Refreshed Brand Identity

Merloni LogoAfter an extensive strategic review Merloni (http://www.merloni.com), has today announced a complete rebranding that includes the launch of a new website.

The refreshed brand identity is the first in 10 years for the South African-based branding and marketing entity”. The new site seeks to communicate this brand and encapsulates their total offering, from a portfolio to whitepapers, blogs and client testimonials.

Yaseen Theba, Director at Merloni, said of the launch: “We are proud of the way we add value to our clients, and give them confidence in these difficult financial times. Our new site and communication platform allows us to showcase that pride via a clean, easily navigated site. Our aim remains to generate exponential ROI for our clients, and give them the confidence and control in this challenging economic environment.”

This rebranding comes at a time where Merloni’s offering is continuing to grow nationally. Ahead of the rebranding, the management undertook a review of the way it communicated and engaged with its clients. In response to their findings, Merloni set about creating not just a brand new website that more succinctly defines how MERLONI’s end to end service will refine their client’s competencies, but also two new products and a formalised consultancy service.

MERLONI’s new site goes live at the end of October.

Cigarette firm pulls ‘racist’ monkey ads

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Cigarette ads featuring monkeys are to be pulled

South Korea’s largest tobacco company has promised to change an advertising campaign after accusations of racism.

Posters promoting a new line of cigarettes featured pictures of monkeys dressed as news reporters, declaring “Africa is coming!”

The cigarettes are part of a new This Africa line. The company, KT&G, says they contain African tobacco roasted and dried in a traditional fashion.

The cigarette packets contain images of monkeys roasting tobacco.

‘Mocking Africa’

“We are deeply offended by KT&G’s shameless and insulting use of this mocking imagery,” said the African Tobacco Control Alliance in a statement calling for the withdrawal of the ad campaign, saying it was “at a minimum culturally insensitive”.

Ads for This Africa cigarettes have been called racist

It added: “Mocking Africa to sell a product that causes death and disease is unacceptable, and we will not stand for the exploitation of Africa by tobacco companies.”

The advertisements were displayed at convenience shops across the country.

A KT&G company spokeswoman told news agency AFP it would pull the ads this month.

She called the controversy “regrettable” and said the company wished to “dispel concerns of racism”.

“We absolutely had no intention to offend anyone and only chose monkeys because they are delightful animals that remind people of Africa,” she said.

“Since this product contains leaves produced by the traditional African style, we only tried to adopt images that symbolise the nature of Africa.”

However, she said the cigarette packet images would remain, as the company does not consider them to be offensive.

How Twitter’s New DM Will Impact Brand Marketing

As news broke that Twitter is rolling out a new option for its direct message (DM) feature, reactions ranged from indifference to downright panic.

A Twitter user reported that Twitter plans to let users opt in to receive DMs from anyone, regardless whether that person follows back or not. Traditionally, two users had to mutually follow each other for DM to work. Now that no longer has to be the case.

If you don’t see this setting in your account, that’s because the feature isn’t available to everyone yet (although it appears that some have had the option since late 2011).

Early analyses tend to conclude that this move is good for brands, good for spammers and bad for consumers. I see myself straddling both the brand marketer and consumer worlds. As a business owner, I welcome any opportunity to connect with customers and potential customers. As an everyday Twitter user, I’d prefer if my DM inbox wasn’t flooded with spam (more than it already is).

The Impact on Customer Service

This new change will benefit brands that use Twitter as a customer service channel. By allowing their accounts to accept DMs from anyone, brands can receive private customer service messages from customers, without having to first follow them. That may prevent customers from broadcasting their frustrations publicly, not to mention their sensitive account information. This could greatly benefit larger brands that receive thousands of daily requests via Twitter.

For airlines, cable companies and other industries with high numbers of service complaints, this new feature also lets brands move a complaint or other conversation offline as soon as possible. I imagine customers may benefit here as well, as some people may prefer to use Twitter as their communication channel, but don’t necessarily want to be publicly followed by Brand X, Y or Z.

The Impact on Spammers

To Twitter’s credit, the company made this change an opt-in feature. If you are happy with the status quo, you don’t have to change a thing. I imagine most Twitter users (at least, the non-branded accounts) will not opt in to receive DMs from unknown users.

