Duality of SEO – Both an Art and Science

Search engine optimization is not an exact science. It is not easy for organizations to specialize in SEO. Given the core competencies an enterprise has to focus upon, it gets difficult to invest a significant amount of time and effort to understand the intricacies of Google algorithms, which keep changing and scaling up in accuracy related to content and quality.

Although it is very true that experts and consultants can be hired to help with SEO, it is equally important for organizations to understand the art and science of SEO. SEO is a unique practice and just like any other branch of science, it involves facts that are systematically arranged and involves experimentation. The experts handling SEO continuously experiment with varied ideas and systematic knowledge for better search listings.

It is irrational to assume that every website and SEO project will follow the same strategy. Google does not provide unique guidelines for every website category. Every website is unique and so is every SEO project. It involves a certain degree of experimentation in relation to evaluation and testing to understand what works best for a project.

SEO is not an exact science. It not only involves scientific competencies and systematic processing of information, but also creative guidance too. These creative thoughts blend with scientific skills to improve experiments. The creative aspect of SEO involves the artistic strategy to chart new ways in which link building, content generation, social media, and the design element can improve and become more targeted towards a common purpose.

Creativity in SEO also incorporates improving and adding freshness to the website design for enhancing factors associated with usability and accessibility, while maintaining consistency, related to brand image and brand personality. The basic focus of creative SEO is to constantly improve the visual and intuitive elements that keep the marketing communication constant. Even SEO masters face challenges. They are to create new/improved keywords and test the various techniques of content generation. They need to do this while producing informative, good quality, yet website-focused content.

The creative aspect devises new ways. The scientific tools experiment with algorithms for desired listings and enhanced audience engagement.(1)
Trying and testing various creative strategies defines the scientific nature of an SEO activity. Deciding if the keyword rich content should be a video, an infographic, press release, blog post, or an article requires creative thinking.

The Perfect Blend

The dual nature of SEO can be well understood by SEO experts who are familiar with the techniques used to analyze websites. Choosing the perfect keyword is as important as optimizing the website on that keyword. Businesses who aim to manage the dual aspect individually may take longer than the expected time. Properly analyzing the website and falsifying effective strategies to get to the top listing in Google can be done by professional experts in a better way.

SEO is taking new leaps everyday with various elements that contribute to SEO. A strategy needs to be developed that involves various scientific disciplines along with artistic endeavors for maximum benefit. Such a dual nature of strategy can be developed by professional experts. SEO experts work in cohesion with the content and internet marketing team. They provide the user focused content. This is closely integrated with SEO activity; advertising, social media marketing, design and development. This ensures that the entire potential of SEO can be harnessed. (2)

An SEO professional who believes that SEO is both an art and science should be hired by any business. SEO is a science because it functions according to mathematical laws, which are statistically proven, reliable, and predictive of user behavior. SEO is an art because the very mathematical models do not establish and design business objectives. Art narrates convincing stories and creates aesthetic design and quality content to the target audience. The models do not explain the user’s intention or motivation for buying the product or service displayed on the website.(3)

How to Manipulate Website Visitors

Everyone Has An Agenda
When we watch our favorite television programs like ‘CSI’ or ‘House’, we knowingly and even gladly allow ourselves to be manipulated. When we watch the evening news we are also being manipulated, knowingly or not, by the selection and presentation of stories that have been filtered through a series of network agendas ranging from the benign time constraints of a thirty-minute broadcast to the more suspicious dictates of network and sponsor interests.

Websites are vehicles for communicating content to an audience as well, and like your favorite television show, or evening news, that communication is not neutral; it comes with an agenda and that agenda should be yours.

If your website designer is not developing your site within a framework created to communicate your marketing information, then you are not getting the website you need. If your website designer is merely a technical programmer and not a communicator then you have picked the wrong supplier.

Whether you are selling an idea, a product, or a service doesn’t matter; what matters is you are trying to convince your audience that what you have to offer will benefit them in some way. You are manipulating your presentation to your advantage. That does not mean that you should be dishonest or deceitful, but rather just skilled in getting your message across.

To manipulate, as defined, in part by wordreference.com, means to ‘control or influence skillfully, usually to one’s advantage’. Like it or not that’s the job of a professional website designer: to skillfully influence an audience to the website owner’s advantage.

