Brand Dissonance- What’s Going on with Toyota?

t_newhard_kCognitive dissonance is the anxiety that occurs when you or people or groups you know behave in ways that are counter to their attitudes, beliefs, and past behaviors. So what do we call it when a company behaves in a way that is counter to their attitudes, beliefs, and past behaviors? I’ll call it brand dissonance.

The most recent contributor to brand dissonance is Toyota. The Japanese automaker is renowned for quality. This is justifiable. I know a lot of people, 3 family members, who have either owned  or currently own Toyotas with no complaints. Their record is great and they have worked for decades to make quality automobiles. Toyota’s position within the import automaker industry is as a quality leader. This is a powerful position. If I am in the market for a car and want one that won’t break down…ever, I think Toyota. Honda is a very close second.

However, years of hard work at gaining and maintaining this position might come crashing down with the failure of one part, the accelerator pedal.

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Add to Your Brand Through Charity

t_newhard_kDid you know that 70% of respondents to a recent survey indicated that they thought American companies were spending far too much money on marketing and advertising and not enough money on charitable organizations and causes.

In addition to that, 66% indicated that they would switch from brand A to brand B of a product if brand B was helping out a worthy cause and brand A was not.

What does this tell us? Take all the money from the marketing budget and dump it into the United Way? As nice as that would be, I do not think that is the case. I think this data is telling us that it behooves our firms to consider integrating philanthropy as a part of our PR and marketing campaigns. Continue reading

Chemtech Ford hires Serfwerks for Trade Show Display

Logo1Salt Lake City-based analytical laboratory Chemtech Ford has hired Serfwerks to design the graphics for its display that will be used at various conventions and trade shows throughout the year. Some of the conventions for which the display will be used include the American Water Works Association, Rural Water Association, Water Environmental Association of Utah and several more.

Chemtech Ford provides analytical laboratory services to test drinking water, waste water, soil & hazardous waste, and other specialty analysis. Chemtech Ford is the only analytical laboratory in Utah to provide its lab results online.

Serfwerks to Develop Collateral for Par 4 Golf Management

Serfwerks has been selected by Par 4 Golf Management of Las Vegas, Nev. to produce marketing collateral for its upcoming golf convention. Serfwerks will be developing a brochure, business cards and a web site for the golf management company. The collateral will help Par 4 communicate its revolutionary golf course management model to golf course owners and superintendents.

Par 4 Golf Management provides golf course management services for courses in Southern Nevada and California. Par 4 specializes in making floundering courses profitable.

Increase Sales by Increasing Credibility

t_newhard_k The Credibility Gap

We are a nation of skeptics. I a recent call with a client I was told that people from her homeland did things differently – they trusted each other – their word was better than a contract. That’s great, but that isn’t the way things are here. Consumers have been lied to for years.

In a study by the Yankelovich public opinion poll – 93% of consumers indicated that they have no confidence in advertisements from major corporations.


In 1906 the Pure Food and Drug Act was passed. It required producers of food and drugs to disclose what was in what their customers were buying. Up until this point producers had no accountability — Coca Cola had cocaine and excessive amounts of caffeine in it and cough syrups were up to 50% morphine and other opiates. Can you imagine shoveling morphine into your 18 month-old? If anyone found out, you would probably be sent to jail. Continue reading

3 Ways to Save in the Creative Process

If your organization is like many others out there, you need to make the most of your time and your marketing budget. These days it’s all about doing more with less. Here are a few of the easiest ways to save time and money throughout the creative process.

1. Allow Proper Timing: Plan Ahead

Nothing sucks effectiveness out of a project like not having enough time to get it done well. Getting a truly effective, creative solution and well-thought out end product is a process of research and exploration and does take an investment of time. By allowing adequate time for market research and creative development, you’ll end up with far more effective and creative projects.

With adequate timelines, your possibilities are far more open and budget friendly. Short cutting this process dramatically impacts the research and creative exploration process and consequently your end product suffers. With tight timelines, your project is limited to what can be accomplished in the limited time allowed. Planning ahead will result in you getting more impact and value out of the creative process – better results for your investment. Continue reading

Top Value Brands—Part 3 of 3

Where part two of this series focused on how the various companies cited in the study as being perceived to value position themselves within the mind of their various audiences, this article focuses on what other businesses can learn from these to companies to communicate value to their audiences.

A curious finding in the M/A/R/C and Integer Group study on the value brands found that value did not necessarily mean high quality at a low price. To the contrary, it found that respondents defined value as a good quality at a fair or reasonable price. In fact, those respondents who define value as quality at a fair or reasonable price were more than twice as many as those who defined it as getting the best quality for the least money (13% compared to 6%). Continue reading

Top Value Brands—Part 3 of 3

The M/A/R/C and Integer study on the top value brands included the likes of Walmart, Target, Sony and Kellogs. However, most companies can’t match the spending power of those listed in the M/A/R/C  and Integer study. In fact, each of those companies likely has an annual advertising budget in the hundreds of millions of dollars if not more. While the second in this series focused on using positioning as a strategy to build value, this article focuses on how companies without billion-dollar budgets can communicate that value to their audiences.

The communication of value is where the real trick lies. After all, Target didn’t get to be known for designer quality on a budget by getting lucky or stumbling upon something that worked. Effective communication of value is a product of three things: positioning, effective communication strategies and audience touch points. While the concept of positioning was covered in the second of this series, this article explores the latter two.

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Be Successful by Being Obvious

t_newhard_kWhen I was young, a novel product called Magic Eye came out — everyone wanted one. No magic was actually involved, Magic Eye was just a book that contained hidden images the appeared when you stared at the image on a page long enough.  At first glance the pages of the book seemed to contain nothing but jumbled-up crap, but then when you stared long enough a whale or jet plane might appear — like MAGIC.

Staring at the pages of a Magic Eye was fun for a little while, but I eventually tired of it. Nowadays I would rather not stare at something for more than 5 seconds in order to figure it out. This includes any type of positioning, branding or, advertising.

An analysis of 901 brands by the Eureka! Ranch(1) showed that brands that touted an obvious benefit were 75% more likely to succeed than those that hide their message.

The ears and eyes of your prospects are being pushed and pulled in a lot of directions by all the other advertising out there. Being upfront and concise as to how your product is a benefit will help you push through the clutter more than being super avant garde or idiotic. Continue reading