Budweiser Warms Our Hearts with “Puppy Love” Superbowl Commercial

January 30, 2014

Budweiser does it again with its extraordinary marketing tactics. From one of their strongest and most-loved ads in awhile, Budweiser reprised the Clydesdale and its beloved trainer, from last year’s “Brotherhood” ad in yet another heartwarming Superbowl commercial. This commercial follows the previous ad’s baby animal theme and features a 10-week old puppy who keeps escaping an adoption center to befriend the Clydesdales at a nearby farm although the trainer continues to return the pup.

From the puppy’s persistent visits to the Clydesdales trapping a car when someone tried to adopt the pup to the reunion of the puppy and Clydesdale in the end, everything about this ad melts your heart. The multi-layered story with parallel signs of love add to the touching story as the woman from the adoption center played by Melissa Keller is also united with Don Jeanes, who plays the trainer, in the end as well. The two constantly meet due to the circumstances and give way to Budweiser’s emotional ties to the feeling of love as well as the strong friendship between the puppy and Clydesdale.

To make these commercial even more sentimental, strong music choices are anchored for both last year’s ad and this sequel. Last year, Fleetwood Mac’s “Landslide” touched the audience’s hearts and this year, Passenger’s “Let Her Go” does the same. With the connections of love and deep friendship of “best buds,” Budweiser did a great job of tying their brand to emotional connections that bring their audience closer.

Macklemore and Ryan Lewis Continue to Conquer Social Media

January 17, 2014

2013 was a great year for Seattle-based hip-hip artist Macklemore and producer Ryan Lewis as they received countless awards including an MTV Music Award, a Teen Choice Award and many more due to their successful social media efforts. Their success came from paving an independent path on YouTube rather than signing with a label, which helped them to connect with fans in a way that was more intimate.

With the power of the internet and with the real personal relationship that you can have via social media with your fans… I mean everyone talks about MTV and the music industry, and how MTV doesn’t play videos any more — YouTube has obviously completely replaced that. It doesn’t matter that MTV doesn’t play videos. It matters that we have YouTube and that has been our greatest resource in terms of connecting, having our identity, creating a brand, showing the world who we are via YouTube. That has been our label. Labels will go in and spend a million dollar or hundreds of thousands of dollars and try to “brand” these artists and they have no idea how to do it. There’s no authenticity. They’re trying to follow a formula that’s dead. And Ryan and I, out of anything, that we’re good at making music, but we’re great at branding. We’re great at figuring out what our target audience is. How we’re going to reach them and how we’re going to do that in a way that’s real and true to who we are as people. Because that’s where the substance is. That’s where the people actually feel the real connection.

— Macklemore (via techdirt.com)

Through social media branding, Macklemore and Ryan Lewis paved their way to success. Their website featured the album, where to purchase merchandise, their show schedule and various pictures through a blog that shows what goes on at shows both from a fan perspective as well as behind the scenes. This section, especially, gives off the feel of intimacy where Macklemore is an artist but is also one of the people to share a connection.

The Facebook page gives a similar intimacy as Macklemore updates it daily; sometimes multiple times a day. He shares EVERYTHING with his fans including free performances, messages thanking for support, pictures with his fans that tag them and information about their other social media channels. On Twitter, he constantly retweets what his fans say, answers questions and announces upcoming shows. YouTube has been the biggest social media outlet for Macklemore. He relinquished a lot of control over his videos so that they can be placed on different Youtube channels, allowing viewers to see them wherever they please and free of charge. As branding gurus, Macklemore really understands his audience and the demographic he is trying to reach out to.

Although Macklemore and Ryan Lewis have it big now, nothing is stopping them from the constant social media branding. With the Grammys coming up Sunday, January 26, Macklemore surprised a Bronx, NY bus with a performance of “Can’t Hold Us.” The performance was recorded by Macklemore himself and several of the bus passengers, bringing several videos to YouTube and spreading their marketing efforts. With over 1.3 million hits on this video in less than 3 days, Macklemore and Ryan Lewis still got it.

Small Business Branding Without a Big Budget

December 10, 2013

Many small business have the wrong idea about budget and expenditures. Having a large budget can be an advantage to expanding your business, but that isn’t the only way to get ahead in the game. Here are some branding tactics that any small business can use to grow, regardless of the budget size.

via Creative Commons

Define your brand with a promise by explaining what you can offer others that others can’t. You need to set yourself apart from others and you don’t necessarily “need” money in order to do this. Understand what your customers actually need and solve their problems for them through research. Give customers a reason to believe that it’s better to purchase from you instead of your competitors. Once you give them a promise and you keep it, that is the true core of your branding. From how you deal with customer care to the being green to having easy access to your services, there many ways you can approach this without a large budget backing you up.

