How Brands Can Attract The Coolest Kids On The Block

The new kids on the block are coming of age. Gen Z – ​​people born between 1995-2010 – represent an estimated $143 billion in annual spending power, and at least one report projects their future earnings will reach $2 trillion by 2030. 

The point is: as a brand, you will want to include them as part of your marketing strategy. Start adjusting your game plan to cater to this group of youngsters that never knew the pre-internet world. 

How can you connect with the coolest kids on the block?

As this cohort takes centre stage, it is critical for brands to become intimately familiar with the generation, what they want, and which Gen Z marketing practices and emerging trends will be effective. 

What does Gen Z look for? 

Brands with purpose

Having a purpose authentically rooted in your brand’s values and operations is an excellent first step if you want to build affinity with Gen Z. Unlike their predecessors, this generation is much more opinionated and vocal about a range of issues, including cultural appropriation, patriarchy, sexism, equality, sustainable fashion, and so on. 

But remember, they’re also a sceptical group, and they want to trust the brands they buy from. For businesses that want to appeal to this generation, it’s essential to know and amplify what makes your company great.  Ethical practices? Give back to the community? Healthy working environment? Be transparent and let them know where you stand on issues.

Dove is one of the most remarkable examples of a purposeful brand. Why? Their brand mission is something far more profound than just selling hygiene products. Dove is using its brand to help improve the esteem of girls globally. They recognised that low self-esteem is a massive problem for females, and through their numerous movements, Dove seeks to help girls gain more confidence in their beauty. It’s a purpose that anyone can agree with. You need to remember that people don’t buy what you do, but why you do it. 

Engage where they congregate

Gen Z is more likely to be on TikTok than Instagram, but in addition to these places, they hang out on YouTube as well. The numbers vary widely, but one study by Joy Ventures and getWizer found that 20% of Gen Zers spend five hours a day on TikTok alone. Gen Z appears to have replaced the older generations’ television viewing habits for mobile devices and is constantly connected. Most got their first smartphone at age 12 (trust me on this, I’m a Gen Z), so get your social media off the ground to keep up.  Check out our tips for a head start.

A brand that listens

Above all, Gen Z shoppers want brands to understand their wants and needs. For brands, this could be as simple as letting consumers know their voices are heard or as significant as releasing a new product, experience or piece of content based on consumer feedback. 

Use social listening to understand your audience’s likes, dislikes and what they are more likely to respond to. Capturing consumer sentiment is also crucial to attracting new audiences, having loyal consumers, and identifying emerging trends and opportunities. 

One fun example: Last year, Nando’s announced it would be re-introducing a discontinued menu after Andreas Health, a young teenager from Manchester, relentlessly tweeted them every five weeks.

A place where they belong

Gen Z wants a community —​ a group in which they belong. To do this, brands must look beyond the features they offer and focus instead on inculcating a sense of belonging. Gen Z doesn’t simply want to buy what your brand is selling, they want to join you.

Building a digital community is integral to your Gen Z marketing strategy. A Spotify study found that 62% of Gen Zers and millennials believe brands have the power to create communities based on their shared interests and passions. As Seth Godin writes: It might not necessarily mean your customers are on the verge of getting a tattoo of your logo, but you should aim to get pretty close to that level of love.

Authenticity

In all seriousness, Gen-Zers want to see real, relatable people in marketing campaigns. The people in your ads need to share the same struggles or beliefs as your Gen Z audience. Talking the talk and walking the talk is crucial to building authenticity.

It is why so many brands are finding success with influencers. However, to resonate with this key consumer group – it is crucial to pick the right influencers

Every new generation of consumers means shifting our marketing tactics and best practices in order to continue driving revenue and growing as a brand. With Generation Z on track to becoming the largest generation of consumers this year, brands must start supercharging practices now if they are to keep pace with expectations around your game-plan. Brands need to use the opportunity to engage a socially active, motivated group of young people who want to connect with your brand and maybe even cultivate a cult following of brand ambassadors who will be loyal to your brand for life.

And, if you’re still feeling overwhelmed, we can help! [email protected]

3 Visual Storytelling Formats To Boost Your Content

Storytelling is something so intrinsic to human beings that its evolution has followed that of our own. Oral storytelling traditions and hieroglyphics eventually turned into printed books and moving pictures. Today, storytelling’s largest medium is digital, allowing us to access pictures and words from around the world with a touch of a button. What a time to be alive! 

But human beings have evolved, too. When it comes to consuming content, studies show that human attention spans are dropping. At the same time, Netflix binging is on the rise. If I had to hazard a guess, storytelling probably has something to do with that—and not just storytelling, but visual storytelling.

Achieving total recall

According to research, the human brain processes visual content 60,000 times faster than text. As a result, 90% of information transmitted to the brain is visual, which means we observe, learn, process and decide using visual information. We see this play out every day in digital formats, particularly on social media where compelling images can help your content average 94% more views

But visuals alone fall short of the full storytelling experience. In fact, a combination of written and visual presentation formats are often the best for active learning and recall. With the variety of digital formats on offer, achieving this combination has never been easier. 

