Author Archive

How Not to Handle Negative Reviews

A Lesson in Review Management

Businesses of all types rely on reviews to build credibility with potential customers as well as to increase online visibility. Positive reviews on sites such as Yelp and Yellow Pages can greatly impact sales. Negative ones however, can have the opposite effect. So whenever a negative review appears, business operators naturally want to minimize the damage to protect their income stream and their consumer reputation. However, it is possible to go too far in managing a negative review. A recent incident involving a New York City area watch repair shop illustrates what can happen if a business owner gets too aggressive in protecting his reputation.

When a dissatisfied customer posted a two-star rating for the watch repair shop on Yelp, the business owner was so upset that he engaged his attorney to threaten a defamation lawsuit unless the customer pulled down his comments. Naturally, the customer, who wasn’t feeling much in the way of brand loyalty to the repair shop anyway, reacted even more negatively – and more publicly.

Unfortunately for the watch repair shop, threatening legal action only made matters worse – much worse. Believing his first amendment rights protected his speech, the customer refused to pull down the Yelp review. Further, after being threatened with a lawsuit for expressing his opinion, the customer took the entire situation public via social media, using the name of the watch shop and its owner.  By threatening a lawsuit, the watch shop owner effectively converted a single negative review into an avalanche of negative publicity.  The negative publicity from the lawsuit threat far exceeded the damage done by one negative Yelp review. Local television even got into the act, airing a news story about the incident.

The business owner appears to have little legal justification for legal action. If the experience was presented in an honest fashion, the review opinion and speech appears fully protected. Attempting to suppress opinion is almost always poorly received. The alleged victims in these cases tend to receive additional exposure for their points of view and the business owners are often perceived as “bullys” or worse.

Manage the Communication and Manage the Visibility
So how then should one handle a negative review? Three simple points can keep the business owner out of hot water when a negative review appears.

    • Responding in the communication channel that the reviewer used enables your participation in the discussion. Yelp or other networks usually allow for a business response to negative reviews. So, try to keep the conversation in the channel in which it first appeared. Allowing it to expand into other social channels means that you might not be able to participate in the discussion to hold up your point of view.
    • Trusting customers to be analytical and fair in their evaluation of reviews can be difficult – even when one doesn’t agree with the conclusion. Most customers understand that you can’t make everyone happy all the time. But.. if the business owner appears to make every effort to set things right, that will go a long way in diffusing anger and containing any reputation damage.
    • Acknowledging that the customer may have had a poor experience can also go a long way to repair damage. Customers at least like to know they’ve been heard.

Using social and review channels to show that you are doing everything reasonably possible to make the situation right with each customer can turn a negative review situation into something perhaps not-so-negative. Each consumer is a brand ambassador whose opinions are important to future customers. Social media and review channels enable each customer/brand ambassador to impact the visibility of almost any organization.

Matthew Stone operates Denver SEO Consultants – an online internet marketing firm and also works in Public Relations Denver at GroundFloor Media.

Bringing Home the Bacon

Oscar Mayer company announced recently that they have developed an alarm clock that will awaken you with the sound and smell of frying bacon! Waking up to the sound and scent of a fresh, hot breakfast – including cooked bacon – is a powerful and positive memory for most American consumers. Oscar Mayer is hoping that consumers will also remember this experience and pick up an extra pound or two of bacon the next time they visit their grocery store.

For online marketers, the interesting point about this scheme is the inclusion of smell into the sensory message mix. Of course one cannot transmit scent electronically – at least as of this writing – but by inspiring consumers to recall waking up to a hot-cooked breakfast, the company hopes that increased sales will result.

Oscar Mayer in fact wins extra points for creativity with this campaign.  Not only do they get publicity for their bacon promotion, their creative messaging is a good humored look at the product. Additionally, in order to make the scent-release portion of the application work, the user is required to have a device provided by the fictitious Oscar Mayer Institute for the Advancement of Bacon. This unit is designed to release the smell when commanded by the iPhone app. Acquiring one of these units requires a consumer to enter a contest – a process that provides Oscar Mayer with a long email list of active bacon consumers.

