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The new ID-ology is at www.IDbranding.com/idology

We’re relocating our blog to www.IDbranding.com/idology and we’ve made some great new improvements that allow our readers a better glimpse at who we are and what exactly our agency has to contribute to this whole branding thing. Our entire archive of articles has been migrated to the new site–so don’t worry about losing any of our classic posts, its all there waiting for you. Thanks for listening, learning, and contributing, we’ll see you at the new ID-ology!

ID Branding http://www.idbranding.com has an immediate need for the role of Brand Strategist.

ID Branding pulls together the best and brightest people from advertising, design, interactive, and branding to work together under one roof. We help our clients grow meaningful and enduring brands. To do so, we have a multidisciplinary, media agnostic approach that demands that each employee work in cross-functional, flexible team-driven environment.

The ideal Brand Strategist candidate should have a minimum of three to five years of experience in a branding agency working with clients in a variety of industries.  A demonstrated history of collaborating on brand development, integrated communications, and brand management programs are a must.  He/she must also have experience engaging primary research suppliers.

Interested? Read More…

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How about when it’s used as an expression of affection, like in the picture above?  Or how about when someone else uses it to propose marriage?

This June, we worked with Powell’s Books, the great Portland institution of higher reading, to create a brand experience that would deepen customers’ relationships with Powells, and guide the in-store customer to consider using the online store, Powells.com.

The idea is fairly simple on paper (execution was not quite so simple): we create a photobooth-type experience inside the store that lets customers have their picture taken in front of a green screen, and then we fill the background with a shot of the Powells City of Books store front with it’s big marquee. And on the marquee we put the names of the people who were photographed, as if they were among the elite number of authors who’ve had their name up in lights at Powell’s.

And then we email them a link to to get a hi-res file of the image. In return, we ask for their email address. Along with the link to their picture, we also send them a 20% off coupon for shopping at Powells.com.

Obvious question: why wouldn’t customers just take their own picture in front of Powell’s? First off, they’d be a dark spot in the middle of a very busy Burnside Street if they tried. Second, they wouldn’t get their name on the marquee.

So, we launched this in late June and, after working out some bugs, we found that people who love Powell’s love the photobooth. And, happily, a lot of people love Powell’s. People were also very happy to get a 20% discount coupon. So this particular marketing program seemed to be doing its job.

What makes it more than just a marketing program, however, is the way in which nearly everyone who gets their picture taken comments about how “Powell’s” the whole experience is. “Only at Powell’s” is heard frequently. “This is such a Powell’s thing to do” is also heard. As well as, “How Portland.”

And that’s the magic to this experience.  Portlanders feel a sense of ownership of Powell’s, and they proudly take their visiting-from-out-of-town friends there. In turn, these visitors often deeply associate Powell’s with Portland. It is, in fact, a beloved institution, for both local and visitor alike. And both see this photobooth as a gift from Powell’s, a memento of their visit. So while it is a marketing tool, it’s also a way of making the Powell’s experience more Powell’s-ish.

So much so that the other day a man used the photobooth to propose marriage to his future wife. Seriously. Look at the picture: I don’t think it’s an ironic act, either. That’s when you know that you’re not just creating marketing, you’re creating an experience that deepens the meaning of a brand that already has a significant place in peoples’ lives.

If, as brand builders, we can do more of this and less marketing, we can give our audiences what they’re really looking for. Which is experiences, and brands, that matter to them. Thank you, Powell’s, for being such an adventurous partner in this.

- Doug

We’re taking a page from Dante, who gave himself permission to put anyone he wanted into Inferno or Paradiso. Likewise, we invite you to do the same with brands. Tell us which brands you think are the best and which are the worst. You’ll be able to see how others have voted once you’re done. We think its an interesting exercise in analyzing how brands affect us and how we think of them. So get all judgmental and make your picks.

Now’s your chance to go to Powell’s City of Books (the downtown store) and get your picture taken with your name on the Powell’s marquee — an honor usually reserved for great authors and other luminaries.

