Marketing communications gone wrong.

If you don’t know me, then let me warn you ahead of time that I constantly evaluate my surroundings – especially when it comes to anything related to marketing.  Maybe it’s my passion for the field or maybe my OCD surfacing. Either way, what I’ve encountered is worth discussing and sharing with anyone that is involved in the marketing ecosphere.

Confused Branding. Branding is extremely important when it comes to consumers. How else do you expect your audience to remember you/spread information about your brand?  Logos, especially, help to create a picture that the audience can remember or relate back to the specific brand. I pass a gas station everyday on my way home from work – if you live in Morgantown, W.Va. then you’ve heard of Dairy Mart – and recently noticed that Circle K has acquired them.  The first time I saw their large road sign with a new logo (you guessed it – a ‘K’ with a circle around it) placed over their Dairy Mart signage, I didn’t think much about it. Then I drove past the sign at night.  To my bewilderment, they had placed the new logo over the old and when the sign lit up you could see the words ‘Dairy Mart’ illuminated through the Circle K logo.

I chose to visit the store last night, and to my surprise (well, I wasn’t really surprised) they had not only confused customers outside, but had also neglected to remove the Dairy Mart brand decals from the wall before placing the new Circle K logo over them. In the marketing world, this slip in branding is a real faux pas. First, they have confused their customers – I don’t know if I’m visiting a Dairy Mart or a Circle K? Second, their branding screams, “I don’t care about appearance or accuracy.” It doesn’t make me respect their brand. Third, they can expect that when customers try to talk about their brand they’ll have no idea which brand they should reference or, if they do get it correct, they will probably talk or laugh about how amateur the brand looks.

My advice: If you’re going to acquire a brand, acquire it to its fullest extent. Plan it out…be precise…take the extra time and present the new brand in the most positive light possible. Your brand will suffer if you confuse customers, so avoid it at all costs.

Email Marketing Overkill. We’ve all had it happen. You’ve been so annoyed with email that you take a hiatus from it hoping that when you check it again all the spam and junk mail magically deletes itself. But it doesn’t.  Then you open it up to find 20 messages from the same brand or company that will not leave you alone.  How irritating?  Well, Victoria’s Secret you have successfully killed every retail brand’s hopes at marketing to me through email.  If you’ve ever shopped at VS and given them your email address, you know exactly what I’m talking about. It’s completely unnecessary to send me an email EVERY DAY telling me about your new product or deal. It’s also unnecessary to send me an email any time after 8 p.m. That’s my “chill” time. Believe me when I hit chill mode, the last thing I’m going to do is buy a product from your brand now that you disturbed my sacred time.

My advice: Email marketing involves strategy; without strategy, you can expect that the email campaign will fall flat.  Consumers are bombarded with junk mail all day, every day, so it is important to avoid sending too many branded emails.  Instead of ensuring sales, consumers are guaranteed to unsubscribe or ignore your brand.  A couple emails per week will be sufficient – depending on your business, unless there is a special occasion. The old adage, “Timing is everything,” is also central to email marketing.  There are certain times consumers are more likely to open an email and actually read it, and times that marketers must respect. My preference is no emails before 8 a.m. or after 6 p.m.  It may take a few times evaluating the campaign to find an effective time that generates successful open rates, but it will be worth the extra work. Subject lines can make or break the campaign, too. Be concise and compelling to guarantee maxim interest. Remember: Strategy, strategy, strategy.

Spelling and grammar errors kill the brand.  There is nothing that ‘grinds my gears’ more than simple spelling and grammar errors. Some individuals may look past it, but others (like me) will remember it.  Spelling and grammar mistakes scream: Unprofessional.  They also scream: Careless. Lately I’ve seen a lot of these mistakes committed by brands and/or organizations.  There are far too many to discuss specifically, so I’ll just be simple and sweet. Take the extra time to ensure that all marketing communication materials are correct. Make your list and check it twice, because once that material is in front of an audience it can’t be retracted.