How many ways are there to sell bacon? As eating bacon has been a human practice for thousands of years, coming up with a new way to grow the bacon consuming market is a huge challenge. Still, with a little creativity and humor, this campaign nails it.

Matthew Stone operates Denver SEO Consultants and works extensively in Public Relations in the Denver Area with GroundFloor Media.

 

 

SEO and Reputation Management

One of the off-shoots of the SEO business is using web page placement strategies to help manage visibility on the search engine displays. When a bit of negative content appears, the natural reaction on the part of most business owners is to find a way to simply get rid of it. Using SEO strategies, it is possible to displace negative content, but in the end, understanding how negative content appears is part of a better strategy to prevent this content from ever being published. Negative content lives forever – even if it is on page 2, so it is best to do all things possible to prevent it from every being created.

Managing the Brand

Social media and a maturing internet culture have brought personal and company brand images onto the same platforms. When something goes wrong or if mistakes are made, not only is the company image going to suffer, but there is significant potential for individual brands to be negatively impacted. This is true for company Presidents all the way down to the Customer Service Manager. When published, a poor customer experience can have a significant impact on bot the company on the individuals involved.

Managing the brand now implies that each individual within an organization is responsible for maintaining a positive company brand image because each person has a social channel and can impact public perception because of her/his position with the organization. Each individual also has a personal brand image that is associated with the organization, so it is important to maintain positive personal profiles and interactions on social channels and platforms outside of the company control.

Managing Customer Relationships

The most likely source of negative content that can impact an organization’s reputation is poor customer service. Making sure each customer receives the promised value for her/his purchase is a simple and solid way to ensure that negative content doesn’t find its’ way to the web. Post-purchase follow-up and direct contact with the customer is a simple strategy, but one that is frequently forgotten. Making sure the customer is happy is a solid investment in one’s brand.

Managing Internal Relationships

A few weeks ago, AOL announced that it was ‘restructuring’ its 401(k) contribution plan for the employees that helped turn the company into a viable business entity. The 401(k) restructuring plan looked great from the company standpoint, but upon closer look, employees realized that unless they stayed the entire year working for AOL, they might not receive their entire contribution. Employees weren’t happy and said so. Of course this chatter found its way onto public social platforms. Making matters worse, the company executives announced that they were scaling back some contributions to employee health plans, citing some very expensive treatments they had to pay for to treat babies of a couple AOL workers. This last bone-headed move also lit up the social wires.

Treating workers well is every bit as important as treating customers well. Negative information can easily become negative content that can impact the organization’s brand image. Treating workers well supports a positive brand image. And just like making sure customers are happy, it is equally important to make sure that workers are just as happy. After all, employees have extensive personal social networks, and once negative information gets out, it is very difficult to counter.

Communicating Well

The simple process of communicating well can prevent most problems. Most organizations are fairly good at anticipating customer needs, likes and dislikes and take appropriate action to avoid problem. Frequently overlooked though are the attitudes, tastes and preferences of workers that manage the company and participate in the customer service process. Clear communication and reasonable decisions can minimize the danger of negative content being released into the internet world.

 

AOL’s Social Media Disaster – A Lesson in Brand Management

Those of us engaged in marketing and promotion frequently look at social media channels as a way to distribute messaging, as part of brand building efforts, and for simple social engagement. Managing a good brand image requires taking care of the customers, managing feedback and making every effort to resolve customer disputes fairly and to the satisfaction of the consumer. Satisfied customers are of course the best brand ambassadors.

Brand Management – There are No Secrets!
Managing one’s brand image used to require crafting a unique and positive message and then distributing it via one-way media channels to impact consumer opinion. The emergence of social media changed all that. Social channels enable individuals to respond to company messaging, product claims, value propositions and customer service issues. Consumers share their experiences and opinions online for all to see – outside of the control of company brand managers.These opinions make or break the organization’s brand image.

