Uses of VR in Marketing

When it comes to new and exciting technology, Virtual Reality is arguably at the top of that list. It both revolutionizes how we can consume media, but also has the ability to completely immerse an audience. With that though, comes of course the intimidation factor. The term “virtual reality” isn’t really the most consumer-friendly when it comes to both trying to view content, as well as create it. You’ve probably thought to yourself, “great, another piece of equipment I need to buy?” or probably even imagined the “countless hours” it must take to create something that seems so out of our reach. But of course, this is the part of the blog post where I tell you you’re wrong! 

It’s a bit easier than you think

Did you know that your own smartphone is most likely capable of producing VR content right now? Ever heard of the good ol’ 360 photo? Your phone is most likely capable of taking one of those, and guess what! That is considered VR content. If you post that to Facebook right now, Facebook has the ability to recognize that photo as a 360 photo, and will allow you to move your phone around the virtual space to see every angle of the photo! That in itself is one of the easiest ways to create VR content. But how might this be relevant to marketing? It’s simple really. 

If you’re a brand or business, chances are you probably have a social media presence in which you post pictures of your facilities, especially if you’re a dining establishment or in the service industry. Well, 360 photos are literally the perfect way to showcase your facilities, without cluttering up your feed with post after post from each angle of your building. One photo, and you’ve more than likely wowed your audiences by giving them the chance to immerse themselves in your space without even having to leave the house. Like I said, it’s a simple yet effective tool to catch a few eyes and show off your space in a unique way. But for all you “go the extra milers” out there, this next part is for you. 

It’s more about the story than the hardware.

Remember earlier when I was joking around about how creating VR content might require you to purchase some expensive new gizmo? Well, it’s actually a lot more affordable than you might have originally thought. Here at the Pixel Labs office, we use the GoPro Fusion 360 to shoot most of our VR content. It’s small and compact, shoots quality footage and images, and the best part? Right now it’s only a cool $250 to pick one up. Sorry, but this isn’t a GoPro sponsored article (yet), but we can’t help but rave about this thing. We’ve taken this thing down the drop slide at Lost Island, into brand new home listings, and even stuck it on top of one of our drones for a real Aladdin magic carpet type experience. The possibilities for this are endless, and if you’re willing to put in some time to learn the ins and outs of this device, it can really increase your marketing game. 

Take, for example, the real estate market. Agents are already taking advantage of 360 photos and VR content, but imagine if they upped the ante even further and began producing full-on 360 video tours! In the era of covid, this seems like an idea too good to be true. To be able to fully immerse yourself in the listing, with a virtual listing agent giving you the lowdown on the house, all from the comfort of your current space. We tend to think this is a pretty good idea (wink, wink). 

Experience VR before you say no to it.

But seriously though. If you haven’t considered it yet, take a look at the possibilities of VR technology. You really never know what it could do for your business or brand! If you would have asked me 5 years ago if I thought I would have hands-on experience making virtual reality videos, I would have called you silly, but the reality (pun intended) is that virtual reality is so accessible these days. So whether you’re a marketer, a business or brand, or just a content creator looking for the next cutting edge tool to have at your disposal, look no further than virtual reality. 

Things To Think About Before Cutting Your Hair

Things To Think About Before Cutting Your Hair

Every business should not be afraid to get a haircut. What that means is businesses should not be afraid of rebranding. People don’t keep the same haircut from when they were children. Why should your business or creative content not be allowed to do the same? What follows is an example of this on a smaller scale. The story of how the PixelCast turned into Raisin’ Brand. Under the structure of three things to consider before you rebrand that the part-time employee writing this only thought about way too long after being tasked with the job to innovate the Pixel Labs podcast. 

1. Where did you start?

It’s important to think about where you started. For the Pixel Labs podcast, PixelCast, it was two young creatives who wanted to share their thoughts and opinions when it came to the creative world around them. Pixel Labs is a branding and marketing agency that was founded on creativity. The PixelCast was a good way to increase the following for the company. Additionally, it provided more content for employees to produce. It was simple and didn’t take up too much time. 

