news archive


Welcome to Weber Marketing Group’s archive of articles and insights on the topics of branding, branch design, culture building, and the financial industry.

Arkansas Federal Credit Union is building community by getting everyone onboard.

Comment

Arkansas Federal Credit Union is building community by getting everyone onboard.

With a new brand, and focus, AFCU is ready to share their success story.

AFCU was looking for a way to engage their current members and spur growth in their community, so we developed a launch campaign to connect with both. With smart financial tools and guidance built for their community, AFCU is ready to get to work. 


“Handle Bars”

Objective: AFCU offers great lending options to help you find success at whatever you set out to do. This 30 second commercial spotlights how AFCU helps members reach their goals with affordable, flexible financing.


“Cones”

Objective: AFCU is dedicated to helping their community thrive—and they love to show it. This 30 second commercial highlights AFCU’s values and their continued commitment to their community and members. 

Comment

What's Apple's "biggest product?" The store.

Comment

What's Apple's "biggest product?" The store.

Yes, you read that right.

If you were actually answering that question, you might have said the iPhone. Maybe even the iPad, MacBook, Apple TV or Apple Watch… but I doubt you would have answered it with “the store”. Yet that’s exactly what Apple’s Retail Chief, Angela Ahrendts, told Fortune Magazine at a recent conference.

Apple stores are being redesigned to feature a Town Square that connects each location to the community it serves. Anchoring the space is a “huge” digital screen that defines the forum area. Customer needs are handled by roaming staff dubbed “creative pros” who are solely available to teach customers skills such as how to take better pictures with their iPhone’s camera or how to use photography apps. They also help with downloading Apple Music, gaming and art apps. 

What does all of this sound like? Well if you’re familiar with Weber Marketing Group’s retail design services, we hope you would say it sounds like the vision and model that we craft for many of our retail financial services clients all across North America.

Connected to the community? Check.

Universal associates educating clients on products and services? Check.

Engagement space for events, seminars and clinics? Check.

Self-serve automation for transactions monitored by fewer FTEs? Check.

Several years ago we used to hold the Apple Store and the Genius Bar up as the gold standard of retail design. Everyone would fawn over the coolness factor of the space. Well now it appears that Apple is heeding the advice that we often dispense to our clients when it comes to retail modeling…. it’s not the design. It’s your brand experience and business model that should be driving strategic decisions about how the space unfolds and connects. And a big part of that strategy usually involves an integrated community component.

Apple acknowledges that retail, and the communities it serves, is a vital component of their delivery. Check.

What’s the state of your brick & mortar network? Should we be working on a solution to integrate it into the communities you serve with a differentiated brand experience? If you check this statement, maybe you should check out Weber Marketing Group.

Comment

Consumer research insights steer 102-year-old Workers Credit Union into a brand transformation while keeping their name intact.

Comment

Consumer research insights steer 102-year-old Workers Credit Union into a brand transformation while keeping their name intact.

When your credit union’s logo conjures up associations with Waste Management, the trash people, you know you may be in need of a brand makeover.

Actually, the senior leadership team at $1.4 billion Workers Credit Union (WCU) in Fitchburg, Massachusetts, already knew they were due for a brand refresh. They just didn’t know how far and wide they should take the 100-year-old brand or name. In fact, they didn’t really even know how to get started. So, they called in financial brand experts Weber Marketing Group of Seattle, WA to get a fresh perspective, research and an assessment on the state of their brand and name equity.

WMG launched a multi-prong, 360-degree view and evaluation of WCU’s name, brand, marketing, advertising, digital and retail experiences. This evaluation provided WCU with enough strategic data to make what is arguably every organizations most important decision: the direction, care, handling and guidance of their brand, name and logo in order to remain relevant, appealing, motivating and differentiated in the commoditized world of financial services retailing.

Engaging all stakeholders on a journey of brand equity discovery.

Members, non-members, employees, senior leadership team and the board of directors were all engaged to provide a meaningful articulation of varying brand, name, cultural and member experience perceptions. Each provided their perspective on how WCU was perceived in the marketplace and how well they were delivering on products, service, access, advice and helping members manage their money.

