Honesty, A Peacock and Taking It to the Mat

Week 7 Assignment: Pick 3 brands that are on Facebook, Twitter, Instagram, Google+ and at least LinkedIn/Pinterest/YouTube. Evaluate them by the criteria presented below. These are the three brands I am profiling this week:

________________________________________________________________________________ the-honest-company-logo

The Honest Company sells eco-friendly, non-toxic baby and household products. They identify their mission as educating, inspiring, and fulfilling the promise of creating a healthy and sustainable future for our children. The bulk of their business is online but their products can now be found in Target as well.  

Spinning the Integrated Mix? 

(For the purpose of this blog entry, I will be using the Boundless.com definition of IMC for all 3 brand evaluations: Integrated marketing communications is an approach used by organizations to brand and coordinate their marketing efforts across multiple communication channels. Typically, communication tools for IMC encompass both traditional and digital media such as blogs, webinars, search engine optimization, radio, television, billboards and magazines.)

The Honest brand is very successful at integrating its marketing message. The brand has its own website, blog, Facebook, Twitter, Instagram, Google+, LinkedIn, Pinterest and YouTube accounts. Additionally you can opt in to receive emails from the company and blog updates:

Email option and social links

Email option and social links

Honest also utilizes traditional print ads in various clean living and parenting magazines:

They also use have commercials that are paid spots on air and online featuring real life customers like this one:

Fonts, Photos, Colors & Consistency

The Honest Company is on their game when it comes to consistency. The brand logo is featured prominently on all channels, they use the same font, the same hue of blue, the same floral background with an occasional color adjustment and their mission and introduction is the same on each channel. They are Consistent with a capital C as you can see below:

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Keeping It Real or Taking a Nap?

In both our lectures and readings, we learn to ensure integrated marketing success brands must post content regularly. Honest succeeds in this appropriate to the channels. Twitter, Facebook, Instagram, Pinterest and Google+ have all been updated as recently as 2 hours from me writing this with the oldest update being 17 hours ago.

Facebook post on Honest Timeline

Facebook post on Honest Timeline

LinkedIn and YouTube are not updated as frequently with the most recent updates taking place 12 days ago on LinkedIn and within 2 weeks on YouTube. Honest uses LinkedIn to post job openings so it would make sense that updates only occur when there is a demand.

Right This Way Please

Take a look at this infographic. It represents how The Honest Company pushes to its social channels. The flow of traffic is color coordinated. A little jumbled, right?  The Honest Company is very integrated but there is no rhyme or reason to what channel pushes where.  Some traffic flows both ways and some does not. I would definitely streamline this.

The Honest Company Social Flow

Where each Honest Company Channel pushes to

There is one certainty. Every channel pushes back to the main site which is the only place you can purchase products on the Honest channels.

#Success or #Fail

I’m a big fan of the hashtag. As a journalist, I use it as a research tool, a feedback tool and a way to find communities. The Honest Company has fully embraced the hashtag. Go to any Pinterest board, tweet, Facebook post, Google+ post and Instagram post and you will see hashtags aggregating all sorts of content. On their Facebook page, they even have a tab devoted to #TheHonestCompany:

hashtagonFB

#TheHonestCompany featured on company Facebook page

Worth Noting

I spent a great deal of time reviewing their blog recently but it’s worth mentioning here again.   It’s a good blog for eco-conscious parents and it covers a WIDE variety of topics. So I encourage you to check out Honestly.

A final note, I’m an Honest Company customer. I use their products and they have had their ups and downs.  That said, they are steadily working towards a solid, consistent quality customer experience. I had an issue with both their diaper tabs once and their wipes. I sent a note to the company and received a prompt reply. I noticed in time that both issues were addressed so I am guessing that others expressed similar concerns. ________________________________________________________________________________ NBC-News-Logo

A leading source of global news and information for more than 75 years. The National Broadcasting Company (NBC) is an American commercial broadcasting television network and former radio network headquartered in the GE Building in New York City’s Rockefeller Center with additional major offices near Los Angeles and in Chicago (NBC LinkedIn)

Spinning the Integrated Mix?

NBC News is another brand that is very successful integrating its marketing message. NBC News has its own website, blog on tumblr, Facebook, Twitter, Instagram, Google+, LinkedIn, Pinterest and YouTube account. Additionally, the key shows Nightly News, Today, Meet the Press and Dateline have their own sites with the look and feel of the show. For this entry, I am focusing solely on the over-arching NBC News brand, not a specific show.

Occasionally you will see print ads for NBC News in newspapers or magazines. Typically this will be around big events like the Olympics or during an election season. You might see an “image” spot that focuses on talent like Brian Williams or Matt Lauer as opposed to a specific story. NBC News will also turn to print for what is called a POP or Proof of Performance ad during the traditional ratings periods:

They will also create promotional commercials as well. These typically coincide with a new show launch, talent change, ratings period or big event. Here are a couple examples from the archives:

Additionally, you can also sign up to receive breaking news alerts from NBC News via email and text messaging.

Fonts, Photos, Colors & Consistency

NBC News, like The Honest Company, has mastered consistency across its channels. It starts with the iconic peacock logo. It is known the world over. The logo is featured prominently wherever NBC is. As you saw above in that “Everywhere” promo from nearly 3 years ago, NBC News was at the forefront of integration when it comes to the news industry. Who they are is clearly stated on each channel right when you arrive or by clicking on the “About” section. The copy is the same no matter where you visit NBC News. Fonts, colors and presentation are also clear and consistent. On most channels you will see a version of the same photo of 30 Rock, NBC’s famed headquarters. No matter where you go, you know you are spending time with NBC News:

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Keeping It Real or Taking a Nap?

