• Corporate Storytelling: Coming to Your Emotional Rescue [As seen on Content Marketing Insider]

    by John Miller | Apr 10, 2015

    Truth: Logic rarely spurs action.

    And yet, more and more, we (marketers) are focused on metrics. We rack our brains trying to figure out how to move prospective customers logically through the sales funnel. We create content based on algorithms and probabilities.

    And while doing this, we wish and pray that we can have a monstrous breakthrough success, the kind of overnight sensation that Malcolm Gladwell or Jonah Berger might write about some day.

    Well, it ain’t gonna happen if your nose is down in a spreadsheet. Because emotion, not numbers, is the gasoline that fuels marketing awesomeness. Yes, it’s true that you can’t ignore the numbers, but you also can’t be a slave to them. There are a lot of marketers out there who are slaves to the numbers. And I think it’s because they’re afraid to trust their emotions; it’s safer to hide behind the numbers.

    When I was a kid, one of my heroes was basketball Hall of Famer Julius “Dr. J” Erving. He was Michael Jordan before Michael Jordan, able to jump from the foul line and dunk. He was cool. He had style. You’d think it was always easy for him because of his awesome athletic talent. But Erving once told an interviewer that the key to his success was that he “dared to be great.” Think about it: How do you know if you can dunk from the foul line if you’re afraid to ever try? How do you become great without the courage to risk failure?

    And yet, a lot of corporate content is decidedly not courageous. A courageous content strategy needs to focus on developing emotional stories. Yup, it’s story time.

    There’s plenty of evidence that emotion-driven stories work, helping brands connect to customers. Our brains are wired for stories; we’ve been telling them to each other for thousands of years. They spark the brain. Really. Researchers have found that stories have the power to fire neurons, get us excited, and get us to feel emotion. When our emotions are engaged, we’re far more likely to be spurred into action (like buying), and we’re far more likely to remember the story and to retell it.

    Of course, to make that happen, you need to be compelling. This is easy if you’re talking about energy drinks, less so if you’re selling ERP software. But it’s not impossible. The key is to find the emotion.

    Hint: It’s not on your spreadsheets, and it’s not on those text-filled, bullet-point-riddled PowerPoints. Even with something as dry as ERP software, there is a human element to be found: Was the warehouse still able to deliver the product because the cloud-based ERP kept business flowing smoothly despite the massive power outage? Did the fact that it was up and running enable heroic action on the part of the warehouse workers? Now you’re telling a story people will remember. Now you’re firing their emotions.

    Utilizing a story structure enables you to embed facts within the narrative, which makes those facts much stickier. The story gets the neurons firing, and the facts become memorable because they’re attached to a great story.

    Creating a great story isn’t easy. Stories, even corporate stories, require drama. And most executives don’t like drama. They prefer a nice, smooth ride -- a rosy picture that doesn’t provide any ammunition for naysayers and competitors. That makes a certain amount of sense. It’s safe. But it’s boring, and ultimately it limits your success.

    To create great content, you need to dare to be great.

    That’s how you win.

    John's post was originally published by Media Post Publications - Content Marketing Insider. To learn more about how Trellist can empower your content marketing, reach out to us, at

  • Creating Dynamic Content That Gets People Talking

    by Renee Cohen | Aug 20, 2013

    creating dynamic content for your audience
    Henry Ford said, “If you always do what you’ve always done, you’ll always get what you’ve always got.”

    I’d say his statement is only partially true. When the rules are changing around you, if you continue to do what you’ve always done at some point your efforts actually become less effective.

    And the rules have changed. Social media has turned digital marketing into a set of sound bites. With decision makers having to sift through more and more information, how do you stay above the noise?

    By being mindful of what’s working in this age of social sharing, you can transition your traditional media (white papers, research reports, and case studies) into dynamic, engaging content and interactive experiences. By upping your content marketing game, you’ll begin to stimulate deeper conversation and drive more awareness of your solutions earlier in the buying cycle.

    Check out the infographic below for more thoughts on creating engaging, dynamic content. And follow us on Twitter @trellist or connect with us via

    How Dynamic is your Content

  • Use Kinetic Type and Avoid the “Next Factor”

    by Jeremie Moore | Feb 22, 2013

    You’re familiar with the Next Factor. It’s that feeling you get when you’re watching a video or a commercial and you are seeing the same old thing. Your reaction? “Thanks. Seen it. Forget it. Next!

    Of course, there are multiple ways to enrich a boring commercial or video— improved footage, better photography, exploding 3D logos. But an often overlooked enhancement is staring us in the face: kinetic typography. Also described as “motion type”, kinetic typography is an animation technique mixing motion and text to present ideas through video animation.

    For many designers, the creative use of type is the stuff of Typography 101. But it’s often left by the wayside when it comes to design for business applications. It shouldn’t be.  Dynamic type is a simple creative solution that can really pay off— getting your message across in a big way, whether for B2C or B2B.

