brandED: Presented by Nicole M. Maclean

Favorite2-215x300Nicole M. Maclean has always shown an interest in company brands and consumer’s behaviors and attitudes towards them. Taking this idea, she decided to look at her future goals and instead of branding an inanimate object, she decided to brand herself. She has spent the last year doing something that many professionals have a difficult time pursuing, and that is creating a personal brand. Personal branding consists of who you are, how others perceive you, your visibility to the public, and how you differentiate yourself from others.

One of the first steps she took in establishing her own brand was finding a mentor who had experience with creating their own personal brand. Along the way she found Jeffrey Cohen, who not only has his own successful brand, but also has industry experience with social media. After she found a mentor, she began doing personal research to see what personality traits stood out. When she distinguished these traits, she then conducted industry research. By accomplishing this, she was able to compare the two forms of research and extricate some of the common factors and interests.

Once she recognized some distinguishable characteristics, her next step was looking at social media and search engine optimization (SEO). SEO increases the visibility of a webpage in an unpaid search engine and ensures that people can find you. In Nicole’s instance, when somebody searched her name she was not found until the second page. In order to confront this issue, she found that making a cohesive domain name throughout all of her social media accounts would set her apart. One of the challenges she faced was not finding usernames that were available. She easily solved this problem by adding her middle initial. This simple correction now made her name recognizable and easily accessible, and as a result made it the first five names when you googled her name “Nicole M Maclean.”

Lastly, the thing that I found the most interesting was the signature colors and fonts. Who knew that these two simple things could make such a difference? Her main color scheme consisted of orange as a primary color and then navy blue, ivory, and gray as her accent colors. She has even incorporated her colors into her wardrobe when she is meeting with certain individuals. Her reasoning is that it brings a sense of confidence and comfort, and relating it to a “power suit.” Secondly, her extensive research on typology was something I found absolutely fascinating. I never knew there was a science behind how each letter is written and how it could relate to readability.

Overall, the concept of rebranding yourself is a decision that many people should consider. It sets you up for your future, and allows you to build networks and grow professionally. By combining your personality with a professional presence, you can begin to sound more like an industry leader. As Nicole said, “Post for the job you want!”

Jeffrey Cohen Presents: “Car Crashes, Train Wrecks, and Social Media: You Just Can’t Look Away”

Jeffrey Cohen is not only the co-author of The B2B Social Media Book, but he is also a social media guru who created a successful personal brand. In this lecture, he discusses some of the poor attempts companies have tried on social media in order to gain consumer recognition.

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When it comes to companies and brands, they seem to think that the only way to appeal to consumers is to create a humanistic personality when it comes to social media. Brands want to feel more human because they feel as though their audience will make a personal connection, and eventually become loyal customers. With the use of big data, companies have no problem targeting their market niche. Consumers are providing so much data, though loyalty cards and even just the swipe of their credit card, which is making it simple to connect with them. When this much data is involved, there is only a matter of time when issues arise.

One example given during the lecture was the DiGiorno Pizza debacle. At this time, there was a story about domestic violence in the NFL. This led to a social media movement called #WhyIStayed, which allowed people to share their stories about why they stayed in their abusive relationship. DiGiorno Pizza decided to tweet “#WhyIStayed You had pizza.” Obviously this caused chaos with both the Twitter community and the public. DiGiorno took down the post as soon as the saw the millions of comments and responded with, “A million apologies. Did not read what the hashtag was about before posting.”

As a company and brand, marketing departments need to be more vigilant when it comes to what they are posting on social media. If DiGiorno took two seconds to look at the hashtag, this issue would have never occurred. With the rise of social media, companies not only have to worry about their own brand, but also current events. Not only did DiGiorno make a public apology, but they also went and apologized to individuals on Twitter. Yes, they did try to do everything in their power to apologize, but Cohen emphasized that these kinds of problems occur when brands try to act human. Humanity is filled with mistakes.

Overall the lecture from Cohen was very informative and definitely made you look at things with a new perspective. In the past when I looked at a company on social media, I never make the connection that they were acting humanistic. I feel as though I will never look at a brand the same way, but that’s not necessarily a bad thing!

