Archive for November, 2013

Why humanising a brand on social media means having to say you’re sorry

Thursday, November 21st, 2013



Like most of marketing’s buzziest new phrases the ‘humanisation of brands’ is actually firmly rooted in sense and it is only the feckless bandying about of the idea that serves to devalue it.


The humanisation of brands is largely referring to the practice of giving a very tangible, human face and personality to your brand, an opportunity unquestionably afforded through social media.


There are a great many ways this can be applied and a great many benefits a brand can gain from, well, being a bit less brandy and a bit more peopley through social media.


But one significant trend to look out for as this continues to be accepted as a very sensible practice is what happens when companies balls things up.


Quite simply, a benchmark for any successful brand humanisation on social is transparency. More pertinently, what does that brand do and say when they make a mistake?


Brands that have successfully integrated this social humanisation into their communications culture will come forward, admit their mistake, apologise in the plainest language and clearly spell out how they intend to remedy matters.


The day of the desperately political non-apology (‘we regret that such-and-such an action may have been interpreted in such-and-such a way’) must surely be drawing to a close as brands and businesses realise that social media is as utterly unforgiving to corporate fudge as it is embracing and rewarding to honesty.


Humanising a brand doesn’t mean turning it into some kind of slobbering social media pseudo-buddy. Attempting to force a relationship like that isn’t going to benefit anybody. But it is an opportunity (maybe even an obligation) to provide a less guarded, more approachable gateway to your brand for those rather handy people who keep you in business.


Andrew is Lead Copywriter and Head of Social here at Together. Follow him on Google+.

The social media threats to your brand

Tuesday, November 19th, 2013


Some things are unquestionably appealing, like Nandos. Some are undoubtedly frightening, like Predator and to a lesser extent Predator 2.

Brands and businesses are very often told that social media more closely resembles a tasty plate of Piri Piri chicken than a murderous chap from outer space. And this is largely true, social media is a massive opportunity to brands of any size to engage, inspire and, yes, sell to their consumers. But with all the talk of these vast possibilities, the other side to social as a business is often hushed up. Social media, quite frankly, can be a threat to your brand.

But before you take a cricket bat and smash your Twitter machine to pieces, allow me to qualify that. Social media can be a threat to your business, if you’re not prepared for that threat.



We’ve seen recent examples of big organisations (i.e. ones that should know an awful lot better) doing serious damage to their brand through poorly judged moves in the social space. British Gas, JP Morgan and Kelloggs have all recently kicked themselves ferociously in the nuts and while the damage is not permanent nor irreparable it is significant.

Social media is an amplifier for all the reputational attributes brands wish to promote and disguise. A brand’s reputation becomes simultaneously more permanent and fleeting all at the same time in social. And the management of this incredibly sensitive, complicated and volatile relationship takes a great deal of clever strategy and the investment of time, money and the right kind of resource.

Be unprepared to behave in the right way in social and your brand will soon be painted as at best hopeless and at worst irrelevant.


Not another marketing channel

We’ve all seen examples of brands who have (or are continuing to) labour under the misapprehension that social media is a marketing sphere. It most certainly isn’t. It’s a social sphere in which only imaginative, engaging, valuable and unobtrusive marketing can successfully take place.

Similarly there are brands who see social media as nothing more than an extension of their customer service tools. Customer service is undoubtedly a key part of social media, but brands who forget that their responsibilities to their social media fans is ultimately one of creativity and reward will fall short of their aspirations for this channel.

Electing to integrate social media into a brand’s marketing strategy should be scary. It should never be as simple as diving into it purely because you feel you should or because your competitors have, or are about to. It should be considered as rigorously as any other marketing activity you’ve ever undertaken. What is your purpose for social, what is your voice, what will you add to your fans social experience and, most importantly, what are the threats to your brand’s reputation if you don’t do it as well as you could?


Nowhere to hide

Social media is (or at least should be) the humanisation of your business and that can be very frightening for companies that have always had the comforting buffer of facelessness between them and their customers.

