Tag Archives: brands

How to Change Negative Brand Images Into Positives

Tuesdays With Coleman

They charged me for bags. My flight wasn’t on time. They lost my bags. That change fee was ridiculous. There’s no leg room.

The morning show isn’t funny. They talk too much. They play the same songs over and over.

Whether you’re talking about airlines or radio stations, negative images are part of doing business. How you handle it is what sets you apart.

In 2009, Southwest Airlines took on one of those typical negative images about airlines (unreasonable bag fees) head-on. At first, it simply offered free checked bags and assumed the passenger would notice. If the fare between two airlines were similar, the shopper would be saving money on Southwest thanks to the free checked bag. But that logic assumes the consumer will think that through when shopping, even though the bag savings aren’t listed in the fare.

Southwest deployed a marketing campaign called “Bags Fly Free”. But while you likely remember it now, even that campaign wasn’t successful until it was deployed like a sledgehammer, from being plastered on its own planes and baggage carts to stadiums and airports around the United States.

Radio stations often make the same mistake Southwest initially made–assuming consumers will notice when you make a change. You added a song category. You’re playing more songs per hour. You’ve got a new morning show. You’ve got less repetition. Then you wonder why it didn’t make a difference. Why it didn’t move the needle.

Maybe it’s because you didn’t really tell anyone about it outside of your already loyal P1s.

Here’s another example.

The Wall Street Journal named Delta the best airline of 2019. Fortune named Delta one of the top 100 companies to work for.

Delta’s always been great, right?

Sure, if you consider being named the least respected brand in America great. Because a 2013 study revealed Delta was one of the least respected brands in America.

Just ahead of Phillip Morris.

How in the world did Delta go from being one of the least respected brands to one of the most respected in just seven years? The answer is two-fold.

First, of course, Delta had to change the way it did business. These were the internal changes. Changing the culture. Hiring the right people. Buying new planes.

But I’m here to tell you there is absolutely no way that Delta goes from worst to first if they don’t tell anyone about it. That’s why everywhere you look, from the airport to the plane, from the website to the emails, Delta boasts about being the “most awarded airline”. Delta is only able to change the negative images into positives with a consistent, sledgehammer campaign.

Like Southwest’s “Bags Fly Free”.

So, if your radio station (or any brand for that matter) is doing something different, something great, and you are assuming the consumer will figure it out on their own, you’re wrong.

Shout it from the mountaintops. And just when you think they’re tired of hearing it, shout louder.

Then never stop shouting.


Perception is Reality. But Whose Reality?

Tuesdays With Coleman

You’ve heard the saying, “Perception is reality.” Taken at face value, it’s not accurate. Perception can become a person’s reality.  Explained by Dr. Jim Taylor in Psychology Today, “Perception has a potent influence on how we look at reality.” Taken one step further, “Our perceptions influence how we focus on, process, remember, interpret, understand, synthesize, decide about, and act on reality.”

So, we know perceptions are important. But what happens when your perceptions are not the same as those of your consumer? You make decisions–important, impactful decisions–that influence the strategic direction of your brand based on your perceptions and not the perceptions of the people that really matter.

There’s a legendary Silicon Valley story from the first dot-com boom of the late 90s. In its telling, in 1997 when Yahoo! and Excite ruled the search engine roost, Larry Page and Sergey Brin met with the leaders of Excite to show them the potential of their new search engine. As the story goes, Page and Brin demonstrated their new product by typing in the word “Internet.” While Excite’s search was filled with non-relevant pages with the word “internet” stuffed into them, the other search included webpages that explained how to use browsers. According to the tale, Excite CEO George Bell saw the other results as too good. If users found results that quickly, they wouldn’t spend as much time on the Excite interface.

Excite was given the opportunity to purchase Google for one million dollars and turned it down.

Here’s the important part to remember. Excite didn’t turn down Google because Google had an inferior product. Excite turned down Google because of their perception that it wouldn’t benefit their business.

Remember Ask Jeeves?

In 2005, InterActiveCorp bought Ask Jeeves for $1.85 billion.

Ask Jeeves was all about perception. It had a great name that easily explained the function. It had a butler for a mascot. You could tell your friends, “I asked Jeeves about bikes and it recommended the best one for me!”

In theory that last part was true, except for the fact that Jeeves was great for a marketing campaign but not great for search results. Today, the relabeled Ask.com has only 2% of the search market and you likely tell your friends you Googled that bike and got some pretty outstanding recommendations.

Excite turned down Google at a ridiculously cheap price and InterActiveCorp bought Ask Jeeves at an overly inflated price not due to functionality, but rather because of their perceptions.

These two examples additionally validate the importance of which quadrant your brand occupies in the Coleman Insights Brand-Content MatrixSM.