Bad Websites Use Technical Solutions to Solve Communication Problems
Website designers constantly hear complaints from business owners and marketing executives that their websites are underperforming and their ROI is anemic. This is not surprising when so many websites are developed based on attracting traffic rather than skillfully influencing audience opinion. You can attract all the traffic your server can handle but if your message is lost in a labyrinth of search engine-friendly requirements it will not influence, persuade, or convince anybody of anything.

It used to be that technical agendas formulated by IT departments where a significant cause of website communication deficit, but today that torch has been passed on to the SEO guru promising to deliver the multitudes but more likely creating a severe case of information and performance anxiety. Technology is not an end; it is merely the means to an end, and when it comes to websites that end is communication.

The technical aspects of website design are fairly easy to learn for anyone who is willing to take the time to learn them – let’s face it, it’s not rocket science. As a consequence there are lots of technical website programmers creating ineffective communication solutions. Professional website designers must be expert communicators practiced in the art of skillful message manipulation and communication delivery.

Defining An Appropriate Website Agenda

In order for your website to be an affective marketing communication vehicle it should be build around an agenda that accomplishes the following tasks:
1. Attract interest
2. Focus attention
3. Convey attitude
4. Enhance understanding
5. Generate confidence
6. Stimulate desire
7. Motivate action

Attract Interest
If you check your website logs and find that people are leaving your site as fast as they are arriving, then you have an problem. All that time and effort you spent on optimizing your site for the search engines to attract visitors is wasted if those visitors don’t stay long enough to get your marketing message. Visitors will leave your site within seconds if your splash page is confusing or irrelevant to their needs. Your initial contact with your audience must capture their attention by quickly establishing that you are the source of the information, products, or services they are looking for.

Focus Attention
Once you’ve established that your site has the information your audience wants, you must make it easy for people to find it. Information, products, and services must be organized for quick access and easy navigation between options and alternatives.

Visitors are focused on finding what they came for; once they have found it, they will be more receptive to paying attention to the items that you want to direct them to; this is what Jared Spool of User Interface Engineering calls the ‘seducible moment’, the moment when visitors are ready to focus on your pitch.

Enhance Understanding
Rather than designing the presentation of your information for search engine robots, design it for human understanding. People absorb more information; have better comprehension; and retain more of what you want them to when information is presented by a real person.

Wyeth’s KnowmMenopause website provided visitors with the option of going to a text-based version that is index-able by search engines and where visitors can print-out the material; and a multimedia version that features video presentations by doctors discussing the medical issues, and interviews with ordinary women discussing their personal experiences.

Generate Confidence
Since the Web is a remote environment, it is important to create confidence in your company and the products and services you provide. The easiest thing you can do to create this confidence is to provide visitors with not just email addresses but phone numbers, physical locations, and contact names. It never fails to amaze me how many websites fail to provide this kind of information. If you don’t provide proper contact information, it looks like you have something to hide.

As mentioned in ‘enhancing understanding’, relating to people with people is critical in building confidence. The Wyeth knowmenopause.com site does a brilliant job of providing expert video advice from qualified professionals as well as video commentary from average people relating their personal experience with the subject matter. And you don’t have to be a multinational pharmaceutical company to do this. Every business has access to expertise and knowledge. If you stop pitching and start informing, you may find you’re further ahead.

Convey Attitude
Every business has a personality that is conveyed to clients through their experiences with that company. If you are relying on your website as your main point of customer and prospect interaction, then your website has to present an attitude that is appropriate for your audience. This attitude can be conveyed through the graphics, copy, and multimedia presentation of the information, products and services you provide. When it comes to ‘attitude’ the medium is very much the message and since the Web is such a impersonal environment, it is important to design your presentation so that it delivers the attitude and personality that your audience will relate to.

Stimulate Desire
The desire to buy a particular product or service is based on more than functional utility; after all, nobody really needs a Rolex or a Lexus. People buy much of what they buy based on emotional and psychological desire rather than functional need. Functionality often comes into play merely as a justification for the purchase. Part of your website’s job is to create the emotional and psychological desire for the product in question.

