Learning to Drive a Stick and Other Life Lessons:

I can’t remember a time when I didn’t want to be just like my sister Anne. She’s that combination of classic and cool. I have often likened her to Princess Diana when describing her to people. That’s how I see her.  I have been asked to share our story but there are so many to share and this one with cancer is more than the sum of us. So if you will indulge me, let me just share a few things I have learned from my time with Anne:

(Note to Anne- please forgive story number one– I am doing this chronologically)

  • When I was a little girl and my parents traveled overseas she exposed me to my first high school party. I was so freaked out! I wouldn’t have had the courage to have a party at the house, not then and not in my teenage years. It was the kind of party you would see in movies, complete with broken furniture, drunken teenagers, soap-filled pool and mini-dramas. The party came and went and none were too worse for the wear except Anne.

Lesson Number One: When you are hiding the evidence, hide it all. She forgot the bag of empty beer cans in the trash on the side of the house. Sure way to get busted by mom and dad.

  • My sister got her first car when I was just in grade school. It was a yellow TR-7 my parents painted white. It had  fuzzy sheepskin seats (and I can still remember how they feel). I thought it was the coolest thing ever. She never hesitated to take me for a ride. Most teenagers don’t want their little sister tagging along. It made me feel important. When Anne came back from THE Ohio State to visit us at home in California for the first time I remember being really excited to see her. I was the only other girl at home with 3 brothers so having her back was always a good thing! She came around the corner into the family room wearing jeans, an Ohio State sweatshirt and these brown loafers–I know, sounds like a real fashion plate right? All I remember thinking was how collegiate she looked and how cool I thought that was. I was fixated on the shoes though. It wasn’t long before I was out scouting for the same pair with Anne and mom in tow.

Lesson Number Two: Always be kind to little kids, it makes an impression even in the smallest of tasks.

  • When I was 17 and learning to drive Anne had a white Honda Civic stick shift. She was 24 at the time and we were then living in Columbus, Ohio. She took me out one afternoon to teach me to drive her car. It will never translate well in this story but anytime I tried to shift from 1st to 2nd gear the car would begin to jerk back and forth, back and forth sending us flying forward and then flying back, forward then back. About the 3rd time this happened we couldn’t stop laughing. It was the kind of hard laughter in which you can’t speak and if you’re lucky you won’t pee. Well–laughter like that makes it hard for the 24 year-old to explain to the 17-year old how to get out of the rock and shake maneuver. Eventually we did, I learned to drive but I think I left the transmission all along Muirfield Drive.

Lesson Number Three: When life gets rocky, laugh hard and push though.

  • Anne didn’t always have the best of luck with her health. In fact in her twenties and thirties she had such severe endometriosis, there was uncertainty as to her ability to have a baby. I remember quite vividly walking with Anne through a parking garage as we were going to see our brother Billy’s newborn baby girl Emily. I jokingly asked Anne when she and Mike were going to get started. It was then I learned they had been trying and had been for a long time. I remember thinking how tough it must have been to go into that hospital- maybe it wasn’t- but that was my thought at the time. Anne didn’t flinch. She was loving and supportive as always.

Lesson Number Four: Celebrate the happiness of others and carry yourself with grace even in times of doubt. (I’m happy to say Anne and Mike now have three incredible children.)

  • As a young adult, I went through some tough years not really sure of who I was and where I was going. After a particularly rough period, my sister called me up and suggested I move up to Washington D.C. with her for awhile. You might be thinking…no big deal? Well, she was 6 months into her marriage and living in a one bedroom apartment…but I needed help and they didn’t hesitate. That time was pivotal in making me who I am today. For 6 months, I slept on their couch bed in their living room while they allowed me to find my way.

Lesson Number Five: Be generous. You never know when your act of kindness will save a life.

  • When I was 25, I was struggling with a career decision. I was working with family in the television business. It was a great experience but I wanted to do more. My sister was an Executive Producer working for the CBS News affiliate in Washington D.C.  I called her up and we talked about an opening at the NBC station in Columbus where I was living. She told me about the job and encouraged me to apply. It was that conversation with her that made me believe I could do it. When I interviewed, it turned out that the Executive Producer there had been mentored by Anne. When I identified myself as Anne’s sister, she said, “Well if you’re Anne’s sister, you get it—that’s all I need to know.” I remember thinking how cool it was that someone would say that and what a testament to my sister.  Since then, I have been lucky to have a very successful career in this demanding field. I now am an Executive Producer at the world’s news leader, CNN. I can say unequivocally: This would not have happened without my big sister.

