5 Great CSR Pages That You Need To Check Out

If, after reading about why it’s so important to highlight CSR on your website here, you’re not convinced that Corporate Social Responsibility is the right fit for your business, perhaps this will sway your opinion:

The Reputation Institute, a private consulting firm, invited over 40,000 consumers across 15 markets to participate in a study in an effort to rank the world’s most reputable companies. The study not only found broke ground in terms of discovering purchasing habits, it also found that willingness to buy is driven 60% by consumer perception of the company, with the actual products or services impacting only 40%.

Can you imagine?

The better the reputation, the greater chance of consumer purchasing. Which means that, instead of focusing primarily on your company’s product or services, it’s time to pay close attention to your reputation. Corporate Social Responsibility leads the way in developing and enhancing reputation, making it more important than ever to tell your story online.

We’ve developed some impressive CSR pages over our years working in Investor Relations, so we’ve done our fair share of research into great CSR pages that our clients have drawn inspiration from.

Which is why we’re sharing them with you now.

If your business is focused on enhancing the reputation of your company, and driving revenue while you’re at it, below are 5 great CSR pages that you need to check out now.

 

1. eBay

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Why we love it: It’s transparent.

With eBay’s CSR page, all information is transparent – which means that the end consumer is not left feeling confused or unsure of eBay’s CSR goals, impact and practices.

eBay clearly displays their CSR focus through their website; the website is easy to navigate, and it is mobile-friendly – two important features of any CSR page.

2. B2Gold

great csr pages b2

Why we love it: It’s interactive.

This is the only bias on the list because, well, we made it.

We love B2Gold’s CSR page because it’s interactive. B2Gold.com features an interactive map with their holdings around the world, which gives visitors to the site an opportunity to navigate through a Global map and learn about production, development and exploration sites. It’s truly a leader within the industry.

3. Whistler Blackcomb

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Why we love it: It’s mobile-friendly.

This is a must for any CSR site, and Whistler Blackcomb does it well.

Not only is the site easy to navigate and straight-forward in terms of the information featured, it’s also mobile-friendly, meaning that it is responsive on every platform we’ve tried here in the Blender office. This makes for a seamless experience for the end user.

4. Microsoft

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Why we love it: We’re swooning over the design…

Microsoft’s creative and design teams are heroes in our books. This CSR site is clean, mobile-friendly, easy to navigate and transparent, all-in-one.

When landing on Microsoft’s CSR homepage, the focus of this company is clear – Human Rights and Environmental Sustainability. There is no lack of clarity, and the minimalist creative is simply stunning.

5. Mastercard

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Why we love it: It combines various mediums.

From video to photos, news stories to social media, Mastercard isn’t afraid to combine various mediums on their CSR site.

After just two scrolls on the homepage, visitors can consume a video on global financial inclusion, which is a focus of the company’s CSR goals and objectives.

We love seeing companies incorporate various mediums on their CSR site, and Mastercard is doing it right.

 

Don’t be boring.

If we can emphasize one key takeaway, it’s this.

CSR is meant to be fun. It’s meant to showcase the strengths of your business, while enhancing your reputation in the marketplace.

When designing and developing your CSR site or pages, remember to keep them interactive, mobile-friendly, and informative.

And, when testing, ask yourself this question: would I want to scroll through this site? Would I be interested in consuming this content? If the answer is “yes”, then give yourself a high-five. You could make our next “great” list.

 

How Blender Helped B2Gold Tell Their CSR Story Online

So, you’ve decided that telling your CSR story online is a must for your business. You’ve started to discuss next steps in recent leadership meetings, and you’re responding rapidly to questions posed from your Executive Team. Your budget is starting to come together to bring your story to your website, but you’re just not sure what the end result will look like.

It’s a question (and sometimes, a concern) that we hear often, so rest assured – you’re in good company. While you might have a great idea and vision of how you want to tell your story, what it will look and feel like is often a mystery.

That’s why we’re here. And that’s also why we’re sharing one of our favorite examples of a company that’s doing great things in telling their CSR story online: B2Gold.

About B2Gold

B2Gold is a Vancouver based gold producer with a strong portfolio of development and exploration assets. They are one of the fastest-growing intermediate gold producers in the world and, since its inception in 2007, have evolved into an international gold mining company.

The Challenge

When B2Gold came to Blender, their website wasn’t mobile or tablet friendly – and quite frankly, it was difficult to navigate. The breadth of information, including their CSR story, was deep within their website, and sometimes non-existent.

That’s why we’re here…

csr story online homepage

Knowing that B2Gold wanted to tell their story in such a way that displayed their global presence of their products in a highly visual, easy-to-consume way, we were ready to take on the challenge.

Working closely with the client, we collaborated to revise the sitemap and information architecture so we could, first and foremost, develop the framework. It was important to demonstrate B2Gold’s strengths of their assets, including their CSR work, and it was even more important to outline how the site would perform before determining what it would look like.

