Will AI Replace Designers or Serve as Their Creative Allies?
Will AI replace designers, or will it become their indispensable assistant? Can anyone become a designer with AI's help? Discover Yoav's insights after extensive experimentation with AI tools, and learn what AI itself has to say about the matter
As designers, AI is having a significant impact on the way we work. Designers have been using AI tools available in widely used design software such as Adobe Photoshop and Illustrator for some time. In OZ’s design department, we’ve also experimented with a variety of dedicated AI image generators, such as Midjourney, DALL·E 2, and eluna.ai. New applications are popping up all the time, so it’s worth trying them out and comparing them, to see what works best. Since this article is about AI, let’s get some input from ChatGPT about the benefits of integrating AI capabilities into software design tools: “It’s not only enhanced the capabilities of designers but has also redefined the creative process, ushering in a new era of efficiency and innovation.” So far, so good. While there are lots of advantages to using AI in design work, here are some key features:
- Automated image editing features — analyzes images to intelligently suggest enhancements and automatically makes adjustments such as color neutralizers and detail enhancers. This speeds up the editing process and is a valuable resource if you’re looking for inspiration or need to make quick refinements.
- Content-aware fill and object removal tools — by understanding the content of the image, it enables you to easily remove unwanted objects or fill in gaps within a scene. This allows greater flexibility and streamlines the editing workflow.
- Accelerates the ideation and iteration phases — lets you explore diverse concepts efficiently.
- Intelligent recommendations — makes suggestions for shapes, layouts, and color schemes based on the context of their project. This makes the conceptualization phase faster and may even help you overcome a creative block.
- Organization and management of design assets — automated tagging and content categorization make asset management easier and help you quickly navigate vast libraries of resources. It’s able to analyze vast datasets and identify patterns that we might miss.
- Rapid prototyping — enables quick experimentation with lots of variations.
Traditional graphic tools have also made huge stridesIn recent years, existing software and applications we’ve been using for years have incorporated a variety of tools that shorten processes and streamline design work. Because designers can give online feedback, the tools' capabilities keep getting better. During image processing, design tools can complete missing details, increase resolution, carry out color corrections, and produce more controlled and accurate results. There are also lots of options for image manipulations and variations. These advances have meant that the time between planning and the finished product is much shorter, and have saved me and many others from a tiring technical struggle with traditional design tools. However, AI has added new superpowers which can create impressive artwork at warp speed.
If AI can do all that, why do we need humans?While AI provides a broad range of design options and there is a wealth of tools to choose from, the act of selection and focus during the design process has become more challenging. The need to differentiate the customer’s brand, memorably present their messages, and tell their unique story means that every designer needs a clear understanding of what they want to create using the tools. Formulating the design prompt and selecting results, when every result seems to be ‘beautiful and impressive’, means that designers need to carefully examine what is ‘right and appropriate’ — and ask themselves what will yield the desired results. It’s the same question that we’ve been asking for years when approaching a design task, long before AI tools entered our lives.
The human touch“While AI excels at generating designs based on existing patterns, it lacks the intrinsic understanding of cultural nuances, emotional subtleties, and context that human designers bring to the table,” responds ChatGPT, adding that design is not only about aesthetics but also about storytelling, conveying emotions, and understanding the audience – elements that are deeply embedded in human experience. It goes on to point out that the human mind possesses the ability to empathize, interpret abstract concepts, and infuse designs with cultural relevance. Designers are adept at translating complex ideas into visual narratives that resonate with people on a profound level. “The intangible aspects of creativity, intuition, and emotional intelligence are quintessentially human and crucial to the design process,” it notes.
Don’t fire your designers!Bearing these unique human attributes in mind, ChatGPT’s conclusion is almost inevitable: While AI image generators are valuable tools, amplifying designers’ creative capacities and streamlining workflows, they are best seen as collaborators rather than replacements. The future of design lies in a harmonious collaboration between human designers and AI, where each contributes its strengths. While AI enhances the design process by offering efficiency and inspiration, according to ChatGPT, “the unique qualities of human creativity, ingenuity, and understanding will continue to be an indispensable force in the world of design.” As with any AI application, there are ethical considerations. Designers must “be mindful of potential biases in AI algorithms and exercise discretion in their application. Striking a balance between automation and human intuition remains crucial to preserving the authenticity and creative vision of the designer.” ChatGPT predicts that “As technology continues to advance, the symbiotic relationship between AI and design is poised to reshape the industry, unlocking new realms of creative possibilities.” On a personal level, I use AI design tools daily to carry out various tasks and to fuel my creative process. I also find that ChatGPT is useful in helping to formulate prompts and finding the right wording for the industry or application. The more accurate the prompt, the better the results. However, personal experience has shown AI can’t replace the invaluable interactions between our design team and our clients. We’re able to dig deep into their story and translate that into unique and powerful visuals that communicate their brand promise. It’s the ‘secret sauce’ that makes the difference. In short, AI will become our creative allies, but they’re not going to replace us any time soon.
Branding 101 – The Branding Process Explained
Want to know the secret sauce of branding? Our latest blog post has it all! Learn how inspiration fuels our journey, how design brings brands to life, and how businesses evolve through effective branding. Click here to uncover the branding recipe for success!
"What does the branding process involve?" This is a question we often answer for clients and potential clients throughout the year. So, we decided to break it down into three simple steps. Before we dive into all that, let's start with the basics – what is branding? Branding is how you distinguish yourself to your audience, communicate who you are, what you stand for, and what you sell. Branding is created by professional designers and brought to life through a name, logo, visual and textual language, and more. However, it's important to understand that branding is not just a visual differentiator; it's also about creating an emotional connection with your audience. A company's branding allows customers not only to identify it in a post, sign, or packaging but also to express emotions and attitudes toward it, sometimes without even knowing the company directly.
Step One – How to Start the Branding Process for a Business?The start is life itself, because every day we're exposed to hundreds of messages, ideas, videos, texts, and images. Later it all comes together, and our mind begin processing all these inspirations into new, original, and unique design and language for a specific client. At Oz, we make sure our team, in this case, our designers, is exposed to diverse content worlds and various content styles. This opens up their minds to creativity, from which different brands for different companies can blossom (even if they're in the same industry, they'll create something unique and original – that's the beauty of it!). The branding process for a business begins as a strategic process where we research and analyze the brand, the product, the company, or the service – and answer the age-old questions – what is the company's vision, what makes the company special, what customers expect, and what the competition offers. To differentiate the brand effectively, it's essential to examine competitors – what visual and textual language they use, what messages they convey to the world, and what their customers think of them. During this examination, we come across tons of content and inspiration on the web, and it's a fantastic process. All the research and in-depth analysis, combined with the ideas and inspirations, meld together to form the foundation of the brand – the unique value proposition, the narrative, the promise, and the brand's values.
Step Two – How to Implement the Branding Process?This is the step everyone seems to be familiar with – the name, logo, fonts, color palette. Supposedly. Since everyone talks about this step, it's crucial to understand that without a solid foundation and thorough research, it won't work. The brand's cornerstones (based on the strategic messages, remember?) need to be creatively and visually translated into the brand's language – both in verbal elements (the brand's name and slogan) and visual elements (the logo, fonts, shapes, and colors). The brand's domain, characteristics, and values will be expressed through its visual appearance. Importantly, the design should not only be eye-catching but should also have longevity. Trends come and go, but your branding should remain stable for years. Our designers have the ability to translate the emotional world into the visual world, making your target audience express positive emotions, identify with your brand, and remember your look (for the next time they encounter you) – or in short, to create an impactful brand for you.