Motivate Action
Your website should also be designed to motivate people to action but don’t construct your site to limit that action to a sale or nothing. Too many sites are obviously designed to get you to buy something with little or no attention to enhancing understanding or generating confidence. This ‘all or nothing’ approach is severely anti-productive and conveys an impression that you can’t be trusted. Customers need to have confidence in you and your offering and sometimes they need some reassurance that you are legitimate.

What you want to do is get website visitors to do something, anything that demonstrates some interest. That demonstration of interest could be a phone call to ask a question, signing up for an e-newsletter, requesting a catalog, responding to a survey, poll, or promotion – anything that displays they have some interest in what you are offering. If you can motivate your audience to action, even if that action is not directly sales related, you are on your way to building a relationship with that prospect.

Communication: Turning Content Into a Memorable Experience
In order to achieve your marketing goals you need to know how to manipulate, or if you prefer, ‘seduce’ your audience to your advantage using the seven tools of website persuasion.

1. Position
Web-pages are usually made-up of similar types of information. Standard page elements include:
i. Header information – such as logo, company name, address, and basic contact information;
ii. Navigation elements – so visitors can find what they need;
iii. Content – such as text, graphics, audio, and video;
iv. Sidebar information – that might include additional information or links that relate to the content or advertisements, and;
v. Footer information – that might contain further contact or copyright information.

The positioning of these elements is critical to the comprehension and retention of your information and marketing message. Various usability studies carried out in the USA and Great Britain have tracked the eye movement of website visitors. These studies help the designer place the various page layout elements on the screen to produce the maximum effect.

Most studies are fairly consistent with their eye movement tracking results:
i. Middle-Center: Visitors first focus on the center of the page searching for content that is anticipated;
ii. Top-Left: Eyes then move to the top left corner where a logo or company name is expected;
iii. Down Left-hand side: Eyes then move down the left-hand side of the screen where navigation is commonly placed;
iv. Top-Middle to Right: Eyes then move back to the top of the screen and move from the center to the right scanning for further navigation elements or additional company identification information;
v. Middle-Center: Eyes then move back to the middle of the screen scanning for relevant content;
vi. Right-hand side: Eyes then move to the right side of the screen looking for additional information or sidebars;
vii. Middle-Center to bottom: Finally eyes go back to the center and down the page towards the footer scanning for additional content.

It should be noted that these studies also suggest that website visitors will quickly determine where any advertisements are located and then proceed to ignore or avoid them when moving on to other pages of that website.

Size
The size of the various elements will obviously draw attention to, or away from particular information. Logos, graphics, headers, and body-text should all be balanced and proportionate, and the use and amount of white space is as important to readability and comprehension as any of the other elements.

Color
The use of color is another obvious feature that draws attention to particular information; color also conveys personality, mood, and image. Blue, silver, and green are calming colors that convey a cool if somewhat remote image. Reds tend to convey a sense of excitement and boldness, while yellows are bright and friendly. Browns and beiges are earthy, warm and rich, while black, white and gray convey a sense of sophistication.

Of course these are all generalizations and colors can be mixed and matched to provide a variety of moods and personalities. What’s important is that a color palette is chosen with care, not only to convey personality but also to direct and focus attention on particular key elements.

Shape
The shape of elements is another way to draw attention to particular information or content. Traditional computer monitors with their 4:3 ratio and the new more extreme 16:9 ratio monitors create particular challenges when trying to present substantial information above the virtual fold, by that we mean the visible area that does not require scrolling. Sometimes vertical scrolling can’t be avoided, but if you have a lot to say, think about adding an audio or video option that only requires the click of a button to present your information with no scrolling required.

Sound
Web-audio is the most cost-effective multimedia-format for delivering large amounts of complex information or instructions to website visitors. Web-audio not only delivers the information in a meaningful, compelling, entertaining, and memorable way, but it also helps establish a corporate personality and image.

Movement
Movement will also help attract and direct attention to certain aspects of your website. By far the best way to incorporate some action on your site is with Web-video that uses a Web-host to present information or direct visitors to where they want to go.

Style
The visual style of your site not only directs attention and focus but it also helps establish your personality and how it relates to your target audience. Styles range from conservative to funky to downright bizarre but what really matters is the style you choose tells visitors who you are and what you’re all about. Your website style will help create the attitude aspect of your website presentation.