Lesson Number Six: Share your life lessons when you can, don’t be afraid to give advice and always encourage the dreams of others. You never know when your act of wisdom will change a life.

  • In 2004, I went through a pretty devastating break-up, the kind where you are not sure how you are going to make it from one day to the next. I needed to do something.  I had never been to Paris but somehow knew it would be my favorite city in the world. I decided to save some money and plan a trip even if I was going alone. Because my sister is just a bit awesome she managed to talk her husband into letting her out of wife and mom duty for a week and come with me to Paris. It was a week filled with massive carb fests, plenty o’wine, strange men resembling Neil Diamond crossed with Mr. Bean (some stories are best kept in the vault), shopping, all-nighters and laughter. Lots of laughter.

Lesson Number Seven: Broken hearts can be survived and travel is better with a sister.

  • Cancer.

I had just finished spending the holidays with my sister and her children in my home in Atlanta. She had to leave early to go home to Milwaukee to watch the Rose Bowl in Wisconsin. (Her husband is an alum!). The next day she had a routine doctor’s appointment that included her mammogram.  I didn’t know all this until over a month later when she called me one night and was a bit more serious than she is in our normal conversations. She made a point of telling me she needed me to stop watching TV and really focus. So I did. She was calm and direct and she said, “I have some news and I’m just going to say it—I have breast cancer”.

Stage One. Triple Positive.

By the time she had called me, she had already been through quite a bit. The mammogram showed nothing but a very alert tech spotted something that just didn’t seem right. So Anne, being Anne, didn’t tell any of us until she knew the diagnosis. I can’t imagine how scary those days were and I know how scary the days that followed were. Two lumpectomies followed by an eventual mastectomy and now in chemo. My sister is half way through her chemo as I write. There have been a few road bumps but for the most part It is going well and doctors expect a full recovery. She is handling all of this in the way I have seen her handle her life- with grace, class, love and sometimes what I think may be most important: a sense of humor. I invite you to visit my sister’s caring bridge site. She tells her story there on days when she feels up to it. http://www.caringbridge.org/visit/annebrown

One more story about Anne before I go:

Anne is a beautiful woman with big brown eyes and light brown hair. She’s always had a very stylish cut. I would not describe my sister as vain at all but I do know that losing her hair was something that was bothering her. I can relate to that and I think most people can. So as that time was approaching I know Anne was worried, not only about her head but more about her kids and how scary that could be.  The morning she began to lose her hair, she called her closest friends over to the house. With her husband and three children and those friends by her side, they took turns cutting, then shaving her head. Anne had been planning this little gathering because she didn’t want to worry her children and thought if she turned it into something fun…they would be ok. They are. And the bonus? So was Anne.

Lesson Number Eight: When you’re feeling anxious, worry is getting you down, boobs are sagging and shit’s falling out on you—call up the ones you love, chill the beer and throw a party.

________________________________________________________________

Author Note: I was going through some old jump drives this week and came across this piece you just read. I wrote it a few years back. I’m happy to report that my sister is 7 years cancer free. True to her nature, Anne is now helping all of us as our mom takes on cancer. Given all of us do not fall far from the tree… there is no doubt mom will be equally victorious.

This Beauty Runs Skin Deep: A Look at Cosmoprof North America’s Social Media Event Planning 2014

Assignment Snapshot: Follow the Cosmoprof North America trade show taking place July 13-15, 2014. Summarize their use of IMC, social media and other channels for the purpose of promoting this show. The following post is for educational purposes only. It is not a formal or paid review of the trade event.

I’m not someone who cruises the beauty aisle, delights in make up or enjoys getting my hair done. It’s not that I’m not feminine…I just held a softball bat years before I ever thought of picking up a make-up brush. Then naturally I entered a business where looking sharp, pretty and fashionable pays. So eventually I found my groove. I know what I like to wear. I’m loyal to my make-up. My lotion. My hair care products. My nail polish. I’m a creature of habit. So I’m the last person in the world that would know what Cosmoprof is or does. Until this week.

What is Cosmoprof North America?

logoCosmoprof is a business-to-business beauty trade show event held in Las Vegas, Nevada. From manufacturers to distributors, salon owners to spa professionals, it is the only event for the beauty industry in North America that encompasses all sectors of the industry under one roof and is exclusively dedicated to business development activities.  It is organized by North American BeautyEvents LLC a joint-venture company between BolognaFiere Group and the Professional Beauty Association.  The 2014 Cosmoprof NA featured 930 exhibitors from 38 countries.

