10 Brand lessons from #SMWLDN 2014

social media week london

I was there and it was great! Here are 10 brand lessons from Social Media Week London 2014.

1. Even if you have a challenging brand, it’s all about working out the emotional resonance and tapping into it for meaningful brand storytelling.

2. The best way to deal with negative comments/feedback on social media is to respond and be honest.

3. Create different target personas, figure out where they are, and create individual strategies to communicate with them.

4. Wearable technology is here to stay and is a great way to promote brand image.

5. 80% of mobile time is spent social.

6. “Brands need to let go, not get in the way of creators and audience – bring something additional to the party, not just £££”

7. Social ads are better and stronger.

8. Good social media content has to be a combination of relevancy, reach and quality.

9. Customer service is not about you [the brand], it’s about shared experiences.

10. It’s not the number of ‘likes’ that are telling, it’s the consistent number of interactions that need measuring and that are key to smart storytelling.

Got any more social media gems? Let me know by leaving a comment.


DO Brand Storytelling, but do it right.

What's Your Story?

What’s Your Story?

Brand storytelling, we’ve all heard of it, marketers are obsessed with it – but what’s the point? And what makes a good brand storytelling campaign?

Well, I’d say that the key ingredients to a compelling and effective brand story are essentially the same as those that constitute a great film. Don’t worry; I’ll talk you through it, but first:

What exactly is brand storytelling?

@brandingjess definition: the communication of a brand’s identity through the application of storytelling techniques.

Got it? Ok – so what makes a great film and how can we apply this to make a great brand story?

An original idea

No one wants to watch a boring film. And no one is interested in a boring brand story. It is important that the idea is a compelling one; it must incite the interest of consumers and will them to hang around for the ride. A great example is Nike’s ‘Make it Count’ short video story; appealing to the adventurer within us all. This video grips our attention and keeps a strong hold of it, constantly re-emphasising our ability to ‘Just Do It’.

A great storyline

And this starts with a great theme. What are your brands core values? How are you going to convey these to your audience and in doing so, which emotions do you aim to evoke? Dove’s brilliantly successful ‘Campaign for Real Beauty’ did a fantastic job of empowering women and reaffirming their beauty.


Think all those lovey-dovey films released around Valentine’s Day and horror films released around Halloween would get half as much attention if they were released at other times of the year? Probably not.

With great, believable content, and the right timing – you’re bound to be onto a winner. British Airways provide us with a great example in the form of their ‘Visit Mum’ campaign. Targeted specifically at the Indian market based in the US, this campaign aims to encourage this demographic to visit their homeland. Featuring a real mother talking about how much she misses her son who had immigrated to the US and launched to coincide with Mothers Day – British Airways struck gold with this one.

Have you created any storytelling campaigns? If so, how effective were they and what advice would you give to other marketers? Share below!

#CirocLife: The Pros and Cons of Celebrity Endorsement

CirocI’m not a Vodka fan, but recently, I found myself drawn to just that. As a matter of fact I was not only drawn to the drink, but I found myself parting with my hard earned cash in exchange for not just any old Vodka; but Ciroc.

Soon after, it occurred to me that it hadn’t been the clarity nor luminescence of the drink which had attracted me to it. But what I had in fact experienced was the effect of a successful celebrity endorsement on my buying behaviour.

As a result of following @iamdiddy on Twitter and being inundated with #CirocLife type tweets, I had come to perceive the brand as one synonymous with characteristics attributed to the celebrity and his lifestyle; one immersed in luxury. In this case, that association was enough for me to buy into a product which I’d ordinarily have no interest in. Result!

Although things don’t always run so smoothly, and careful consideration must be taken by brands before diving into an agreement with a popular personality; for these partnerships are not always advantageous. Here are some of the pros and cons of celebrity endorsements.


Helps to personify a brand. When associated with a celebrity, their attributes get transferred to your brand, as demonstrated in my example above. This works particularly well as a channel of brand communication as their well-established persona becomes immediately reflective of your brand.

Influence consumer purchases. Where celebrities go, the rest will follow. This applies to what they wear, what they drink, where they go and who they endorse – product marketing at its best.