Conclusion
Designing a website is more than programming and search engine optimization; it is how you communicate to your future customers – a job that is too important to leave to someone who doesn’t understand how to use the Web and it’s full arsenal of presentation elements to communicate your marketing message.

How To Create A Business Impact

One of the biggest challenges ever facing the world of logo design is how to create a conceptual logo design with a powerful hidden message as a hidden message arouses interest and curiosity among customers. To be able to achieve this, one must go out of the box or go beyond the four confines of a room to discover how to do it. Known as negative space, this technique is increasingly gaining popularity among web and logo designers.

How does one recognize a negative space work? A negative space is a technique or procedure that employs the use of art or an artwork such as images, caricatures or cartoon work and texts around and in between the main object of design, that when studied closer, conveys a deeper meaning that denotes or conveys the company’s aspirations, advocacies and goals. A negative space can have a variety of colors from simple black and white such as that of WWF to FedEx’s more attractive colors. An ordinary eye may not be able to understand and figure out the context of the logo but a brilliant mind easily grasps the idea. Thus, the old adage “it takes one be one” applies too.

A logo promotes a profitable business in the market as a powerfully attractive design attracts potential customers to the business. A brand of consumer goods that does not sell well will be given another life in the market once an appropriate logo design is applied as it creates a strong tie with marketing and public perception. Thus, a logo becomes a powerful medium of advertising and marketing strategy.

Without a doubt, a good business logo creates an identity that is crucial in making an edge over other competitors as images stick in people’s mind easily more than the brand or company name. A name and a logo integrated together make a powerful tool in conveying your identity to the public. For example, children who can barely walk know that the letter M signifies food and fun while the letter T logo of Toyota denotes cars.

Moreover, a logo helps the company to select its market target and the design also depends on the chosen target. Walt Disney, for example, targets the young population, thus the Mickey logo that utilized the negative space technique, is popular among the young as well as the not-so-young viewers. Anybody can perfectly identify that the logo denotes animation and entertainment.

Having a powerful logo is essential in every business as it does not only create an identity, establish credibility, create a brand personality but also become a tool in advertising and marketing. Nowadays, problems with regards to creating a logo that will create a great impact can be easily answered as experts in this field are tasked to solve your problem.

Personal Branding – Taking Control of Your Brand Identity

In the process of doing research for our upcoming eBook on personal branding, we became even more aware of the impact that a personal brand can have on everyone, including you.

You may not be aware of it yet, but if you are on the Internet with friends and others, you inevitably have created a personal brand without knowing it.

As an Internet user, your friends as well as strangers can put information about you on the web. Again, this means if you are a regular Facebook, Twitter, or MySpace user, anyone can post just about anything they would like regarding you or those you know.

Have you Googled today?

If you haven’t Googled yourself yet; then take a few moments to do just that. You may be surprised to see yourself represented in their search engine. One thing that might interest you to know is that many companies have their Human Resource departments Google potential employees. What you have posted or what others have posted about you may influence their decision. In fact, this is becoming more and more commonplace.

Not only are employers doing the Google’ing but colleges are joining in as well. So the next time your young adult posts some great party pictures where everyone is playing beer pong or holding “red” cups….warn them of the potential danger to their “personal brand!”

How do you protect your brand identity?

Well, first make sure that your personal profiles are kept private and not made public. Be conscientious and aware of what you write or post in public places on the Internet. What you write goes a long way with helping others form an opinion of you and this being the case, affects your brand identity.

If you have a business that you want to promote and want people to discover you on places like Facebook, then create a fan page that can be made public.

What does this mean if you have a business presence on the Internet?

If you have a business that you want to promote on the Internet then it is very important to create and manage your Personal Brand. Your brand will affect whether or not potential customers buy your services or products.

Whether you are personal branding yourself, your business or both remember your personal brand is just one thing….YOU!

Deb Marsden and Lee McVey are best friends and business partners whose goal is to save you time and money with your computer projects.

Making Your Photography Website a Success

The current web has a lot of potential for photographers. Attractive images on the web can be immensely powerful. Of course, content is significant from the point of SEO and prompting visitors to visit your site, and spend time going through your content. Of late, it has become trendy to include videos in your website. Thankfully, there are a number of photographers competent to create effective videos with their present apparatus.