For the most part, Workers received high marks. WCU was seen as a great value and a trusted place for people’s financial needs. After all, you don’t grow into a $1.4 billion credit union without delivering what members want. Yet there were several key areas where the brand experience and image was not as effective as it could be.

The comprehensive brand audit examined every facet of marketing and provided observations and recommendations. Advertising messages, collateral, point-of-sale communication, digital, mobile and retail merchandising channels were all analyzed and presented in a detailed “State of the Brand” report.  This assessment report, combined with the learning from external and internal market research, became the ultimate decision tool that the senior leadership and the board needed to help them make the right brand, name and marketing choices moving forward.

Is a name change the lever of repositioning needed...or a mistake?

Before the engagement, many of Worker’s internal stakeholders and decision makers felt a name change was badly needed. Often credit union industry names are tied 50+ years of past history or former legacy sponsor organizations. Many younger consumers are often confused by even the concept of what a credit union is.

In the case of Workers Credit Union, research showed the name compounded the confusion in the marketplace and provided some barriers to soliciting new member growth. Workers Credit Union. Those three words: all contained some confusing or even negative connotations among non-members. It was a formula for a name change, right? Well, not so fast.

The voice of the consumer needed to be included in this conversation. Through an array of market focus groups, results found members loved their credit union name. Not surprisingly, they didn’t want it to change. Non-member prospects were also well aware of Workers credit union -- and thought highly of its reputation. Everyone was aware of some of their highly popular programs like “Give Back,” where Workers shares a cash dividend once a year with members. Workers was at the top of their game - and the name did not prove to be a major barrier to joining. 

Will expansion into new markets create brand confusion?

Workers Credit Union wanted to expand into the western fringes of the Boston metropolitan area: a region where they have low awareness and no branch presence. How would the Workers name and brand play there? The success of their expansion would hinge on attracting new members in a Boston commuter land that was predominantly Mass Affluent: with advanced degrees, high-tech jobs, dual incomes and high discretionary spending. Would they be attracted to an organization with a name as basic and potentially blue-collar sounding as Workers Credit Union?

As it turns out, research revealed, yes they would. The name resonated with many because everyone is a worker – unless you were born with a silver spoon or you won the lottery. The name was not a barrier and in fact had some character. It’s a real word, but it’s also one that is hard to trademark and protect.

The problem consumers revealed was not the name. It was the dated brand image, messaging and style. It was old, stodgy and unappealing. Remember the trash company logo reference? People didn’t give the credit union a second thought because the logo and marketing looked dated, uninviting and “not relevant to them”. The brand was in need of a total identity transformation if it hoped to appeal to this wider audience of potential members: especially more affluent ones.

The brand team at Weber recommended Workers CU retain its name, surprising management and the board. Well, mostly. WMG did recommend that Workers drop the confusing apostrophe (it was originally spelled Workers’) for the plural version of a worker… Workers Credit Union.  This was to even further communicate an emotional connection that it was for every worker. The apostrophe suggested, “a credit union belonging to workers”. Without it, it became “ a credit union of and for workers”. The apostrophe also created confusion and SEO challenges in WCU’s website URL.

The first step in the identity journey was to update the logo, mark and color palette (from Waste Management’s green and yellow), to an arresting blue and orange, unique among their financial competitors. A striking logo mark was developed with a stylized “W” anchoring a brush stroke symbol with three vertical components. The goal of the new icon was to make sure it translated well across all online, mobile and digital screen devices.

Concurrently with the logo redesign, the crafting of the strategic Brand Platform was underway. It’s the engine that drives the credit union towards consistency and a common language and focus. WCU’s brand was distilled down to “high performance banking,” and this essence became the compass of its brand differentiator. From the research and high Net Promoter Scores, it was clear they needed to lean deeper into their relationship pricing value proposition even deeper in their brand messaging.

The new brand essence of “high performance” was further defined with the new brand promise: “We’ll work hard for your financial success.” This promise was culled from member research and high loyalty member comments like this:

“I rate them a 10 due to low fees/no fees, good rates on checking and their cash back program. All my accounts are now with Workers because they outperform all my other accounts at other banks.” 