To illustrate, check out these real-life examples that use both copy and visuals to elevate the storytelling experience:

  1. Social media photojournalism

Platforms like Instagram are elevating photojournalism to become more engaging than ever before. Take for example People’s Archive of Rural India (PARI), a media outlet that highlights important social issues by documenting everyday life in rural India. It addresses these sensitive and often overlooked issues by using photos from the field and interspersing them with striking copy. The images help magnify the humanity of its subjects to the reader, while the limited space for text necessitates carefully chosen copy. As a result, the story is distilled to its most impactful form and is more likely to leave a lasting impression.

This format is also ideal to break down complex subjects into bite-sized information, as we’ve experienced working with one of our social media clients, Binance Charity Foundation (BCF). As the charity arm of Binance, the world’s largest cryptocurrency exchange, BCF often has to simplify technical cryptocurrency terms to make its content accessible to different audiences. This post on NFTs is one such example of how images and succinct copy can condense a broad topic in a compelling way. 

2. Interactive storytelling

The New York Times has been championing interactive visual formats that add an exciting experiential element to what would otherwise have been static stories. Take for example, its exploration of a classical artwork by famed Indian artist Chitaraman. The dynamic format zooms in and out of the painting, taking the reader on a digital art tour that is as illuminating as it is engaging. 

Another example was its interactive visual op-ed story that helped readers find their place in the COVID-19 vaccination line. Here the Times went a step further by asking for the reader’s participation before telling an impactful story through a clever infographic. Talk about being memorable!

3. Engaging infographics and visual-led reports

Some forms of content require longer formats, such as whitepapers or business reports.  In these cases, visuals play an important role in not only adding a refreshing differentiation between sections of text, but also bringing data and impactful words to life. 

LinkedIn, for example, publishes a number of data-led reports that consistently and generously make use of visual elements. Their 2021 Workplace Learning Report featured a combination of graphs, pull out quotes and vibrant visuals to create a report that was heavy on insights but light on the eyes. 

Some reports go a step further with an almost entirely infographic format, such as the 2021 Quarterly Job Market Index reports we worked on for our client RGF International Recruitment. The report series was almost entirely visually led, accompanied by a short commentary on each page. Aside from being engaging, formats like this offer quick takeaways that help both layman and media audiences easily navigate the report’s key insights. 

These examples show that hybrid visual and copy formats can be as complex or as simple as you need or your capabilities allow. But regardless of visual elements, it is important to remember that to get results, the basics of content strategy will always apply. This means always considering your audience, determining your objectives, and staying authentic to your brand voice. Once you’ve got this covered, let your visuals do the rest.

Need some fresh content or visuals to tell your story? We can help! Write to us at [email protected] 

How 2021 Shaped The Design Industry

New year, new me. 

This motto gets thrown around every year, and understandably so. After all, the prospect of a new year is exciting – it’s a time for us to reset, start anew, and shed away yesterday for a clean state. While we usher in the new year with renewed vigour, it’s also another chance for us to strive for progress by reflecting on our past to build a new, but better version of ourselves.  

The choices we’ve made will set the tone for years to come, and this is especially true in the design scene. As we look to the trends of 2022, let’s take a step back and review some notable design projects of the past year, and the lessons we can carry forward into our next creative projects.

Seek authenticity, not originality

[Image credit: Dezeen

When Burger King rolled out their first major rebrand in 20 years, they rediscovered their roots by centring the new visual identity on a previous iteration of their logo first launched in 1969. The revamp took us on a trip down memory lane, leaning heavily on nostalgia with its retro 70s aesthetic. 

The new identity evokes a sense of fun while referencing Burger King’s heritage. By finding the perfect balance between the new and the old, the fast food company struck gold — the updated identity was still familiar to their current market, but different enough for new and prospective customers to resonate with. More importantly, it signals a new way of creative thinking. 

As creatives, we’re always on the lookout for the next groundbreaking, never-seen-before idea, because we place too much value on originality. Hear me out: originality is overrated. Becoming fixated on being special can impede our attempts at building an authentic brand experience – and this can be detrimental to any branding initiatives. 

Burger King’s decision to embrace their heritage allowed the business to go back to its roots, resulting in an instantly authentic connection with their audience that is far more moving.

Read the room

[Image credit: Bloomberg]

The CIA’s graphical rebrand kickstarted the year  with a contentious design choice that matches either the aesthetic of an electronic music culture, or a streetwear brand (maybe both). In hindsight, the visual identity with its trendy use of fractal lines and a surprisingly solid typeface demonstrated a genuine effort in staying relevant to a younger, modern pool of recruits. Alas, it was a huge missed opportunity – a sentiment shared by many. 

Despite its effort, this was a rebranding effort that missed the mark for trying too hard and straying from its design objectives. For an authoritative organisation, the identity showed a disjointed connection with its younger audience – attempts at referencing ‘cool’ design tropes didn’t quite land, and to the public, the CIA was not accurately presented as a government institution. 

Perhaps if they had been more in-tune with their history, or channelled their pop culture references into a grounded creative direction without relying heavily on a graphical approach, the rebrand wouldn’t have felt as out of touch. 

