Month: July 2014

We’ll Buy Nearly Anything From a Woman in a Red Dress

Marketers like to talk about stuff that’s “disruptive.” And when it comes to advertising—actually, when it comes to pop culture in general—few things are quite as disruptive as a woman in a red dress. 

A popular cosmetics brand in the postwar years, DuBarry
skillfully correlated its red lipstick shade with a red dress,
which in this 1962 ad captures all the excitement of a night
out. “She’s looking fashionable and sophisticated, and
pleasing her husband, which was culturally appropriate to
the time,” Darroch said. Already a sexually charged garment,
the red dress here gets an extra boost from that feather boa.

Care for some proof?

When celebrity photographer Milton Greene shot Marilyn Monroe in 1957, he made sure she wore a red dress. Chris de Burgh was a little-known singer until 1986, when he crooned about his Lady in Red. In 1999’s The Matrix, young Neo nearly took a bullet in the head—and why? Because he was distracted by a woman in a red dress. And while few remember much about Queen Elizabeth’s 2012 jubilee, who can forget Kate Middleton showing up in that red Alexander McQueen dress?

So potent and enduring is the “Red Dress Effect” that behavioral psychologists have studied it—and demonstrated that women who don red are not only regarded by men as more physically and sexually attractive, but also tend to have more money spent on them. In fact, the dating site OKCupid discovered that women wearing red in their profile photos have a greater statistical chance of being asked out.

What’s going on here? Two things, actually. First, red is a color with a long history. “It has always signified power, wealth and passion,” said brand consultant Liz Dennery Sanders. Second, according to professor Jenny Darroch of Claremont Graduate University’s Drucker School of Management, the true alchemy takes place when red bedrapes a tall, beautiful woman. “Through time,” Darroch said, “there’s been a common meaning for the red dress: It’s love, lust and sex.”

Marketers are no strangers to this mystique, of course. Through the decades, women in red dresses have popped up in ads from Barbasol to Buick. But as the two ads here show, the power of the symbol isn’t always easy to manage. As Darroch put it: “The meaning of the red dress has remained constant—so the question comes down to how it’s executed.”

Both the 1962 DuBarry and 2014 Loews ads shown here execute it equally well, according to Dennery Sanders. “In the older ad, wearing red means snaring your suitor, so it’s about a woman’s power over her man,” she said. “The Loews ad is about power, too. There’s no man in the ad, so it’s about a woman’s own power for herself.”

Darroch, however, isn’t so sure. The red dress’ obvious sensuality feels “culturally appropriate” in 1962, she said, mainly because it’s playfully directed at the well-dressed gentleman. But in the Loews ad, the absence of a man (or a mate of any sort, really) allows the red dress to slink into dangerous territory. “I see an elegant, sophisticated woman—without a partner, in a hotel, about to hop a red eye and wearing a red dress,” Darroch said, asking a question that’s bound to occur: “Is she a career woman or a high-end escort?”

Maybe she’s both, maybe neither—and maybe that’s the point. We know that the Red Dress Effect works; we’ll just never know why. 

‘Through time, there’s been a common meaning for the red dress: It’s love, lust and sex.’ | Jenny Darroch, professor of marketing at the Drucker School of Management, author of Why Marketing to Women Doesn’t Work

 The color red has its share of cultural baggage (think: The Scarlet Letter), but since red also represents wealth and power, Loews has apparently doubled down by throwing in some red curtains, too.

 Catching the red eye is presumably meant to suggest that this woman is a high-powered executive, but Darroch believes the connotation is confusing. “If she’s getting a nighttime flight, I don’t know why she needs a hotel room,” she said.

 Dennery Sanders observes that the length of this red dress keeps the imagery from sinking into red-light territory. “If they’d put her in a tight dress showing more skin,” she said, “it would be a different ad.”

Adweek : Advertising & Branding

4 Social Media Marketing Tips for Long Term Success

long term strategy

Social media marketing is not a short term tactic but then what is a guaranteed, short term quick fix to increase your sales?

So many social media ‘experts’ give the view that all you have to do is to tweet and blog and suddenly you will be a mega brand with more sales than you know what to do with….if only that was true!


Social media marketing is like all other business activities; it needs focus, time and sustained effort.

We live in world that demands success now. We live in a world where businesses and consumers alike want what they want NOW.

BUT here is the thing….to be an overnight business success needs time!

The reason being that business is about human relationships and with all successful relationships people need to get to know each other, trust each other before committing.

As a business you must learn to date your customer before asking them to marry you. (Tweet this)

The problem with social media marketing is that many brands look at what they need to do today to create the sale tomorrow.

