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emoticons, imagery, metaphors, and marketing communication – part 2


fun imagery


by Kenneth Rudich              

Part 1 delved into using imagery and metaphors to help establish and communicate your brand.  The capacity to employ them wisely can build a strong emotional tie between your products and services and the people who buy them.             

the creative aspect

There is a creative component to doing this well.  It entails the art of producing imagery and metaphors that vividly and concisely convey an embraceable message, one that people can and will connect with.              

Some folks are more talented than others when it comes to doing this type of work.  A person that is adept at writing good ad copy, for example, will clearly stand apart from someone with a lesser ability.  A graphic artist or photographer with an astute eye will always find ways to create images that make amateurs pale by comparison.    

Never shy away from seeking the help of others with complementary skills, aptitudes, expertise, or experience.  Leverage the collective wisdom of the people you trust.  More often than not it will make a material difference, and you’ll be awfully glad you did it.             

the technical aspect

There is a technical facet to this as well, and it has nothing to do with technology per se.  By technical, I mean executing the communication strategy with clarity, consistency, and continuity.  This is something almost everyone can do as long as they remain vigilant about it.  It requires staying abreast of each key area:              

  • clarity: making sure all imagery and metaphors clearly convey the desired message, tone, or image.
  • consistency: once you’ve decided on a desired image or message, stick with it; treat it like an ongoing campaign; remember, it takes time and continual reinforcement to firmly establish a brand.
  • continuity: make sure the same message is delivered across all your marketing platforms.

While this may seem simple on the surface, be forewarned that it is easy to lose sight of it over time.  We all get busy, and sometimes things inadvertently fall off our radar screen.             

a real world example 

The client is a sports bar and grill located in a city that is a popular tourist destination.  Consequently, tourists represent one important piece of the customer base.  Local clientele, particularly the regulars, comprise another.  None too surprisingly, the owner is interested in generating new traffic from both sources.             

The image or theme he wants to project is: “A Place for Social Interaction.”             

the physical premises

The physical premises reflect the work of an owner with close to thirty years experience in the business, almost ten at this location alone.  Operating from the notion that everything a customer sees and experiences will affect his business reputation, not a single detail has escaped attention:          

  • the place is clean and appealing to the eye,
  • the menu contains a good variety selection with reasonable prices (and daily specials),
  • the staff is friendly (on a first name basis with customers) and service-oriented, 
  • the general surroundings provide a veritable haven for sports enthusiasts – complete with modern amenities like 48 new flat screen tv’s, all sorts of satellite reception capabilities, a robust sound system, a billiards area, a rectangular bar with an unobstructed view of everything, a separate dining area, a patio overlooking a park with a small lake and disc golf course, three tabletop shuffleboard stations, and a section discretely set aside for accommodating private groups of up to 40 people.

Ultimately, the diverse clientele offers the best testament of just how inviting it all is.  They run the gamut, from young families to seniors to everyone in between.   And yes, it has a lively social atmosphere.            

the internet presence

Unlike the physical premises, the Internet presence is comparable to having fumbled the ball in football or missed a winning free throw in basketball.  In short, it is woefully under-leveraged for generating awareness, interest, and action among potential new customers, both locally and beyond.
The website was built in 2003 and has not been altered since.  Almost everything about it suggests a conspiracy against the coveted theme of “a place for social interaction.”  Let me just mention two or three items for illustration purposes.  

The ad copy contains an exhaustive list of the bar’s features, like how many tv’s there are, or that the beer is kept cold, as opposed to focusing on giving customers a sense of why their experience here promises to be memorable.  It seems to say, “We built it so you should come,” rather than, “You’ll have a great time if you come.”  Plus, the landing page looks cluttered due to a poor layout design.
Perhaps livelier copy would be better suited for arousing interest:     

  • “Ten Reasons Why People Love (insert name of bar here),”
  • “Voted Best of (name of city) by (name of publication),” (which it has been),
  • “Everything a Sports Fan Could Ever Want in One Place,”
  • “We’ve Got A Special Seat Set Aside Just For You,”
  • “A Great Place for Great People.”       

Oddly, the same copy neglects to mention certain key features like the capacity to entertain private groups, or how the owner gives back to the community through active participation in local civic affairs (which amounts to a lost opportunity for creating good will).        

And speaking of imagery, the “photos” page is entirely filled with pictures of an empty establishment.  It looks clean and modern, but empty.  Does the sight of empty chairs, empty tables, and empty stools insinuate “a place for social interaction” to you?  The imagery must match the perception you want to create.  In this case, there should be lots of pictures of lots of people having lots of fun in all sorts of ways.
Lastly, there’s an opportunity to further advance its socially-driven image through the launch of a strong social media strategy.  Such a strategy could become the virtual extension of “a place for social interaction” and become a nice vehicle for spreading word-of-mouth promotion, for holding contests, sharing information about daily specials and other notable events, and for getting new and current patrons even more invested in the social atmosphere.             

your brand, defend it

 A brand is the sum total of the experiences and exposure people have with it.  It’s in your best interest to always remain vigilant and defend it in every single piece of the marketing and promotion of it.


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