Does Tony Stark Need a Brand Refresh?

Fictional Brand Analysis

'Tis the holiday season! This year, I thought I would treat myself professionally by indulging in one of my passions: Pop culture analysis.

While pop culture and marketing cross over quite a lot, I've decided to focus on fictional brands and their logos. Throughout books, films, television, and comics, many famous fictional companies and businesses have fizzed, flourished, and failed. So today, I'm taking it upon myself to analyze the branding of some of the most popular fictional companies.

Let the analysis begin!

 

 

If you’ve seen a Marvel movie over the past fifteen years, you’ve probably heard of Stark Industries. Run by the charismatic Tony Stark, AKA Iron Man, Stark Industries was a weapons developer before Tony had a crisis of conscience and moved away from weapons towards advanced technologies.

With its bold, slanted font and arrow-based imagery, the logo communicates a confident, relentless push toward the future. Perfect for a company specializing in advanced technology!

Or at least it would be. Stark Industries may want to consider a brand refresh. Their logo hasn't changed since they moved away from weapons development, and since Tony Stark came out as a costumed superhero, one of his inventions, the Ultron robot, nearly took over the world and killed thousands in the process. In fact, within the Marvel Cinematic Universe, multiple villains have been motivated by their hatred for Tony and his company.

With all these negative associations, a refreshed logo, and a new communications strategy, moving away from the aggressive tone of their past branding may be the right call.

 

 

 

 

 

From the hilarious Arrested Development sitcom comes the Bluth company, a real estate development firm. Founded by George Bluth Sr., the company was managed by his son, Michael Bluth, following his incarceration for stealing from the company.

While the Bluth Company is beset by problems, its logo is not one of them. The bright, flat colors are slightly retro today, even though they made sense in the early 2000s. And the font placement within a building sends a subtle message: The homes we build are so solid that even our logo lives in one.

Of course, this couldn't be farther from the truth. Bluth Company homes are often shoddily built in poor locations. Coupled with their frequent public scandals, the Bluth Company is a PR disaster. Logo notwithstanding, they may want to focus on the fundamentals of their company, clean up their public image, and communicate their successes as they come - if they come.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

If your name is Homer Simpson, there's only one beer you drink: Duff Beer. Parodying cheap American beers, Duff Beer is heavily marketed and widely consumed throughout the Simpsons universe.

Their logo, consisting of thick, playful, friendly letters spelling out "Duff," sits inside a white rectangle. Below it, in all caps, is the word "BEER." It's not even a parody of Budweiser, with its cursive font and stylized insignia. It's a parody of Bud Light. The simplicity of the logo carries with it working-class vibes, which make sense for the demographic Duff targets most heavily.

Despite its simplicity, or perhaps because of it, Duff Beer has been a rock-solid brand. They are profitable enough to maintain their own branded theme park, and their spokesperson, the beer-themed superhero Duffman, has only become more relevant as the popularity of superheroes has grown since its conception.

However, in our modern world, Relish Marketing would suggest toning down some of the more hyper-masculine aspects of Duff’s communication strategies. For instance, Duffman appearing flanked by bikini models in commercials could read as misogynist to many Americans.

That concludes our fictional brand round-up! What is your favorite fictional brand? Sound off in the comments below! Actually, we don't have comments, so here's a link to our contact form.  We’d genuinely love to hear from you!


These Changes will Impact your Marketing Agency in 2023

Over the past year, companies have been learning to thrive in a world that is, in many ways, remarkably different than one from two years ago. The ways we conduct business is changing and becoming more virtual. The brands of today are not the ones of yesterday, and few organizations have survived the past few years without changing their marketing operations and strategies. While the pace of change shows no sign of slowing, we’re taking this opportunity to pinpoint a few of the more impactful developments we’ve seen over the past year which we’re confident will continue to remain relevant in 2023.

Urgent Deadlines

In 2022, deadlines shortened–considerably. You’ve felt it yourself: the overwhelming urgency from clients who need their work now. In the wake of technological advancements and a global pandemic, many companies have found the need to pivot or modify their business and branding in a timely manner. This requires marketers–especially inhouse marketing departments and their agencies–to adapt with more intentional workflows that enable quicker and more efficient response to client needs. Project management tools like Teamwork can help swamped agencies stay ahead of deadlines, and we highly recommend daily communication and task reporting, so team members stay up to date on deliverables.