What social media channels are they using? How are they using them prior to the show, during, and after? Type of content?

Cosmoprof NA expands its reach by using Facebook, Twitter, Instagram, Linked In, Pinterest, Google+, YouTube and its own website. Additionally, they have a mobile app for Android and iPhone that according to one of their YouTube videos, was redesigned for this year.

Prior to the show, they used each channel in some way to promote the show with the website and app being the primary place for registration, event ticket purchase, schedules, directions, maps and other logistics items. They didn’t post a large amount of content on their social channels before the event. In fact, I expected more.

Their Google Plus page isn’t worth spending any time on. The channel seems to be a default, created only because they use YouTube. There is no additional content on the page and they have 1 follower as of this post.

YouTube featured this video which also appeared on their homepage before, during and after the event:

I found this video misleading. It was shot during the 2013 event but was labeled as “CPNA 2014 Event Highlights”. It also stayed up there after the event (and still is there as of this post) also leading a site visitor to believe that the video was from this year’s show. They didn’t need to do this because they had a welcome video discussing this year’s highlights, promoting their re-designed app and mentioning the hashtag that all should use for the event:

While this video wasn’t as flashy as the first, it was informative, showcases the app and points out relevant networking information like #cosmoprofna. This video should have been the featured one on the website for the event.

Pinterest is used by Cosmoprof to post the products showcased. This is a great channel to showcase beauty products because we know women use Pinterest. We know women like recommendations from Pinterest and we know beauty products rank high in items that people are researching on Pinterest. The Cosmoprof NA people clearly are not promoting it and did not use it during the event. The screen grab you see below was at the start of the event. They had 52 pins and 274 likes. I just looked right now…5 days after the event closed and those stats are still the same.

pinterestnoposting

Pinterest at the start of Cosmoprof NA 2014. By the end, none of the stats had changed.

 

Linked In was used sporadically before the event to drum up excitement, promote speakers, promote specific events and to push registration:

 

It was not used through the event, however. The below screen grab was captured on the last day of the event.  You can see the most recent article was posted 12 days before! (…and as of this post, it is the most recent entry).

Most recent entry on Linked In. Still there as of this blog entry.

Most recent entry on Linked In. Still there as of this blog entry.

 

The Cosmoprof NA website did not change much during the event except to showcase that it was open and then once closed, to reveal a countdown until next year’s event. Otherwise, the content was the same before, during and after:

 

 

You will note I did capture a screen grab 2 hours after the event closed and it still said it was open. When I looked at the site again later this week, the countdown to next year was up. I think the countdown is a great idea. I would have had someone designated to put that up the minute the show ended. It’s a nice touch and it shows that as a brand, you are really on your game.

Facebook was used to promote before the event, featured mild engagement by the brand during and nothing since. Their last post as of this blog was July 15. I did notice that exhibitors and attendees were engaging on the page. The content focused on products and demonstrations. Some posts were used to solicit people to come see their booth:

 

At the start of the event, Cosmoprof’s Facebook page had 5,088 likes and 111 visits. As of this post, it has 126 visits and 5,139 likes. Overall, I would not call that a huge success in engagement considering how many people attend this event.

The greatest engagement and use before during and after the event was on Twitter and Instagram. Both platforms were used to promote product, speakers, events and for people to interact with each other. Twitter was where Cosmoprof was most engaged and exhibitors seemed to dominate Instagram. For the duration of the event, Cosmoprof redirected users to Websta which is a web viewer for Instagram when using a PC or laptop. On both platforms, both Cosmoprof and attendees posted consistently:

 

Despite what I would say was decent engagement on Instagram and Twitter, there was not an overwhelming change in their numbers. Twitter went from 2,688 followers at the start of the event to 2,726 as of this post, an increase of only 38 followers.

Hashtags, retweeting, highlighting certain booths, events?

Cosmoprof did a great job retweeting and highlighting booths and events. They used Twitter as their primary channel for this. I used Tweetdeck to showcase this:

 

Hashtags seemed to be a bit of a challenge. There was not consistent use of just one hashtag. Even Cosmoprof tweeted under different hashtags despite promoting one (#CosmoprofNA) in their welcome video. I think this is in large part to a lack of consistent promotion of that hashtag. It isn’t featured anywhere prominently on their website. It may have been in the materials upon arrival to the event but it is not showcased well online.