It was a nice haircut, to follow the previous analogy, but it wasn’t top dollar. It was hard to have a defined audience because it was ultimately a pop-culture creative podcast. Only really discussing ideas employees knew about from news sources and other social media platforms. There was no real direction for where PixelCast was going. It was as if a stylist was just hacking off chunks of hair hoping it would work out. Then leading to Pixel Labs growing their hair out when it came to the PixelCast and just not doing it.

2. Where are you now?

Much like thinking about where you started it’s important to think about where you are now. What have you been doing a lot of? Could you be doing things differently to spice it up? Do you have time and resources to revisit old ideas? For us it was the last one. We had new employees and interns who were eager to have a project of their own. Having multiple people working on a vlog seemed a bit much, which brought the team back to the PixelCast. A haircut was long overdue so instead of taking it to a professional the scissors were handed to the intern because no real harm could be done. 

The team spitballed a few ideas and decided the best approach to gain a following with the PixelCast episodes should be pre-recorded and scheduled like the vlog. Previously most were done by going live on social media. More importantly was the idea to bring on guests to share their thoughts, opinions, and stories. The haircut now was starting to take shape. One guest after the other was sharing what they knew about the creative world. Now guests could help build our following. There’s more incentive to share these episodes because people like to promote themselves. The more we produced the more we started to like the shape of the hair. Until one day we took a step back and realized it was a bowl cut. It was all one layer. Creatives, mostly video creatives, would come on, catch up with the team, tell some fun stories, and leave people with some words of wisdom. 

This format wasn’t bad, but it wasn’t what we were exactly looking for. All it did was reaffirm people that all we do is video production. Not marketing, not branding, not graphic design, video production. Additionally we gave them no valuable resources to use. It was just asking people we knew questions and they would tell us what they did. It was a simple haircut that no one would look twice at. A haircut that wasn’t us. 

3. Where do you want to be?

Day after day we would look in the mirror and wonder why no one has noticed our new haircut? Our guests noticed it because we invited them in and showed them why it was a good haircut. Everyone else just saw hair. We knew we wanted to do something different but didn’t know what. We began to talk as a team. We asked questions about how we could promote features of our company that people necessarily know about. We started in video production but we were growing into something more. A branding and marketing agency that can also handle creative work. How could we convey this message? Have guests come on our podcast to talk about branding and marketing. Have a solid mix to show who we are becoming but not let them forget who we were. We thought about our audience and realized if we wanted to develop a following we needed to offer more value. We didn’t want to just share experiences we wanted to educate people on branding, marketing, and creativity. We want to give people a reason to look at our new haircut, not just show them and explain why it looks so good. 

Ultimately leading us to Raisin’ Brand, a podcast about all things branding, marketing, and a splash of creativity. Showing how they all can work together and how listeners can make it work for them. We looked at our bowl cut and imagined flowing locks that are feathered and layered. A look to make people go “I want that.” However, our bowl cut was too short for layering and feathering. Letting it grow back out would take too long. So we shaved our head so to speak. Erased PixelCast from existence and started fresh with Raisin’ Brand.

 Now shaving your head to grow your hair out might sound counterproductive. Why start at square one when you already have a full head of hair? The answer is to make a statement. We wanted to show everyone we weren’t PixelCast any more, we were Raisin’ Brand. We wanted to start fresh and our three followers noticed. Because they started sharing our Raisin’ Brand promotions. Rebranding is making a statement, showing the world who you now are. You don’t change who you are. All you have to do is simply cut your hair.

Are you producing a podcast?

Are you producing a podcast?

It’s redundant at this point to say that podcasts are the new big trending piece of content that you can create. Podcasts have been gaining relevance and popularity for the past 5 to 6 years, and I’m sure at this point just about everyone has listened to one in some capacity. Of course, listening is just one aspect of podcasting but have you ever considered creating one? Now is literally the best time to start one if you’re interested, and even more so if you own a small business or brand. 

