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Archive for the ‘branding’ tag

A gnome, a fox and a Scot walk into a bar

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Scotts Miracle-Gro is spending $135 million this year to promote its Groundskeeper Willie-cum-lawn care expert to homeowners around the country.

And while my extraction is Irish, I still like this campaign, which launched this spring. It’s just hokey enough to be entertaining.

And, more importantly, it shows that Scotts actually listens to its customers:

The campaign is based on “one huge insight” from research among more than 4,000 consumers, Mr. Lyski said, that “people would change their behavior if an expert spoke to them about lawn care.”

“They said, ‘If I knew more, I’d do more,’ ” he added.

In the research, people also talked about how there is usually “somebody on your street” knowledgeable about lawn care, Mr. Lyski said.

The brand character Scott “marries the two” concepts, he added, and “we made him Scottish because of the mnemonic.”

The concept of a Scotsman promoting Scotts to his neighbors in middle America may seem corny, but “there’s so much noise out there,” Mr. Lyski said. “You need a little something to break through the clutter.”

This winter, Dick Bare at Arbor-Nomics in Atlanta and I had a long, very animated discussion about his new gnome. (To be fair, all my conversations with Dick are animated, whether they’re related to mythical creatures or not.)

Maria Candler at James River Grounds Management in Virgina just introduced Pip, a fox-like mascot she’s using to keep employees focused on training.

Whether you use a gnome or a fox or a hobbit, a simple and iconic and (yes, sometimes, a little gimmicky) mascot can humanize your brand, make your company more memorable and help you connect better with customers. It can help you, as Lyski says, cut through the clutter.


May 15th, 2013 at 1:08 pm

Easy design delegation

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One of the best things about working at L&L is our crack design team. They win lots of awards and make the stories we write come alive on the page (and in our app).

Landscapers don’t often hire graphic designers, but they need them more than you might think. Great logos, truck decals and business cards and the like help build a brand and make you stand out in the minds of prospective customers.

So how do you get great design without hiring a whole designer?

I was talking with Jim McCutcheon the other day, and he recommended Design Outpost. It’s a sort of crowdsourced design site that lets you submit your idea or request for a logo, say, and have it picked up by freelance designers from around the world.

It’s how Jim got a logo for his KnowWater program (above) in just a few days for a couple hundred bucks.

It’s definitely worth looking at if you need something designed fast and cheap, and don’t have the time or resources to keep a design team on retainer.


March 7th, 2013 at 8:47 pm

It’s more than pizza!

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I consider myself a connoisseur of frozen foods. Lean Pockets, Healthy Choice, Lean Cuisine (I need to stay slim), I can pick out the best tasting ones from each company, as well as give a stinky face to the ones they should have never brought to market. And within the frozen food market, I am really invested into the frozen pizza market.

In the past few years, I’ve noticed the makers of these gems have really stepped up their game. No longer are there only three variations of the same item under each brand. Nope, now there’s thin, thick and cheese-filled crusts, combos with wings, cookies, and one of my favorites, a dipping sticks pizza. They cut the pizza so it can be dipped in marinara sauce they provide And recently, I tried a Diginoro chicken parmesan pizza that was the probably one of the greatest frozen pizzas I’ve ever had. I’m smiling just writing about it.

So why am I clogging the L&L blog with unhealthy, fattening (although they now have fat free pizzas too!) frozen goods? Because the frozen food, especially pizza, market is very similar to landscaping. Some would probably say, “it’s just frozen pizza” like someone could say that you just mow lawns. And yes, that’s true, but it’s all in the presentation and the ideas to make what seems like a simple product or service into something dynamic. So, if you are a company that considers yourself just a mow and blow operation, you are missing out on a great opportunity. I remember when getting a Stouffer’s French bread pizza was like a mini-vacation for me. Now, I don’t even buy those because there are so many other better brands out there. Take a look at your competition and see what you can do better than them. Somewhere along the line, a wise person noticed no one was standing out in the market, and took advantage.

And try that chicken parm pizza. I swear, it was fantastic.


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May 3rd, 2012 at 7:47 pm

Calling cards

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As someone who both hands out and collects a ton of business cards (I’m staring at several precarious stacks on my desk right now), I can say that these little bits of paper are really important. Maybe not as important as the awesomely rabid Joel Bauer does in the above video, but still.

“If you think about it, a business card is what represents you when you’re not there,” said Lizzie Post, an author and spokesperson for The Emily Post Institute in a recent story in the Dayton Business Journal. “It really needs to reflect what you all stand for, what you’re about.”

Not to go all Christian Bale on it, but Ms. Post is right: the card you leave behind represents you after you’re gone. When you attend a trade show, association meeting or other gathering, you’ll meet lots of people. And unless you’ve become a master of Dale Carnegie’s Golden Book method of remembering names, they’re often the best way for folks to remember just who it is you are.

Ms. Post suggests you ask yourself these questions when designing your company’s business cards:

  • Who is your target audience?
  • What are the advantages and disadvantages to listing your products or services? (An upside is that your card can serve as a mini-brochure)
  • What tone or personality do you want to reflect?

And, for what it’s worth, I would suggest you leave some white space on the back and print on stock that’s easy to write on, so notes about your conversation don’t get smeared off in somebody’s pocket.

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January 6th, 2011 at 11:55 am

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