As use of social media platforms have exploded in recent years, consumers impact brand image by simply responding to issues and posting their opinions. And because of the wide reach of social communication, consumers have more of an influence over company brand image than does the company communications office. Although brand image can be influenced by the company, in the end, an organization’s brand image is firmly under the control of those that interact and engage with the organization.

There are no longer any secrets. Any poor customer service effort, product failure or service inconsistency has the potential to negatively impact the company brand.

 

 

Workers Enter the Brand Discussion
As social media reach becomes even more extensive, consumers aren’t the only ones that impact a company brand. The recent AOL flip-flop on its 410(k) program is a perfect example. AOL changed its 401(k) contribution schedule to a once-per-year contribution, instead of the normal month-to-month contribution. Anyone leaving the company’s employment during the year would then not receive her/his 401(k) contribution that they would have received under the original plan.

Horrible Messaging
Apparently not satisfied with upsetting company workers with the 401(k) plan, Tim Armstrong, the chief executive of AOL compounded the problem. In trying to justify modifications in the company’s health insurance coverage, said “We had two AOL-ers that had distressed babies that were born that we paid a million dollars each to make sure those babies were O.K., in general.” Many in the organization felt that the comments were inappropriate, especially in light of AOL’s positive earnings.

Company employees were not happy with either the retirement account policy change or citing expensive examples as reasons to modify health insurance coverage – and they said so using their personal social media networks.

In the end, AOL had to reverse the 401(k) policy and Mr. Armstrong had to issue an apology for his comments on the cost of healthcare for two AOL families. What in past years may have been largely internal issues, were fully broadcast into the world and the company had to handle these issues as part of its external brand.

Marketing Moves Internal
Not only do happy customers produce a positive brand image, happy workers produce the same result. So, managing the workforce is now more important to the company’s brand image than ever. Company management decisions are now highly public and subject to comment and reaction. The Human Resources Manager might be surprised to find him/herself one of the more important marketing officers in the company, but realizing that workers are social beings can go a long way towards building a positive company brand.

 

Matthew Stone operates Denver SEO Consultants and works in Public Relations Denver for GroundFloor Media.

 

How to Make Your Content More Enjoyable

For many marketers, content creators and social managers, coming up with new and interesting content is a chore. And sometimes the results are neither interesting or very valuable. After all, how many “5 Top Ways To…” articles can one content creator come up with?

Keeping one’s content from getting lost – regardless of how good it is requires a little extra creativity. Sure, all readers want to get ahead and acquire that one bit of information that can give them an advantage. But.. the content still has to be enjoyable to read.

The concept of enjoyment in creating content is often lost because of haste and because of the focus on providing value. Value and enjoyment are not necessarily exclusive of one another though, and the creator that can provide good content that is pleasant to consume will attract more readers. How exactly should one go about making her/his content more enjoyable to read?  A little creativity helps. Taking a deep breath and taking a few literary chances can make a big difference. So… here are a few suggestions to lighten up your composition style.

Drop the Pretensions

Not many commercial content creators are going to win a Nobel Prize for Literature. Most of us would be happy just paying the bills. Relaxing while composing content can really help. If the editors don’t think the content is serious enough, take a look at the readership from your last several posts and see if your readership is growing or declining. In the end, if it is boring copy to write, it will be boring copy to read, so relax and let it all go.

Associating Unusual Events

This is one of my personal favorites. Sometimes great lessons can be learned from unrelated things. One of my more successful posts associated holiday movies with ten top marketing lessons. What does ‘Home Alone” have to do with marketing?  People always forget things. They may not forget that their youngest kid is asleep in the attic when the leave on vacation, but learning how to handle things that get accidentally omitted is a useful skill. In the end, this got good readership and good exposure.

