Brand Integrity Makes a Big Difference to Consumers

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As a child, you were no doubt taught about the value of honesty. It’s one of the first moral lessons most parents try to impart onto their children.

Closely intertwined with honesty is the expectation that you will be held accountable for your own actions.

In marketing, these very basic fundamentals can sometimes be forgotten. However, these days consumers have a way to digitally voice their concerns about companies who lose their way.

Brand integrity is a big deal. People want to know they can trust companies before engaging with them.

Here are a few ways you can earn the trust of your audience.

5 Ways Brands Can Nurture Trust

Research by the Sprout Social Index shows that millennials are most likely to call out brands on social media. Almost 60% of this group have complained about an issue they’ve had with a brand online.

With a global platform, social media has the power to really influence a lot of people, for better or worse.

Because of this, brand integrity matters more than ever today.

1.    Honesty Is the Best Policy

Trustworthy brands have no reason to lie. They can be totally open about their company, offering full transparency about their values, beliefs, and products.

This is especially pertinent in the food industry. Dining chain, Panera Bread is a great example of this, as they launched a marketing campaign in 2016 that provided customers with “transparent menus,” which listed all the ingredients, calories, and nutritional info for each and every item.

2.    Focus on the Customer

The best brands have a customer-centric focus. They ask their consumers about the problems they are facing and then offer tailored solutions. By providing real value, the brand nurtures more trust with their customers.

3.    Trustworthy Brands Have Got the Customer’s Back

When a company rises to the top, there will always be opportunities to exploit its power for more money.

Apple turned down the FBI when they came knocking. The Federal government wanted the access and ability to unlock Apple’s phones, but the tech giant refused.

This was a major statement of brand integrity from Apple. Customers knew they could trust that their personal privacy was in safe hands.

4.    Take Responsibility for Your Mistakes

When Chipotle had an outbreak of E.coli, it could have spelled the end for the popular chain of restaurants.

However, they were quick to react. By closing down locations, implementing new safety measures, and communicating with the public, they were able to limit the damage.

Of course, they took a hit, but the quick response curried favor with many customers who respected the openness and genuine apology that was made.

5.    Use Social Media to Connect with Customers

Social media enables any company to build brand integrity if they use it correctly. Staying active in niche communities online will help with brand visibility, and it can also humanize your brand so people don’t view your business as just another faceless corporation.

Trust Takes Time to Build

A business can’t develop trust with customers immediately.

It doesn’t matter how fancy the store is or how friendly all the staff members are. Only by offering real value without any strings, and building relationships with your target audience can you nurture the trust that is necessary to make sales.

Brands that put honesty and transparency among their top priorities will get there faster.

By standing up for your customers’ best interests, and protecting them when they need it most, companies can forge stronger bonds with people.

That will serve your business well for the future.

Marketing Authenticity: Can it Motivate Your Audience?

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In the recent years, social media has been polluted with trolling, fake news and a lot of negativity. These issues make it harder to build trust with people, which is a problem for business.

Now, marketing authenticity and brand activism in social good campaigns are key considerations for brands.

It’s time to get real.

What is a Social Good Campaign?

Studies on global consumers show that just 52% of people actually trust businesses.

Instead of trying to persuade people for a quick buck, brands must seek to win the trust of their customers by proving they are out for social good.

Whether they are responding to political decisions, supporting a cause, or promoting a much bigger idea than their company’s financial interests, brands can show they are for social good.

While using a cause to promote your own message runs the risk of a negative backlash, if it’s done right, your company can showcase marketing authenticity and align your business with a cause.

The Impact of Marketing Authenticity on your Brand Growth

There are a number of key benefits to using marketing authenticity and brand activism in your growth strategy.

It Nurtures Trust

With successful campaigns that demonstrate what your company cares about more than profits, you will find it easier to build trust with consumers. This adds to your brand credibility and makes it easier to build a larger audience over time.

In 2017, The New York Times responded to the influx of fake news by launching a campaign called, “The Truth is Hard to Find”, which promoted quality journalism and facts.

Not only did they demonstrate integrity in their reporting, but they boosted awareness, which led to a rise in subscription numbers.

It Boosts Brand Awareness

Social good campaigns can deliver quite an impact, which spreads quickly as more people start talking about it. If it connects with people on an emotional level, then the impact can be huge.

