Category Archives: Branding

Have a break from your Wi-Fi life

Kit Kat have scored an ace with this campaign where they created wifi-free zones in Amsterdam for people to ‘take a break’ from their digital lives.

Apart from the great on-street presence, and PR-worthiness of it, they have made Kit Kat relevant in the digital age by providing busy people with a chance to get away from it all, relax and have a break.

Their ‘take a break’ strapline is now even more relevant to our lives…

kit kat


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June 10, 2013 · 4:17 pm

Marketing in a crisis – 5 steps to take

What should the marketing team do when a crisis hits that is external to your organisation? World events are outside of our control, but it is the marketing and communications team’s responsibility to act when a crisis hits.

This week with the horrific bombs in Boston it reminded me of occasions when I have had to respond to a crisis, which prompted me to write this blog post.  Recent examples from the world of advertising and media include Fox removing an episode of Family Guy from their website which could cause offence, Nike pulling their Oscar Pistorius adverts following his arrest, and Barclays pulling their advertising in the wake of the Libor scandal.

Whether the events are concerning your own organisation or external there are some essential steps that the marketing and communications team need to take. Unfortunately there are always natural or man-made crises that occur, so it pays to be ready to respond appropriately.

1. Review all current activity planned and booked

Starting with any activity that is live – review it to ensure that it is not likely to cause offense or be inappropriate given recent events. Consider the creative used, the copy, phrases used, your media choice etc. I once had a live campaign promoting leisure rail travel using the phrase ‘shops to die for’ when a rail crash resulted in fatalities. I did everything I could to get that campaign erased in case it caused offence.

Check your website – is there anything on there that could be inappropriate? Review your social media presence and don’t forget to review any scheduled messages, as the Daily Mirror have learned this week.

2. Form a crisis response team

Hopefully your organisation already has a crisis management team or draft contingency plan in place. If not, pull together a representative from all relevant areas – PR, customer communications and any operational areas that may need to be involved.  The benefit of cross working is that each area will have a slightly different perspective and raise new perspectives that will help you define an appropriate response.  Many of the actions may be practical steps to be taken internally, but inevitably there will be a communications angle that needs to be owned and delivered.

Do other teams around the organisation need manpower to support them? If your team can spare a few people to help answer the phones or be present on location then that is a great way to help customers and build internal bonds at the same time. I’ve done this myself many times and have always gained personally from the experience as well as providing a useful service to colleagues and customers.

3. Focus on customer information

Fast and accurate information is essential when the unexpected occurs. Brief but informative communications will go a long way to assisting any customers or stakeholders during a crisis.  Make use of immediate tools such as your company website, social media profiles, and PR contacts to issue information as appropriate. Email your customers and suppliers with information if necessary.

The tone of communication is critical at times of crisis – aim for humility and helpfulness.  Keep your organisation and its role in perspective. How important is it to sell widgets when there is a crisis in hand?!

Now’s not the time to cling desperately to creative brand values and the quality of paper you are using. Customers don’t care how glossy your leaflet is – they just want the right information at the right time.

4. Agree on a proactive communications strategy

Would your organisation benefit from a pro-active communications strategy in light of events? Tescos obviously felt so when they took out full page ads regarding the horse meat scandal.

Take care to get the tone and message right – no-one wants to hear about your organisation when there are bigger issues at stake.

5. Communicate internally

Once steps have been taken to review existing campaigns and plan new activity take the time to communicate what has been done internally. Colleagues across the organisation, not only your senior team, will want to know how you are responding to events.  Write clear, concise emails that spell out the steps that are being taken and when to expect a further update.  I’ve found that this is hugely appreciated and also avoids receiving a multitude of enquiries which could take up precious crisis-management time.

Marketing in a global village

Marketing and communications play a vital role in providing information at times of crisis. Given the immediacy of events regardless of where they occur there is every chance that customers and employees are personally affected by what has happened. It is essential that every marketing and communications professional is sensitive to and responds appropriately to events happening around us.

Roisin Kirby is an experienced Marketing Consultant based in Nottingham (UK), with experience spanning a range of service industries, particularly the education and travel sectors.