I saw multiple hashtags: #cosmoproflv #cosmoprof2014 #CosmoProfNorthAmerica  #cosmoprofna #Cpna2014 #cosmoprof. You can see them throughout the screenshots in this blog. Additionally when I did a search of the preferred #CosmoprofNA on Websta/Instagram on DAY TWO, this came up:

Hashtag search with preferred #cosmoprofna comes up empty

Hashtag search with preferred #cosmoprofna comes up empty

How are sponsors being promoted?

Sponsors were promoted at the bottom of the website, through email (highlighted below under IMC), within the Twitter feed and within the app activity feed.

Can you find other examples of IMC?  

The best use of IMC was within their email campaign. A couple of weeks before the event, I signed up to receive email newsletters from Cosmoprof. I have created a slide show below of some of the ones I received. I found their email to be just the right mix of aggressive but not over the top. When I joined their Linked In Group, I received an email. When I downloaded their app, I received an email. Within both of these were other promotions for the event. Before the event, I received emails showcasing sponsors and special exhibits. Each day of the event, I received a “highlight” email. I found the Cosmoprof email marketing to be one of their best assets:

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They showcase their social channels at both the top and bottom of the website which is smart. Another aspect I liked was the “At a Glance” section you see below:

 

One small critique, I would have promoted the app higher on the page next to the social buttons.

Is branding consistent?

Cosmoprof features a soft blue-green hue, a clean, crisp font and a beautiful woman in a flowing dress as their brand representation. It was consistent through most of their channels (Except Google Plus) and could be seen in the exhibit hall:

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What’s a highlight that stood out to you?

A few highlights worth noting about Cosmoprof North America: I found the app to be very user-friendly, well laid out and to contain everything I needed. It was slick, easy to navigate, promoted engagement and was always up to date.

 

I thought a particularly strong feature was the ability to create an agenda and send yourself reminder messages about events. We all know how it goes when you are at these things and you get caught up networking and schmoozing and can easily miss something you wanted to.

Another highlight was the interactive map.  We have all seen and used interactive maps before but what made this one particularly strong was the social media showcasing. Take a look:

What’s something you felt was missing from their social media effort?

If I was grading Cosmoprof I would give them a B.  They are better than average but not quite great. Overall there was an attention to detail, focus and overall organization lacking. These are my recommendations in no particular order:

  • I would pick 2 channels and really focus on posting to them as a brand and letting attendees and exhibitors know that.  Cosmoprof could have put on their site and in email blasts that Twitter, Instagram and the app would be their primary focus for communicating during the show and then publicize that everywhere, including printed materials at the show.
  • The hashtag needed more promotion. It needed to be featured in every email blast and prominently on the site and everything Cosmoprof posted should have featured #CosmoprofNA.
  • I would have had a flash page ready to go right at the show end thanking sponsors, attendees and adding the countdown. I would have done something similar on Twitter and Facebook and Instagram.
  • The website still has old content on it now. It hasn’t changed except for the countdown to next year.
  • I would post the keynote speech from Mark Cuban on the website and YouTube page and push it out on all channels. He has name recognition and it’s a good way to promote the brand.
  • Feedback. Emotions and energy is high in the hours and days after. I saw no posts soliciting feedback from attendees. What can be done better? Highlghts? I would use Facebook as home base for this feedback and use Twitter and the app to drive people to post feedback on the Facebook page.
  • Pinterest: Since Pinterest was used primarily to showcase products, I would have had a board created specifically for the trade show where exhibitors could post if they wanted to. Pinterest is a great avenue for purchase.

I didn’t know of Cosmoprof until this assignment. One thing I do know? I would have to take an empty suitcase just for the trip home from this trade show!  I bet the freebies are outstanding!

Cosmoprof North America has wisely entered the social arena.  Beauty is skin deep though so the saying goes.  In today’s sophisticated world however, brands have to go beyond the surface. Cosmoprof North America is on its way.  A touch more foundation, a dusting of detail topped off by a brush stroke more focus and 2015 could be the year Cosmoprof NA masters it.

Just For Fun

Ok, so I am not really the celebrity crush kind of person. When I was younger though, I had 2 big ones: River Phoenix and George Michael. What can I say? I have interesting taste. In this week’s just for fun I give you an anthem of my teenage years. I’ll let you figure out what it has to do with this week’s post.