Design is responsible for inclusivity

Image credit: UnderConsideration]

There is value in design beyond the aesthetic, and it is our responsibility as designers to ensure our work is accessible to everyone regardless of age, race, disability or other factors. Originally founded in the late 1800’s, Aunt Jemima rebranded to Pearl Milling Company in February 2021. Amidst racial protests and calls to address harmful stereotypes, the PepsiCo-owned brand not only retired its name, but also removed the face of a Black woman on the packaging in an attempt to break away from negative connotations. While the rebranding could’ve also paid attention to the packaging and identity design, this is still a step in the right direction to evolve the brand past its problematic history.

A thoughtful and ethical design culture driven by diverse perspectives ensures a positive and immersive experience for everyone. A great way to start is to consider all forms of human diversity early in the creative process. Reframe accessibility as personalisation, and ensure representation, to set your brand up for success.

As we move into 2022 and beyond, let these notable projects serve as a reminder for us to take every brief as an opportunity to make a change, so that this year will be one full of growth, lessons and challenges that will help us thrive.

Need design guidance? You’ve come to the right place: [email protected]

We’re Feeling 2022: A Mutant Take on the Hottest Design Trends for the Year

It’s that time of year again where design trend forecasts flood the Internet. 

Although design trends shouldn’t be the primary driver of brand identity and logo designs, they play a huge role when ideating short-term campaigns and staying relevant on social media. 

At Mutant, we stay abreast with the latest trends to help our clients achieve their communications goals. Here are the five graphic design trends we’re most excited about in 2022: 

Early 2000s Aesthetics: Nostalgia Still Sells

You may have noticed the resurgence of 90s visual cues over the past 2 years. Netflix’s Billion-Dollar Code is almost like a love letter to the 90s, and many brands that made it big in that era have proudly gone back to their roots through limited edition packaging and retro campaigns in the last year. With that said, we believe that the 90s aesthetics have reached a peak in 2021 and we’ll see more early 2000s aesthetics in 2022.

COVID-19 pandemic had an effect on the kind of visuals we’re seeing because it has an effect on the kind of visuals we desire to see. Texture became a big theme in graphic design as an overcorrection to the flat design trend back from 2018/2019.

In a world where glossy screens are dominating our attention, we crave the days of creased magazine pages and grainy photographs and those are exactly the things we saw in 2020 and 2021.

Texture isn’t going anywhere, but how it’s applied will. Gooey blobs (remember gel packaging?) and iridescent colours are already making appearances sporadically; look out for hints of the Nickelodeon green goo, Rugrats, Disney Channel, trading cards and MTV aesthetics!

The Bold and The Weird: Bright & Unorthodox Colour Schemes

This trend ties into the previous one. If you thought the use of colours in the 90s were weird, Y2K took colours even further. The early 2000s were marked by the iconic iPod ads and halftone-heavy textures inspired by magazines and comic books. 

The decade was also filled with uncomfortable colour combinations that somehow worked – think combos like purple and yellow, green and orange, and white and light blue. B2C brands will openly embrace this trend within the confines of their existing brand colour schemes, and it will be a pleasant surprise to see B2B brands follow suit.

Into The Metaverse: Giving Virtual Campaigns Another Try

Hashtags for “meta” and “metaverse” have been trending ever since Mark Zuckerberg announced his ambitious vision to make the “metaverse” a thing, so don’t be surprised to see more visuals inspired by this idea. Keep an eye out for advertisements and social media campaigns featuring “build your own avatar” ideas, 3D virtual environments replacing photography, or even potentially interacting with real-life photography. 

Because of this, we expect a revival of AR in brand activations. Some of the more daring brands might even toy with launching events within developing metaverses. Perhaps it’s time to give Second Life a second chance after work?

Serving Strange Looks: Type Distortion

Wavy serifs, sunburst ultra-bold san serifs, trailing, disintegrating italics — distorted typography became popular at the end of 2020 during the height of the anti-design trend (looking at you, Spotify). 

A word of caution: although type distortion can look great, graphic designers are generally trained to avoid distorting typefaces for the sake of legibility. But no matter how you may feel about it, expect to see more of this trend play out in 2022!

Making Moves: More Kinetic Logos

Motion design isn’t going anywhere. Social media is increasingly video-centred, as proven by Instagram’s shift from a photo-sharing app to an entertainment and video platform as TikTok continues its reign among Gen Zs. This means that the only way for brands to retain attention is to make anything that matters move. We have seen a gradual increase in animated logos since as early as 2018, and this trend is only going to continue in 2022 and beyond. 

Perhaps it’s time to consider animating your current logo for splash screens, website navigation bar, and apps in your next rebranding exercise as animated logos can turn your brand identity into an organic system, just like Fisher-Price’s kinetic logo as shown here.

As a closing thought, it’s important to remember that trends are often precursors to changes in consumer behaviour. They serve as a good guide, but don’t feel pressured to follow every trend predicted on this list nor anywhere else! 

The key to staying relevant is to evaluate these consumer behaviour changes and create an on-brand strategy for your target audience. Doing this not only addresses your customers’ needs, but increasingly solves their problems in creative ways. Now that’s a defining quality of trendsetters.

Want to be on-brand and in trend? Reach out for your branding and design needs at [email protected]

Good Design Is Invisible

Here’s a story you might be able to relate to:

You’re heading to the supermarket, telling yourself that you’re there to cross things off your shopping list and get out ASAP.

In the first five minutes, you’ve got what you came for. Bread, butter, milk? Check, check, check. Time to go. 