The Result – Their CSR Story Online

The result of this work was a truly interactive and detailed project map that rivaled the very best in the industry (spoiler bias: we think the map we created for B2Gold is the very best). This map accomplished their overall goal, which was to accurately display the global presence of their business and projects from Asia-Pacific to South America.

csr story online map

To experience the interactive map for yourself, click here.

The CSR portion of B2Gold’s website was also a priority; with active work in responsible mining, social responsibility, occupational health and safety, environment and biodiversity, it was important to tell the entire story in an easy-to-consume, responsive way.

B2Gold’s CSR site focused around image-based storytelling on mobile, desktop and tablet-responsive pages, making it easy for prospective investors to view and digest.

So, what should you look for when selecting your agency?

When you’ve decided that telling your CSR story online effectively is a must for your business, there are three things you need to look for when selecting your partner agency.

  1. Find an agency that works within Investor Relations

If you’re crossing your fingers and hoping that any agency will work, we hate to break the bad news to you – but they probably won’t. Working in IR is a whole new ball game, so you need to find an agency that has a positive track record within investor relations. Be sure to request case studies from clients who are in your industry.

  1. Ask the question: what happens when you’re finished my project?

One red flag of a potential agency partner is one that leaves when the project is complete.

What happens if you find bugs a few months later? What happens if a broken link is found just a few days after the contract is complete?

Look for an agency who will be with you every step of the way – not one that leaves you when your website has launched.

  1. Request to see examples of CSR sections they’ve developed and launched.

We’ve talked about the importance of CSR for your business, and while you might have a storytelling concept that you love, it’s important to receive feedback from the agency who will build your CSR online presence.

What works? What doesn’t? What will differentiate you from competition? What’s your favourite CSR section that your team has built?

Ask these questions from a potential agency so you can truly understand their grasp of the industry and the importance of telling your CSR story online.

Conclusion

We loved working with B2Gold here at Blender, and we couldn’t have been more proud of the final result. As you’re starting your CSR storytelling journey, and while you’re identifying potential agency partners, keep this blog bookmarked – we’re sure it will provide inspiration as you move forward.

CSR story online - ebook

Questions to ask yourself when developing a brand story

Introduction: developing a brand story is crucial for website design

Where did you come from, what are you doing now, and where are you going? Developing a brand story that speaks to your vision and what sets you apart from your competition is an important factor of good website structure. You need to figure out how to best relay all the important information for an online audience that typically has a 15 second attention span per webpage. Yeah, tricky. The best way to ensure you have a solid brand identity is by narrowing your field and asking yourself the pointed questions below.

How does a great company story online help you become a major player in your industry? Here is How to establish yourself as an industry leader through your website. 

Question 1: What distinguishes my goals from my vision?

First, let’s understand the difference between a company ‘goal’ and company ‘vision’. Goals are most often concrete steps your company will take in the next few years to achieve attainable milestones. These goals should be aligned with the interests of your company, your investors, and all others involved. A vision, however, is usually more abstract. Visions are something you hope to achieve in the future, and can be a bit more far-reaching. A vision often includes the way you see your company impacting the future and what it’s place in the world will be. When developing a brand story, make sure to separate your concrete five year goals from your aspirations for the distant future.

Question 2: How would I explain my product/service in one sentence?

Every company needs to be able to explain their main service in an ‘elevator pitch’. If it takes more than a few sentences to explain your ‘About Us’, it’s going to be very difficult to have a clear and straightforward content strategy on your website. It can be difficult to be concise, so start by writing everything that’s important and then drastically cut back until you have two clear sentences.

Question 3: What is one thing I offer that none of my competitors do?

Nothing kills a company’s website more than getting lost in the crowd. When developing a brand story, you should first do research on all your competitors. What elements are they pitching heavily on their websites? How do they structure their most important information? Did you develop your company because you saw something was lacking in your industry? What was that one thing? Find what you do that’s unique, even if it’s something small like extending your hours of operation to accommodate both east and west coast markets. Highlight those unique aspects on your website. You can also learn from the masters and read 6 lessons from famous companies on creating a killer brand. 

Question 4: What are three highlights about my company that investors would be interested in?

If question 3 was about researching your competitors, this question is about getting into the mind of your potential investors. What elements are important to investors of your industry, and how many of those boxes do you tick? If you’re a mining company, how many in-production projects do you have vs. exploration? Are any of your sites 100% owned? No one understands the assets of your industry like you. If you are newer and have yet to make any major strides, what are some concrete ways you’ve been moving towards your goals? Sometimes even showing determination and highlighting a strong plan for the future is enough to hook an investor.

Question 5: How have I failed?

This is a big one in developing your brand story, even if it’s kept as an internal question (we don’t mean you should be plastering your failures all over your website). What were some of the major setbacks in developing your company? Are they issues that could arise again? And most importantly, if a bit cheesy, what have you learned from your failures and how will you grow? Often analyzing your past failures will help you build more targeted goals.