Step Three – How Does a Business Change as a Result of Branding?So, we've gathered inspiration, worked with a professional branding agency (like OZ, ahem), researched, and analyzed, and the designers have prepared sketches. And the most exciting part – the management approved it! So now what? Implementation! At the end of the branding process and the creation of the brand's visual language, it's time to infuse it into every marketing and reputation aspect of the company. The new language will be applied across the board – on social networks, envelopes, outdoor signs and ads, physical offices, pens and notebooks – anything that comes to mind (and if it doesn't, our client managers have plenty of ideas). Effective design is measured by its versatility. If the base has a strong and focused idea, it will be clear how to continue and develop that into the brand's language in every format – digital and print.
How to Meet & Influence Your Door Openers
Speakers: Nirit Elyovich and Rivi Kesten
The Door Openers strategy will bring you directly to the key people who will open the door for your company.
You’re probably familiar with Universal Analytics, the Google Analytics (GA) tool that has been around for more than a decade, providing website owners and publishers with insights into their website’s performance. But in July 2023, it’s being replaced by GA4. Are you ready for the switch?
Don’t say you didn’t see it comingIn October 2020, Google announced that it would discontinue Universal Analytics and shift to Google Analytics 4 (GA4). But don’t worry, we’ve got you covered with our step-by-step guide on how to switch from Universal Analytics to GA4, discuss the differences between these two versions of GA, and highlight some of the benefits of GA4.
The clock is tickingFrom July 2023, the free version of GA will no longer gather data. That means if you want to continue using Google Analytics, you must switch to GA4. Take note, you will be able to access your previously processed data in your Universal Analytics property for at least six months. However, you won’t be able to view your Universal Analytics reports or interact with your analytics data via the API. This change will affect all website owners who rely on their Google Analytics account as their main data source for audience demographics, behavior, and areas of interest.
What’s the difference between Google Analytics and GA4?If you want to know how your users are interacting with your website or app, you need effective event tracking which allows you to track specific user interactions – such as button clicks, video plays, and form submissions. In the past, you needed to set it up manually, adding code snippets to your website or app to track specific events, which was challenging to manage. The good news is that G4 has already set it up for you and you can configure event tracking without coding. While the focus used to be on calculating site sessions and monitoring audiences, it’s now moved to what audiences are actually doing on your site. GA4 offers parameters, enhanced measurement, and in-platform event creation (replacing action, category, and label). When setting up the data stream, you can turn on enhanced measurement to automatically collect page views, downloads, outbound clicks, video engagement, and scrolls. Conditions and parameters (which provide context on the user or user actions) cover events that don’t fall under enhanced measurement. Take note that you can mark events as conversions which eliminate the need for goal setup.
There are four types of events covered in GA4:
Automatically collected events
Enhanced measurement events
Custom eventsThese are events you define yourself and go beyond the first two categories. This enables you to get very specific data on how users interact with your site, such as how many times they click a button or view a certain page — enabling you to improve their experience.
New G44 features
- Link to Google Merchant Center, Google Optimize, and BigQuery natively and for free
- Create custom reports in GA4 and add those reports right to your navigation
- Custom dashboards combining two tools in one —taking the data from UA and Data Studio
From a Simple PPT to a Winning Presentation
Speakers: Rivi Kesten Buk and Nevo Levin
Practical Tips for PowerPoint Presentations From Oz's Experts
UX/UI trends in the B2B world – What to take & leave behind in 2023
When I just started my career, an intelligent woman told me that only when I understand.
The confetti has settled, 2023 is under way, and there’s something new in the air. Many clients are getting in touch because they want to revamp their online presence — either building a new website or upgrading their current one. Like any other field, UX/UI trends develop and change over time. While change is often driven by technology, it’s sometimes the audiences that change – and they want to consume content in a variety of ways. Since no one wants their website to have a geocities 90s vibe, it’s important to be in the know – to be up to date on which trends are last year’s news and the must-haves for 2023. Not to worry, we’re about to fill you in! We caught Naomi Lifshitz, our UX\UI Designer here at OZ Global B2B to tell you all about what you should let go of and what you absolutely must adopt during 2023. Ready to get started? 1. There’s no place like home Let’s kick off with the homepage. Until recently, homepages commonly had sliders of changing images – whether it was a corporate or e-commerce site. While beautiful and eye-catching images may have done the job in the past, it’s no longer enough. “Stop using changing images, leave that to Instagram!” says Naomi. “2023 will be about striking typography with strong messaging. We’re in the era of agendas and companies must present a clear agenda or catchphrase to attract the eye.” A great example of a strong leading line can be found on Tefen’s website – a veteran B2B company that makes a point of staying up to date. Interactive images that change according to user actions also work well. This creates an experience where the user determines the outcome. Check out PCB Technologies site to see how it works.
- What’s on the menu? “When planning the user experience, we have to put ourselves in our users’ shoes. We all have limited time and between work, home, and family, we don't have time to scroll through endless websites in the search for information,” says Naomi.
- Make some space!
- Give the footer the respect it deserves “Just because the footer’s at the bottom of the website doesn’t mean it doesn’t deserve a place of honor,” notes Naomi. “While the footer may be located on the ’fringe’ of the site, we shouldn’t treat it as such. When specifying the site structure every part of the site is important. We’re not going to add unnecessary pages or elements to the site, but the footer appears on every page and needs to be designed accordingly.”When building a brand strategy for businesses, it’s important that it speaks the same language – everywhere it appears – and that includes the footer. Give it space and design it in a brand-compatible manner, incorporating creative brand elements and enticing messaging. Scroll down to Unilog’s footer to see how it reflects the brand’s personality.
- No more excuses! That’s so yesterday “Leave the excuses why you can’t build a website in 2022,” says Naomi, adding that, “Many businesses avoid building a website on the grounds that they don’t have sufficient budget, information, or products to build a complete site. But keeping your website short and to the point puts paid to that excuse.”
Rebranding – so much more than just a logo or color palette
Rebranding – so much more than just a logo or color palette. What you'll need to do when rebranding.
There are lots of reasons why you may want to rebrand. For example: Have you recently undergone a merger or acquisition? Was there a major shuffle in management or business strategy? Are you planning to launch a new product or version? Does your brand identity no longer reflect your current corporate culture, values and focus? If you answered “yes” to any of the above questions, it may be time to consider rebranding.
Refresh or rebrand?When rebranding, you can either refresh and improve your current branding or start over and create an entirely new one. No matter what you decide, the rebranding process involves a lot more than designing a new logo or changing your corporate color palette. Here’s what you’ll need to do:
- Defining a clear rebranding strategy.
- Reanalyzing your company’s vision, mission and values.
- Conduct market research and competitor research including new players who may have popped up more recently.
- Research existing customers, potential customers and target audiences.
- Redefine your message.
- Create a new visual identity.
- Create new marketing materials.
- Relaunch your brand (internally and externally).
Spreading the newsThe rebranding journey can sometimes be confusing for your employees and customers who have become accustomed to your existing brand identity. Use this as an opportunity to reconnect with them and clearly communicate during the process and after its completion. If you want the transition process to be a success, you should be as transparent as possible and clearly communicate these changes both internally and externally.
Rebranding with OZAt OZ, we understand the complexity of rebranding and our team has extensive experience helping our customers successfully navigate the rebranding process. We can use this experience to successfully guide you through it from planning through to implementation and beyond.
