It's been 10 years since Dove launched its “Campaign for Real Beauty”—a stark series of ads that were radical and simple in equal measure—featuring lovely, normal-sized women who didn’t need Photoshop to look radiant. The ads, which ran in 2004 and 2005, lacked any screed about the pressures that come with being a woman in a visual culture that’s awash in creatively lit, digitally manipulated images of dangerously thin models. The folks behind the campaign simply let us feel our own shock at seeing women with normal curves and natural faces being celebrated for their beauty in a national advertisement. Dove didn't stop there. The soap maker added rocket fuel to the conversation in 2006, when its time-lapse "Evolution" video went viral. The movement to expose marketers' use of trickery to convince us that we're failing if we don't have flawless skin and breathtaking bodies was here to stay. Significant progress has been made since Dove's campaign: The American public, the blogosphere, and the Twitterverse now routinely call out magazine publishers and marketers for digitally altering images of girls and women to shrink their bodies, smooth their faces, and otherwise morph them to fit an unrealistic, narrow ideal of beauty. The pace is quickening. In just the past few months, there's been even more progress and a few moments that drove the dialogue forward. 1. The more bare skin a campaign flaunts, the more Photoshop it typically gets. But American Eagle says its new campaign for the Aerie line of lingerie will not use any altered images of models. Instead, “real” girls and women can upload unretouched photos of themselves to a photo gallery. Sure, it’s pretty screwed up that selling underwear using real photos of gorgeous, skinny young girls (instead of digitally improved gorgeous, skinny young girls) is seen as groundbreaking. But moving away from the idealized versions of women who don't exist is a footstep Dove took, and the clothier is now following its lead. “It’s great that we’re beginning to break that down,” said Heather Arnet, executive director of the Women & Girls Foundation, of the fakeries that line the glossies. 2. Forever Yours Lingerie didn't stop working with model Elly Mayday when she was diagnosed with ovarian cancer last year. It featured beautiful shots of her with surgical scars unhidden and no wig or digital fakery to hide the baldness that resulted from her cancer treatment. Rather than looking like something’s missing, Mayday’s baldness comes across as strong and sexy. It’s empowering for the rest of us to see a woman outside the beauty mold we’ve been sold for so long—and to find ourselves aspiring to emulate her sexy confidence and appeal. (Forever Yours also gets points for raising money toward Mayday’s medical expenses.) 3. A new time-lapse video released by Hungarian pop star Boggie shows her singing a pop song called “Nouveau Parfum” while being Photoshopped, a fresh take on Dove's "Evolution" that's amplified by the resigned expression on her face. As the song unfolds, pieces of her disappear and are overwritten: Boggie’s eyes, like everyone else’s, aren’t exactly symmetrical. So one is deleted, then replaced by an exact copy of the other. Not a single square inch of her face or hair is left untouched. 4. Earlier last month during the Golden Globes, actor Diane Keaton took the stage to honor Woody Allen, her tousled hair and menswear-chic outfit reminding us of the trend she set when Annie Hall hit theaters in 1977. It was also clear on high-definition screens across America that at 68, she's got (oh, the horror!) lots of lines on her gorgeous face. When her speech ended, the network cut to a commercial break featuring Keaton selling L'Oréal cosmetics without a line on her digitally enhanced face, seemingly sporting the skin of a 25-year-old. Twitter, Instagram, and Facebook quickly lit up with scorn. That social media response is valuable, Arnet says, because younger women and girls are active on Instagram and Twitter and are participating in those conversations. 5. Former Cosmopolitan editor Leah Hardy drew attention for admitting that during her tenure the magazine routinely Photoshopped out the protruding bones of super skinny models to keep readers from seeing how emaciated the models really were. Since that admission surfaced, before-and-after comparisons of bone-thin models and their healthier-looking altered images have been popping up around the Web. Apparently the world’s top fashion magazines, despite the huge budgets at their disposal, cannot find a single woman on the planet who isn’t either too thin or too fat for their liking. It’s further reinforcement of the conclusion we’d love to share with every tween girl who’s just beginning to notice her appearance: The elusive “perfection” that every cosmetic company and clothing retailer is trying to sell you does not exist. 6. Mindy Kaling might not have minded, but many other people did: When Elle magazine published covers for its February 2014 issue featuring Kaling, readers and pundits immediately questioned why Kaling's cover was a black-and-white close-up rather than the full-color, full-body shots of the other (skinnier and more "conventionally" beautiful) actors. That's the key: We've begun to make a habit of questioning how women are depicted and what tools are being used to change or edit their appearance for public consumption. Yes, the visual landscape is still awash with altered images, surgically altered models, and the pressure to be thinner, younger, and closer to the narrow beauty ideal that so much marketing pushes on us. Marketers aren’t going to stop selling us
Dove Beauty Washbag Collection Gift Set
by Katie Martell @ THE BLOG -
Mon May 15 07:04:22 PDT 2017
Let me start with a question. Have you seen Dove’s most recent campaign?