And then, it caught your attention. You stopped right in the middle of the aisle and made it hard for other shoppers to get around you, but it didn’t matter to you. 

This thing that stopped you dead in your tracks gave you a warm fuzzy feeling, and you loved it.

Before you knew it, you grabbed it and added it to your trolley, happy to spend the money on this thing you had no intention of buying. 

What could it be that held so much power over your decision-making process? 

The answer is good design. Allow us to explain.

Every step of your journey to the supermarket was designed. The concept of shopping in itself was a relatively new invention that rose to prominence as the middle-class emerged. Today, we shop without giving it any second thought. Shopping is like looking at our phones to unlock it, expensive dinners on Valentine’s Day, and buying a particular brand of milk even when all brands taste the same.

If you had known about this before, you would be able to stop yourself from such temptation, right? Inevitably a magician’s trick becomes its downfall when performed a second time.

Smart brands and their agencies know this. That is why they carefully craft their packaging to work in the shadows, hidden behind walls of short-term campaigns, paid and organic media, and new iterations of their products based on consumer data.

In other words, good design is invisible. It works best when you don’t even know why it works. But the same invisibility is also why businesses only realise its absence when sales are dropping or, “something just doesn’t feel right”. 

So, back to your intuitive purchase (not impulsive, we don’t like that word). What can you learn from this experience to apply it to your business? Let’s use the shopping experience as an analogy:

The Presentation Is The Message.

Looks do matter. As long as the product works as expected, most consumers will buy whatever looks best. A well-designed logo and packaging will help you sell far more than a DIY logo set in Comic Sans (yuck!). A competent agency will tell you what should go on your precious paid ads, and what shouldn’t. Many brands make the mistake of bombarding their consumers with facts that they can’t relate to, but smart brands? They say little, and the little they say is what prompts you to pull your wallet out.

Branding Is Selling

“Branding” is a term often used but rarely understood. It’s not about your fancy business cards or a sum of impressions – it’s your reputation and the gut feeling your consumers have at the mention of your brand’s name. Branding includes all of the aesthetic adjustments needed to appeal to them and an evaluation of your value proposition and why your current customers care. It’s not a cheap exercise, but if a $100,000 solution can solve your $10 million problem, wouldn’t you do it?

Positioning, Positioning, Positioning.

Source : Pexels

Positioning is the invisible force that turns your well-designed brand into a memorable one. That’s why smart companies like Nestle, Google, and Apple spend generously to craft earworm jingles, put their products on eye-level on supermarket shelves, and rent the biggest billboards right in the middle of New York City. The same companies also allocate vast chunks of their budget to tweak their communication materials every year to keep up with consumer trends. You win the game when you occupy mental and physical spaces.

So the next time you get that warm, fuzzy feeling when you look at a product, just remember that the invisible force tugging on your credit card is called “good design”. The entire experience is planned, and you can employ the same strategy with your business as well because, if you can’t win them, join them, right?

Want to make some “good design?” Talk to us at [email protected]

How to Build an Authentic, Purpose-Driven Brand

In the midst of the pandemic, brands that operate with the consumer and community in mind are the ones that stand out. Companies everywhere have pulled tone-deaf ads, while some have pivoted their business to develop essential products. 

An underlying purpose of what makes a brand relevant to its customers should be at the core of every brand’s vision and mission. This is particularly true in a crisis where consumers weigh their purchase decisions in this economic climate. 

Why? Because it makes business sense 

Profitability and purpose are not mutually exclusive. Kantar’s Purpose in Asia report found that “90% of consumers want brands to get involved in the issues they care about, meaning that an authentic brand purpose is now an expectation not a bonus”. 

But what’s the harm in not having a purpose? 

Well, according to Accenture, businesses lose up to half their customers, with 17% never coming back to brands that don’t serve a larger purpose. Earning brand loyalty is not as simple as giving away free products or making a one-time donation. 

5 steps to build a purpose-driven brand

Start from your brand DNA

Your brand purpose shouldn’t be disconnected from your core business. You should know how your products and expertise can create an impact on your consumers – and this should be a long-term strategy, rooted in a deep issue or opportunity that’s impactful (such as sustainability, education) or identifying specific communities to champion over the years. 

Pick issues that matter to your community

Listen to what’s being said on the ground. If a brand is not actively listening and refreshing how it’s helping the community, then its well-meaning activations could backfire. 

This is a good way to champion local causes and initiatives, particularly if you’re part of a global team where the broader corporate social responsibility goals may not directly impact your markets or region. Find a local nuance that makes sense for your community. 

Inspire your team

Start inspiring and engaging your own employees. If a brand is only seen as helping the larger community, while ignoring or mistreating their own, there is a huge disconnect. 

Your employees are your brand advocates, and being part of a purpose-driven brand attracts, motivates and retains employees. Outside of being proud of the impact they create, an engaged team could also lend their own creativity and ideas towards giving back to society and further driving your purpose. 

Take action 

Once your brand is ready to take action, don’t forget to continuously engage the benefactors and track your performance over time. 

Take a look at your user journey to see how you can activate your own consumers to drive awareness of the impact your contributions have made. Better yet, rope in your consumers so they also feel like they’re making a difference. 