“They offer one remarkable aspect that few mediums of content can really offer”

When it comes to content marketing for brands in the modern age, the first thought is to typically gravitate towards video and social media platforms. A large portion of the population is becoming more and more attracted to visual content, so it completely makes sense. As stated though, podcasts are HUGE right now, and arguably could overtake video someday. They offer one remarkable aspect that few mediums of content can really offer. Freedom.

Without the visual element attached to them, or often having the visual element be an afterthought, this frees listeners up to be able to multitask while listening. Got a 30 minute commute to work in the morning? Put on a podcast. Editing some new photos of your products? Put on a podcast. Cleaning the house? Put on a podcast. You see where I’m going with this, right? Podcasts allow us as consumers to do more, while still getting the same fix of juicy content that we oh-so-crave. This is why as business owners trying to reach these same consumers, we have no excuse to not start our own podcasts! 

“I can take my eyes off the screen, and be productive on my own time”

The ability to reach your audience in a new and exciting way is often enticing enough, but it also removes a lot of the initial barriers that often limit consumers from viewing your content in the first place. It’s much less of a commitment for me to throw on a new podcast that I’m curious about, than it is for me to take the time to watch through a commercial or video. I can take my eyes off the screen, and be productive on my own time while still soaking in whatever the podcaster is feeding my ears. I know this whole attention-span, ease of access aspect is probably sounding very Gen-Z of me, but this is the age we live in. 

“…why not join the ranks?”

In summary, if you want to access an additional portion of your audience, then making yourself available via podcasts is highly invaluable. No matter what your business may be, I truly believe you can find a way to make your podcast into something that your audience will love. Own an ice cream shop? Talk about your flavor of the week, or drone on and on about your favorite Ben and Jerry’s flavors. Own a thrift store? Talk about retro fashion through the years, and review products that you sell. Honestly, the possibilities are pretty endless. At this point there’s probably already a podcast out there for just about anything, so why not join the ranks? All it takes is a phone that can record audio (literally every single smartphone), and somewhere to upload the audio, and BAM. You’re a podcaster. 

If you haven’t already, we’d love if you took a minute to check out our newly rebranded podcast, Raisin’ Brand. We are sitting sown with some amazing peers and professionals to discuss marketing and creativity and how the two can come together to create a brand.

Top 3 COVID-19 Era Marketing Campaigns

Top 3 COVID-19 Era Marketing Campaigns

We’ve all seen a million COVID related marketing campaigns, some good, some not so much. From what I’ve noticed, the best and most well-received marketing campaigns are ones that show people that your brand actually cares. This may seem obvious, but it really shows when a campaign is coming from their heart, and not their bank account.

1. Sysco: Adversity

We don’t want to hear how much your brand is “here for them.” We want to know what companies are actually doing to help those affected. This advertisement is showing us that Sysco is a company who isn’t just talk. They are actually taking steps to help out during the pandemic.

Another thing I appreciated about Sysco’s campaign is the strong tone of voice they used. There have been far more campaigns using a sensitive and loving tone. While this isn’t necessarily a bad thing, the tone of confidence really sets them apart and gives the viewers something to feel good about.

(Bonus points for not saying the new cliche “unprecedented times.” We’ve heard too much of that…)

2. Uber: Thank You For Not Riding 

Uber’s Thank You For Not Riding campaign captured all of the joyous and the melancholic feelings that we are all experiencing due to the changes in everyday life caused by COVID-19. This ad is truly relatable due to the fact that every person on this planet can relate to at least one of the touching clips in this video.

Something I found really interesting is that I had no idea who’s ad this was until the very end. And I actually really enjoyed that fact. It was very genuine especially from the standpoint that they are thanking their customers for not using their services. Uber is a company that has to have taken a huge hit from this pandemic but despite this fact, they still created one of my favorite COVID-19 marketing campaigns.

A notable fact about this campaign is that Uber is providing free transportation and meals to healthcare workers, supporting local restaurants, and shipping and transporting critical goods in the US with Uber Freight. Learn more about the services they are currently providing at https://www.uber.com/us/en/coronavirus/

3. Budweiser: One Team

This Budweiser campaign was very on-brand for them. It really touched on the sadness we may be feeling due to the lack of sports this year, but twisted it in a heartfelt and meaningful way. The idea that this is so far beyond sports is very important to be touching on right now. The frontline workers take precedence right now, and this ad is really driving that point home.

