consumer behavior

Keen on Green: Pantone Announces 2017 Color of the Year

It’s official. The 2017 color of the year is green, according to Pantone, the color experts who have been surveying world trends for decades to determine which color best captures the global moods of the day.
Pantone describes this year’s color, officially called Greenery, as a “zesty yellow-green shade that evokes the first days of spring.”
Green has long served in fluid roles ranging from calming neutral to vibrant virtuoso—and it pairs beautifully with many other colors.
It may reflect a desire for balance in a modern world, appealing to the human yearning to experience the beauty of nature. It also suggests vitality, rejuvenation, and growth—all attributes humans are drawn to quite likely because they suggest hope.
When we choose colors for a creative project, we use color theory to evoke certain brand attributes that fit our client’s visual strategy. Green has often been our choice when we want to evoke healing, calm, peace, growth, vitality, and freshness. As the most restful color for the human eye, its pervasiveness in nature makes it a color with broad acceptance across demographics. And as is always the case, the shades of green evoke different nuances.

Here are two examples of how we used greens to convey freshness in Key Technology’s annual report. As an international manufacturer of innovative food processing equipment, they make it possible for companies to deliver fresher food products.
Expect to see more of this color in fashion, products, and graphic design in the year ahead.
We like their choice this year, but what do you think? Is this a color you’d be happy to see more of?

Hello Yellow: Say Hi to the Color That Shouts

Colors create a reaction in our brain, and yellow, more than any other, gets noticed. It’s the color to use if you want to get someone’s attention—particularly when paired with high contrast colors like black type.
But like all colors, it has its place. According to Print, you’re less likely to see it on apps and websites than book covers, taxis and caution signs. It signals anything from cheery to danger, so has to be used with care.
But on a shelf of books, your eye will surely move first to the yellow ones, which may be why yellow is having a resurgence in book covers.
Can you see yellow being used in your company?

Image Source: Print Magazine

Five Consumer Holiday Shopping Trends That Will Affect Your Business in 2016

Consider Google’s recent insights on shopping for the holidays:

  • More decisions are made in micro-moments throughout the day—like when waiting, walking or commuting.
  • More decisions are made on the phone—up to 30%, according to Think With Google. In fact, shopping-related searches have grown more than 120% in the last year. And 82% of smartphone users will consult with their phone while they are in the store.
  • 32% of shoppers plan to use video for holiday purchases.
  • 64% of smartphone viewers would rather watch a video to answer questions than pick up a phone or read a manual.
  • Sundays are the biggest shopping days. And yet, the day when more businesses have shorter hours or are closed altogether.

Perhaps the biggest shift is that we have gone from focusing on a given task to splintering tasks into hundreds of bite size moments, according to Lis Gevelber, VP Marketing at Google.

Gevelber says these moments “are increasingly where hearts, minds and dollars are being won and lost…. And companies that measure and respond to micro-moments are gaining a very big edge on the competition. Mobile is the new from door to your brand and your stores. Are you at the door, ready to help?”*
So what does this mean for your business—even if you aren’t in retail? Often, the service industry will lag retail trends, but retail trends are a harbinger of consumer behaviors that will come your way. Here’s what you can do right now to respond to these:

  • While mobile must be a central part of any marketing strategy, having a mobile-friendly site is not enough. The content that your customers most crave must be available and easy to use on mobile.
  • Attention spans are shorter, so content you want to convey has to be delivered as snackables—short messages that fit between a myriad of other tasks.
  • Consumers want content in video form—and frequently will choose it over “reading”.
  • Can your customers find what they want on weekends and evenings—when they have discretionary time?

Now’s a good time to think about how these trends will affect your business, and to ask what your competitors are doing better than you are in each of these categories.

* Source: Micro-Moments and the Shopper Journey

Create Micro-moments for Your Clients

Whether or not we like it, we are increasingly people of the moment—or even the micro-moment. We hear about a book and want to order it right then. We see a plant and want to identify it, or spot those fabulous boots and want to buy them.
What does this mean for marketers? You already know that mobile use is sky-rocketing. But it also means that your digital presence is vital. How you look and feel in the first seconds of a customer interaction determines if they’ll stay or go.
Good writing, good design and having a mobile-friendly site isn’t optional any more. It’s imperative. If your company is already there, hooray. But if they’re not, learn to create the moments your clients crave—and see what happens.