10, 9, 8…. And counting down marketing trends for 2018
The New Year is here and we put together a countdown of marketing trends that will affect B2B brands in 2018!
The New Year is officially here and we decided to put together a countdown of marketing trends that will affect B2B brands in 2018! Here goes…..
10 – Visual contentThe trend for visualization through video, images and infographics will get stronger. In fact, predictions indicate that by 2019, video will account for 80% of consumer internet traffic. And, according to Facebook, live is even better and live video gets 3x more views and is expected to dramatically increase in 2017. B2B brands can use live videos in lots of different ways, including at events to give followers a behind-the-scenes look, host interviews with key influencers, and launch promotions.
9 – Big (big) dataBig data’s been a big trend for many years now, but it’s become more accessible because of machine learning and AI. As more and more platforms and marketing methods start incorporating big data, the use of big data is becoming an essential part of marketing and understanding what the consumer wants and when is worth its weight in gold.
8 – AuthenticityTransparency and trust have become a major component of the customer’s decision-making process as customers’ become less and less tolerant towards fake news and reviews, or in other words, exaggerated marketing. Brands should invest in community management to keep the online community engaged, informed and happy; and can use technology advances such as virtual reality (VR) and augmented reality (AR) to connect with users on a deeper, more emotional level.
7 – Content and influencer networksThere is no arguing with the fact that content is still king. However, there is a need to deal with the challenge of oversaturation. Now that most brands have some sort of content strategy and social media networks are full of content, the focus needs to shift slightly. Rather than fighting for more visibility, marketers will need to think out of the box and stand out in space that is already taken. This is where influencers come into the picture. By leveraging the networks of influencers who already have a “captive” audience, marketers can increase their online influence and start to reduce the volume of content produced, or in other words, go for quality and not quantity.
6 – Shift of focus from millennials to Generation ZBorn between 1995 and 2010, this consumer group marks a substantial shift that will affect all brands. These digital natives are different from millennials and they will have increased buying power in the near future. Keep an eye out on key platforms such as Snapchat and Instagram when targeting this young and highly dynamic demographic.
5 – Mobile, mobile, mobileWe cannot emphasize this one enough. Consumers are spending most of their time on their mobile phones. In fact, in 2018, mobile video consumption is expected to grow by 25% and ad spending on mobile video will reach 18 billion dollars next year, surpassing desktop. Even Google has even given priority to pages that are AMP optimized (Accelerated Mobile Pages). So the bottom line is that if you haven’t yet done so, you need to start optimizing your marketing strategies, websites and ads for mobile.
4 – Shift in KPIsWhile it’s still important to know how many people visited your site and from where, at the end of the day it’s all about sales. For this reason, it’s important to track conversions and revenue, in other words, who buys and at what stage of the buyer’s journey. In this way, it becomes easier to track your return of investment on digital marketing.
3 – Data protectionThe digital age brings with it the need to take multiple aspects including data privacy into account. In May 2018, the General Data Protection Regulation (GDPR) will take affect with the aim of improving protection for EU citizens and adapting privacy and data laws to the digital age. This will require marketers to think and act very differently as it will affecter multiple factors in a marketer’s focus, some of which require organizations to start preparing immediately.
2 – Native ads and smart contentNative advertising is expected to drive more than 74 percent of all add revenue by 2021. Because of their more natural placement and format, these ads usually get more exposure and engagement than traditional banner ads. However, these ads need to be written according to the preferences of those seeing the ads, and they should also be linked to “smart content” that is adapted to audiences based on NI, cookies and an in-depth understanding of target audiences.
1 – Take advantage of the FOMO effectEven though we already mentioned this one in a previous point, we think it deserves to be repeated for emphasis. As more and more people experience the FOMO (Fear of Missing Out) effect, marketers need to create unique and original content that makes potential customers feel like they’re the first to know. For example, content that involves a “behind-the-scenes look”, an exclusive with an influencer, or a sneak preview of upcoming projects and product launches can be used to really create a buzz and get potential consumers to engage “before” anyone else does.
Opportunities for Israeli B2B companies looking to China
Israel and China are a perfect match – China is an incredible opportunity for Israeli cyber-security, medical devices and artificial intelligence industries.
Israel and China are a perfect match – China is an incredible opportunity for Israeli cybersecurity, medical devices and artificial intelligence industries. While at the same time Israel is a source of talent and know-how with its startup culture – something that China is lacking. Bilateral ties between Israel and China have increased significantly in recent years, sparking the launch of the Israel-China Innovation Committee and the Israel-China Economic Task Force. The US is the typical route for Israeli companies expanding abroad. Language and culture make China seem daunting at first, and certainly for consumer-oriented companies trying to figure out the Chinese customer has led to many failed enterprises. B2B opportunities, on the other hand, are a perfect setup for Israel companies. Possible access to capital for expansion and growth another major reason to look at China.
How to break into the Chinese market:Understand the target customer and other stakeholders Find the right strategic partners to help you. Consumers in China are entirely different than what you are used to. They are on different channels, they have different expectations, and there are important cultural norms you’ll want to be aware of. A local team on the ground with the experience and tools to understand and effectively target customers is crucial to preventing big blunders. Regulatory concerns It is critical to spend time researching and understanding the regulatory environment prior to making any decision to enter the market. China has extremely strict laws protecting consumers, including quality, standards and other regulations covering most industries. Sensitive industries such as medical devices and pharmaceutical are especially strict. Trademark everything, immediately As soon as your product comes on the scene in China you can bet there will be copycats. We’ve seen it with big brands and small, if you don’t take trademarking seriously, you run the risk of expensive, messy and prolonged legal battles. Before talking to anyone, start the trademark process and make sure you own the corresponding Chinese domain names (.cn and .com.cn). Don’t assume what works in the West will work in China Look no further than eBay and Uber, two remarkably successful international companies that failed in China. Chinese consumers have different tastes, different expectations, different cultural norms and customs that are deep-rooted in society. On top of all of this is an unrelenting drive for innovation, which makes brands with a weak positioning strategy extremely vulnerable. If you take your brand to the China market and your messaging is unclear, or your branding is weak, there is a good chance your product or service will be copied and eaten up by a domestic brand. Find a decent Chinese name It doesn’t have to be a direct translation, or even exactly the same as the Western version. The Mandarin language is comprised of thousands of characters that all have a great deal of significance. Meaning there are lots of options for translations that can turn out great, or translations that can turn out… not so great. AirBnB fell prey to a naming mishap when they entered the Chinese market as 爱彼迎 (Àibǐyíng), which they explained means “let love meet each other” but to native Chinese this name conjures up images of a “love hotel”, and many complained that it is awkward to pronounce. Even if you think you’ve settled on a great name, test it, test it and test it again. Start with distribution and expand from there You don’t need to set up shop right away. After you’ve trademarked everything, going through a distributer to test the waters is a good way to enter the China market. Many SME’s in the medical industry routinely work with distributors to get their products into hospitals in China. Set up your website Number one piece of advice; put your Chinese website on a server in China or Hong Kong. Shrinking attention spans haunt every content marketer, so don’t lose your audience even before your beautifully, well-crafted home page loads. If you are hosting on a local Chinese server you are required to apply for the ICP license and this also means you need to have a local entity already organized. You’ll typically need to apply for an ICP license from the Chinese Government; this will lead to better search results on Baidu and allows you to run PPC campaigns. Don’t forget to make your website mobile optimized! In China more than 95% of Internet users are using their mobile phones to access it. Choose the right trade shows This goes hand-in-hand with understanding your target customer and stakeholders. There are hundreds of trade shows in China every year, with thousands of exhibitors. It can be tempting to try and get your foot in the door to as many as possible, but this will leave you out of budget and exhausted quickly. Can you team up with similar brands? Make connections with attendees beforehand? Enter social media with your big toe in the water With all the hype around WeChat in China, many brands are ready to dive headfirst and go all out for this mega-app, but take a step back. WeChat is completely different than Facebook, Instagram or any other typical social media platform you are familiar with using. It is important to set the right expectations, and the right strategy. Become well versed with the app, it’s functionality and it’s limitations before setting your KPIs. While it is important for brands to have a WeChat account, there may be other channels to investigate.
