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Branding

Mollie Chen, Editorial Director of Birchbox, Talks Content Marketing

Mollie-Chen-ArticleBirchbox, the online subscription service that sends its customers a box of beauty and grooming goodies every month, has exploded since its inception four years ago. Subscribers have doubled to more than 800,000 since last year alone and an international expansion is in the works.

Editorial director Mollie Chen understands that the success of the company is due in large part to its smart branding skills. In our latest So What Do You Do column, Chen talks about the company’s vocal community, mobile initiatives and creating content its audience will love:

What goes into creating content that considers all stakeholders: the customer, your brand partners and Birchbox itself?
We think about these things on a monthly basis, but also things are definitely on a daily basis. We start building our video and story lineup. And then on a day-to-day basis we keep a lookout for news, such as Lorde collaborating with MAC on a makeup line — is that something that our customers would love to know about? What’s the Birchbox spin on that? Or we see that a customer tweeted a question about wearing sunscreen in the winter, and we whip up a blog post to answer them. So there’s the lineup that takes a longer view, and then there [are] the day-to-day reactions.

For more from Chen, including why she believes people should think of a brand as a person, read: So What Do You Do, Mollie Chen, Editorial Director at Birchbox?

Girls Are Scientists, Too: LEGO Responds to Customer Demands for Female Minifigures

lego 1_0Last week we told you about Disney coming to the hard-won, customer-fueled realization that girls like Star Wars, too, and that it might be a good idea to make Princess Leia toys (who knew??). Now, thanks to consumer demand, LEGO has come to a similar conclusion; the company has just announced the approval of the “Research Institute” set, which will feature a female astronomer, chemist, and a paleontologist.

A few months back, we covered the story of a little girl named Charlotte, who, dissatisfied with the limited selection of female minifigures and their stereotypical themes (beauty parlor, shopping, etc.), wrote a strongly-worded letter to LEGO, saying:

“My name is Charlotte. I am 7 years old and I have LEGOs, but I don’t like that there are more LEGO boy people and barely any LEGO girls. Today I went to a store and saw LEGOs in two sections…All the girls did was sit at home, go to the beach, and shop, and they had no jobs, but the boys went on adventures, worked, saved people, and had jobs, even swam with sharks. I want you to make more LEGO girl people and let them go on adventures and have fun OK?!?”

Little Charlotte, it seems, is nowhere near alone in her strong sentiment; Read more

STUDY: Young Americans Are Less Emotionally Engaged With Your Brand

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A new survey from marketing agency Momentum Worldwide is an interesting and familiar read, though it probably won’t be too encouraging for those who struggle to establish a connection with followers on social.

Its main conclusions: people in first-world countries feel less attached to the brands they follow than those in developing areas. This is especially true among younger audiences–and the root cause might just be overexposure to brand promo messages.

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Brands Rush to Sign the Latest Social Media Stars as Ambassadors

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Hundreds of young people with a bit of time on their hands are now moving to turn their mastery of social media into legitimate careers with backing from big brands–and The New York Times is ON IT.

A couple of stories this weekend highlighted the ways in which these social artisans have begun turning their Vines and YouTubes into cold, hard cash–while helping some businesses stay relevant with core demos in the process.

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Disney to Make Princess Leia Toys Thanks to #WeWantLeia Hashtag

leiaBack in May, Disney announced it would be rolling out a new line of Star Wars themed toys, which will be available for purchase in Disney stores. As excited customers browsed through the soon-to-be-collectibles, they quickly noticed the lack of products featuring female characters — Sure, Luke and R2 and Han and Vader were all represented, but where was the no-nonsense heroine Princess Leia?

A mother shopping for her daughter asked Disney that exact question via Twitter, to which the brand responded:

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Naming Names in the Growing Ranks of Hotel Brands

Epiphany HotelWhile there’s no magic formula for launching new hotel brands, E = mc2 best suits some recent hotel concepts. That’s because the famous physics energy equation reflects new or planned properties and brands, namely Epiphany from Joie de Vivre Hospitality, Moxy from Marriott International and Curio collection from Hilton Worldwide.