Now, Dove is owned by the same parent company, Unilever who sells Axe, male-targeted grooming products with a looooooong history of ads like this:
Don't get me wrong - this ad is hilarious, just hypocritical coming from the same company promoting the "real beauty" narrative.
Yes, Unilever, tell us again how you lead the fight against unrealistic body standards in the media.
Dove (Unilever)’s body-shaped bottle campaign in the UK (in partnership with Ogilvy London) is yet another example of a company stumbling and crashing head-first as they attempt to traverse the space between women’s body-image in the media, and selling consumer goods.
While the notion that society needs equality between men and women has been around since the 1700s it just happens to be f***ing trendy right now.
But the Daily Dot says it best:
“When is a movement not a movement? When it’s a marketing campaign in a movement’s clothing.”
Movements in marketing, done well, are powerful. I just presented on this very topic at Oracle’s Modern Customer Experience in Vegas. But they must strike a tone of authenticity. The most recent ridiculous body shape bottles from Dove miss the mark. I particularly enjoy Jeff Beer of Fast Company’s take on it:
“Dove itself conditioned us against this type of thing. It's too easy. Too shallow. The quality of its past work, means there is no room for half-stepping.
When you raise your audience's expectation, you're simply not allowed to sink back into common gimmickry.”
While the marketer in me empathizes with the intention of this latest campaign (I get it, it’s difficult to think of creative ideas to break through the noise,) I can’t help but cringe at the thought of a room full of my peers nodding in agreement at this stunt, saying “you know what - this is a GREAT idea!”
And it’s not just me – the body-shaped bottle nightmare has driven headlines and mockery online:
“I’ve yet to meet the woman honoured and celebrated by plastic bottles on supermarket shelves." – Ruth Mortimer in Marketing Week
“Dove, I have arms, please advise” – Rachel Handler on Twitter
“With this campaign, Dove has moved from celebrating the diversity of the human body to celebrating the diversity of its products’ packaging,” – Clayton Purdom in AV Club
“Have you ever been in the shower, picked up your smooth, perfect soap container and screamed ‘I CAN’T LIVE UP TO THESE STANDARDS!’”? – Aimee Lutkin in Jezebel
Another buzzword nobody needs: Femvertising
Perhaps the worst thing to emerge from all of this is a term that nobody needs - “femvertising” or what Forbes defines as “harnessing feminism in advertising” something Dove has apparently created.
Dove’s “Campaign for Real Beauty” back in 2004 in partnership with Ogilvy & Mather, Edelman Public Relations, and Harbinger Communications was… cute. And it was praised heavily for its message for women – love thyself (then go buy our stuff). The buzz around the campaign drove 30X the exposure than the paid-for media space.
But I have some qualms about this word, “femvertising.” Let’s recap:
· Feminism = the idea that women should be treated equally to men
· Advertising = paid announcement meant to sell product
· Exploitation = taking advantage of someone to benefit from their work
So before we all celebrate the ridiculous concept of “femvertising!” let’s stop and consider the importance of actual feminism, the motivation behind these attempts-at-exploiting feminism, and the very real consequences.
Dove (and every single company for that matter) can do more to support women instead of these dopey, minimizing, lazy, exploitative bottles.
Within the tech space, an industry with devastatingly unequal gender parity set against a narrative of lawsuits, it’s encouraging to read stories like this one, a real SaaS company (client) with two female co-founders who have built a culture of gender equality. They don’t just talk a big game, they bring the concept of equality to life in real business decisions.
Passing the mic back to Ruth Mortimer:
"I like that a brand wants to celebrate women. But here’s a useful guide to doing so. Employ lots of them.
Demand your agencies and suppliers are diverse. Celebrate women for their actual achievements, not just their appearance. Align yourself with causes that benefit women. Continue to show diverse people with diverse figures in your advertising.”