With a well-defined new brand platform, and a bold new logo and identity package, it was time to design the new brand identity and look & feel. WMG’s bold visual and tone of voice concepts gave the high performance banking it’s distinctive personality and style that now appeals to their mass affluent targets. The brand promise of “We’ll work hard for your financial success,” combined with their name Workers, was translated into a memorable, external brand tagline of simply: “Banking that works.”

When the new identity was unveiled in mid-2016, CEO Doug Peterson remarked, “this change isn’t just about logo or colors… it is much more. We have a strong history of providing a great value for our members and this is about making that commitment and experience clear, simple and appealing.”

The Weber Marketing retail team helped audit, renovate and update their 14 branches to reflect the brand program and bold new identity. New signage, brand paint colors and a robust interior messaging and merchandising system richly expresses the brand image in a fresh, and consistent new experience. The brand has now come to life and clearly differentiates Workers from their bank competitors.

Chief Operating Officer Sandra Sagehorn-Elliot said the branch changes are to “modernize” the credit union so that its image “matches what we provide in terms of value, energy and high performance experiences to our members.” Other member touchpoints were rebranded, including launching Apple Pay, new smartwatch apps and a refreshed mobile app to simplify members’ financial lives.

Although Weber Marketing has successfully renamed over 65 financial institutions, the Workers CU story shows why retaining a name with solid equity and rebranding the image and experiences can be just as powerful a growth strategy. 

“The key to brand and name decisions, is to involve the voice of the consumer,” says John Mathes, Director of Brand Strategy for WMG. “Sometimes a name change is clearly called for. But when you have a strong, viable and protectable name, it suggests diving deeper into the reasons your brand is confused or not yet well-articulated, that’s stifling growth goals. Evaluating changing the name of an organization requires careful examination of your equity, growth strategies and as many strategic data points as possible.”

“Weber’s logical and pragmatic approach to brand development made so much sense to everyone, even the non-marketing people which is so important to making it successful,” said John Doyle, SVP/Retail Services at Workers Credit Union. “Their guidance was immeasurable to keep me and the entire brand team on track and committed to making this transition happen.”

Comment

Ent is all about empowerment and their new spots prove it.

Comment

Ent is all about empowerment and their new spots prove it.

When it comes to introductions, highlighting what you do is as important as who you are.

Ent needed help introducing their new brand while building awareness about their great product offerings, so we helped them develop a series of TV commercials to highlight the role Ent plays in helping member reach their goals.

Achievement—it’s an Ent thing.


auto spot

Objective: On top of great auto loans, Ent offers members more savings and convenience. Create a 30 second commercial highlighting how affordable and flexible financing your car with an Ent can be. 


business spot

Objective: Ent helps business owners accomplish their goals by making their banking easier with Free Business Checking. Tell a 30 second story showcasing the relationship Ent builds with business members.


checking spot

Objective: Ent Free Checking makes banking and staying connected easier, because members have better things to do with their time. Highlight the convenience and flexibility of banking with Ent in a 30 second commercial. 


mortgage spot

Objective: Ent Mortgage pre-approvals enable members to act quickly and confidently when they find their dream home. Show how Ent makes home buying easier in a 30 second spot. 


You May Also Like:

Comment

Community and Authenticity Shine Through in new Films for OnPoint

Comment

Community and Authenticity Shine Through in new Films for OnPoint

When real people share their stories, the result isn’t a testimonial. it’s a connection that runs much deeper.

When we set out to help OnPoint tell their brand story in a rich media campaign that would feature real OnPoint members and unscripted dialog, we wanted to move beyond the traditional testimonial. So we let the subjects tell their stories about what's most important to them and how OnPoint plays a part in helping to make it happen.

The results are two short films with a powerful connection to community.

Comment

Charlotte Boutz-Connell Speaking at Annual Social Media Conference for Credit Unions

Comment

Charlotte Boutz-Connell Speaking at Annual Social Media Conference for Credit Unions

The annual Social Media Conference for Credit Unions is coming to Seattle next week, and Charlotte Boutz-Connell, a Sr. Account Manager and Social Media Strategist at Weber Marketing Group, is speaking twice.