Video Ads Continue to Dominate Social Media

Across all social media platforms, we’ve seen consistent data confirming that video ads hold interest for longer and generate more clicks than static ads. If you’re looking to communicate to a customer base in 2023, the shift to incorporate more video content is essential to remaining relevant in the market. Video content creation tools like Canva, and the advanced Adobe Premiere, can help create and edit high quality videos. Today’s consumers are also more comfortable than ever before with user generated content like product reviews and unboxing videos featured on Instagram and Tik-Tok and other social media platforms.

Authentic Communications

We’ve spoken before about the growing importance of authenticity in marketing. More and more, consumers want to interact with like-minded people and brands. It’s vital that agencies learn to communicate to their target audience in a way that feels real and authentic. Influencer and consumer-generated marketing continues to pay dividends, and cultural savvy is a must-have for brands looking to generate a buzz with the customers of today.

Disruptive Branding and Anti-Branding

Many consumers have grown tired of flat corporate art styles and branding that feels overly glossy and salesy. We’ve seen companies switch from overly produced marketing emails to simple communications that feel minimally designed. In other sectors, some companies have embraced asymmetrical lettering and packaging, such as Absolut Vodka bottles intentionally spattered with paint.

As the business world transforms around us, these marketing trends are signposts for the new era. While surprises no doubt live on our collective horizon, we are transitioning into 2023 excited for change and prepared to thrive.


2023 Marketing Trends

The Marketing Trends Shaping 2023

Over the past year, companies have been learning to thrive in a world that is, in many ways, remarkably different than one from two years ago. The ways we conduct business is changing and becoming more virtual. The brands of today are not the ones of yesterday, and few organizations have survived the past few years without changing their marketing operations and strategies. While the pace of change shows no sign of slowing, we’re taking this opportunity to pinpoint a few of the more impactful developments we’ve seen over the past year which we’re confident will continue to remain relevant in 2023.

Urgent Deadlines

In 2022, deadlines shortened–considerably. You’ve felt it yourself: the overwhelming urgency from clients who need their work now. In the wake of technological advancements and a global pandemic, many companies have found the need to pivot or modify their business and branding in a timely manner. This requires marketers–especially inhouse marketing departments and their agencies–to adapt with more intentional workflows that enable quicker and more efficient response to client needs. Project management tools like Teamwork can help swamped agencies stay ahead of deadlines, and we highly recommend daily communication and task reporting, so team members stay up to date on deliverables.

Video Ads Continue to Dominate Social Media

Across all social media platforms, we’ve seen consistent data confirming that video ads hold interest for longer and generate more clicks than static ads. If you’re looking to communicate to a customer base in 2023, the shift to incorporate more video content is essential to remaining relevant in the market. Video content creation tools like Canva, and the advanced Adobe Premiere, can help create and edit high quality videos. Today’s consumers are also more comfortable than ever before with user generated content like product reviews and unboxing videos featured on Instagram and Tik-Tok and other social media platforms.

Authentic Communications

We’ve spoken before about the growing importance of authenticity in marketing. More and more, consumers want to interact with like-minded people and brands. It’s vital that agencies learn to communicate to their target audience in a way that feels real and authentic. Influencer and consumer-generated marketing continues to pay dividends, and cultural savvy is a must-have for brands looking to generate a buzz with the customers of today.

Disruptive Branding and Anti-Branding

Many consumers have grown tired of flat corporate art styles and branding that feels overly glossy and salesy. We’ve seen companies switch from overly produced marketing emails to simple communications that feel minimally designed. In other sectors, some companies have embraced asymmetrical lettering and packaging, such as Absolut Vodka bottles intentionally spattered with paint.

As the business world transforms around us, these marketing trends are signposts for the new era. While surprises no doubt live on our collective horizon, we are transitioning into 2023 excited for change and prepared to thrive.


Re-branding

Rethink, Refresh, Revitalize: The Trend Sweeping Senior Care Organizations

A trend has pulsed through senior care communities over the past few years: More and more of these organizations are refreshing their brands. Of course, brand refreshes and rebranding efforts are typical across all industries, but specific circumstances affecting the senior care industry are driving communities to revisit their brands. Over the past two years, the industry has had to adapt to rapid changes, and those organizations who are able to respond quickly with strategic brand updates have seen the rewards.