Question 6: Why am I here?

The last question is the one abstract one of the bunch and might even include a bit of soul searching. But really, ask yourself: why are you here? What makes you work towards your company goals and vision every day? What is it about your company that you believe in? Get personal in thinking, because it’s most likely the reasons you love your company that will resonate the most with your audience. Web audiences are smart, and can tell when a company’s vision is ghostwritten or crafted from a template. Allow your audience to see the human side of your company and why you’re more than just a bunch of people in a building.

 

Conclusion: now get everyone on board

Developing a brand story means nothing if only a few people in your company understand what you’re all doing there. Every single person who works for you should understand as well. If you’re developing a brand story, make sure everyone else also knows the company’s goals and why they give up their time each day to be working with you. A common goal makes for a hard working and well-oiled machine. Happy researching and happy brand developing!

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How Warby Parker built a powerhouse brand

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Why is an eyeglass retailer attracting so many eyeballs? 

On the surface, Warby Parker doesn’t seem different than any other company. They sell a product—eyeglasses—mostly online. They have a website where you can shop. They have a blog. They create year-in-review reports.

But what’s truly brilliant about Warby Parker is how they’ve managed to transform every ‘normal’ aspect of a company and its website into a brand worth salivating over. The company is rooted in rebellion, founded by four friends in 2010 who were sick of a few large firms controlling the eyewear industry. This iconoclasm contributes to the fresh young vibes coursing through their brand, as well as the non-profit ‘buy one, give one’ mission that’s a cornerstone of their company.

We’ve taken five ‘normal’ business elements such as a company’s website and year-in-review and examined how Warby Parker has turned each one into something consumers look forward to experiencing.

1. Their blog: a lifestyle teacher

Warby Parker’s frequently updated blog is an organized chaos of staff book recommendations, music playlists for fall, and ’39 things to do before summer ends’. Though they also publish articles about new glasses styles and share their collaborations with various brands, they know that promoting their brand means more than pushing product. They’re not just selling the glasses they create, but the edgy lifestyle that comes with wearing their glasses.

 

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2. The website: function and a lot of fashion

As an e-commerce company, Warby Parker knows that their website drives their business. It can’t just look nice, but must work supremely well for consumers shopping online. When we browsed Warby Parker’s website, the first thing we noticed was how easy it was to get around. Dropdowns offer options to shop the entire collection, but also offer featured selections like their fall 2015, original, and circuit wear collections Every detail of the site has been examined, down to the email signup button asking you to ‘stay in the loop’ and the sketched paper airplanes that zoom by in the corner of your screen.

 

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3. Their tone: not down with being uppity

Warby Parker’s colloquial tone creates a perfect separation from the ‘hoity-toity’ atmosphere often associated with luxury eyewear companies. They poke fun at themselves on their website (like teasing the fact that, yes, they do actually sell monocles) and their blog sounds like real people are offering you style and lifestyle advice. While some companies keep their blog tone conversational but stick to formalities and the hard-sell on their corporate site, with Warby Parker it’s what you see is what you get. As they say on their website, they were “founded with a rebellious spirit and a lofty objective: to offer designer eyewear at a revolutionary price”. 

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4. Their stores: like the libraries of your imagination

Warby Parker started as an online retailer, but have since opened numerous locations throughout the U.S. It was important for the company that their stores had a homey vibe: they’re promoted as “featuring glasses, books, along with other surprising treats”. Some locations, however, are more ‘party’ than ‘homey’. A writer from FastCompany describes his visit to Warby Parker’s Los Angeles store as “the space is decked out like a 1950’s beach club…servers offer martinis and champagne flutes and trays of crackers topped with avocado hummus…guests gravitate to the full-length mirrors and the glasses, which are sticked invitingly on open wood shelves”.  It’s a brilliant maneuver. Warby Parker stores include the luxurious feeling of buying designer glasses without the part everyone hates: the high prices of the glasses themselves. Anyone visiting their brick and mortar stores can feel expensive and pampered, while still leaving feeling like they made the right choice going with the Warby Parker rather than a monopolizing corporate brand.

warby parker

 

5. Their 2014 Year in Review: something you actually want to read

So this is the coolest. To promote their 2014 Year-in-Review, something all companies put out but barely anyone reads, Warby Parker created a fun online generator called ‘Make Your Own Annual Report’. The generator asks you questions like your favourite colour, your average mood, and the emoji that most describes you. Once you’re done they create a nicely designed and hilarious ‘report’ of your own year. At the bottom of your report, you can share on social media as well as  (aha!) view the Year-In-Review that Warby Parker made for themselves. You can still play around with the generator here. Try it out!

