The Sponge Turns 13 – You Get The Gifts!

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The Sponge Sydney Turns 13

The Sponge has turned 13 this month and we’re celebrating by giving the gifts. We’re giving away proven, actionable branding and marketing strategies that you can use in your own business. A tidy snapshot of the latest techniques and technologies, bursting with usable insights all wrapped up and delivered to your inbox each month. To enjoy the birthday festivities by joining the list today. Here’s the link: http://bit.ly/BrndIns

Over the past 13 years we’ve had the privilege of working many awesome people and creating many cool brands! We are thankful for all the opportunities and the trust we’ve been given and we’re excited about what the next 13 will hold, both with technological developments and creative innovations.

Of course we look forward to growing with many more cool new branding and rebranding projects, so let me know if you have any branding, rebranding or marketing projects coming up! As I shared in my recent post, now is the best time to brief your design team.

P.S. We are putting together this month’s insights now so join the list now to catch it. Here’s the link again: http://bit.ly/BrndIns

11 Reasons NOT to Put Off Your Marketing Until Next Year

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The Sponge Branding Sydney - Get Ready for 2015

So you’re probably thinking that there is no sense in starting any marketing or branding discussions with your branding agency this side of the new year, right?

Given the change in the business landscape I challenge you that this is absolutely the right time to do so for the following 11 reasons:

  1. The gaps in your marketing that you and your team have identified over the past year are still fresh and waiting to be solved.
  2. You may have a product or service to either launch, or run a promotion for Australia Day, Valentine’s Day, or school going back. Working backwards, now is the right time to get started.
  3. Go into the new year knowing you are set for a bigger year because your marketing and branding is sorted and you can hit the ground running.
  4. Due to it being traditionally a quieter period, your branding agency will have time to harness the full potential of focused creative time
  5. Turn your usual quiet period into a proactive time to rearm your sales team by developing fresh new, relevant marketing and sales tools to motivate and inspire them when they return.
  6. Technical projects like websites and apps can be developed, tested and debugged, and even safely launched while web traffic is lower.
  7. If there is any content or homework for your team, often the break provides quiet time for that to be managed. With brainstorming and strategy sorted prior, execution is much easier.
  8. Some businesses simply do not close for the holidays, so now is the best time to get your branding and marketing right, by virtue of there being no time like the present.
  9. By bucking the trend you’ll be armed, tested and ready before 2015 gets into full swing. There is a great energy that comes with being proactive and ready.
  10. Reflect on the resolutions you made for your brand in 2014 that were not met. Use the time now to make these things and more happen for your brand in 2015.
  11. Your smart competitors will be readying their new marketing to strike first thing in the new year. If you wait and are reactive, rather than proactive, you will be forced to do something that will be rushed and likely too late. Or you could do nothing at all, and neither are what your business needs. Standing still is really falling behind.

What other reasons can you think of to lock in a session with your branding agency in the coming days?

If you haven’t got a branding agency, or feeling you have outgrown your last one, I would love to discuss any ideas you are thinking for 2015 and how my team at The Sponge can get you set. Call 02 8586 0000, or contact through http://www.thesponge.com.au/contact-us/ and we can book a time.

Brand Identity Crisis?

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Brand ID Crisis

There are common faults that often occur within a brand’s identity as it grows or changes over time. These faults can form a sort of identity crisis and if not identified and addressed can begin to have a detrimental effect on how a brand is perceived. But what am I talking about exactly?

Many brands and particularly young brands trying to establish themselves in their market may initially have a good or catchy name, or story behind their brand. But usually they have a fairly small or specific offering. As they begin to do well and grow they look to expand or branch out their products or services and this is where the trouble can start.

One of the things that often occurs is the name of brand may contain words that directly relate to a specific product or service type and once the brand goes beyond the point of only this offering, then the name isn’t a complete fit for what the brand has now become. Most often the flagship product or service is what the brand has built their reputation on, but if they’re looking to become renowned for more than that one thing, having it feature in the brands name makes it difficult to do so. It limits the brand and how it is perceived in the market. This is why a name ideally should be just that and not a descriptor of an offering.