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Filed under Advertising, Branding, Digital, Marketing, Social media, Strategy, Travel and Tourism

Understand Generation Y – and make your marketing smarter

At the weekend MP Clare Perry came under attack in the media for stating that over-parenting was stifling children’s ability to fend for themselves.

Generation Y and their younger siblings are often under attack themselves for their self-obsessed attitude and inability to manage their own lives without ‘helicopter’ parents by their sides.

Whilst this is an interesting and useful cultural (and political) debate, the behaviours of Generation Y present challenges and opportunities for marekteers trying to engage with this audience. My previous post about segmentation covers the different approaches to targeted marketing. In this post I’m highlighting some of the characteristics observed of Generation Y and Z as a starting point is to understanding this target market better.

So who or what is Generation Y?

Many are familiar with the term ‘baby boomer’ generation referring to the population born in the post-war years. Their children are typically Generation X, born between the early 1960’s to 1980’s. They are followed by Generation Y, also known as Millennials with birth dates ranging from 1980 to 2000. There’s yet to be consensus on a term to describe the post-millennium babies – the most common being Generation Z or the Net Generation.

The theory behind generational segmentation is that we (and subsequent generations) are shaped by the world events and society in which we grew up. For Generation X the fall of the Berlin Wall and Nelson Mandela’s release are significant events that occurred in their formative years. For Generation Y, their world view has been shaped amongst other things by 9/11 and the global economic situation, which has resulted in significant youth unemployment. Generation Z will have their own defining events depending on which country they grew up in.

vectorstock_742396 generations

How do Generation Y and Z behave?

As well as a perceived narcisstic attitude, there are other characteristics observed of this generation. In contrast to the increasing importance of being wealthy and famous (fame for fame’s sake), they possess a strong sense of community both global and local – friendships and family figuring strongly in their lives; politics and current affairs less so than previous generations.

Lifestyle is important to them, which does not always equate with wishing to be wealthy. It has been said that they don’t live for work … they work to live. Perhaps they are trying to crack the work-life balance challenge the older generation has wrestled with?

Helicopters and trophies

Parents, feeling the pressure from school and society for their offspring to perform well have taken to hovering over their child, coaching them to success, thereby coining the phrases ‘helicopter parents’ and ‘trophy children’. Society also has a role to play in this outcome, as non-competitive sports days at school and methods of reward result in many young people having the sense that they are someone special, and that mere participation is sufficient for reward.

Whilst this could result in a more egalitarian and caring society it also means that young people are not used to receiving knock-backs, and are put off by the first hurdle, rather than persevering and improving until successful.

Always on

These generations have lived in a society where the Internet is a way of life. Information is instantly available just a few clicks away. Whilst the benefits of this are indisputable, it does mean that the need to learn and retain information is by and large removed. Why should a person learn the capital cities of the world by rote if they can find that information quickly on the world wide web? Schools, keen to raise their rankings in the league tables have been teaching to the test, creating a narrow focus for learning and reinforcing the perception that a wider knowledge base isn’t required.

Gen Y are used to interacting with each other 24/7, via instant message or SMS, which makes email seem like carrier pigeon, and written English seem like Shakespeare compared with text speak. They expect constant and immediate feedback, and are used to getting it. Speed is elevated over accuracy – the Y and Z generations are true ‘digital natives’.

Reward and ambition

Generation Y and Z have grown accustomed to instant gratification because of the digital age. Purchases are easy and credit freely available. Play on demand and instant access to whatever you need mean that expectations are high. Why wait, if you can get it now?

Employers report that Gen Y employees have a sense of entitlement and are looking for rapid promotion in the workplace. The idea of starting at the bottom of the ladder and slowly working your way up is not attractive to them. Opportunities for conflict and misunderstanding in the workplace are significant given the different outlooks of Generation X and Y towards workplace practices and career progression.