 

Warby Parker annual report

 

If you treated investors like Taylor Swift treats her fans: a story in GIFs

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Ah, the branding queen of 2015

Love her or hate her, there is no denying that singer Taylor Swift has essentially taken over the world in the past year. Since the release of her highly anticipated album 1989 last September, she’s been on the cover of more magazines (we’re talking TIME and Rolling Stone here, not just your run-of-the-mill US Weekly) and attracted more media attention than any other icon. And, hard to believe, being under a constant microphone has mostly resulted in good press and more adoring fans. There’s a lot to learn from this media empress; articles about the genius of her marketing and branding overwhelm the internet. Swift also knows how to transform every social media outlet from Tumblr to Youtube (we doubt she’s on Google + though) into blinding beacons where she signals her massive fandom to rush to her aid and promote her next idea.

You may be reading this thinking, her methods seem to be all kittens and fresh baked cookies what the hell am I supposed to do with that? Stay with us, here. Because we want to pull all that branding power from Taylor Swift and imagine if that was channeled into investor marketing. Why? Because we can, and because we may or may not be victims of this new disorder.

Here’s where all the investor stuff starts if you’re a skimmer

We’ve said this before, and we’ll say once again: many people forget that investor communications is just a form of marketing. It’s telling a good story. It’s showcasing your company in such a way so others will not only like you, but trust you enough to support you and become a part of your story, too. So we’re examining, in Taylor Swift GIFs, how your investor marketing strategy could improve by taking some tips from the 25 year old marketing genius.

1. Look outside your regular network

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How Taylor’s done it:

Taylor Swift is is known for her #squad, or the collection of friends constantly surrounding her and going on outings with her. Though she spends a lot of her time with Victoria’s Secret models and the like, Taylor Swift is very artful at making friendships outside her expected sphere. Inc. Magazine writes “Swift is forging partnerships with unexpected figures, such as Ellen Pompeo and Mariska Hargitay…both represent a largely different demographic from the one Swift typically engages”. In her now infamous Bad Blood music video, Swift showcases to the world that nearly every celebrity is her best friend, from rapper Kendrick Lamar to icon Cindy Crawford. As she branches out and makes connections with different demographics, her fanbase broadens as well.

Swift has also been making a point to invite both already famous celebrities and up-and-coming stars to share the stage with her during her 1989 World Tour. One example of a guest that was out of her normal ‘arena’ included the night she invited the U.S. women’s soccer team on stage to celebrate with her after their World Cup win.

women's world cup

How you do it: 

Always be thinking about how you can reach people outside your normal group of contacts. Though certain investors may not seem like the most obvious choice to connect with, you never know where a good conversation could lead you. Get your name out there and go to other events that aren’t specifically within your industry.

2. Create an air of exclusivity 

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How Taylor’s done it:

Heard of the 1989 Secret Sessions? They were a brilliant move by Taylor and her marketing team. Swift invited different groups of 89 fans from across the country to intimate house parties at one of her or her parents’ houses. She described them as “mini living room house parties where I’m going to be playing them the album first”. She baked them cookies, secretly played them the whole album a month before its release date, and took pictures with each person. She then made each fan swear not to share what they had been up to until the official release of the album. Fans left the event in various stages of weeping, all the while proclaiming they had “literally the best day of our lives”.

How you do it: 

Reward brand loyalty. If you publish content such as whitepapers or e-books, create the next one exclusively for those who’ve been signed up to receive your email updates or newsletter. Think of ways to make your community feel special, especially those who have been rooting for your company since the beginning. One easy and not too expensive way to do this is drop off a ‘just because’ type gift at your most loyal client offices. Everyone can give client gifts during the holidays. Challenge the norm and randomly do it in the middle of July.

3. Make communication a two way street

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How Taylor’s done it:

Taylor Swift speaks to her fans like they’re actually her friends. She tweets awkward moments she has during the day, she pleads with them to help her figure out the more confusing aspects of social media, and she has no problem making fun of herself. Swift is also famous for something dubbed as ‘Taylurking’ where she intensely follows her fans on social media and learns about them and their hardships. She then often surprises certain fans with presents or nice handwritten letters.

Taylor tumblr

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How you do it:

Encourage investors and other interested parties to ask you questions on social media! Start a live-chat with people on Twitter during your latest earnings call, and speak to them just like you’d be talking across the table to someone. And don’t be afraid to be a little goofy sometimes, as long as you know the boundaries. Remember: just be out there and be human!

4. Prioritize their convenience 

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How Taylor’s done it:

Taylor doesn’t like it when her fans have to wait around. She often rewards patient fans with exclusive backstage passes, and released a deluxe version of her album exclusively at Target, because she said she felt that’s where the majority of her fans would shop. She also recently responded to a social media plea from a senior citizen theatre company who were denied the rights to play her song ‘Shake it Off’ with their closing number. Swift bypassed her people who had originally denied the troupe the rights, and tweeted out that she personally would grant them permission and wished them luck on their opening night.

How you do it:

Really think about what investors will want to see, and prioritize that information on your investor website and with your marketing materials. Don’t make them search for that necessary public company info; the easier and more intuitive their online experience with your company is, the better.