Choosing the right name can go a long way. Make sure that it is easy to pronounce, spell and remember. Get advice from friends and family to test out the name to see if it’s catchy or relates to your product or the history behind it enough. This process may take some time or it might just come to you, but it must be perfect because that is what your name will always be so be careful. Also, make sure that it isn’t used by another business in order to avoid trademark or copyright disputes. That is the last thing your business wants and it will cost you money to get out that situation.

What’s your story? The history and background of your product or business is what captures an audience. If you have a loving family history behind your business, people can relate to you and understand your product more. If you are an all-natural food company, show the story of your products coming straight from a local farm to show how genuinely natural your products are. People may not be able to definitely remember your name and product, but they will definitely remember how you made them feel with your story. This is important to capture as you will engrave your brand into your audience through this.

Designing your visuals is relative to your brand name and also helps them to remember what your product is. Colors and images are easier to retain than a bunch of words so if you collaborate them, people will remember your product more. From colors to typefaces to styles and layouts, everything about the design can be incorporated in your branding. You want your audience to always think about your business, regardless of what they are looking at. By having consistent and definitive branding, people will be able to look at simple things like a color or typeface and automatically connect it with your business.

Branding isn’t always about paying huge advertisers to have campaigns for you. It is about having a definitive brand that people know of. If you make sure that you have a strong name, story, promise and a consistent design for your brand and product, people will more likely remember you and keep you in mind.

Developing Your Brand

November 6, 2013

When developing your brand, there are many points you need to take into account. It is your basis and what everything you produce should revolve around. We know it’s difficult to break it all down and finalize so we are here to help!


1. Your name. This is your identity. It is the core of your marketing. Use your name consistently before you finalize it. Think about how it sounds rather than how it’s actaully spelled. This is important because you want people to be able to pronounce it well. This will allow it to be said easily and spread to others. It will also allow people to use the phonetics to figure out the spelling when trying to look you up online on search engines.

2. How are you defined? This can often be condensed to your brand’s tagline or slogan. If you can’t say what you stand for in something as simple as that, it is way too complex. You want to be able to tell people what you’re about easily. Most of the top brands use few words such as Nike’s “Just Do It.” and Apple’s “Think Different.” Think about what position you want in your prospect’s mind. Consider things that are associated with your brand as well. This can include things like how a small blue box is a symbol of a Tiffany & Co. box. Create meaning to simple things with your branding.

3. What’s Your Story? Stories are much more easy to remember rather than a bunch of facts. If you creating a background history with a middle and a foreseeable future, people will understand your brand more. Stories from how your brand or product came to be to your location or demographic can make it. With this, you have a basis to develop from just like you do with your name. Your fans own your brand as well in this world of social media so maybe your demographic can evolve with your product as well.

4. Have a visual identity. Just like the blue box makes women think of Tiffany & Co., you want a look and feel for your brand. From colors, the logo and typefaces used, you can brand yourself across all platforms from print to web and intermingle them so that people will see that it is your brand. This will allow more followers on all networks and also give your audience an understanding of what you’re about.

5. Why your brand? You need to set yourself apart from your competition. What problems do you solve for your customers? Why do you matter? People need to know these things about you before they give in. From there, they can remain loyal to your brand and choose you over your competitors.

6. How do you treat your customers and employees? How you treat people plays into how loyal your customers will be to your brand. Make your brand one that has compassion and becomes one with the people rather than setting your brand apart from the people. With social media connections, you can constantly keep up with how others feel about you. You can also make sure your customers are all happy with customer satisfaction.

7. Representation keeps your brand alive. What is the face of your brand? Is it a character you’ve created? Your CEO? Who owns your company’s identity? You want to make sure that your brand can live on. What happens when employees leave? Will they take followers with them? How much of an impact does your specific brand have on your audience. You work so hard on creating your brand and you want it to last.

Elements Any Company Can Build

October 23, 2013

Many businesses make the mistake of thinking they don’t have the potential to succeed as much as large monopolies due to the lack of resources and budget. This is not true. There are many major components of building a brand that give your small business just as much, if not more value to the people.

1. Stand out with brand value. Whether it is the product itself or the price tag, many people believe that branding makes a difference. How often have you bought a specific brand of a product because you believe them to be of more value than the others? Exactly. It’s true that many monopolies have an advantage in this case but with social media, news about a new brand or trend can spread like wildfire in a matter of hours. What’s in this way can be out the next and it’s up to you to present your brand in a manner that makes people want what you have to offer.