A 2018 study found that 77% of people feel they have a stronger emotional connection with purpose-driven companies, as opposed to traditional companies. That makes many people more loyal to that company and more likely to defend it.

It Makes Your Brand More Relevant

Following trending topics is an integral part of modern marketing, especially on social media. By aligning your business with a trending social movement, your brand activism can make you seem more relevant in the eyes of a wider audience.

Marketing Authenticity must be Customer-Centric

Marketing authenticity is a key link between what your brand does and what your customers want. Through brand activism in social good campaigns, your business can transcend the quest for profits, and show you care more about your customers and about the things they care about.

The danger is that if it’s done wrong, people may view your efforts as a gimmick or shameless plug. With some smart strategy, your brand can prove their integrity to forge strong connections with your existing audience and grow a larger one.

In the long run, that will benefit both the people and your business fortunes.

Team Passions Grow a Giving Tree

 Organizations E29 Supports

Organizations E29 Supports

Each month a team member at E29 picks a way to challenge the team to do something that will push them, help them grow, get outside their comfort zone, or just do a little extra. I picked June and I was SO inspired that on a personal level I am carrying it out through the rest of the year. I asked the team to find a way to “give back” once a week. In any way that helps others and that is close to their heart. I gave examples of different ways we could help with personal goals and/or as a team.

So, I’ll start with what I set out to do...

Week 1: Make dogs pull tugs and blankets for shelter animals. At any craft store during this time of year (in California) fleece fabric is on clearance so my daughter and I picked out fun patterns and got to work! It was so fun going to the shelter and delivering these handmade items, and I loved that my daughter was a part of it.

Week 2: I posted on Facebook that I was collecting canned goods and non-perishable food items for the Orange County Second Harvest Food Bank for the homeless. It prompted many of my neighbors to clear out their pantries and throw away the old, but donate their overstocked items. We donated bags and bags and bags of canned goods with the help of my amazing friends and family!

Week 3: Autismspeaks.org is a charity close to my heart as my nephew is on the spectrum and in the past, we have attended walks in his honor, and purchased goods to increase awareness and fund research. I couldn’t let this challenge go by without a monetary donation in Cannon’s honor.

Week 4: This was my biggest challenge and it’ll be one that continues all year, and hopefully years to come. Being a trail runner in California and seeing the devastation of the numerous forest fires that burned away my morning runs, scenic drives and neighbor’s homes and memories...this would be my finale. I set out to become a Tree Ambassador through onetreeplanted.org to assist in reforestation. This organization is awesome! They are located in Vermont but work with local arborists all over the nation to raise money and recruit ambassadors to help spread the word and actually get in and get dirty. You can log on and donate and $1=1 sapling. Every area requires a different type of tree for its environment and I am learning so much through meetings with their team, reading up and speaking with my local reforestation rep. This unfortunately is a poor time to replant in our areas, so until the Fall, I will be raising money that will go directly towards the trees that I will be replanting with a team in Laguna Canyon.

The organizations we as a team supported:

  • American Red Cross for Volcano Relief in Hawaii
  • Autism Speaks
  • The Brady Campaign to prevent gun violence
  • End the Backlog
  • Goodwill
  • One Tree Planted
  • San Francisco - Marin Food Bank
  • Salt Lake County Animal Services
  • Second Harvest Food Bank
  • SpoofDawg Animal Rescue Shelter
  • Youth Potential South Africa

“Especially in the #MeToo era, it is important that survivors get the justice they deserve. END THE BACKLOG is bringing awareness to the backlog of untested rape kits throughout the United States. I’m so happy to support this organization that is doing such incredible work. By ending the backlog and supporting survivors, we are supporting all women and gender equality.” -Megan

“YOUPSA helps pave the way to awaken the creativity, potential and purpose in South African youth. It is a non-profit education project for disadvantaged rural youth in the Eastern Cape Province.” -Suse

Through this process, our team raised money or donated their time to some amazing nationwide, and local organizations and I’m so happy that everyone became a part of this challenge. It made me think of different ways to give back everywhere I was…and just as important, my daughter did too.

Celebrating Success - Launching the E29 Ship

Last month our amazing team gathered at E29 Marketing HQ from around the country to celebrate our shared vision of bringing E29 to life. So many people have been working incredibly hard dreaming, creating and building E29 to the successful agency we are today. During our “official” launch party, we raised a glass full of gratitude and toasted to the future. It was one of those moments in life I will cherish forever.

