Graduate Your Brand from Human to Enlightened |

Graduate Your Brand from Human to Enlightened

We’ve heard it before. Brands need to be more human if they want to survive – or at least thrive. They (brands) need to connect with people, and not just in the traditional sense. Brands need to discover what it takes to be part of their customers’ lives and to truly make an impact. Brands need to adopt an empathetic, flexible, humorous tone in order to become “human.” Unfortunately, some have taken this either a little far, or have become, well, lazy in their attempts to connect. That, or they just don’t truly understand what being human means. As a result, we’ve got brands who try to force a square into a circular hole  – unsuccessfully engaging in youth-culture or chiming in where they feel it is their responsibility. Where do we go from here?

Every month, delivers Global Trend Briefings sent to over 250,000 business professionals looking to stay on the leading edge of consumer engagement. This month, clues us in to how brands can, and must, evolve to meet consumer demand, surpassing the level of being “human,” and becoming “enlightened.” Consumer expectations are rapidly evolving, and now, your customers are looking for brands that are “taking real, meaningful, even painful, action to make their lives – and the world we share – better.”

So, what makes an enlightened brand?

According to this month’s Global Trend Briefing, enlightened brands have 3 characteristics: Restless, Empathetic and Demanding.

A restless brand is one that is always looking for new opportunities to engage consumers and to do their part to make the world a better place. In today’s market, you can’t sit still and you can’t become content. In order to be a restless brand on you path to becoming enlightened, you need to constantly be learning more about your audience or your target consumer. You need to research what it is that makes them tick and what is important to them (not just in a product, but in life) so that you can be involved and make an impact. As quoted in the briefing, 63% of consumers say that they only buy products that appeal to their beliefs, values and ideals*. What are you doing to meet that expectation?

“63% of consumers say that they only buy products that appeal to their beliefs, values and ideals.”

Empathetic brands are those who have done their homework and truly understand their consumer’s values. Not only do empathetic brands understand, but they can start to connect and “address customer pain points.” That means using the research you’ve collected to pay attention to what’s going on in the world and find what is important to your customers. Once you find that, you can insert your brand into that situation. But, remember. You’re there to provide value to your customers, not to take advantage and gain exposure.

As an example of an empathetic brand, check out how Mophie combined support for a St. Bernard rescue foundation with addressing customer pain points at SXSW. Trained dogs were deployed to bring SXSW goers Mophie gear to help charge their depleting battery-powered devices. Read more here.

And finally, demanding brands are those who help their consumers meet their own standards. Sometimes, the beliefs and values of your customers won’t exactly match up with who they actually are. So, it’s up to you as a demanding brand to nudge them in the right direction. Show them the way to becoming a better version of themselves by rewarding their good behavior (although that sounds kind of Pavlovian). By offering reward for their participation in a certain activity or support of a cause, it shows that you are truly committed and it’s at that moment that you’ve earned their trust.

The Peruvian League Against Cancer found a way to coax beach goers out of the sun, at least for a little break, by offering free wifi on the sand to anyone who is under the cover of their shade tower. Forcing consumers to take a break from the sun reinforces the League’s mission against cancer. See how they did it here.

Now that you know what it takes to be an enlightened brand, it’s time to graduate from just being human. Following the path outlined in TrendWatching’s briefing, you’ll be on the path to success. To download the briefing for yourself, click here.

What do you think about the enlightened trend? Are you currently taking any steps to make it happen? Let me know in the comments below or connect on Twitter – @HOOKDin! If you’re interested in receiving more tips and insights into building a strong brand, be sure to subscribe!

– A.J.

*GFK, April 2015
Ad Spotlight #4: WhiteSquad Pushes it Uncomfortably, but Wonderfully Far |

Ad Spotlight #2: Pushes it Uncomfortably, but Wonderfully Far

“Is your skin color holding you back?”

Never have my ears perked and head raised so quickly to pay attention to my T.V. screen as when I heard those words, and that of the commercial that followed.

“White Squad is a team of carefully selected white representatives who act on behalf of people of color. We’re your stand-ins for life’s racially unbalanced situations.”

At first I couldn’t decide if this was a real commercial or some kind of skit from a crew similar to or Friends of the People. The idea of hiring a “white representative” to hail a cab, get a better apartment, or stand in for you at court, couldn’t be possible, right? That couldn’t be a real thing. But, the more the commercial goes on, the more believable it gets. The acting is mediocre and sarcastic, but never over the top. The production is top notch. The logo is professionally designed and the format is well thought out.

Needless to say, my eyes and ears stayed glued to the picture box hanging on the wall until the end of the spot, still waiting for the punchline reveal. When I didn’t get that, I immediately turned to my phone to follow the CTA to the White Squad website. Much to my disappointment, the site was down, which I can only assume was a result of a mass influx of curious viewers such as myself – or maybe my internet just wasn’t cooperating.

Ad Spotlight #4: WhiteSquad Pushes it Uncomfortably, but Wonderfully Far | HOOKD.inAfter finally connecting to the WhiteSquad website (on my laptop,) the professionally produced facade continued with a smooth and fully built out experience including a ‘Services,’ ‘How it Works,’ ‘Our Team’ and ‘FAQ’ page. After browsing around the site, the secret is finally revealed when you try to actually request a service. An animation ensues, taking over the screen and revealing “White privilege is real. White Squad is fiction.”