If basic decency isn’t enough motivation for companies to support women, women are the ultimate economic accelerator.
Companies with a strong track record of gender diversity are 15% more likely to have higher earnings than their peers. In fact, among all Fortune 500 companies, the ones with the highest representation of women on their boards significantly outperform the others. Read more.
This backlash about Dove shows it’s time to set the bar higher.
I’m going to take this moment to again share pioneering activist Jean Kilbourne’s incredible work to expose the power (and danger) of advertising, since the late 1960s. Take a few minutes to watch her videos. Just do it.
You know what, don’t get up, I’ll embed one right here if you’re skimming this post for the good stuff:
Every week I send out new ideas, writings, and interesting links on marketing, business, and life. It’s free & curated by me. Get on the list.
Shonda Rhimes is enlisted as Dove’s Real Beauty Production as creative director in efforts to produce diverse visual stories on the definition of beaut
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BOP and Tiger Beat
Dove Cameron flew overseas to visit Thomas Doherty!
From the Campaign for real beauty and beyond, we’ve celebrated the uniqueness of women. Our Limited Edition Body Wash bottles are the next step.
Let me start with a question. Have you seen Dove’s most recent campaign? Now, Dove is owned by the same parent company, Unilever who sells Axe, male-targeted grooming products with a looooooong history of ads like this: Don't get me wrong - this ad is hilarious, just hypocriti
Acceptance is one thing. Asking women to visually categorize their bodies is quite another.
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by Richy Rosario @ Vibe
Thu Mar 30 09:57:02 PDT 2017
It's EVERY woman's year of "yes."
Are you who we're looking for? We are on the hunt for the new beauty voices to help us discover all things fresh, new and exciting. Find out all the details and how to enter here.
Digital Agency Network
Dove #SpeakBeautiful campaign will encourage women to realize the role their online words play in impacting their confidence and self-esteem.
The Hollywood Reporter
The prolific showrunner will film submissions to the brand's website to be featured in upcoming ads.
by Katie Martell @ THE BLOG -
Sat Mar 18 08:17:11 PDT 2017
There really isn’t a word that accurately describes the feeling of walking into a room of over 1000 women.
Part of me was surprised – I mean, I’m so used to conferences being a room filled with mostly men. Another part of me was filled with anticipation - I’d been looking forward to this day for weeks.
Regardless of how I felt walking in, it’s easy to articulate how I felt walking out:
Emboldened. Activated. Reassured.
One talk among many that day left me feeling particularly energized. It was given by Madge Meyer – a public speaker, author, and former EVP and Chief Innovation Officer at State Street, with a long career at organizations including Merrill Lynch and IBM.
Madge offered concise, yet profound lessons to the room, good and sound advice for both men and women.
1. Speak Up
Early in Madge’s career, at IBM, she was told by a manager that she’d be no longer invited to his meetings. Why? Her quiet and shy personality.
“You never ask questions or make suggestions. You occupy a seat, and never give me any value.”
Though she was listening, albeit passively, it wasn’t good enough. This is an important takeaway for anyone (talking to you, ladies) who may feel nervous about speaking up in a meeting.
Madge asked her manager for a second chance. She promised to ask at least one question, and make at least one good suggestion every meeting. She was allowed to return.
Studies show (and so does women's collective experience every day) that professional women are actually penalized for voicing their opinions more frequently.
“Male executives who spoke more often than their peers were rewarded with 10 percent higher ratings of competence. When female executives spoke more than their peers, both men and women punished them with 14 percent lower ratings.”
The article describes a speaking-up double bind that harms organizations by depriving them of valuable ideas.
While before, Madge would attend passively, she began attending actively – and her success in doing so was predicated on her ability to listen the right way.
2. How to Listen Well
Madge pointed out that many suffer from selected listening in meetings.
We can all likely relate to this. Who hasn’t interacted with someone who spends entire conversations just waiting for their turn to talk?
For Madge, the difference between passively and actively attending was to cultivate the skill of listening well – focusing on what someone really says, and asking intelligent questions.
She shared the tenets of Ting – the Chinese word for the art of listening, which consists of four elements in its Chinese character; ear, ten eyes, a heart, and a king.
Listen with your ear, but with 100% attention and focus (ten eyes), wholeheartedly, and as if listening to your King.