Jimmy John’s: Freaky Fast Customer Service

Jimmy John’s is known for their sub sandwiches, but in a market with competitors like Subway, Pita Pit, Penn Station, and Jersey Mike’s it’s difficult to set yourself apart. One way Jimmy John’s accomplishes this is by advertising that their sandwiches are made “Freaky Fast.” I love Jimmy John sandwiches, don’t get me wrong, but I’ve had my share a good and bad experiences. I’ve been to some locations where my sandwich is either already made before I even pay the cashier, and then I’ve been to some that have taken almost 45 minutes to be delivered to be home. When a brand is trying to portray an image, such as being Freaky Fast, it is important to stay consistent. Let’s be honest, nobody is perfect and neither are companies. Consumers are notorious for posting on social media when they are unsatisfied. The introduction of social media allows consumers to reach a larger audience in only a matter of seconds.

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Jimmy John’s has taken the opportunity to use Twitter as a customer service platform. In reality, consumers are more likely to post about a company when there is a complaint compared to a complement. In the above tweet, you can see a customer post a standalone comment complaining about their sandwich taking over an hour to be delivered. The customer was also unsatisfied with his whole order due to his “watered down drinks” and receiving no straws. Jimmy John’s apologizes in less than 20 minutes and does an excellent job at personalizing the message by using the customer’s first name. This genuine response allows the person posting the complaint to have a personal connection to the company compared to a scripted response. As you can see from the reply, Jimmy John’s also uses a unique diction making it sound like it is Jimmy John himself adding a humanistic characteristic.  They also tell the customer to direct message them with his information in order to fix the problem.

Overall, Jimmy John’s has about a 70% response rate when it comes to replying to tweets to @jimmyjohns. They usually respond within 15 minutes of the original post. From every response I saw from Jimmy John’s, they were all personalized and even a little playful. They have a great interaction with their customers, and try to do whatever is necessary to make a negative experience positive. I am a huge fan of Jimmy John’s sandwiches; it’s reassuring to know that if I ever have a problem, they are more than willing to help me out.   

Rainn Wilson Presents: “SoulPancake: Chew on Life’s Big Questions”

Rainn Wilson is better known for his character Dwight Schrute on the television comedy series “The Office.” Over the years, he has earned three Emmy nominations with his portrayal of Dwight Schrute, and with this popularity he has gotten the word out about a program him and his friend started in 2008, SoulPancake. SoulPancake is a space where people from all walks of life can discuss and question what it means to be human – a place to wrestle with the spiritual, philosophical and creative journey that is life.

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Rainn grew up in Seattle with two parents who raised him in a Bohemian household. His parents believed in the Bahá’í Faith. This faith believes that there is one god and that god occasionally sends teachers to earth. These teachings have provided the basis for the advancement of civilization. These divine teachers visit every 500 years, some examples of teachers include Abraham, Buddha, and Moses. Growing up in this household allowed Rainn to learn at an early age the importance of equality. Growing up in this faith taught him to believe that everyone on this earth is part of one human family.

When Rainn turned 20, he decided to move to New York City and become an atheist. He decided to drop everything he previously believed in to immerse himself in art. After a couple years he decided pick up his Bahá’í Faith and also begin studying over cultures and religions. It is there where he truly immersed himself in art. He came to the realization that people are never satisfied, and that happiness is just a myth. Once you achieve “happiness,” whatever it maybe, you tend to redefine it. For example, you finally get that raise you wanted and are making $80,000 a year, but now you want $90,000. It’s even the same with material items such as cars and houses. We are never truly “happy” and this is why Rainn emphasized his dislike for the word. Instead he prefers words such as “joy” because it explains a moment in time.

This idea of redefining happiness gave him the idea for SoulPancake. Rainn wanted to take the idea of spirituality and create a space for self-expression. SoulPancake has many mediums for getting this message across from a website to social media platforms. One of their more popular platforms is YouTube. SoulPancake’s YouTube channels mission is to bring joy. One of the most successful examples is Kid President. This wise child brings on messages such as equality and self-acceptance in a fun and creative way. Some of Kid Presidents most influential messages are “Treat everybody like it’s their birthday” and “Create something that is awesome.”

