Tag Archives: Branding

The Sparkler Cocktail: Celebrate Your Brand


Were you Made in America? Then it’s time to celebrate your brand. Make every day the Fourth of July and rock your taste buds with the patriotic boom of vodka, Pop Rocks candy and fresh fruit. For youngsters, hold the liquor and serve a Virgin Sparkler.

  • 4 oz. lemon lime soda
  • 2 oz. blueberry-flavored vodka
  • Handful fresh strawberries and blueberries (see the theme here?)
  • 1 tbsp. grenadine
  • Garnish rim with 1 package crushed Pop Rocks (red or blue, of course)
  • Serve over ice
  • Tweet Ideopia, or post all drunken selfies on our Facebook

Get the full recipe here. It sure beats the chintzy local fireworks show.

See all of our drink recipes here.

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The Easy Squeezy Branding Beerita


  • 1 (12 fluid once) can frozen limeade concentrate
  • 12 fluid ounces tequila
  • 12 fluid ounces of water
  • 12 fluid ounces of beer
  • Ice
  • 1 lime, cut into wedges

Use beer and join the fight to eradicate frilly fluorescent green margaritas. And for once, we recommend


using craft beer, because it has flavor, and that could mess up the tequila. Use the limeade can to measure the ingredients. Adjust with extra water if the mixture seems too sweet. Or add more tequila. Strain the pulp, unless, you’re really into pulp.

See all of our drink recipes here. Meanwhile, have you noticed how your marketing sings through these Beerita Goggles?

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Custom Emoji’s Add Depth to Brands

You know what emoji’s are : They’re the  little, sometimes annoying smiley faces used to punctuate email and social media posts. Their purpose is to clarify the tone of what’s said or to  extend it’s meaning. We believe that custom emoji’s or a set of custom emoji’s will serve a similar purpose for brands.

Logos anchor brand identity over long-spans of time, while custom emoji’s might come and go. A simple example would be a green brand using a tree to along with its logo symbolize environmental consciousness . We’re excited about the  possibilities. So take a look at a giant version of Ideopia’s emoji and see what you think. Quick translation: eye represents our singular vision of creativity, the clouds are ideas while the many hands reflect our hybrid approach. Tell us  what you think? Have tried anything similar? Feel free to post.

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Medical Marketing is Drowning in a Sea of Blue

In college, a friend gave me William Gass’s novel, “On Being Blue.” He made the color sparkle in ways you can only imagine. But it’s safe to say Gass didn’t work in healthcare marketing.

View our medical and healthcare work at Ideopia Medical Marketing.

Now when I see blue, I see red. It’s the color cocaine of our healthcare and medical device industries. Blue is cool and calming, but – please pay attention here – it’s not a brand. Some CMOs claim that their blue is better, because it’s a few shades away from a competitor.

In healthcare marketing, blue is camouflage for brands that don’t want to stick out, or get noticed by consumers. Of course, it makes perfect sense for institutions plagued with tepid claims like “We care more,” “Be Well,” or my favorite, “We’re the Gold Standard.”

Consumers want reasons to like your hospital or institution. And they’re desperate to understand your brand in pragmatic terms: “We have more board certified orthopedic surgeons,” “ We’re the hospital for kids,” or “Our device is the most sensitive on the market.” We care more? I don’t think so.

Unfortunately blue is a symptom of the brand blahs. It’s a safe place for designers and marketers to play, because the nuts and bolts of a competitive position just aren’t there.

Breaking out of blue isn’t easy. Chances are the decision was made decades ago when you were still scrawling with crayons. Can we please address this by adding new colors to your palette to balance big blue?

Try a pinch of pink with blue, electric blue and blue, or blue with a dab of yellow. It’s a small gesture that could yield big results. Look at the sea of blue booths at trade shows, and consumer facing websites, print, TV, email, logos. Use it, and blue hoo, you’ll give your customers a reason to pay attention to your marketing and they’ll remember when the time comes,  “Take my baby to the hospital with the streak of pink!”

Related: 8 Risky Healthcare Marketing Procedures

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Does Your Brand Smell Good Enough?

We first learned about the power of scent marketing from a savvy homebuilder client that baked fresh cookies and pies in all its model homes. The delicious aromas created a cozy, inviting environment that stirred the positive emotions of home.

The strong tug of scent is rooted in our olfactory smelling apparatus being hard wired to the amygdala and hippocampus, parts of the brain responsible for emotion and mood. This deep connection may explain why scents increase brand recall.