Wouldn’t that make for different meetings…
3. Tell People Who You Are
One particular story I enjoyed from early in Madge’s career focused on a series of achievements she made in highly complex technical roles. With degrees in mathematics in chemistry, she worked in… well… literal rocket science.
Despite outstanding work, she found herself passed over for promotion in favor of her male colleagues multiple times. Frustrated, she went to her brother for advice.
What he said to her resonated with me, and the rest of the room, as I saw heads nodding in agreement:
“You’ve got to tell people who you are, otherwise, why would they listen to you?”
Being a Chinese immigrant, she possessed a cultural expectation that her accomplishments would be enough to get her promoted. Her experienced was proving this not necessarily true in America. While she did not want to brag, she realized the importance of outside recognition.
“You must show your value to the business. Doing a good job is not enough.”
Years later, as a manager at State Street, Madge ensured the work her team did was recognized consistently, to the tune of 32 industry awards.
It's critical to toot your own horn. Be your own advocate.
4. Never Accept No
Whether it was “you’re no longer invited to this meeting” or “you will never become an EVP” or “the answer is no on this project” – Madge persisted.
In one story shared, Madge had identified a massive cost-savings opportunity for State Street. While it would require some significant change, it would save the organization millions. Her proposal, however, was rejected by a committee who told her – Madge, the answer is no.
Expecting a fight, they were relieved to hear her say “OK” in the meeting, and walk out.
Where she was headed, however, was directly to her manager. She confidently brokered a deal (seriously, love this woman) – to let the results of a test dictate the viability of the proposal. If she couldn’t save the company $10M, they could fire her.
Yeah, she bet her job on it. No pressure. Casual.
Madge ended up saving the company $42M (boom), and earning the trust she so well deserved on her path to EVP.
In this story, she mentioned a piece of advice from her parents:
“When the boat hits the shore, you don’t keep trying to move forward. You turn right or left.”
Never accept no for an answer. Go around, and find a way to make it a yes.
5. How to Innovate
All of these stories, weaved throughout her experience, built a strong foundation for Madge’s unique understanding of the concept of innovation – something she consults organizations on now. At the end of her talk, Madge shared a kind of alphabet of innovation, at least from A-G.
Anticipatory, not reactive.
Business focused, not technology-driven.
Creative destruction, not guardianship. It’s very easy to hold on to the old way of doing things. Change is a risk.
Distributive leadership, not command and control. Companies that are top down must consider a culture of innovation, letting all people bring ideas to the surface.
Execution, not just inspiration. Madge recalled a Japanese saying:
If you have a vision with no execution, you have a day dream. If you have execution with no vision, you have a nightmare.
Fast and flexible, not fixed or frozen.
Global mindset nor parochial thinking. Leaders must move past only what they're comfortable with, and reach beyond boundaries.
I could not get enough of Madge’s easy humor, or her confident humility.
I realize “confident humility” may be an oxymoron, but what I witnessed was a delicate balance of touting her remarkable success, sharing lessons born of mistakes, all delivered with an empathy that left each of us feeling that her journey was – or could be - our own.
Thank you to the Ad Club of Boston for having me at the 9th annual Womens Leadership Forum – Stories told, by women bold.
Every Saturday morning I send out new ideas, writings, and interesting links on marketing, business, and life. It’s free & curated by me. Get on the list.
by Ali Booth @ TigerBeat
Sat Sep 23 12:00:17 PDT 2017
We’re drooling with style envy! If you don’t already know her, meet beauty and lifestyle YouTuber Sarah Belle: the ultimate girl-next-door. She’s an eyelash extension loving, cowboy boot rocking, Instagram expert. And our favorite thing about her? She fills our feed with goal-worthy outfits around the clock! In need of a little fashion inspiration? You’re […]
by Ali Booth @ TigerBeat
Fri Sep 22 07:40:48 PDT 2017
Should she stay blonde or go brown!? It’s the first official day of Fall and Lauren Riihimaki — known online as LaurDIY — is ready for a for a change! The do-it-yourself queen of YouTube, who recently dropped her highly anticipated rap music video, recently revealed on Instagram that she’s considering switching things up. In […]
by Katie Martell @ THE BLOG -
Fri Jun 16 07:57:46 PDT 2017
Yesterday I had the opportunity to present a live webinar with Jon Russo, founder of marketing performance firm B2BFusion.
