Ronald McDonald, the red and yellow M&Ms, the Budweiser frogs and the Energizer bunny have all helped their respective brands to gain the attention of the consumer. These characters make content interesting, engaging, fun, and most importantly, memorable.
That kind of content is what Sway, a new Cleveland-area content and production studio, is helping companies achieve. David Walker, vice president of interactive, and Tom Megalis, chief creative officer, started Sway with the intent of helping companies make the connection between their brands and the content they produce.
“What we’re finding is a lot of companies that we go into have invested time to do social media and content and a year later they don’t have any Facebook followers, no one is going to their YouTube channel and nothing is happening,” Walker says.
“We go in and look at their content and it’s boring, uninteresting, and it’s not engaging. You have to think about how you create something interesting, engaging and fun that people want to look at.”
Examples of the characters leading advertising today are Flo of Progressive Insurance, Mayhem of Allstate and the Geico gecko.
“They market their stuff with humor,” Walker says. “Why? Because insurance is boring and no one wants to listen to a guy saying, ‘We need to update your policy.’ They create characters and brands, and we’re telling people that same idea whether you’re selling an industrial product or insurance. Sway is all about creating engaging, fun, dynamic content.”
Dos and don’ts
Today, in the world of social media it is all about generating your audience.
“In order for me to do that effectively, I’ve got to give them something they really will latch on to,” Walker says. “That’s where a lot of people have missed. You don’t have to go spend a lot of money, but you have to form an idea, form a brand, form a concept and then start putting that out there.”
When you create a brand — the colors, the typeface, the voice — everything about it has to match.
“I think where people are missing it is they’re not getting good writing, good concepts and good ideas,” Walker says. “There’s very little really good creative thinking and strong marketing execution behind it and part of it is some people just don’t get how to do it.”
When you produce content it has to have the effect that makes people want to share it.
“We put high premium where it really counts and why we believe we’re getting traction is because of ideas,” Megalis says. “The idea has to work for your business, its strategy and it has to hit your demographic with something that’s unique and stands out.
“Sure, anybody can take great pictures or shoot a video, but if there’s no substance it’s not effective.”
A lot of companies want to share education about their business or a particular product. The idea of sharing education through someone talking into a camera is no longer good enough.
“Instead of doing it that way you have to think creatively,” Walker says. “You want people to watch it. A lot of companies just push out content and it’s very instructional, institutional and industrial and we forget about it all. In today’s world, consumers are way too savvy. The old world stuff doesn’t resonate.”
Make it memorable
Today, we are bombarded with messages from all kinds of media. Everyone wants to send a tweet or post on Facebook, so how do you come up with something that is memorable? One of the best ways is with a mascot.
“Once you create that character it transcends to social media, print, broadcast and everywhere,” Walker says. “That becomes your voice because advertising is all about making impressions that stick whether it’s online or offline. Having that mascot or that character helps people make a connection with your brand.”
This isn’t really too different than how advertising has always been. It’s doing the research to understand who that target customer is and who that core audience is.
“What will best appeal to them?” Walker says. “What do you want people to know about your product or service? Who are you trying to get it to? You have to make sure the thing you create and the message that you’re putting out there will catch your audience.”
“If it’s just words being spewed without something attached to the message, people don’t remember it,” Megalis says.
How to reach: Sway, (330) 416-9768 or www.swayideafactory.com