Charlotte Boutz-Connell, Sr. Account Manager & Social Media Strategist, Weber Marketing Group

Charlotte Boutz-Connell, Sr. Account Manager & Social Media Strategist, Weber Marketing Group


"A Pro-Social Media Organization" – Friday, July 15th, 11:35 am-12:35 pm

Why is social media different from other media channels? The social element, of course! In this session, Charlotte will share practical ways of improving your social media engagement – and your staff engagement – through empowering employees to get involved . . . in the right ways. Make your social media program not only more audience-relevant and higher performing, but also one more reason why your staff is excited to share that they are proud to work at your credit union. 


"Managing a Social Media Crisis" – Saturday, July 16th, 9:05 am-10:05 am

Social media crises can strike at any time, with the potential to impact your credit union’s reputation. In this session, Charlotte will discuss how to handle a social media crisis with grace – and how some negative situations can even lead to positive outcomes for your organization if handled effectively. She will discuss various types of crises and how to be prepared and how to respond.


Don't miss Charlotte's informative, interactive sessions and a full slate of presentations from more top social media experts. Join CU Conferences in Seattle next week.

Comment

Friday Share: Language

Comment

Friday Share: Language

Today’s entry in the Friday Share’s Language series focused on fluency. The premise we explored comes from studies of how language and culture are so thoroughly intertwined that they can be seen as the exact same thing, and that verbal and cultural fluency grow in tandem. 

Comment

Weber Marketing Group at the MAC Conference

Comment

Weber Marketing Group at the MAC Conference

Weber Marketing Group is sponsoring the Zappos tours.

"Zappos culture tour" - Tuesday, May 31st at 1:00 PM & 3:00 PM

The Zappos tour experience is a 90-minute glimpse into the Zappos family culture. You'll get to say hello to some of Zappos' amazing culture-filled departments, such as HR and their Customer Loyalty Team. There will also be other Zapponians, and maybe a special guest appearance here or there, along the way as well.

Why do we think you’ll love this look under the Zappos hood?

  • You'll take back ideas you can implement at your credit union.
  • You'll see how out how it’s not about the money it takes to energize your staff, but it’s more about hiring the right people.
  • You'll learn how to build a service brand that can be lived out by everyone at your organization, every day.

All you have to do is hop on a bus and take it all in!


Randy Schultz, our VP Marketing, is leading a culture building workshop after the zappos tours. 

"zapping your credit union brand" - Tuesday, May 31st at 5:00 PM

 What you'll learn:

  • Practical applications on what you want your credit union to look and sound like, with a little Zappos mixed in
  • How to combine brand and culture for an experience that will blow the socks off your credit union's members
  • How to get buy-in from your CEO and HR to implement what you’re going to build into your brand
Randy Schultz, VP Marketing

Randy Schultz, VP Marketing


We hope to see you at ARIA for the MAC Conference next week as MAC celebrates it's 30th birthday!

Comment

How Countryside Bank went from serving builders to brand building

Comment

How Countryside Bank went from serving builders to brand building

CAN A BANK REINVENT ITS BRAND WHILE STILL ROOTED IN ITS PAST SUCCESS? 

Founded in 1975 by Jack Wheeler and his partners, State Bank of Countryside (SBC) developed its foundation in the booming Chicagoland residential construction market. SBC enjoyed an amazing 33-year run of successful and profitable growth.

SUCCESS SEVERED BY THE FINANCIAL CRASH 

While the bank had flourished during the construction boom and for 33 years prior, when the 2008 recession hit, local development and construction ground to a halt—and new sources of business and income became critical.

The bank was losing customers and revenues and needed to take bold steps to stem losses. John Wheeler, President and the son of founder Jack Wheeler, knew it would take a bold and robust enterprise-wide turnaround to get the bank headed back in the right direction. Wheeler shared, “We had built an amazing high performing bank but it was time for us to modernize our brand image in the market, expand our product line, update our delivery channels and redefine our brand for the next ten years.”

The old website experience was not simple or helpful.

The old website experience was not simple or helpful.

It was time for us to modernize our brand image in the market...
— John Wheeler, President, Countryside Bank

AN ENTERPRISE-WIDE BRAND TRANSFORMATION BECAME MISSION CRITICAL

In 2013, senior leadership identified that if the bank was going to draw new customers and shift to growth mode, an inside-out, top-to-bottom assessment of its current marketing, branches and delivery systems (along with a brand transformation), would be paramount to the bank’s path towards growth. 