Attract new users. With any celebrity come their fans – the lucrative by-product of any endorsement. An avenue that allows brands to tap into new and unknown markets, and ultimately boost brand equity.


Celebrity images change. One minute he [Tiger Woods] was the poster child for golf, the next, the disgraced philanderer. From the fashion worlds golden goose to “Cocaine Kate” [Kate Moss]. At times the plummet to disrepute occurs more swiftly than the rise to fame, and the snowball effect onto the associated brand can be catastrophic.

Celebrities may eclipse your brand. Consumers may focus on the celebrity, not the product. This is a particular danger when celebrities endorse multiple products at a time. David Beckham endorses a number of companies which feature him prominently in print advertising. However, his image as the focal point of advertising devalues many products. Do you remember the brand or do you remember David Beckham?

Expense. Celebrity endorsements are expensive business, and at the time of agreeing a deal, there is no guarantee that the investment will pay dividends. Take Derrick Rose (NBA basketball player) for instance, soon after Adidas extended their contract with him to the tune of $260 million and banking on him becoming their Olympic basketball stud, he was injured and delivered a huge blow to the brand plans for the Olympics.

Have you had a similar experience? What do you think about celebrity endorsements? Please share your thoughts below.

RiRi’s Guide to Personal Branding

Brand 'RiRi' has taken the world by storm since she first appeared on the scene almost a decade ago.

Brand ‘RiRi’ has taken the world by storm since she first appeared on the scene almost a decade ago.

So you’re working on strengthening your personal brand right? No? Well then you should be… The reality is that whether or not you’re aware of it, you do have a personal brand. It’s all down to perception; the person you are perceived to be ultimately defines your personal brand. What if people don’t think the same of you as you think of yourself? What if you like to call yourself an expert but everyone else sees a novice? You have to take control of your own brand; you have to ensure that both the inward and outward perception of yourself is aligned.

Let’s take the music artist Rihanna (@rihanna) for instance, love her or hate her, the girl knows what she’s doing and she is good at it. Here’s [my take] on RiRi’s Guide to personal branding.

1. Define exactly who you are and own it.

Rihanna has a number of nicknames including, ‘RiRi’, ‘Caribbean Queen’ and ‘Bajan Princess’, all embodying who she is as an artist and celebrity personality. The different sides of her multifaceted brand can be seen during her playful on screen interviews, her angelic tourism advertising campaigns and of course, her increasingly raunchy music videos. Inappropriate? Perhaps. Controversial? Often. Over the top? Most definitely! But that is who she is, and like it or not, that’s who we all believe her to be.

2. Break all the rules.

A successful personal brand is not one enveloped by compliance, that won’t get you noticed. Swim against the tide! When everyone else is wearing black – wear white. When everyone is turning right – take a left. And when everyone else’s hair is blonde – go bright red! You never know, it might just catch on.

3. Keep yourself in the loop.

The various social networking mediums available nowadays mean there is a global conversation taking place at all times, and whether or not you’re a part of it, that conversation is ongoing – so get involved. Rihanna is constantly communicating with her audience; be it tweeting to her 33,583,803 followers, sharing fun images and short videos on Instagram or posting about her latest goings-on on FacebookRihanna is constantly kept abreast of what is happening in the world in which she operates. The same should be said for any professional, attend events, make connections, instigate discussions, network; keep yourself in the loop.

4. Collaborate.

What could possibly be better than one expert? Two experts! Or in Rihanna’s case three! Her collaboration with rappers Jay Z and Kanye West on the Run This Town track saw three musical greats on one song. This gives each individual artist a chance to tap into the others’ following and also align themselves musically. Who do you look up to in your field? Who is trying to achieve something to similar to you? Why not put your heads together and come up with something great as a unit? It will allow for a much vaster reach in half the time, think about it.

And finally…

5. Look the part.

Like it or not – first impressions are based on appearance. If you want to be taken seriously as a {fill in the blank}, you’re going to have to look the part. If you’re in the entertainment industry, make bold fashion statements, if you’re a city boy/girl – we want to see you sharply suited and booted. Whatever it is you’re doing/want to do, it needs to be done with conviction. Here’s how Rihanna does it.