5. Let them glimpse the inner-workings

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How Taylor’s done it:

Taylor released a deluxe version of her 1989 album that included extra songs as well as what she’s named ‘Memos’. These memos are short audio recordings of her in the studio with her producers and other members of her team. You can hear her figuring out the beginning elements of the now famous songs. In releasing such a personal element of the process, fans feel like they can really connect to her songwriting.

How you do it:

Show your community and investors what the day-to-day life of your company looks like. Share behind the scenes pictures on social media, tweet Did You Know’s and interesting stats about how you became a company. Publish a letter from the CEO, or host a video interview with someone in the company. Making investors feel like they have an all-access pass to what’s going on with you is a great way to make them feel included and to stay interested and involved in your story.

And finally (because you have to give us this one)

6. Haters gonna hate, hate, hate

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How Taylor’s done it:

Just listen to her song ‘Shake it Off’, if you haven’t already. Or just read the title.

How you do it:

As a public company, it’s almost guaranteed that some decisions will face criticism from the investment community. While it is important to listen to those criticisms and always be aware of the conversations happening surrounding you, make sure to also take these comments in stride and stay true to your mission and your brand. 

 

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Thanks for the inspiration Taylor!

Why General Electric is the smartest brand on social media

What if a 100 year old person was better at social media than you? A lot of brands better be asking themselves this question, because General Electric is 123 years old this year and are rocking every social media platform from LinkedIn to Vine. It’s not just about the brand’s commanding presence on social media, however. We’re more interested in the way a century-old company who most people know best through lightbulbs and refrigerators can take every aspect of social media, from GIFs to infographics, and integrate them seamlessly into their strategy. Here are some main reasons why GE kills it daily on social media.

1. They encourage conversation and participation

GE always has a social media contest going on. Last year they took to Vine to get people talking about science. Their #6SecondScienceFair invited everyone to interact with their brand by capturing a 6 second video of the coolest science experiment they could create. GE posted their favourites on their own social media page, and created a tumblr account for all the best videos. Like the experts they are, GE made sure to tie the fun contest back to their main message of influencing science and technology. (They also won a shiny award for this educational video series at the 2014 Cannes Lions advertising competition).

6 second science fair

2. They experiment with new sharing platforms 

General Electric is known for being early adopters of new social media platforms (for instance they got on Vine one day after the video-sharing app launched). Now, GIFS within tweets is the new image within tweets. One brilliant aspect of GE’s social media strategy is that they know how to take each emerging platform or trend and seamlessly integrate it with their mission. Check out how they put GIFS to work in the example below. An inside glimpse of a new ice nugget maker? Sweet, I’m in.

GE has also been all over Periscope lately, the new video live-streaming app. Their most recent endeavour included a ‘DroneWeek’ where, using a modified drone, General Electric gave social media followers an up-close and personal look at the biggest and tallest machines.

Live on Periscope

3. They personalize their brand

General Electric is proud of everything they create, and they let people know. Their Instagram account is full of behind the scenes images and videos detailing a day in the life of a GE employee as well as glimpse s of testing facilities, aviation grounds, and wind turbine fields. Their Instagram is a machine enthusiast’s fantasy: who doesn’t like giant pictures of airplane engines and gas turbine load compressors? Behind the scenes snapshots are also smart because they increase the brand’s positive reputation and build enthusiasm and trust between the company and its social media followers.

4. They teach as well as promote

GE promotes the new technologies they’re working on through social media the best possible way: they educate users about what they’re building. Their YouTube series ‘Invention Factory’ provides an investigation on some of humanity’s biggest questions, and how GE is looking for answers. They’ve produced many videos such as the one below to create enthusiasm about their big picture work.

5. They embrace the light-hearted aspect of social media

GE seriously promotes their technology and their mission, but they also know when to loosen their ties and have a little fun. They’re big fans of emojis on Twitter. (And in general, check out their whole EmojiScience campaign).

https://twitter.com/generalelectric/status/623528180394102784

6. They keep investors in the loop

While some companies may believe that social media and investor relations doesn’t mix, General Electric challenges that idea with a seamless integration between the two worlds. (We also think it’s a perfect marriage, and we’ve written about it before). General electric releases investor highlights on their social media channels with bold images for easy sharing and consumption. Keeping investors in-the-know on social media makes for a more engaged investor audience.

7. They love engaging other brands

It’s clear that GE has a lot of fun on social media, and they love engaging other brands. A lot of times GE’s Twitter will publish an Emoji puzzler concerning a historic scientific breakthrough and will call out other companies and invite them to take a guess. They also love congratulatory tweets, and spread love to everyone from NASA to Bill Nye the Science Guy.

https://twitter.com/generalelectric/status/624319459574943745

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INFOGRAPHIC: The biggest public company in every Canadian province (by market cap)

Introduction:

It’s Canada’s turn! Two weeks ago we created an infographic with the biggest public company in each U.S. state based on market capitalization. If you haven’t seen that yet, check it out here. This week we’re bringing it closer to home and want to know the biggest public company in 2015 to come out of every Province. From BC to Nova Scotia, we’ve covered them all below. Hover over each of the ten provinces to learn a fun fact about the top company. And see a more detailed breakdown of market cap and stock symbol in the chart below! To navigate the map easier on mobile, click the home button after you’ve zoomed to bring the map back to its original position.