Unlike stationery images, an inherent feature of video is that it requires time not only for being viewed but also for getting created. Watching a 20 seconds video takes 20 seconds, compared to just having a glance at a photo that generally conveys the complete message.

It is an important prerequisite for most professional and wannabe photographers to have a website. Social media sites like Facebook, Tumblr, Flickr, 500px, Pinterest and Instagram can prove helpful to them. Nevertheless, the most significant benefit of having your website is the fact that you will have total control over its design, branding, navigation and information. It presents a great opportunity for you to connect with the prospective clients and visitors to your site by unfolding your story.

Some of the important considerations for preparing your website are here:

Ease of use

Your website should load easily and quickly. The content should be fresh and of high quality. It will be better if you could do away with the services of a professional web designer and create your site on your own. However, before you starting working on it, you should surely know the essential information to be conveyed through your site. You can ask for some specimen from a professional designer and learn how to include the content there.

In case you lack sufficient funds to hire a skilled designer,but are a DIY enthusiast, you can create a website on your own by keeping in mind the hints mentioned in this article.

Restrain yourself from indulging in excesses

It is not unusual for beginners to include too much of content and information in their websites. You need to have minimum content that effectively communicates your message to visitors. Nobody has time to go through hundreds of images you may have created all these years. Select the top ten or twelve and find ways to highlight those. How often do you see any wedding photography website having too many photos? You should strive to attract the visitor, not overwhelm him. Do not waste your prospective clients’ time by showing him anything that is not perfect. Your prospective client is going to make his/her mind on viewing the first 10-12 snaps.

Craft a mousetrap

The design and overall content of your website should be compelling for the visitor, prompting him to inquire about your business through telephonic call or email. Do not attempt to attract anybody and everybody. The idea is to locate prospects and encourage them to patronize your business.

Having a website that explicitly conveys your brand, personality, capabilities and fees is certainly going to be helpful to your business. You shouldn’t give an impression of someone who is not sure of what he can offer to his clients and at what price.

5 Factors to Consider When Purchasing Office Furniture

The furniture in an office is an important part of the office. In addition to putting effort in getting the right office location as well as the space, the need arises to choose suitable office furniture. The design of the furniture should be suitable for all the employee and office needs. Choosing furniture does not have to be a difficult task. The office desk for instance, offers the ideal surface for documents, stationary, computer screens and keyboards. The factors to consider when choosing furniture include:

· Comfort

It is important to choose furniture that offers maximum comfort. The office desks and office chairs need to have a design that allows workers to experience a relaxing time even as they work.

· The job title

The job title needs to be considered in great detail when choosing furniture. The options will differ depending on whether you are choosing furniture for a general employee, IT professional or for the manager. The manager’s office desk, for instance, is typically large. Furthermore, it features extensive storage compartments including cabinets or drawers. On the other hand, the general employee will need an office desk that comprises the core basics, including a few drawers and computer space. A web designer needs an office desk that features space for wires, ports, two sized screens or a larger computer screen.

· Office appearance

A good piece of furniture should offer the perfect look to the office. This way you will be in a position to impress the clients when they visit your office. Before making the decision to buy furniture it is important to consider carefully the theme of the office décor. The furniture comes in different finishes ranging from veneer to cherry wood finishes. It is advisable that the appearance of the office replicates the company’s personality and brand image.

· Amount of office space

The furniture should utilize the available space. It is important to measure the size of the office to determine the space that needs to be allocated for each of the furniture. This way you will avoid the possibility of buying furniture that is either too large or too small for the space. The furniture should be positioned in such a way that it does not block the way. For instance, the office cabinets should be able to open while leaving enough room to take out things or keep things.

· The cost

The cost of the furniture is an important consideration. It is important that the total expenses fall within your budget. However, the cost should not be the sole determining factor to avoid purchasing furniture of poor quality.

A Quick Guide to Designing a Successful Professional Logo Design

If you wish to start a company, begin with the basics. Do your research and know what will take your brand to new heights. The best thing to do as a starter is focus on your branding strategy and makes your message clear to the public. Let them know what is it that you intent to do and offer. Let them perceive an image about your brand that is advantageous for both your business and its brands. How about we start with a Professional logo design? For your audience to know that your products and services are reliable and that it can be trusted you need to give off an image that makes you appear authentic and professional.