Jon is often a voice of clarity to me in what has become a complex world of marketing and sales technology. Choosing the right vendor is enough of a challenge, but making systems work to their full potential is another story.
What's more, making tech work together in stacks can be a major challenge preventing organizations from seeing value in their investments.
I asked Jon to present his worldview working with clients to find success with ABM tools. Watch the free, on-demand recording of our event, below. One-time registration is required (but is soooo worth it, trust me.)
Are You Set Up for ABM Success? What to Know Before You Go.
Account-Based Marketing tools like Engagio, DemandBase, and Terminus are powerful, exciting pieces of technology. But without the right data and decisions in place, it's like putting really nice shutters on a house without a foundation.
B2B companies must be thoughtful about their ABM setup.
Join Katie Martell, on-demand B2B marketer, and Jon Russo, B2B marketing operations expert and high-tech CMO as they walk through EXACTLY what companies need to get these tools to work. They'll share a real-life example of how to wrangle data and MAP/CRM integrations to get up and running with account-based strategies.
Everyone's on a journey with ABM, but some are in different places than others. This session is ideal for anyone who's interested in getting started with ABM, who has bought an ABM tool and wants to improve their implementation, or who wants to see more value from their investment in ABM.
by Katie Martell @ THE BLOG -
Wed Jan 11 11:08:00 PST 2017
Happy New Year. For aud lang syne and all that.
We are well beyond that beautiful limbo of the holiday season, an inevitable opportunity for us as individuals to pause and look back on the previous 12 months.
Maybe there’s a tinge of regret (they are teachable moments), glimmers of brilliance, and hopefully buckets of pride in what we’ve achieved.
In the marketing industry, like all others being changed by technology, this time of year that falls at the end of calendar Q4 and beginning of Q1 is when we make predictions.
Don’t get me wrong, I love prediction pieces! They have kind of become an industry norm – something every blog and publication tends to run. Many are super helpful expert-POV that help us make sense of the change.
Most often, these predictions are a hugely optimistic look at the months ahead, and a really compelling benchmark - like a time capsule - as to where we are collectively the very moment the calendar year (human construct of time, human construct of time, human construct of time) comes to an end.
In the hype race, customers are left behind.
Now, if you’re situated comfortably within the marketing corner office of a marketing tech vendor (or more likely in a funky open office setting, you know, with the plebians) your predictions likely centralize around whatever it is that you’re selling.
Widget vendor? 2017 is undoubtedly the year of the widget.
If you’re in the media, you’re likely writing or being assigned stories that fall into the greater narrative of the tech industry. (Writing about “AI in marketing” this year? Yeah, you.)
We all know the dangers of hype.
Too often, executives who are making predictions try too hard to… well… sound like they can predict the future. Yes, we should all seek to be thought leaders, on the bleeding edge of our industry, ahead of the game, yadda yadda yadda. But what’s happened in many fields, especially marketing, is a bit of a race that’s getting out of control.
Vendors rush ahead to be innovative (or sound innovative). Our customers can barely keep up. Fast-forward 12 months and it’s time for another set of high-level, pie in the sky predictions that very few practitioners are ready to take advantage of.
Where is the customer in the maturity and adoption of these tactics? Who are you writing for?
They’re still trying to implement 2013’s predictions. Some are stuck in 2009. It’s not their fault, it’s the pace of change that is far more difficult to implement than the time it takes to write a thinkpiece on the future of their industries.
We are really not helping anyone with hundreds of pieces about what’s to come in the year ahead that are grounded in truth only realized by early-adopters, or worse, grounded in fiction.
So, I thought it would be fun to do a brief sanity-check of last year’s predictions. See how right our fortune teller industry luminaries really are.
Note: this is done in jest. I don’t mean to call anyone out, in fact I came across quite a few folks that I know and love and have left all names off my piece.
Let’s get into it: 13 Marketing Industry Predictions from 2016 – Did They Come True?
1. Digital Marketing will Cease as Marketers Shift to Marketing in a Digital World - Forbes
Forget digital, we’re so digital we’re not even digital anymore.
2. The Era of Cognitive Commerce has Begun – Forbes
Spoken like a guy who works for a cognitive business technology company, oh wait, he does (IBM).
