I just wrapped up a research project for a company that is testing a new logo. It wasn’t a logo tweak; it was a complete re-design. I’ll fast forward to the happy ending, the new logo generated more interest from prospects, and customers weren’t opposed to the change, in fact, most of them liked it too.
I wish I could take credit for the happy ending, but that goes to the branding and design team.
If you are thinking of changing your logo, or maybe you are in the development stage of a new logo, here are key questions to ask.
#1 “What words come to mind when you see this logo?”
Start with initial impressions of the logo, what does it communicate? Don’t worry if it doesn’t communicate exactly what you want, we’ll get to that. You want to see what words it does evokes and, more important, check for any surprises. We learned that lesson the hard way. Years ago, a company I worked with used a new logo that ended up having strong associations with breast cancer awareness. Let’s just say that wasn’t their line of business (tip: be careful with the use of light pink ribbons).
#2 Introduce a concept description of your company and ask “Based on what your read here, how well does this logo fit the description?”
Now you are forcing them to mentally match the logo with a description of your company. Is it a fit? If they say, “not really” be sure to ask a follow up question “why not” (but nicer, because they are being honest). Prospects will likely have different responses than current customers, so make sure you tap both markets for feedback.
#3 Based on the logo and description, how likely are you to seek more information about this company?
Straightforward. We want to know; does this look like a company you’d want to do business with, or continue to want to do business with?
#4 Below is a list of words that could be used to describe this company, please select the words you think best describe this company.
Your branding and design team probably had a brand blueprint to direct the logo design. For example, the new logo needs to look: authentic, trustworthy, and exclusive with millennial appeal. You’ll want to create a laundry list of descriptive words including words you want to be communicating, and the opposite of those words, and throw in some unrelated words.
#5 How much do you agree or disagree with the following statement:
“This company is a brand for me.”
I used to do a lot of new food product concept testing and when we’d hear “It would be great for camping!” we called it the kiss of death endorsement. At the end of the day, you want to know is this product good for you, personally. I don’t want to know if you think your neighbor would like it, I want to know if YOU would like it.
I like to think I’m not so naïve to be persuaded by a logo, but when I see the Athleta logo I want more of that little purple circle that makes me feel like an active, diverse woman-on-the-go; not a woman who sits in sweats in front of her computer all day. And how about Apple’s apple? It makes me smile just seeing it, I swear sometimes it says “Hello!” to me just like the first time we met.
To see the 10 Best Logo changes in 2015, click the box below.
And if you want to give feedback on beer logo, please click the second box!
OMG I just took a horribly written online survey. I can be critical by nature (ask my teenage daughters) but this one really was bad. It violated the rules of writing smart surveys, asking the right questions and keeping your audience engaged.
Here’s what I experienced:
So now I’m judgmental and crabby and thinking negative about this provider and here’s the kicker: The survey landing page is “Congratulations, you qualify to be on our customer panel!” Is this good news? Because I gave low ratings it would not have been hard to set up logic to display this type of message: “We are sorry to hear you have rated us lower than what we’d like to see. We are working hard at improving our services and would like ongoing feedback from you Kara, to check in and see if we are on track with our changes. Would you be willing to hang in there with us and provide feedback on a monthly basis?”
See, I like them better already because I suspect that is what they want to do. Okay Mediacom, I’ll hang in there with you and give feedback. You don't even need to provide incentives. Improved service would be incentive enough.
I went for one of my walks-in-the-dark last night. Sometimes I bring a glass of wine in a tumbler cup (my brother and I call it the ‘booze cruise’) and walk on the trail near me with a flashlight. It’s a nice end to the day and last night the stars were bright.
I just gave birth to competitive intelligence report for a client that we do quarterly for his Board of Directors. In this report we track over 25 companies who serve SMBs (small and medium sized businesses). I realized while working on the report how companies, in their desire to onboard, cross-sell and create a loyal base too often forget what their customer need is today. Take Constant Contact for example; they lead the pack for making email marketing easy for small businesses. They started adding marketing services, apps, social media marketing campaigns, website assistance, and transitioned into selling a marketing platform. What happened? Customers got confused. Their first target market is SMBs who just need an email marketing solution. Constant Contact took their easy, straightforward entry ramp (emailing customers in a more professional way) to the highway (the highway being a marketing platform) confusing by adding construction. It’s like giving a your baby asparagus, broccoli and kale because “I know it’s good for you. Research proves it!” Yes, it is good for your baby someday, but let’s start with mashed up squash that he can digest first.
Intuit is another example recently in the news. They are selling Demandforce, Quickbase and Quicken and re-strategizing on owning the U.S. market for taxes. In the last year they pushed customers to transition to the cloud before customers were ready, lost focus, caused confusion and backlash, and now are focusing on their core competency: taxes.