Province Company Name Stock Symbol Market Cap (Billions)
Alberta Enbridge Inc. ENB 56.21
British Columbia TELUS Corporation TU 20.63
Manitoba Great-West Lifeco Inc. GWO 38.38
New Brunswick Major Drilling Group International Inc. MDI 0.518
Newfoundland/Labrador Fortis Inc. FTS 10.67
Nova Scotia Bank of Nova Scotia (Scotiabank) BNS 73.37
Ontario Royal Bank of Canada RY 109.13
Prince Edward Island Solarvest BioEnergy Inc. SVS 0.00544
Quebec Valeant Pharmaceuticals International, Inc. VRX 111.18
Saskatchewan Potash Corp of Saskatchewan Inc. POT 32.65

How’d we get our data?

Using NASDAQ’s real-time screening data and TMX Money’s Investor Discovery tools we analyzed Canadian companies trading on all major U.S. and Canadian stock exchanges, as well as the TSX Venture Exchange. We then sorted by market capitalization for each of the ten provinces. Each company must be headquartered in their corresponding province to be #1. Data is as of end of trading Tuesday, August 18, 2015.

6 lessons from companies on creating a killer brand

Take some tips from the masters. There’s a reason we’ve all heard of these names, and although size, budget, and success may all be different between factors between these brand curators and your company’s brand, there’s still valuable lessons they can teach you about standing out. Take a look at these six lessons from companies who’ve mastered everything from email newsletter copy to reviving 90’s hip hop.

Lesson #1: Know your legacy and let it influence you

The expert: Sprite

Sprite’s been doing a bit of marketing speed-dating lately; they just switched creative agencies for the fourth time in three years. Flashback to 1994 when they launched the now iconic ‘Obey Your Thirst’ slogan with a campaign featuring underground hip-hop up stars and freestylers like Nas, AZ, and Grand Puba.

 

 

Over 20 years later, Sprite is returning to the ‘Obey your Thirst’ campaign and to their hip-hop roots. Sprite partnered with The Fader magazine to create a video series aptly titled ‘Obey your Verse’ featuring big names like Drake and Nas, alongside shining up-and-comers Vince Staples and Isaiah Rashad. The Fader president Andy Cohn spoke to Contently about the campaign, saying “I think Sprite had a really good handle on how they wanted to relaunch ‘Obey Your Thirst’ because I think they realized they had a legacy they could trade on“. The new twist on the famous 90’s campaign has been very successful; the series has totalled more than 1 million video views so far. Cohn also spoke of how the legacy of ‘Obey Your Thirst’ with famous rappers was so easy to rejuvenate because “ever artist we talked to…knew about Sprite and ‘Obey Your Thirst’ from 20 years ago'”.

 

Lesson #2: Speak to your audience like human beings

The expert: Mailchimp

If you look up Mailchimp’s public Style Guide, you’ll get pages and pages of content explicitly explaining a Mailchimp employee’s responsibility to help customers in a friendly and informative way. They’ve even created a whole website called Voice and Tone full of potential conversations between a user and Mailchimp, and appropriate way to respond. What you’re seeing is Mailchimp nailing the importance of frank and personable communication. Isn’t it refreshing when a company’s support line speaks to you like, well, the real human being that they are?

 

MailChimp voice and tone

 

Lesson #3: Understand your core message

The expert: Dove

Growing from a brand who sold soap to a well-known advocator for all women’s beauty is quite a feat. Dove’s “Campaign for Real-Beauty” evolved in 2004 and still runs strong in their ads today. In the past few years, they’ve also become experts at making viral videos. The brilliance of these videos comes with the underlying core message in each of them: a move to inspire self esteem in women and encouraging all girls to reach their full potential. Whether their ads focus on Real-Beauty sketches, choosing whether to walk through a door that says ‘Beautiful’ or ‘Average’, or teaching young girls to embrace their curly hair, each of Dove’s ads trace back to their social mission statement of creating “a world where beauty is a source of confidence, and not anxiety”. Other brands have begun to follow Dove’s lead, such as the Always #LikeAGirl campaign and CoverGirl’s #GirlsCan empowerment ads.