3. Real-Time Marketing Analytics will Unite Online and Offline Behavior for Richer Lead Scoring and Nurturing in 2016 – Forbes
I know the predictor behind this one, and he’s a smart cookie. This one is getting closer to the truth, as it hopes phone activities from sales will be included in lead scoring. Also, he works at a company selling insights around phone activity. Moving on.
4. The arrival of Virtual Reality, combined with a major explosion of streaming and the death of old world distribution models will unleash a new age of what we used to call “TV” – Forbes, and this article too
Oooh a new age. I think ages, by definition, take a few years to shake out, so why don’t we check back on this one in a couple of decades.
5. Being Human Will Return to Marketing / Getting Back to Basics Will Trump the Sexy, Shiny, New Marketing Vehicle – Forbes
Now these guys are speaking my language. Are these predictions? Or is this a cop out? The jury is out…
6. The Maturation of Addressable Communications will Advance Across Channels – Forbes
I will take bread with this buzzword soup, yes, thank you. Mmm, delicious.
7. Intent-based Marketing Has Become a Reality – Forbes
Hello my friend! This predictor is also a very smart marketer who I love and respect. Three guesses what his firm sells.
8. By the end of 2016, CMOs will no longer present slideware to show their impact on revenue in board meetings– Forbes
Down with PPT!! Right after I finish editing next week's board slides.
9. In the same Forbes article, there’s one about the importance of data-driven marketing, from a marketing data vendor.
10. Another about sales and marketing alignment from a sales enablement technology vendor. And on it goes.
11. In content marketing, this article predicts live streaming will skyrocket in popularity (I do see a lot more of it from brands. I can’t yet find data on its usage but suppose this is closer to reality.)
12. It also speaks to the rise of personal authority over brand authority – something I harp on with my own clients. I’m behind this one.
13. This one predicts “brand/product/marketing/sales and CS teams will reorganize around innovation and customer experience”—again, let’s check back on that one in a few years. I love the spirit of this, but this one will take a while to shake out. Re-orgs take time…
Looking back, thinking ahead.
Look, while this article is done in the name of fun, I do hope it tempers next year’s slew of prediction pieces back to a pace that both positions your company as an innovative leader in your space, while addressing the real problems faced by your customers.
Otherwise, practitioners are sitting on the train, reading your piece on their phones, thinking “wow. My peers are so much farther along than me.” The truth is, most are not. It’s an illusion.
Speak to where customers are today, while painting a bright future for what they could have tomorrow. This will have more impact than lofty predictions.
In marketing, we can’t afford to be so full of BS about the future of our space. It’s become a joke.
Founders, you don’t need to always fake the illusion that you are somehow light years ahead of the market. No, investors don’t want to hear it. They know the companies that build billion-dollar industries are solving an addressable market problem, at the moment of need, with an eye to what’s to come.
Next time you write a prediction for the year ahead, do a quick gut check.
Now... where’s the champagne? I’m still celebrating.
Dove Real Beauty Productions and Shonda Rhimes Release "Meet Kylee"
The photographer explains how her style of lighting and directing captures the beauty of real women for Dove’s international advertising.
by Katie Martell @ THE BLOG -
Sat Sep 09 04:41:18 PDT 2017
What happens when ten Boston-area startups meet ten of Boston’s best creative agencies?
Brandathon, that’s what.
The Ad Club President Kathy Kiely admitted in her opening, “we’re not supposed to pick favorites… but this is our favorite event.”
And I totally get it.
This event checks every box. It’s a pure celebration of the sheer work that goes into brand building, the creativity behind well-loved marketing ideas, and the strategy and research required to deliver a message that is both relevant and remarkable.
But, perhaps the most entertaining piece of this evening is the art of the agency pitch.
Imagine if Don Draper had access to Photoshop and embedded .gifs in PowerPoint slides. Then, add puns. Brandathon’s audience is given front-row access to see the type of performances that win these agencies global name-brand accounts. A truly remarkable experience.
This annual Ad Club event (now in its fourth year) includes 10 marketing teams who work for 72 hours to develop a new brand for 10 of Boston’s most promising startups.
It’s a coveted position to be in, as evidenced by the swell of applicants this year. 150 companies applied for ten spots. These startups, many lacking dedicated marketing resources of their own, know the competitive advantage of a strong and well-conceived brand.
For example, a 2016 Brandathon startup Tranquilo took the new branding work developed by 36creative all the way to Shark Tank, ending up with a deal from Robert Herjavec, and going on to grow “from 5 figures to 7 figures in less than a year” according to CEO and founder Melissa Gersin.