SBC called on Seattle-based brand agency, Weber Marketing Group, to launch a needed brand assessment. This effort included customer and internal market research, branch audits, prototype development and brand strategy to refocus the bank’s dated brand, branches and delivery systems. The SBC brand was in need of not just a “refresh,” but a total engagement of its staff and management to refocus enterprise-wide. The end goal being to modernize and create market appeal to key growth segments. 

The Weber Marketing team started with a brand road map of what SBC would need in order to establish itself as a modern and distinctive community bank offering a wide range of services. Weber Marketing led surveys, focus groups, market research, and workshops to engage the culture in the change. Customer market research around brand and service perceptions and desired changes ensued. Ultimately, the brand strategy led to key findings and recommendations that guided the changes ahead. 

The bank’s SVP of Marketing Diane Brennwald shared “One key positive research insight for our brand was our long-time strength and admiration amongst residential construction leaders. But we needed to find a way to leverage that reputation and our loyal client base to a wider retail banking consumer and small business audience.”

WHAT’S IN A NAME? A LOT MORE THAN JUST LETTERS… 

One of the major steps uncovered during the transformative rebranding of SBC was the need for a name change and new brand identity. Customer research determined that the bank needed to simplify and modernize its overall brand. The geographic-oriented name was so long it had been shortened to an acronym over time (SBC). It was limiting the identity of the bank to a single small market area.

The Weber Marketing team suggested that the State Bank of Countryside name be simplified to Countryside Bank. A modern and timeless new corporate identity was designed. 

“By keeping some continuity to our historic name, we could modernize the logo and update the bank’s image profoundly, while still honoring our long-time customers and partners. It was important to us they knew we were still the same bank, under the same ownership” shared Countryside’s Brennwald.

The name modification set the foundation for a modern and progressive brand identity: A bold new color system, an optimistic tone-of-voice, a vibrant personality and strong new messaging.

The new, modernized logo honors the bank's history.

The new, modernized logo honors the bank's history.

Theirs is ultimately a story about building lives, which translates well to a broader audience.
— Josh Streufert, Creative Director, Weber Marketing Group

DEFINING THE STATE OF THEIR BRAND 

Following extensive brand evaluation, it became obvious the brand was not clearly defined, staff was unclear how to articulate their brand, and messaging had become inconsistent. There was not a clear brand promise or a personality defined for the bank. And the customer deposit base was aging, creating a need for attracting new younger customers. This lack of brand distinction is familiar to many community banks in the wake of the financial crisis and a dynamically changing technology market that’s fraught with new competitors. 

A dynamic new responsive website integrates a simple, clean and distinctive brand experience and messaging.

A dynamic new responsive website integrates a simple, clean and distinctive brand experience and messaging.

LAYING THE GROUNDWORK FOR A DISTINCTIVE BRAND POSITION

Countryside Bank’s rich history within the construction community was a very unique aspect of the bank that the Weber Marketing team chose to highlight when developing the new brand foundation. The new brand essence focused on the wide-open language of “builders.”

Countryside’s brand essence of “builders” was crafted to inspire all its customers, not just those in construction. Whether aspiring toward building a young family, growing a small business, or constructing a new home, every customer is building and yearning for a better life. Weber Marketing’s Director of Brand Strategy, John Mathes added, “The new internal brand promise, We’re for Builders, connects with all of these people and opens the bank’s reach to a growing population that wants a true banking partner, not just a checking account.”

Countryside’s CEO Wheeler shared that the new brand tagline, “It’s Grow Time,” is active and motivating to many of their entrepreneurial stakeholders. “It pushes our bank and staff in forward motion for positive growth, while drawing customers in with action-built wording and positive messages of how we can help them get ahead.”

Once the brand essence, promise and tagline were developed, the next step was to train the staff to help them fully understand and begin living out the brand. Following the internal brand launch, Weber Marketing ran a half-day brand culture training for the entire staff. The agency’s Brand Camp established and explained Countryside’s new brand and identity, as well as setting commitment goals for every employee. The new brand meant a new language and set of cultural beliefs and actions that employees would learn, understand, and adopt in their daily work.

