How One Brand Brings A Little Paradise To My Weary Morning Routine

By: Andrew Eide

The alarm clock shrieks like Gilbert Gottfried, startling me awake at 7am. I’m so tired it Gilbertfeels like my soul is quivering. I hit the snooze button and indulge in another 15 minutes of sleep. Again the alarm clock sounds off impatiently, and reluctantly I rise, careful to not disturb my slumbering wife and 5-month-old daughter.

I slowly pull out the bottom drawer of my dresser. It once belonged to my grandparents – now worn down and creaky in its old age. Again I cross my fingers in hopes I won’t disturb my sleeping loves as I retrieve a clean pair of boxer briefs.

The next and final obstacle in my stealthy escape is the bedroom door, and the obnoxious beast on the other side of it clamoring to get in. Gently I pull the door open, revealing my cat Brody, crying out of desperation for attention and attempting to catch a glimpse of the room he’s not allowed in. Kicking him aside, I close the door, leaving the bedroom at peace.

I stumble my way downstairs as my two cats gleefully follow. I crack open a can of Friskies Liver & Chicken Pate and feed the furry groupies rubbing against my legs. Next I start the coffee maker and head into the bathroom for a shower.

The warmth of the water on my neck practically lulls me back to sleep as I lose myself in thought, staring at the shower wall with one eye closed.

My daughter Ever was born in February. In anticipation for her birth, I took a part time job on nights and weekends to help get us through my wife’s maternity leave. But going back to work was torture for Jenny. She was already unhappy at her job, where she was overworked and underpaid, and she couldn’t bear the thought of missing out on Ever’s babyhood. So we decided it was best for her to quit and take care of Ever fulltime, and I’d just get more hours at my part time job. Now my baby’s happy, my wife’s happy, and I’m happy. But between my two jobs and my 5-month-old night owl at home, I’m a bit exhausted.

However, the weary beginning to my morning is turned around as I reach for my Old Spice body wash. The scent is Zanzibar, from the Fresh Collection. One sniff and I’m transported to the serene landscape depicted on the bottle – the ocean inhales and exhales as I lay on the coast beneath the orange glow of dusk. It’s a little escape that I sorely need. Old Spice continues the experience with its wondrous copy on the back of the bottle:

Zanzibar

 

Hypothetically speaking, there is only one island with enough coastline, historical mystery and well-deserved wealth in natural spices to inspire a body scent guaranteed to turn every womanly encounter into a game of spin the expensive, diamond-encrusted bottle. That island is Zanzibar. That’s just a hypothetical fact that nobody can argue with.

 

Another one of my favorites is Citron from the Fresher Collection: Citron

 

CITRON is like captaining a schooner, the scent of fresh lime and sandalwood blowing through your sails, en route to forbidden mermaid love. Also, the schooner has a go-cart track on it.

 

 

And then there’s WOLFTHORN from the Wild Collection:

Wolfthorn

 

In the realm of animals and men known as earth, there is one animal intelligent enough to smell like the most fearsomely handsome animal of them all, and that is the man, who smells like the wolf would if a wolf smelled like a handsome man. That’s just the way things go in the realm I’m talking about.

 

 

We all know Old Spice for their ludicrous TV spots, but they don’t stop there. You can find their trademark branding and fantastical voice in everything they touch, from their website, to social media, to the backs of labels on their products. They even manage to delight me at the most intimate of moments, in my shower, and during a time in my life when I’m in most need of a little paradise, even if it means a brief mental escape and a good laugh.

This is the Holy Grail for brands. Before this big change in my life, I was a moderate Old Spice fan. I’d maybe get some of their deodorant once in a while, but now they dominate my bathroom, from shampoo, to body wash, to body spray.

It is said that people don’t buy logically, they buy emotionally.  And this is a prime example of that. It may sound strange, but I guess I’m using hygiene products to fulfill an emotional need, and I choose Old Spice, despite the higher price tag, because they accomplish it best.

I’m not exactly sure when or how it happened, but at some point Old Spice became something to me that goes beyond clean skin deep –  transcending dirt, grime and perspiration – and captivating my sense of humor, enchanting my imagination, and touching, dare I say, my heart. Man, I love good branding.

ADwërks Helps Engineering Firm Rebrand Itself

Over the past year ADwërks has worked with its client DGR Engineering to help redefine and modernize its brand.

