be happy. Going viral only contributes to the latter and sadly, many times, doesn't help with the first two.

So, do you want to create a "viral video" or do you want to create a video that has value and the potential to go viral? If you prefer the first option, please don't call us. If the second option seems more aligned with your business acumen, then it's time for us to talk.

-Spanky

I'm Ignoring You

La, la, la, la, la. This is me ignoring you. 

I’m ignoring you. I’m ignoring your product, I’m ignoring your company, I’m ignoring your advertising. It’s not out of spite… it’s not to be mean… it’s because I either don’t have the time, or don’t know why I should care.  So how do you get noticed when to ignore is no longer ignorance? Brand yourself first.

Believe it or not, in a world where everyone is moving as fast as possible (or at least they think they are) and everything is snap-snap-snap, now-now-now, “GET TO THE POINT ALREADY!” customers are actually more concerned with being sold on YOU than being sold on a particular product. People don’t line up in droves solely because of “Apple’s new product” but rather, they line up because of “a new product FROM Apple“. It’s about Apple. Apple is the reason people line up in droves. Your brand will always outweigh your latest and greatest product. Your brand will always outweigh your newest TV or Radio Ad. Your brand is why I have the time and why I should care.

-Sean

Creativity Is A Four Letter Word: Gone

Sometimes you need to think outside the box.

Where has all the creativity in advertising gone? That’s the problem with advertising today, there is no creative, it’s simply gone.

More companies seem to be afraid to make a bold statement with their advertising because they don’t want to offend someone. They want to stay right in the middle, leaving a flavor of advertising about as tasty as cardboard.

It’s OK to stick your creative neck out, stretch your advertising wings, and if on occasion your advertising strikes a nerve or offends someone, that’s OK. This world is made of a very diverse group of people, some are able to laugh, some are not. Some consumers can see the value in your product or service, others think it’s useless.

Rather than painting with the broad brush of vanilla, why not use a colorful paint gun and make your mark?

In our concept ad for Tootsie Pops, the message is simple, clear and strong. Does it offend? That’s a personal decision you have to make.

Fear has taken away the flavor of advertising today. Clients get zero value from fearful advertising. Lead the way, don’t fear the world and for goodness sake, make advertising worth noticing. Your bottom line will thank you, and consumers will actually talk about you.

-Spanky

 

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