The meaning and story behind a name can be very important too, it gives your brand a solid foundation that helps serve as a basis for marketing and messaging to your market. If your audience can identify with your story and likes what you are about then it not only will grab their attention, but is the first step in creating brand loyalty. Reinforcing your core story, attitude or values that define your brand in your messaging and across all your touchpoints is key to engaging your market in the right way.

Another area to keep an eye on is consistency, in particular with your brand’s logo/mark. We’ve often seen brands, mainly in the retail or product based markets, use altered or differing versions of their brand mark or logotype. This is generally a bad idea, especially if the style of the different versions conflict with the main position or story of the brand. Some of the reasons this occurs are: a brand has newly introduced a line of products for the opposite sex to their primary one, as part of their growth strategy; Or theming their mark for a specific event; or style relating to a certain demographic; or even range of product.

Although theming for such things can be good to do, it is not something that should be done to the primary logo/mark itself. Graphic additions or elements which accompany, or have the primary mark integrated in them is a better way to go. That way you don’t lose your core identity and muddy the waters in your consumers eyes.

For main points of contact and across all major channels of your brand, you should be completely consistent. Using your brand in it’s primary form will create the stable and strong presence you want which helps build consumer confidence. You have to remember any touchpoint of your brand, be it print material, website, email, product or anything else could very well be the first time someone sees your brand, and if you are not consistent across the board then it can cause confusion if a new prospect sees one brand mark in one place then a different looking one in another.

Common faults of brand consistency can often be, using a handful of different fonts for the brand name on different items, using the mark with type on some items but just the type on others and using a completely different logo graphic to suit a certain style for an event or specific product. Are you guilty of any of these?

If now is the time to revisit your brand strategy, or it’s time for a complete overhaul, get in touch and we will set you up properly so you can grow with confidence.

Tribe Social Fitness Brand Rollout Video

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Engaging and effective brand roll out is a keys to business success. Watch this short 2 min video of one such brand roll out and be inspired to open up the potential for your brand through a new way of thinking. Contact The Sponge today about your branding, from naming through to complete brand roll out.

Yahoo Serious?

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 Yahoo Rebrand Fail

Yahoo Old Logo

Yahoo have just revealed their brand new logo, designed by Yahoo’s in house design and in-house brand design group and product designers. And to be perfectly honest it lacks a lot of the character their old identity had.

 Of course there always comes a time when a company’s image needs to progress and a re-brand is in order. But in this instance it seems like a pretty big fail. Not only is Yahoo’s new identity bland, void of character and safe, I cannot understand why they would create something that leans far too closely to their main competitor Google. Even to the extent of adding a stock standard bevel.

Are they trying to set themselves apart or play copycat? All this came out of 30 days of work, perhaps it needed another 30 days. What do you think?

Ernst & Young – EY Rebrand Megafail

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Ernst & Young - EY Rebrand Fail - Before & After Logos

There has been a great deal of laughter and head shaking going on as a result of Ernst & Young’s recent rebranding. We concur, it is somewhat of a spectacular fail, for a number of reasons which I will go into shortly.

Along with the new CEO Mark Weinberger, they’ve taken the opportunity to simplify their name and redesign their logo. As Mark explains:

“From 1 July we will be called EY. Shortening our name will provide consistency and ease of use for EY practices and clients around the world. We have also redesigned our logo, reflecting our new brand name clearly in the design. Our new brand name and logo demonstrate clearly and boldly who we are and reflect the goal we have recently set ourselves to be the number one brand in our profession.”

Right, we cannot see how this makes any sense! It sounds like corporate gobbledygook.

Here’s where the fail begins. A quick Google Image search of “EY” will result in a an endless stream of near naked young men in homoerotic poses. It seems that there has been no research into the new name that they now share with EY! Megateen a Spanish soft porn mag. For a firm that is supposed to be a consulting powerhouse, this lack of research is an especially big cock-up!

