Saturday, November 5, 2016

Brand Managers - 3 Steps to Increase your Brand Trust

As a brand manager you know the stakes are high. Trust is hard won, but easily lost. And cultivating brand trust with your high value markets is your primary charge. As a graduate student at Northwestern University with a passion for branding, I have found two interesting articles on the importance of brand trust you will find interesting.

Josh Zywien in his article Is Your Brand Trusted? Here's What Happens When It Is—and Isn't at MarketingProfs presents an insightful analysis of how “Amazon's customer experience is so consistent and convenient.” His succinct report of customer relationships covers both Amazon's B2C example as well as B2B examples Salesforce and IBM. Josh then provides "Four Questions to Assess Your Level of Brand Trust." The compelling article advocates trust as a brand pillar.
Josh Zywien
Is Your Brand Trusted? Here's What Happens When It Is—and Isn't

Sasha Strauss states in 7 Social Media Tips for Business and Brands, “To have your customer listen to you is an honor… an honor.” He establishes the client relationship as a journey over time and he offers a map. According to Sasha, it starts with a strategic assessment of the audience, includes who is also trying to communicate with them, and advances to what the audience needs emotionally from the conversation. His insights will guide any brand to show up to the conversation on-topic, every time.
Sasha Strauss
7 Social Media Tips for Businesses and Brands
KPCC Southern California Public Radio

Josh Zywien is an accomplished writer and expert in content marketing. Sasha Strauss is a passionate and successful strategic brand builder. Through my assessment of these two articles and my work on branding at Northwestern, I have three recommendations you should consider when planning your next branding project. They are:
  • Brand Authentically – You cannot fake values and behavior; be yourself every time and everywhere.  
  • Listen with Enthusiasm – Seek out your communities and participate. 
  • Champion Trust – Be transparent, and you'll empower your customers with knowledge. 
These recommendations may seem like a tall order. But it's what we expect from brands we engage and promote. These three cornerstones will help form a firm foundation for your brand marketing.

As a visual communicator I'm passionate about authentic branding. I've worked with B2B companies for more than 15 years to deliver compelling and relevant brand marketing content.
Anthony Bryant

Tuesday, November 1, 2016

Gaming's Early Adopters: What to Make Room For Next in Your Entertainment Stand

Gamers know that home video game consoles are going through a dramatic change. As a lifelong gamer and Information Design student at Northwestern, I subscribe to the popular idea that gaming hardware will eventually be phased out, developers and manufacturers say that the box is here to stay. While these gaming machines of the future may be very different than the ones we are used to, the need to own a device in order to gain access to and play a variety of exclusive content is a model that works. We just may not see concrete generational leaps like in the past, instead having console updates and swappable hardware parts released on a regular basis.

In the article "Next Xbox: what will Xbox Two be like and when will we see it?," published on, Aoife Wilson and Jon Porter describe the driving forces that will shape the next true console generation. They show how the successes of the Xbox 360 and Xbox One will help the company discover what ways consumers want Microsoft to improve. The article speculates that with the rate of technological advancement, powerful hardware will become standard and the focus will instead shift to the exclusive content and unique experiences that will be tailored to one specific system.

The internal components of Project Scorpio
At this year's Electronic Entertainment Expo (E3), Microsoft revealed that they are working on a new piece of hardware, codenamed Project Scorpio. The system is said to be extremely powerful and able to support the cutting edge in gaming technology, like virtual and augmented reality gaming. However, in his article "What's Next After Xbox Scorpio? Microsoft Already Has Ideas," Eddie Makuch tells readers that Microsoft is already thinking about what comes after Project Scorpio. A tweet from the head of Xbox, Phil Spencer stated that Xbox staff "Already have ideas for what could be after Scorpio." Makuch aptly states that "You shouldn't read too far into Spencer's comments, as it would be a bigger story if Microsoft was not thinking about what's coming next."

Here are a few tips I have for gamers preparing for the next Xbox.

  • Follow Phil Spencer - Since he took over Xbox at Microsoft, Phil Spencer (@xboxp3) has famously dropped hints about upcoming announcements through Twitter. Keeping an eye on his social media presence is a great way to know when to expect something big from Microsoft.

  • Open Your Mind - The next console generation will likely look different and perform differently. After Microsoft first revealed the Xbox One, there was a lot of fan backlash about certain aspects. Some changes were made in response to consumer feedback with both positive and negative outcomes (such as rendering the Kinect all but obsolete). Don't judge the new hardware and its functions too harshly before giving them a try

  • Keep Playing - In the past, as console generations have gone on, sales stalled as consumers anticipated the next piece of hardware coming. Microsoft promises that any games and accessories you already own will be compatible with Project Scorpio. So don't hesitate to buy a game before Scorpio is released, it will work with your next Xbox.

Whatever Microsoft delivers with Project Scorpio, it will likely be the most powerful computing device in most households, and may end up having the longest shelf life of the console family.

Nick McGreevy is a graduate student in the Information Design and Strategy program at Northwestern University's School of Professional Studies. An avid gamer, I have played since I was old enough to hold an Atari joystick. My passion for video games has led me to studying the industry and blogging on gaming topics and nerd culture. You can find me on IGN, WordPress and LinkedIn.