Is There Hope for Yahoo?

June 22, 2011

maze directions Is There Hope for Yahoo?I’m still holding out hope for Yahoo! I want this brand to find its way and live a long life. However, this brand continues to struggle and recent rumors of leadership changes don’t necessarily mean that the right changes will be made to sustain the brand.

This is a brand that has lost direction and is grasping at a host of straws to find a way to remain relevant and stay afloat. I wrote about keeping the Yahoo! brand alive here on the Corporate Eye blog in November 2010, and little has changed in the 7 months that have passed since then.

Is Yahoo! a display advertising company? A search engine? A media company? The company claims to be about personalized content, but that’s not necessarily the message that consumers are getting. The content on Yahoo! could be found on just about any other site, and the addition of content from Yahoo!’s network of contributors sourced from its acquisition of content mill Associated Content aren’t helping the brand’s reputation. Crowdsourcing is a viable strategy for media sites, but that crowdsourced content must match the brand promise. What is Yahoo!’s brand promise?

The big question about Yahoo! is this: why should people visit the site each day? The answer isn’t obvious in people’s minds. Their perception of Yahoo! isn’t clear and there are other sites that are the go-to places for the same type of content that Yahoo! offers. This is a challenging time for media companies, and if Yahoo! wants to be a content provider, they face the same battles that all media companies are facing. How to deliver content that audiences want in a way that makes them choose your site over other similar sites. It’s a tough nut to crack, and Yahoo! has its work cut out for itself.

The lesson to learn from Yahoo!’s struggle is this: don’t forget your brand promise and when the time comes to revamp your brand promise, be ready to commit to that brand promise even if it means making significant changes to the way you do business.

The online audience isn’t going to slow down, and Yahoo! is running out of time to catch up. What do you think the future holds for Yahoo? Leave a comment and share your thoughts.

Image: stock.xchng

Would Your Employees Nominate Your Company for a Best Place to Work Award?

February 24, 2011

unhappy employee Would Your Employees Nominate Your Company for a Best Place to Work Award?I’ve written about the importance of internal brand advocates and branding from within your organization before on the Corporate Eye blog, and today, I’m going to revisit the topic by asking a question.

Would your employees nominate your company for a best place to work award?

Each year, various organizations hold “best companies to work for” awards programs.  Advertising Age published a call for nominees for its own Best Places to Work award earlier this month.  Do your employees believe in your company and your brand promise enough to nominate your company for such an award?  If your answer to that question is no, then you need to invest more time into building internal brand advocates.

If your employees don’t feel good about your company and believe your brand promise, then why should customers?  The answer is simple.  Customers won’t believe.

Your employees should be your first source for positive word-of-mouth marketing.  They can be your strongest brand advocates and most vocal brand guardians.

Not sure what internal brand advocates look like?  Spend some time on the Zappos corporate site.  Watch the videos, read about the Zappos culture and core values.  You’ll learn very quickly what people who believe in their company and brand promise look like, sound like, and are capable of in terms of brand advocacy.

The next question is whether or not you can do it in your organization, too.  Remember, internal brand advocacy comes from the top.  Zappos CEO Tony Hsieh walks the walk and talks the talk when it comes to the Zappos brand promise, and Zappos employees believe.  If your leaders don’t buy it, then your employees won’t buy it.  And that means customers won’t buy it either.

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CMOs Believe Comments are Most Important Corporate Blog Success Factor

January 11, 2011

corporate blog CMOs Believe Comments are Most Important Corporate Blog Success FactorAccording to research by Blog2Print of Fortune 1000 companies, approximately 1 in 4 companies have corporate blogs.

Respondents revealed that employees within the marketing department are usually charged with writing blog content followed by social media or blogging professionals, but the CEO typically determined the tone used in the blog.  Interestingly, when CMOs in the study were asked what makes a great corporate blog, 46% cited an engaged community who publishes comments on blog posts as the number one factor.  And when asked why they launched a corporate blog for their companies, 50% of surveyed CMOs stated “it’s the cost of doing business today.”

And therein lies the problem. The above findings from the Blog2Print study explain quite clearly why most corporations aren’t getting the results they want from social media marketing and content marketing efforts.

It’s important to remember that the best social media marketing strategies include a variety of branded online destinations where consumers can self-select how they want to engage with a brand.  There is more to social media marketing success than generating a lot of blog comments.  Of course, building relationships should always be one of the top priorities of any social media marketing plan, but blog comments represent a very small part of what makes a successful company blog in terms of building a brand and a business.

Social media marketing efforts cannot operate in silos.  The best social media marketing strategy is a fully integrated strategy, not only between social media initiatives but also with traditional media efforts.