Gratitude! Yes, sincere appreciation to everyone who made it to Larkspur for our launch. It was so fun to have us all together and feel the affirmative energy and happy spirits. Thank you to all our E29 friends, family, clients, colleagues, and everyone who was there in body or spirit! Your constant support is the foundation of our current and future success.

In these all too rare moments where I pause and ruminate, I become overwhelmed with emotion for having the opportunity to work with such incredible people. It is astounding to think about all that we've accomplished over the past six months. Every single person on our team is irreplaceable and has demonstrated nothing but incredible dedication, work, and spirit. Every chapter of my career has ushered in diverse amazingness. I feel quite fortunate to have worked with legendary brands and products at great agencies across the country. I’ve learned so much working with my clients, sharing ideas, creating greatness, chasing progress and making stellar things happen together. An EXTRAORDINARY thank you to E29’s clients, your entrepreneurial spirit is inspiring and your trust in E29 is humbling.

Where character and accountability meet, you have excellence, and we have a truly excellent team here at E29. Without hyperbole, this is a dream team. Thank you to the E29ers for having faith in the vision and trusting me and each other to achieve it. I know we will continue to adapt, learn, and push ourselves to be extraordinary. I am so excited to keep moving forward - elevating ourselves, each other, our clients and our communities. 

E29 launches with ideals of dedication, innovation, and elevation at our core. Our Agency Blog - E29 Extensions is a great place to keep abreast of smart industry insights, relevant trends, and how our core tenants manifest to elevate the agency experience here at E29. The conversation is just beginning.

Upon our launch, a friend shared an oldie, but goodie with me. This Irish blessing always brings a smile to my face. “May the road rise up to meet you. May the wind always be at your back. May the sun shine warm upon your face, and rains fall soft upon your fields.”

Just north of San Francisco’s Bay our E29 ship has launched and is pointed toward an exciting horizon, sun shining on our faces and the wind is at our back. 

Mastering the Art of Brand Immersion: The #HeinekenExperience Turns Tourists into Brand Ambassadors

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A labyrinth of charming canals, technicolor tulips dancing in the early spring breeze, Van Gogh’s interpretation of Gauguin’s chair and the brooding Dutch masters with their infinite shades of black are all worthy of celebration and contemplation in Amsterdam. But the brand storyteller and beer lover in me could not resist a visit to the “Heineken Experience” on a recent visit to this amazing city with my young family.

To meet the growing demand for their Dutch Pilsner in 1867 Heineken built a state of the art brewery on the banks of one of the outer canals that radiate through Amsterdam.  In 1988 a new facility was built outside of the city to meet the now soaring international demand. In 1991 the old brewery with it’s monolithic brickwork and as large as a city block was opened to the public as an interactive brand immersion, truly a masterclass in 360 degree brand storytelling.

With pre purchased tickets we happily jumped the football field long line to pick up our silicone bracelet passes with two free beer tokens attached. The line was celebratory nonetheless with brand devotees eagerly holding up Instagram ready photo frames happily delivered by jocular employees sporting green suits and ties. This enthusiasm and authentic sense of fun was pervasive throughout our 90 minutes inside. While the whole experience could have easily careered into a ditch of commercialism, I have to say Heineken did a superb job and instead of a marketing mallet used psychology, subtlety and quality like bubbles in the beer to gently turn us from tourists into ambassadors.

Like the five points on the red star on the label of a Heineken the 5 senses of touch, taste, sight, smell and hearing were employed to give us a truly unique and memorable experience. Like a three act play the experience was laid out before us. The tour begins under a 5 story grain silo, and ends at a humming bar with everyone sampling the coldest Heineken imaginable.

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Act 1: The Grains of Heritage- Everyone is Welcome

The cool, dark and clean first floor was a welcome respite from the chaos of the buzzing street. A smart, bespectacled woman in her 20’s welcomes our group with an energetic introduction to the tour and the brand. While Jagermeister and Bud tend to cast Hooters type party girls, the Heineken guides had more of a university educated vibe, an understated hipness, friendly but not too friendly where it is fake.