The senior population of the United States is growing and is projected to continue to do so. Simply put, demand is on the rise. This creates an opportunity that can be seized by those willing to pivot their marketing.

The pandemic also forced senior care organizations to adjust their marketing campaigns. Atlanta’s Lenbrook community, for instance, shifted many marketing events from in-person to virtual. Relish worked with the Lenbrook team to enhance their digital marketing efforts by incorporating virtual events and webinars.

Additionally, the pause in activity over the past two years provided the opportunity for forward-thinking communities to update and expand. In that time, Lenbrook completed a new expansion and recognized that the fresh look of its newer marketing materials presented an opportunity for broader-scale updates. The result was a fresh approach to everything from key brochures to mailers and signage, all of which reflect a contemporary look and feel and reinforce the community’s commitment to truly engaged senior living.

Many other factors can lead an organization to benefit from a rebrand. Sometimes, organizations have grown quickly and have outpaced their former branding. Perhaps a company was set up to service a niche market but has found success outside of its niche. In other instances, the culture around a business has changed, and it becomes necessary to refresh one’s messaging to better meet the needs of the day.

As Sharon Brooks, Chief Marketing Officer at 2Life Communities notes in iAdvance Senior Care:

“If you find that you have a brand that’s no longer authentic to who you are, or you’ve outgrown a brand, or it’s no longer resonating with the market, it’s time to take a look at how you want to rebrand.”

A successful brand update can enable an organization to resonate anew with everyone who interacts with it - from the prospective move-in receiving their first marketing email to the resident who has lived in the community for the past ten years. If you’re wondering how refreshing your organization's marketing can evolve its strategy and energize its place in the market, you should give us a call. It’s something we’re passionate about and are always down to chat.


Work-life balance

It's Not Work-Life Balance. It's Work-Life Harmony

Over the past year, Relish Marketing has been getting busy. Old clients are coming to us with new jobs. Companies we’ve never worked with before are reaching out to scope our availability. Business, as they say, is booming.

Our increased workload has inspired a series of conversations between myself and my coworkers on the importance of maintaining our personal lives. It was during one such conversation with Corey-Jan, our head strategist and frequent contributor to this blog, that I was challenged in my use of the phrase "work-life balance."

“Because it really isn’t balance we should be striving for,” said CJ, “but harmony.”

Her point was that "work-life balance" calls to mind a perfectly segmented day divided between personal time, time spent with loved ones, and working time. And, life doesn't work that way. A state of work-life balance cannot accommodate a surge of business requiring an above-average amount of professional attention any more than it can accommodate, say, a family emergency.

So, when I find myself in a situation as I do today, inundated with exciting business opportunities that require substantial effort to see through, I don't seek balance. I seek harmony.

The difference may sound merely linguistic. But in practice, it is profound. Harmony is not rigid and inflexible. It does not require a perfectly segmented day. Harmony is fluid, taking into account that some days are busier than others, as are some months, and even years. Sometimes, when you're busy, the simple answer is to roll up your sleeves and jump in.

This is not to say that our personal lives don't matter. In fact, they are exceedingly important. In the world of advertising, we marketers are responsible for delivering engaging creative that turns heads and gets proverbial – and sometimes literal – butts in seats. Well, that kind of excellence doesn't come from just anywhere. It certainly doesn't come from a space lacking of personal fulfillment.

Passion feeds passion. Time spent with our friends and family not only sparks joy but creativity. The energy we cultivate in our personal lives enables the brilliance we achieve in our professional ones. Likewise, our professional lives should afford us opportunities to invest in our personal lives. And both personally and professionally, when the busy times subside, we know we will make up for any lost moments.

The concept of work-life harmony understands this – and welcomes it. When our personal lives demand our attention, we have the flexibility to be there be it for friends, family, or the refrigerator repair expert. When Relish gets busy, we go to work. Sometimes our days stretch long, and our candles burn low. But we know the best work comes from a place of harmony. We allow ourselves time for passions, for whims, for the people who matter in our lives. Even in our busiest seasons, it fuels us professionally as well as personally.


communications authenticity

Five Things Authentic Communicators Have in Common

Everyone wants to come across as an authentic communicator. Authenticity generates trust and welcomes engagement. It encourages loyalty. And, it guides people along the sales journey, often improving sales. At the same time, authentic communications are harder than ever to create. In a world of Facebook groups, message boards, and public servers, consumers have so many ways to become immersed in the things that interest them – which means they are more savvy and aware than ever. They can spot insincerity, vagueness, and stretched truths in an instant.