Success with social media needs a long term view. (Tweet this)

It needs to

  • Build awareness by being a consistent presence.
  • Create affinity by showing understanding of their potential customer’s needs and desires.
  • Develop trust through valuing the reader, listener or viewer.
  • Give generously. Give reasons not offers. Give information not sales speak. Give personality not spin.

These 4 emotive brand elements take time, as they do in real life. Short cut the process and instead of having a happy marriage over the long term, you may well head to an early, ugly divorce!

For 30 more ways to develop long term business growth – why not take the 30 Day Challenge? (Tweet this)

brand, social, ebook


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The Engaging Brand

How to Stand Out From Your Competition

A business needs to offer something different or offer something differently to stand out from your competition. You understand that you need to differentiate yourself from the competition; you understand you need to create reasons why you are the perfect supplier to your customer’s need.customer connection

However in an age of abundance how can you be different? Yikes, so many offers, so many choices….can you truly be different?

How to stand out from your competition

Often standing out from the competition is not about the ‘what’ of the customer offer, often it is the ‘why’ and the ‘how’ of the customer offer. If you have competition on the ‘what’ then think about a different mindset by looking at these ways you can differentiate your offer.

Stand out from your competition by standing against something

Having a distinct view, having a stance, having a cause can help you to stand out from your competition. People may stand for sustainability, for ethical business, for moral capitalism, for the locality.

People may choose a word that drives all that they do such as fun, easy or simplicity.

People may also stand ‘against something’ in a similar way to standing for something.

In any of these cases, this mindset is weaved into the whole customer experience from packaging to invoicing, from marketing to design.

Stand out from your competition by how you operate the business

If what you offer is ‘relatively’ generic, can you be innovative in how it is delivered. (Tweet this)

For example, when I started The Engaging Brand it was rare to find flexible online coaching at weekends, on a night and charged in minutes not hours. So I offered a package that a manager who wants to find out more for his CV can choose; an offer that allowed him to learn on a night on his own time and a price that they could afford.

Can you differentiate through payment methods, through delivery, through the packaging. One local farm shop near me always puts a little recipe card in your shopping bag from their traditional family recipe collection. They are all simple, easy and based on their own produce. Lovely touch….

Stand out from your competition means out-standing profit

Profit is a sign of value that you create. If you are struggling to make a profit then you need to add value into the product or service.

By adding a style of how you do business to what you offer as a business you are creating values which offer true value to the customer.

Brands often go wrong is that they add cost into the offer rather than value. (Tweet this)

Customer’s don’t necessarily need extra cost; they need extra value. (Tweet this)

Value is created by the how, the why as well as the what.

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The Engaging Brand

We Asked Agencies to Share Their Oddest Decorations, and They Did Not Disappoint

Not every marketing agency can be an architectural marvel, but they do all tend to have at least one oddly compelling bit of decor that reminds you you're not in a law office.

Just for fun, we decided to ask our Twitter followers to share some of their favorite pieces of office decoration, and they did not disappoint. Below you'll find a recap of our favorites.

Adweek : Advertising & Branding

“Typo”? Why Would Anyone Name A Keyboard “Typo”?

Because they understand the power of a name to define & own a category.

And to get them a staggering amount of free press / product awareness / brand name recognition.

Typo” does everything you want a name to do. It cuts through all the clutter, it’s viral, is instantly and eternally memorable, demonstrates the notion that this is a ground breaking offering, exudes confidence, is relevant, etc.

And it makes the cash register ring.

Why is this type of name so rare and why hasn’t it been given to a keyboard before? Fear. Irrational fear based on a lack of understanding of how consumers process names. The objection is obvious – “We want to convey that we make typing a better experience, typo is the opposite. It will convey there is something wrong with our product”.

Really? As a consumer does this name make you doubt the quality of the product? No. That possibility is a wholly imagined one and exists only within a naming committee – yet fear of the baseless is the basis for most naming decisions.

The key is understanding that Typo gets its positive power from the same qualities that intuitively are seen as negative nullifiers. You need to ensure the right filters are in place when evaluating names.

Typo’s iPhone keyboard / case

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Podcast 496 – Defining Your Business Model

Do you find your business drifting from it’s original purpose? Do you manage risk in a way that grows your business rather than stifles it? Do you really understand your business model?

Those are the business questions put to Karan GirotraProfessor of Technology and Operations Management at INSEAD, who joins me to talk about  The Risk-Driven Business Model

First of all a big thank you to Judi Shell who was chosen from all the people who reviewed the show on iTunes or shared this blog post to their followers – a goodie bag is on it’s way to you.