Scents create instantaneous and powerful associations. For instance, a whiff of the ocean might spark a connection with a happy walk on the beach. Or, a hint of lemon might make an office space feel clean and organized. Hardcore marketers treat scent as a brand component on equal footing with logos, color, music and texture.

Scents are distributed by vaporizing them, and pumping them through ventilation systems of office buildings and retail stores.

If you’re a business-to-business company, don’t count yourself out. There’s nothing like a hint of jasmine to sell any machine that pulverizes, crushes or generates huge voltages. Give us a call!

For more information, visit The Scent Marketing Institute.

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Why Stock Photography is Bad for Brands

Consumers crave more involvement with brands and how they are marketed. In addition, they want you to keep it real with authentic communication. Stock photography won’t get you there.

Stock photography is like buying a Walmart photo frame that already has the picture of an attractive family or the ideal girlfriend inserted. You place this memento on your desk at work, and pass the family off as your own. Fat chance. They’re all brunettes. And guessing by how young they look, you started college at age six.

Maybe it seems innocuous that you’ve deprived your coworkers from learning something about the real you, or from recognizing your parents when they drop by the office. Not to worry, the photo will fade into the woodwork and only a handful of people will notice it.

Of all the “brand glue” a company should own, photography and other imagery should top the list. It’s the single fastest way to communicate, and its quality and consistent point of view can immediately identify your brand.

Real Photography is Too Expensive. Balderdash!

Day rates for photographers vary greatly depending on experience, the level of specialization required, and the market. Yes, you will pay at least $2,000 for an original image. But, unlike stock, it will pay off. For instance:

You can often negotiate for full rights to use the image. This means you aren’t paying again every quarter to extend usage, or to secure use for additional applications, e.g. print, web and email. This can add thousands to your budget.

The reason you use a professional photographer is to create an impactful image that you own legally and that’s unique to your brand.

Great images improve advertising recall. A great photo in an ad or website grabs the attention and engages more people than a vanilla image from stock. Even if you only earn a modest increase of 5% in recall, your original photo will more than pay for itself.

A Strategy For Using Less Stock Photography

Crazy turnaround times and tight budgets ensure that the future of stock photography is secure. But that doesn’t mean we have to like it. Here are strategies we’re exploring.

  • Concept ideas that can be executed within a given photo budget. We don’t need to fly to Miami; we can have a local photographer take a brilliant shot of a shell.
  • Leave time in production schedules for photography even if it’s only a day or two.
  • Create fewer executions and hoard budget for photography.
  • When there’s not a large enough budget for original photography, make all-copy ads, use spot illustration, or create your own artwork.
  • Any good campaign has extensions into other media. Anticipate that cost and add it to the photo budget.
  • Don’t try to fake out the stock houses on usage. Most use steganography (embedded codes) to track their images. You’ll get caught, and it will cost you dearly.

There’s a Time For Everything: Even Stock

There are legitimate uses of stock photography, and I admit that we’ve bought more than our share.

  • The subject, e.g. Elvis, is dead.
  • The cost of the shoot exceeds the return you expect on the investment, e.g. flying to the North Pole to snap a few Emperor Penguins.
  • The image only there for support, like a cheese grater in an ad about high cholesterol.
  • The stock photo is used in a composite of other images, e.g. sky, ocean, trees.
    And the harshest pressure of all, the clock running out toward your deadline. An emergency (or business as usual) crushes a production schedule.

How much do you rely on stock photography, and what’s your main reason for doing so? Signup for our e-newsletter, Kloud9, to receive more marketing news from Ideopia.

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Stop Faking It. Get Real with Your Brand.

Slick tricks and smooth talking shuts customers down permanently.

Remember the good old days when advertisers could lie to consumers and get away with it? It sure was a great time for the cigarette industry. Advertisers still lie, but you’ll need bigger cojones and better lawyers. So what’s a brand to do?

Tell the Truth, and Prove It

Does your advertising even sniff of a line like this: Z-Star feature unparalleled service, superior performance, and we’re the sales for (exaggerated number of year). Uh, who cares? Consumers don’t. Brands must be positioned with meaningful benefits. Saying it isn’t enough, you must have a real reason why your brand is better, e.g. “NASA trusts us with its orange juice, and so should you.” Drink Tang. Boom.

Otherwise you risk annihilation on social media and review sites, which spread messages about your brand much more efficiently than any advertising campaign.