Social media is ultimately exposure for your brand and while everyone will rightly tell you the benefits of being out in the open, it is important to recognise the vulnerability and the partial relinquishing of control that comes with that.

Most days it will probably be like a Nandos party. You just need to make sure Predator doesn’t do a big green space poo in your pitta.

Andrew is Lead Copywriter and Head of Social here at Together. Follow him on Google+.

Design of the Week – Knock Knock wine gift tags

Friday, November 15th, 2013

Wine 1

For those of you unfamiliar with Knock Knock or their founder Jen Bilik their creative philosophy is rather niftily summed up as ‘playing with paper and wit.’

And it is this decidedly papery wittiness that has seen them get the nod from our team of creative baboons as the Design of The Week.

The particular piece that made us chuckle (and punch ourselves in the knees for not having thought of it first) are these excellent gift tags for wine bottles.

Rather than just bestowing ‘best wishes’ or some other drabness on the receiver, these tags ask people to choose from the various reasons why they deserve a gift, from their own unquestionable amazingness to the existentially profound ‘I like you’.

wine 2

Another variation asks the recipient to choose from a list of gifts they would rather have received than the wine, with a voyage to the moon and the gift of perpetual motion being the two we’d fancy.

They made us giggle, the design and typography is lovely and like all excellent creative work there’s a simple brilliance to it. In a world of boring paper (and paper with crudely drawn willies emblazoned on it) it’s magnificent to spend a little time with some witty paper.

Catch up on last week’s Design of the Week.

Andrew is Lead Copywriter and Head of Social here at Together. Follow him on Google+.


Tweet or the hungry kid gets it and the tale of two John Lewis’

Tuesday, November 12th, 2013


It’s been a story of two social media stumbles this week, but stumbles that have taken the brands behind them in very different directions.

Firstly Kellogg’s, with the collective wisdom of a damp bowl of Frosties, declared that they would provide a free breakfast for a vulnerable child in exchange for every retweet they garnered. The Twitter world, as one might expect, then politely (well, not that politely) intervened to suggest that exchanging the lives and wellbeing of hungry children for social media popularity was a little insensitive.

‘Oops’, thought Kellogg’s and swiftly withdrew their hideous offer. But for a platform that seems to be built on fluidity and impermanence there is a definite intransience to Twitter, particularly when someone does something stupid and even more particularly when a corporate giant does that stupid thing.

On the other side of things, perennial givers of Christmas joy John Lewis found a great deal of the positive traffic elicited from their latest TV ad being misdirected to a computing professor in Virginia called John Lewis.

John Lewis man

The fact that this John Lewis then spectacularly rose to the occasion and responded to the misplaced messages with charm, patience and humour has left him looking like a lovely chap and has also sprinkled some remarkably positive PR over the John Lewis Christmas campaign. John Lewis, no slouches themselves in making the most of an opportunity then tweeted their namesake with the offer of a thank you gift.

John Lewis shop

Yes some cynics have raise doubts about the fact that Mr John Lewis did so expertly handle the situation when another John Lewis could quite have easily told the department store’s devoted customers to stick the bear and hare firmly up their Christmas chimney.

I’m not so sure that it was a set up. I just think that John Lewis (shop) got spectacularly lucky, John Lewis (man) unintentionally became the human, feel good story in the brand’s campaign and that some bright spark at Kellogg’s should be pummelled to death with hot Pop Tarts.

Andrew is Lead Copywriter and Head of Social here at Together. Follow him on Google+.

The Little Smoothie look

Wednesday, November 6th, 2013


The launch of Little Smoothie continues to roll on like massive, tasty, er, rolly thing.

This week we enlisted the services of our very good chums at Dot Promotional Clothing in Nottingham to whip us up the official Little Smoothie Taste Team T-shirts.

The team will be out and about, in their rather dapper looking t-shirts, next week at Morrisons stores throughout the UK.


Oh, and if you found this all a bit baffling then take a look here at what Little Smoothie is and how we helped get it into the supermarkets.