Google Buzz: A Potentially New Marketing Tool

Those of you that uses Gmail should’ve noticed something different after logging into your email account. You should be presented with an additional screen featuring Google’s very new addition… Google Buzz.

Earlier this afternoon Google Buzz went live  after launching it online (in fact, streamed live) over YouTube. It is a brand new social networking tool (somewhat like Twitter) that allows users to share updates, links, photos, videos and more with your Google network. By reading the hundreds of comments posted on YouTube, it would seem as though people have developed a liking for Google Buzz within such a short period of time more than Facebook and even Twitter!

Don’t get me wrong, Google Buzz may not be the Facebook killer but it may appear to be just as significant. As you would have probably figured out on your own, Facebook interacts on a more personal level where you keep in touch with families, friends and co-workers with the many interactive tools and games provided for. Yes, no doubt it can (and is) used by companies to communicate with their prospects and clients but note: the keyword here is communicate.

Google Buzz may end up being in more useful places, away from the consumer social networks into businesses. Google Buzz leans more towards a collaborative tool, something you would want to use to figure out what’s going on right now that’s really important or get something done in a directed, collaborative manner. In other words, it opens up existing intranets in a social nature, doing away with emails forwarded, carbon copied, blind carbon copied to tons of people. Groups of people can now collaborate and share information effortlessly.

Though it may not seem impressive to you at this point of time, Google Buzz may just become a Buzz due to its open API concept, allowing developers from all over the world to improve on its functionality, making it the next big thing online.

To sum it up, Google is not trying to wage war and eliminate Twitter (though it was their first mission). Their main objective is to create a collaboration tool for enterprises. And if you think about it, Google has been targeting enterprises ever since. Gmail for email communication, GDocs for document processing, GChat for instant communication, GApps for productivity (calendar, to-do-lists, etc) and now – GBuzz for collaborative work!

Will Google Buzz work? Or will it end up like Google Wave? You decide!

Spring Cleaning…

It is that time of the year again – the Lunar New Year! It is a time where there are traffic jams everywhere, packed shopping malls and the time to make some effort to do spring cleaning: your offices, your homes, your cars… your Brand?

Yes, you heard that right – your Brand may be in need of spring cleaning too! Here are 3 areas you may want to look at and start cleaning right away:

1. Customers’ Experience
This includes from prospecting, giving customers choices, follow-up, the sale itself and after-sale service.

Like it or not, a Brand is as good as its customers’ perception. It can only be THE Brand if it receives the liking and the support of the customers. Your Brand can be out there for 50 years in business but if your customers do not return or even talk about you, your Brand is in need of spring cleaning.

Be in touch with them and go beyond mere sales! Your customers have feelings and they like being acknowledged, appreciated and not being seen as an ‘income’. Utilize technology, collect a database of prospects/customers, greet them by name, give them more value out of your service, connect using emails, newsletters, Facebook, Twitter, Blogs and etc.

2. Staff / Team Experience
Training, development, vision casting, knowledge sharing and more!

Do you know that your sales team (or even yourself) can forget how to sell? I recently read an article from the Sales Ninja about experienced sales people in a public listed company with over 20 years in business, having solid strong relationships with it customers but they flopped in selling a new product. Why and how did this happen? They simply forgot how to sell.

Your staff / team have to be constantly motivated, trained and developed with the same vision and the basics so that they can be always ready on their feet. Remember: one cannot be over-trained. Simply ‘knowing’ won’t get one anywhere, let alone the Brand.

3. Your Own Expectations and Actions

We sometimes take our own expectations lightly or worse, not to have one at all. I’ve came across many individuals saying “I don’t want to expect much.. I may just jinx it”. Familiar? Well, it does have some truth it in. Merely expecting doesn’t make things happen. In many circumstances, we just need to put a foot forward and do it!

To start it of, set daily goals. It doesn’t need to be long. In fact, just start with ONE! It can be as simple as “Greet the people I come in contact with by name”, do it, and have a mini-celebration at the end of the day after accomplishing that goal. Why celebrate? It is also important to reward yourself, your own accomplishments as it is able to give you the confidence to do more, to push yourself further. Continue daily and when you get the hang out of it, set team-wide then department-wide then organization-wide goals and expectations, DO IT and watch your brand propel like never before!

“A Brand’s strength is determined by human factors: prospects/customers, your staff/team and last but not least – yourself.”

So, is it time to spring clean your Brand?

According to Chinese superstition, you must clean your house thoroughly to sweep away misfortune and make way for good luck and fortune in the coming year. The old year and its spirits are banished by sweeping the floors before New Year’s Day. (Don’t sweep on New Year’s Day itself – you’ll sweep away the New Year fortune if you do)

Perhaps it is. Today is a good time to get started!

A&O Corporate Branding Malaysia wishes you the best of your Brand and a Happy Chinese New Year!

The Secret to the Smarter Choice!

In Malaysia, everyone knows, heard or at least find the brand – DiGi (a mobile service provider), familiar and immediately link it to the colour yellow, followed by the yellow man (officiously called YCF – Yellow Coverage Fellow) and the song “I Will Follow You”.