There is no denying in the fact that your Professional logo is the essence of your brand. It’s apparent on almost all your marketing activities, banners or any visual image that is sent out to your customers. You see it as a brand element; we see it as an opportunity. Every brochure or social media post that has your logo added in the design is a chance for you to attract the individual it reaches to. But then there are logos that are generic that can be easily forgotten and there are logos that are so incredible that they remain a part of audiences mind forever – The trick is to pull off a design that instantly captivates audience’s attention, explains what you want them to know and resonates an emotion that remains associated with your brand personality. Designing a logo always seems to be an easy task but it isn’t when you get to know what a good brand requires.

If you’re in the process of creating a logo for your company, you’re in a unique position to make a powerful impact on how consumers perceive your brand. So to start with it, do a lot of market research, get a deep knowledge about your audience. Know what they are in to, their age, their relationship status, their likes and dislikes. It will help you shape your professional logo design message according to their understandings and choice. Secondly, Hire a designer that is experienced, creative and understands what your require. A good one will always be interested in your company’s background, values and traditions; he will use that information in to designing a professional logo design to cater to the right audience using an original concept.

How Did Famous Brands Get Their Names?

What is the purpose of having names? Of course it is for someone to remember by. Companies are also like entities with an individual identity and personality. Their name is a sign of trust and reliance for clients. Due to the growing perception of branding, everything sells with a name. Previously you used to buy just a pair of shoes. But today its either Nike or Adidas you prefer for sporting wear, or Don Carlos or Pierre Cardin for fancy footwear.

Some brands are named after things that are unrelated to the nature of the business, but still have a consonance to the brand. But how are brands named? What is their corporate etymology? Behind the naming of every famous brand, there is an interesting history concealed that most of us do not know. Here are 10 famous brands and how they were named:

1. Google:

Did you know that Google was originally named “Backrub”? The company decided to alter in 1998 to ‘Googol’, a word for the number represented by 1 followed by 100 zeros. The name was mistakenly spelt as “Google” thus the name evolved.

2. Apple:

Even though the name and logo design have no relevance to the core purpose of the business, it has a meaning. Apple is the fruit that motivated Newton into discovering gravity. Thus, Apple for Apple Inc is an inspiration for continuous invention and progress.

3. Adidas:

Tell me, do you really know the meaning of Adidas? Well its not “All Day I Dream About Sports”. The name Adidas is in reality is a derivative of the founder’s name Adolf (Adi) Dassler.

4. Adobe Systems:

Adobe was actually named from the Adobe Creek River that ran behind the house of co-founder John Warnock.

5. Caterpillar:

Caterpillar Inc was originally a merger between Holt Tractor Co. and Best Tractor Co. in 1925. A company photographer exclaimed audibly from a Holt tractor that the tracks’ movement bears a resemblance to a caterpillar moving along the ground. Thus the name came into existence and stayed.

6. Coke:

One of the strongest brands in the world, Coke name is derived from the coca leaves and kola nuts used as flavoring. Maker John S. Pemberton altered the ‘K’ of kola to ‘C’ to make the name resonant and consonant.

7. Mercedes:

Most of might know the meaning behind Mercedes Benz logo. But the famous car brand was originally named after Emil Jellineks’ daughter, Mercédès Jellinek. Emil Jellineks was the man behind the engine designed by Wilhelm Maybach and Gottlieb Daimler and officially had his daughter’s name on it. Mercedes was actually his daughter’s nickname.

8. Häagen-Dazs:

These are two made-up words intended to look Scandinavian to the American people. This is called foreign branding. The owner Mattus thought that Denmark was well-known for its dairy products and had a affirmative image in the U.S.

9. Nike:

Yes the Nike logo was designed in $35, but you should known how worthy it is with the name. The company derived its name from “Nike-the Greek goddess of victory”.

10. Toyota – The Lucky Charm:

The Pros and Cons of Avatars

The avatar is something which has become a normal part of life in the 21st century. We use an avatar generator on many of the websites we visit. But each time we create an avatar we enter a new body and we can adopt an entirely new personality. We also interact with other people’s avatars. So with the avatar becoming such an important part of our lives, should we really start transitioning into these virtual bodies so quickly?