  • Should business risk drive your business model?engaging brand
  • How to innovate by using a better risk model?
  • Is risk management a mindset or a management process?
  • The 4 W’s of defining your perfect business model.
  • What decisions should be made before designing your business model?
  • How to set your business vision specific enough to succeed but flexible enough to exploit new business opportunities.
  • How do you recognise internal risk to your business model?
  • Why a business model audit is important for your company.
  • Does a business model have a shelf life?
  • The barriers to business model transformation.
  • Why small businesses are even better placed to adopt a business model.

To find out more about the risk driven business model – Define Your Company.

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The Engaging Brand

The Cult of the Sigil

The Cult of the Sigil

Designing Magic: The Draft of the Letter as the Quest for Mystery

Everyone knows that occult really means hidden.

But in that, one might surmise that the Cult of the Occult
would be nothing more than the quest for the hidden.

I probably live there,
in more ways than one.

In one manner, the journey of GIRVIN, and Girvin, has been about the quest for that further, and as yet unexplored territory a realm of mystery, yet as much a realm of a place of newness, the land of curiosity — and the wowness of newly seen scene in spectacle. That is what we look for — journey, story, woeness.
And in the second, since I was a child, the nature of mystery and the mystical has sparked my mind — and to that, my team, the deeper mystery of the work that we all do is part of that journey of discovering.
The Cult of the Sigil
And, as we all know, to discover is literally — to take the lid off, to remove the cover. In the quest for the soul of the brand, the reaching in — the deep — what will happen is an uncovering; and what lies
there is the truth.

Truth lives in the dark,
as well as the light.
The Cult of the Sigil
In contemplating
the making of marks, the design of monograms and devices
that badge
the psyche of a brand,
it becomes something more than just design thinking.
More difficult — as a challenge, it’s an emotional capture —
it’s a shining, a set of strokes
that come from mind and human hand,
that run deep in
the psychical place
of emotional context.
The Cult of the Sigil
Feeling is movement —
e-motion isn’t constructed of
engineered stillness; it’s alive.

To align the humanness with
the ability to illustrate, which is — in itself,
a kind of light-bearing,
a shining,
a lustration.
The Cult of the Sigil
As a designer, as a brand strategist,
that’s where you go —
see broadly —
ponder systemic meaning,
code and gene diversified in
link from mind to hand.
And you draw it out.

But what does that drawing mean.
Literally, to draw it out — to capture that electricity of imagining.
That’s what you draw.

And that, in
the interpretation of others that have come and gone before, is:


It’s portal making;
it’s transformational,
it’s trans-sensate.

That is the
the sigil,
the signal,
the signature

We’ve talked long about the meaning of this string of words.

Each makes one, but what do they know of it,
the language of the signature.
Your sign[ing] — from the gripped ferrule on the sign-writer’s brush,
to the cut runic sorcerer’s icons

The Cult of the Sigil

to the strategically empowered corporate identity,
thoughtfully customer pleasing packaging;
it all comes back
to that one thing
The mark,
the letter,
the sign and those who sign it.
Who they are, what they stand for, what they are.
And in that state: what they shall be.
The Cult of the Sigil
The Vegvisir,
Icelandic guidance sigil

Tim | Pike Place Studios

The Strategy of Holism | Restaurant Experience Design
TouchPoints, Storytelling and Guest Engagement

See the Restaurant Point Conference Keynote:

GIRVIN | Strategic Branding Blog

A Fun Truth About Social Media Marketing Success

social media

Marketing needs reasons and social media is a great vehicle to share those reasons. Reasons need to act as a glue between

We understand what your problem is and demonstrate it daily.

We understand what is important to you and demonstrate it daily.

We understand what you want and demonstrate it daily.

We understand to give is better than to receive and we give daily.

So when you wonder what you should share, what social media marketing will work and what to write on social media…ask yourself these questions

What are our reasons for being in business? Why are we in business and How do we demonstrate who we are?

Social media marketing is not a ‘thing’; social media is your brand demonstrating who you are. (Tweet this)

Social media marketing is not what YOU believe and think. It is not what YOU offer. It is not why people should buy.

Social media marketing demonstrates who you are, it is NOT a presentation of who you think you are. (Tweet this)

Often when mentoring my key advise is this….. “Stop trying”

Sound weird? Business needs effort doesn’t it?

Absolutely but effort needs to be focused and natural. When you force anything in life, it just won’t flow.

Social media needs YOU to be YOU.

Stop trying means stop trying to be great, stop trying to be something that you are not, stop trying too hard to be likeable.

Instead BE YOU. Instead BE THE BRAND. Warts and all!

Write like you think not how you think that you should…

Write like a human not as  a Google algorithm chaser.

Show reasons rather than tell. Demonstrate reasons rather than demand attention.


Offer a way for people who love your brand, love the voice and love what you do, an opportunity to buy into this loveable brand.