As stated on the SoulPancake website, “Our brain batter of art, culture, science, philosophy, spirituality and humor is designed to open your mind, challenge your friends, and feel damn good.” SoulPancake is using things such as social media to spread a message. There are so many different forms of art and Rainn and his partner are doing an excellent job at spreading messages in a fun and creative way.

Red Bull has Wings When it Comes to Mobile Apps

Mobile is quickly replacing desktops as the primary source for accessing information. 74 percent of Americans own smartphones, nearly two thirds of cell phone owners’ use their phones to go online, and more than one-third of users say it is their primary Internet device. For me personally, I rarely use my laptop for logging onto Facebook. The ease and convenience has made mobile marketing desirable for companies. Mobile marketing has given companies a new opportunity to reach their primary target market.

Red Bull is not only known for their energy drinks, but also their involvement with extreme sports. One of the advertisements we watched in class consisted of a man completing an “extreme” sky drive from space. This ad not only showed Red Bull’s association with extreme sports, but it also showed how innovative they are especially with mobile.

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Facebook isn’t about collecting “likes,” but about consumer engagement. They do an excellent jobIMG_0256 at getting their consumers involved. Red Bull uses their Facebook page thoroughly, and the vast majority of their posts are images and videos relevant to extreme sports and sponsored athletes. Red Bull isn’t just about selling an energy drink, but a lifestyle. I viewed Red Bull’s Facebook using the Facebook app on a smartphone. The app allows for the profiles to be easily accessible and is optimized for small screens. The Facebook app provides a standard format for the profiles and allows for easy navigation. There is no need to adjust the screen for legibility, which also means all the content fits onto the screen and it is unnecessary to scroll from side to side. The cover image of Red Bull’s Facebook profile is perfectly suited for mobile, showing someone participating in an extreme sport in artic conditions. Having clicked through links from their post, I was led to content on their website and video posts. The website content viewed from Facebook on a smartphone was created to be mobile friendly. Red Bull’s Facebook contains a drop down navigation menu, which makes for easy navigation. This menu is organized into multiple categories. This Facebook app provides users with the ability to “share” the content, copy or save the link, open the website through a web browser, or send the link to a friend on Facebook.

Twitter

As an international brand, Red BuIMG_0255ll has hundreds of Twitter feeds dedicated to different events and projects all over the world. The official Red Bull account has 1.8 million followers and tweets links to images, videos, and stories of manyextreme athletes and adventurers. Having looked at their Twitter account on a smartphone, the header image seems to be suitable for mobile devices. The image is clear and proportionate. The cover photo consists of a man attempting a trick on a motor cross vehicle. Red Bull’s images are high resolution and optimized for the small screens of mobile devices. Although their images are suited for small screens, it is a good thing that mobile devices allow for viewers to zoom in on images because, unlike Facebook, it is a little bit more difficult to see.

Many of Red Bull’s tweets contain links that direct viewers to different content to their website and blog. Using a mobile device, I looked at a recent post and was directed to their website. The website view of this link from a smartphone is very accessible, appearing to be specifically formatted for mobile. While some websites contain a main navigation menu along the top of the site, Red Bull’s mobile website view allows you to access their navigation menu through a drop down window. Viewers are able to click and view other content on the website through the drop down window.

As stated previously, visual content dominates Red Bull’s social media platforms, but before they post these amazing images they should consider how these images will appear in-stream on both computer screens and mobile devices. Because Twitter automatically crops images to be confined in a certain pixel dimension space, some of the pictures Red Bull posts do not display at a large enough size. Although some of their images are small, their content on both Facebook and Twitter, appeared to be in moderation. From their images and videos to their text-based updates, their feed and website never seemed overwhelming or cluttered when viewed on a mobile device.

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Overall, Red Bull is paying attention to their mobile-dominated audience and providing them with significant amounts of content accessible for mobile devices. They should take into account that it is more than the material they illustrate on their site that captivates their audience, but the way they format this material for their audience that really matters. I don’t know if it was just my smartphone, but I found it difficult to watch videos on their website. Considering the amount of videos they post on their social media accounts and website, they should definitely take this into consideration. A bad mobile experience can cost any brand or business customers. Fifty-seven percent of consumer wouldn’t recommend a business with a bad mobile website and 40 percent of consumers have turned to a competitor after a bad mobile experience. In order to optimize their social media presence for mobile, Red Bull should pay attention to their image sizes, and adjust their video content to be more mobile friendly.