As marketers and brand strategists, we’ve got to take the hint. When it comes to communicating about everything from our products and services to our value propositions and work environments, authenticity is essential. So, our Relish team set out to discover what differentiates authentic communicators from everyone else. And our findings identified five qualities of our clients whose communications consistently radiate authenticity.

  1. PASSION

If you’re bringing products or services to consumers, you better believe in their ability to improve the lives of others. If you don’t, your communications will feel fake, especially to consumers who may genuinely care about your product. The more knowledgeable and passionate they are about your industry or where it touches their business, the more they will want to see the same kind of passion in your communications.

For instance, when Mueller & Associates commissioned us to create a series of videos highlighting their services and culture, company President and Founder Brian Mueller was adamant about expressing an authentically passionate tone. Specifically, the videos would have to project the same confident, high-end experience that his successful, entrepreneurial clients enjoy when working with the firm.

  1. ENGAGEMENT

An informed audience can tell when you're faking it, talking at them instead of with them. That's why authentic communicators put themselves in the position of their customers and prospects.

"Mueller & Associates was built by entrepreneurs, for entrepreneurs," declares Brian Mueller at the start of one of his company's videos. It's a simple statement that immediately establishes a sense of connection and engagement. It also encourages clients to trust that Mueller will do the best possible work because they're all similar leaders engaged in similar efforts.

  1. LISTENING

When most people talk about communicating a brand, they think about how a company displays itself to its customers. However, anyone who’s ever had a partner can tell you that communication is a two-way street. And, in marketing as in life, getting to know your audience is just as valuable as getting them to know you.

Authentic communicators are as concerned about what their audiences have to say as they are about being heard. For example, marketers at the Lenbrook senior living community in Atlanta frequently talk to residents about what they like best about living there and where they see opportunities for improvement. These conversations generate insights that enable us to craft genuine, engaging marketing material for them.

  1. TRUE STORIES

If you want to stand out in 2022, find ways to show the human side of your organization. After all, as your customers interact more with your product and brand, it’s only natural that they want to know more about the people behind it.

Financial requests run the risk of seeming cold or cloying. However, when Relish worked with Columbia Theological Seminary to promote annual giving opportunities, we avoided those pitfalls by focusing on real-world stories. Throughout the copy, anecdotes showed how Columbia has impacted the lives of its students, graduates, and donors, conveying the myriad ways in which this vibrant, humanistic organization has made a tangible difference to many. The result was a meaningful connection between donor contributions and their lasting impact.

  1. CONCISE CLARITY

When you’re passionate about something, you can talk about it in great detail and with a high degree of accuracy. But, the most authentic communicators know how to draw audiences in with a clear, simple language that anyone can understand. Too many communicators make the mistake of sharing big chunks of knowledge all at once. This is the marketing equivalent of over-sharing in a personal conversation. The most authentic communicators communicate expertise while also leaving room for audiences to want more and engage further with the brand.

The days of casting a wide net are waning, if not already over. The key to flourishing in this new age is the ability to connect with passionate, knowledgeable, primarily digital communities whose members want more than sales pitches. Pursue that kind of connection, and you open the door to fresh, creative communication that rings true and pays off in the form of better customer relationships, loyalty, and sales.

If you want to catapult your company into the era of authentic communicators, give us a call. We would love to help your brand find its authentic voice.


Creating Culture When Everyone Works from Home

The past year saw many disruptions to how we go about our day-to-day lives. I’ll wager that for anyone reading this, one of the biggest changes was how much less you saw your loved ones, your family, and your co-workers.

I joined Relish in July of 2021, and by that time we had long since switched to working fully remote. As you can imagine, the onboarding process was strange. I was the first new hire Relish brought on since the pandemic, and procedures hadn’t yet been put in place for how our company onboards in a remote context.

While the process no doubt would have been smoother if Relish was still in person, I was surprised how much of the company culture I could feel during my time onboarding. This in turn made me realize how grateful I am to be working at a company that has such a strong culture and can maintain its identity through the splintering of our workforce across metro Atlanta and beyond.