By the nature of what they do and who they are, there is no nap time for NBC News. The brand is perfectly positioned to be active and consistent in posting to their channels. The news never sleeps and by all accounts, NBC News does not either.

They appear to use Twitter, Facebook and Google+ almost hourly. Of note, the content they post is different on different channels which I think is smart. They are giving their consumer variety. Their blog is updated daily as is Pinterest. Instagram had gaps here and there but still has consistent activity. I was also impressed to see their YouTube account (below) updated daily as well. They are in the video business so it makes sense but not all news outlets are successful at this and I speak from personal experience!

You Tube updates every day

You Tube updates every day

Right This Way Please

NBC News has a more organized approach to its social channel push than The Honesty Company but there is still some channels that don’t push to others. To me, it makes sense to have all channels marketed on all channels with something as simple as social buttons. Take a look at the social push flow chart for NBC News.

NBC News Social Flow

Where each NBC News Channel pushes to

I do think it is smart in terms of SEO that the channel pushing the most places is Google+. Like The Honest Company, all channels push to the main website.

#Success or #Fail AND Worth Noting

As I wrote up above, I am a fan of the hashtag (when used wisely). Interestingly enough though, NBC News seems to only use hashtags on their Instagram channel and I think it’s brilliant.  For journalists, this is not a bad thing. When you go to NBC News Twitter or Facebook accounts, they are very clean, professional and streamlined connecting you to NBC content. The use of the hashtag as a mechanism for search could potentially take you away from NBC content. I think this is an interesting and effective strategy for a news organization that wants you to stay with them.

Since Instagram is both content community and social channel, hashtag use there is effective for searching similar images and videos. Ironically, while spending time on their pages I came across this NBC article on hashtag abuse and overuse and thought I would share it. Happy reading!

Two other items worth noting before we move on from NBC News:  They are also on Flickr and Vimeo.  The Flickr appears to be used for behind the scenes and staff events and hasn’t been updated in quite a while. Vimeo though was updated as recently as this week and also seems to be an internal sharing channel, not a site for publishing mass news events.

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mandukalogoFounded in 1997, Manduka was built on the simple idea that a better yoga mat can make a world of difference. Manduka strives to support and enrich the yoga community by providing premium quality mats and products while respecting employees, customers, materials, and the environment. Created for and by yoga enthusiasts, Manduka’s technical and purpose-driven product designs meet and often exceed the distinct needs of all practitioners. Today Manduka’s products, which include yoga mats, towels, yoga straps, water bottles, and bags, are sold in more than 35 countries around the world. Not only focusing on superior design, Manduka also promotes their ethos of quality, thoughtfulness and sustainability in all realms of their business (Manduka LinkedIn)

Spinning the Integrated Mix?

Manduka populates several social channels: Facebook, Twitter, Instagram, Google+, YouTube, LinkedIn and Pinterest. This is in addition to their own website and their blog The Upward Frog.

They use print ads in Yoga Journal and other fitness magazines geared towards yoga enthusiasts and those who like to spend time outdoors.

Manduka is a small but very popular company within its industry. It is considered the leader in quality mats for yoga practice. They do not use traditional commercials on air or radio. They have created Manduka TV on YouTube where they produce videos about yoga life, eco-friendly partners and thoughts on deepening your practice.

Fonts, Photos, Colors & Consistency

While Manduka is present on many channels, they lack the consistency that research and our lectures tells us makes for successful IMC. For example, there is no uniformity in which logo is used. Across the channels I mentioned above, 3 different logos are used:

For the most part the company sticks to the same colors: red, black and white. The red does seem to be a different shade depending on which logo is used. There are at least 3 different fonts used in the company title and imagery is not consistent.  As you will see in the slideshow of their channels below, there is a disjointed feel to their channels. The Google+ page is completely off -brand.  Facebook and Twitter have photos from the same photo shoot but not the same photo. You will note the dog and the model are the same.

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The mission or “about” section or tag line is also inconsistent on their channels. For example, on Instagram you will find:

Life is one long, beautiful yoga class. Summer is to LiveON, love on and practice on.

On Twitter you will find:

Manduka was founded by yogis on the simple idea that a better mat can make a world of difference.

On Facebook you will find:

Manduka, for your practice, and for our world™. Namaste.
Mission

At Manduka, our mission is to support and enrich the yoga community we serve by providing the very highest quality mats and accessories. We do this because we truly believe in the power of yoga to change lives and make the world a better place. We are committed to designing and creating thoughtful, useful, lasting products whose purpose and value are clear. And, we do so in a way that respects our employees, our customers, our materials and our environment. It is our hope that each and every Manduka product brings joy to our user and helps spread the wonder and wisdom of yoga. Manduka, for your practice and for our world

…and that is just a few examples! Most of their channels are different.

 

Keeping It Real or Taking a Nap?

