Category Archives: Public Relations

Making A Movement: REI’s #OptOutside Turns Branding into Meaningful Action

In our exploration of successful, authentic brands, we’ve discovered a number of recurring themes. Brands that stand out in the minds of consumers aren’t shy about sharing their purpose. They’re aware of and intentional about the value they’re promising to their customers and how they deliver it. They know that a great customer experience really starts with taking care of their employees. They understand the power of words (especially taglines) in communicating their value, and they back those words up with action.

One enduringly successful brand, the outdoor lifestyle-focused REI (which is celebrating 80 years this year), has taken the concept of brand action to new heights in recent years. Their OptOutside movement boldly reshapes the status quo among retailers and provides a powerful model for brands that want to turn their brand image into a signifier of something greater.
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The Best Brand Taglines & What They Communicate to Consumers

As part of our ongoing exploration of authentic branding and how brand makers create and sustain value, we recently discussed Bain & Company’s Elements of Value. This pyramid of attributes provides a fascinating and powerful framework for discussing and determining exactly what a brand is promising its audience. By identifying the values that a brand or product seeks to fulfill, we can clarify the promise it is making to the consumers who purchase its products.

The greatest opportunity for a succinct declaration of a brand’s promise is its tagline – the short slogan that (usually accompanying a logo) provides a verbal “hook” in the brand’s marketing and advertising. Famous taglines (like Nike’s “Just Do It” or Allstate’s “You’re In Good Hands”) can become cultural touchstones that cement a brand’s identity in the minds of consumers. They also speak to the value proposition – the “promise” – the brand is making to its audience.
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Discover Your Brand Promise with “The Elements of Value”

The first step towards delivering an authentic brand experience is creating clarity around your brand identity and character so that you can consistently fulfill it. But how does a brand remain true to its character?

One effective way to keep authenticity at the forefront is to consider a brand’s “promise” – what a company promises consumers through their brand image and marketing. This promise can take many forms. Examples might include “to provide the comfort of home,” “to enable adventure,” or simply “to make it easier to keep the house clean.” Once you’ve identified the promise that your brand is making to consumers, you need to prioritize it in your product development, marketing, and customer engagement to create an authentic, consistent brand identity.
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Branding Genius: The Secrets Behind In-N-Out Burger’s Outsized Reputation

In our recent examination of Cohn & Wolfe’s Most Authentic Brands in the U.S., one major brand category felt conspicuously absent: fast food. This may be a result of our food culture’s recent growing focus on organic, local ingredients and seasonal menus, which leaves major chains hurting when it comes to consumer perceptions of authenticity. Or, it could be that fast food branding is in a bit of a slump. In an industry dominated by long-standing titans of convenience like McDonald’s and Taco Bell, there’s not a lot of incentive for innovation.

However, there is one fast food chain that looms large despite its relatively small footprint. In-N-Out Burger, which only has locations in California and parts of the Southwest, has nonetheless achieved an almost mythic quality among fast food enthusiasts. In fact, Nation’s Restaurant News recently ranked In-N-Out the highest in customer loyalty of any fast food chain nationwide, with 62% of respondents “saying their last visit… was motivated by the brand and not convenience.”

How does In-N-Out so successfully stand out from the crowd?

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Case Studies in Authentic Branding: UPS, AAA, Lego, & M&Ms

We recently explored the 2017 Cohn & Wolfe Authentic Brands study, which surveyed over 15,000 consumers to examine their perception of 1,400 popular brands. The “Authentic 100” was the result: a list of the top 100 U.S. brands ranked according to consumer perception of authenticity. Now, we’ll look deeper into how to successfully create brand authenticity through the example of the 10 most authentic brands from Cohn & Wolfe’s recent research.
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Authenticity in Branding & Marketing: What’s Your Brand’s Promise?

The recently released 2017 Cohn & Wolfe Authentic Brands study is the result of an ambitious undertaking. Cohn & Wolfe surveyed over 15,000 consumers across a wide variety of markets in search of a deeper understanding of their perception of 1,400 popular brands. Culminating in the “Authentic 100” – the top 100 U.S. brands ranked according to consumer perception of authenticity – the study “examines the role of authenticity in business, the attributes associated with an authentic brand and the impact of authenticity on consumer… attitudes and behaviors.”

It’s no surprise that authenticity is an attribute that is highly valued by today’s consumers. In our social media-saturated society, consumers have more opportunities than ever before to interact with brands on a “personal” level and they demand that engagement in exchange for their loyalty to certain brands and products. Let’s take a look at how consumers perceive authenticity and what that means for today’s brand builders.
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What “Peak TV” Can Teach Us About Brand Engagement

Industry experts call it “Peak TV” – a title that acknowledges both the quality and quantity of scripted series currently airing across established networks and upstart streaming services alike. For viewers at home, it may feel impossible to keep up with the sheer number of “must watch” shows. That’s an understandable feeling. FX Networks, which tracks the series currently on the air, notes that 342 individual scripted series have aired so far in 2017, making it the biggest year on record for TV programming.

For producers and marketing departments, this glut of content creates a mandate: stand out from the crowd or fade away. As a result, some of the strongest brands around right now belong to TV shows. In the age of Peak TV, what can show brands teach us about storytelling and audience engagement?
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Two Powerful Strategies for Building Consumer Trust

We’ve been engaged in an ongoing exploration of the state of consumer trust (which has recently reached record lows) and how brands can reverse the trend. Today’s consumers, empowered by technology to choose from a wide range of products and to interact with brands on an unprecedented level, prize authenticity, engagement, and social responsibility. It’s a tall order for brands that previously focused solely on selling a solution to a problem.

Marketing in 2017 is about more than solutions – it requires establishing a brand identity that resonates with many various subsets of our increasingly fractured culture. And as the demographics of consumer groups continue to change, brands must emphasize diversity but transcend tokenism. Does it all make your head spin? It all comes down to trust – whether or not consumers believe that your brand has their best interests at heart.
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Engaging Diverse Perspectives: Branding & Marketing for the Next Generation

As we recently explored in our blog series, Tomorrow’s Super Consumers, a seismic shift is occurring in the demographics of American consumers. Nielsen’s report on The Multicultural Edge reveals that multicultural consumers are “the fastest-growing segment of the U.S. population,” on track to be a numeric majority by 2044. Smart, inclusive marketers and brand builders can no longer ignore their increasingly diverse consumer base.

It’s time to devise strategies for connecting with a wide range of consumers with authenticity, respect, and ongoing engagement. With multicultural consumers on the rise, how can brands and marketers embrace a diversity of perspectives and experiences to create inclusive, compelling brand identities that connect with our increasingly diverse marketplace? To start, let’s take a look at several brands who are succeeding at engaging diverse perspectives.
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