Bottom-line, don’t be tempted to judge your company blog on comments first.  It’s very possible that your audience simply prefers to discuss your content on Twitter, on Facebook, or on another online destination.  The trick is connecting with those people where they already spend time and slowly bringing them back to your own branded online destinations to consume more of your content and deepen relationships with you.  Blogs don’t live on comments alone.  Don’t short-change the potential of your blog to grow and the value it delivers to consumers if you’re not getting hundreds of comments each day.

What do you think are the most important factors that define a great corporate blog?  Leave a comment and share your thoughts.

You can read more about the Blog2Print study on eMarketer.

Image: stock.xchng

Coca-Cola Finds Success With Its Social Media Project

January 5, 2011

Coca-Cola.

Say the name, and almost everyone around you has either heard the name before, or they’ve had the product perhaps a few times. Coca-Cola has been around for quite some time, with its first drink having been sold in Atlanta, GA in 1888. Since that time, the company has grown substantially with their product presence in several major countries across the globe.

However, even with its strong global presence, Coca-Cola still embraces social media and recently decided to escalate their efforts to another level. The company introduced a project called Expedition 206, which focused on instilling their brand of “happiness” in their customers all over the world. To that end, the company organized a team of young people, dubbed The Happiness Ambassadors, who in 365 days visited over 186 countries where the product is sold. What was their goal? To find happiness.

coca cola expedition 206 Coca Cola Finds Success With Its Social Media Project

Ideas of Social Networking

Social networking is much more than just parading a long list of friends, or being able to show how many people re-posted one of your best articles. If only our success were measured by how many times our business site received a star, a ping, a re-post, tweet or nod, then there wouldn’t be any room for improvement. Or creativity.

Social networking stretches a bit more than the traditional methods and delves into actually reaching out and communicating with people on different platforms. One of the best ways to quantify any social media project is to engage the audience by talking to them, listening to them, asking their opinions, getting genuine feedback and making your communications count. Coca-Cola took full advantage of this and made great use of their resources by dealing directly with the people and in the places where their product is consumed. The feedback was overwhelming, as was  the media exposure and the attention that this project received world-wide.

Sharing Moments

The crew’s interest was in finding and recording social opportunities to share everything about Coca-Cola. They networked, shared, talked with and photographed hundreds if not thousands of people who were interested in and/or wanted to learn more about the company Coca-Cola. The crew documented their journey directly on the project’s site at Expedition206.com and on the other popular social networking platforms, Twitter, YouTube and Facebook.

The project has been a creative process for Coca-Cola, primarily to increase brand awareness, but mostly to stretch the idea of social networking to another plane. Many times, businesses are under the impression that the bulk of social media efforts should be done mainly online. After all, the online audience is incredibly vast, and the opportunity to reach such diverse segments of the population is endless. But Coca-Cola approached the Expedition 206 project in a completely different manner.

It has been the company’s largest social media project to date. So can they really gauge their success through this project? Would it be accurate to say that people now have a better understanding of the brand, more appreciation of the company’s efforts and even more, do they enjoy Coke better than they did before?

What do you think? Was the company creative in their social media approach? Is this true success, or simply another way to brand a name? Please share your thoughts.

Time Warner Cable Sticks with Eye and Ear

October 23, 2010

In March 2009, Time Warner Cable became its own, independent company.  Since 1990, the eye and ear symbol used in the Time Warner brand identity has been an important element.  In fact, in 1993, it began being used exclusively for Time Warner’s cable brand — Time Warner Cable.  Throughout 2010, there have been rumors around the branding world that Time Warner Cable might do something drastic with its logo, possibly ditching the eye and ear entirely.  Turns out there was no need for speculation at all, because the new identity released recently — complete with the logo, color palette, and eye and ear symbol — doesn’t veer very far from the previous version.  You can check out the old and new logos below.

time warner cable logo old new Time Warner Cable Sticks with Eye and Ear

Time Warner Cable worked with The Brand Union for about a year on the new brand identity project.  The new logo features a brighter and lighter blue, a heavier sans serif font that integrates “Cable” into the name rather than making it stand out, and uses a lighter, airier version of the eye and ear symbol.  These are fairly subtle changes that don’t make a big difference to consumers but do help retain consumer perceptions of the Time Warner brand and provide a sense of security and longevity.

According to Time Warner Cable and The Brand Union, the eye and ear symbol is now at the center of the brand’s new visual system.  Rather than a rebranding, the new logo and other identity elements are being called a brand identity refresh based on standards of simplicity, including minimizing sub-brands.  In fact, the goal of the brand refresh, “was to convey simplicity and ease, removing any obstacles from doing what you love.  Moving people forward to bring them back to having more time for what they love.”

For more insight into the Time Warner Cable brand identity refresh, you can watch the video interview with Time Warner Cable Senior Vice President of Marketing Communications Marrissa Freeman below.

What do you think of the Time Warner Cable brand identity refresh?  Good, bad, indifferent?  Leave a comment and share your thoughts.

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