Speak To What Your Customer Really Cares About

Fear is a major driver in human behavior, and the birth of a new baby is no exception. While emotions around this event pair both joy and anxiety, before a hospital can ever sell a particular aspect of their service, they need to allay the fears of the new mom.
This ad starts by showing that this hospital team absolutely understands the emotional turbulence of pregnancy, and that they are completely prepared for all of the things you’re worried about. It moves the new mom from worry to calm by inviting them back to their own place of wonder.
Although the text is short, it’s a very strategic journey designed to connect, draw in and evoke an emotional tie with the physicians and the hospital.
What fears does your service or product allay for your customers?

Is it Time for Your Brand to Say Good-bye to Testimonials?

Associative storytelling is the grown-up child of the popular testimonial. It uses story to evoke affinity with customers by allowing the brand to play a secondary role to the values it promotes. In the end, the customer-brand bond this creates is much stronger than one created with a traditional “here’s why you need this” sales approach.
Why is this?
First of all, we’re all tired of being sold to. Selling is pervasive, indiscriminate and wearying. So when we are allowed to enter a story without an overt sales messages, we find not only a respite from intense selling messages, we may even find a piece of ourselves. Yes, we say, we agree with you. Like with this Thai Life Insurance ad, we resonate an idea—in this case, that there are things in life that money can’t buy.
And secondly, associative storytelling feels more respectful to us as consumers. It allows us to make up our minds when we’re ready—rather than being forced to take in a sales message we’re not ready to hear.
We’re not ready to say that testimonials are no longer valuable, but we do believe associative storytelling can be much more effective in building bonds with consumers.

Marketing Madness: Part 3—Beware of Entertainment as a Strategy


People increasingly want to be entertained as part of their communication fare. While there’s a place for this, we caution companies about heading too far down this road unless entertainment is their core business.
This is particularly true in businesses and services that are seen as serious, dignified and honorable. When we look for a doctor, we don’t want him/her to treat our situation as light or humorous. Competence and humor can be at opposite ends of the spectrum.
While today’s consumer may crave entertaining messages, companies need to think twice before stepping into this realm. It’s possible that lots of clicks and shares of a humorous video can actually be a bad thing, telling the wrong story about your company.

Marketing Madness: Part 2—Why Counting Clicks Could Be Your Most Deadly Strategy


It’s time we challenge the prevailing idea that online traffic necessarily equates to loyalty and purchases.
Make no mistake: You can create content that goes wild on the social media meter, but that does nothing for your brand image or customer loyalty. We’re not saying you shouldn’t pay attention to clicks and shares and traffic, but that it is often not put in its rightful place as an indicator of traffic—rather than an indicator of loyalty and relationship.
Ultimately, your digital strategy should build relationships that result in revenue for your company and benefit for your client. Getting the customer to your website is the first step.
But the next and vital steps are helping them see how your product or service would be valuable to them, which in turn will generate sales.
Stay tuned for more in our series on Marketing Madness.

2015 Cultural Trends Business People Should Know About

If you’re in the business of communicating or marketing, then you’ll want to know about cultural trends.  
Here’s a quick little slide show that can give you a snapshot of trends—from lifelogging and cardboard products to The Alternet and moodgeisting (technologies that read emotion). While many of these may not take off, some will. So strap yourself in and take a glimpse into the year ahead.
Do you see any trends here that suggest business opportunities in your industry?

10 Guidelines for Naming Your Business

Naming your new product, service or business is about so much more than whether you like the name. Each word in the name carries with it meanings—some of which are pervasive and others which are nuanced.

Here are 10 guidelines we use when working with clients looking for a name:

  1. In most cases, names that make it immediately clear what the business is will help your prospective customers engage sooner. If I’m looking for a florist and words like “flowers” or “florist” are in the name, I immediately see that this is the kind of business I’m searching for. There are exceptions, of course, but we know that when the brain spots a word it recognizes, the process of searching is made easier.

  2. The name should be distinctive and memorable.

  3. The name should import or evoke the desired brand attributes. If your business is competing in and industry known for fun, for example, then the name needs to evoke that.

  4. Take into consideration what its acronym spells (in any language).

  5. The name should be easy to pronounce, as sometimes it will be only heard and not seen (think audio-only ads).

  6. The name should both sound good and look good visually on an ad, billboard, website or in a logo.

  7. Check domain name availability and buy it quickly once you have consulted your legal counsel. And here’s a word of caution. Some domain sites actually buy-up names you search for as part of their business strategy, so you can look up their availability one day and later come back to find it is no longer available—except if you want to pay the higher price they’ve now attached to it.

  8. If it’s a made-up word—like OptiTru or XyPhil—you’ll need the budget to teach the public what it means. Made-up names don’t signal any reference point in the reader’s brain. This can be good, if you want to create the brand from ground up—but bad if you don’t have a lot of money to spend.