The new brand identity system is fresh, simple and focused.

The new brand identity system is fresh, simple and focused.

TACKLING A DATED BRANCH EXPERIENCE, IMAGE AND STYLE

Retail audits revealed the branch décor, volume of wallpaper, and dated image was a big deterrent to attracting a new group of savvy bank customers. In customer focus groups, the bank learned that some likened the dated branch interiors to spaces similar to a “funeral parlor.” With the lack of technology, coupled with outdated furnishings, there was little reason for people to spend any time at the bank. 

ELEVATING THE CUSTOMER BRAND EXPERIENCE AT RETAIL

Transforming the entire customer experience in branch, from entry to every touchpoint, was a fully integrated strategic process. From use of physical space and intuitive technology solutions, to key staffing decisions and training for certain interactions, every element of the experience was reimagined and crafted. 

The branch prototype design phase sought to define a modern professional image that would entice new customers and increase wallet share amongst existing clients. Weber Marketing wanted to share a story within the branches that reflected the new brand positioning, and to let customers know what Countryside Bank stands for. Enhancing and elevating the customer experience by being both efficient and unexpected became a focus of the new brand. 

Countryside’s core branch team met for two days of participation in a discovery visioning workshop, where all aspects of the business model were prioritized. Here, needed operational shifts were identified to support the new model. The style also needed to reflect the newly defined brand. 

The new branch prototype brings the "Build" brand to life.

The new branch prototype brings the "Build" brand to life.

BUILDING THE BRANCH OF THE FUTURE

For Countryside’s CEO John Wheeler, building the branch of the future meant reimagining their business model and altering the convention of a boring traditional bank. “We had some strong ideas about how modern and dynamic we wanted our branch image to be, plus introducing experiences like new tablet technologies, comfortable lounges and highly personal staff service that Weber helped us define,” noted Wheeler.

With a new dynamic prototype branch model in hand, Countryside Bank made the strategic decision to remodel all their branches at one time for maximum impact and efficiencies.

John Mathes, Weber Marketing’s Director of Brand Strategy shared, “Our team converted a print and poster style merchandising system into a robust and modern digital, tablet, print on demand, and environmental branded consumer messaging and engagement program.”

The redesigned executive suite at head­quarters supported the CEO’s unique mandate of total openness to customers, access to senior leadership, and transparency. The open concept design gives the branch an upscale vibe, focusing on accessible yet savvy iPad tablet bars and showcases high-touch service and advice.

These changes not only were reflected in the clean design, but also in how the staff interacted with clients. At its heart is a new high-touch concierge model. Giant teller stations gave way to more private and intimate Teller Pods and Smart ATMs. Rather than giving passive financial advice, the staff received empowering brand training from the Weber Marketing team, which focused on advancing customers’ financial knowledge and success. By treating customers in an individualized way, backed by a strong and unified brand, Countryside Bank hoped to successfully reach new target markets.

The old branches were characterized by some customers as "resembling a funeral parlor."

The old branches were characterized by some customers as "resembling a funeral parlor."

The transformation from a dated experience to a modern, branded, digital lobby with tablets, digital content and "refresh" bars was dramatic.

The transformation from a dated experience to a modern, branded, digital lobby with tablets, digital content and "refresh" bars was dramatic.

THERE'S ALWAYS A STORY TO TELL

Through the use of engaging digital storytelling, the Weber Marketing team worked to create emotional and visceral connections that breathed new life into the Countryside brand personality. Using a combination of eye-catching imagery, lifestyle vignettes, and impactful digital storytelling that focused on the bank’s connections to the community and small businesses, Countryside Bank was able to expand out of its niche market and into a new brand identity rooted in the wider communities they were growing into.

Our partnership with Weber Marketing helped our team focus on what most needed to change to achieve a lasting brand transformation and drive future growth.
— John Wheeler, President, Countryside Bank

Comment

Comment

Uber's marketing took me to goal line, but then they fumbled the ball.

A few weeks back I got hit up with an attractive promotional offer from Uber. It arrived via email and for the most part I tend to read stuff I get from them. And why not? I’m a fan. Or at least I thought I was.