The importance of branding in launching new products
Prior to the recent release of Mazor X, Oz Branding worked with Mazor Robotics to create a compelling brand promise for the new product — Align with Experience.
There is no greater satisfaction than watching our customers successfully launch groundbreaking and transformative products that take the market by storm — especially when we played a role in branding them! Which is why we’re so psyched by the extensive media coverage and enthusiasm surrounding the recent release of Mazor X —a transformative guidance platform for spine surgeries developed by Mazor Robotics. According to Ori Hadomi, Chief Executive Officer of Mazor Robotics in a quote for Yahoo Finance: "The Mazor X system is the culmination of a multi-year development effort by our team of robotic, algorithm and imaging experts, incorporating market feedback gathered from thousands of clinical cases performed with the Mazor core technology. It exemplifies our vision of healing through innovation and our ongoing dedication to patients by expanding guidance capabilities in the spine operating room. We believe it can change the way spine surgeries are performed.” During the development of Mazor X, Oz Branding and Adlai & Partners worked with Mazor Robotics to identify key values for multiple customer segments, created a compelling brand promise for the new product — Align With Experience.
Using online marketing to generate a buzz (or a moo)
When Afimilk was preparing to launch its new AfiLab, the company turned to Oz Branding for assistance in creating a combined online and offline campaign.
Afimilk case study: all you need is labWhen Afimilk — a pioneer and global leader of management technology for dairy farming — was preparing to launch its In-line Milk Lab internationally, the company turned to Oz for assistance in creating a combined online and offline campaign for the launch.
The two companies had already worked together successfully on Afimilk’s ongoing corporate branding needs, so they eased straight into defining the specific market needs for AfiLab Milk Analyzer, building a compelling visual identity and brand promise for the product, and creating and implementing a creative concept for the campaign. The relaunch of AfiLab was planned for the World Ag Expo in Tulare, California in February 2015. For this reason, the main campaign goals were to create in-person traffic to the Afimilk booth, significantly increase online traffic to all Afimilk web pages and specific mini sites before and after the expo, and also generate a substantial number of quality leads for the sales team. This was done using a combined online and offline approach:
- Online – including digital ads in a variety of professional magazines, a social network campaign that was launched 6 weeks before the expo, the creation of a specific AfiLab mini-site, blog posts on the subject, a newsletter, a PR, and more.
- Offline – including brochures, a booth at the trade show, giveaways, printed ads, and more.
“Branding In” in International Branding
The answer lies in understanding the clear link between your B2B brand and your employees’ connection to your brand promise
We’re all aware (at least most of us) of the crucial role that B2B brands with a clear correlation to core company values play in business growth and expansion. But what happens when we achieve what we want and start expanding internationally?
How can we ensure that we don’t lose or dilute our essential values and brand promise as we become a cross-continent corporation?The answer lies in understanding the clear link between your B2B brand and your employees’ connection to your brand promise – no matter where they are in the world.By focusing on both implementing your brand in the global marketplace and strengthening your brand within your organization, you can more easily coordinate cross-continent corporate cultures and processes to define a common global branding language and presence that is consistently implemented across all touch points and markets. When Maytronics, a global leader in automated pool cleaning solutions, began to expand globally, the company looked for ways to build a strong and growing global brand while still maintaining a unique company culture, value, and DNA. With a focus on its core values, Maytronics and Oz Branding began a worldwide organizational and branding process that included the enhancing of the internal company dialog to reinforce its brand promise of Exceptional Experience.
Global marketing challenges for B2B companies
Challenges in global marketing for B2B companies, the complexities involved in growing a global brand, and ideas on how we can overcome these challenges.
The International B2B Marketing Conference 2015We had a wonderful time learning about and discussing the challenges in global marketing for B2B companies at our International B2B marketing Conference earlier this month. We'd like to give a big thank you to our partners at the E3 International Agency Network for working with us. And, we'd especially like to thank the over 200 people who attended, including executives who came from over 10 countries around the world! At our conference we had the pleasure to hear from several marketing and branding experts in different regions around the globe. Each of them spoke about the complexities involved in growing a global brand, the challenges all of us face, and ideas on how we can overcome these challenges. The next few posts will cover each presentation in more detail, but in the meantime, we'll give you a short summary of the topics covered by each speaker: Dirk Assent, Managing Partner at Bernstein Gmbh, Bremen, spoke about how to tackle the internal and external challenges of a divided market (or, as he puts it: Why marketing in Europe is like a polar bear.) Mike Golden, the CEO of Adsmith China, Shanghai, spoke about the marketing successes as well as the many branding failures in bringing products to China. Our very own Dina Gidron at Oz Branding also addressed the crowd about the trends in online and offline marketing, and Eyal Tryber, CEO of the Israeli Maytronics company, shared fascinating insights about building the Maytronics brand globally. We also heard from Matt Bowen, President and CEO of Aloft Group in Boston, who shared with us the success factors involved in growing your brand in the US. We gained a lot in insight at this conference and enjoyed seeing old colleagues and meeting new ones. We hope you did too!
How B2B Brands Drive Sales
One of the most difficult parts of B2B branding is selling the brand to sales. Many B2B brands fail because they haven't been integrated into the sales force
If General Electric and IBM were sold tomorrow, their brand value alone would be approximately $45 and $75 million respectively. These brand valuations sit right next to well-known consumer brands such as McDonalds and Coca-Cola, illustrating that B2B brands, similar to their consumer brand cousins, also drive billions of dollars in value and market capitalization in intangible assets of "goodwill." Why would anyone want to spend an additional $31 million in purchase price for a brand alone? It's not just your average person who pays more for a brand. It's top-level executives too. A 2012 McKinsey survey of more than 700 executives with substantial influence on supplier selection in the United States, Germany, and India found that consideration of the brand was a central decision when deciding whether or not to purchase. The survey found that the brand was almost as important as the sales team in encouraging them to purchase. https://www.linkedin.com/pulse/global-b2b-brands-highest-brand-value-waldemar-pfoertsch What can we learn from this? Well, for one, that B2B purchasers are human beings at the end of day. They are a lot less value-driven than they like to think, and heavily swayed by the brand, which helps them simplify evaluating the product.
Getting the Sales Team on BoardDespite the enormous added-value of a strong brand in a purchasing price, one of the most difficult parts of B2B branding is selling the brand to sales. Many B2B brands fail because they haven't been properly integrated into – and accepted by – the sales force. To ensure that your brand is accepted by your salespeople, you'll want to make sure you're providing the answers to these questions:
1. Are You Telling the Right Brand Story?It can be helpful to first take a step back and reevaluate if your internal B2B brand story is the same of that of your customers. The same McKinsey study from above found that often the two audiences focused on completely different things --- B2B suppliers focused on sustainability, global reach, and corporate responsibility whereas customers focused on honesty, responsibility across the supply chain, and level of specialized expertise.