    Advertising and marketing success is gauged on the impression you leave with your audience. Will they walk away understanding your intent? Was your creative strategy effective enough to sway them toward purchasing your product or service? The old school ad rule of show what you’re saying applies today more than ever, as products and technology have evolved. So if you need to clearly explain complicated material or robust subject matter, there’s no better way than using kinetic type.

    Arguably, one of the most memorable uses of kinetic type was the dramatic 1959 opening credits of Hitchcock’s North by Northwest, designed by Saul Bass. And, more recently, the drama created by the title sequences of Star Wars and Monty Python’s Flying Circus.

    What can we learn from our graphic forefathers?  When kinetic type is done right, you can’t look away. Through their use of animated, dramatic type sequences, they were able draw us in, tell a story, create a mood and evoke energy into their subject matter.

    Current applications of kinetic type keep the action happening in an increasingly fresh way. Look at what Ford did with their F150 spot: Thinking

    Freeland Foods took a straightforward approach with Go Raw. This is advertising that does its job; it grabs your attention and keeps it.

    If you’d like to learn more about adding engaging video content to your marketing and technology initiatives, follow us on twitter @trellist or connect with us via

  • The CEO Must Take Branding Back

    by Chris Wallace | Aug 23, 2012

    Consider this: There are more than 42 results pages of “branding agencies” on Google – each promising to help marketing managers turn their company into the next legendary brand.

    Companies spend billions in marketing and advertising campaigns annually to make sure consumers remember their brands. We admire certain companies and remember great brands because they stand for an ideal that is expressed in every facet of their operation…and in every customer interaction.

    So why can we only name a handful of brands that we really admire?

    Most brands lack leaders. These leaders don’t have to be geniuses/tyrants who micro-manage every nuance of a company’s products and communications (although apparently that works, too). What’s important is thoughtfulness and vigilance at the top.


    Often, CEOs delegate branding decisions solely to the marketing department without taking an active role, instead tending to financial or operational affairs. In doing so, they risk committing one of the most underreported business blunders of our time. They give their company almost no chance to become the brand that their marketing department promises to their consumers.

    A strong brand is established when the product or service, along with every customer experience, exceeds the expectations introduced by marketing and the branding campaign. Brands are embraced by customers when the product development team innovates, and the customer service organization operates as if they invented the brand message. All company staff, from the receptionist to Accounts Receivable and beyond, must embody the brand message presented to the world. A breakdown at any touchpoint can tarnish or even destroy the brand’s image.

    This alignment requires a meaningful, top-down strategy and stewardship from the C-level to provide the proper foundations for marketers (and others) to work from. And that’s why it has to begin with the CEO.

    Inverting this structure, when branding is owned and managed solely by the marketing department, runs the risk of marketers making brand promises without the commitment or full support of other departments. The CEO, by contrast, has purview to the broadest possible range of business functions and the responsibility to act to ensure alignment.

    To achieve this, a CEO must provide the company with the right tools to succeed. Brand development begins in your mission statement and company charter, which define why you are in business. These inform your brand guide, which spells out your brand’s story, voice, personality, promise of value, and the experience of interacting with it. With these foundations in place, your marketing team can make informed decisions about everything from positioning and identity to channel mix, copy, and creative. In addition, these tools serve as guides for the rest of your enterprise, from HR, Customer Service, R&D, and all other areas. The result is a consistent customer experience with your brand, no matter who they interact with.

    At Trellist, we have developed a branding methodology which includes our CEO.  With this structure, we established a process that has helped CEOs take back ownership and build the brand their company needs.

    If you’d like to talk about your branding efforts and how Trellist can help, feel free to drop us a line,, and follow us on Twitter @trellist to get daily insights.

  • Building Brands through the Social gGraph

    by Edgar Uy | Oct 28, 2011

    The adage that a company does not define their brand but customers do is still an immutable truth. Brands can try to dictate what they stand for, but ultimately they are judged by the sum total of the customer experience. Brands that engage in a dialogue by listening, learning and participating are more likely to create a positive impact. Therefore, it is important that brands actively participate in dialogs throughout their social graph, leveraging the strength in their core message, feedback mechanisms, curating and distributing content, and visual expression as it applies across channels.

    A social media strategy cannot exist without a content strategy. Brands must develop content that reflect the brand promise and give people a reason to stay engaged. Make it easy for your brand advocates to share your content through their social graph. Content shared through word-of-mouth is far more powerful at driving brand preferences and intent than paid advertising alone.