 

Lesson #4: Don’t be afraid to take risks 

The expert: GoDaddy

2015 marked GoDaddy’s 11th ad appearance in the Super Bowl. Over the last decade, GoDaddy’s Super Bowl commercials have been some of the most controversial and some of the weirdest ones out there, but definitely also the most talked about. Their bold marketing moves and insistence on being surprising year after year has cemented them as one of the country’s most recognizable brands. And what’s their thing? Providing website domains. It’s not the spiciest industry out there, but it’s a safe bet that anyone you ask has at least heard the name ‘GoDaddy’, even if they’re not sure what exactly the company does. But that brand recognizability is exactly what the company needs to keep doors open. This isn’t to say taking plunging risks like GoDaddy is always the smartest move (they’ve definitely fallen on their faces a few times), but the idea remains an inspiring one. If a website domain company can be one of the most talked about companies out there, they’re certainly doing something right.

 

 

Lesson #5: Be brilliant at something unexpected

The expert: Lululemon

Lululemon’s brand dominates their industry. The yoga-inspired athletic apparel company has been so successful for many reasons, especially the way they encourage an entire healthy lifestyle as well as selling their product. Lululemon’s ‘good vibes’ and lifestyle branding are driven by their lesser known talent online: their killer content creation. Lululemon’s daily email newsletters are brilliant moments of witty copy, and their blog is a space for everything from wellness articles to profiles on up-and-coming folk singers. They’ve recently also released a seven part podcast as part of their one week meditation challenge. The constant contact a user receives online from the podcasts, interviews, and blogs establishes Lululemon’s brand beyond simply producing comfy yoga pants. The become that super healthy friend who you’ve always admired who’s also there to motivate you with some good vibes and great reads.

 

lululemon podcast

lululemon podcast

 

Lesson #6: Keep raising your own bar 

The expert: Tesla

Heard of ‘Ludicrous Mode?’ Well, it’s Tesla’s new addition to the Model S sedan and Model X SUV that’s going to kick the car from 0 to 60 mph in 2.8 seconds, and the SUV in 3.3. It’s also a nod to one of the greatest movies of all time (no judgement, it’s a classic). Elon Musk announced the new speed last month,  as well as promising his adoring fans audience that “he’ll launch an all-new Roadster in four years” (Bloomberg). This announcement comes only a few months after the unveiling of Tesla’s next venture the ‘Powerwall’, their own sustainable home battery. The lesson here, in essence, is that Tesla refuses to quit. They’re pushing into multiple industries and demolishing  all expectations along the way. There’s a reason they’re called “the brand of the year, decade and possibly century” (Forbes). Even if you’re not on the Elon Musk level, there can be strong value in refusing to settle and constantly pushing out new ideas and ways to evolve as a company. The energy surrounding Tesla and its supporters seems more like fans at a rock concert than shareholders and consumers. That’s a sign of how crucial Tesla’s brand has been in their success. Now, it’s all about where they’ll go from here. Maybe all the way to plaid? If you didn’t understand that, you didn’t click the movie link.

 

Tesla Powewall

 

The biggest public company in every U.S. State (infographic)

Introduction:

This week we’ve created an infographic showing the biggest public company per U.S. State as of the end of July 2015. The location of the companies’ headquarters determined which state they represented, with the deciding factor being their market capitalization. While some dominating names such as Apple and Microsoft are no surprise, did you know the biggest public company coming out of Colorado was Chipotle? Or how about FedEx taking over Tennessee? See below for the rest of the results, and share the infographic with friends. We’ve also created an interactive table below where you can sort alphabetically by state, company name, and stock symbol. Sort high-to-low market capitalization as well to see who’s sitting pretty on top!

 

Biggest public company in each U.S. state infographic

State Company Name Market Cap (Billions) Stock Symbol
Alabama Regions Financial Corporation 13.95 RF
Alaska General Communication, Inc. 0.697 GNCMA
Arizona Southern Copper Corporation 21.50 SCCO
Arkansas Walmart 224.28 WMT
California Apple Inc. 668.70 AAPL
Colorado Chipotle Mexican Grill Inc. 23.28 CMG
Connecticut General Electric 263.1 GE
Delaware Walgreens Boots Alliance, Inc. 100.45 WBA
Florida NextEra Energy, Inc. 49.41 NEE
Georgia Coca-Cola Company 180.02 KO
Hawaii Hawaiian Electric Industries Inc. 3.29 HE
Idaho Micron Technology, Inc. 17.68 MU
Illinois AbbVie Inc. 113.97 ABBV
Indiana Eli Lilly and Company 88.28 LLY
Iowa Principal Financial Group Inc. 16.97 PFG
Kansas Sprint Corporation 18.61 S
Kentucky Yum! Brands, Inc. 36.24 YUM
Louisiana CenturyLink, Inc. 15.88 CTL
Maine IDEXX Labaroatories, Inc. 7.35 IDXX
Maryland Lockheed Martin Corporation 66.13 LMT
Massachusetts Biogen Inc. 73.29 BIIB
Michigan Ford Motor Company 59.69 F
Minnesota UnitedHealth Group Inc. 119.77 UNH
Mississippi Cal-Maine Foods, Inc. 2.52 CALM
Missouri Express Scripts Holding Company 61.13 ESRX
Montana Glacier Bancorp, Inc. 2.12 CBCI
Nebraska Berkshire Hathaway Inc. 349.11 BRK-A
Nevada Las Vegas Sands Corp. 41.31 LVS
New Hampshire White Mountains Insurance Group, Ltd. 4.35 WTM
New Jersey Johnson & Johnson 275.08 JNJ
New Mexico PNM Resources, Inc. 2.20 PNM
New York JPMorgan Chase & Co. 251.77 JPM
North Carolina Bank of America Corporation 184.76 BAC
North Dakota MDU Resources Group, Inc. 3.63 MDU
Ohio Procter & Gamble Company 203.74 PG
Oklahoma Williams Companies, Inc. 40.34 WMB
Oregon Nike, Inc. 98.04 NIKE
Pennsylvania Comcast Corporation 150.02 CMCSK
Rhode Island CVS Health Corporation 121.12 CVS
South Carolina Scana Corporation 8.14 SCG
South Dakota NorthWestern Corporation 2.62 NW E
Tennessee FedEx Corporation 46.96 FDX
Texas Exxon Mobil Corporation 323.84 XOM
Utah Extra Space Storage Inc. 9.65 EXR
Vermont Keurig Green Mountain, Inc. 7.79 GMCR
Virginia Altria Group 108.54 MO
Washington Microsoft Corporation 378.62 MSFT
West Virginia United Bankshares, Inc. 2.76 USBI
Wisconson Johnson Controls, Inc. 29.68 JCI
Wyoming Cloud Peak Energy Inc. 0.166 CLD
District of Columbia Danaher Corporation 62.65 DHR

