VR, AR, AI, Oh my!

Virtual Reality (VR), Augmented Reality (AR), Artificial Intelligence (AI)… If your head is spinning, you’re not alone. It’s a lot to keep up with, and even more difficult for your business to master.

Customers crave a more transformational experience with brands, products, services, and information. And there’s power in delivering those experiences.

Augmented Reality is defined as “a type of interactive, reality-based display environment that takes the capabilities of computer generated display, sound, text and effects to enhance the user’s real-world experience.” It is predicted Augmented Reality will grow to be a $35 billion industry by 2022! Talk about opportunity knocking!

So, how are brands using AR effectively and strategically to not only increase brand awareness but to create meaningful customer experiences (and loyal fans?) How to do go beyond the gimmick and make AR work for your company? How does AR become your brand differentiator?

Here’s how industries and brands are leveraging AR to do more than simply impress and entertain.

There’s an app for that

Nike is using Augmented Reality to assist shoe buyers to not only find the right shoe for their activity, but the correct SIZE. Their research showed up to 60% of their customers were purchasing the wrong size shoe, which was leading to more returns and more unhappy customers. Their sizing app, Nike Fit, lets buyers scan their feet at home to get their correct size (within a 2mm of accuracy which, we don’t measure things with rulers much these days but we’re pretty sure that’s super close to perfect) The result – a rise in consumer confidence, more brand loyalty, and fewer returns.

How Will I know?

Companies like Ikea, Wayfair, Target, and Amazon are augmenting the purchases of items, especially larger ones like furniture, and allowing buyers to “try before they buy” — you can virtually place the item in the room to see the piece in the real world before buying and potentially assembling (and we all know the joys of assembling an IKEA piece…) The result again is consumer confidence and a higher likelihood the buyer will ultimately make that big-ticket purchase.

Not sure if you’ll love a paint color? Try it out through AR and get it right the first time — companies like Sherwin-Williams are having extreme success with their ventures into Augmented Reality paint selection and it’s reinforcing the brand’s commitment to helping customers get it right the first time.

Don’t Just Tell Me, Show Me

We all know how essential visuals are to a brand. AR is taking this fact to an elevated level (basically, it’s like a picture times a million). Gone are the days of just showing an illustration to explain how something works. Or dropping a logo onto a piece of collateral to brand it as your own. The possibilities are endless when it comes to AR showing, versus telling, about your brand.

Jack Daniels is using AR to bring customers into the whiskey manufacturing world to immerse them in the distillery and makes the brand more relatable. The bottle’s label becomes a virtual pop-up storybook to show consumers the process, the location, and the history of the company. And, frankly, it’s just cool to watch.

Make The World a Better Place

Augmented Reality is being used as assistive technology for the visually impaired. One service “connects blind and low-vision people to highly trained, remotely-located agents.” The goal of this brand is to make information available to everyone regardless of disability, making life more full and enjoyable and further enhance everyday experiences.

Social and Search

Social media platforms have been on board with the utility of AR, and are leading the charge. Snapchat and Instagram have built entire identity on filters, which brands are now monetizing into awareness, relationship building, and just plain fun. The use of AR on social communicates the organic voice that a basic post simply cannot convey.

And of course Google is in on the frontlines of AR. Google maps are interactive with walking navigation and visual overlays. Google searches include AR immersive experiences to feel connected to the content that comes up on your next search — it’s fun to see an 18-foot great white shark floating in your backyard as you help your child research sharks for a school project.

Just Plain Fun

A Snapchat filter for a special event is a small investment to create a memorable impact. (Check out the filter we used for our recent RPS Open House event…)

But, be careful. There still has to be value to be, well, valuable to your base. Otherwise, it’s just a novelty that could hurt your brand more than help. Your AR experience has to have a strong message and clear function, and go beyond the initial “coolness” factor.

If your AR experience doesn’t drive customers to take action (buy that IKEA sofa, it’ll fit perfectly!), make an informed decision (that lipstick is totally your color!), meet a customer’s need (“What does this error message mean, oh wise AR tech support guy?), showcase your capabilities (have your smartphone out next time you’re in the RPS offices for our full AR experience), or directly align with your brand’s message and values it could end up being just a novelty (a moment of silence for QR codes…)

Bottom line: Don’t be Pokemon Go (hot one minute, obsolete the next). Using AR, and any other Experiential Marketing tools, correctly can have a lasting, positive effect on your business and brand. The key word — “correctly”.