#ShowYourSharpie Instagram Marketing Campaign

Sharpie is an American manufacturer of writing instruments, specifically their permanent markers, whose products are sold in over 20 countries. Originally a name designating a single permanent marker, the Sharpie brand has been widely expanded and currently holds 89% of their industries market share.

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Today, Sharpie shows appreciation for self-expression and uniqueness. Since 2011, Sharpie has been running a Back-to-School campaign, which urges consumers to “Start Something” with their products. The campaign includes print media, television, and internet advertisements that highlight consumers taking ordinary products and decorating them with Sharpie pens. Contestants are able to submit anything from a drawing on a paper to home décor. This campaign is also seen on social media (such as Instagram and Facebook), which allows easier access for Sharpie fans to share their art.  This campaign is directed towards teenagers because of their extensive social media use. According to Pew Research Center, 95% of all teens ages 12-17 are now online. Teens are also targeted for this campaign because of their creativity. According to Sally Grimes, Sharpie’s Global Vice President for Marketing, teens “use Sharpie in the most creative, inspiring ways. Teens have always been our primary user in the past, but we talked more to moms in the past.” This Back-to-School campaign has allowed them to target this audience directly.

Although Sharpie usually targets teens for their Back-to-School campaign, I would like to target young adult women between the ages of 18-24. The cohort of young adults who have internet access is 95%, with 26% of them on Instagram. The ages between 18-24 are the prime years where young adults move out on their own for the first time, either because of college or employment. This is usually when many experience life living on a low income. This makes this age group an excellent target market, especially women, because they are looking for cheap ways to decorate their homes. This market is ideal because these consumers can take ordinary items and decorate them in a creative way and make it into something new and appealing. Instagram would also be an appropriate platform because it not only is popular with young adult women, but it is a great medium for spreading the campaign.

The goals and objectives for this version of the Back-to-School campaign are to increase overall consumer engagement and to increase sales by 5%. With Sharpie dominating 89% of their industry in market share, it would be difficult to build more overall brand awareness. Instead, we would like to inform consumers and show them that there are other ways to use our products then just using them for ordinary writing tasks. We will also be targeting both current and prospective consumers.  In order to do this, Sharpie will be expanding on their Back-to-School campaign by marketing young adult women between the ages of 18-24. This will primarily be an Instagram campaign called #ShowYourSharpie, and consist of a contest that allows individuals to submit entries of their Sharpie artwork. This artwork will consist of ordinary household items that have been reinvented though the use of Sharpie products. For example, it could be a plain, white lamp that was redesigned with a pattern that was created with Sharpie Permanent markers. In order to submit entries the hashtag #ShowYourSharpie will be attached to each photo. As stated earlier, Instagram is incredibly popular with young adult women, which means it is an excellent platform for targeting our market niche. It is also an easy and convenient way for consumers to submit their contest entries. Since it is a contest on artwork, it will hopefully boost sales by encouraging consumers to go out to their local stores and purchase Sharpie products.

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The contest will consist of contestants submitting their entries through Instagram with the #ShowYourSharpie. In order to spread the word about the campaign, Sharpie will strategically place photos on Instagram to inform consumers of the details of the contest and to give consumers some crafty ideas. On average we would like to post between 1-2 times a day. An example of a post would consist of a picture with a living-room fully decorated with accessories such as vases, center pieces, and tables designed with the use of Sharpie products. This example will also be the used as the cover photo and will include a link to the Sharpie website explaining the details of the contest. It will also include a tagline such as, “Make room for your personality #ShowYourSharpie.” Another example of a post would include a photo of a lamp with the lamp shade decorated with quotes written in cursive with a black Sharpie. This post will have a tag line such as “What is your inspiration? #ShowYourSharpie.” Another post would include a photo of stones with Sharpie designs on them. The post is tagged with “Even the simplest items can become beautiful #ShowYourSharpie.” It is apparent through these three posts that they encourage consumers to pick up a Sharpie and use their imagination to create a room filled with their own personality. Each post will also consist of the #ShowYourSharpie in order to spread awareness of the contest. The Instagram homepage will comprise of a profile picture using the current Sharpie logo. The incentive for entering this contest would include a $500 cash prize to the winning design, $250 for second place, and $100 for the third place entry. All three winners will also receive a “Sharpie Creativity Kit,” which would include a variety of our Sharpie products.