The firm has been around for more than 60 years, and as their business grew, their number of clients, employees and locations grew as well (branches in Rock Rapids, IA, Sioux City, IA and Sioux Falls, SD). And you don’t grow as large and successful as they have without running into a few snags along the way. So they turned to ADwërks for help.

DeWild, Grant… Who?

The new logo and name, brought to you by ADwërks.

The new logo and name, brought to you by ADwërks.

Part of the rebranding process involved revisiting their company name. Since 1952 they had been known as DeWild, Grant, Reckert and Associates, named after the original founding partners. The problem was that today it’s an employee-owned firm, and the founders’ connection and relevance to the company has ceased, making it hard for clients and employees to relate to. Not to mention the name was a bit of a mouthful and a little confusing, spawning many different variations, from DeWild, Grant and Reckert to DGR Consulting Engineers.

So we suggested they officially change their name to DGR Engineering – concise, memorable and descriptive, without deviating too much from their roots. And this way the name remains consistent across the board.

Who Am I? Why Am I Here?

A crucial part of the rebranding process involved brand discovery. We helped the company discover and define who they truly are as a brand. We did this by meeting with a few employees at each location and subjecting them to rigorous interviews and tortuous self-realization; but it was ok because we brought them food. In reality, we only helped these employees have a great open dialogue; we just took notes. We asked them questions that got them thinking and talking about the company and brand, who they are and what they stand for – discussions you don’t normally have with your co-workers day-to-day.

The interviews helped us create a brand manifesto that solidified what everyone was thinking. The manifesto established and redefined their brand, producing a mutual understanding of their brand identity by every employee and creating brand unity across the company as a whole.

New Look, Same Great Brand!

With the interviews finished and the new name established, we went to work, creating a bunch of new materials including a brand new logo, website (desktop and mobile using responsive design), brochure, brand standards manual, the aforementioned brand manifesto, marketing materials, the photography that was used in these materials, plenty of new stationery and business documents, and finally a press release announcing the newly rebranded company and its new logo.

DGR-blog-photo

The brochure.

DGR-Ipad

The new website with responsive design, complete with desktop and mobile versions.

All in all we had a great time helping a great company. The entire experience was rewarding for us and we are proud of the work that came out of it.

Check out DGR Engineering’s new website here, and for more examples of our work check out our website and YouTube channel.

– Andrew

An Epundemic

An Epundemic Jan 14, 2013

“Believe In Your Smellf,” “Don’t Suffer The Coughiquences,” for whatever reason bad puns are everywhere in advertising lately. I guess you could say it’s an epundemic. It’s almost to the point where the terms “copywriting” and “pun-writing” are synonymous, as if there’s no other possible way to write.

This might seem pro-pun, but I just couldn’t help myself. Puns are addicting. That’s partly why they can be so evil.

Don’t get me wrong; puns can be fun, in an ironic sort of way. In fact, I’m somewhat of a punslinger myself around family and friends. I just don’t think every freakin’ brand out there should build an entire marketing campaign around one of the lowest forms of jokes, that’s all.

Among copywriters, puns are infamous for being the first ideas that come to mind when brainstorming. I know that all too well – lost in the darkness of my mind trying to think of a great idea, suddenly with a flash of light in the distance the sweet siren of puns calls my name, tempting me to come closer… It’s easy to give in, but you must push on. Nine times out of 10 you can do better.

Some hardcore copy critics out there believe you should never ever incorporate a pun into your advertising; I’m not that harsh. I think they can work, sometimes pretty well, as long as they accomplish your basic advertising objectives – inform, persuade or remind by saying something meaningful about the product or brand in a memorable way, to sum it up. And of course you must manage to do it all in a way that builds up the brand in a positive and intelligent way, which can be hard to do in the pun realm.

Oh boy…

If being silly is all an ad pun has going for it, it probably won’t accomplish anything more than that. That’s why I’ve been getting such a bad taste in my mouth with the omnipresence of these lazy puns in advertising, in national campaigns for that matter! “Smellf?” C’mon. Again, maybe it’s worth a laugh while having some beers with friends, a SHORT laugh at that, but not worth a national ad campaign. Some seem to be solely based on one copywriter’s bad joke, which totally just diminishes the product and the brand. We should aspire to write more like Hemmingway, not Gallagher.

What do you think? Are puns the unfailing heroes of advertising, or are they the hacky comedians of copy?