Brought to you as part of MTV’s Look Different campaign, White Squad is an (effective) effort to bring more awareness to prejudice in our day-to-day lives. This ad in particular is a satirical stab at white privilege, and whether you agree or disagree with the campaign and the commercial’s approach, this ad is sure to get people to pay attention at least until the end of the spot. As can be expected, Mashable points out in their review that responses to the ad via social media have varied widely.

What do you think about the new White Squad campaign from MTV? Let me know in the comment below or on Twitter – @HOOKDin. Also, be sure to subscribe to get the next Ad Spotlight delivered right to your inbox.

– A.J.

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Ad Spotlight: Dove Men + Care Spot |

Ad Spotlight #1: Dove Men + Care “#RealStrength”

Father’s Day may have come and gone, but the feels from Dove’s #RealStrength campaign is still in full effect. Starting by airing the first spot during the Super Bowl, the campaign focuses on how men can show their real strength in how they care – how they care for others, and an even larger focus on how they care for their kids.

The latest spot for the Men + Care #RealStrength campaign centers around the moment that men find out they are going to be a father for the first time. After spotlighting the emotion of these real men, the ad displays on-screen copy that states “Real strength means showing you care even from the very first moment.”

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How to Market Your Small Business on a Budget |

How to Market Your Small Business on a Budget

So, you own, or work for, a small business, and your marketing budget is small – almost non-existent – what can you do? Contrary to popular belief, marketing doesn’t have to be expensive! There are plenty of cost-effective means of getting your brand and message out there, you just have to get creative and put in the work. One thing’s for sure. If you abandon your marketing strategy, your brand could suffer, and you might be missing out on bringing in new and return customers. Take a look at some of the low-cost marketing ideas below.

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5 Tips for Building a Better Brand |

5 Tips on How To Build a Better Brand

“Your brand is what other people say about you when you’re not in the room.” – Jeff Bezos, CEO, Amazon

What does it take to be the best in your industry? It takes time, a team, a vision, a good product, but maybe most importantly, it takes a brand. A solid brand gives your current and potential customers something to hold on to. Instead of just buying a product and being done with you, having a brand helps build relationships and foster loyalty among your audience. You can have a great product and team, but if you don’t have a great brand then you’re creating more work for yourself and potentially missing out on a deeper connection with your customer.

So, whether your about start on something new, or have been in existence for a while, here are 5 tips for building a better brand.

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New Google TV Spot - "Questions" |

New Google TV Spot – “Questions”

Last night while indulging in the latest episode of my favorite NBC television series, The Blacklist, a new TV spot from Google aired and caught my eye. The one-minute spot circled around the idea of “A question is the most powerful force in the world.” Overtaking the TV screen, the commercial demonstrates in full animation the search possibilities of the Google App, highlighting such features as song identification, maps integration, audio feedback, speech translation and reminders.

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BP's PR Recovery Efforts Continue 5 Years Later

BP’s PR Efforts Press On 5 Years After Disaster

April 20th (4/20) is a celebratory day for a certain subset of the population (if you know what I mean,) but 5 years ago, April 20th became the mark of a much more devastating event in environmental history. At exactly 10:50 p.m. EST on April 20, 2010, disaster struck in the Gulf of Mexico when a BP deepwater oil rig exploded, killing 11 workers, and resulting in a staggering 87-day oil well gusher. Following the disaster, an immense and understandable backlash towards BP ensued from inhabitants of the states that the spill affected, as well as many across the country.

Now, 5 years later, BP’s quest for forgiveness continues in their latest PR and advertising spots. According to their site, BP has spent more than $28 Billion “to restore the Gulf economy and environment.” Additionally, BP suggests that its efforts were successful – “The Gulf Coast economy has rapidly rebounded, with numerous tourism records being broken every year since the spill. Extensive scientific data (…) show that the impact to the environment was of short duration and limited in geography…”

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How to Use Facebook and Twitter for Business (without losing the personal touch) |

How to Use Facebook and Twitter for Business (without losing the personal touch)

Original post courtesy of Aryana Jaleh |

Creating a social media presence for your business is a great way to engage customers and ultimately increase profit. But if that’s all you have in mind when running your Facebook and Twitter accounts, you’re going to come across as a spammy, robotic business.

Part of what makes your business great is YOU. The owner. The go-getter. The one who makes things happen. Yeah, Facebook and Twitter will be used for promoting your work, but that shouldn’t be the only goal. With every post, keep your own interests in mind. If you love the outdoors, post an image of your last hike or bike ride. If you love to cook, post a new recipe you’ve found. It doesn’t matter if some of your social media profile is unrelated to your business. As long as it relates to you, it’s relevant.

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New Disgustingly-Hilarious Ad From American Standard |

Disgustingly-Hilarious American Standard Ad

I love advertising that does its job. Makes you aware of a need, addresses that need, and then offers up a solution to that need. Sometimes us humans come across a problem that isn’t so easy to talk about or admit, but American Standard‘s TV spot for their VorMax™ Flushing System tells you like it is – “No one likes to look at splatter”. Look, it happens to the best of us, and this new ad from American Standard makes it clear that they have a product that can help you out. Not only does this ad do its job, but it is hilarious! I promise you won’t be able to watch just once.

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