Wednesday, April 25, 2012

The Power of a Memorable Shape

Do you recognize this shape? With what do you associate it? A brand of soft drink, maybe?
If you said Coca-Cola®, then the millions of dollars (if not more) that Coke has spent on advertising and creating and copyrighting this shape has worked. And, yes, Coke holds the rights to this bottle shape. When Coke first started out, there were many competitors who attempted to imitate Coke down to the cursive font used in its logo. Anyone hear of Coca-nola? To make it easy for consumers to find the "real thing," the marketing geniuses at Coke worked with bottle manufacturers to develop this unique hobble skirt bottle. Now consumers would have no problem telling the real Coke from the rest—even in the dark.

This hobble skirt bottle was based on the latest women's fashion of the same name seen in this photo from Wikipedia. It doesn't look very comfortable or allow for much mobility, but it certainly exaggerates a woman's curves. Maybe that was why this bottle shape was so appealing and memorable. ;)

Coke is one of the most well-known brands around the world. From stadiums to restaurants to gas stations to movie theaters, Coca-cola products are sold and their signature colors and unique cursive logo are on full display on the soda machines, refrigerated units, menus, and signs hung on walls and doors at thousands of establishments. (Notice how I didn't include Coke's logo in this blog, but I bet you pictured it perfectly.) Recently, I watched CNBC's Coca-Cola: The Real Story Behind the Real Thing and was inspired by their straightforward—and subconscious—marketing and how this brand has pervaded not only the world but our memories.

When you looked at the bottle's silhouette what did you feel? Did you remember the last time you had a Coke? Was it a pleasurable experience? Were you on vacation, taking a lunch break, watching your favorite football team win the Superbowl?

In CNBC's report, they interviewed Coke executives who talked about Coke's "memory bank." How they purposefully placed Coke products and sponsorships where people enjoy themselves like movie theaters, vacation spots, and arenas. Their early advertisements included Santa Claus, who coincidentally wore the same the colors as Coke's logo. Norman Rockwell painted many of their advertisements showing idyllic Americana scenes where the subjects enjoy a nice, refreshing Coke. All these seemingly very different marketing efforts come together to cause the image and taste of Coke to resonate with us and bring back positive memories of when we enjoyed this beverage. If we are having a bad day, just have a Coke and remember the good times and we'll feel better.

At one point, Coke had dropped the hobble skirt shape from their bottles when they went to plastic, especially from their 2-liter bottles. You may have noticed in recent years, they are employing this curvy shape once again. In fact, they found their transactions increased by 1 million a week when they went back to their signature bottle shape. It just proves how strong the image of Coke's bottle is linked to our memories and how we buy.

As you work on marketing and advertising for your product or service, consider how you can make it more memorable by attaching it to a story or a positive feeling or even highlighting a unique image the consumer will remember—especially when they are ready to purchase.

Thursday, April 5, 2012

Complex Story? Get Inspriation from Game of Thrones and Use a Map

HBO's Game of Thrones premiered last week. For those of you not familiar with this amazing series, it is set in the fictional Seven Kingdoms of Westeros with multiple storylines involving the kingdom's noble families vying for control of the Iron Throne. At the beginning of each episode, they recap what has happened in the previous episodes—very helpful considering the complex story and cast of characters involved in this show. Then I realized the opening credits were just as important to setting the scene as the recaps.

The opening shows a few kingdoms on a map of this fictional land. We see the architectural features that comprise each city and the location (the warm south by the sea versus the cold northern wall). As viewers, we get a sense of where characters are located in relation to each other as the story unfolds. How far are the battlegrounds from these kingdoms? How far are the enemy families from one another? We see the vastness of the land and understand how long it would take to travel between the kingdoms and how far each family's rule reaches. We can compare the different climates and topography that will also influence the characters' skills and political alliances. Overall, it adds to the viewers' understanding of the story.

If your company has worldwide headquarters or does a lot of business across the country in various cities, a map graphic is one of the best ways for customers to understand your reach and ability to personally meet their needs in diverse locations. Being nearby is a benefit to clients who want to know your team can give them the service and attention they desire. What kind of image do you get when I say that we have offices across the United States? It's a vague statement, since there are thousands of cities in the United States where we could have offices. Also, how many offices do we have? Are they central to our clients, if they need one-on-one help? What if I simply gave you the image that shows you exactly where our offices are located and a description of the services offered at those locations? You may find our offices are close to you. Doesn't this paint a clearer picture to help you understand the benefits of using our service?

What would have more impact: telling a client that you provide telecommunications services throughout the Western Hemisphere or showing it?

A map graphic can support your story and demonstrate important details that words alone can't convey. You can find these editable PowerPoint map graphics and many others at BizGraphics On Demand.

If you generate a lot of map graphics and need specific, detailed area maps, check out GMARK PowerPoint Solutions. I met Jamie Garroch, the man behind GMARK, at the Presentation Summit last year. His company created a product called vMaps, which allows you to create in PowerPoint multiple styles of fully editable maps. It's easy to use and at a low price point to fit any budget.

For you next project, consider using a map graphic and show your audience how your vast empire can support them.