2. Be convenient to your audience. If there is something about your product that places you of more convenience to the people, they are more likely to use what you have to offer. Be available to on all the networks you can. Selling on the web is the easiest way to get started. From Amazon to Ebay to Etsy, you can sell your items to anyone. You can also promote to these stores from social media such as Facebook, Twitter, Instagram and Pinterest.

3. Make your brand real. Extending your brand by giving it personality and going past the logos and product itself. In today’s day and age, social media is like a cannon that everyone can use to promote themselves. If you incorporate your product into things like outfits to put together or in a popular setting, people can see how to use your brand. Sometimes, people don’t know what they want until they see other people try first. If you show them that your accessory looks cute if placed in this manner with these kind of outfits, they will be inclined to purchase as well.

4. Be trustworthy. Ratings and reviews on websites like Etsy and Ebay are constantly checked by people before they purchase something. This is for reassurance since buying from the web can be tricky. When you have great ratings and reviews, people will trust buying things from you. Those who have already been customers will come back and those that are new will continue to buy from you. Trust is a major part of business as the relationship between you and your audience is what keeps your brand from growing.

5. Don’t be afraid to evolve over time. This is where it all changes. Yes, you may be comfortable with what you have been doing for marketing and sales of your brand but in order to grow, you need to evolve as well. Some brands start small and stay successful as a small business for long periods of time without striving to become more. Comfort is great but you can’t grow from that. To transform from a small company into a larger one, one must learn to keep what’s working and find better things as well.

You don’t need the largest budget and number of resources to make a difference. The web makes life so much easier for those that are just starting out to make a name out there. Social media and online shops drives a path from you to your potential customers. Big monopolies can be successful and you can be too.

The Power of Photographic Content

October 15, 2013

The myriad of social media content is overwhelming sometimes and only the few that really interest a large group of people gets spread across all networks virally. What makes your content stand out to people? Think about what people look towards when reading a book. PICTURES.

They say “a picture is worth a thousand words” and that is absolutely correct when it comes to capturing your audience. Pictures can show an entire story at a glance while text requires more time involved. In this generation, we are all for instant gratification. We are impatient and go for the easy route for things like looking at an image rather than reading the paragraph written about it. Now that you understand the power of an image, it’s important to see what makes an image the best it can be to get your point across.

An image can tell your brand’s story and your story is what your audience will remember.

Johnson & Johnson as a family company.
  • By using only one image to concentrate on so your viewers are pulled into the frame, you will only have one focal view point. Along with this idea is the view point of your employees, which makes your company seem real.
  • The idea of “realness” is one that brands really need to connect with their audience because then the message seems like neighborly advice that you can relate to rather than feeling like a targeted audience.

Emotions are evoked through photos. Many people don’t believe things until they see them and photos make a story genuine.

Mark Zuckerberg as face of Facebook.
  • Don’t just use stock imagery. Take real photos of the people in your office and surroundings for your branding whether it is for your web or print marketing. This makes you stand out among the others and so you’re not “just another company.”
  • These photos are a storefront for your company that lure viewers in to try what you have to offer. You have to see how your brand is seen from the viewer perspective. Is that what you would like to see in a business? If it’s what you would like to so, it could possibly be what others would like to as well.

Sometimes, pictures can explain things that words can’t.

GAP presenting their style on Instagram.
  • When it comes to things like instructions on how to assemble a complicated object, we don’t know the names to all of the required pieces. If you see a hook and there is an arrow that tells you it goes into the large tube, you get a better idea of where and how things are placed together.
  • For fashion, and make-up, there is also a lot of imagery necessary so people can visualize the outcome. Many people post how to style their outfits by either laying them out or wearing them. When you see things next to each other, you can compare and contrast different parts to see what you like best to express your style.

Simplicity is best when it comes to your photos.

Boathouse Rocketts Landing presents their "Perfect Troika".
  • Too many filters and saturation makes it looks fake. You took an image for a reason, to make your brand seem real like everyone else. If you edit the image too much, you might as well have gotten a stock photo.
  • In relation to having only one photo, don’t have more than one activity happen in one image. You want your customer to focus on what you are trying to convey. Whether it be an object or a specific action, that should be the only thing in their mind when they look at your photo.

Photos make a huge difference when it comes to branding. There are many different ways to go about this and many mistakes you can make along the way that will hold you back. Don’t fall for trying to do too much and you can get the right message across.

Stay Tuned: 72 Poplar St.

August 19, 2013

Van West Media recently branded 72 Poplar St., a beautiful 14 condominium residence located in the Brooklyn Heights. The newly-renovated residence’s estimated opening is currently Fall 2013 and we are in the process of designing and developing the new website for the opening.