Make it Humorous

Agile and Scrum

Nothing disarms a reader more or attracts visitors more readily than good humor. Not everyone is funny, but everyone has a sense of humor waiting to be revealed.  Take a shot! Give it a try!  Last week, when in need of some ‘plus ones’ on my Google+ account, I came up with a slide based on some software programming methodology called “Agile” and “Scrum.”  For those unfamiliar with the process, the ultimate goal is to organize tasks so that all team members are working towards known objectives each day. Like all management schemes, though, these can have unintended implications- such as making poor business decisions easier to execute.

Releasing this slide on social media along with a very short explanation drew some great responses. Posting it on a Google+ Humor bulletin board drew quite a bit of attention as well. Posting humorous items can also allow you to distribute the content on locations that you might not usually think to reach.

It is also possible to borrow bits of humor and then simply comment on it. Recycling others’ funny stuff can work, too. If others have seen it, you are just extending the conversation.

 

Competing for attention is difficult – especially when more content creators are emerging and competing for attention. Including humor and getting a bit more creative can help.

 

 

 

How to Break Up with the Search Engines

Breaking up with search engines may sound strange coming from an internet and SEO consultant. Business marketers have become so dependent on the search engines to deliver visitors and sales, that it seems silly to even think about reducing dependency on streams of website visitors that search engines provide.  Competition for search engine placement drives increased investment and is attracting an ever greater share of dwindling marketing budgets. And should the visitor stream provided by Google, Yahoo! and Bing suddenly evaporate, what state would your organization be in?

Over-dependency on search engine visitors is a problem in many companies. Investing in link building schemes and hastily assembled content marketing efforts developed for the purpose of maintaining search engine rank can wind up working against the organization. As the search engines become more able to  distinguish quality content and recognize valuable links, companies in the throes of intense competition may be sowing the seeds of their own declining rankings by over-investing in these efforts at the expense of other tasks.

Google brand image

As marketers assemble plans for the upcoming year, a more balanced approach to internet marketing and a focus on building a more engaging user experience for website visitors can not only reduce unhealthy dependence on search traffic but can wind up improving search engine placement.

The Benefit of Raw Traffic

People need to visit the company website in order for the search engines to be able to judge whether or not the content is valuable. No visitors means no search strength. So the real question for may companies is not how to cause the search engines to deliver more visitors, it is simply how to attract more visitors regardless of source. This opens up a variety of additional options for building search strength and attracting readers.

Improving the Visitor Experience

Prior to jumping headlong into a social outreach, PPC or other marketing effort, careful consideration needs to be given to the user experience once a visitor arrives at the company website. The search engines ‘see all’ meaning that time on page, bounce rate and reader behavior once on the website are all clearly visible to the search engines. These factors are considered by the algorithms and are used in calculating the value of the page relative to what the company says the page is about. If a particular page’s metadata and on-page factors communicate that a page is about Doggy Dodgeball, the search engines will evaluate reader behavior to judge whether or not readers looking for information on Doggy Dodgeball received the information they sought.

Making a page more ‘consumable’ simply means making it more valuable. Are there unique bits of information within the text? Is the content interesting enough for readers to share with others on social media? Making every effort to create a website page with readable content that is both valuable and interesting is the core objective to creating the kind of visitor experience that will keep readers on the site, attract return visitors and ultimately, improve search engine placement.

Outreach via Controllable Channels

Many new businesses with young websites initiate a balanced approach to search engine and internet marketing because their sites have little initial strength. Direct outreach through email campaigns, social media engagement and event marketing can attract visitors to the company web page and over time search placement is improved and web strength built. Unfortunately, once good SERP placement is achieved,many companies withdraw from some of these more time consuming efforts and seek to maintain their stream of visitors mainly from search engine referrals. This creates that unhealthy dependency that over time, lures organizations away from a balanced marketing approach.