Overall, it seems that Manduka is focused on some channels and not on others. I think sometimes the pressure to be everywhere is so great that companies open an account but then fail their target consumer by not programming it properly. For some companies, being focused on one or two channels may be the best way to go. I think for a company the size of Manduka (11 to 50 employees according to their LinkedIn profile), they may be better served to just pick a few channels and focus. Social Media Today tells us:

When you’re a small or medium-sized business with limited marketing resources, or even a larger business who wants the best return on investment, focusing on one social platform gives you the benefit of gaining the most sophisticated expertise and most effective strategies for that network. It also works because it allows you to learn the voice and approach required for that network. (Nicole Karlis)

Manduka has a Google+ page that has not had a new post since August 2012. Additionally, when you click on “Videos” on that Google+ page it says there are no videos. Manduka, however, has a nice YouTube channel where they have created Manduka TV. So clearly they have the content, they just aren’t programming Google+. As we know, this is not good for search engine optimization.

Manduka posts to Twitter a couple times a day and Facebook daily. Their Pinterest and Instagram pages are also well maintained with great content and beautiful photos. If I was working for Manduka, these are the channels I would focus on.

Right This Way Please

Below you will see where Manduka channels are pushing. As you can see, the Google+ page doesn’t even drive traffic to the main site for purchasing products. As I mentioned above, they should either commit and build up their Google+ account or they should delete it. It does not serve them well in its current state.

Manduka Social Push Flow

Where each Manduka Channel pushes to

The failures with social push don’t stop there though. Instagram and the company’s own blog do not prominently push to their main site. Considering Instagram is one of their well-maintained channels, I would rectify this immediately.

As with The Honest Company, there is no rhyme or reason to the way they push out from each channel. It is definitely disjointed.

#Success or #Fail

On the channels Manduka is using well, they get a thumbs up from me for hashtag success. They utilize the following hashtags often: #LiveOn #KidsYoga #practice #whatmatters. They primarily use hashtags on YouTube, Twitter, Facebook, Instagram and Pinterest. They aren’t overused and they are relevant to the post.

Worth Noting

Despite what I would say is not the greatest IMC approach, Manduka does have a very nice blog full of interesting content. It’s used to tell stories about sustainability, yoga success and yoga for kids. Yoga for Kids is something Manduka is very supportive of which I think is pretty cool. They also use the blog to share community photos and engage with their consumer. The blog would be much stronger if they posted more often. It appears to only be updated a couple of times a month.

Final Thoughts

Overall I would have to say of the three brands I spent time with this week, NBC News has the slight edge over The Honest Company. In all fairness though, the business itself positions NBC News to be a constantly engaged brand. For a product-oriented brand, The Honest Company does a great job keeping all its channels programmed. To that end, my only real critique would be they should streamline their social push to include social buttons for all channels on each channel.

Just For Fun

One last thing before I go this week…I’m adding a “just for fun” to my blogs with a little extra something relating back in to each week’s topic. For my Just For Fun debut, I give you the very talented Jimmy Fallon and his take on the hashtag:

Sources:

https://www.boundless.com/marketing/integrated-marketing-communication/introduction-to-integrated-marketing-communications/introduction-to-integrated-marketing-communications/

Nicole Karlis. (March 28, 2014). Why It’s Best to Rock at One Channel, Not All. Retrieved June 27, 2014, http://socialmediatoday.com/nicolekarlis/2295631/social-media-why-it-s-best-rock-one-channel-not-all

 

Blog Day Afternoon

THE DAILY BEAST

The Daily Beast

The Daily Beast

Who are we? What is our purpose? Why are we uniquely awesome?

The Daily Beast falls into a couple of categories as outlined in this week’s lecture. It is a group blog in that it brings in a stable of authors. It is professional in that it is of a high standard, produces content several times a day and is revenue-oriented. Above all though, it is a news blog.  The Daily Beast was founded in 2008 as the vision of Tina Brown and IAC Chairman Barry Diller. In 2010, The Daily Beast merged with Newsweek. According to the site it is…

Curated to avoid information overload, the site is dedicated to breaking news and sharp commentary. The Daily Beast is the winner of two consecutive Webby awards for “Best News” site and regularly attracts more than 17 million unique online visitors a month. John Avlon serves as Editor in Chief and Rhona Murphy is the Chief Executive Officer.

To me, its purpose is to publish American and world news, opinion, entertainment, technology, health, travel and other feature information. I also find it unique in that it’s all the news that’s “fit to print” but to the above statement, it is sharp. It has an edge. Its biggest competitor is Huffington Post (which is more successful) but I find the Daily Beast to be a better visual experience. It’s target feels more millennial whereas Huff Po feels more geared towards Gen X and Gen Y women.

The Daily Beast Cheat Sheet

The Daily Beast Cheat Sheet

How we live up to our “rep”…(ok, ok, our brand!)

The Daily Beast’s signature is the “Cheat Sheet”. It takes news and puts it into a short, easily consumed list for the news consumer on the go. It’s    a top 10 of the day and when news breaks, they add that to the top of the list, living up to its brand. Casey Kasem died today and as you can see to the left ,  the news is perched at the top.

The Cheat Sheet also lives up to its brand in that it’s not “information overload”. You get a sneak peek into the “sharp commentary” aspect by      the red titles for the Cheat Sheet stories. The entire blog takes its lead from the Cheat Sheet in that it presents news in tidy window boxes with  bright imagery, clever titles and links if you are hungry for more.

 Life in the fast lane or Traffic Jam?