However, for those users and brands who do switch over, spam could become an issue. Unscrupulous spammers may have an easier time reaching the DM inboxes of brands and company accounts. That means users will have to exercise extra security caution when opening DM links.

The Impact on Marketing

While the new DM feature’s impact on customer service is easy to grasp, its application for marketers is yet unclear. My business rarely uses DMs as is. If someone is looking for information or has a specific question, it’s better for us to send a public tweet in response. That way, the hashtags and discussion thread can be located by anyone else looking for advice on a similar topic. The very beauty of Twitter lies in its public nature; that’s what sets it apart from Facebook, LinkedIn and email. There’s no reason to hide many of these conversations.

However, there may be occasional situations where a business prefers to communicate privately via Twitter. For example, a brand may want to send an exclusive coupon code to its top customers, without broadcasting the action to its entire community.

Likewise, a marketer may want to pitch a journalist with an embargoed piece of news or story idea. Twitter may be that journalist’s preferred communication channel, but as a marketer, you can’t exactly expect reporters or editors to follow you. Now marketers can privately contact journalists via Twitter (provided the journalist has opted in).

Bottom Line

As a newer and smaller company, ours will be opting in to receive DMs from anyone. After all, if a customer wants to reach out to us through this avenue, we don’t want to shut off the opportunity. Twitter’s change may help open the service for better access and communication, but time will tell whether it becomes a hassle (see: spam).

These days Twitter has become the preferred communication channel for many, serving as a remedy to the overuse and abuse of email. As DM becomes closer in line with email functionality, will the DM inbox become just as cluttered? Will it become overwhelmed with spam? Will users start to look for a cleaner, less cluttered option elsewhere?

Source

How Twitter’s New DM Will Impact Brand Marketing

As news broke that Twitter is rolling out a new option for its direct message (DM) feature, reactions ranged from indifference to downright panic.

A Twitter user reported that Twitter plans to let users opt in to receive DMs from anyone, regardless whether that person follows back or not. Traditionally, two users had to mutually follow each other for DM to work. Now that no longer has to be the case.

If you don’t see this setting in your account, that’s because the feature isn’t available to everyone yet (although it appears that some have had the option since late 2011).

Early analyses tend to conclude that this move is good for brands, good for spammers and bad for consumers. I see myself straddling both the brand marketer and consumer worlds. As a business owner, I welcome any opportunity to connect with customers and potential customers. As an everyday Twitter user, I’d prefer if my DM inbox wasn’t flooded with spam (more than it already is).

The Impact on Customer Service

This new change will benefit brands that use Twitter as a customer service channel. By allowing their accounts to accept DMs from anyone, brands can receive private customer service messages from customers, without having to first follow them. That may prevent customers from broadcasting their frustrations publicly, not to mention their sensitive account information. This could greatly benefit larger brands that receive thousands of daily requests via Twitter.

For airlines, cable companies and other industries with high numbers of service complaints, this new feature also lets brands move a complaint or other conversation offline as soon as possible. I imagine customers may benefit here as well, as some people may prefer to use Twitter as their communication channel, but don’t necessarily want to be publicly followed by Brand X, Y or Z.

The Impact on Spammers

To Twitter’s credit, the company made this change an opt-in feature. If you are happy with the status quo, you don’t have to change a thing. I imagine most Twitter users (at least, the non-branded accounts) will not opt in to receive DMs from unknown users.

However, for those users and brands who do switch over, spam could become an issue. Unscrupulous spammers may have an easier time reaching the DM inboxes of brands and company accounts. That means users will have to exercise extra security caution when opening DM links.

The Impact on Marketing

While the new DM feature’s impact on customer service is easy to grasp, its application for marketers is yet unclear. My business rarely uses DMs as is. If someone is looking for information or has a specific question, it’s better for us to send a public tweet in response. That way, the hashtags and discussion thread can be located by anyone else looking for advice on a similar topic. The very beauty of Twitter lies in its public nature; that’s what sets it apart from Facebook, LinkedIn and email. There’s no reason to hide many of these conversations.

However, there may be occasional situations where a business prefers to communicate privately via Twitter. For example, a brand may want to send an exclusive coupon code to its top customers, without broadcasting the action to its entire community.

Likewise, a marketer may want to pitch a journalist with an embargoed piece of news or story idea. Twitter may be that journalist’s preferred communication channel, but as a marketer, you can’t exactly expect reporters or editors to follow you. Now marketers can privately contact journalists via Twitter (provided the journalist has opted in).