Why Avatars are Awesome

1. Branding

Avatars are a fantastic way to introduce yourself to people. You can hang up your skills and promote yourself all over the Internet. It prevents people from clashing with your personality and it allows you to set the tone for anything you do. For example, if you were writing about computer technology you could include something geeky in your avatar to match the audience.

2. Personality

Your avatar is an extension of your personality. If you’re a writer you can add a pen or a book to your avatar. Many sites now offer an avatar generator which can accommodate these additions.

3. Appealing

Avatars appeal to an audience. They make socialising far less intimidating and encourage people to mix. If a part of your avatar has something which matches your interests, you can go in with confidence. You don’t have to worry about potentially finding out you have nothing in common with the person in question.

Why Avatars are Not Worth the Hassle

1. Usability

When you create an avatar you nearly always ask yourself whether it’s worthwhile. If you’re talking to people you already know there’s not a lot of point in having an avatar. Furthermore, we are now revealing more and more details about ourselves. There’s rarely a reason to have a little figure which reveals our interests when we can just write them down. Another factor is the way the Internet, and life, moves. What was relevant in the morning isn’t necessarily relevant in the evening. Things change in our lives. We use multiple brands. We have different moods. An avatar just can’t keep up with these things.

2. Trust Issues

If you’re hiding behind an avatar your real face isn’t there. If they can’t see you why should they trust you? For all they know, the middle-aged office worker they think they’re talking to could turn out to be an old man sitting in a retirement home. There’s no way to discover the truth if someone is using an avatar generator.

3. Future Markets

The pull to ‘create an avatar’ remains just a fad like any other. It doesn’t have a permanent position in the world of the Internet, like email and instant messaging services. Eventually, the avatar will disappear. Customers and clients demand more from the people they speak to. They want to know they’re talking to a real person, and the only way to do this is to appear in person via webcam. With attitudes and desires changing, the future of the avatar as a widespread entity isn’t good.

Brand Advertising Vs Tactical Advertising – Why Not Both?

At a recent Marketing Summit Adam Ferrier, from media agency Naked, made an interesting comment. He said ‘many brands are like gooey blobs made up of values and personality – but with very little reason to believe at it’s core.’

He questions the trendy idea that a brand should be loved by its consumers. But he’s right to question this received wisdom.

Affection for a brand is all very well, but pragmatic consumers need a ‘reason why’ before they will part with their cash. It can be an emotional reason, and often is, but there still needs to be one.

Recently there has been a ‘separation of communication’ especially on TV. This separation dictates that as a marketer you must decide if your commercial is to be ‘Brand’ or ‘Tactical’.

I would argue that every TVC should contain both elements to different degrees. And by pulling apart these two vital ingredients marketers get TV advertising that is less effective and more expensive than it needs to be.

Current ‘Brand’ advertising is typically big, bold, and expensive. It makes consumers feel good about the brand. But it ultimately doesn’t offer any tangible reason to try or continue using the brand.

Why?

Brand advertising doesn’t have to be bigger than Ben Hur. Consumers don’t need mini-movies to be reminded that their choice is correct, or that they need to make a change.

At the other end of the spectrum is ‘Tactical’ advertising. For some reason, a lot of rational communication has become mass-produced. Cookie cutter format advertising, where a woman rattles off a list product supports, while standing in front of a shelf full of packs, now passes for Tactical advertising. These formats are very ‘samey’ and completely ignore other communications the brand is doing.

Here’s a crazy idea! Why not create TV advertising that balances both ‘Brand’ AND ‘Tactical’? Think of ‘Louie the fly’ for Mortien. The Louie character provides an un-stealable brand property for Mortien. Every viewing builds the brand. Yet a Louie commercial is not expensive.

And tactically, every Louie ad can still present facts, such as new formulations, fragrances, pack changes etc. It’s interesting that Louie was invented before many of us were born: before a TVC had to be either Brand or Tactical and in a time where loving a can of fly-spray would have been seen as kind of weird.

Tony Richardson runs Tactical TV, where we create unique and ownable TV advertising properties for FMCG brands. Our TV commercials are effective and about half the cost of using a large full service advertising agency.