I love that it’s about blowing up images and breaking stereotypes. The irony, of course, being that every major super model of the time is showcased here. Ladies & Gentlemen, Mr. George Michael:

#IWill ~ A Social Media Engagement Idea for Athleta

(DISCLAIMER: This is a piece of fiction. It is an idea generated for my Intro to Social Media class. Athleta has no knowledge of this or endorsement of it to my knowledge)

The #IWill Campaign

OBJECTIVES:

There are two specific objectives for this campaign:

  • Increase followers on Pinterest by 15%  (approximately 2250)
  • Increase followers on Instagram by 15%  (approximately 4800)

The two specific objectives of this campaign align with our key long-term goals of increasing brand awareness in our target market, expanding brand awareness to a younger demographic and converting brand awareness into purchase.

THE #IWill CAMPAIGN:

Athleta proudly states the values of their brand as

1. Inspiring an active lifestyle

2. Motivating others

3. Tapping into our collective power as a group (women)

In the spirit of those values, I propose the #IWill campaign. There’s always that voice inside us saying “I can do better” or “I can do more”. It may keep us awake some nights. It may talk to us when we are on the mat, out for a run or swimming. It may creep in while we work. Whatever It is ~ Athleta is calling on you to harness the Power to the She.  Make the commitment.  Take a personal pledge and promise yourself this is the year it happens. This is the year you say “I Will”:

  • #IWill get stronger
  • #IWill dive the Great Barrier Reef
  • #IWill be more patient
  • #IWill survive
  • #IWill learn to swim
  • #IWill get that promotion
  • #IWill master that asana
  • #IWill get a job
  • #IWill finish my degree
  • #IWill play more with my daughter
  • #IWill be Present

The #IWill Contest will last 30 days. Consumers should begin by following Athleta on Pinterest and Instagram. They should then post a photo with their #IWill declaration and encourage their sisters, mothers, daughters, girlfriends, workout buddies and colleagues to do the same. Entries can be as simple as holding a sign or as elaborate as imagination allows. There are no rules just declarations.  Be creative and make the commitment. Each person should tag the photo or video with #IWill #PowertotheShe. There will be a one entry per day limit.

In addition to catalog and in-store promotion of the #IWill Campaign, Athleta will push out teasers and promotion on all social channels (Facebook, Twitter, Pinterest, Instagram, LinkedIn, main company site, Athleta Chi blog) driving traffic towards Pinterest and Instagram for two weeks leading up to the campaign. We will also email blast our subscribers once a week in the 2 weeks before the campaign. That email will include a “share” button so the email can be sent to others. The complete social push will continue during the event. People will be encouraged to both post, “Like” and Pin entries. The executive leadership of Athleta will post their own #IWill declaration to encourage community, empower and give a little nudge!

INCENTIVES: (Because even the most motivated need some extra motivation)

  • 20% coupon/online code just for posting your photo/video and entering the contest (limit two for contest duration)
  • Top 5 entries (defined by most “Likes”) will receive a $200 Athleta Gift Card
  • Grand Prize for the entry with the most “Likes”: Two round trip plane tickets and two nights’ hotel accommodations to attend Athleta’s Summer Solstice 2015 in Times Square & $500 to blow in NYC!

(This campaign could be repeated in January capitalizing on New Year’s Resolutions and the beginning-of-the-year increase in fitness activity)

CHANNEL FOCUS:

Pinterest: The channel is perfect for the #IWill campaign’s target market. The numbers speak for themselves:

  • In a 2014 report, Business Insider Intelligence identified Pinterest users as “high-income and very interested in using the site for shopping inspiration.” (Cooper Smith)
  • 83% of Pinterest users are women
  • 45% are in the 34 to 55 year-old demographic
  • 32% are in the 18 to 34 year-old demographic
  • 50% of U.S. moms who use Pinterest would follow a brand if rewards were offered to them
  • 81% of U.S. women online trust Pinterest as a reliable source for information and advice
  • The average Pinterest user has a household income of $100,000 or greater
  • Pinterest grabs about 41% of e-commerce (Salman Aslam)

Instagram: A strategic decision was made to include Instagram in this campaign to expand into the younger demographic and because Instagram is seeing significant popularity growth. Here are the numbers considered for this decision:

  • 68% of Instagram users are female
  • 37% are in the 18 to 29 year-old demographic
  • 18% are in the 34 to 49 year-old demographic
  • 57% of users access the site daily. It is second only to Facebook in frequency of site use
  • 150 million active users with 8500 likes per second and 1.2 billion likes daily
  • Retail and fashion brands are the most common in the top 10 largest Instagram communities (Jenn Herman)

TARGET MARKET:  Women. 24 to 55 years-old. Household Income: $80,000 to $105,000

TARGET PERSONA:

MEET AVERY FRANKLIN, our Athleta Persona.