As an example, Trouble Brewing, a local brewery in Singapore, launched an Adopt-A-Pub initiative that gives 10% of their proceeds to the consumers’ favourite bar, pub or restaurant at no additional cost. All it takes is a click at check-out for folks to give back to the Singapore F&B community. 

Communicate & learn

It’s important for brands to communicate with the right stakeholders on the right platform – and to avoid being called out as self-serving. Remember, you’re not doing good to drive publicity. Instead, when employees, customers and even benefactors spread the word, it’s a lot more impactful than sending out a press release. 

Companies also need to listen for feedback – and tweak their approach to remain relevant. 

At Mutant, we’re proud to help our clients engage and help our communities. Here is an example of how our team in Malaysia activated a much needed initiative within a record timespan.

How Kimberly-Clark Malaysia helped 16,000 families 

Kimberly-Clark, a brand that’s rooted in global social responsibility guidelines, wanted to make a meaningful contribution to help ease the burdens of Malaysians who have been affected by the pandemic. As residents were not allowed to venture past their neighbourhoods, they were reliant on donations for food and essential items. 

Mutant connected with the Federal Territories Ministry to identify communities that would most benefit from 1 million RM worth of essentials including diapers, feminine hygiene products and tissues. Kimberly-Clark was able to coordinate the delivery of the donations within a week, fulfilling the urgent need of the donations.

The Deputy Federal Territories Minister YB Dato’ Sri Dr Santhara Kumar shared a message of thanks to Kimberly-Clark, opening up doors to future collaboration.

If you’re keen on developing a brand purpose, or need help localising a global mandate, we’re here to help. 

Need help with messaging and connecting to the right stakeholders?  Drop us a line at [email protected] anytime – we’re here to help.

When Is It The Right Time To Do A Rebrand?

I’ve managed to find my way around the Internet a fair bit during the lockdown. Videos, podcasts, articles and tutorials; you name it, I’ve seen it. Lately, I’ve been discovering random facts and I’ve concluded that Mother Nature is the best source for the weirdest facts. 

For example: a caterpillar can eat up to 27,000 times its bodyweight in its lifetime.

It will consume everything it can, make itself ready for adulthood, and lay eggs, because as a caterpillar, it only has one job to do: survive.

I read this random fact and was reminded of something else I saw at a café in rural Australia. 

It was one of those cheesy inspirational quote signs, you know the ones. Deep and thoughtful, it was perched above the coffee machine and written in a hipster font. It read:

“In order to become a butterfly, you’ve got to give up being a caterpillar.”

The conundrum of the caterpillar is a particularly apt analogy for brands in the age of COVID-19 – and it hit particularly close to home for Mutant, as we’ve been thinking of refreshing our own brand image for a long time. It was a decision between staying the successful caterpillar we were or becoming a butterfly.  

Truth be told, we tussled with the decision. Our current branding is what has allowed us to grow for the past eight years, winning lots of new clients and bagging us multiple awards

Why should we give up what we are, when it has been proven to be successful?

In the end, we decided it was time to change. We needed to unveil who we have become as an agency, while still maintaining what we started out as, all while showing what we can offer businesses in uncertain times.

As our name suggests, it was time to evolve. 

So, when it comes to rebranding and updating your communications strategy, here are a few key questions you should ask yourself:

Does your branding reflect who you are now? 

Businesses evolve, and so do their offerings. What you may have started out as might not be indicative of your present state. If that’s the case, you should objectively examine what your brand says about you visually. 

Mutant started as a PR agency in 2012. Some of our first clients were corporate and tech names, and our muted, toned-down branding reflected that. Since then, we’ve built up one of the best content teams in SEA, as well as branding and digital marketing functions. 

The brands we work with now are diverse, including clients across the lifestyle, consumer, and back to our roots, in tech and corporate verticals. Upon further examination, we realised our branding just didn’t match up to our current identity, and that had to change.

Does it look good?

This sounds like a stupid question, but it’s a perfectly valid one. Imagine your brand as a sports car. It is perfectly tuned, efficient, and performs well – but if the paint is faded on the outside, people will never look at it twice. 

Mutant’s original branding was faded (literally, the green had a murky yellowish/green tinge to it). It simply wasn’t communicating the vibrance of our stellar team, and attitude towards work.

Is your branding flexible enough to grow?

Brand equity is something that a lot of people believe comes from consistency in applying your brand, making sure you don’t mess around with logos or colours – that sort of thing. And for the most part, that’s correct. 

However, consistency doesn’t mean having to use the exact same branding or logos until the end of time. Brands refresh themselves in order to ensure they remain relevant and are able to future-proof themselves. Over the past few years, we’ve become an international agency with an awesome team in Kuala Lumpur. So we wanted to ensure that if we were to expand across Southeast Asia, our new look should be able to incorporate any sub-brands or new offerings that might come about.    

Is now really the right time to do a rebrand?

In short, yes. Now is the best time to do it. Research shows businesses that pour more love into their brand and communications (whilst adapting their business model) will be the ones who come out the other side of COVID-19 stronger than ever. This rings true whether you’re a brewery fundamentally changing its sales model, or a PR company trying to conjure a brand identity that captures the full breadth of its services. 

