Brad VanAuken

Marketing Automation and the Human Factor

by Brad VanAuken

Today, much of a marketer’s work is related to digital marketing and marketing automation. Considerations include choosing the right CRM, setting up automated sales funnels and drip email campaigns, linking online databases, making sure autoresponders are working properly, creating Google ad campaigns, feeding Facebook pages with the appropriate content, making sure the website is mobile […]

After 35 Years in the Business, My Thoughts About Marketing

by Brad VanAuken

Following are my stream of consciousness thoughts about marketing.People have beliefs, attitudes, values, hopes, anxieties and fears. Marketers must understand these to be successful.In marketing, less is almost always more. This is true of copy and visuals. The actual customer experience is the most important driver of brand perceptions.Building awareness is the most important marketing activity. […]

The Limits of Marketing (and Customer Service) Automation

by Brad VanAuken

In the past few years, I have used marketing automation extensively for my own business and I have interacted with marketing automation from many other businesses. While there is the argument that marketing automation enables one to market 24/7, even when one is sleeping, there are also some cautions that should occur regarding this technology.First, […]

Brand Switching

by Brad VanAuken

“62% of consumers who switched brand in the past 12 months did so because brands successfully attracted them, rather than bad customer experience pushing them away.61% of consumers switched brand at least once in the last year, with automotive (70%) and supermarkets (68%) showing the highest percentage of customers willing to switch brands due to […]

Historical Brands in America

by Brad VanAuken

John Jacob Bausch & Henry LombI recently purchased The Branding of America book by Robert Hambleton at an art gallery used book sale. One of the things that I immediately found fascinating (though not surprising in retrospect) is that most of the earlier brands in America were named after the people who founded the brands versus […]

Cognitive Distortions & Marketing

by Brad VanAuken

I think everyone should learn about the most common cognitive distortions (or thinking errors) as we are all subject to them. Importantly, I have increasingly witnessed political campaigns playing to many of these errors to achieve their intended ends. I believe this is highly unethical. But understanding what these errors are will help you understand […]

Listen First, Talk Later

by Brad VanAuken

You may have heard the statement, “That is why God gave you two ears and only one mouth, to listen twice as much as you speak.” Listening more than you speak is good advice for any human being, but especially so for salespeople and marketers.A marketer that has not asked open-ended response questions of customers […]

Bulletproof Process to Reposition Your Brand

by Brad VanAuken

Over the past twenty-one years, BrandForward has successfully repositioned more than 200 brands in almost every product and service category. We have worked with start-ups, Fortune 100 companies, B2B companies, B2C companies, not-for-profit organizations, colleges and universities, financial institutions, health care systems, trade associations, municipalities and more.Throughout that time, we have refined a proven process […]

Beware of Asking Too Much of Marketing Copy

by Brad VanAuken

I have witnessed executives asking for a single communication to do too much. “I would like this communication to build awareness and initiate a purchase.” “I would like this to speak directly to our customers, prospects and employees.” “I want this communication to prompt them to give us their name and contact information and purchase […]

Everything is Fantasy

by Brad VanAuken

I am writing this from my Adirondack home where it occurred to me that most everything is fantasy. Here is what I mean by that. I have enjoyed decorating my log home with a wide variety of pieces that I have found from Adirondack rustic furniture and decor stores. My house is chock-a-block with black […]

The Secret Ingredient – Caring About People

by Brad VanAuken

Most markets are populated with mature brands that struggle to maintain differentiation because it is easy for competitors to match any function, feature or service that is of value to customers. Most sources of differentiation don’t last that long anymore. They quickly become “cost of entry” benefits.But in working with more than 200 brands across […]

Sharing Your Brand’s Values Through Storytelling

by Brad VanAuken

Sharing a set of values with customers is one of a brand’s most important sources of emotional connection with its customers. I have written before about brands that do this well.There are a variety of ways to communicate those values, but one powerful way is through brand storytelling, especially if the story is about the […]

Focusing on the Why

by Brad VanAuken

Another common error in marketing communication is focusing on the product or service description including its functions and features rather than focusing on the end customer benefit, the why. People will read further once you have gotten their attention. And you get their attention by speaking to one of their desires, fears or problems. Only […]

Less is More

by Brad VanAuken

A common mistake inexperienced marketers make is to cram too much information into marketing copy. I have seen this manifested in several ways:Too much copy on PowerPoint slides – often full screen visuals with no copy are the most effectiveToo much copy on product packaging, especially for products that are displayed at point of purchaseToo […]

Brand Visual Style

by Brad VanAuken

Part of a brand’s identity system is its visual style. So what are the components of its visual style? Here is my list:Color paletteTypefaces and graphic stylesTypes of images used (size, shape, subject matter, feeling, illustrations vs. photography, medium, special effects) Graphic symbolsShapesTextureDistinctive patternsFormLayout and horizontal vs. vertical blocking Use of lines or bordersSharp vs. soft edgesValue […]

Brand Voice

by Brad VanAuken

Your brand’s voice is comprised of its tone and its word choice among other components. Together with your brand’s archetype, personality and visual style, your brand’s voice helps you to personify your brand. Any or all of these might be components of your brand’s voice:ToneAccent (socio-economic, regional or foreign)Young or matureVocabulary (frequently used words and phrases […]

Brands and Habits

by Brad VanAuken

Habit:A recurrent, often unconscious pattern of behavior that is acquired through frequent repetitionAn established disposition of the mind or characterCustomary manner or practiceAn addiction, especially to a narcotic drugWe all have habits. For instance, we order the same menu item every time we go to a specific restaurant. Or we purchase the same brand of soda pop. Or we start our day with a cup of coffee and the morning paper. Or we go to the gym and work out every morning. Some of our brands […]

Most Important Qualities for Brands

by Brad VanAuken

I have posted one or two articles on the brand personality attributes that organizations most often choose for their brands. In this article, I will share the qualities that I believe are most important for brands to possess. I am basing this on the qualities that people seek most in others. I think this is […]

Identifying Target Customers

by Brad VanAuken

Identifying and describing the target customer should always the first step in any brand positioning process. If you don’t know who your customer is, how can you successfully position the brand? In our brand positioning workshops, we usually get people to identify the primary, secondary and tertiary customer targets. Sometimes, they describe the current customer […]