2. Do Your Salespeople Understand What a Brand is?Your salespeople need to understand that a brand is what happens before you enter a room and after you leave. It also provides a framework for communicating the values behind your company's product or service.
3. Do Your Salespeople Understand How A Brand Can Help Them?This is where "branding in" can be vital. "Branding in" connects the entire company to the brand promise and implements it in their day-to-day responsibilities. For starters, you'll need to make sure marketing and sales are communicating in the same language. Consider a sales and marketing workshop, where salespeople explore the meaning behind the new brand and how it can help them be more successful. One practical exercise during the workshop might be to develop a pitch book – a sales tool that should communicate what the company does, why it does it, and why it is better than the competition. This time, however, you'll want to develop it through the perspective of a salesperson who understands the value, messages, and how to communicate the company's brand.
Witness Your Brand Increase RevenueAlign your sales and marketing together in building your brand by answering these questions as a company. Bring in experts to help you if possible (we know of a good one offhand) When all of the employees in your company, including the salespeople, are working together towards the same message, value, and goals, your brand value will start to climb, and your sales will too.
The Online Approach to Event Marketing
This post will explain how to effectively integrate the two to achieve your company's greater marketing goals when it comes to marketing a conference
In the world of B2B, inbound marketing is often thought of as completely separate from your offline marketing. This type of thinking, however, misses opportunities for effective lead generation, especially when it comes to B2B conferences. This post will explain how to effectively integrate the two to achieve your company's greater marketing goals when it comes to marketing a conference in your industry.
1. The More Targeted the Event, the BetterAt an industry conference, you want your booth and company to really stand out among the others. The larger the conference and broader the topic, the more challenging it will be for your product to grab the attention of potential customers. One of our customers, Elcam Medical, for instance, started to see fantastic results after attending more targeted events. After undergoing a branding process which sought to position the company as experts in ensuring safety in the hospital environment, they understood that they were marketing not only to their supplier, but also to their end user -- ICU nurses. You can read more about Elcam's success in integrating online and offline marketing strategies here>> As a result, instead of attending the usual larger medical conferences and trade shows, they began to attend more targeted professional conferences of nurses, albeit with a smaller booth. Since the subject was so targeted, Elcam Medical was often able to generate awareness of their product by speaking on the lecture panel at the conference.
2. Be Really Clear About Your Inbound GoalsMake sure everyone in your marketing department is working together towards the same goals. Your inbound marketing activity before, during, and after events can support your greater marketing strategy of lead generation by:
- Increasing both direct and indirect traffic to your company website
- Increasing the number of email or blog subscribers
- Educating potential customers about your specific product or service
- Increase the number of requests for a product demo
3. Identify your Call-to-Action (CTA)A call-to-action, or CTA, is an action which you want potential customers to take. This is the method by which you achieve your goal, which you've properly defined in #2. Your CTA could be to convince potential customers to register for the event, download your ebook or white paper, sign up for your webinar, take a survey, or just visit your latest product or service page. By convincing potential customers to take this action, you are driving them further along the sales cycle. Other parts of your company can benefit from trade shows as well, so it is important to sit down and brainstorm with management in different departments to get their input. One of our clients, Afimilk, decided that in order to promote their new product, the AfiAct II at the World Dairy Expo, they would run a lottery during the event to give away the product to one lucky registrant for free. We integrated a CTA into all of their marketing materials for this event, adding it to the Afimilk website homepage, and creating landing page dedicated to registrations specifically for the event.
4. Create a Dedicated Landing Page to Promote your EventThe best landing pages promote events before and after the event. How? Before the event, they help to schedule appointments with your sales and marketing team, explain exactly what your company will be doing at the event, and promote a particular product or service. After the event, they publish reactions and insights from the event as well as the speaker's presentations on the landing page. Another purpose of your dedicated landing page before the event can be to get specific info from potential customers in order for your sales team to qualify them. But in an environment where you are competing with many other companies for the attention of the same people, you'll need to stand out from the crowd. Why would they want to give you information about themselves? You'll have to offer them something in return. Think really hard about what your potential customer's pain point is and how you can help them – for free, in exchange for their contact information. Here's an example from one of our customers, Plastopil, where we inspired customers to register to an event by offering them a free iPad mini:
5. Promote Your Event via Email MarketingInvite your contacts to the event with an email beforehand, sending them to your dedicated landing page in order to register for the event or schedule appointments, educating them about your services and products, or offering them a free ebook or white paper to show them you understand (and have a solution to) their main pain point. You may want to send an email promoting the event several times beforehand – perhaps a month, two weeks, and then the week of the event. Follow up afterwards with either a thank you or a newsletter that recalls the event. If you blogged about the event, include those posts in the newsletter as well.
6. Combining Online and Offline for Maximum ResultsA major goal in B2B conferences is to build new business relationships and strengthen old ones, both of which are key in lead generation. This offline approach should not be underestimated. However, you can use inbound marketing to gain the attention of new potential business partners, educate them about your products and services, and have that first meeting be as effective as possible.
Creating an Exceptional Digital Experience for Millennial Buyers
Exceptional Digital Experience. millennial buyers have the first digital contact and are determining which vendors should even be considered by the C-suite.
Most C-suite executives in the B2B technology world understand the influence millennials have on their decisions to purchase from one vendor versus another. According to recent Google research, it's generally the millennials who have the first digital contact with the vendor, albeit as B2B researchers. That means millennials are determining which vendors should even be considered by the C-suite. Image by Google/Millward Brown Digital, B2B Path to Purchase Study, 2014 According to an IBM study, millennials value a hands-on, authentic experience with a brand. The challenge for B2B organizations, therefore, is creating a relevant, seamless digital experience that millennials can connect to – at the right time and in the right digital channel. That's why an exceptional digital experience for all of your customers, including millennials, is so crucial. Since a CEB study found that buyers are now as much as 57% of the way through the buying process before actually engaging with a seller, you need to create a lasting impression that will raise your vendor to the top of the list.
How can your B2B organization transform itself into a digitally mature organization and leave a lasting impression on millennial buyers?This post will offer three suggestions for creating an exceptional digital experience.
Focus on the Customer ExperienceRemember what we mentioned above about creating a relevant and seamless digital experience? You'll need to examine your customer's priorities to provide content that focuses on them and their needs. For B2B organizations, this means not only prioritizing strategic concerns such as customer experience, but also growing revenues and reducing costs. It also means making tactical decisions to improve the digital experience (see the graph below). Digital and customer experience for B2B companies are becoming synonymous, and that's why an engaging and relevant digital strategy focuses on the customer.
Assign the C-Suite Responsibility for Digital StrategyIn order to execute the digital strategy effectively, you'll need guidance from someone who's been assigned responsibility for the digital strategy.In some companies it's the CEO, in others it's a Chief Information Officer (CIO) or chief digital officer. Whatever the title, someone in the C-Suite must lead the company with their end vision, with any changes being a result of this end vision. In order to capture and sustain the attention of millennial buyers, you'll need to involve the C-suite to align all parts of your business to provide value to the customer – whether R&D, HR and company culture, or sales. An exceptional customer experience will reflect this alignment.