Eyes are on screens, the audience is captive (literally!) and people are consuming information like never before. In a sea of uncertainty, your brand needs to be bold to stand out and communicate its updated identity proudly, loudly and effectively. 

Unless, of course, you want to stay a caterpillar. 

Ask us how we can help your branding efforts by contacting us at [email protected]

Want to Sell More? Focus On The Sizzle, Not The Steak

You might have come across two types of advertising – the one that aggressively displays a product and its attributes, and the one that have a story to tell. While there is a time and place for being a braggart, telling a story is how you can emotionally connect with your audience. This is usually a better option than shoving your product down people’s throats.

Elmer Wheeler, arguably the greatest salesman in the world, rightly said, “Sell the sizzle, not the steak.”

How do you know when your neighbour is preparing a prime cut of the juiciest meat available? When you can hear the satisfying sound of fat rendering on the grill. People make purchases because they want to feel a certain way, and that’s exactly what this meaty metaphor is about – sell the promise, not the product.

But us (always hungry) Mutants aren’t the only ones who believe in this the power of storytelling. If you’re looking for examples of campaigns that not only resonated, but drove success, here are three of our favourites hat successfully sold the sizzle:

Think Different (1997)

Watch closely, and you will notice that Apple never mentioned the names of their products in any of their ads. The TV commercials featured 17 icons who very much aligned with Steve Jobs’ definition of the “crazy ones”, but never directly talked about a Macintosh. Instead, Apple aimed to target those who identified as non-conformist, radical or free-spirited. Think Different was the winner of a campaign which propelled Apple Inc to technological and cultural greatness.

Unsung Heroes (2014)

Do you remember sobbing countless times to Thai ads, which consistently proved to be tearjerkers? Because we sure do. And we’ve usually always shed tears to what seemed to be a heartbreaking tale, only to be revealed as something completely unexpected. In Unsung Heroes, nearly three minutes are dedicated to portraying an emotional story that compels viewers to delve deep into their lives and themselves what it is they desire the most in life.

Smell Like A Man, Man (2010)

Can you believe this brilliant Old Spice campaign is ten years old already? Here’s the best part – instead of targeting its intended audience (straight men), it speaks to the women in their lives. The ads focused on highlighted the macho vibe associated with the product, but never the actual product itself.

Experts prefer to focus on selling the sizzle because it gives them the opportunity to reach a wider, hungrier audience. While you still have to present them with an actual steak, your audiences will be salivating, ready to tear into anything you serve.

Want to make your brand irresistible? Talk to us at [email protected]

Honey, How Does My Make-Up Look?

Rebranding is merely about getting a new logo and a new website. Or is it?

Let’s say you’re starting a new business. Your new business needs a face and identity – a basic kit of deliverables that define what your business looks like. These usually consist of a logo, business cards, letterhead, a website. But where do you find them?

Others who have pondered this question and taken to the internet to find answers have  likely bought their “branding kit” off a stock image site, or hired a freelance graphic designer. Much to the horror of designers, some have resorted to the infamous Microsoft Paint, or worse, Comic Sans!

Lo and behold, branding problems: solved! Time to focus on the real business.

Or so you thought.

It’s not uncommon for companies to “rebrand”, even if they have gotten their branding right from the very start.

Here’s the truth: changing your logo or using a different colour for your website is merely makeup – it doesn’t do much for your brand on a deeper level. Branding involves more than just switching up your aesthetics: it includes how you interact with your audiences. Before you consider any course of action, here’s an important question you need to ask yourself : what, exactly, is branding?

To understand branding, we must understand what exactly a brand is. Here is a quote from branding expert, Marty Neumeier:

“A brand is a person’s gut feeling about a product, service or company…In other words, a brand is not what YOU say it is. It’s what THEY say it is.”

Branding is the marriage of business strategy and creativity, a process which transcends the superficial. When you know what your company stands for, its core values, and what it has to offer, you have on your hand, a strong brand. Zero in upon this before externalising them as logos, websites, or other materials.

Many companies often look to agencies for their expertise in creating or revamping a brand. A good agency will do a full, thorough audit of your company before making any suggestions, aesthetic or otherwise. Established, charismatic brands do not do makeovers unless their business changes dramatically. After all, branding should be iconic enough to stand the test of time.

Answer these three fundamental questions before deciding to build your brand, or do a complete rebrand:

  1. Who are my customers?

Like a regular health check up, this foundational question is worth revisiting every once in a while. Discover more about who your customers really are – their hopes, dreams, and motivations. Learn more about them, and you will learn much about your brand in the process

  1. Who should be my customers?

“Everyone”is not the right answer. Your brand and products cannot please everyone – frankly, trying to do so is futile and nothing but a waste of your precious time and resources. Zero in on a primary target audience, and work hard to attract and retain them into being long-term customers. Who is your dream client and what do they look like? If you can find out more about their interests, motivations and propensity to purchase, you will be able to reach them faster.

  1. What makes me unique?

Distinguishing yourself from your competitiors could either be as easy as examining what’s already working for your brand, or as difficult as finding a needle in a haystack. Branding experts will deconstruct your brand, stripping it down to its bare essentials until nothing remains but the truth about itself. From there, your agency will work with you to create a brand that sets you apart from the competition and appeals to your target audience.

Rebranding can be a challenging process, but when done right it will align what you have to offer with your customers’ desires.