– Andrew

Shocking Branding

Shocking Branding May 17, 2012

Consider them both shocking… people voluntarily electrocuting themselves, and brands that just get it. The first should be filed in the category of plain crazy. The second goes in the you-could-drive-yourself-crazy-trying-to-find file.

In just a matter of days, months of training (probably not enough), hours of commiserating my lack of athleticism (probably too many), and too few minutes of rational thought culminate in the challenge known as Tough Mudder in Somerset, WI. The 10-12 mile course with approximately 25 military inspired obstacles bases itself on being the toughest event on the planet.

When you consider that you run through fire, jump into ice water, climb hay bales with pitchforks and walk through electrified wires, it may be the toughest or the dumbest thing a person can do. And as I signed my death waiver in bold, bright, glittering pink pen, I realized that this brand makes even signing your life away something you smile about. It’s a brand that knows itself inside and out, reinforcing itself not just with design, style and color, but with a readily identifiable voice in all it does. It’s not just the copy on the homepage, but everything down to the to-do list for the day, which reminds you to not puke and of course, to sign that death waiver.

Either on Facebook or face-to-face, it knows its voice, bringing a mixture of irreverence, arrogance and camaraderie. Take the online quiz to see if you could muster enough to make it through a Tough Mudder; you’re asked about your workout but also the best ‘stache. This brand voice mocks marathons (boring) while remembering its mission to help raise funds for the Wounded Warrior Project. So the greater shock will be if I make it through the challenge (not a timed race, but just a matter of making it to the end). Only Saturday will tell.

– Jolene

To All You Brands Out There

Specifically the ones that don’t take branding seriously:

Branding matters, a lot, no matter how big or small your business, even if you have 6 Likes on your Facebook page. Remember, every single time your business is represented in relation to your customers and the general public, whether it be a Tweet, a sale or an ad, it all affects your brand image. And not only can your brand image affect your sales and reputation, but it can affect the entire future of your business.

Your brand isn’t necessarily defined by you; it’s defined by consumers, and the way they perceive your business. And that perception partially comes from what you have put out into the ether. Influencing that perception occurs in a number of ways, from the content of your website, to your logo, to your advertising, especially the experiences customers have with your company. All of these things (among others) contribute to your brand’s identity.

If you own a small business, do not make the mistake of thinking this kind of neurotic concern for brand development only applies to large, global brands. It’s just as important to your business, especially if you’re in the early stages of brand development. Every “branding moment” matters, regardless of how minuscule some moments may seem to you. By “branding moment,” I mean, every opportunity your business has to influence or support your brand in the public eye. And the outcome of every moment applies a plus or minus to your branding scoreboard.

So take it seriously. After all, this is your business. A business you’ve probably made sacrifices for, a business that puts food on your table, and provides for your family… You probably put a lot of care into every aspect. Don’t leave branding out of it.

– Andrew

Click for photo source.

What’s In A Name

What’s In A Name Feb 09, 2012

Celebrities name their children after fruit, colors, numbers and even cities. (Or in the case of one psuedo-celebrity, Press. Yes, Press, for all the attention she allegedly did and will receive.) Us common-folk laugh at birth certificates filled with words more commonly used on spelling flash cards for first graders. But the stand-out-in-the-crowd naming mentality does not start or stop with preschoolers hounded by the paparazzi.

These superlative skills also flood companies and products. Want something in HD, you get your pick of makeup, movies or sunglasses. Then there’s extreme (or EXTREME or even X-TREME) for games, pop or memory cards. And the 2012 Consumer Electronics Show introduced ultra – ultrabooks, ultracomputers and ultratelevisions.

Add to all of this, 3-D and ultimate, and you get the Ultra Ultimate Extreme HD 3-D phone, television, computer, apple, car or pajama jeans (ok, that may be a little extreme).

But it begs the question – Does an avalanche of adjectives actually help sell a product by moving it into the sphere of talked-about-ness, or does it end up disappointing? Does a name in itself create credibility, or cause chaos in an already overwhelmed marketplace?

Maybe in the end it’s not what’s in a name, but what’s in the product itself. If we sell people on exaggerated expectations, we often end up with disappointed consumers. So if a name brings with it the showmanship of an Elton John costume, but also delivers, it does the consumer some good by delivering what it promises. But when we brand an object outside of its personality and label it for headlines and not accuracy, well, it ends up like a 72-day Kardashian wedding, a lot of talk and even more gifts that should be returned.

