It is Still “WIFM?”

May 10, 2017

by Roger Pynn

Kudos to McKay Advertising’s Christian Bayne for this post titled Brand Marketing is BS.

I’ve written before about my disdain for the term “branding.”  Branding is only a verb if you are a cow, and yet people are still hanging on like rodeo cowboys to the claim that what they do is branding.

Bayne writes “Today, people are not loyal to brands, they are loyal to their needs.”

That is absolutely true.  Companies (brands) trying to earn consumer loyalty need to stay attuned and true to customer needs.

The urge to put your brand on every message is understandable, but if you “brand” everything you’re missing the point.  Once you have the ear of your customers, focus on them, not yourself.  They want to know what’s in it for them.

A Logo is Not a Brand

May 12, 2016

by Kim Stangle

A brand is a promise you make to your stakeholders.  It’s delivering on who you say you are as an organization, person or otherwise.  A logo is the identifiable part of that brand, but it doesn’t (or shouldn’t) have much else to do with how you operate or the promises you make.

That said it’s remarkable to me how vocal people are when companies unveil new logos.  When social networking behemoth, Instagram, introduced a new suite of logos for their products yesterday, the Internet revolted.  But, don’t you wonder exactly why they revolted?  The user experience inside the popular app only changed slightly—for the better, if you ask me.  But, still we complain.

While it’s the redesign that spawned a thousand memes, their approach was thoughtful and their execution was deliberate.  For that reason alone, I’m going to refrain from criticism.

The Brand Thing

October 7, 2015

by Roger Pynn

Raise your hand if you are getting tired of everyone trying to tell you what makes a brand successful.

Isn’t that like telling you what it takes to earn a paycheck?

Another one from Advertising Age online caught my eye today because of the headline:  “In Today’s Disruptive World, Brand Heritage Isn’t What It Used to Be.”  But what Nick Clark (executive creative director at The Partners, New York) was really doing was ranting about the Apple Watch in a partnership with Hermes.

Brands are not born out of creativity.  They are born out of the same thing that earns a paycheck … hard work.  Hard work to understand your consumers and what they want.  Hard work to satisfy them.  Hard work to retain them by keeping abreast of what they want.

I agree with Clark that there’s no need for a Hermes Apple Watch, much less the watch itself.  After all, Apple’s iPhone and smartphones in general created a generation that all but abandoned the wrist watch because their phone keeps better time and is tied to their entire existence.  But I won’t abandon my passion for Apple products just because they introduced something I don’t need … and I don’t care that they tried to make their watch sexier in a deal with Hermes (a brand that does nothing for me).

I am loyal to Apple because 99 times out of one hundred they have thought ahead for me and figured out what I need … and they deliver on that promise.  And they give fantastic customer service.  And they have the most helpful people on the planet in their stores.

They work hard at that.  That’s their heritage.


August 20, 2012

by Roger Pynn

A reminder that in the end we in public relations are storytellers came from Seth Godin the other day when he offered insight on slogans.

What’s your brand’s story? How much time do you take crafting and telling it?

Beyond what your public relations and branding team does to tell the story, how much attention do you pay to keeping the promise of your brand story?

That’s the essence of the term brand. Beyond the buzzword it has become in marketing, brand management is as much about managing your culture as it is communicating your story.

Live up to the story’s promise and you’ll become known for it. Stutter or stumble and your promise will become your curse. You have to live it every day.

The Qualman Effect

September 20, 2011

by Roger Pynn

Socialnomics Founder Erik Qualman is modest.

In sharing yet another gem, he makes no mention of the fact that this video proves the power of his brand.  The folks at the University of East Anglia in the UK did a marvelous job of telling the story of how brand power has shifted to the end user … and they did it by “borrowing” the compelling Web video style that has drawn millions of followers to Qualman.

I guess that means he proved their point.

What’s in a Name?

January 26, 2011

by Kim Taylor

Last week I received an unusual phone call. The woman on the other end of the phone had a request for me: she’d like my name … my Twitter username to be exact.

She proceeded to explain that she was calling on behalf of a fashion designer in NYC who shares my name, Kimberly Taylor. And as the publicist for said designer, she was experiencing difficulty with the “branding” because there was often confusion between her Twitter account and mine.

Admittedly, I had received a few misdirected tweets, but nothing to indicate that the Twittersphere  was up in arms about the name confusion.

She went on to explain that “I’m just a person” and they’re working on a “brand.” I’m not sure about you, but I don’t think that’s the most convincing or endearing argument to make.

Furthermore, I wasn’t about to school another PR person about branding. Branding is more than just a name. A brand is a promise you make to your customer.

So, my questions to you are: What’s in a name? And, would you give yours up?

The Psychology behind Web Design – Part II: How?

December 3, 2010

by Dionne Aiken

In “The Psychology behind Web Design Part 1” I briefly touched on why psychology is so important to web design in that it not only enhances the user experience but also drives calls to action and thus business results.  But how do you get there?