This campaign is also showing that they are providing tangible help to the frontline workers instead of just thanking them. Budweiser has committed to shifting their sports investments into helping the frontline heroes which really shows us where their priorities lie.

Honorable Mention

AXE: AXEoff  

AXEoff COVID Campaigns
https://www.adsoftheworld.com/media/content/axe_axeoff

On a lighter note, this Canadian AXE campaign brings attention to the necessary precautions of the pandemic while still having a comedic tone. Their satirical product, AXEoff, is a human repellent that works in the exact opposite manner as their usual body sprays. Instead of drawing the ladies in, this product assists with social distancing by making you smell repulsive.

I enjoyed this video because it is so unlike the others that it’s refreshing. I think we are all getting sick of the somber ads we keep getting served over and over again and we are ready for a laugh. Which is exactly what AXE is bringing to the table with this Canadian AXEoff campaign.

Every designer wants to create the “perfect” design, but what really is perfect? Read our latest blog post for some insight on this from our graphic designer, Lauren! Creating The “Perfect” Design

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Getting Creative With Your Marketing During a Recession

Getting Creative With Your Marketing During a Recession

A recession. It was predicted to come soon, but we didn’t expect it to happen like this. The coronavirus has not discriminated against any businesses, from large corporations to local diners, there is no shortage of struggle. 

The visible struggle we are seeing highlights businesses that are making smart, business saving moves. For example, The Knotty Nail in Des Moines is a craft store and most of its business revolves around group parties and events (yeah really can’t happen with the current social distancing restrictions.) So it’s something that you’d expect to be hit hard with these current events, right?

The Knotty Nail selling out during a recession

However, their smart marketing moves, flexibility, and savvy social media usage has put them on the map as the go-to quarantine craft.

They did not hesitate during this time many businesses would, and hit the ground running offering curbside pickup and 20% off do-it-yourself kits. Every week they even come out with new kits which opens them up for customers repurchasing their products often. They then offer live instruction on their Facebook of crafts that can get a little tricky. 

Customers are loving these fun activities, and posting their finished products on social media!  This is an amazing opportunity for them because 74% of consumers say that word of mouth marketing is a key influence when they make purchasing decisions (bigcommerce.com).

And let’s be real, who isn’t
1. Spending an ungodly amount of time on social media right now
2. Looking for anything to keep yourself busy

With these smart marketing moves, no one is surprised they are selling out like crazy even in these beginning stages of a recession.

What can your business take from this success story?

Don’t give up

Simply becoming complacent during this time is one of the WORST things you can do. Yes, you do have to comply with social distancing procedures and place the importance of public health as your #1 priority, but taking these as an excuse to do nothing will kill your business.

Get creative

Without a creative mind behind the Knotty Nail, they would’ve thought “Oh if we cant do group event’s any more we need to shut down.” But obviously that didn’t happen. With quick thinking, you can determine what the public needs right now, and how you can fill that need safely, and conveniently.

Hit marketing hard

This isn’t our first recession. We need to take advice from those who have thrived during these situations. This article was what inspired us to write this post in the first place. It is an insightful look from the 2008 recession which takes a look at the Great Depression for pointers to help their current businesses stay afloat.

It was a time when several companies benefited from aggressive marketing while their rivals cut back. A good example of that would be Kellogg besting C.W. Post during that time. Consumers didn’t stop spending during the Depression; most just looked for better deals, and the companies providing those better deals came out stronger after the Depression ended. When spending picked up, consumer loyalty to those companies remained.

How Brands Thrived During the Great Depression by Dave Chase
Reach out to your community

Right now, many people are looking to give some love to their favorite local businesses. Engage with your community and they will be happy to support you if you support them in return.
#CedarValleyStrong

Stay safe and stay healthy ❤️️

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Creating a Memorable Brand

Creating a Memorable Brand

So, you created a brand for your business. That’s awesome! But, you’ve only just scratched the surface of the process to make your brand a memorable one. Here in the Lab, we’ve formulated a list of three things to keep in mind on your mission to create a memorable brand experience for your consumers!