The moral of the story here is to focus on your customer need. I was at conference in Chicago earlier this month and one of the speakers talked about the same thing - you can’t push or pull your customers to you regardless of what you think they need. You need to stand next to them, listen to them, then hold the flashlight out front and guide the way.
We had an interesting conversation at dinner recently. Let me back up and explain; this was at 8:30 p.m. after back-to-back activities (this is normal at our house, but that’s another chapter about how I terrible I am at the traditional 6:00 family dinner hour). The girls and I sat down to eat; they were bickering and I asked them to please stop so we could eat together in peace. After a tacit prayer I suggested we do “highs” and “lows” of our day, a practice encouraged by our church youth education leaders. Lilli steped up to the plate immediately (keep in mind this is my daughter who likes to eat facing the mirror so she can see herself eat; who does that?) with a list of highs that really end with lows. It was humorous enough to shake the crabby mood off as Ellie added commentary to Lilli’s high-low drama. Ellie, in typical fashion offered little about her emotional state. So little I can’t recall. Then it was my turn, except in my typical fashion I used the opportunity to install values. It went something like this:
Me: “Well my high is that we are all together and we have a long weekend together. My low is that I had a conversation with another mom today about ‘pot cookies.’ Her son was at a friend’s house with other kids and apparently one of the boys was passing out cookies with pot in them.”
Lilli: “Do we know him?”
Ellie: “Is he in my grade?”
Me: “No” (lie.)
Me: “Have you guys heard of pot cookies?”
Both girls: “Yes.”
Me: (kinda shocked looked at Lilli) “How do you know about pot cookies?”
Lilli: “From a movie where they eat pot brownies to relax.”
(great, probably rated PG too. It wasn’t Shrek was it? The donkey is suspicious. Maybe it was Frozen? Elsa is kinda uptight.)
I launched into a mini-sermon about how sad it is that you don’t even know who to trust. That you could actually try pot without knowing it by eating a cookie! I ended with “No more cookies from other people” and on we went with our night.
When Ellie went to bed, again I said, “Please, don’t eat pot cookies,” which she replied, “You are getting paranoid. Goodnight.”
Paranoid? Not me. Okay, maybe me. I woke up at 2:00 a.m. wide awake with pot cookies on the brain. Now paranoia set in, as it can when bats and mice take over at that hour. I wondered, what if Ellie has already tried pot cookies? How would I know? It’s legal now in some states, maybe it isn’t that bad anymore. I grabbed my phone, opened Safari and did research on the subject. My research effort began with the question: “How do I know if my teenager is using marijuana?” The first signs they offered were things like “you catch them in the act,” “new burn marks on fingers,” “drug paraphernalia in their room” and “marijuana poster above their bed.” Seriously? I think I’d catch those signs. Then again I haven’t been in her room in awhile and I haven’t clipped her fingernails in over 15 years and she doesn’t hold my hand to cross streets anymore. So I read on for more clues; “bottles of Visine around for red eyes,” “incense and candles around,” “talking in code or secretive manner,” “unmotivated” and my favorite “sudden need for more money without much to show for it.” It was like reading a list of symptoms for a medical condition and I was checking every box “yes.” Granted it was 2:20 a.m. now but I was starting to wonder if I was eating pot cookies and wasn’t aware of it. I have all of those symptoms!
Then I stumbled upon a post from “Focus on the Family” and was pleasantly surprised at the approach offered. They recommend digging deeper and finding out the reason your teenager is turning to a mind-altering substance. If they are using, they are anesthetizing their mind for a reason. They also encourage parents to draw the line in the sand stating “as long as you live here, there will be no question about my allowing use of marijuana and if I do find out there will be significant consequences.” I can do that. The phone and car are powerful consequences.
Today, I am not worried about either of my girls using drugs. Tomorrow might be different, but today we are okay…so far. When they left for school this morning I jokingly offered a “Remember, no pot cookies!” as casually as I would have said, “Keep you mittens on at recess” ten years ago.
(p.s. photo above is borrowed from www.pinchofnum.com and does not contain actual pot)
This summer I was lucky enough to take a family vacation with my brother, our parents and our kids to Canada. We started out RV camping in Jasper National Park, and ended at the Fairmont Castle in Banff (a shout-out to my brother who planned the whole trip). Now, let me paint a picture for you: there were seven of us in a six person RV. While we thoroughly enjoyed the RV and camping portion of our trip, imagine the sight of us piling out of the RV at the Fairmont Castle entrance.
As the younger kids hopped out of they RV they left a trail of Fruit Loops flying off their clothes and carried more stuffed animals in their arms than real animals within a 5-mile radius of us. We had the art of perfect timing too. In the lobby hotel guests were wearing evening attire for dinner reservations and let’s just say, non-RV living. I felt out of place. While we joked about Chevy Chase and National Lampoon vacation, it hit me that “Oh my gosh, we ARE the Griswald’s right now.”