What DiGi has done here is no doubt – Branding. Now, at this point of time you may be thinking along the lines of “but DiGi spent a BOMB on advertising.. I will never get that kind of a budget to spend” or in other words, “branding costs a LOT of money”. That may be true to a certain extend, but do you also know of businesses, companies and organizations that has spent equivalent amount of $$$ but got ZERO returns? I’m sure you do.

So what makes DiGi’s branding movement so successful? Read on!

What DiGi did was unconventional, it was BUZZ. What is BUZZ? Unlike a normal advertisement or a promotion where it starts and fizzles, it starts, explodesand gets everyone TALKING! That is the ultimate difference between mere branding spending and true branding.

BUZZ marketing is one of the most powerful tools in branding as it utilizes the most effective media of all to capture the attention of your customers through personal networks – word of mouth. Believe it or not, word of mouth travels instantaneously especially with today’s technology. Either a bad or good review can immediately show up somewhere online causing hundreds, thousands, and perhaps millions of people reading it! AND, such reviews and comments tend to leave a more lasting impression on individuals. In actual fact, they are forever engraved into the online database. Don’t believe me? Think Facebook! Think Twitter! Think Blogs! These tools aren’t to be messed around lightly as it can be your friend and foe at the very same time.

DiGi's Mascot - The Yellow Coverage Fellow

DiGi's infamous mascot

Being unconventional is one of the keys to BUZZ marketing (I will be giving out more keys on future posts so stay tuned!). DiGi successfully utilized this key by implementing a striking mascot – the yellow man or the YCF. Now pause and think for a bit, who on earth associates telecommunications with man in yellow suits running around? It would have even been a ridiculous thought in the beginning! Well, DiGi did and it caused a storm in Malaysia. People started to talk about it, sharing it with their friends and to find out more about this yellow figure and naturally, the mobile plans that DiGi provides.

Lets put DiGi aside and look at another telecommunications company – Telekom Malaysia (TM). Nothing great, you say? TM recently launched a promotional movement based on the theme “Everyone Connects” and created a massive crowd of followers within a short period of time. They maximized the power of BUZZ and leveraging on today’s technology to spread an initially mysterious video clip online that is said to have won the hearts of Malaysians. People just kept spreading the word (and the video) and they were literally hooked to it! It was also reported in The Star whereby people actually memorized the lyrics to the song to sing-a-long! Whats more is that TM was able to pull a huge street event, closing the roads of Bukit Bintang, KL to have a massive sing-a-long session all these through a video!

That is the power of BUZZ! This is more than advertising.. Yes, it IS advertising, but it is just a TOOL for an effective BRAND MESSAGE – a message that lasts.

Now, is branding advertising? NEVER! Branding… Always The Smarter Choice!

Within every brand is a product, but not every product is a brand…

CK Perfume Advert

Perfume ads often associate sex appeal with their product

The term ‘branding‘ has become so common today that most people, even agencies misuse it interpreting ‘advertising’ into ‘branding‘, therefore creating a public misconception.

“A product is tangible: you can see it, touch it, smell it or even taste it. It has physical attributes – styles, models, features, price and etc.”

An advertisement for a product highlights its physical attributes through packaging, attractive/pretty colours, latest hype, eye catching phrases and even catchy tunes to gain desirability among its consumers. For example, TV commercials for perfume/cologne that often highlights a model’s sex appeal, creating an association between the product and sex appeal.

A brand is a composite of how consumers feel about a product, the personality they attribute to it, the trust they place in it, the confidence it earns from them, the affection they feel for it and above all, their shared experience with the product.

DiGi Logo

DiGi associates its services as the smarter choice over its competitors

An advertisement for a brand highlights the brand’s reliability, quantified market presence and often associated with a product to create a perceived trust among consumers. For example, advertisements in the telecommunications industry in Malaysia whereby the brand’s services, commitment and excellence are often highlighted, creating a perceived reliability and trust just by the mention of the brand although the fact is the service/product offered is similar.

So, is advertising and branding the same? NO! Just as having a product isn’t advertising, advertising isn’t at all branding. Advertising is merely a branding tool to enhance a product’s perceived value in the eyes of the consumers.

The brand is also the most important and sustainable asset a client can have, especially in today’s highly competitive and complex market. A strong brand adds value, resilience and stability, shifts the supply and demand curve right to the bottom line. This profitability is driven by consumer loyalty as the result of a strong relationship between the consumer and the product, tied together by the brand itself.

A strong brand is able to raise the barrier of entry, making competitors think twice before stepping in; It is also able to raise the barrier of exit where existing customers will lose value if they leave as they are bonded to the brand, a relational tie that will not be easily replaced by another.

This is also the role of us, Brand Building Consultants, to build YOUR brand where advertisements alone will NEVER reach as we believe the most valuable service we can provide for our clients is to fully understand, develop and enhance the relationship between a consumer and the brand.