  9. If there will be multiple locations, make the name flexible to accommodate those.

  10. If it’s a sub-brand, think through the implications of its relationship—visually and otherwise—to the master brand.

3 Ways to Help Your E-message Get Read

Using targeted email, e-letters or e-blasts to get heard? Then you already know that unsolicited messages, or those that you initiate, play by different rules than messages that readers seek out.

Here’s why. Today’s email reader:

  1. Decides within the first few seconds whether to keep reading. So if it isn’t relevant or looks too overwhelming—with lots of grey text and no visual interest—your reader won’t go further.
  2. Doesn’t want to work hard to see if there’s something of interest to him or her.
  3. Gets too much communication. If the spam filter doesn’t filter it out, they’ll attempt to triage it quickly—based on those first two to three seconds. First impressions are everything.
  4. Scans, rather than reads. And does so in this order:
       •  Pictures
       •  Headlines
       •  Subheads and captions
       •  Bulleted lists
       •  Last of all, blocks of text
    If you can’t interest them with the first few, they won’t go further.

Today’s e-communication has to get past obstacles to get read. Here are three tips:

  1. Get the reader’s attention and keep them from leaving. Make an offer, offer content they relate to or show a picture the reader will connect with.
  2. Make it easy for them to find what they’re looking for. Don’t bury it inside long paragraphs, but giving them directional signs—like captions, subheads or bulleted lists.
  3. Make a call to action that’s easy to spot. Link to more information, a phone number or an email address.

Remember that when you initiate the communication, it’s up to you to make it interesting enough for the reader to commit time to it. And that begins by knowing how your readers will take in information and what obstacles will prevent them from getting your message.

The Secret to Selling: What Great Leaders Know

Why do some companies outperform others? Why do some people achieve things others do not? Why do some leaders inspire, while others don’t?

In this Ted Talk, Simon Sinek asserts that all great leaders think, act and communicate differently than others. They stay focused on the question of “Why?”—which engages humans at a deeper level than facts alone.

Sinek says that people will buy what you sell if they believe what you believe. As he said, Martin Luther King gave a “I have a dream” speech, rather than “I have a plan” speech. In marketing, this means talking more about why we do what we do than about what we do.  

What’s the why behind your business? And how might that inspire others to buy what you have to sell?

A Simple Way to Increase Your Facebook Impressions by 50 Percent

Screen shot 2012-02-09 at 11.19.16 AM.jpg

Jeff Bullas cites a study by that evaluated 10,000 Facebook and Twitter posts by 8,000 small businesses across 50 industries and found the following content drives engagement the most:

  1. Photo posts. They received 50 percent more impressions than any other type of content.

  2. Quotes. These provided 22 percent more interactions compared with other types of posts.

  3. Questions. They generated nearly twice as many comments as any other post type.

The report also showed that links were 87 percent more likely to be shared than any other type of post.

What pages do you frequently visit that do this well?

The American Dream in Transition: What Americans Really Think

In his insightful book, The Way We'll Be , veteran pollster John Zogsby draws on thousands of surveys to reveal four mega trends that are shaping how Americans view the world:

  • Living with limits as consumers and citizens
  • Embracing diversity of views and ways of life
  • Looking inward to find spiritual comfort
  • Demanding authenticity from the media, our leaders and institutions

Led by today's 18-29-year-olds, America's first "global" generation, Americans are becoming more internationalist, consensus-oriented and environmentally conscious—and less willing to identify themselves by what they do or how they spend their money.

Leaders and marketers who want to better understand how Americans think and what they believe will find this a valuable read.

What a Pollster Can Tell You About Reaching Consumers

Are you reaching America's consumers with messages they care about? Consider these four emerging consumer perspectives as you craft your firm's messaging:

1. Individualistic

America has always had a distinctly individualistic view of life, but this characteristic is becoming even more pronounced as consumers find their hopes in institutions dashed.

Choice, independence, and personalized service are messages they warm to.

2. Yet global

Even as their trust in institutions declines, they are not just focused on their own corner of the planet.

Their interests are global, not just local,

and they connect with organizations with similar interests.

3. Interested in sustainability

Consumers, especially the younger ones, want sustainability, and want to do business with companies that share those values. Demonstrating your company's focus on global sustainability—not just national—will resonate with them.

4. Not just young

Retirees are living longer and hold vast resources of discretionary income. But they're looking for more than just relaxation. Talk to them about matters they care about and that contribute meaning to their lives—and tap into their life experiences within your own organization.

Source: The Way We'll Be, John Zogsby, Chapter 3. Buy it here.