And then there’s the guy who named his sons Winner and Loser. Names hold power, but the product (or the person) holds even more. As for naming children, she may not be a celebrity outside of her own yard, but we named our pug Mayhem Awesome. Unfortunately, as our furniture proves, she did not over-hype her name.

– Jolene

“Adjective” Photo by Procsilas Moscas, “Mayhem” photo by Jolene Loetscher

Branding & A Kennedy Half Dollar

There’s a little sandwich shop not far from the office called Whiffer’s. It’s been there forever and as far as I can tell it only has one employee and that’s Whiffer. She owns the place, makes the sandwiches and soups and provides the witty banter as she makes your lunch. Whiffer has been running that little shop longer than I’ve been in Sioux Falls, and she is quite a character with a voice that reminds you of an aging Katherine Hepburn circa On Golden Pond.

It’s a quirky little joint on North Minnesota Avenue, on the cusp between a rough neighborhood and the industrial area surrounding Sioux Falls Regional Airport. The sign by the door says “Open 11 to 3ish.” As far as I know the extent of her advertising is the weathered old sign in front of the small converted house. And if you approach from the south the sign is hidden by a bush, from the north it’s obscured by a hill and some traffic signs.

But there are a few things you can always count on at Whiffer’s – a big overstuffed sandwich, great cookies and brownies and the cost of your meal will always be rounded to the nearest quarter of a dollar. And here’s where a little bit of branding genius comes in. When you get your change, Whiffer will hand you a Kennedy half dollar.

When was the last time you were given a 50-cent piece? For me, other than Whiffer, I think the last person to give me a Kennedy half dollar was my grandmother on my eighth birthday. A Kennedy half dollar was special. You saved them carefully in your piggy-bank along with the two-dollar bills and wheat pennies; they weren’t the kind of thing you spent willy-nilly. My wife still has her little ceramic bank full of them.

Now days, when I get a quarter, nickel or dime, I put it in the ashtray of the car as fodder for the parking meters. But the meters won’t take a 50-cent piece, so I set it on my desk. I’ve begun to collect quite a few Kennedy half dollars, and every time I look at one, or pick it up and toss it in the air, I think of Whiffer. And then I know what I’m doing for lunch.

I asked her about the Kennedy half dollars the other day and she told me when she requests them from the bank, they have to go back into the vault to get her the coins. This is not a decision she makes lightly. She likes the smile those half dollars put on her customers’ faces. She likes that she’s unique. And you know what, I think it’s pretty damn smart of that old gal. She’s turned an unusual piece of U.S. currency into her calling card, and that seems to me like some pretty shrewd branding.

Seriously, when was the last time you were handed a Kennedy half dollar?

– Jim Mathis

Brand Power: Heavy Eyelids & 44 miles

Recently I had the great pleasure of working as Ronald McDonald’s assistant at a couple McDonald’s stores in Sioux Falls. He was visiting for the 50th anniversary of two different stores, so he spent 4 hours at each entertaining customers with jokes, magic tricks, and just making people smile. Aside from entertaining the kids, he is also great at entertaining the adults. He’s genuinely funny and always had me in stitches. It was such a memorable experience that I’ve been casually telling the story to some friends and family.

Last weekend my girlfriend (Jenny) and I were visiting her parents’ home in the small town of Estelline, South Dakota. It was around 10:00 pm when I was telling my tale of “Ronald Wrangling” to Jenny’s sister Lindsay and her fiancé Dwight. They were amused, but were probably more focused on the question “What the heck does Andrew do for a living again?” Once I finished telling the story, Dwight exclaimed, “Man…I want some McDonald’s!” Then Jenny says, “Yeah, I want their fries!”

After everyone finished enthusiastically discussing their favorite McDonald’s entrées (all the while Dwight repeating that he wants some McDonald’s right now), Jenny and I go upstairs to say goodbye to Alice and Brody, our two cats. When we came back downstairs Lindsay and Dwight were gone, and we were still uncertain of whether or not they were serious about driving 22 miles to the nearest McDonald’s location in the dead of night. As we were traveling back to Brookings Jenny says, “I was serious about getting McDonald’s fries.” So being the congenial guy that I am, after arriving in Brookings around 11:00 pm we head straight for McDonald’s. We pull up to the drive-thru and lo and behold, Dwight and Lindsay are in the vehicle in front of us; they were serious after all.