Four Ways to Improve Your Brand’s Image

Let’s take a look at some of the major brands out there today. These brands serve similar needs, but you’d never mistake Microsoft for Apple, RC Cola for Coca-Cola, or Dunkin Donuts for Starbucks. Why is that? These brands created a positive brand perception through the way they look, what they say and what they do. Not to mention their consistency over the years.

Maybe you’ve developed your company’s brand but there’s no rhyme or reason to it, or maybe it doesn’t seem to match who you really are and what you really do. Creating a brand image combines many factors, but the two we like to focus on here at Rock Paper Simple is your company’s personality and visual presence.

Taking your company’s personality and visual presence into consideration, here are four ways to improve your brand’s image.

1. Corporate Culture

Corporate culture is the foundation of your brand. If your team doesn’t believe in your brand, why should your customer? Often times, we see companies who’ve developed core values they can’t commit to. Not only is it important to develop core values you can commit to but also ones you’re passionate about. Remember, your employees are your most powerful brand advocates and building a brand should start with them.

Here at Rock Paper Simple, we created six core values that define who we are – simplicity, results, integrity, teamwork, community and fun. Each one is defined in one sentence, and each team member is committed to carrying out these core values (or they wouldn’t be on staff!)  If you get the culture right, most of the other stuff – like great customer service and passionate customers – will take care of itself.

(Click here to read our blog post about company culture)

2. Invest In Brand Consistency

Remember those major brands we mentioned at the top of this blog? Well, how do you identify them? By their logo, of course! Your logo is the core visual of your brand and the one-thing customers will associate with your company over and over again.

Brand guidelines have become essential in achieving consistency. If you’re not being consistent, this leaves room for your brand to be misused and misrepresented in the many mediums and platforms that exist today. By establishing your own look across all your marketing and social media channels, your company will stand out amongst the competition. The key is consistency, and like we say here at Rock Paper Simple, “Keep It Simple.”

3. Update Your Website

When it comes to your brand’s presence online, your website should be your highest priority. Now you may be wondering if your website needs to be updated, and if you’re not sure, check out our free Website Checklist resource by clicking here.

If you want your brand to stand out then your website should reflect your brand’s identity. Take it a step further and imagine that same website generating leads and creating conversions. What about eye-catching images, compelling content, a crisp design and fast load times? Sounds too good to be true! But all of that is possible, and users will love engaging with your brand online.

4. Commit More Time to Purposeful Social Media Marketing

Social media gives companies the opportunity to interact with potential customers instantly, yet most small businesses miss the opportunity to engage with prospects because they’re not using social media marketing effectively. Whether you’re trying to manage multiple networks or you don’t even know where to start, consider these three things when creating a strategy:

  • Define Your Target Audience – Who is it that you want to reach? Depending on your target audience, Facebook may be the platform for you instead of Instagram. There’s no need to be on every single social network if your audience isn’t on there.
  • Define Your End Goals on Social Media – What do you want to accomplish through social media? Maybe you desire customer loyalty, or perhaps you’re looking to capture leads? Your content strategy should align with these goals.
  • Identify Your Brand’s Voice and Stay Consistent – Your brand’s voice should align with your core values we mentioned above. If your brand operates with humor, let that shine through on your social media pages; however, we believe in quality content. Just because one of our core values is humor, that doesn’t mean we are going to share a funny meme with our fans every single day.

We will be talking more about staying true to your brand on social media in an upcoming blog, but in the mean time, start thinking about these three things.

One thing we are passionate about here at Rock Paper Simple is branding. If you have any questions or would like to discuss your branding, request your free consultation today.

Be true to your brand

brand identityYour brand is one of your single most valuable business assets. It embodies everything that your company is and how your prospects, clients, customers, peers and even your competition views you. Some brands are even worth more than the companies they are attached to!

How you present your message and even your message content itself has a large bearing on your brand. Before you delve into marketing yourself, you should have a solid idea of who you are, what you stand for, what makes you different and who you serve. Without a strong identity, it is difficult to gain the attention and respect of a fast-paced business and consumer world. You have to stand out, be unique and different, if you want to be noticed.

When we work with our clients, before we start developing their website, we ask them about their brand and how they want to present themselves. We ask for existing collateral and any messaging they currently have so we can determine the best way to present their message online. We need to understand what their voice sounds like, and what their brand personality is like because that will affect how we present their content and messaging on their website.

If one of our clients had a loud, fun and humorous brand, how terrible would it be if the website did not show any of that? It might look great, clean and professional, but if it lacks their personality and the key elements that they use to connect with their target demographic, then the website will fail to produce results for them. Likewise, if their brand is designed to be very corporate and straight-laced, and we design a loud and fun website, we are likely to scare away their target clients.