Although lost on my 10, 8, and 5 year olds I was taken by the origin story of a 22 year old Gerard Heineken in 1864 borrowing money from his mother to purchase the Haystack brewery. Costumed hologram reenactors make the history come to life and give off an original hipster vibe with their mutton chops and glint of optimism in their eye. Although that moment was 150 years ago, we believe Gerard was just one of us, with a passion and a dream.

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Act 2: The Brewing- Science meets Art

The tour was self-guided and 5-minute presentations were delivered every 10 minutes throughout the exhibitions. A brewing lesson on the roles of hops, barley, water and Heinekens flavor defining yeast was delivered. We could stick our hands in the barley, smell the hops, and stir and taste the pre-alcohol sludge called wort. 

In a vast room that oozes history and has the feel of a Wes Anderson film, we ducked our heads into gigantic copper vats where Heineken was brewed for over 120 years. We met the huge black and white Shire horses that used to power the facility, and deliver the beer.

Act 3: The Party- Technology and Techno

#HeinekenExperience photo ops are peppered through the rest of the tour, with pose worthy sayings of “We say proost!”, “Cheers”, “Good isn’t good enough, it has to be perfect” and walls made of luminescent green bottles lit from behind. Like lemmings, people would wait in line to capture the Insta-worthy moment.

A surrealist beer simulator takes 100 guests at a time into a big room with walls and ceilings made of led screens. The metal plates on the floor would rumble while we experience what it is like to be brewed and bottled. In the end, we are poured into smaller rooms where a steady stream of suggestive on brand scenes batter our reptilian minds into submission.

Clever green screen scenes allow you to email a video of yourself, friends or family in a Dutch bicycle, delivering Heineken through busy Amsterdam streets. With our crew growing restless we breezed through the museum of Heineken F1 and Rugby sponsorship where the kids kicked virtual rugby balls into a goal and continued onwards towards the denouement.

The tile lined basement that once housed huge fermentation tanks, is now a neon-lit thumping bar where my wife and I over 200 other brand devotes could sample the coldest and freshest Heineken on the planet and the kids could get a soda. The beer was handed to you with a smile and served a big foam head that was trimmed with a skimming knife. The experience fermented within us as the beer was to be tilted in a way to dive under the suds while grabbing a big gulp of this historic golden brew.

Design with a Purpose

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To paraphrase my amazing former Creative Director Carlos Musquez “Create work that impacts for the better.” I have thought on this for the last few days as it can be viewed in so many ways. The copyrighting and visuals can be equally as powerful, so Art Directors, Designers, Photographers all collaborating with the same goal in mind can make that impact. If it is a small piece that seems impossible due to hours, budget, or specs – maybe consider the client. If you’re creating a mailer or a coupon – your hands are tied…but if it’s a coupon for a company that supports sustainability, recycling or giving back in some form…that can make you feel proud to work on that minute project as well.

Not all campaigns can be big budget with world-wide impressions, but the impressions you do get with that line of copy and visual can be effective. Especially paired with good PR on the client that has made the good-will efforts…it could be a successful campaign – no matter the size. I’m going to give 2 totally opposite examples:

The specific campaign he was referring to is here. To someone who is not behind the scenes, this may seem so obvious that you would get a warm feeling from this ad because of the client being an activist and you are able to tug at the heart strings. But, behind the scenes it is so much more than that. Pulling together the music, the cadence, the diversity of imagery, and my favorite detail - the type being masked behind the model as they zoom in on them (if you missed it, go back and watch it again – it’s all in the details!). The delivery was so on-point and having print ads to support and be just as successful if you were to see it alone…that is the challenge, and they found THE solution.

I received a coupon for a company that I have never heard of, but the design was good and the messaging of “doing good for good” made me want to check it out. This company dedicated their product to sustainable farming practices which help us, our children and the future of their product. The line of copy and the “Field to Flour” enticed me to read about their mission on the side of the bag. Now, whether a mom is clipping coupons and just reads the $1.00 off message – I hope she also sees the lock-up on the bag, reads on like I did, and walks away realizing she chose the better product…maybe because she saved $1.00…but hopefully next time she’ll make the same purchase because the product was good…and the company is supporting good.

Of course, Carlos did follow it up with still enjoying the fun ads that give a giggle, but now I have this other mind set about my work having a larger purpose no matter how big or small the project is.