Interestingly enough, The Daily Beast experiences good traffic despite its lack of prominence in search. I googled “news”- “news blogs” – “best  news blogs” – “news blogs I should follow” and it didn’t appear on the first page. According to Capital New YorkThe Daily Beast’s average  unique monthly visitors are up to more than 17 million this year from 13.5 million in 2013.

They have a couple of things going for them.  John Avlon, editor-in-chief is a CNN contributor appearing regularly on air. That’s free advertising  right there. They also have the name recognition and integrated marketing from the Newsweek brand. Links from Newsweek will push to The  Daily Beast and vice versa. They also have a strong Facebook page (although not so great this week!) and nearly 700,000 Twitter followers as seen here:

Our success…what we’re missing…and making money?

The Daily Beast does have advertising throughout its pages. On the day I spent analyzing, it featured several ads from Lexus for their new Hybrid.

Based on the criteria outlined this week, The Daily Beast would be considered successful.

  • New posts are published often.
  • Its key bloggers feature links to their Twitter accounts and social share buttons are featured as seen here:

    Twitter Link for Writer and  Social Buttons For Sharing

    Twitter Link for Writer and
    Social Buttons For Sharing

  • The Daily Beast creates original content, the best example being Beast Books, its imprint for publishing digital and then print books for writers
  • They make it easy to subscribe to content. They offer 4 different email options based on topic:
  • Longevity: The Daily Beast was “born” on October 6, 2008. It’s still going strong and growing nearly 6 years later.

I don’t know that I think this blog is missing anything but I have two thoughts. First, from a social perspective, they highlight Facebook and Twitter wisely at the top of their page as seen here:

 

In their articles though, they advocate sharing via Facebook, Twitter and Google+. They have a Google+ page with over a half a million followers and 6.5 million views. I recommend adding a Google+ icon to the top of their page. It would help with SEO on Google which is clearly something they have an issue with and it just keeps consistency.

One other observation, I get a lot of email. Everyone does. So cluttering up my inbox with 4 more emails as opposed to one is not that appealing. Why not create one all-inclusive email? (or at least offer that as another option!)

HONESTLY… THE BLOG FOR THE HONEST COMPANY:

Honest Home Page

Honestly… The Honest Company Blog

Who are we? What is our purpose? Why are we uniquely awesome?

The Honest Company is one of my favorite brands. I have two girls under two and receive their diapers monthly. I also branched out into laundry detergent, soaps, cleaning sprays for floors, multipurpose and food. I also love their hair products and body lotions. When I became a mom, I just wanted to be better. This company helped. They were founded by actress Jessica Alba, Christopher GaviganBrian Lee and Sean Kane to ensure parents have access to non-toxic, eco-friendly, effective and beautiful family products that don’t break the bank.  They are also a certified B Corporation so according to their site they…

“…strive to promote sustainability, engage employees and community, and support non-profit initiatives working to solve critical health and social issues affecting children and families.”

With their blog “Honestly…” they take their purpose or mission and put it out there as a catch-all of information for anyone wanting to live a cleaner life. It is both a Professional blog in that it has a high standard, supports the main brand The Honest Company and to that extent, is revenue oriented. It is secondarily a group blog. It is compiled by in-house employees, guest doctors, nutritionists and experts in the field of non-toxic products and clean living. They only launched the blog in July 2012 and when they did, they put together this video. I think it captures a little of their unique presence:

 

How we live up to our “rep”…(ok, ok, our brand!)

All anyone need do is visit the blog to see how Honestly lives up to The Honest Company brand. The best example is the MANY categories full of interesting informative posts.

The blog features:

Honest Categories

  •    Checklists: guides, tips, shopping lists, holiday to-dos, resolutions and so on
  •    Design & DYI: non-toxic, earth-friendly ways to design and do it yourself
  •    FYI: interesting facts and advice about the earth, food and being green
  •    Going Natural: staying green, recycling, composting, etc.
  •    Health & Wellness: information geared towards health and wellness
  •    Healthy Home: keeping your home clean, green and non-toxic
  •    Honest Kitchen: keeping your kitchen and your food clean, green and non-toxic
  •    Honest Nutrition: diving deeper into keeping your food non-toxic with recipes!
  •    Honest Travel: how to best travel with your little one (& some product plugs!)
  •    Honestbaby: all things green, non-toxic and clean for your smallest family member
  •    Honestly Pure: keeping food, skin care and other household items pure
  •    Honestly Speaking: a collection of motivational quotes
  •    Inside Honest: highlighting the employees and founders of The Honest Company
  •    Kidding Around: fun things to do with your kids
  •    Miscellaneous
  •    Q & A: experts answering questions about health, food, the environment and so on…
  •    Quick Tips: exactly what it says!
  • Say What: defining long chemicals and agents and other difficult things found in everyday items
  • Smaller Style: keeping your little one a non-toxic fashionista
  • Social Goodness: giving back and paying it forward
  • Style Simplified: simple styles for adults
  • What’s Inside: breaks down and defines complicated chemicals and other items
  • What’s New: featuring new products from The Honest Company (*good integrated marketing!)

Life in the fast lane or Traffic Jam?

The Honest Company clearly relies on its main site to drive traffic to its blog. That said, its main site does very well in search. I searched “organic baby diapers” and “organic baby products” and The Honest Company comes up at the top in a paid ad for both searches:

When I searched “organic baby blogs” The Honest Company was nowhere to be found above the fold.