Bottom Line

As a newer and smaller company, ours will be opting in to receive DMs from anyone. After all, if a customer wants to reach out to us through this avenue, we don’t want to shut off the opportunity. Twitter’s change may help open the service for better access and communication, but time will tell whether it becomes a hassle (see: spam).

These days Twitter has become the preferred communication channel for many, serving as a remedy to the overuse and abuse of email. As DM becomes closer in line with email functionality, will the DM inbox become just as cluttered? Will it become overwhelmed with spam? Will users start to look for a cleaner, less cluttered option elsewhere?

Source

Better than free

free-photos_3389_1.jpgHow do you compete with free? How does a wedding photographer or a travel agent—someone who used to make a good living performing a task that was hard to do without them—compete against ubiquitous free alternatives?

There’s only one way: Sell something better than free.

Make a product or provide a service that’s worth paying for.

You don’t need a better way to talk about what you do, or a better gimmick, or a better social media strategy. In fact, you need to reinvent and rebuild what you make for a new reality, a reality where paying for something is an intentional act of buying something way better than the free alternative.

I’m sorry if this seems obvious. It’s apparently not obvious to all the frustrated people I encounter who are still trying to sell the old thing in a new market.

Yaseen Theba

DA admits to e-toll billboards

Johannesburg –

399250736The DA has finally owned up and admitted that the party is responsible for the e-toll billboards that have sprung up next to the gantries on Gauteng’s highways.

The party also defended its decision to put up the billboards, saying they were an expression of “collective action” by the residents of Gauteng.

“We are confirming that they are our billboards. It is part of the message to the people of this province and not just the DA,” DA national spokesman Mmusi Maimane said on Sunday.

The billboards, which beam the message “E-tolls. Proudly brought to you by the ANC”, have caused a stir from the time they were erected on Joburg’s N3 and N1 highways last week.

They were erected after President Jacob Zuma signed the Transport Laws and Related Matters Amendment Bill. The law effectively paved the way for the SA National Roads Agency Limited (Sanral) to roll out the e-tolls on Gauteng’s highways.

The erection of the billboards came a few weeks after the DA apologised in Parliament for printing and distributing election pamphlets misrepresenting the ANC during the recent by-election in Tlokwe, North West. The posters carried disparaging messages that denounced ANC mayoral candidate Maphetle Maphetle.

The ANC has since called on the Independent Electoral Commission (IEC) to investigate and punish the DA for what it described as the “lowest and dirtiest” campaigning by the official opposition.

As questions continued to be raised about the billboards’ architects, neither the Opposition to Urban Tolling Alliance nor the DA had accepted responsibility for the billboards. The ANC viewed the billboards as a cowardly act.

ANC spokesperson Khuselwa Sangoni-Khawe was quoted as saying the party would investigate whoever was behind the billboards, which she said painted the organisation in a negative light ahead of next year’s elections.

“We will report it to the IEC as well as the Advertising Standards Authority. In South Africa, such advertising is not allowed,” he said.

On Sunday, Maimane, who is also the DA’s premier candidate in Gauteng, said it was difficult to see why the ANC was so upset.

“This message is 100 percent accurate. E-tolls were conceived under the watch of an ANC minister, supported by an ANC executive in Gauteng, passed into law by an ANC majority parliament, and signed, sealed and delivered by an ANC president. So what’s the ANC’s problem with the billboard? Is the ANC ashamed of e-tolls all of a sudden?” he asked.

Quizzed why the DA had not admitted to erecting the billboards earlier, Maimane said: “We never tried to hide. That was our position as part of the collective action.”

He added the DA would defend its decision to erect the billboards in any forum the ANC chose.

The Rise and Fall of the World’s 10 Most Valuable Brands

Coca-Cola has been dethroned by Apple from its long-running position as the world’s most valuable brand, according to the closely watched Interbrand Best Global Brands survey. The soft drink giant had held the No. 1 ranking for 13 consecutive years but fell to No. 3 in this year’s study by the consulting firm. Interbrand values the Apple brand at about $98 billion, and other tech companies such as Google, IBM, and Microsoft finished in the top five.

Here’s a look at the twists and turns of the top 10 brands in the Interbrand study, which analyzes a brand’s financial strength and influence, going back to 2000:

Rise & Fall