Luxury Brands at Risk

A special heads up to luxury brands. An aura of mystique, privilege and exclusivity may not carry the day. Consumers may buy your brand’s cachet, but they’ll also demand pragmatic reasons to make a purchase. A 2011 study at the Edinborough Science Festival found that 460 of its participants could not discern between cheap and expensive wines.

How to Speak with Authenticity

Don’t pander. Don’t “wassup? homey,” with African Americans; “Oy vey,”  with Jews; or “hola,” with Latinos. They’ll spot you as a faker and shut you down  in a second.

Use real people in your brand imagery. We live in a time when our over 13% of population is 65+ and nearly 40% of Americans are obese. I’m not suggesting that we are required to put fat people and old people in every ad. But there needs to be an evolution away from the prototypical emaciated model, too. We’re all imperfect, and our imperfections can actually help us bond with other people. The days of a paid actor endorsement, which just screams fake, are drawing to a close. No wonder so many millennials distrust marketing.

Embrace Criticism

The blowback from honesty is that someone will always disagree. The brilliant cellist Pablo Casals has a hit video on YouTube with more than a million views. Yet 29 people gave it a thumbs down. In the “Mad Men” days advertising this was shrugged off by saying “they weren’t the target audience.” Not today. Your dirty laundry is in the town square for everyone to see. Use complaints as an opportunity to engage online, and show other customers you’re a mensch.

Live the Brand

Listen to consumers on social media. Read review sites. Go on sales calls. Meet distributors. Spy. Until the little voice in your brand is real.

Are you taking steps to get more authentic with your marketing? Tell us in comments below.

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Data, Easy. Ideas, Hard.

Here’s a quote for Joseph Gelman of the Brand Consultancy, Prophet, that practically made us dance.

“Today, coming up with data, analyzing it and transforming it into fact-based recommendations is easy to achieve. Any big company can do it in a very powerful way. The problem is that their competitors can do it too, so developing marketing, branding and innovation decisions based strictly on facts is no longer enough.

“What truly differentiates a brand is taking those facts, completing them with non-traditional sources of inspiration and applying a process to spark creativity and result in powerful ideas.

“And this is truly hard to do.”
(via American Marketing Association)

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Chicken Sexing and Your Brand

It’s possible that determining the sex of a baby chick is more difficult than branding your company. Oddly enough, they both work in similar ways.

At one day old, the male and female chicks look exactly alike. While scientists can explain the minutiae of wing color, and where to find the BB-sized ovaries of the female chick, these observations don’t fly down on the farm.

The Zen Nippon School of Chicken Sexing in Nippon, Japan is known for training the most successful chicken sexers. The curriculum is simple. The student stares at the rear end of the chick and announces whether it’s male or female. The master standing nearby says “yes” or “no” and the chick is tossed in the appropriate bin.

Over a period of weeks the student gradually becomes an expert. This isn’t garden-variety deductive logic at work. It’s our unconscious mind learning through pattern recognition, colors, shapes, textures and associations. Sound familiar? It’s the same way we’re reminded by a glimpse of a shape, color or font. While you may remember the plot or the headline of an ad, great branding communicates a powerful message that the unconscious brain deciphers. There you go, chicken sexing and branding, now we all have a backup plan.

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Use the News to Create Buzzy Campaigns

A quick public relations reaction to news that relates to your brand can spur exceptional results. After all, your customers are already tuned into the news. All you need to do is weave in a relevant story about your brand. Procter and Gamble, for example, immediately responds to oil spills by donating Dawn dishwashing detergent. The community relations effort drives millions in free publicity while embedding a key brand message about Dawn’s cleaning power.

You don’t need a billion dollar advertising budget to harness the same concept. After Sony announced that it would cease floppy disk production, Ideopia pounced on this news to unseat one of its client’s competitors, whose medical device is dependant on floppies. Yippee!

The Advantage of News Tie-ins

  • Built-in and sensitized audience
  • Credibility of third party endorsement, e.g. “Silicon Valley News says the floppy is dead.”
  • Relevancy. It’s happening now, not six weeks from now when your next ad campaign launches.

Unearth News Tie-ins for Your Brand

  • Monitor keywords and trending topics in social media
  • Track online publications using Google Alerts
  • Keep micro audiences in mind. It may not be news for June and Ward, but it could blow the top off your industry.

Develop a Quick Response Mentality

  • Create an infrastructure that can think and act quickly.
  • Social Media and Web: 1-2 hours
  • Print: 24 hours
  • TV and Radio: 12 hours
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