Friends and recognition

Friends, acquaintances and popularity are of great importance to many Generation Y’ers. Is it any wonder with social media sites promoting popularity as a virtue, and television talent shows ridiculing those perceived as untalented. It is sometimes said that a great night out is not as important as what you are going to say about it afterwards on Facebook. Gen Y and Z are used to recording and documenting every event and thought and publishing it to the world. As children their every move was captured in photos and video by their adoring parents.

information overload

Information overload

Members of Generation Y and Z have to be experts at filtering information given the volume of messages they face every single day. The number of channels has increased year on year, with the proliferation of TV channels alone a good example of this. Add that to social media sites, experiential and in-store marketing, and you can appreciate why filtering information is an essential life skill for them. With this amount of advertising being pushed to them daily can we blame the youth for their perceived short attention span?

Let me entertain you

Generation Y and Z expect to be entertained, posing a challenge to advertisers trying to get a more serious message across. YouTube, Internet TV and gaming provide endless distractions from day to day activities such as studying and working. The humdrum of everyday existence appears quite boring and chores ‘a waste of time’ compared with all the entertainment that is waiting to be consumed. For marketeers there is a real risk of ‘getting it wrong’ in tone or style and coming across as ‘dad on the dancefloor’.

Let’s engage with Generations Y and Z

These much maligned generations have plenty to offer if we see past the sometimes negative characteristics that have been observed of them. Take, for example, their ability to filter a volume of information – this is a strength in the workplace, where email overload threatens to take over people’s roles. Likewise their social networking skills can be put to good use in business development and marketing roles. There are many positive characteristics that have been observed of this generation that receive much less airtime.

For marketeers the challenge is to understand the generations better and appeal to their behavioural characteristics through smart use of message, channel and creative. Infotainment (information wrapped up in entertainment) is an important tactic in reaching them.

Generations Y and Z are very aware of being sold to, so marketing needs to focus on engagement and endorsement – the emotional rather than transactional sale. Let’s stop bashing Generations Y and Z (and their parents!) and start appealing to their positive characteristics.

Author: Roisin Kirby, Refresh Marketing Consultancy Ltd


Filed under Advertising, Branding, Digital, Marketing, Sales, Social media, Strategy

Perfect business names are difficult to find

I spent many an hour trying to find the perfect name for my new business. As well as moments of inspiration I also suffered lots of frustration, when I found that my ‘original’ idea had already been taken.

Of course the company name doesn’t have to be the same as your brand or trading name, but in my case I wanted them to be one and the same. It’s important that the name you use to promote your business represents your vision and philosophy.

There are of course different approaches and trends to brand naming, from the traditional family name ‘Warburton’s bread’, through to the local ‘Nottinghamshire building society’– there’s no doubt what they do and which local market they serve.

There’s also been a strong trend in recent years for the ‘does what it says on the tin’ variety – you only need to think of ‘’ or ‘’, and you already have a strong idea of what they can offer. This space is now quite crowded, particularly for financial products as have to compete with and and try to differentiate in that space.

The abstract has grown as a naming style, sometimes down to the lack of availability of domain names – and spring to mind. The challenge there of course is that you need a sizable marketing budget to first explain to people what your product or service is before you even get going.  Orange mobile have succeeded where others have failed, and we now accept a name that at the time caused many puzzled faces.

Humour is great in names, but can be limiting as not everyone gets the same humour.  Every campers favourite product the ‘ploo!’ had to diversify from its original product name once it realised that campers with young children weren’t keen to have the name visible (I’ll let you look it up!).

Having worked with branding agencies in the past I know that the temptation to have a quirky name can be strong, but a name that reflects the benefits the company can offer is already working hard for the business.

As many obvious terms are taken it is harder to find a name that is still available via Companies House, where the Domain name is available and social media presence (Facebook, YouTube, LinkedIN, Twitter) is not already taken. Always undertake a simple Google search, as you never know who has taken the name as a trading name, even if it is not their registered company name.

So, back to my choice of company name. I hope it conveys my main service – marketing audit – which is all about reviewing current plans and market presence and proposing a fresh approach. The name also plays to my strength and passion for digital marketing – refreshing your browser is now such adopted language that we barely recognise it as a digital term, but at the same time has the benefit of longevity, which many faddish terms may not.

Despite the difficulties in finding and securing an appropriate brand name, the best brands are always underpinned by a clear and easily understood proposition.

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