Companies that currently enjoy good search engine placement and high volumes of website visitors should not take these streams of traffic for granted. By balancing their marketing efforts with more controllable and creative outreach efforts, the company can attract visitors from multiple sources. And should Google or any of the search providers suddenly decide that they don’t like some of the strategies used in the past to pump up SERP placement, the organization will still have the ability to attract the visitors it needs to survive. In the end, search engine dependency is a high-risk business strategy. It can all change very quickly and for no apparent reason.

Breaking up with the search engines by undertaking controllable outreach marketing- and reducing dependency on search  – makes it a more healthy relationship between business and search provider and ensures that any sudden changes in search engine placements won’t be disastrous.

Opportunity Marketing – High Reward for a Little Creativity

Alright.. I’ll admit to being a big fan of the Denver Broncos. John Elway and the Bowlen family that has operated the team for decades has put together an organization that – regardless of the wins and losses for a particular season – has been a foundation of the Denver community and a supporter of countless charitable endeavors. On top of all this, the addition of Peyton Manning two years ago, elevated the team to a top level of competition.

Peyton always does his post-game press conference meetings in coat and tie. He oozes class and dedication. He also has a tremendous sense of humor, answering a post-game question by saying his only concern at that moment was getting his hand around a cold Bud-Light.

Omaha Steak TweetKnown for his animated cadence while on the field, and giving directions in coded language – frequently using the term “Omaha” in a string of terms that only mean something to his team, Manning also provided a unique marketing and social media exchange opportunity for an enterprising social media manager at Omaha Steaks. After Manning’s Broncos defeated the San Diego Chargers 24-17, creative media watchers noted that Manning used the term “Omaha” no fewer than 44 times. Omaha Steaks then posted a tweet the following morning “construing” Manning’s use of the word as an outreach to their company.

The Omaha Steak response was retweeted countless times, earning quite a bit of exposure for the organization. Buying this volume of exposure is quite expensive, but the creator of the tweet won significant visibility for his organization for nothing more than the costs of managing the social media account.

Omaha Visitors Bureau Tweet

Omaha Visitors Bureau Tweet

Also wanting to capitalize on the high use of their city’s name, the Omaha Visitors Bureau issued a tweet thanking the quarterback for the recognition he provided on national television. This tweet also enjoyed great recirculation.

So what is next up for creative tweeters? With all the attention now on Manning’s terminology while on the football field, a few possibilities have already emerged. According to ESPN, the terms “Sally” “Alpha” and “Kentucky” are also frequently used on the field. Should Manning or even opposing quarterback Tom Brady of the New England Patriots use or overuse one of these terms, social media watchers will be scouring the interactions for interesting ways to channel that attention into attention for their organizations.

Also earning honorable mention for creative opportunity marketing this week were the “shortage” schemes by Kraft Foods for their Velveeta shortage and also to Lipton for its Onion Soup shortage. Dry Onion soups are one of two major ingredients to that staple of playoff football parties – the big bowl of onion dip. After making a trip to the local supermarket to confirm that these items were indeed in short supply, we were able to confirm that in fact, Velveeta was sold out and boxes of Lipton’s Onion Soup were nowhere to be found. These organizations deserve credit for making a shortage into a positive news story – so much so that many local football junk food consumers swept up the last of the easily available supply.  (A friend later told me that Costco had an abundant stock of Velveeta, but most families don’t consume the product in five pound chunks, so the normally purchased sizes really were difficult to find.)

With another weekend of playoff football ahead, it will be very interesting to see what opportunities emerge for creative message creators.

 

 

Velveeta Shortage Grips Nation

Using a “Shortage” to Drive Demand

Adding to the misery of the recent polar vortex that dropped temperatures into sub-zero misery, the country was struck this week by news of a possible shortage of Kraft Velveeta.  A common base ingredient in many popular chip and dip combinations, a Velveeta shortage could have significant repercussions that impact the enjoyment of the football playoff season. As the college football bowl season merged with the first round of the NFL playoffs, use of the popular chip dip ingredient apparently increased, causing the expected shortage for upcoming weekend gatherings.