Given the celebrity status of Jessica Alba, I am sure some traffic comes through her social pages. She features a link to The Honest Company (not the “Honestly…”  blog) on both her Facebook and Instagram pages but NOT her Twitter page:

 

Our success…what we’re missing…and making money?

There is no advertising for any other products on Honestly…only those sold by The Honest Company. Much like their brand, they keep the blog looking light, airy and clean.  When they market their own products, they do it in a way that makes you feel like you are getting information and tips, not having a product forced at you. For example, click on Honest Travel and you will see posts on the best ways to travel with kids, integrated with great little travel totes stuffed with travel-sized Honest products. I think other eco-friendly brands could advertise here but The Honest Company has branched out so much it would be hard to find something that wasn’t a competitor. I also think that not having the page riddled with ads creates a tone like the company. Clean.

Based on the criteria presented in class, Honestly is a somewhat successful blog:

  • People are still posting and commenting.
  • There is new content posted a couple of times a week.
  • There are social share buttons after each post.
  • The site is primarily FULL of original content.
  • They make it easy to subscribe and follow The Honest Company main site socially:

 

There are some things “Honestly…” could honestly do better! First, the author of each post  is not always clear. Some posts have an author indicated and others don’t. While they have sharing buttons after posts as you saw above, they don’t include twitter or other social network links for their authors when they do identify him or her.

The Honest Company was founded in January 2012 and the blog “Honestly…” began in July of that year. So it is only 2 years old. It seems to have active contributors but it does not quite have that longevity yet. The potential is there though because the content is strong, popular and relevant. The Honest Company has seen great success and Jessica Alba and her team recently raised $52 million to expand their company. So they don’t seem to be going anywhere but up!

One of the things I don’t like about the blog? I think there are too many categories. As you saw above, there are 23 categories and some clearly overlap. When you look at a post, several are marked with multiple categories. I think this could be streamlined into an even cleaner look that is not so overwhelming for the consumer visiting the blog.

 

ATHLETA CHI: THE BLOG FOR ATHLETA:

bloghomepage

Athleta Chi The Blog for Athleta

Who are we? What is our purpose? Why are we uniquely awesome?

Hello my name is Kelly Frank Green. I am an Athletaholic. I have been this way for about 18 months give or take a few days.

Ok. All kidding aside, if you know me or follow this blog, you know I am an Athleta junkie. So why wouldn’t I want to talk about Athleta Chi. Athleta Chi is the blog for the Athleta brand.  The blog started in 2008, the same year Petaluma, California-based Athleta was acquired by Gap Inc.

To me, Athleta Chi is primarily a Professional blog. It does, however, have some characteristics of a Group and Recreational blog. It’s Professional because it is of a high standard, content is published often, it is the brand voice of Athleta and it is revenue-oriented to an extent in that it pushes to Athleta’s product. It has a little Group aspect though in that the blog has several authors, some with their own niche blogs, all coming together to have centralized content. Last, there is a little Recreational aspect to this blog as well in that it IS characterized by passion for fitness, empowerment and inspiration.

I find this blog to be unique because it is solely focused on every aspect of empowering a woman as an independent force, unique and strong in and of herself. It’s not about being a mom, a wife, a sister (in the biological sense), a yogini, a marathoner and so on. There is nothing wrong with any of those…I fall in most categories. Athleta Chi doesn’t focus on any one specifically ~ it focuses on all the things that make up our feminine energy. Moreover, all the voices on this blog are women.

How we live up to our “rep”…(ok, ok, our brand!)

blogpageexample

View of how the blog lays out in each category

The brand message for Athleta is “Power to the She” and the theme for Athleta Chi, as clearly stated at the top of the blog is, “connecting women to the energy of inspiration”. Each section (except Fit Style which features photo galleries) looks like this:

Each page is posted by a woman. The blog is also full of tutorials, recipes, expert guidance, empowering stories, community comment boards and places to share your fitness style.

Life in the fast lane or Traffic Jam?

Much like The Honest Company, it appears Athleta relies on its main site to drive traffic to its blog. I google searched “blogs for women”,  “fitness blogs for women”, “empowerment blogs for women”, and “fitness blogs”.  Athleta Chi was not found in the first page. I, like most consumers, did not look past the first page.

When I searched “yoga clothes” and “fitness clothes for women” the main Athleta site appeared on the first page but was not very prominent:

As mentioned in a previous post about Athleta, they do promote their blog on their Instagram page. As I recommended in that blog, I think Athleta should create a link to the blog on all their social sites, especially Pinterest. Pinterest is heavily trafficked by women so it seems logical you would promote a blog geared towards inspiring women on that social channel.

Our success…what we’re missing…and making money?

Like The Honest Company again, Athleta doesn’t advertise on their blog except for their own product. They don’t make it feel like you are being targeted to buy though. The 6th category on the blog is called Fit Style. It is a section where every day people like you and me show off their workout style:

fitstyle

The Fit Style category

Naturally, it is all Athleta wear and you can click back to the main company site to purchase. They wisely bury this marketing though through storytelling by peers. Any healthy food brand, Manduka mats or various athletic gear could advertise on this blog as well. Like The Honest blog though, the lack of advertising works. The blog is supposed to be inspirational, zen-like–Chi! Banners and side rails don’t emanate Chi!