EY - Google Search_20130725-084951

We understand that it is definitely easier to say EY, the reality is that it is simply an abbreviation and could have been solely a verbal nickname (which it may have already been), without needing to be an official renaming.

The new logo itself is bold and simple, but that is it. It is bland, quite static and as a result lacking substance. Although the yellow beam is a device that has been used in the prior marketing material, it does nothing for this brand mark but leave you wondering whether this is a freight company or as someone put it, “the parent company of budget car rental”.

This was an opportunity to create something spectacular and meaningful and in our opinion is a spectacular fail and a lazy creative approach. We expect this to be a brand fail for the ages.

What do you think?

Brand New Sponge Website

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You may have noticed by now that we’ve given The Sponge website a complete and utter overhaul. It was uploaded silently yesterday without much fanfare. I am sure some of you are saying it is about bloody time.

To be truthful we were somewhat reluctant due to our current workload and what it takes to build a complete new site, content wise, which we know from experience is the bane of any website build. None the less, I believe the team have done an awesome job and there is way more to come, especially in the portfolio.

I thought I might share some of the considerations in this recent project to give you a bit of an insight into our thinking about a website for today.

  • Heavy use of bold imagery – For a branding studio it is important to let the work speak for itself.
  • Absolutely no flash – flash is dead now that Apple won’t support it for iOS.
  • Mobile & Tablet friendly – without providing a limited content stylesheet.
  • Founder profiling – so you know “the big why” behind the business.
  • Culture and story – to appeal to all future Sponge superstars and for clients to get a feel for who we are and to see if there are natural synergies.
  • Product/Process guides – show exactly what we specialise in and how we do it.
  • Integrate the blog – Google loves blog content!
  • Clear contact details – Hey, how else will you find us?

Like I said, there is plenty of work to be added to the site, so keep checking back.  We’d love to hear what you think about the new look and website so feel free to drop a comment below.

Brave New Clients

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Changing the name of a business takes courage. When embarking on a total rebrand, it can feel quite daunting and uncomfortable. We were reminded of this only days ago with our newest brand re-naming client, Mende we respect your courage and welcome you and your amazing team on board!

There are times when it is completely obvious that a business has well and truly outgrown, outclassed, or simply does not fit the name it has.

From a new business perspective it is hard to quantify the lost opportunities due to the incorrect perception of a business based on a name mismatch and a wrong judgment made from it about its suitability.

First impressions are almost impossible to change. They are often formed by how the person encountering it feels about the word, or words used in a name and how they interpret them.

This is where the power of language comes into play and it’s one of the key reasons why we love creating brand names.

When you hear (or say in your head) a name like Sam’s Sofas, what is your impression? Is it an international, national, regional or local business? Does it inspire confidence? Do you feel that they can help? What is the perception of size of the business?

Another example, when you hear Freedom Furniture, how are your answers different? There is no wrong answer. They simply differ. The point is, if you ask these types of questions to your ideal clients, are the answers you get the answers you want to hear?

For an in depth look at creating great names, check out this post on brand names.

I’m not saying that a brand needs to appear grander than they are, I am saying is that the brand name should fit the brand like a perfectly tailored suit.

Note: Sam’s Sofas is a fictional name concocted purely to demonstrate a point rather than picking on anyone in particular and we are not affiliated with Freedom furniture.

Sponge Classic Showcase – Safari

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We’ve just added a classic showcase to our Sponge Facebook page. It’s a blast from the past. 2008 to be precise.

The Sponge Showcase classic - Safari - Click for more.

Safari, a new energy drink enters the market and the brief was to stand out from the sea of the V green, and the blue/red of Redbull, which was an uphill battle!

With a striking can design (and vehicle design), and punchy energetic brand mark with a distinct tribal feel, this product did just that. Naturally we’d love to answer any questions you may have about this or any other brand, so feel free to ask them here or via message if you prefer to keep it private.

Check it out in all its glory here: https://www.facebook.com/TheSpongeSydney and “like” the page while you are there if you haven’t already!

Contact us about your brand now. Contact Us