Now Jenny and I live in Brookings, but Dwight and Lindsay live in Estelline. So they chose to drive 22 miles to Brookings late at night, and 22 miles back to Estelline, all to satiate what they were pining for. Heavy eyelids and 44 miles were not enough to stop them from their McDonald’s craving.

Think about how strong McDonald’s brand power must be. It is a testament to the concept of branding and illustrates what it is capable of, and I find it miraculous. In this demonstration, McDonald’s managed to make a sale by the power of suggestion and that alone. And with 44 miles of inconvenience in the way, late at night, the sale tenaciously succeeded. That’s not just brand power; that is powerful branding, and we all could learn a thing or two from McDonald’s.

Don’t be surprised if you are now craving McDonald’s.

– Andrew

The Building Doesn’t Make the Business

How important are your building and location to your business’s success? I ask because, on my recent visit to a few CarHop stores, I learned something important about this subject. Specifically, branding and sticking to your brand promise.

Aurora Store v2To give you some background, when it comes to opening new locations, CarHop tends to move into previously used spaces rather than building new stores from scratch. It has been a successful facet of their business model, but it leads to an interesting aspect of their stores – no two CarHop stores are the same. At least, physically.

Some are larger and more open (such as the former restaurant space in Burnsville, MN), while some are small and more confined (such as the former gas station space in Omaha, NE or the old Sonic Drive-In in Kansas City, MO). Although many businesses rely on each space they occupy to look and feel the same—Sonic, Target, etc.—as part of their branding efforts, CarHop doesn’t have that luxury. So they have to deliver on a different level.

They have to offer a distinct brand promise that doesn’t come from a building’s shape, size or signage.

Colorado Springs v2See, it’s not the building that matters when it comes to a CarHop experience. It’s the people inside the building that really make the difference. CarHop promises customers they will be “Helping People Drive®  with honesty, fairness and respect,” and each and every CarHop employee strives to fulfill that promise.

And because employees are so dedicated to keeping that promise, you quickly learn that the space is not the most important part of the CarHop brand. No matter the shape, size or location, CarHop’s strongest brand aspect is its commitment to customers and its fulfillment of that promise. The way customers are treated and the way they react to that treatment is a stronger affirmation of CarHop’s brand promise than any building layout or location.

Can your business say the same? If you had to move into a building with an entirely different image than your current location, would customers still feel as strongly about stopping by your place of business or working with your company? If you’re not quite sure of the answer, you may want to take a page out of CarHop’s book on customer commitment and brand promise to see what effect it has on your business.

It’s not the building that makes your business. It’s what goes on inside the building that makes the business.

-Mike B.


Driving brand management (in the real world)

Imagine a perfect Saturday afternoon. You’re driving down the street when you look in your rearview mirror and discover that, seemingly out of nowhere, a large pickup truck is riding your tail and isn’t letting up.

Your blood boils. You’re already going the speed limit. In fact, you might even be going a few miles per hour over the speed limit. You think, “Why is this idiot so desperate to get past me?” Then you get over to let them pass and, as they speed by, you notice an “Anderson Construction” or “Jackson Bros. Plumbing” logo along the side of the truck. And you think to yourself, “Well I’m never using THOSE jerks in the future.”

Unfortunately, that’s what happened to me last weekend. Odds are you’ve experienced the same at least once or twice in your life.

As a business owner or manager, can you really afford to have drivers leaving such a negative impression of your business on potential customers? Of course not. But, for some reason, it happens more than it ever should as far as I’m concerned.

In an era where business owners are increasingly concerned about the next “viral campaign” or “engaging” on their Facebook page, maybe they should remember to train their employees on reputation management in other important markets like, you know, real life.

I know everybody can have a bad day and people are people, but if you’re going to slap your logo on the side of a truck and let employees drive it around town, remind them that they are no longer Johnny Anonymous. They represent your business now, and, unless your business doesn’t care for new customers, they should probably drive like it.

Think of it this way: A little bit of brand management from the start will do a lot to keep your employees from driving me crazy – and driving me away from your business.

-Mike B.

How about you: have you dealt with similarly frustrating experiences? As a business owner, have you trained your employees to represent your brand with class and professionalism? Let us know your thoughts on either question in the comments below.

Photo c/o nick@. Thanks Nick!