In measuring Athleta Chi against our criteria for success, I would say it does well.

  • New posts are published a couple of times a week
  • A majority of the content is original whether its product review, tutorials for other women or recipes.
  • Longevity: This blog has been active since 2008. Six years and still going…
  • Not only does each post come with social sharing buttons but it also has a little author bio at the bottom with links to her social channels:
  • Finally, in terms of success, it is very easy to subscribetotheAthleta Chi content. As you can see the email option lives just above the fold. They do this not only on the home page but on the Fitness, Wellness and every other page on the blog. You can also see the social channels represented in this section and just below that are tabs for the newest posts, the newest commentsandanAthleta twitter feed:

These three may not be the best in the business but they certainly aren’t the worst. What they are…is a little piece of me…and isn’t that what blogging is for?  I’m a journalist and therefore a news junkie (The Daily Beast). I’m a mom and therefore constantly wanting to do better for my girls (The Honest Company). Last but not least, I’m a woman and therefore, need to be my best self to be a great journalist and an awesome mommy (Athleta Chi).

 

 

Keeping “Power to the She” Consistent

There is no question that 2013 was a breakout year for Athleta. So much so that the Chairman and CEO of parent company Gap Inc. recently said, “…It looks like Athleta is on its path to becoming the fourth iconic brand within Gap Inc.’s portfolio.” (Jeff Quackenbush) The three other brands he’s referring to are Gap, Old Navy and Banana Republic. I have worn all these brands during various periods of my life but Athleta is where I have found my second skin these days.

When it comes to maintaining its brand in an integrated world, Athleta does an excellent job. As you can see on its main company site and across key social channels, it maintains the same logo, imagery and title fonts.   It’s aesthetically cohesive and consistent. Occasionally, there will be a different image on one channel over another as you see below with Google+ but the subject is always the same: A strong, fit and active woman.

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On each page you will find a simple two sentence mission statement, something very key to success as outlined in this week’s reading Branding Your Website.

 “The premier fitness fashion brand for women who see being healthy and fit as vital to life. Power to the She.”

Athleta’s website features social buttons connecting its consumer to some of its social channels including a button drawing attention to its mobile site:

Additionally, the mobile site is very user friendly. I have placed orders with ease on both my iPad and my Android phone. Having a sleek, clean mobile site that is consistent with the brand is key. It’s an understatement to say mobile is the future:

“Although most online purchases still occur via PCs, Digiday believes commerce will be among the industries most affected by the rise of mobile. Global e-commerce sales made via mobile devices are expected to top $638 billion in 2018, according to a forecast from Goldman Sachs. For perspective, that was roughly the entire size of the world’s e-commerce market in 2013. Goldman predicts that tablet, not smartphones, will be the primary drivers of mobile commerce growth. (Cooper Smith)

(You can read Digiday’s entire Mobile Forecast Report HERE)

Push & Pull:

Athleta combines push and pull marketing in many ways. On their company site, a consumer gets “pulled” with an option to receive emails and/or the catalog. Those emails and catalogs are then “pushed” out and might include upcoming sales, events in your city or just a product highlight. Below is an example of one I received recently that is both sale and product highlight:

Athleta also utilizes traditional push marketing such as billboards and advertising kiosks in malls:

When I recently visited my local Athleta store I saw this in the window ~ a little push marketing with a local social media twist:

Athleta leverages all their social channels as brand enforcers ~ not a one-stop shop.  Athleta wisely houses all ability to purchase online on its company website only. It uses its social channels as a pull strategy by showcasing the brand message and linking to the main company site. It’s most effective pull strategy in my opinion is its blog: Athleta Chi

The blog is a forum for women to discuss fitness, sports, wellness, travel, exchange recipes, view demo videos, learn, bond and share empowering, inspirational stories. Athleta wisely incorporates a “Fit Style” category which will take you to their product lines but it’s not shoved down your throat. You can also respond to the push marketing technique of opting in to receive a pull via “Chi-mail” (above right).

Marketing & Branding through Events:

Athleta has several partnerships, some they showcase right on their homepage including the Mudderella and Esprit De She. These events along with Athleta’s participation at expos for various 5ks and other races are another form of pull marketing. Women who participate in these events are exposed to Athleta in a supportive role. They get an opportunity to see the brand at work out in the community.

Recommendations:

The Athleta website is clean, beautifully laid out and reflective of their brand. Athleta’s relationship with Lifetime for Esprit De She & Mudderella are partnerships with like-minded brands of strength, empowerment, health and well-being. In creating partnerships with like-minded companies, Athleta stays true to its “Power to the She” brand message. In further analyzing their integrated marketing and brand, I have a few recommendations where Athleta could be a bit more consistent and drive consumers back to their main website.

  • Athleta is on more social channels than they link to on their company website. The social media consumer is widespread and consumers are loyal to different channels. There is an opportunity to measure click-through and see what social channels Athleta consumers are interested in. A recent loyalty social survey revealed “These channels are powerful and should not be ignored. Gather intelligence from these channels and aggressively seek opportunities to influence the conversation.” (Jim Tierney) Additionally we already know that having your brand on Google+ increases your chances of showing up in Google search results – so why not flaunt your Google-ness? (Kristin Curtiss)  I recommend adding icons for You Tube and Google+. Loyal customers make loyal and knowledgeable employees. I would add a LinkedIn button as well. Then, I recommend making buttons consistent across the blog, company website and social channels that allow other social buttons. For example, on Athleta’s You Tube page (click below) there is a Google+ button but You Tube allows Facebook, Twitter, Instagram and blog buttons as well.