Need more questions to become a social media super power?

social marketing, social leadership

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The Engaging Brand

Building a website your users will love

website your users will loveIt seems like a “duh,” doesn’t it?  Of course you want to build a website your users will love.

But remember, not that long ago, many businesses were wondering whether or not they even needed a website.

It seemed so far-fetched that any of their customers would ever do anything but show up at their store or pick up the phone to place an order.

How quickly times change. Now, a business isn’t considered legitimate until they have a web presence.  No matter what it is you sell, odds are your prospects are going to visit your website to decide if you’re even in the running.

I’m hard pressed to think of an industry or business category that doesn’t rely on their website as the main workhorse in their marketing arsenal.

It used to be that you had an opportunity to make the sale when someone walked into your retail location, your salesperson called on the buyer or you answered your phone.  But today, a good portion of the sales process has nothing to do with you actively engaging with the potential buyer.  They’re doing a great deal of their due diligence tire kicking without you being in the room at all.

It’s happening on your website, within social networks and with the help of a Google search.

Which makes what you put out on the web absolutely vital to your business’ success. You must build a website your users will love.

All of that being said – most websites stink.  They’re badly designed, built for the business’ ego rather than the customer’s utility and they’re out of date.

Why?  I think most businesses think of their website like an ever expanding junk drawer.  They just keep tossing more stuff in there and hope that when someone rummages through it – they can find what they need.

If you’d like your website to be the effective workhorse you need it to be, consider these best practices:

It should be an experience: Keep in mind that many people will decide whether or not to do business with you based on their web visit.  So you want them to have a memorable and enjoyable experience.   Get them interacting with you – give them a quiz, help them find answers to their specific questions or offer them something they might want to share with others.

In addition:

  • Let your company’s personality be a part of the site — both in design and voice
  • Simple navigation matters – make it intuitive
  • Remember eye flow – give them plenty of white space and eye rest

Don’t talk about yourself: Talk about their world and how you can improve it.  Everything should be presented from their perspective, not yours. You might need an outside perspective to help you identify what truly matters to your audience.

In addition:

  • Don’t over share – think hors’ oeuvres, not a six course meal
  • Start at the 101 level — not every visitor will already be an expert
  • Leave them wanting more so they call or send an email
  • Keep the content fresh – stale content does not sell
  • Cascade your content – start with a little and then let them choose to drill down for more if they want it

Make it easy, no matter the device: Don’t assume everyone is using a 15-inch screen.  Within the next couple years, the majority of web searches will be conducted on a mobile phone. Check your site on desktops, laptops, tablets and smart phones because if there’s one thing your users will love is being able to access your content no matter where they are.

In addition:

  • Pay attention to page placement — your most important content should be above the fold
  • Give them more than one way to navigate
  • Use landing pages to help diverse audiences get where they want to go

Don’t let a mediocre website discourage prospects from becoming customers before they even shake your hand. If you haven’t already done it — start tomorrow.  Build a website your users will love and share and best of all — buy from.

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Drew’s Marketing Minute

No Budget? Business Innovation Tip- No money required

innovation business

Do you stop yourself from being innovative because you don’t have the business resources or funds available?

What if I said you don’t need either?

Copying is easier than ever. Copying is a wonderful way for your business to grow. Often the first to market is not the ultimate winner because they copy the basics and refine to something even better…..just think Google!

When something is easy, business can do it without thinking. But when you copy without thinking…you are copying! When you copy and apply your thinking, you can be innovative!

Business innovation does not have to be about inventing from scratch, it is about refinement of existing ideas.

I know, I know….we all like to think we are the most innovative company in the world….but true innovation is rare. Successful companies know that innovation in the medium term is either

  • Taking lessons from one market sector and applying in a new way to your sector.
  • Building on an initial innovation and making it specific to your market.
  • Building on an initial innovation and making it better.
  • Applying innovation to the process rather than the product.

Look at Google they took an existing idea and made it better through their ranking factors.

Look at Zipcar, they took car rental and made it relevant to the city motorist.

Look at Amazon who took the iTunes model to the book industry and introduced the one click payment method.

Too often people see what their competitors are doing and copy it under the guise of innovation. No. Find ideas and then make them your own with a twist that is specific to either your market, your customers or your brand.

You don’t need an R&D department and large budget to be innovative but you do need….

Your eyes open, your ears on alert for ideas to tweak for your brand.

A child’s view of the world; exploring why as a matter of course.

A “just do it” mindset: Try, fail, improve, try again. Not every tweak, not every idea will work but one will…and in that one that works is a goldmine.

You don’t need to be Edison or Einstein; you need to be curious, alert and resourceful enough to make it happen!

social marketing, social leadership

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