This year, Arnold took the top spot for a hilarious rebrand of Kulisha chicken feed. (Yes, really, chicken feed.) In second place was 36creative for their work with OatShop, and finally, Genuine Interactive secured third place for their meaningful revival of CommonWealth Kitchen.
Other participating startups this year included WA11.ST, HipChip, Janji, Nomsly, Sheprd, and Solstice, receiving new brand design and ideas from creative teams including Forge Worldwide, GPJ Experience Marketing, Racepoint Global, SapientRazorfish, Small Army, and W-9.
This was a night of creativity and humor, but also a reminder of startup branding basics:
1. Branding goes beyond packaging
When you think of branding, you may consider a website, logo, business cards, and of course the packaging a product may come in. But, we were reminded this evening that a brand is truly comprised of all the touchpoints a customer may have with an organization.
Agencies tonight presented each startup with ideas to bring their brand recommendations to life far beyond the initial website or package design, well into the lifecycle of a customer. Many entrepreneurs forget to consider that their brand is the sum of an experience a buyer has from before the purchase to after the sale, not only the wrapper to their product.
2. Customer-centric branding wins
Many startups describe what it is that they do in terms of the products or technology they provide.
But, as each brand makeover demonstrated, product-centric branding is only so effective. When a startup is ready to for real growth, their brand must reflect customer-centric ideals.
This begins with the audience being served, and working backwards to design an identity and a message that speaks directly to them - in their language, and addressing their problems, first.
3. Simple and approachable is best
For many of these startups, the biggest change to their original messaging came in the form of simplification.
These agencies know through their work with consumer brands worldwide that less is often more, especially when a consumer is faced with a new brand for the first time. Buyers (and all humans for that matter) make a split-second judgement call. That moment of truth is where the power of a good brand comes into play - and where the danger of complex, confusing branding creates problems.
Throughout the evening we saw taglines shortened, websites streamlined, and jargon/buzzwords banished. Each agency helped to make their startup clients more approachable, their mission and value clear, and their relevance to the buyer easy to understand.
4. Startups need a cohesive brand narrative
Many startups will cobble together their initial attempts at branding using an affordably-made logo, accessible Wordpress template, and whatever free stock imagery they can access. (Resourcefulness is the name of the game for early-stage businesses, right?) But for those companies seeking to grow, a cohesive brand narrative is a paramount component of building a business.
Each pitch tonight featured a narrative that reflected the brand’s founding story, values, personality, beliefs, and identity. The art of articulating all of this in a set of imagery, colors, and copy is exactly what makes this profession so difficult - and what made each pitch so impressive.
Brandathon 2017 was special - the energy and passion of both brands and agencies were on full display. Nearly every startup here knew the biggest problem they faced in this nascent stage of their businesses was creating awareness, and for each of them, a cohesive brand is an invaluable gift, as it serves as a launch pad for all future growth.
Diane Hessan, Brandathon Committee Chairperson summarized it best, sharing in her introduction, "when I founded my own company, the idea that I could have this level of access to the great, creative agencies of Boston was simply incomprehensible.”
This was an event that really could have only happened here in Boston, reflecting this city’s unique mix of entrepreneurial strength and world-class marketing fortitude.
See you in 2018.
Dove’s body wash gets a revamp with a little help from Ogilvy, by creating bottles that come in all shapes and sizes, just like the women in their ads.
Give the gift of superior care with the Dove Beauty Collection Washbag Gift Set. This beauty collection contains a range of products designed to make you look and feel your best. Included in the stylish white wash bag is a Dove Deeply Nourishing Body Wash 250ml, a Dove Essential Body Lotion 250ml and a Dove Original Antiperspirant 250ml.
The Traveling Heels
Are there beauty products that you can’t live without even for a single night? Are there some hotel toiletries that you simply cannot use because you’re so used to a particular product? I have a...
Save on personal care products and beauty supplies. Family Dollar stocks toothpastes, razors, soaps, lotions, and more, from the names you trust.
The Dove Foundation
Beauty and the Beast (2017) - Disney's animated classic takes on a new form, with a widened mythology and an all-star cast. A young prince, imprisoned in the form of a beast, can be freed only by true love. What may be his only opportunity arrives when he meets Belle, the only human girl to ever visit the castle since it was enchanted.