With a background in marketing (I owned a marketing agency for several years), I look at websites differently than most “web guys”. I look at it as an asset and an investment in marketing for a business. It should reflect the company messaging, have a purpose and create results for my client. This is why we are so focused on creating a website with clear call to actions, solid lead capture methods and accurate brand representation.

Now, the call to actions and lead capture topics are for another day (and I’ve blogged about them before)… but today I really want to chat about branding and how incredibly important it is to be true to your brand in all of your marketing, including your website.

 

Know your brand.

know-your-brandSo, let’s chat about your brand. Have you clearly identified your brand and personality? Have you defined a world view and how the brand reacts and presents itself? Have you defined a target demographic? Have you defined what sets your business apart? If not… do it! You will be doing yourself a huge favor and giving your business a more solid foundation. It is so much easier to market something that is clearly defined and organized. If you KNOW who you are, it is a piece of cake to market yourself. A well-defined brand is a marketer’s dream!

Once you know your brand, you will be able to ensure that all of your messaging, marketing and advertising has a cohesive message… and you will find the response to your marketing is much better.

If you haven’t got that part figured out and need help, find a professional that can help guide you. Look for one that has proven success with their own businesses or others and one that “gets you”. If you need a recommendation, shoot an email off to us, we know plenty of awesome branding and marketing people.

 

Be true to your brand.

Stay True to Your BrandGreat! You have your brand together and are ready to get online. Now be true to that brand! The website should look, feel and read in a way that conveys your brand, your benefits, your uniqueness. If you want people to take note, you have to prove to them that you are noteworthy. If you want people to begin to identify with you and your brand, you have to be consistent.

I’ve seen great brands with owners who are incredibly personable and fun to be around, with super boring websites that just do not do them justice.  On the other hand, I’ve seen very serious brands with websites or marketing that is loud or fun and simply does not represent them properly. If you are fun… show it! If you are serious… show it! Whatever your brand is… whatever your message is, make sure that in all of your marketing, you continue to be consistent and clear with it.

 

Don’t be afraid to scare people away.
Shout out your message!

Get Your Message OutNow here is the important part. If you take NOTHING else home with you after reading this… take this. You WILL irritate people, you WILL scare people off and you WILL rub people the wrong way if you are doing it right. Your brand and likewise, your website, should not be “all things to all people”. It should be hyper-targeted to your target demographic; to the people you want to sell to. Stop trying to make everyone happy and focus on making your ideal prospects super happy!

Would you prefer to have everyone visiting your website think your brand and website is nice and professional or would you prefer to maybe scare some away, but create fanatical buyers from the rest?! Make sense? Now, I’m not saying to be rude or crazy (unless that’s your brand, haha!). I’m just saying that you need to stand for something with your brand and you need to create something for people to identify with.

 

Here’s an example.

Rock Paper SimpleCase in point. In the past, I owned a company that was straight-laced. We were incredibly professional, clean and… well… boring (which is nothing like me: I’m loud, goofy and energetic). Our website was all about us, it talked about our services and we generally presented ourselves in a dry fashion that didn’t really speak to anyone. Now… we didn’t scare anyone away, but we didn’t create fans or people that were passionate or excited about our brand either. We didn’t talk about what was in it for our prospect and we didn’t identify to anyone.

When I founded Rock Paper Simple, on the other hand, I determined that it was going to have a very distinct brand and personality. It was going to be fun, humorous and focused on creating results for our clients. The brand is energetic and loud and and fun loving. All of our messaging reflects it. From our energetic copy and call to actions, to the scattered jokes in the copy, to the funny titles we have (my title is “head honcho”) to the way we write our blog posts… we are all about being real with people.

Now there are some people that really don’t like that and will never do business with us. That’s cool and I’m ok with that. Ya’know why? Because there are plenty of people out there who come across our website, our branding, one of my speaking engagements or even just someone I meet on a plane that LOVE our brand and LOVE the way we present ourselves. And when you get prospects and clients to identify with your brand like that, you sell more, get more referrals and have more happy clients.

 

So… be true to your brand.

Let that personality shine through and make sure your website conveys that messaging. Maybe it’s the way the headlines are presented… maybe it’s the way the call to actions are worded or maybe it is the type of images you use. It doesn’t matter the technique… just make sure that your unique message comes across.

Take a look at your website. Is it true to your brand?

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