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The Biggest Public Company In Every U.S. State

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How’d we get our data?

Using NASDAQ’s real-time screening data of companies on all major exchanges, we analyzed the top public company for each state based on market capitalization. The data provided is as of close of trading Tuesday, August 18, 2015.

The logo design process: advice from a Senior Designer

We like to keep it fresh here at Blender, be it drinks we’re drinking, websites we’re designing, or blog posts we’re writing. With that in mind, to mix it up this week we’ve invited our Senior Digital Designer, Daniel Meehan, to take the helm and share with us a little insight into the creative process at Blender, focusing specifically on brand identity and logo design. Take it away Dan!

Hello blog world! You might be surprised to learn that creating a logo isn’t quite as simple as selecting a font (or a typeface, as us designer folk like to refer to them), a colour, and a bit of clip art. There is a creative process that, when followed, cuts through the clutter, weeds out bad ideas, and delivers a brand identity that simply sings. Full disclaimer, there are many variations to this process, but this model seems to work for me.

The Brief

Put simply, great projects start with a great brief (or set of deliverables). It really doesn’t matter if they’re written in an email or hashed out over a coffee – the important part is the content. Generally, a great brief will include a solid understanding of a project’s deliverables, timelines, budgets and (importantly) who the intended audience is. The inclusion of less tangible assets such as mood, tone, and feeling are also crucial. The best briefs are those that achieve that fine balance between providing the designer with a detailed understanding of what is required, and allowing them the creative freedom to really run with a project.

 

The brief

Research and Discovery

Ok, so now you’re thinking, “Go time! Let’s start designing”. Slow down there, cowboy. The importance of initial research and discovery cannot be overstated. Instead of jumping headfirst into the unknown,  conduct a little (or a lot of) visual research to open your eyes to what is possible within the brief. Books, magazines and the internet are a good starting point, but also consider material outside of your own discipline – for me, architecture, interior design, photography and old signage can help spark ideas. Remember to relate everything you learn back to the brief and your audience. At this point, it’s probably a good idea to check out what your competitors are up to as well.

 

Research and discovery

Concept Development

Break out the pens and pencils kids, it’s time to get creative! Fuelled by research, the creative juices should start to flow. So get sketching, get painting, experiment with typography, play around with imagery, and explore the wonderful world of colour – use whatever medium you need to answer the brief. Consider steering clear of the computer in the initial phase of this process, as staring at a screen can often stifle creativity. Soon enough, however, you’re likely to need the precision and accuracy of your trusty Mac to execute your concepts. I find this to be the most enjoyable part of the process as it allows for the most creative freedom. That’s not to say that it doesn’t get stressful, as each project requires intense creative energy – but, hey, that’s what we’re here for.

 

Concept Design

Client Feedback

With a concept or three under your belt, it’s time to present to the client (side note: never present a concept that you’re not happy with, because it’s possible the client will choose it). With any luck, the client will fall in love with one of your ideas and run with it, as is. However, more often than not, there will be some changes. Take these in stride (it’s nothing personal), just make sure the changes don’t completely compromise the design and stay in line with the initial brief.

 

Client Presentation

Final Logo and Roll Out

With any changes from the client made, and final approval gained, your logo is now designed. Boo-yeah! Now all that’s left to do is place it on your business card, letterhead, annual report, website, etc. (the brand roll-out, as us designers would say) – but this process is a whole other can of worms.

 

Final Design