Here are the “Hows” behind design considerations taking into account the user experience and psychological needs (click on each item to jump to a section):

  1. Trust
  2. Familiarity
  3. Purpose
  4. Imagery
  5. White Space
  6. User Flow & Information Hierarchy
  7. Color Psychology and Symbolism
  8. Logo & Brand Consistency


Safety is the second fundamental human need as defined by Maslow’s Hierarchy of Needs. By meeting this basic need you can build trust with your users. The bottom line is that people spend time on sites they trust. To build trust, consider the following:

  1. Design Integrity The overall look of the site must be of a certain level of design integrity to make a good first impression and build credibility. This is an extension of your brand. If your site appears unprofessional, users may see your entire business entity as such and it could deter users. (This includes technical considerations also; for instance, adhering to Web standards and best practices, providing working links, proper coding structure, and good overall functionality.)
  2. Don’t Get Too Personal Too Soon Don’t ask for personal information up front or in ways that are counter-intuitive or inconsistent with the user expectations. If these request disrupt the user flow, are abrupt, unexpected or out of place they become a deterrent. Find intuitive ways to integrate these requests seamlessly into your website where they make the most sense.
  3. Use Trustworthy Indicators  Adding testimonials from noteworthy clients, reviews, seals of approval, recognizable affiliations, certifications and other trustworthy elements add value to your site and help establish a sense of trust with visitors.
  4. Deliver A website, no matter how superb, is only as good as the actual business entity itself. The business entity must deliver on their product and services to meet customer expectations.



When you go into a grocery store you expect to see aisles of groceries and signage on each aisle that tells you where things are located. You expect shopping carts, registers, entry & exits to be at the front of the store. The same holds true for a website. Once your audience is introduced to your website, there are certain expectations of where “signage,” items and locations of said items should be.  Consider the following to assist with placing elements in a manner that will assist with user familiarity:

  1. Don’t Send People on a Wild Goose Chase Off the bat, people want to know what you do and how to contact you … don’t make people search or guess for these key pieces of information. Tell them up front or offer clear ways to access them, i.e., “About Us” or “Contact” pages or even listing a phone number or address in the header or footer on all pages of the site will help too.
  2. Provide Road Maps People want to know how to get from point A to point B and where they are in the site at all times. Have clear navigational elements that stay consistent throughout the site and strong indicators or “you are here” landmarks that show users what page they are on. This can be done with basic design elements, or even a breadcrumb. It also helps to include a sitemap somewhere on the site that lists all the links to your pages. You can have a separate page or section dedicated to the site map and then link to it or, if the site map is small enough, you can add it to the footer so it’s present on all pages of the site. Providing good road maps and directional indicators or “signage” not only helps users navigate your site but also helps search engine crawlers crawl your site pages and links and thus boosts SEO.
  3. Above the Fold Because we are taught to read from left to right and top to bottom in our Western culture, it is good practice to place all of the important website elements in the “top fold” or “above the fold.” Logo, branding elements, header, navigation, search fields and so forth should at the very least be visible in the top 800 by 600 pixel-area of your Web page to ensure that users can easily and immediately view/access them. This isn’t set in stone but you should take into account factors such as varying screen resolutions, multiple stacked toolbars, browser window sizes and so forth when considering your top fold real estate. Creating layouts that auto center with the user’s window or fluid layouts can also assist with making sure key elements get the exposure they need.
  4. Design Consistency  Design things and place things in an intuitive manner. How many times have you gone to a website and clicked on what you thought was a link or button only to find that it wasn’t a link at all? If all the links on your website are blue, bold and underlined, don’t make your headings blue, bold and underlined, especially if they aren’t links! Make sure you have specific design treatments for each recurring element on your site and that the same approach is carried out throughout the entire site. Design consistency and intuitive placement of items, will help users get familiar with your site.



A great quote from Andy Rutledge’s article best sums the purpose of website pages:

“In a very general sense, the purpose of a site’s index page is to convince visitors that they should venture further into the site – and compel them to do so. In order to do that the page must engage in advisable psychology (through design and copy) while avoiding distracting and irrelevant purposes that run counter to the primary function of the page. The index page must not attempt to dump the entire site’s content into the viewer’s eyes in one fell swoop. Rather, the page must make a concise and clean first impression; an impression focused on a specific rather than all-encompassing purpose.” – Andy Rutledge

Each page should be specific to its functional purpose. The home page should introduce, attract and direct. The internal pages are where you want to deliver your actual content and pull users further into other pages and areas of your site.



Careful image selection and treatment will support the content on your website and reinforce an overarching concept. Images should also be contextually appropriate and purposeful. If not, they will detract and lessen the impact of your messages.  

White Space /Breathing Room

“In a very general sense, a contextually inconsistent environment, clutter and cramped quarters tends to encourage a lack of interest while open space and a consistent context in the environment tends to encourage interest and openness to suggestion.” – Andy Rutledge

By grouping things logically and allowing adequate spacing amidst and between copy, you allow users to focus and read your content and thus pull them into your site.  An article published by Smashing magazine gives more examples of ways to incorporate white space into your layouts with additional links and resources.


User Flow & Information Hierarchy

Here is an example of a home page layout that has strong information hierarchy and thus strong indicators for user flow of accessing information:

Hierarchy in Web Design

Use strong design elements and employ basic design principles to highlight important areas and elements, support the message, and to direct the viewer’s eye and user flow.


Color Psychology and Symbolism

Understanding the psychology behind the use of colors will make for better design decisions and will help better communicate and support your brand and messages.  For example, use blues to communicate security or yellow to communicate happiness.  There are many resources that talk about color and the psychology behind different colors*:

*It is important to note that the above is in reference to colors in our Western society, the meanings people associate with different colors may vary across different cultural and geographical boundaries.

Logo & Branding Translation/Consistency

When you land on a company’s website is should be the same feeling as if you were to walk into their office building.  The website should be an extension of their brand, not an afterthought.  There is a certain lifestyle, a point of view, a culture, an attitude and aura associated with and unique to each company.  It is the designer’s goal to make sure all these elements carry over and are communicated in the look of the site.


By addressing these key points, you can tap into the user’s psychology and create better web experiences.  In the long run, this will contribute to more calls to action and drive business results.

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