Every company has a culture, and if that culture is not intentionally maintained, it can sour and grow stale. Luckily, Relish does a fantastic job maintaining our culture, and I want to share some of how we do that with you.

We Talk Once a Day, Every Day

Every morning, the Relish team begins the day with a company-wide call. Formally, this is a time for us to catch up on projects and communicate any information across the studio, management, and account services teams. Informally, however, this gives us an opportunity to say hello and fill each other in on our life updates.

It’s not uncommon to hear jokes about what mischief a team member’s kid got into over the weekend or commiserate when someone’s home renovations turn disastrous. Not only does this keep us tightly knit as a team and closely aligned on our goals as a company, but it serves as a team building exercise that brings us together as a group of humans making their way in the world, and that’s what culture is all about.

We Make Time to Meet in Person

While we are working fully remote, we still make the time to gather as a team and enjoy each other’s company. These events, be they lunches or holiday parties, remind us that not only are we co-workers but friends and family as well.

When a team only gathers over work topics, the members will be teammates, nothing more. By adding in these events (which, despite being non-mandatory, we all attend), we get to see each other in a relaxed, social atmosphere, and remember “oh, yeah, this person is also really cool outside of work mode.”

We Understand Each Other’s Strengths

An integral component of any team is how each members’ skills play off of and feed into each other. At Relish, my co-workers have had the pleasure of working with each other for several years (myself, of course, not included). This has given them plenty of time to learn how everyone likes to operate and what they’re good at.

Everyone is allowed to play to their strengths at Relish. In fact, we encourage it. If you’re good at something, we want you to do that as much as possible. And because we have such a strong sense of everyone’s skill set and style, we’re able to work together that much easier.

Companies function best when employees are allowed to be themselves, are encouraged to succeed, and are surrounded by people who understand and support their process. Maintaining this level of company culture can be hard, but by maintaining communication, hosting group events, and understanding each other’s abilities, teams of every size can find themselves moving the rockiest of mountains.


Thriving After the Labor Shortage: What’s Next for America’s Employers

Is your company understaffed? Do you know someone at an organization that is hiring? Odds are you answered yes to one of these questions. That’s because America is facing a labor shortage the likes of which haven’t been seen for a long time. The length and ramifications of this crisis have been topics of serious debate for employers and employer brand marketers.

In an article from the New York Times, David Leonhardt analyzed the service worker shortage, what’s causing it, and what may come after. He discovered that thanks to pandemic stimulus packages and a soaring housing market, Americans are flush with cash (at least for the moment). Who can blame them for avoiding the low wages and inflexible hours of the past?

Leonhardt’s analysis may seem grim to retail and other service-driven, public-facing businesses. However, at Relish, we believe it suggests a genuine opportunity for employers to stand out from the pack and thrive.

Employee Retention in 2021 and Beyond

Today’s employment challenges have led some sectors to adopt new, employee-friendly business strategies. The healthcare and hospitality industries, in particular, have raised wages significantly to try to lure back employees. Similarly, some companies are seeing success by increasing benefits and training opportunities.

That said, while it’s easy to recognize the appeal of competitive pay and benefits, we at Relish have identified other strategies that are just as important. Take communications, for example. You can offer the best health insurance on the market, but if no one is aware, that benefit won’t attract prospects.

Now more than ever, people care who they work for. If your corporate culture is distinguished by a commitment to growth, development, and opportunity, you have to meet your ideal candidates with fresh, authentic employer branding that effectively communicates those differentiators.

The Post-Labor Shortage Economy

The American labor shortage is not sustainable. Eventually the money from stimulus packages will dry up and Americans will have to return to the offices, kitchens, and factories they happily vacated. Leonhardt predicts that tomorrow’s workers may return to find conditions worse than before, due in part to the decline of labor unions in the face of corporate consolidation.

It’s a dire prediction – but it’s also an opportunity if your brand can shine by comparison, like a beacon beckoning in the returning workforce.

Building a Business that Lasts

It’s no secret that America is facing a labor shortage. But the solutions aren’t secrets either. Treating employees with respect and humanity is one piece of the puzzle. Building a rock-solid employer brand to attract and retain talent is another.

If the employment crisis has been weighing on your mind, we’re eager to help identify solutions that grow brands and launch them into the future.