The first person we met at the Bell Captain station greeted us as if he was expecting us, important guests, all day. He got a team to gather our luggage, insisted (despite my stubborn nature to carry my own bags) on taking every last bag and stuffed animal we had to deliver to our rooms. He called my brother “Sir” and I'm not even sure what he called me because I was probably looking around to see whom he was talking to. Once we arrived to our rooms two young women arrived with waters for us, and asked if there was anything we needed to get settled for the night. We exchanged pleasantries about where they were from, what to do in Banff and how our suite was one of their favorite rooms…they made us feel special. I got over my insecurity and started enjoying myself pretty darn quick. The big fluffy white robe and trip to the spa-whirlpool helped.
The story doesn’t end there. Every employee at the Fairmont Castle seemed to go out of their way to make sure we had the best time possible, even the young man running the bowling alley on the Fairmont property stopped to talk to us and gave the kids tips on 5-pin bowling. I was starting to wonder if my brother was royalty (well, he is to me). This experience echoed our entire stay. It was a sad morning when we had to load ourselves back into the RV and head home. I not only wanted to stay, I kinda considered moving there and applying for a job at the hotel because everyone seemed to be having so much fun! (I still might.)
Once home and settling back into non-Banff-Fairmont life, I stalked employees of the hotel on LinkedIn. I found the hotel manager, this is what he wrote back:
But it doesn’t end there either. Sonya and I connected and wrote back and forth (okay, so I was a little obsessed, I admit). Sonya took time and wrote a long and eloquent email about how she does it. I’m going to summarize some if her tips here:
• She loves what she does, literally loves her job.
• They only hire people that “love people” – if new employees don’t like people, they aren’t a fit at the Banff Castle.
• Smiles everyday, even on the bad days. She sees bad days as opportunity for learning and growth.
• Lives in optimism and belief that everything can be fixed.
• She builds relationships authentically and strives to work toward solutions.
• She embraces everyone. Everyone. (me included)
And here’s a happy ending, Sonya started at the Castle 22 years ago, age 18, cleaning rooms. She made a best friend within two weeks and that best friend was with her when she married her husband.
This is starting to sound like a Disney movie. However, I’ve been both places, Banff Fairmont Castle and Disneyworld in Orlando., and I felt more magic at the Castle. Sorry Walt.
My Schwan’s delivery guy, Nihad, just left. I spent somewhere around $65 on food products that I could have purchased at Trader Joe’s and spent closer to $40. I should add I have been purposely dodging the “Schwan’s man” for the past two months because the company keeps changing drivers on me. I have to constantly re-train the new guy in: “don’t go to the front door, the dogs don’t bite but they will jump on you, don’t leave the gate open or they’ll run out….and always save a package of mint chips cones on the truck for us, even though I could pre-order and guarantee they would be there but I don't, because I'm lazy and don’t like to commit to being home between 1:00-5:00 on Mondays.” I digress.
Today was different. Mostly because I was caught off guard and didn’t hear the truck or see him walking up my driveway until one of my daughters said, “some guy is at our house.” A part of me wanted to tell him, “I don’t order Schwan’s products anymore, no need to stop here,” but he was a young guy, held out his hand to introduce himself and shook mine and said, “I’m Nihad, your permanent driver, I’ve missed you several times and am glad I caught you today.” He was friendly, relaxed with confidence, asked questions about my family, offered meal suggestions and pretty soon I had a $65 order created. He was authentic, friendly and I felt like I was buying from him, not the company. I went from being frustrated with the company, to wanting to support the future success of this Schwan’s representative. I’m hooked back in and even told him I’d pre-order next time to save him time (what?!).
I recently spoke about customer engagement with respect to panel management. So yada, yada on best practices….click here if you want something to fall asleep to tonight: 6 Ways to Increase Panel Member Engagement. What I get passionate about is when I see it lived out. Like Nihad just did here.
And if you really want to experience the best customer engagement I have ever been witness to, visit the Fairmont Castle in Banff Canada. I was so impressed with the customer experience from every single employee there, that I came home and stalked the hotel manager and employee leadership director on LinkedIn to find out, “Okay, how do you do it?”
More on that next time! It’s time for a mint-chip cone.
When I was in grade school, a fellow classmate fell during gym class and hurt herself. I rushed over to her. I bombarded her with questions like: “What does it feel like? Are you in pain? Do you feel embarrassed that you stopped gym class?” While I don’t remember everything I asked, I do distinctly remember her saying, “Shut up Kara.” I probably wandered off to cry somewhere, but I did learn a lesson that has been a theme in my life: ask the right questions, keep them short, and listen to the response.