Employ the Right Third-Party Solution ProvidersWhether it’s front-end applications, performance analytics, web design or content strategy, your company may realize it needs support from a third party to reduce risk and help them gain expertise. According to this Forrester study on digital transformation in B2B, 87% of companies use a third-party solution for at least one component of their digital transformation. One of the conclusions of the Forrester study is that it is vital to choose a third-party vendor that not only provides time and materials, but an end-to-end partnership as well. Find a solution that understands your broader goals in the marketplace and have them accountable for some measure of quantifiable success (whether it be more traffic, a lower bounce rate, or higher keyword rankings).
Getting on the Short ListBy focusing on the customer experience, assigning someone in the C-Suite responsibility over digital strategy and choosing the right third-party vendor, you'll create a digital experience that is successful in catching and sustaining the attention of B2B millennial buyers. In addition, you'll have to provide them with relevant and engaging top-of-the-funnel content in the channel of their preference. For now, these millennial "buyers" may just be influencers determining which companies are on the short list. All the more so that their digital experience be exceptional.
Overcoming Global Borders
A Case Study in Effective Online and Offline Marketing. Trends in online marketing, Microtargeting, mobile, content, Amplification and Old-school marketing
A Case Study in Effective Online and Offline MarketingNote: This is the last of a 5-part series on our annual international B2B marketing conference this past November. Read Part 4 here. As VP Strategy at Oz Branding, I decided to share our experience with Elcam Medical at the Global Marketing Challenges for B2B Companies conference, as it demonstrated the importance of combining both online and offline marketing approaches. Before delving into the Elcam Medical case study at the conference, howev er, I thought it important to remind you of five important trends in online marketing:
- Microtargeting – which involves finding a specific subset of customers in your marketplace
- Mastery of mobile – Mobile will dominate your market, no matter what the industry.
- Quality content – You'll need to fill that mobile channel with quality content, not to mention all of your other channels (and differentiate between these channels).
- Amplification – You'll also want to figure out how to amplify that content so it reaches as many potential customers as possible.
- Old-school marketing – Nothing beats face-to-face interaction.
Elcam Medical– No Longer "Just" an OEMNow that we have those trends in mind, I want to introduce you to Elcam Medical, a medical device company that is a world leader in medical stopcocks. This fluid control application is part of a larger set sold to a hospital through a multinational company. Elcam Medical, whose humble beginnings started at Kibbutz Baram, is a well-known OEM in the medical device industry. The challenge is creating awareness of the product to the end user who benefit from the patient safety and time-savings measures the device offers. Once the end users recognized the brand more, they would be able to create additional demand from the market, rather than relying solely on OEM representatives that may have a different agenda. How then could Elcam Medical go about positioning itself to be recognized more by the end users, in this case, ICU nurses in the medical device equipment industry? Oz Branding has been working with Elcam Medical for the past 4 years. In this case, we helped them devise a two-pronged strategy. The first challenge was to identify and understand their end user, a microtarget of ICU nurses, and develop channels to communicate with them. The second was to continue to strengthen its brand recognition with big multi-national companies, who are purchasers of Elcam Medical, but are familiar with it only as an OEM. The purpose of this two-pronged strategy was to create demand with regular companies, and spark a conversation of why this product's value is high enough to justify raising its price. With increased demand generation, sales would rise.
A Risky Yet Effective StrategyThe approach Oz built with them was dramatic and involved big decisions. In truth, multi-national companies don't want suppliers talking to customers. The question became how Elcam Medical would implement its strategy without damaging customer relations. First, all project work was done with complete transparency between Elcam Medical and its customers. The customers understood Elcam Medical would not sell directly to the hospitals and since there was no conflict of interest, sales have increased as a result of this project. Secondly, the idea was to focus on a concept of concern to end-users which wouldn't affect the suppliers. Fortunately, this concept had already been thought of and built into the product and reflected in the Marvelous stopcock, specially designed to increase safety and save precious time for the critical care teams. In order to have this concept strengthen the entire brand rather than one specific product, a designated website was created to promote Elcam Medical's most important feature for the ICU nurses: patient safety. This turned out to be the main benefit for end users. They wanted to know: How did Elcam Medical ensure patient safety? That became the agenda of the website – to position Elcam Medical as experts in insuring safety in the hospital environment, especially within the ICU. As new products develop they will also be shown on the website. More than just a promotion of the company's latest technology, the website helps to share a lot of professional data and information among medical professionals. In order to identify the issues and concerns Elcam Medical's end users face, 12 LinkedIn groups were identified and scoured. Blog articles were written and posted to this website addressing these topics and continue to be expanded upon. For even wider distribution and increased awareness, professional online publications are approached with these same topics, helping to position Elcam Medical as leaders in patient safety.
Online and Offline Equals 100% SuccessThe best approach combines online and offline marketing. Simply put: You have to get out there. In contrast to attending the usual larger medical conferences and big trade shows, Elcam Medical started to attend more targeted professional conferences of nurses, albeit with a smaller booth. Whenever possible, they tried to generate awareness by getting on the lecture panel at the conference. Of course, paid online advertising promoting these conferences helped, but at the end of the day, online activity leads to offline activity, which leads to a personal relationship. As a result of this two-pronged branding strategy, many personal relationships have developed, both between Elcam Medical and the end user, as well as between Elcam Medical and suppliers. As an example of the results generated from this type of online and offline approach, I read an email we received from a big company representative who wrote to one of Elcam Medical's representatives she had met at a critical-care nursing conference:
This email was sent just 6-8 months into the branding process, the results are still in process.The shift is dramatic in that it has changed the rules of the game – Elcam Medical now talks to nurses directly, creating its own relationships with the end user, which in this case, resulted in a huge amount of leads from one particular nursing conference. It shouldn't be a surprise that sales increased by 35% in 2015, the same year that Oz started working with Marvelous. As a takeaway from the conference, I believe that this combination of online marketing and the creation of offline personal connections can move many Israeli companies further into the international marketplace than they are today. As they expand and move abroad, I'd like companies to remember this combined approach when considering how to overcome global borders. This is the last post in our series about the annual international B2B marketing conference this past November.
Your Employees as Your Main Brand Ambassadors
Yes - your employees. They are one of the most important success factors of your brand implementation. They are your most significant brand ambassadors.
As part of our focus on B2B branding as the core of what makes your company beat – a reflection of who you are, what you do, how you do it, and why you do it — we’d like to zoom in on one of the most important factors in pulling it all together and actually making it work: your employees. Yes - your employees. They are one of the most important success factors of your brand implementation. They are your most significant brand ambassadors. By nurturing your employees’ connection and commitment to your corporate values, you can directly influence the strength of your B2B brand and your ability to fulfil your brand promise to your customers. To achieve this, you need to focus efforts on:
- Only recruiting employees who believe in what you believe in.
- Engaging your employees by creating a challenging and fulfilling work environment that encourages innovation and maintains a healthy work-life balance.
Growing Your Brand in the USA: Key Success Factors
Matt Bowen, shared with us at the Global Marketing Challenges for B2B Companies the key success factors for Israeli companies to scale their product in the U.S.
Note: This is Part 4 of a 5-part series on our annual international B2B marketing conference this past November. Read Part 3 here. Matt Bowen, President and CEO of Aloft Group, shared with us at the Global Marketing Challenges for B2B Companies the key success factors for Israeli companies to scale their product in the U.S. Mr. Bowen cited this article from Harvard business review which noted that in a survey of 112 Israeli companies founded between 1996 and 2013 that met or exceeded $20 million in revenue, most shared two common characteristics. The vast majority – 91% -- had both Israeli CEOs and had received funding from foreign VCs. Mr. Bowen believes that in addition to these factors, Israeli companies that desire to successfully penetrate the US market must be truly remarkable. We'll examine three key factors that contribute to a company's "remarkability" in this post.