Velveeta Cheese
Brick of Cheese

 

Clever Marketing Ploy?
Kraft Foods spokesperson Jody Moore said in an email release that the shortages were expected to be ‘temporary.’ Could this temporary shortage be driven – at least in part – by the belief that customers need to compete for a scarce product? As increased competition – either real or not – generates exposure and visibility, it does at least seem possible that the ‘shortage’ is being used for promotional purposes.

Capacity Planning
Most organizations plan to have sufficient product in place to meet periods of high demand. Failing to meet demand is one sure way to lose customers. As Velveeta is a product with a long shelf life, it would seem possible for Kraft to ramp up production to meet the additional demand driven by the multitude of football parties and events surrounding the end of the college season and the NFL playoffs.

Overplayed?
Of course one of the consumer responses to a shortage is to conserve. High gas prices push drivers to be conservative with extra trips to avoid buying more fuel.  One social media commenter on Google+ stated that he was saving his last brick for the Super Bowl. Inspiring consumers to hang onto product instead of consuming more is probably not what Kraft marketers intended.

Social Media Activity
Creating attention through Twitter or other social media networks is a great way to keep the company brand in the forefront of consumer minds and to inspire short term consumption. Velveeta related hashtags show a great deal of Twitter activity and Facebook is taking place. One reader even suggested postponing the Super Bowl until the shortage could be alleviated.

Last year’s Oreo Cookie Super Bowl outreach was considered one of the more creative social media responses to the light failure at the big game.  News about the Velveeta shortage seems to be this year’s winner thus far in using major events to attract product visibility and to inspire sales.

So keep an eye on your grocery store shelves to see how this all works out. And if there really does turn out to be a shortage, I am hanging onto my last brick of Velveeta and will sell to the highest bidder.

Its Official – Time Travel Not Yet Possible

Notes and Musings on Consumer Research

Creativity is usually a good thing. Creativity also helps identify intelligent people with far too little meaningful work to occupy their days.  Sometimes though, even silly explorations and theories highlight some hidden value – even to those of us in the marketing and internet world.

Time Travelers
Bill and Ted Explore the Past and Future

 

Searching for Time Travelers
Earlier this fall, a study was released by Robert J. Nemiroff and Teresa Wilson of Michigan Tech University, that concluded that there were no time travelers among us. The root of the conclusion is that there were no or very few instances of internet activity that mentioned Comet ISON prior to its discovery on September 21, 2012, and few instances of internet activity that noted “Pope Francis,” prior to March 16, 2013 – the day Jorge Mario Bergolio ascended to the leadership of the Roman Catholic Church and took the name Francis.

Digging through mountains of Google data, Twitter history, hashtag research and social media research, revealed that there were no mentions of these two events prior to their occurrence.  This indicates the likely possibility that time travel is either not yet possible or that time travelers were savvy enough not to reveal themselves through social media or internet activity lest they be labeled prophets or heretics.

Activity Analysis
The value in this exercise is not discovery of whether it is possible to actually travel through time to set things right with an ex-girlfriend or determine whether to bet on the Seahawks in this year’s Super Bowl. Rather, huge data stores do exist that with a little reality-based creativity, can be harnessed to understand emerging consumer trends.

Understanding Consumer Language
Research tools exist to dig up more information that would be reasonably possible to sift through. Chances are you use many of these now. The key to understanding future trends is to identify the ways in which current consumers refer to needs or events. This is where trend-setters or “influencers” can help.

Activists in certain topics or discussions are usually fine-tuned to understanding consumer language and terms in their particular niche.  Ascertaining the future of southwestern cooking requires following the best chefs and food blogs in that field. If food and drink are not your specialization or you don’t have time to dive head first into this niche, it might be necessary to find someone to help that is more familiar with it. Getting deeper into the topic may reveal whether southwestern US cuisine is a growing or declining trend. Understanding the growth rate might influence an investment decision. One just might need a bit of expert help to understand it.

