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Author and marketing expert Laura Ries on 'Visual Hammers' as expert marketing tools

10-April-2017
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Author and marketing expert Laura Ries on 'Visual Hammers' as expert marketing tools

Author and marketing strategist Laura Ries, at the Knowledge Seminar on Day 3 of Goafest 2017, drew attention to the defining factor that is the anchor for great marketing and advertising—visuals. Through her seminar, she took the audience through a number of examples of branding and advertising campaigns that use visuals in the best way for maximum impact.

She listed eight types of visuals that can be used as ‘visual hammers’ to improve branding, marketing, and advertising campaigns and demonstrated how iconic brands have used these different types of visuals to drive their message. The eight types of visuals she listed are: shape, colour, product, package, action, symbol, star, and animal. “It is a picture that dominates and that is why marketing and advertising campaigns need a visual hammer to communicate and drive the idea of the brand into the minds of the people,” she said.

Citing the example of Target’s concentric red and white circles, Domino’s Pizza’s red and blue dominos, and National Geographic, Ries said that the respective visual hammers of these brands help reinforce the brand.

McDonald’s iconic arches in golden yellow, the Tiffany Blue from the luxury jewelry brand, Tiffany and Co., Australian wine brand Yellow Tail that uses the iconic yellow tail in all its advertisements, Christian Louboutin’s red soles, and Apple’s white have used a colour as the main signifier for their brands. These make the brands more recognizable and set them apart from competing brands, she pointed out. “They are also good for PR and advertising. And a single colour is always more memorable than multiple colours,” Ries said.

Ries also said that sometimes the product itself could be an effective visual hammer like in the case of Rolex watches or the Volkswagen Beetle that looked and continues to look very different from the rest of the cars on the market. She noted that even the package could reinforce the brand image and aid in advertising and marketing like in the case of Absolut vodka, Red Bull with its unique can size at 8.3 oz, and Stella Artois beer that positions itself as a beer that is served in ‘a chalice not a glass.’

Action, as in the case of Tropicana, the market leader in packaged juices category, uses a visual hammer where they represent an orange with a straw in it; or Dove bar soap that depicts a cup of cream being poured on to a bar of soap, can also be a powerful visual hammer that carries the brand’s message to the audience, Ries shared.

She advised that visual hammers should be simple like the Nike swoosh, Mercedes tristar, and Android’s green robot. She said that as in the case of KFC’s Colonel Sanders, visual hammers can easily go global and cross barriers of language with ease.

She said that Accenture’s use of Tiger Woods as its brand ambassador and the tag line “We know what it means to be a tiger” had worked extremely well for the brand and helped it secure 72 per cent growth in revenues, as opposed to IBM growing its revenue by only 12 per cent. Ries noted that celebrity associations also need to be authentic and said that Buick using Tiger Woods as its brand ambassador did not seem authentic because it was hard to imagine Tiger Woods driving a Buick. An animal as in the case of the Twitter bird works well in conveying the brand’s purpose, she said.

Citing the case of Wipro’s rainbow flower, Ries wondered why Wipro, originally a tech company chose to go with a rainbow flower. “Maybe a tiger as a visual hammer would have worked better,” she said.

In conclusion, Ries said that brands should pick a visual hammer that is authentic and makes it relevant to the brand.

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