She is a 36 year-old mother of two and an advertising executive living in a suburb of San Diego, California. Her husband is a loan officer for a national mortgage company. Their children are 6 and 8 years-old, their annual household income is 105k and they have 2 dogs. Avery works 40+ hours a week but still has time for 3 different fitness classes, her daughter’s gymnastics, son’s soccer and volunteering at the homeless women’s shelter once a month.  She is a member of two women’s professional societies where she recently served as President of one. She holds a bachelors and MBA and attended undergraduate on an athletic scholarship. For fun, she writes a blog about nutrition and keeping food tasty but healthy for children. She tweets daily tips and offers an email subscription to recipes. She likes running 3Ks with her family a couple times of year and they enjoy Saturday trips to the beach to surf and play volleyball. She doesn’t attend church every weekend but considers herself a person of faith. Her chapel is the outdoors.

PERSONAGFX

  • She’s organized, scheduled but knows how to go off-grid.
  • She wants more out of her sports.
  • She wants more out of her life.
  • She cares about appearance on the outside and soul on the inside.
  • She doesn’t believe her husband’s t-shirt is perfect for working out.
  • She doesn’t think her yoga pants have to be black.
  • She’s not afraid of 4 inch heels.
  • She doesn’t think quality always comes with a high price tag.
  • She believes her husband is her partner, not the center of her universe.
  • She believes strength and power is sexy.
  • She believes strength and power are feminine.
  • She’s passionate about her yoga, her running, her barre class, her walks with the dogs and weekend family hikes.
  • She likes to read but only if under the sun or stars.
  • She likes the occasional happy hour with the girls post-yoga class.
  • She wants her daughter to see the world as a wide-open canvas for her to paint her own masterpiece.
  • She’s raising her son to respect all as equal.
  • She’s never more than 4 feet from her iphone and checks mobile Facebook twice a day.
  • She’s a groupon junkie and takes pride in her Yelp! reviews.
  • She’s been known to tuck her MacAir into her gym bag and blog from the local coffee joint.
  • She derives her self-worth from her happy family, successful career and staying healthy.
  • She believes in healthy eating but likes her ice cream now and then.
  • She believes in giving back.
  • She believes in fun.
  • Being active IS her meditation.

CALL TO ACTION:

Go public with that inner voice. Make this the year you say #IWill. Pin a photo on the Athleta Pinterest #IWill Board and/or on your Instagram page with your #IWill declaration. Tag your entry with #IWill #PowertotheShe.

Submissions will be accepted from Tuesday, July 1, 2014 12:00am through Thursday, July 31, 2014 11:59pm. Only one entry per person per day.  You can “Like” and Share as much as you want! (In fact, we encourage that!)

OUTCOMES/MEASUREMENT:

We will measure the success of this campaign by compiling the following data:

  • Track follows on Pinterest and Instagram
  • Track submissions on Pinterest and Instagram
  • Track Likes of entries on Pinterest and Instagram
  • Track Likes of non-entries on Pinterest and Instagram
  • Track Re-Pins of entries on Pinterest
  • Track overall traffic on company site, blog, Pinterest, Instagram, Facebook, Twitter and Linked In for the duration of the contest
  • Track the use of the online code and in-store coupon and look at conversion to purchase rate
  • Track email blast to see how many were shared

Sources:

Cooper Smith. (April 14, 2014). This is the Behavior on Pinterest that Makes the Social Network So Attractive to Marketers. Retrieved June, 21 2014, http://www.businessinsider.com/demographics-on-pinterest-that-make-the-social-network-attractive-to-marketers-2014-4

Salman Aslam. (January 31, 2014). 30 Reasons to Market Your Business on Pinterest in 2014. Retrieved June 21, 2014,  http://www.business2community.com/infographics/30-reasons-market-business-pinterest-2014-infographic-0763727#!17mol

Jenn Herman. (February 17, 2014). Instagram Statistics for 2014. Retrieved June 21, 2014, http://jennstrends.com/instagram-statistics-for-2014/

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