It’s fun. It’s free. It’s digital, so you can share it with your friends. And you won’t have to risk your life by standing in the middle of Burnside to do it.

As a nice bonus, you can sign up to get a 20% discount on your next Powells.com purchase (online only). That doesn’t hurt.

The photo booth will be up till September 25.

- Doug

It’s looking like branding as we come out of the recession is still not for the faint of heart or weak of bowels.

Good Lord. I sure felt the truth of this over the last several weeks. And it looks like the new Forrester report called The Future of  Agency Relationships confirms it.

We recently started working with a new client and straight out of the gate we’re launching an important promotion and ongoing brand experience that no one either here at ID Branding or there at the client has ever done before. In fact, the more experts I talk to in hopes of smoothing the process a bit, the more I’m finding out that no one has ever done this. Not exactly this way.

Great.

But this is exactly what the new era calls for. We all better plan on living in a whole lot of uncertainty from now on. Because our audiences out there are demanding that we invent on their behalf, and that means not just the messages or the visual effects or the casting and sound track, but the experiences themselves and the venues for these experiences. (I’ll get more specific about this project in a future post if my client says it’s OK.)

Suffice to say, we are figuring this thing out as we go. And it’s been bumpy.

Now, I’m used to doing that in situations like a commercial shoot when you’re working with the production company to figure out how to put a 16 mm camera into the middle of a fast-flowing steam so you can shoot migrating steelhead underwater as they pass up stream. And then determining that you’re going to have to buy the fish and release them. And finding out there aren’t steelhead available, but you can get a tanker truck of really big trout, which is close enough.

And after that’s solved there’s the question of finding the damsel fly or dragon fly in the script, but the production company comes up dry and you’re lucky enough to have seen a lake loaded with them when you were scouting for locations. And so it goes, for maybe a few days. Pure unadulterated scramble.

But this is now becoming every day, not just production week. And if we’re doing our jobs right, we’re constantly doing something we’ve never done before. On a much bigger scale. It’s exhausting. But it’s also damn exciting.

That’s kind of what the Forrester report is saying, but in a much drier fashion and with much more scholarly authority and a bit more jargon. I’ve only read summaries and commentaries on it, but that’s enough to start a conversation with my fellow branding people about it.

Edward Boches has got a nice handle on it and it’s reinforcing what he’s been doing over at Mullen. He calls it Adaptive Brand Marketing. It’s reinforcing what a lot of us have been trying to do recently. And it’s helpful because it’s clarifying and articulating some of the challenges we’re all going to be facing together, side by side, agencies and clients. And that can be soothing when things get bumpy. Which they will.

Because uncharted territory is our new home. Thank God I’ve got a great client who is willing to co-conspire with us, rather than demand flawless execution at every turn. Because the only way you can be flawless is when you’ve done something over and over again. And that’s exactly what ISN’T going to cut it anymore.

It reminds me of the days when I was part of an interactive agency called Paris France. Everything we did was something we’d never done before. This was from 1999 to 2003, and the interactive brand experience was in its infancy. We were constantly wondering how we were going to pull off what was in our heads. We repeatedly turned to a slew of experts like the Flash wizard Phillip Kerman to help us figure things out.

And that’s what we’re doing with this current promotion event — we’re calling in all kinds of experts and friends and just figuring it out. And watching for results. And measuring. And then making tweaks and changes as necessary. Trial and adjustment.

The days of knowing are over. We are all sailing off the map, and it’s pretty exciting, as long as our clients are willing to be explorers with us and get wet. As the Forrester paper points out, “agencies and outsourced partners will become more important than ever (the world is too complex to figure it out alone).”

Man, that is so true.
- Doug

For the next three months you can have your picture taken with every Portlander’s true love, Powell’s Books. They’ll even put your name up on the marquee, and then email the photo to you. Free. At Powell’s City of Books downtown.

Try to do this in real life and you’ll be flattened by Burnside traffic.

Instead of my name, I had my motto for the day put up on the big sign.

- Doug

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