Aesthetically-pleasing design is a valuable tool, but can only do so much to enhance your brand, which must be built upon a solid strategy. Despite being a challenging experience, rebranding will help align your company’s offerings to your customers desires.

Ready to win over new customers?  Write to us at at [email protected]!

Promoting Sincerity: The Marketing Power of BTS

“Do you know BTS?”

The oft-repeated line began as a question that Jin, one of the members of K-pop group BTS, would ask random people during the group’s early days, when few outside of South Korea were aware of them. But now, Jin asks this question semi-ironically, knowing many people around the world know exactly who the group is. Which is to say, if you don’t know BTS, you haven’t been paying attention.

Since their debut in 2013, BTS has been making headlines, topping music charts, and breaking linguistic and cultural barriers across the world in a way that no other Korean act has. In 2018, BTS’ popularity boomed worldwide, and in Singapore, tickets to their 19 January concert at the 55,000-seat National Stadium sold out in four hours. Demand for tickets to watch their documentary, Burn the Stage: The Movie crashed the Shaw Theatres website for hours and they were the second most listened to artist on Spotify in Singapore.

But what is it about these seemingly normal young men that draws in the masses and turns everything they touch into marketing gold?

  1. Sincere messaging and communication

The group’s popularity is largely thanks to the socially conscious lyrics they often pen themselves, their brotherly group dynamics and their impressive stage performances. But their use of social media and passion marketing are factors to their success that cannot be ignored – and that we can all learn from.

Passion and sincerity are important elements of any marketing and social media strategy, but it can be hard for these to come through in execution – especially because consumers can sense when a brand is faking it. But brands that are successful in communicating their passions genuinely will find that an audience is more willing to engage with and support them; a fact that BTS can attest to. Their savvy use of multiple social media platforms, including Twitter, Weibo, and VLive, allows them to communicate with their fans, known as ARMY, and provide them with content that both functions as added value and extends their messages.

  1. Unique and relevant storytelling

Since the group’s debut, they’ve used their songs to critique the society they grew up in through lyrics that decry South Korea’s education system; reject the idea that Millennials and Gen Z are lazy; and denounce socio-economic hierarchies in South Korea. The group’s progressive views are what initially attracted many fans – they found BTS to be not just talented, but resonant. For example, in their Love Yourself series, BTS explores how the journey of self-love is complicated and difficult, if also joyous and ultimately worthwhile – a poignant cause for a group from the nation with the second highest suicide rate in the world to champion.

Beyond this, BTS and their parent company, Big Hit Entertainment, have created a complex fictional universe – known as Bangtan Universe, or BU – in which the unchronological story of seven friends is told. What’s unique about this storytelling is that it’s gone beyond music video content and short films, spilling over into printed content called “The Notes” that came bundled with the Love Yourself albums, but that are also sometimes released via Twitter, and through a webtoon, launched on 17 January.

This combination of inspirational yet relatable lyrics with multi-platform storytelling has not only gained an audience, but hooked them.

  1. Use of free content

All seven members of BTS regularly take to Twitter to share their lives with their nearly 18 million followers. Big Hit Entertainment also provides BTS photos and videos – ranging from teasers and music videos to behind-the-scenes footage and even things like 100 seconds of a BTS member eating snacks – on YouTube, Instagram and Facebook.

The majority of this content is provided for free. ARMY has even confounded the music industry by purchasing music they can obtain for free. The support for the group and the belief in what they communicate means their world tours sell out, their feature film-length documentary saw global box office results of over S$25 million, and their label is estimated to be valued at nearly S$3 billion. Where other brands struggle with translating a social media following and free content into sales conversions, Big Hit has yet to face that issue.

Of course, this sort of loyalty isn’t won overnight, but brands can learn from BTS’ unwavering dedication to the cause and constant stream of relevant content to drive and nurture their audience’s affection.

The power of passion

In the end, it isn’t flashy outfits, catchy beats and multi-tiered marketing campaigns that fuel BTS’ truly impressive global presence – it’s relevant messages of change, sincerity, love.

Though these messages are genuine, they have also worked as brilliant marketing tools and content pillars, skyrocketing the group to international acclaim. It is through this that BTS and Big Hit have succeeded in demonstrating passion marketing at its finest, positioning the group as thought leaders and voices of their generation. But more importantly, they have created genuine reciprocity between BTS and their ARMY.

How to get the most out of your relationship with your marketing agency

A client-agency relationship is more than just a business transaction. It takes more than charismatic account management and savvy sales pitches to make the relationship really work. What many agencies and clients miss, is in the on boarding process– from the business objectives to the culture. Here are 5 key points to help you kick-start an awesome partnership with your marketing agency:

Invest some time

Given that you’re trusting this agency with the reputation of your brand, you need to feel confident about the ability and reputation of the team. Plus,  actually getting on well with the people you’re dealing with has a huge impact on your relationship – so don’t be afraid to explore the company culture, values and, of course, technical expertise. Developing authentic, trusted connections with your customers is at the heart of marketing; similarly, you need to feel confident in your relationship with your agency. The best way to do this? Invest some time when it comes to finding out a little bit more about the agency, whether it be heading over for a lengthy chemistry meeting, going out to lunch or arranging a happy hour.