1. Have a Solid Understanding of Your Brand

Create A Vision/Mission Statement

To create a memorable brand experience, you need to know your brand inside out and backward. A way you can start to do this is by constructing a quality vision statement. A vision statement is your long term purpose. Why does your brand exist? What do you want to achieve? This is what you want the big picture of your brand to be. 

A memorable vision leads to a memorable brand. When the right customer comes across your brand statement and resonates with it, they will want to connect with you and become a part of it. 

The next step on the quest of knowing your brand to the core is to follow up on the vision statement with a mission statement. This is your purpose for right now. Who does your brand help? What is your day to day approach? This is what you follow to reach your vision. 

Your mission is more tangible than your vision, so it is really what brings customers in and hopefully encourages them to stay with your business. 

What Are Your Brand Elements?

We always preach on how a brand is more than a logo. However, your logo still matters… and it matters a lot. As well as your logo, choosing the right colors (and keeping them consistent!) is incredibly important. As we covered in our last blog post The Brand is the Heart, “you MUST make sure they are consistent across all platforms with all audiences, otherwise, there will be a brand disconnect with your customers.” And this disconnect is what makes your brand experience not so memorable, or even worse… memorable in a bad way (terrifying, we know). 

Create a Consistent Brand Voice

Just as important as your brand’s look is its voice. Voice is often overlooked when creating a brand, and it could be the difference between making, and breaking a potential customer experience with your brand. Here, you need to stay true to your business. Is your business more formal? Make sure that ALL interactions with your customers (in person, social media, blog posts, etc.) are formal in nature. Is your business super casual? Great! Just do the opposite. 

Presenting a unified front to your consumer is one of the most important things in creating a memorable brand experience, so you better have a firm grasp on what your brand is and what it looks like.

2. Build Quality Connections

Creating Quality Experiences

This might sound redundant, but to create a memorable brand, you need to give everyone who comes into contact with your brand a good experience. In our own experience, we saw a tremendous amount of growth early on because of the positive experiences we gave people. Word of mouth marketing is no joke people! Give everyone a good experience (yes, everyone), and they’ll tell their friends, who will tell theirs, and so on, and so forth. 

Trust

Trust is just as important in business (if not more important) as it is with creating personal relationships. Creating an honest and upfront relationship with clients/consumers is so important in creating a system of trust. If there is no trust, who would really want to work with you?

Stay Genuine

This is the most important thing to remember when looking to build these quality connections. Being genuine creates genuine connections, and that’s really all we have to say about that one. 

3. Listen

Listen To Everything

Listening, this sounds like a simple concept, but there are lots of layers to listening. You have to listen to your consumer, your analytics, and quite literally everything else being thrown your way. 

If you are consistently posting content and not asking yourself the questions, what’s getting lots of engagement? What isn’t? Why? Then what are you doing? See what’s doing well, and continue growing and innovating in that area. See what isn’t, and either scrap it or rework it.

Feedback, the Good, the Bad, and the Ugly

You have to listen to all of the feedback people throw your way, the positive comments… and more importantly, the negative ones. Thanking people for leaving positive comments helps your brand image by showing customers, they are seen and valued. Engaging with the people who engage with you is so important. If someone comments on your post or leaves a review, and you don’t acknowledge it, that person isn’t going to feel seen by your brand. 

And the same thing goes with reaching out to people who gave negative feedback. If you don’t acknowledge them, their negative beliefs about your business are reaffirmed. This results in a memorable brand experience…but not the good kind 🙁 . These people are truly valuable because they will give you insight into what is going wrong within your business and how you can fix and grow from it. 

Just remember, brands that are the most mindful of what they do, say, and where they go from there, are inherently the best to keep following. And therefore, more memorable. 

Go forth and create memorable brands, everyone!

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