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This campaign will also use Twitter as a supporting platform in order to help spread awareness with their already 190,000 followers. Twitter also targets a younger market and would complement the Instagram campaign well. There will also be a separate website linked to the Back-to-School campaign on the Sharpie website. Traditional advertising will also be included in stores in the Back-to-School area.

Since this is a Back-to-School, the campaign will run from the beginning of July to mid-October. This timeframe is extended into October because since this is primarily aimed towards college students, many larger schools do not start until mid-September. This gives consumers a grace period to settle into their homes. Also, since we are marketing towards young adult women, the beginning of the school year marks sorority recruitment. Sorority recruitment is well-known for each organization showcasing their creativity in order to attract new recruits. This could lead to an increase in consumer engagement and sales.

This #ShowYourSharpie campaign is very cost-effective and allows Sharpie to connect with their target market using a low budget. Considering Sharpie already has their own marketing department, there will be no need to hire new employees to manage the Instagram account. We will also have to hold a photo shoot, for example the post with the room filled with home décor, in order to display ideas to consumers. We also would need young creative individuals who could inspire consumers to create their own crafts. This could be as easy as asking some of our younger employees to create something, getting some of our current employees children involved, or using products that have already been created with the use of Sharpie products. As for the prizes, the cash prizes will total $850 and the “Sharpie Creativity Kit” will not add any additional cost because of mass production. Overall, this campaign should cost between $15,000 to $20,000 due to the photo shoot, which is most likely outsourced.

Overall, Sharpie is a company that allows for opportunities to take something ordinary and create something extraordinary. This Back-to-School #ShowYour Sharpie campaign gives consumers the option to save some money and create a space that displays their personality. Sharpie is all about self-expression and the campaign #ShowYourSharpie provides consumers the chance to express themselves with the use of a Sharpie marker.

Laverne Cox Presents: “Ain’t I a Woman: My Journey to Womanhood”

Laverne Cox is best known for her role in Orange is the New Black, playing the groundbreaking role of “Sophia Burset,” an African American transgender woman. Laverne is the first transgender woman of color to have a leading role on a mainstream scripted television show, and her character, Sophia Burset, was named by Time Magazine as the 4th most influential fictional character of 2013. This successful woman has gracefully come to Ball State to share her inspirational story.

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Gender usually has the wrong connotation within a society. It is easily confused with sex, and it is not uncommon to hear individuals use these terms interchangeably. The difference between sex and gender is that sex is what you are born as, and gender is what you identify yourself as. In Laverne’s case, her sex is male (born as) and her gender is female (what she identifies as).

Throughout Laverne’s life, she knew that she didn’t fit in with many of the other children and was missing that sense of acceptance. In elementary school, one of Laverne’s teachers called home and informed her mother that she was caught fanning herself and singing like a girl on a school field trip. Her mother confronted her and told her it was not acceptable for a young boy to be fanning himself. This was Laverne’s first time experiencing shame in terms of sex and gender, but it wouldn’t be her last. As she grew older, she knew she had a passion for dance. This passion eventually gave her the opportunity to attend The Alabama School of Fine Arts. Entering this next stage brought on more opportunities and struggles. This new phase generated a whole new definition of shame in terms of race and class. Although this was a difficult time in her life, because she was still confused about whom she was, she persevered and moved to New York City after she graduated.

New York City was the first time Laverne felt as though she really belonged. While there, she met another transgender woman name Tina Sparkle. Tina was the definition of who Laverne wanted to be. She met Tina when she was an awkward, pimply-faced woman, and then saw her flourish throughout the years into a beautiful confident woman. It is there that Laverne decided to live by the inspiring words of Simone de Beauvoir, “One is not born, but rather becomes a woman.” According to gender theorist Judith Butler, it is not necessarily guaranteed that this woman is female.

Laverne Cox is an inspiration for the transgender community. Although she lived a life of struggles, she realized who she is and now does something she loves with people who accept her.  She is the symbol for the whole LGBT community and her ability to spread awareness is one step towards equality.