Agree to a communication plan

At the start of any new client relationship, a communication plan should be mutually agreed upon from day one. 

Some tips to consider when agreeing to a clear communication plan:

  • How often and how you’ll catch up, whether it’s in person or over a call
  • Your point of contact – Knowing exactly who your liaison is saves a lot of time and effort when you’re in need of a prompt  response
  • The agreed goals and objectives for your business and what you expect from your agency.
Set measurable key performance indicators (KPIs)

In order to keep up with and evaluate the performance of your campaigns, your agency will need to provide you with specific metrics against which to benchmark success. These should be based on business goals and expectations that were set out at the very beginning of your relationship. Reviewing them thoroughly will allow for greater productivity moving forward, and will also signal when there needs to be a change in strategic direction as well.

Make your meetings count

No matter how often or seldom your meetings occur,  preparation will enable you to get the most value from your meetings with your agency and negate the need for continuous threads of emails or calls outside your regular meetings.

Tips:

  • Agree upon an agenda before each meeting. This will give you the opportunity to include topics that are a priority
  • Have objectives clearly defined before the meeting
  • Ensure all relevant people are present to allow decisions to be made
Make the most of your agency’s expertise

You know your brand and industry the best. Similarly, your agency will know the latest developments and technologies in their industry best. In order to optimise your campaigns, they should be able to anticipate twists and turns, and should have the ability to adapt quickly when things don’t go as first planned or when new opportunities arise.

Your agency should always work according to your agreed plan and scope, but flexibility is crucial to the success of your campaign performance. Not only does this benefit your outcome, but its encourages your trust in them to be able to deliver on outcomes that matter to you.

At the end of the day, your agency contains a wealth of knowledge and expertise, so use it! Explore all the ways you can learn from them;  whether it’s downloading guides, reading their blog or regular newsletter or simply asking questions your agency can help you grow your own skill set.

Want to talk more about how an agency of experts could help your business? Drop us a line at [email protected]

4 PR Takeaways from the Winter Olympics 2018

The frozen mountains of South Korea have seen much action over the last two weeks, as Olympians brave the freezing temperatures and unforgiving landscapes to bring glory to their countries. As the 2018 Winter Olympics draws to a close, here’s a few PR lessons to consider:

Relatability is key

Brands should take a page out of teen virtuoso Chloe Kim’s book- even in the middle of competition, the Olympic gold medalist shamelessly tweeted about her dog, being “hangry” and her eyeliner. Her sincere and heartfelt posts won over netizens, making her one of the most popular athletes in the 2018 Winter Olympics.

While we don’t suggest that your brand blog about everything under the sun, it is necessary to speak the language of consumers. Chloe Kim became everyone’s best friend almost overnight because she came across as a regular teenage girl to her peers despite being an accomplished athlete. Similarly, your brand should engage with your target audience in a way that feels authentic, relatable and honest. Speak the language of your consumers, and encourage two-way dialogue wherever possible.

Switch things up

Historically, figure skating costumes have been always been gendered. This year, Hungary’s Ivett Toth, France’s Maé-Bérénice Méité and Latvia’s Diana Nikitina were amongst the few women skaters who challenged status quo by ditching the usual skirts and dresses in favour of embellished bodysuits. Ivett Toth’s leather-and-AC/DC routine made her an instant internet sensation.

Similarly, the PR industry has undergone massive changes in the past century. Digital disruption and the emergence of a new generation that perpetually lives online presents a new set of challenges to brands. To keep things fresh and interesting, your business must come up with unexplored ways of reaching out to potential consumers. Amp up your communication game by daring to go where your competitors have not ventured before — and, your customers are bound to sit up and take notice of you.

When the spotlight is on you, shine

For two weeks, South Korea had the world’s undivided attention as top political leaders, elite athletes, tourists and journalists congregated in PyeongChang to experience the 2018 Winter Olympics. While South Korea has consistently engaged in a display of “soft power”, courting the international community with entertainment and technology,  the last few years have been focused on their diplomatic squabbles with neighbour North Korea. The success of the Winter Olympics will not only bring long-term economic prosperity to South Korea, but will also give the country a chance to shift its narrative from disgruntled neighbour and producer of K-Pop to an influential player in the international community.

If your business is thrust into the limelight, even unexpectedly- do not shy away from the opportunity to take control of your narrative and create goodwill. Embrace the attention and use it as a springboard to propel your brand to the forefront of your consumers minds’.

Don’t talk unless you have your facts in place

Recovering from a massive “foot-in-the-mouth” moment is much harder in the age of technology and social media and is likely to set you back by a few millions in damage control. American Broadcasting Network NBC is still reeling from their coverage of the Winter Olympics, where a supposed “expert” on Asia made insensitive remarks about the Japanese occupation of Korea. After angry netizens swooped in, NBC was forced to fire the commentator, apologised to the organising committee and read their apology on-air.

The internet has the memory of an elephant and little mistakes can be blown out of proportion. A single gaffe could cost you heavily, which is why it is wiser to subject public statements to several rounds of editing before they are sent out. An embarrassing typo or a glaring factual error could end up as internet fodder, propelling your brand to infamy if you aren’t careful enough.

Want to speak more about your PR campaign or media training? Drop a note at [email protected]