Branding was a hot topic at NYU’s International Hospitality Industry Investment Conference this week in New York, where panelists weighed in on the degree-of-difficulty factor, the rationale for launching new offerings and repositioning legacy brands. Names do matter, but they’re only part of the picture. Below are key takeaways.

Creating new brands for the long-haul: “Brand building isn’t for wimps; it’s for the persistent and patient. Most brands grow slowly, and you need to think several years out, since you’re often signing 20-year licensing agreements”, said James Anhut, SVP of design and quality at IHG/InterContinental Hotels Group.

Big hotel companies still have an edge, noted David Kong, president and CEO of Best Western International. “It’s immensely difficult to start from scratch. But it’s easier for larger scale hotel companies to create smart brands that will appeal in the long run.”

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Millennials Are A Big Reason Panera Bread Will Dump The Additives In Its Food By 2016

panera tweetPanera Bread isn’t stopping with the bread. The company has announced that it will rid its food of all artificial additives by the end of 2016. “That means no artificial colors, flavors, sweeteners and preservatives in any of the hundreds of food items it sells,” reports USA Today.

Consumers have become much more cautious about what they eat. With issues like allergies, obesity, and just overall good health at the forefront, restaurants — whether fast food, cafe chains, or anything of the like — that can build a brand on being good for you (or at least not bad for you) have a new and very powerful selling point.

“I want to serve food that I want to eat,” Ron Shaich, founder and CEO of Panera, told the newspaper. Beverages could be next, with high-fructose corn syrup on the chopping block.

Among the ingredients that will be nixed are maltodextrin, ascorbic acid and potassium lactate. If it’s too much like a chemistry class, people will be wary. Panera believes this is especially true for millennials.

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9 Brands that Kicked Off Summer on #MemorialDay Social Media Style

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Despite any proclivity there may be in the world to resist the commercialization of Memorial Day, the push to sell mattresses, cars, and stuff will always happen on this day.

Why? Summer has arrived and all is right with the world. It’s in the air. People want to go out, spend money, and forget how difficult school and being stuffed in a cubicle can really feel.

Sunblock and swim suits, grills for the house and your teeth, and that convertible is starting to look all the more tempting this time of the year. Naturally, there are some brands that kick off the summer festivities better than others. And for your reading pleasure, your friends at PRNewser has nine that did it just right.

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This Week’s Most Bizarre Branding Move: Axe’s Pheromone-Infused Business Cards. Gag.

In case Axe‘s incredibly misogynistic and epically douchey ads and overpowering fragrances don’t make you gag enough, here comes the brand’s newest campaign: “Pheromone Business Cards.”

In the promo video below, we see “Axe associates” (every frat boy’s dream job) working out while wearing sweatbands. The secretions collected in the bands (ugh, I can’t even write this without nearly losing my breakfast) are then extracted by “scientists” who go about “isolating their essence, distilling it into a concentrated solution that could only have come from that specific axe associate.” That solution is then infused into business cards stamped with the gross proclamation, “Infused with the essence of (name here).”

The idea, as the spot explains, was to create a business card that goes beyond communicating an associate’s contact information, and instead “communicates the very essence of that person’s attraction.” As such, it’s designed to be “a card that may attract more than just business for our associates.”

Yeah. Like a slap to the face and panicked use of hand sanitizer.

10 out of 10 Kids Agree: New McDonald’s Mascot Is ‘Creepy’

This week McDonald’s brought a new mascot out of hiding (he’d been hanging out in Europe) and introduced him/her/it to American audiences. Media folks on Twitter predictably responded with mockery, and some wiseguy with too much free time on his hands even created a parody account:

Now, via Grub Street New York, we have the answer to the question that you hopefully haven’t been asking yourself all week: what will the kids think?!

Take it away, focus group A!

The best quote is also the most overly dramatic:

“People are going to make a joke out of it and it’s going to totally ruin their business.”

We certainly wouldn’t go that far, but we do think we know someone who has a future in market research…

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