Asking the Right Questions
Pondering the future of a given product line requires expertise in the niche to understand current activity and ascertain what the future might hold. Trends can emerge overnight, but needs are usually present well prior to a topic getting a great deal of online attention.

Searching for time travelers on line might not be the smartest use of one’s time. However, using the available search tools to hunt for this information highlights creative ways to dig up information. Looking for the right hashtag to show activity on a particular topic will take some trial and its partner – error.

Few organizations make use of existing internet search tools and social applications to research trends prior to making important decisions. Still, with a little creativity and effort, the tools and data exists to draw meaningful conclusions and get that glimpse into the future that provides an organization with good information upon which to base important decisions.

 

Matthew Stone is active in the Internet Marketing field and works in Public Relations Denver.

Pizza Hut and Long Term Branding – Accidental Brand Building Assets

Many organizations look at branding as a short term endeavor – build the brand, make the sales and end the story.

According to the Small Business and Entrepreneurship Council, 34% of new businesses survive more than  10 years. For those businesses that manage to survive, they may go through multiple branding efforts to build their story and promote their value proposition. As we begin a new year, it is interesting to look at some of the more curious branding efforts of the past and to see ‘where are they now.’

You Can Tell! Bank Was Once a Pizza Hut!

I borrowed the caption to this image from the Onion in a humor story run several years ago which made light of the widespread distribution of former Pizza Hut locations that were enjoying lives as other types of businesses. Associating Pizza Hut locations with banking or other types of business locations is unusual and provided an ironic look at how some of the buildings were being used. Now, this story is enjoying a little more serious look.

Atlantic Cities recently ran an interesting piece on the Second Lives of Pizza Huts in which it outlines the long lives of some former Pizza Hut establishments. For those of us old enough to remember getting pizza and beer in these buildings, the consistent design and widespread distribution of these former restaurants consistently identify these as Pizza Hut locations. The better-placed locations are in high traffic, high visibility areas.  Even though Pizza Hut modified its location strategy many years ago and divested itself of these buildings, the fact that the company originally used its building design as part of its branding strategy may have – even if accidentally – created a long term branding asset that the company no longer has to maintain.

Banks and even other fast-food operators that have taken over these buildings are somewhat helping to promote the original Pizza Hut name. Even younger consumers know from their parents that these were once places to get an all-you-can-eat family food fill-up.

Branding Strategies:
What does this mean for current branding strategies? As we kick off a new year, it is interesting to consider areas that we may not have previously understood as part of the branding message.. Below are just a couple areas in which the brand can be managed and created to build a long term consumer image.

Unique Building Style and Design
As the Pizza Hut example shows, even when the organization abandons part of its location strategy, a design that lives beyond the life of the branding effort can have long term value.

Messaging Through Music
As we just wrapped up another holiday shopping season, a few major brands were noticed for their absence on the airwaves. The music and silly jingles that went with the Overstock.com (Ho, Ho, Ho, the Great Big ‘O.’) advertisements in years past created a brand image that lived well past the time the advertisements ceased. In fact, just a few advertisements run this holiday season seemed to re-ignite the brand and value from holiday season’s previous to this.

Humor and Warmth
The art of making people laugh and associating that good feeling with a particular brand has long been a powerful brand building objective. Some of these efforts have a very long life-span. The annual Coke polar bear advertisements are cute and have even created a merchandising opportunity for the soft drink company. Humor, ‘cuteness’ and warm, cuddly feelings are trust and brand building objectives that are also associated with the holiday season itself.  This association is enough to drive additional holiday sales.

With so much attention to short term sales and revenue objectives, a little attention to creating a long term brand building can have impact well beyond the term of its original deployment.

Matthew Stone is a Denver SEO Consultant and works in Denver Public Relations.