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Here's a selection of our latest articles on marketing, design and digital issues, and our latest news. If you would like to add an opinion or join the debate please do leave a comment. If you would like to find out more please click the link to the author.

Are you ready for Mobile Generation learners?

Are you ready for Mobile Generation learners?

Each year colleges and universities up and down the country run intensive campaigns in an attempt to attract and engage new students. Marketing and branding budgets are spent on elaborate prospectuses, events, press ads and outdoor advertising. Many further and higher education institutes run strong campaigns with local schools in order to feed students on to courses, but despite all of these efforts it’s becoming increasingly harder to attract new students.

These challenging times, may be due to increasing numbers of distance learning options or the number of new academies opening. However it is more likely that it is due to the changing nature of the demographic. The upcoming generation of learners have been labelled many things, including “Generation Y”,  “Millennials” and “The Mobile Generation”, but one thing is for sure; they are part of a worldwide cultural phenomenon that is going change the rules branding and the way education is delivered. [more]

Due in part to the continual increase in E-Commerce and also due to the population spike, we can see that in less than five years time the Mobile Generation will have more buying power than all other generations combined - a fact that no brand can afford to ignore.

More and more evidence is being gathered to show that the next generation of learners have completely different buying patterns to anything that has come before. The Mobile Generation has grown up in a world where commentary on products and services has become commonplace. The advertising industry has struggled to engage younger audiences through traditional methods, due to their highly “brand aware” nature.

A recent survey unveiled some interesting facts on how digital technology now plays a central role in how young adults connect with the world
-    94% of people born between 1980 and 1990 own at least one mobile phone
-    97% own their own computer,
-    76% use an instant messaging service
-    69% use Facebook

So what can be done to prepare for this change?
By working with teacher trained consultants and by investing time in research we have built up a range of experience in the education sector and have learnt some valuable lessons about building strategic brand campaigns for colleges and universities:

Firstly the message you convey needs to be 100% sincere:
The Mobile Generation is a lot more respectful than the generations that have come before. You can’t treat them as if they don’t know anything and the worst thing you can do is act like you’re something you’re not.

Remember they use mobile technology to stay informed:
More than 25% of all internet traffic comes from mobile devices, so make sure your course material, news, applications and other digital services can be accessed by using mobile devices.

Keep an array of options:
Variety is completely acceptable. Don’t choose images or models that you think represent Generation Y. They want to see an array of personalities.

Ensure you are everywhere:
A lot can be learnt from Barrack Obama’s use of the web, during his 2008 election campaign. One thing we can take from it, was the campaign’s willingness to embrace all and every social network site and application available. Making his message widely accessible on every level.

Bring in the experts:
That’s us! Creating a brand that connects with a cynical demographic is no easy task, so if you’d like to discuss how your college or university can benefit from our expertise please call our Managing Director, Paul Harvey on 01273 834434

What can marketers learn from the Innocent backlash?

What can marketers learn from the Innocent backlash?

Your brand, your promise
When you create and deliver a brand you construct an image, an image that customers will use to evaluate your business. That image has a number of different tasks, depending on your business objectives, but it’s fair to say that all brands should give a true representation of a business’s values. Your brand makes a promise to deliver on its image.

However, if your brand image hides a different story, it’s very possible consumers who have bought in to your product or service will feel cheated. We all know that a cheated consumer is not to be messed with, as the web provides limitless outlets for customers with negative feelings. [more]

Over the past ten years Innocent Drinks have built a £100 million brand by using well-penned copy, clever packaging and a minimal amount of advertising. Members of the Innocent fan club were regularly invited to participate in competitions that influenced products and packaging. In fact, they displayed all the hallmarks of a brand completely in tune with their customers.

Innocence lost
In April 2009 Innocent Drinks announced it had struck a deal with Coca-Cola. Innocent sold a stake in its company for around £30 million. This unexpected deal puts an entirely different spin on the Innocent brand, which many people felt was a home-grown British brand, offering a healthy, socially conscious alternative to the unhealthy, global, super brands.

The Innocent brand stood for honesty, healthy diets and environmentally friendly business practice. Which is world away from where Coca-Cola’s brand currently sits. Over the years Coca-Cola has been plagued by accusations of pollution, third world exploitation, market monopolisation and promoting unhealthy products, amongst other things.

The backlash
Since Innocent announced the deal, customers have begun to speak out against the company, claiming they have sold out on their values. Effectively they are being accused of breaking their brand promise. Groups have been set up all around the web to speak out against the deal.

Product sales are falling and boycotts have begun. Altogether, it would seem that Innocent’s bid to become a global brand has got off to a very rocky start.

Lessons we can learn

Innocent is by no means the first brand to suffer from take over backlash. Pret a Manger came under fire when it sold a stake to McDonalds, as did The Body Shop when it sold to L’Oréal. But these scenarios are an ideal time for marketers to engage with negative feedback. Social networks and blogs provide all the facilities that brand managers and marketers need to monitor customer reaction and connect with the key groups.

So, what can we all learn from these brands?

1.    Be honest when creating your brand
2.    Deliver your brand promise
3.    Listen when your loyal customers complain
4.    Respond to negative criticism and don’t attempt to cover it up