YouTube:

  • On Athleta’s main website, I also recommend moving the location of the social/sharing buttons “above the fold” similar to what Athleta does on its blog. As you can see below, on the main company site the social buttons are buried at the bottom of the page. This may be strategic with the thought being not to leave the main company site, however, the company wisely has purchasing ability housed on the main site. Sending potential customers to their social channels will only increase brand awareness and potentially strengthen a consumer connection. It’s a worthy gamble.

“BELOW THE FOLD” (on the main site)                 “ABOVE THE FOLD” (on the blog site)

  • As discussed above, Athleta has a beautiful and informative blog for women empowerment and community.  Interestingly though, Athleta does not link to their blog on their Pinterest page in any prominent way (see below)

Pinterest:

We know that Pinterest is dominated by women. 94% of all activity on Pinterest is by women. (Craig Smith) This is a missed opportunity to expose women to a brand- defining blog. Additionally, the blog is not featured on their Twitter page either. I would add prominent links on both these channels above the fold.

  • Another recommendation I would make for consistency would be adding the main website www.athleta.com to the top of its Facebook and Instagram pages. It is on the Facebook page, but you have to click the “About” link in order to access the company site. On Instagram, the only link featured prominently takes you to the Athleta Chi blog (see below). I think promoting the blog is great but I would advocate prominent links to both the main website AND the Athleta Chi blog.

Instagram:

  • While Athleta has a beautiful mobile site, at this time they don’t have an option to receive text message alerts about new stores opening, sales or other events. I recommend creating this option for consumers. It allows the company to target a customer who is clearly interested.
  • Athleta should consider a Twitter and Pinterest Widget on its website.
  • Finally, IthinkAthleta can offer a more integrated brick and mortar experience. I recently made a purchase and noticed there is no social media imagery in the store promoting their channels. When I paid for my purchase, the sales team did not ask for my email to send me my receipt (and then have my email on file!). My purchase was packaged in an awesome reusable, recycled bag but there was no website signage on the bag at all.  Lastly, I noted on my receipt at the very bottom there was a line about “Liking on Facebook” but that required a purchase to even reach that touch point. The below gallery is a visual of my experience:

Overall Thoughts:

Athleta could be a little more consistent in their social media integration, blog promotion and driving back to their main site for purchasing. That said, the company does a great job of keeping its brand message consistent on all its channels. They are all about creating a strong, empowered community for women and it is reflected in word and image beautifully throughout their pages. Each channel lives up to giving “Power to the She”.

Sources:

Jeff Quackenbush. (February 28, 2014). Gap calls 2013 ‘breakout year for Athleta’. Retrieved June 7, 2014, http://www.northbaybusinessjournal.com/88434/gap-calls-2013-breakout-year-for-athleta/

Cooper Smith. (April 2, 2014). US E-Commerce Growth is Now Far Outpacing Overall Retail Sales. Retrieved June 7, 2014, http://www.businessinsider.com/us-e-commerce-growth-is-now-far-outpacing-overall-retail-sales-2014-4

Jim Tierney. (May 9, 2014). Social Intelligence: An Opportunity for Loyalty Marketers. Retrieved June 7, 2014, http://loyalty360.org/resources/article/social-intelligence-an-opportunity-for-loyalty-marketers

Kristin Curtiss. (February 6, 2014). Google Plus: Your New SEO Valentine. Retrieved June 7, 2014, http://blogs.constantcontact.com/product-blogs/social-media-marketing/google-plus-seo/

Craig Smith. (March 4, 2014). By the Numbers: 80 Amazing Pinterest Statistics (Updated June 2014). Retrieved June 7, 2014, http://expandedramblings.com/index.php/pinterest-stats/#.U5S5H_ldWnY

 

Power to the She…& Me

I’ve been on quite a journey the last two years:  A scary, amazing, life-altering journey. I became a mom. Twice.

To understand my journey, you would have to know I was an athlete all my life. My right arm paid for my degree. I could throw a pretty fast curve ball back in the day! I grew up in a competitive, fitness-oriented family. My older brother went to Ohio State on a football scholarship, my younger brother was a collegiate baseball player, my sister played tennis and ran track and my father made a business of training NFL, NBA and MLB players.

I’ve been pretty lucky. I’m one of those people who has enjoyed success…on the field, in the classroom, in the newsroom and at home. Don’t get me wrong. I worked my butt off for it! It wasn’t handed to me but with that success comes an expectation that you are always going to be at the top of your game.

So what does this have to do with this week’s assignment? Everything.

Like many moms, I gained weight. 60 pounds to be exact. I also quit my job in week 8 of my maternity leave. I could not fathom leaving my child and felt broadcast journalism was changing. It all seemed irrelevant. So I threw myself into motherhood…and then 9 months later was pregnant again.

This time was different. About 4 months after my first child Gracen was born, I was suffering a bit of an identity crisis. I had always been an accomplished television producer, making my own money, doing my own thing and now I wasn’t. I felt small. I felt worthless. I was a little lost. I needed a reset.

A friend and cancer survivor who had found peace in yoga introduced me to her teacher.  On a cold December day, I signed up for a private lesson and life was never the same.