Step 1 – Zoom and FocusWhile the US market offers a lot of exciting opportunity for growth for any Israeli company, it is also quite diverse. The market forces can create a lot of voices, as well as choices, and your company's brand needs to be able to be heard above the noise. Mr. Bowen showed us how his company was able to zoom and focus on the market for one client, Greiner Packing, by creating customer personas. By focusing on specific personas and understanding what these personas do on a typical day, their pain points, values and possible objections to the product, his company gained a much clearer focus of who would benefit from the product and how. Here's a detailed example of a customer persona: From this type in-depth understanding of your customers, you can start to build your company's story more clearly.
Step 2 - Tell a Bigger StoryFrom his vast experience in the field, Mr. Bowen told us: "Companies that seek to enter the US market successfully need a bigger story." That also means not overly focusing on your products or technology, but how it can make your customer's lives better. It's the customer's emotional connection to the brand that ultimately builds your customer relationships and brand loyalty.
Step 3 - Cultivate Relationships to Inspire Brand LoyaltyBrand loyalty is a goal that is achieved by a journey - a journey with each customer. Through focusing and zooming in on your market and telling the right story, you'll start to build relationships. Customers with good experiences will be happy to share it with the world, especially if they believe in your product. Many of these relationships will develop into brand advocates and slowly build your brand and customer loyalty.
To Make it In America, Be RemarkableAs we've explained, there are three key factors to successfully entering the US market. First, your company must focus and zoom in on its market. Creating in-depth customer personas can help with this. Secondly, you'll need to come up with a way to tell a "bigger story" – one that doesn't focus too much on your products and technology, but how it will add value to your customer's life. Finally, you'll need to build relationships with customers based on exceptional customer experiences in order to create brand advocates and loyalty. These three factors can go a long way in making your company truly remarkable and successfully scale in the US.
From Israel to Global: Lessons Learned in Building a Global Brand
Mr. Eyal Tryber,CEO of Maytronics and former CMO, talks about the lessons learned from his own first-hand experience, from building a global brand
Note: This is Part 3 of a 5-part series highlighting the speakers from our annual international B2B marketing conference this past November. Read Part 2 here. At the Global Marketing Challenges for B2B Companies conference we had the distinct pleasure to hear from Mr. Eyal Tryber, CEO of Maytronics, about the lessons he and his company learned from building a global brand. As the former VP of Sales and Marketing at Maytronics for over seven years before his appointment as the CEO in May of this year, these lessons are from his own first-hand experience. Let's start off with a bit of background about the company. A company with humble beginnings – it was founded on Kibbutz Yizreel in Northern Israel in 1983 – Maytronics has come a long way in the automated pool cleaning market. With over a billion shekels in market value, over 400 employees and operations in 46 countries and more than one million pool-cleaning robots sold, Maytronics is now a prosperous global company. The company is publicly traded both on the NASDAQ and the Tel Aviv Stock Exchange. After going public in 2004, the company embarked on a new marketing strategy: creating anchors in strategic markets. Company branches were established in Argentina, the US, France, Australia and Spain. Their strategy paid off as the company began to achieve unprecedented growth. As it grew, however, new challenges arose. First, each company branch started to create its own multi-culture, which created tension between local and global brands. Secondly, as the company grew, it risked losing its unique Maytronics company culture – stemming from its humble Israeli kibbutz origin and culture.
Bridging Gaps in Cultural Differences While Sustaining Continuous GrowthAnd thus, Maytronics embarked on an international organization process with Oz. Oz carried out this process in two ways. First, it enhanced the company dialog in order to form one distinct Maytronics company culture. This in turn helped build a strong global brand with a highly committed team located all over the world. Or as Tony Hsieh, CEO of Zappos put it: "We believe that your company's culture and your company's brand are really just two sides of the same coin." In order to form this distinct company brand and culture, Oz and Maytronics brainstormed together a list of its core values, applying the "Golden Circle" concept of Simon Sinek. According to this concept, products (the what) and the development (the how) serve to achieve a company purpose (the why). This also assists in creating an understanding of the company's competitive edge in the marketplace. What are Maytronics' core values? Most importantly, the company believes in focusing on the customer. Along with this are professional values of integrity and fairness. Together these are the internal values, or company culture, of Maytronics. Other values, while important, are components assisting in delivering these primary values. Although Maytronics develops pool cleaning robots, this alone doesn't fully encapsulate the company's purpose. As Mr. Tryber stated in his talk at the conference: "We don't sell robots, we sell an exceptional customer experience." Oz successfully transformed the company's internal values, or company culture, flipping them to discover the other side of the coin: the company's brand.
Drastic Results Which are Just the BeginningThe branding process with Maytronics was successful in that it quickly unified the global team, facilitating increased teamwork and collaboration. In addition, its company collateral and imaging are consistent both globally and locally. Although these results were the most immediate, the new branding left an impact which will be felt in the company, both internally and externally, for the long-term future as well.
Getting Over the Great Wall: Marketing Successes and Failures in China
Mike Golden, CEO of Adsmith, gave us some tips at the B2B International Conference about what to do (and what not to do) when marketing your brand in China.
Note: This is Part 2 of a 5-part series highlighting the speakers from our annual international B2B marketing conference this past November. Read Part 1 here. Mike Golden, CEO of Adsmith China, gave us some tips at the B2B International Conference 2015 this November about what to do (and what not to do) when marketing your brand in China. This country of 1.3 billion people and an estimated 6.5% growth for the next five years (and that's slow!) offers an exciting opportunity for global brands.
Fail Small, Fail LargeAlthough China offers a lot of opportunity, it can also be an overwhelming experience. "Some people come to China to try it for a year. It's a disaster, and they leave. That's a large fail," explains Mr. Golden. "The small fails are going up this very steep learning curve and learning the problems marketing in China." Mr. Bowden then detailed a practical list of marketing challenges companies face when entering the Chinese market and how to alleviate these "small fails."
Challenge #1: No one Can Read or Understand Your Company NameHe brings the example of Heineken and Coca-Cola, who not only create Chinese versions of their names, but made sure that the Chinese characters that formed the words were meaningful and related to the brand as well. For example, Heineken in Chinese means “happy power," and Coca-Cola means "happy mouth He told a cautionary tale of a luxury brand company that decided they didn't need a name in China. As a result, newspapers came up with their own competing versions of the same brand. At one point, people started to trademark those names. That's another reason why it's so important to create a Chinese version of your company name. If you don't do it, someone else will.
Challenge #2: Your Website and Marketing Collateral isn't LocalizedOne method of localizing all of your marketing collateral is to have it translated into Chinese. But that's not necessarily enough, Mr. Golden warns. The next step is to take the marketing collateral and give it to real Chinese marketing people and copywriters. Good copy is extremely important. Visuals are just as important as copy. While it isn't necessary to completely disregard the global brand, you do need to combine it with some amount of localization. The amount of localization depends on the market and the brand. For B2B companies, you want to strike the right amount of balance between global and local branding. (For an example of localized content, see the example in Challenge #4).
Challenge #3: The Great Firewall of ChinaIn terms of the web, China is a particular challenge to global brands, since it blocks many sites such as Google, Twitter and Facebook. Even if your site sits on the same server as a site China has decided to ban, your website page might not load. And according to Mr. Golden, this happens a lot. Make sure people can open and use your website to learn about your company and product.