    So how do you develop a content strategy? Here are a few important elements to consider:

    • Know what your audience wants to talk about, be sure the topic is relevant, and understand how it fits into their daily lives. Be willing to engage in those conversations by using your own brand voice, in a personable language that your audience is using and characteristic of how your brand expresses itself.
    • Know your audience and where they want to have these conversations. People follow you because they like you, and because your brand offers them something—so be sure to deliver. Remember that influential users (loosely defined as users whose actions result in additional site visitors) may generate up to 40% of total site traffic, even though they typically account for less than 5% of total site users. It’s important that marketers identify, recognize and reward those that are influential in converting others.
    • Knowing where your audience hangs out is equally important. This can depend on their age and gender, as well as your offerings. There are plenty of statistics that break down social media sites by demographics, such as the Nielsen Social Media Report: Q3 2011.
    • Measure the results and impact of your conversations. This can be tracking how many comments and likes received on Facebook, volume of Twitter followers, number of retweets and mentions along with social media referral traffic to your website.

    Have the patience to build your community and engender trust, and the flexibility to evolve content over time. If you’re fun, honest and relevant, they will share with their friends and others, which is what social media is all about.

    Lastly, managing Social Media is more art than science; however, creating a structured framework aligned with data driven principles will help brands improve effectiveness and investment return over time.

  • Information Overload? Who Wants Pie?

    by Holly Lee | Jul 08, 2011

    They say that we only use about 10% of our brain. That’s just a myth, but regardless of the percentage, mine is at capacity today. It feels like that pink pie chart on your hard drive that shows “space available”—I can’t fit anymore in. And it’s not just me. People are on information overload, social media overload, technology overload…everything overload. The impact this has on your marketing is significant, and requires you to change tactics before your messages become irrelevant noise that have no impact. The point I want to make here while eating up a little of your slice of brain pie, is that this isn’t the time for your business to be using a shotgun marketing approach, or publishing so much content that people aren’t getting to the information they need quickly.  The need for targeted, relevant information has never been greater. Take the time to understand what your customers actually care about when making their buying decision, rather than what you think they should care about. Refresh your knowledge of what’s important to them today. Listen to what they’re saying. This is critical for producing content that is relevant and it will persuade them to respond.

    Successful businesses are renewing their focus on delivering the right message to the right audience at the right time. Trellist is helping businesses achieve this, enabling them to earn an important role in their customer’s buying decision. So, if you want your company’s message to cut through 4 and 20 twitterbirds, it needs to be more targeted and engaging than ever before.

  • Listening to The Consumer: Gap Misses the Mark

    by Joe Kearns | Nov 01, 2010

    Gap, Inc., the apparel retailer, had established its logo through consistent usage over the past 20 years. Recently, Gap decided to try its luck with an updated logo and revealed the new creation on the Gap website without warning.  This move ignited spirited conversation within the online community, which responded with mostly harsh criticism of the new logo. As a result of the controversy, Gap announced it will not be using the highly-criticized new logo and will instead continue with the existing logo.  Consequently, the time and expense to design the new mark were wasted.  Gap’s mistake was not in wanting to update its logo.  The mistake was changing the logo in a vacuum.

    Is this really about an unfavorable logo design change or was the backlash due to consumers’ lack of involvement in the logo update?  Consumers were left out of the design process altogether, no input and no explanation.  In today’s society, where consumers have more access than ever to brands and companies, Gap mistakenly chose to keep consumers out of the loop. Social networking outlets are the new “It” child online and companies are anxious to use (or misuse) every outlet available to them.  Gap got a quick lesson that these outlets are not only for pushing marketing to customers but rather a two-way street, and criticism can come rolling in, sometimes immediately.  Companies should evaluate using Facebook or Twitter to get customers involved in their branding changes.  There is an opportunity to connect with customers and gather valuable feedback and involvement from the fan base regarding certain changes to the company, such as a logo update. Gap and other companies do not need to take every posting on their Facebook wall as credible information that speaks for every customer.  The objective is to create an interaction between company and fan base to tighten that connectivity.  Connection to the brand is why users feel the need to follow companies via social networking venues.  Gap could have created buzz and some excitement by just getting customers involved and talking about the design update, but it didn’t.  Gap acknowledged the mistake in a press release on the corporate site: “We’ve learned a lot in this process. And we are clear that we did not go about this in the right way. We recognize that we missed the opportunity to engage with the online community.” Companies like Gap will find ways to capitalize on this new online community and create a tighter connection between customers and their brand.  Even if Gap had created the Mona Lisa of logos and asked the online community for their opinion, it may still have received negative feedback. However, the community would have been involved in the decision.

    In these early days of social media networking, many companies are treating social media sites as just another online channel.  Why not?  The cost for entry is relatively low and it’s simple to keep content updated.  However, just having a Facebook page or Twitter feed isn’t enough – there should be a strategy to increase brand connectivity, increase brand awareness and gather feedback from customers.  A sound social media strategy is a marketing necessity, and Trellist is helping clients leverage these networking outlets to increase brand affinity  and customer loyalty.

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