I’ve used Uber fairly often over the last 3 or 4 years, particularly on the west coast and in Seattle where the company I work for is based.  I’ve even been a bit of a brand ambassador, championing their merits along the way. So the other day when their offer arrived at a very opportunistic time (how do they know?), I was ready to pounce.

Comment

Weber Marketing Group leaders showcased at the Financial Brand Forum in May

Comment

Weber Marketing Group leaders showcased at the Financial Brand Forum in May

Hosted by The Financial BrandThe Financial Brand Forum helps the world's top financial marketers and senior leaders tackle their biggest branding, marketing, technology and retail challenges.  Weber Marketing's senior leaders and principals Josh Streufert and Karen McGaughey will both speak on building game changing brand strategies, distinctive identities and cultures that shape results and increase performance.

Weber Marketing Group will also be co-sponsoring the Espresso Cafe in the main lobby of the Forum conference area with free lattes and espresso each morning of the 2-day conference. Stop by and meet the Weber Marketing team.

Up first on Monday, May 16th, Weber Marketing's Creative Director Josh Streufert leads a hands-on 3-hour pre-conference workshop filled with strategies, unique approaches, case studies and brand experience insights into building a powerful brand identity. The take-home Brand Identity Workshop manual alone is worth the price of admission.

Comment

How a simple bottle of water can drive brand loyalty.

Comment

How a simple bottle of water can drive brand loyalty.

I’ve traveled my entire career. A lot. Over the decades I have directed my loyalty and patronage to a handful of travel partners. It makes sense, right? If I’m going to slog across the country, I’m going to focus on the reward and status opportunities available and achieve the highest levels that I can earn. Spreading my spending across multiple providers and not climbing the loyalty hierarchy just doesn’t make sense.

The rewards can be substantial. My family has benefited multiple times, utilizing free airline tickets, resort accommodations, rental cars and the like. Of course, one would argue that for a guy who travels all the time, is more travel really a reward? I’ll let you decide that for yourself, but for me, having a happy family is the real reward.

Occasionally I have to break my one-source loyalty focus when it comes to hotel rooms. I belong to almost a dozen programs, but like most seasoned travelers, it comes down to one or two… again to concentrate and accumulate as much benefit as possible. I always try to book with Marriott or Hilton. Both offer a wide range of brands, locations and consistency. Familiarity helps to dull the pain of being on the road, particularly in an unfamiliar location.

Historically, I’ve always looked for Marriott hotels first. I started with them and have had an admitted bias toward them over Hilton. When I couldn’t find a Marriott brand hotel to fit my parameters, I then looked to Hilton. My loyalty to Marriott was fairly fierce.

That loyalty has now shifted. And the reason is a cold bottle of water that probably costs around 50 cents. As you may know, if you are at a certain status level with Hilton, they will give you a bottle of water or two when you check in. As you may also know, local water in various parts of the country doesn’t taste very well. I’m sure there’s nothing wrong with it, but it’s different than what you are accustomed to and it can be downright awful in taste. And don’t get me started on the quality of the ice in the machines down the hall or on another floor. It can all get a little nasty.

I used to get pretty dehydrated in a hotel because I would curb my consumption. Sure, I realize that I could hit the vending machine for a bottle, but who carries dollar bills any more? Besides, once I enter a room and the door swings closed, I loathe to leave it and traipse down the hall or to another floor looking for the vending machine.

Hilton must have conducted primary research with their road warrior guests and discovered the same thing. So there’s the real lesson in all of this, you’ve got to speak to your members, customers or clients and find out how you are doing. And listen for the little things. The devil is in the detail and detail matters. My peers must have spoken up and told Hilton that they were drying up in their rooms and boy wouldn’t a long cold fresh drink of water make a difference. Hilton listened.

Are you listening? Are you asking? Those of us in the branding and marketing world tend to focus on the big shifts while orchestrating the perfect brand engagement.

After my repeated exposure to this simple act of providing water, I finally realized what a difference Hilton was making in my experience and satisfaction with such a small gesture, solving my issue and earning my loyalty.

All with a bottle of water. Brilliant.

Comment