Challenge #4: Creating a Website with Clean White SpaceAccording to Mr. Golden, the Chinese don't seem to appreciate the beauty of clean, white space on their homepages. He gives an example of an online trade magazine which shows the typical layout of many Chinese websites: Fortunately, his company is successful at transforming Chinese versions of websites into clean, white homepages. One example he showed us was Lycored, a company specializing in food ingredients. They were able to localize the Chinese version of their website with images while at the same time create a nice, clean homepage: "No one was talking about the threat of resistance. It was an invisible threat – but once it appeared, it was already too late. We gave this threat a face and a name, so people could start talking about it," Mr. Asset explained. "There's an old saying, `If you want to own the solution, you have own the problem.' So we were the ones to start talking about it." They were also able to use a lot of red. Red is a very lucky color in China, Mr. Golden explained, so it was great that Lycored uses red.
Challenge #5: Distributing Your Content in ChinaSince China blocks all of the mainstream sites from the US, it has created Chinese alternatives. Your company will have to familiarize themselves with sites such as Baidu, WeChat, Weibo, and Youku and the differences between them and their US counterparts. The numbers on these sites and networks are huge, Mr. Golden says, but it can still be hard to reach the people. For instance, Baidu, he explains, uses a completely different algorithm than Google. Speed and number of pages are major factor, as are metatags and other factors that Google no longer takes into account. In addition, sites with more pages rank higher. From Mr. Golden's experience, sometimes companies will need to call Baidu personally in order to increase their website's loading time. Trade magazines are another excellent source for distributing content. They can offer cost-effective advertising opportunities, as well as paid advertorial opportunities. Advertising laws, however, are very strict. Any advertising consisting of experts that speak of benefits of a product must be cleared with the Chinese government beforehand or risk being fined.
Successful Penetration of the Chinese MarketMr. Golden ended his presentation by telling companies interested in entering the Chinese market to first ask themselves the following questions:
- Is your brand ready to travel? If not, maybe go to a branding company (Oz or one of the E3 partners :P)
- Do you have a solid strategy? Don't go to China just to try it out.
- What are your priorities? Think especially in terms of your geography, people, and target markets.
- What marketing actions are right for your brand and your customers? Do you understand the media your customers are using?
- Do you have all the information you need? It takes talking to a lot of people to find out what's really going on.
Israel and R&D – an ongoing obsession
Israelis have a successful history with R&D and traditionally focused mainly on technology. But they’re slowly changing their focus from the what to the why.
We all know that Israel is a high-tech capital with almost as many start-ups as Silicon Valley. According to Rubicon Venture Capital, if we looked at the number of start-ups per capita, Israel might actually be number one. But what makes Israelis so obsessed with R&D? The answer is complex. But there definitely seem to be a few main reasons for this ongoing obsession.
- Israel is a melting pot of immigrants from multiple countries. These immigrants bring with them unique cultures, approaches and schools of thought, and when these spill over into their work environment, magic happens and innovation and creativity abound.
- Israel is a young country that faces constant challenges in the realms of security, agriculture, energy, and more. As a result, many Israeli companies focus on developing solutions to these problems and once they do this successfully, often export these solutions to the international market.
- Israel places a lot of value on education, and Israeli students are encouraged to focus on STEM subjects. Once they complete their high-school education, they are recruited by the Israeli Defense Forces (IDF) where these skills are nourished even further; and as a result, many young Israelis are snapped up by hi-tech companies as soon as they finish their military service or higher education.
- Israeli “chutzpa” or directness, and a belief in getting things done at all costs also contribute to a highly productive environment where efficiency comes before protocol.
- As part of a true belief in the power of technology as an industry changer, private and public funding bodies invest large sums in Israeli startups.
Traditional tendency for a product-centric approachIsraeli start-ups have definitely benefitted from their unique circumstances, and their innovations and out-of-the-box thinking provide global solutions for a broad range of issues and niches. However, as a result of this obsession with R&D, Israeli start-ups and hi-tech companies have traditionally been very product-centric. With such a strong belief in their technology, their main focus has been more on product features and benefits and less on the value that their products bring to their customers. But with digital disruption and the empowering of the customer, the focus is no longer on what we sell but rather on why we sell it.
Focus on the why and not on the whatSo the next step for Israeli hi-tech companies is to internalize this message and move over to a customer-centric model. According to an article by Forbes, transitioning over to a customer-centric model requires rethinking of the company’s marketing strategy as brands need to find ways to leverage their most important asset — their customers. This is a long-term process that requires research of existing customers to truly understand a company’s buyer personas, an understanding of the buyer journey and the channels used by potential buyers to interact with a company and its products, and a shift of mindset to stop thinking in terms of product and technology and start thinking in terms of customer needs.
Why Marketing in Europe is Like a Polar Bear
There's no blueprint for the perfect European campaign, There's no list of boxes that you can check off. That's why marketing in Europe in like a polar bear
Note: This is Part 1 of a 5-part series highlighting the speakers from our annual international B2B marketing conference this past November. Read the introductory post to this series here. When our head of VP Strategy at Oz Branding, Dina Gidron, asked Dirk Assent, managing partner at Bernstein, Gmbh to talk about marketing in Europe at the B2B branding conference in November, he admits that he struggled to find material to talk about. "There's no blueprint for the perfect European campaign. There's no list of boxes that you can check off to find out if you're doing wrong or right in Europe. That's why today I'm going to talk to you about why marketing in Europe in like a polar bear," Mr. Assent announced. Mr. Assent continued to explain that although life in Europe seems quite romantic and uncomplicated, this perception changes when we talk about the European Union. He explained that although the term "union" implies that it works in coordination with other countries in a unified manner. In reality, the European Union is far from a unified entity, especially as a marketplace. To illustrate this point, he explained that the United States has 300 million people who are unified by the same language. Europe, in contrast, has 500 million people and 23 official languages. "If you're doing business in Europe as a whole, you have to do whatever you do for the US times 23." It's an oversimplified example, he admitted, yet it clearly presents the magnitude of the challenge of marketing in Europe. Discovering the Synergies between Different Countries (The Polar Bear Analogy) Of course, language is only one of the many things dividing the countries. There are also vast social, legal and cultural differences. Instead of harping on these differences, Mr. Asset cautions, they need to be embraced. At the same time, you need to find the common denominator, or synergies, between the many countries. When marketing in the European Union, he explained, you simply can't create a campaign that tells different groups of people the same story, uses the same pictures, and talks about the same issues. "It doesn't work, because you aren't embracing the differences", he says. "You have to instead create a flexible structure that adapts to their needs." At first glance, it seems quite contradictory to try to both embrace differences while adapting to different needs. How can we accomplish this in marketing? In order to demonstrate how to accomplish this, he made an analogy of marketing in Europe to the anatomical design of a polar bear. At first, Mother Nature asked the polar bear what it wanted to look like, and he requested black skin in order to soak up the sun's rays. Later, the polar bear realized that it might be better to have white skin because there's a lot of snow, since if he's white he'll be protected from his enemies. Amazingly, Mother Nature found a solution that takes both needs into account. Polar bears have black skins which soak up the sun's rays, and are stored by a layer of blubber underneath this skin. On top of this black skin, the polar bear has a layer of white fur that camouflages him in the snowy climate and helps to keep him safe from his enemies. He even illustrated Mother Nature's idea of this flexible structure with a diagram of his own (We loved your diagram, Dirk!):