With its beautiful brick facade and historical surroundings, 72 Poplar St. represents the turn-of-the-century vision that captures the historical aspects of Brooklyn Heights and combines it with modern, geometric design. With this in mind, Van West Media created a logo that includes a block-lettered serif font and a font with an elegant script-like nature. The combination of these opposing yet complementary typefaces allows for people to see how combining two things of opposite natures can create something beautiful. This relates to the historical surroundings of 72 Poplar in relation to the modern interior of the new condominiums.

Similar to the logo design, the website itself is also based on that same thought process where historical meets modern. By using modern and geometric details in the wireframe design, viewers can see how the historical images of the building’s exterior as it stands in relation to its modern interior. The condominiums themselves have a more geometric and futuristic feel while the exterior of the building remains the same with its brick facade and large windows. The wireframe details and design clearly reflect the building itself and represents what the renovation of 72 Poplar St. is all about.

As Fall 2013 approaches, 72 Poplar St. will be open to the public as 14 newly-renovated condominiums. We are excited to see the completion of the interior and hope the public will be thrilled with the outcome as well. This new condominium residence is sure to be something worth seeing as the exploration of new and old design are combined in this beautiful architecture.

Royal Family Branding

July 29, 2013

Branding is a strategic method of marketing. It involves creativity and strong influence for your audience. A name can either make or break you as a brand and the Royal Family has really made their mark for their political and social campaigns. With their calculated moves, the Royal Family has increased their popularity and influence with the people, not only in the UK, but all around the world. Here’s how the Royal Family markets themselves successfully:

Symbolism. With the recent delivery of the Royal Baby, the family has travelled everywhere together. Prince William is always in the picture and this symbolizes the family as one unit throughout the media. There are also times where Kate hands the baby over to Prince William in front of the press to emphasize tackling parenthood as a couple. This idea also reflects their upbringing to show that they come from a loving and respectable background.

Emotional Bond. Branding that involves an emotional bond allows your audience to feel something that your competition can’t. The best kind of emotional bond is sentimental and relevant. The loving relationship that Kate and Prince William shared through their courtship and marriage had everyone in awe. The story of the Prince and a common girl is one that has been seen throughout the movies that give commoners the hope of a grander life. It’s a real-life “Cinderella” story that we all grew up knowing about as a child. What makes it even more effective is that the couple is most definitely in love and they clearly show it. The birth of the Royal Baby also added to the loving family and emphasized this emotional bond.

Authenticity. There is no celebrity show when it comes to the Royal Family. They are down-to-earth and make it seem like they are just like everyone else. From Kate’s very apparent baby bump to the presentation of her newborn son with her family, there was nothing more than the casual showing of a loving family. There is no over-the-top celebrity show for the people and this is what makes people love them.

The best kind of branding is the kind that people love you for and the Royal Family has really made this kind their own. With the wedding filled with love and the birth of the baby, they have really impacted their audience.

Royal Baby Social Commerce

July 24, 2013

Oreo has been on top of its game in the social network of real-time Twitter marketing since the Super Bowl blackout. As Kate Middleton was in labor, Oreo, once again, had another tweet to market the beloved Oreos with the Royal baby’s birth. Once the baby boy as born, this clever tweet was released:

However, Oreo wasn’t the only brand that jumped onto this social commerce marketing. Many others like Coke, Starbucks, Charmin and Pampers did as well. It seems that this real-time social media marketing is really making an impact on the people. With the ability to retweet and favorite these ads, they are easily spreadable and likely to go viral. In this day and age, becoming viral is important because there are so many ads and you need to stand out to the public. Here are the many social media marketing tweets that were released as the Royal Baby was born:




Adventurous Branding: Heineken Presents Departure Roulette

July 12, 2013

Like many brands of alcohol, Heineken is one that embraces the adventurous and spontaneous nature of having a good time. With a simple game, travelers experienced the nature of this brand with the push of a button.

Wieden + Kennedy set up a board at one of  JFK Airport’s terminals in New York. The game was “Departure Roulette” and changed destinations of travelers to somewhere more exotic than the one they were planning on going to. Those who participated in the game has to agree to drop their existing destination and head to the one that was selected for them through the board.

A man who planned a six-week visit to Vienna to visit his grandparents ended up going to Cyprus. Heineken gave him $2,000 to cover his expenses and booked him a two-night stay at a hotel.

This “Departure Roulette” game by Heineken was inspired by their previous campaign “Dropped,” where four men were sent to different destinations to film their adventures. Heineken plans on testing out this game in several different locations on various days within the next few weeks.

Be adventurous. People love exciting interaction and that’s what Heineken brought. The participants were able to experience the spontaneous essence of the brand and hat’s truly what brand should strive for.