In 1997, Google (which, up to the point of the Excite meeting had been known as BackRub) had great content but a weak (unknown and undeveloped) brand. Therefore, it was undervalued. In 2005, Ask Jeeves had a strong brand so it was overvalued. But because it had poor content, Ask Jeeves fizzled quickly while a company that spent a decade building a strong brand and developing great content (wonder who that could be?) dominated the market.

Brand Content Matrix

Brands should aim to be in the upper right quadrant of the Brand-Content Matrix.

Now, put this into practice with your own brands. You may think you know what your consumers really think of your brand, and you may be correct about some of those perceptions. But there are two important things to consider. First, no matter how brilliant a strategist you may be, everyone falls into the Inside Thinking trap. Because you are too close to your brand, it is very difficult to view it from the perspective of your consumer. Second, can you think of a time in recent memory (or perhaps, ever) in which consumer behavior has changed so rapidly over the course of a few months? The altering of behavior that we have experienced recently has surely impacted your brand in ways both expected and unexpected.

A “wait and see” attitude is not unusual and completely understandable during times of turbulence and economic uncertainty. But we hearken back to Taylor’s quote on perception–“Our perceptions influence how we focus on, process, remember, interpret, understand, synthesize, decide about, and act on reality.” How can your brand align itself with how it is perceived? One way is by conducting perceptual research. We can surmise that brands that invest in perceptual research, particularly during a time when perceptions may be actively changing more rapidly than normal, will have the upper hand versus brands that do not.

The Pandemic Cliché Epidemic

Tuesdays With Coleman

If I hear “The New Normal” one more time…

If I hear “We’re all in this together” one more time…

If I hear “Today, more than ever” one more time…

You can just feel the pandemic cliché frustration in the air. There’s even a video with over 1.5 million views called “Every COVID-19 Commercial is Exactly the Same”–and it has a point.

Doesn’t this sound familiar?

Is “All your insurance needs”, “You heard right!” and “It’s the biggest sale of the year” all that different from “During these uncertain times” and “We’re here for you”?

So which brands are doing this right?

What is special about your brand? What’s something “behind the curtain” you can offer?

IKEA is a home furnishings store with a cult following, and those followers know that Swedish meatballs are served in over 430 of its locations around the world.

So, instead of a furniture sale, IKEA released the recipe for its Swedish meatballs. The amount of free publicity the brand received for this action would have busted marketing budgets countless times over.

Hilton could have run a commercial about how their DoubleTree brand was open for business and safe to stay in.

But why do that when you can release the chocolate chip cookie recipe? (Every DoubleTree guest is greeted with a hot chocolate chip cookie upon check-in).

Your brand may not have a recipe to share, but it (hopefully) does have something that makes it special and different. Now, as the country attempts to get back to some semblance of normality (I’m not going to say the “New Normal”), is the time to let people know about it.

There are so many amazing examples of radio stations utilizing the medium for good over the past couple of months. Before your listeners go back to their commutes, the office and back to school, tell them what you did. Getting brand credit for community is no different than getting credit for being #1 for Hip Hop or playing the most New Country. You can’t just break more new hits than the competition or play twenty percent more songs than the station across the street–you have to do it and take credit to get credit.

When it comes to reminding listeners about your community connection during the pandemic, you have to be careful of tone and not be boastful.

ACE Metrix measures the performance of TV and video commercials. Watch the strong-testing COVID ad, Frito-Lay’s “All About People”:

On the surface, it sounds and feels like the cliché ads referred to in the beginning of this blog, but the messaging within it does not. Frito-Lay takes credit for the good work they’ve done during the pandemic, but makes it about the people they did it for.

As we pointed out in “How to Connect With Your Audience in a Crisis”, “If you make a concerted effort to think about what you can really do for your community and your audience, your efforts will create a halo over your brand when things settle down.” But you have to take credit.

Just don’t forget about tone.


The Marketing of Social Distancing

Tuesdays With Coleman

All the way back on March 17th, we tweeted about a new billboard campaign our client in Edmonton, K-97, launched:

K-97 Edmonton social distancing billboard

Since then, brand after brand is getting in on the action. This includes Coca-Cola putting some distance in their logo for their Times Square billboard:

Miss Chiquita is missing from the banana brand’s iconic logo:

Chiquita social distancing marketing on social media

Audi separated its four rings. Like Chiquita, the luxury automotive brand is using its updated logo on its social media accounts:

Audio social distancing marketing on social media

And there is my personal favorite, this social distancing-inspired ad for Guinness:

Guinness social distancing ad on One Minute Briefs

It led to an abundance of accolades for the brewery, including a tweet from Rob Schwartz, Chief Executive Officer of the advertising agency TBWA\Chiat\Day that claimed, “It restored my faith in advertising.”