I was asked this week to do some work on best practices to keep a panel of customers engaged (in this case it was for online surveys). It was a good exercise for me to actually think through my process. A part of me wanted to Google “panel management engagement” to make sure whatever I said is the same thing people would find if they did the research on their own. I’d look smart, right? Then I challenged myself to really think about how to keep customers engaged in talking to you.
While I eventually came up with a list of tips and strategies, I realized later where I probably spend most of my time is thinking through what are the right questions to ask. When working with clients, they usually have a pretty good idea of what they need to know. What I like to do is come up with how to ask the questions.
Let’s say a company that makes lotion for sensitive skin doesn’t have a feel for their closest competitors, and ultimately why their brand is selected or rejected. The common approach would be to ask questions like these:
There isn’t anything wrong with these questions; I’ve used them. The problem is it makes people think, and potentially answer incorrectly. I can’t remember what happened last weekend, let alone what brands I purchased in June!
Here’s another approach:
Try Another Way
In this model we’ve assessed loyalty, their current brand, their next go-to brand, and developed a list of reasons for each go-to brand.
If you are anything like me, and you probably are…(but smarter), you are challenging this methodology. That’s ok, it isn’t perfect. But the goal here is to think outside the box of traditional research questions and make it fun and engaging so respondents can answer honestly, without thinking too hard.
If you have an example of “Try Another Way,” I’d love to hear about it!
I follow Dan Ariely. He's a wicked-smart-dry-funny-sharply-logical kind of guy. As far as I know he is the industry expert on Behavioral Economics and Irrational Behavior.
So when he posted a call for applications for start-up companies to be a part of his StartUp Lab at CAH (Center of Advanced Hindsight) I immediately began thinking of what I could "start up." In a nutshell, Duke University is inviting promising startups in health and finance fields to join Dan (and all his other smartie students) at its behavioral lab to leverage academic research in their business models. The goal is to help new businesses make better decisions by understanding why consumers make counterintuitive and irrational decisions. If you can't think of anything, take a minute now to think about a subscription you should have cancelled months ago. Or, if you are reading this and eating gluten free pretzels wondering why you aren't losing weight. Wait, that's me.
I called one of my all-star clients Kathy from a company that rhythms with, um, SWANS, and said, "We should DO THIS! Let's test this with SWANS customers. We know they are irrational because they won't order online to save money and guarantee products are in stock and instead spend more time and more money impulse ordering during the transaction time (let's say maybe this SWANS company is "like" home delivery of food.) Here was her response to me (hence, the all-star reference):
"I don't think SWANS customers are irrational when it comes to not wanting to order on the internet. It makes perfect sense, and I believe Dan would say so as well. The rationale is this: the benefit of ordering at the door is not having to think about it. No planning, no energy put toward it whatsoever. Someone just "shows up" and you get food. All the loyalty points, online sales and "guaranteed" inventory in the world can't beat the benefit of ease."
Dang. Good point.
Looks like I need to find another start-up idea if I want to hang with Dan and the gang.
And for the record, I have been an irrational SWANS customer for 15 years. Their mint-chip cones are the best.
Here's the quick set up: I have a client that sends out a monthly online survey to all closed sales for the month, both "Wins" and "Losses." We track how well the sales process went and if their needs were met during the sales process. The goal is to find out what it is that makes a Win a Win, and what made a Loss a Loss, and how can we learn from it to get better in the sales process?
Here's the story:
I got an email yesterday from a Managing Director of a national company that said, "I don’t want to do a survey. I started it and frankly could not get the issues that I thought were relevant into your survey. So I stopped. If you want to call, I’ll chat for a few minutes."
First, how lucky was I this guy didn't just close the survey and move on? He actually took the time to email me to tell me my questions weren't relevant to him.
Second, yeah, I'll call you! Within 10 minutes of sending me that email before he has a chance to change his mind.
Here's what I found out. He was looking at my client's company and a competitor. Both had solutions that met his needs, both would have worked to solve his problems. And quite honestly, my client's company is the market leader in this space and has better features that the competitor's company. So why did he pick the competitor? Because during the sales process the competitive company presented themselves like a partnership, they made him feel valued, important, and gave him confidence in how they'd work together in the future. My client's company? They positioned themselves as the expert that tells you what best practices are rather than helping you get there on your own. The competitive company did a better at making this guy feel important, valued and confident.
I'd like to protect my ego and defend the online survey (but I won't). Honestly, the only way we got this level of really valuable feedback is by asking the right question, in the right way with someone willing to give the real story.
Oh, and I did send him a $50 Amazon e-card as a thank you. But the value of what questions to ask going forward is beyond a $50 thank you. Don't you think?