When you are feeling like I was and looking like I thought I looked, it takes everything you have to feel comfortable in your own skin. Enter Athleta.

Athleta came to be in 1998 as a catalog company specializing in yoga clothing. Gap Inc. acquired them in 2008 and they evolved into athletic wear, every day clothes, swimwear and accessories adding online sales and brick and mortar stores to their successful catalog business. (GapInc.com & Bloomberg.com)

Athleta is more than a business though. They are a modern brand as defined in What is BRANDING? published by the Norwich Business School.  As you see in that clip, brands of today are finding information, sharing films, selling stuff, making friends and adding to knowledge.  Athleta accomplishes all of this utilizing the channels below and integrating a consistent, solid and straightforward brand message: Power to the She

Twitter ~ Facebook ~ Pinterest ~ Instagram ~ You Tube

Google+ ~ Athleta Chi (Blog) ~ Athleta Website ~ Catalog ~ Email

With Power to the She, Athleta celebrates the busy lives women lead and how they make fitness a priority. They promise to put performance first and comfort a close second. (Maddy Lucier) I would add that “Power to the She” extends beyond making fitness a priority – it makes well being and empowerment a priority as reinforced by this video on the company’s You Tube channel:

Guarantee

At its basic core, Athleta is a business with a product that it guarantees.

I know this to be 100% true. I had a short sleeve sweatshirt I just loved but after about 5 times wearing it, there were very discernible  arm  pit stains. Yuck! This was not typical of Athleta’s clothing so I returned it. No questions asked. Brands guarantee quality.

According to the Norwich Business School, Brands also instill values that lead to action. If you go to the parent company website at  Gap Inc. you will read the following about Athleta:

At Athleta, we design the ultimate performance apparel and gear for every active woman, from the weekend warrior to the committed yogini to the fiercely driven competitive athlete. And as women athletes, we road-test, court-test and water-test everything ourselves to be sure each item we offer features the perfect balance: performance and style

Another key aspect of a successful brand is Ownership.  Athleta lives this in the people who design and create the product. The corporate leadership of Athleta seeks to understand their customer by looking within. They take this introspection and make it a call to action:

Athleta exemplifies communications planning as we read about in Brand Media Strategy this week because their message is clear and uniform across all their platforms.

They engage and reward:

They engage and educate:

And what you see on Twitter…is what you see on Facebook…is what you see on Pinterest…is what you see on Instagram…is what you see on You Tube…is what you see on Google+ …is what you see on the company’s website. Each campaign and message lives on each platform:

Our journey this week also told us that Brand is Confidence. Brand is Passion. Brand is Belonging. Hewlett-Packard CEO Meg Whitman once said, “when people use your brand as a verb, that is remarkable”. (brainyquote.com). I would add that when people forget your Brand is trying to sell them something, that is remarkable as well. Athleta does just this by creating a forum for confidence, passion and a sense of belonging. They call it Athleta Chi. It’s a blog devoted to “connecting women to the energy of inspiration.” You can opt to receive inspirational emails as well. The blog features recipes, how-tos, travel information, training videos, health guidance and a forum for people like you and me to chat, engage and belong.

So what about that post-partum, overweight, insecure, somewhat lost new mom? 

I’m getting to that.

The most important thing I consider in a “brand” is me. After all as our class this week reinforced “You” make a brand. “You” unmake a brand.  Yoga is intimidating as hell. I always avoided it because it seemed clique-ish. It was for skinny girls that could put their heads in places I never wanted to go.  Heck, I couldn’t even touch the ground when I started without hearing something shred inside me.  As silly as it sounds, Athleta made it easier to start. I found a comfortable skin.

After I tried Athleta clothes for my yoga practice, I stayed with it because I found the “experience” of Athleta resonated. The women weren’t stick figures with untouchable goals and unrealistic representations. They were real. They were like me:  Normal, Unique, Curvy, Curvy-er in some areas more than others.  In the social community on Pinterest, Twitter, Facebook, I found women of all design…including me:

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I now own Athleta clothes of all kinds including the bathing suit below. (I really should own stock in the company!)  The catalog arrives and it’s like Christmas. I get an email for a sale and I can’t resist. Yes, I am their target customer…and I am a brand loyalist.

It’s more though. I turn the pages and I see where I have been, where I am and where I want to be. I’ve lost 57 pounds. I can bend over and touch the floor with flat palms.  I stand a little taller.  I smile more. I breathe deeper. It’s not about the clothes…it’s about the community.  It’s Power to the She…and Me.

Yogaonabeach

Sources:

http://www.gapinc.com/content/gapinc/html/aboutus/ourbrands/Athleta.html

http://www.bloomberg.com/news/2012-07-17/gap-s-athleta-stalks-lululemon-one-yoga-store-at-a-time.html

http://www.stack.com/2012/01/12/athleta-power-to-the-she-campaign/

Maddy Lucier. (January 12, 2012) Athleta’s Power to the She Campaign Celebrates Female Athletes. Retrieved June 1, 2014, http://www.stack.com/2012/01/12/athleta-power-to-the-she-campaign/

Antony Young. (2010). A Shift From Media Planning to Communications Planning. Brand Media Strategy: Integrated Communications Planning in the Digital Era. New York: Palgrave Macmillan

http://www.brainyquote.com/quotes/authors/m/meg_whitman.html