Oh, just one small thing. Neither Guinness nor its ad agency created it.

It was designed by an Irish freelance copywriter named Luke O’Reilly as part of a competition called One Minute Briefs.

Keeping your brand top-of-mind in the right ways during a crisis can have lasting perceptual impact later. And, as the Guinness example reminds us, fans of your brand can be some of the best marketers you have. Audio entertainment brands have some of the most passionate, loyal followers in media. How can you mobilize your audience to amplify your community-focused message during this crisis? We invite you to share your thoughts in the comments.

Your campaign just might go the distance.

Coleman Insights to Present Outside Thinking for Podcasts Webinar

RESEARCH TRIANGLE PARK, NC, August 20, 2019 – Coleman Insights will offer a webinar for the broadcast and podcast industry that introduces a breakthrough strategy called “Outside Thinking,” and details specific ways to apply the strategy to podcasting to build stronger brands.

In this webinar, attendees will learn to view podcasts from the perspective of the listener and understand what behavioral factors influence their decision to consume it. In addition, presenters Warren Kurtzman and John Boyne of Coleman Insights will share headlines from a recent Coleman Insights podcast research study.

Coleman Insights President Warren Kurtzman says, “While at Podcast Movement, we couldn’t help but sense podcasting approaching a tipping point. We’re excited to offer this content to those who couldn’t make the conference presentation, and hope everyone interested in building podcasts into strong, memorable brands joins us for this webinar.”

Kurtzman and Boyne will present “Outside Thinking for Podcasts” Thursday, September 12 from 2 PM-3 PM EDT.

Registration is now open for the webinar here.

When Radio Stations Underperform Their Images

Tuesdays With Coleman

In the course of our research, we sometimes encounter brands that are experiencing a lack of balance. For example, a station will have what looks like a strong brand—it’s known for being “the Rock station” or “the Oldies station” or “the Old School station,” whatever its Base Music Position might be. Its music images—that is, the styles listeners associate with the station—might even be dominant, meaning that no other station in the market competes. Based on these measures alone, the station is doing really well.


But listenership shows a different story. Ratings are stagnant or even down. The station fights for recognition. It’s not top-of-mind. Listeners don’t think of it for much beyond its music, and they aren’t really listening, even if they’re fans of the music the station is primarily known for playing.

Weird, right?

Well, not exactly. This isn’t an everyday occurrence, but it’s not completely rare, either. This imbalance is an indication that something might be up with a station’s execution. A station might, for example, be…

  • Playing the “wrong” Rock music on “the Rock station”—maybe you’ve gone too new or too hard, away from what your core audience loves


  • Running too many contests and giveaways, especially ones that don’t directly connect with your music—the “Old School station” can absolutely give away tickets to the Teddy Riley Tour featuring Keith Sweat and Guy (note: this does not exist but it should), but should be wary of giveaways with confusing brand messages or no connection to its Base Music Position


  • Airing a morning show that doesn’t connect with the Base Music Position or its fans—maybe the hosts are much older than the audience of “the Hits station” and they talk about things the audience doesn’t care about, or perhaps the morning show on a Classic Rock station plays next to no music when that’s what its listeners have told us in the past that they want

Imagine a Starbucks that had so much success with non-coffee drinks that it stopped serving coffee altogether. While it’s true that many Starbucks customers go there for the green tea and the Unicorn Frappuccinos, Starbucks is, at its heart—its “base”—a coffee shop. A Starbucks without Pike Place would likely alienate its core audience; they would probably still associate Starbucks with coffee, but they would go elsewhere for their basic brew.

That’s what happens to a radio station that underperforms its music images. Too much misalignment of the brand and its expectations and the audience will drift away.

What’s the remedy? While it’s different for every station that experiences this discrepancy, there are a few approaches, and they all involve getting back to basics:

  1. Focus on the music mix. Are you playing the right titles? Too much new music, not enough Gold? Vice versa? Are you playing too much of a style that doesn’t appeal to fans of the music you’re most associated with? Perceptual research can help guide the strategy, while music testing can ensure you’re playing the right songs based on that strategy.


  1. Focus on the music—period. Don’t get caught up in too many contests. Or, bring the music back into the contests.


  1. Make sure your morning show is hitting the right notes with your listeners—are the hosts working with your core audience, talking to them on their level? Is there too much music during the show, or maybe too little?


  1. Once your music position is solid, you can focus more on building your brand. Look to the Coleman Insights Image Pyramid. Become known first for your music, then you can add on, but remember that your Base Music Position is the core of your brand, and everything else should be built upon it.

A Frappuccino is really nice and all, but your core listeners see a Frappuccino as just a way to add stuff to what they ultimately want—a good cup of coffee.