Developing a strong brand has become more important than ever in recent years. With so much competition online, it can be really hard for businesses big and small to stand out. That’s why investing in your brand is so important — a successful, memorable brand can be leaned on for years to come. Here at Wistia, we’ve found that one of the most effective ways to set yourself apart from your competitors and build a well-loved brand is by creating binge-worthy content. In other words, content that provides enough value to viewers that they can’t help but want to consume more of it.
We recently did just that with the creation of our latest video series, Brandwagon. We saw such success last year with our docuseries, One, Ten, One Hundred, that we knew wanted to keep investing in the creation of episodic video content. And something we did for One, Ten, One Hundred that we knew we’d wanted to repeat for Brandwagon was creating a sub-brand to go along with it!
In this post, we’ll dig into how we landed on the sub-brand for Brandwagon and why it’s such an important part of any video series. But first, let’s get into what it really means to have one (or multiple!) sub-brands.
To put it simply, a sub-brand falls under the umbrella of your parent brand and is differentiated by some distinguishable values and qualities. It’s very common for consumer products to delve into the world of sub-branding — just think of companies like Procter and Gamble, Coca Cola, and Unilever — all of these brands all have a number of sub-brands housed within them. For B2B companies, though, the art of the sub-brand has yet to emerge as the norm. When you start to think about the content you create as an actual “product” your business offers, however, it starts to make a lot more sense. For example, if you create several series for your brand, you’ll probably want each one to have their own unique sub-brand so you can promote them separately to their own distinct niche audiences.
When creating the sub-brand for Brandwagon, we made sure to consider the following factors before landing on a solid concept and direction for the sub-brand. The next time you set out to create a sub-brand for your video series (or documentary, podcast, or hard-cover book — you name it!), we suggest you ask yourselves the following questions, too:
- Who is the target audience for this show and what might they be attracted to, visually?
- How can we use fonts and colors to differentiate this sub-brand from Wistia’s overall brand while still making the connection clear?
- What stylistic choices can we make to convey our brand promise?
- What kinds of risks are we willing to take with this sub-brand that we might not be comfortable with otherwise?
Answers to these questions should help you land on the right direction for your sub-brand while informing other stylistic choices you make throughout your series. Now, let’s pull out our microscopes and zoom in on our own process for creating the Brandwagon sub-brand so you can get a better idea of what this process is actually like in reality!
“Answers to these questions should help you land on the right direction for your sub-brand while informing other stylistic choices you make throughout your series.”
We knew that investing in the creation of a sub-brand for Brandwagon would be time well spent, so we looped in Davey, a brand designer on our team, right from the start. We sat down with him and asked a few questions about the whole process from start to finish, so without further adieu, let’s kick it over to Davey and get the inside scoop!
How did you start thinking about the creation of this sub-brand? What inspired some of the decisions you made throughout the process?
Davey: The show Brandwagon is all about letting people know how accessible good marketing can be, so I wanted the sub-brand to reflect that. We wanted Brandwagon to feel familiar and somewhat nostalgic, but also tell viewers “you can do this too!.” So, I wanted to create a sense of attainability, but also give a lot of visual tools. I chose two fonts, one with hard edges that almost looked like it could have been pulled out of paper, to give a scrappy feel, and another that felt like something you’d see on a vintage talk show. And since we wanted Brandwagon to feel different, but still under the Wisita umbrella, we stuck with the colors Wistia already uses in their branding.
Tell us about the miniature set. What did executing on that vision look like in reality?
Davey: I really just thought it would be cool, so I went for it. It was one of those projects that made me think, “Wow, this could be really great, or really bad.” Everything was made by hand, from sourcing the materials with the help of Holly, another designer, to gluing the legs of the chair together. Then I worked with Stephen, one of our video producers, to execute on the filming of it. He had this micro lens that really changed everything. It was super long and small, but had a wide field of vision, which let us get the close up shots you see in the intro.
How did you make sure Brandwagon still felt aligned with Wistia’s overall brand?
Davey: I wanted to make sure Brandwagon felt distinct, but still cohesive with the brand we’ve already established with Wistia. So, like I said, I used the same brand colors and chose a condensed typeface, similar to what we did for One, Ten, One Hundred. So even though we never explicitly connected the two brands, if you are only somewhat familiar Wistia, Brandwagon shouldn’t feel like that much of a departure.
What advice do you have for someone making a sub-brand for their video series?
Davey: The first thing I’d say is to figure out how much you want the sub-brand to align with your parent brand and your overall strategy for releasing your shows. Start with the brand your company already has and use that to inspire the sub-brand for your video series. If you have multiple shows that you want to make look distinct from one another, then sub-branding is the way to go. Making a sub-brand can be really fun and is a great place to experiment with creativity. Try things out on social media and see what works. If it sticks, then that’s great! If it doesn’t, then at least you learned something along the way and can mix things up for next time.
We recently learned a lot about the importance of creating sub-brands from Dan Kenary, the CEO and Co-Founder of Harpoon Brewing, on our most recent episode of Brandwagon. He mentioned that Harpoon has created a number of sub-brands over the years in order to broaden their appeal. When Kenary started the business, he was committed to diversifying the beer market in the US, but once the competition caught up, it became clear they needed to expand the variety of the beer they offered.
Instead of creating beers under the Harpoon parent brand, they decided to create sub-brands for their different varieties and products. In doing so, they were able to expand their potential audience and appeal to a wider array of folks while still benefiting the overall Harpoon brand. Hear more from Dan on this below!
This rationale can also be applied to the video series you create at your business. For one, having a sub-brand can help expand your content’s reach. With Brandwagon, we had a pretty good feeling that a lot of people would be eager to learn about how to build a better brand — people that existed outside of our current database.
In order to appeal to that new audience, we knew creating a sub-brand that could hold its own and be visually appealing amongst all the other content that exists out there today would help us in that fight. By creating a sub-brand for Brandwagon, we were able to represent the show in a way that might entice folks who have never heard of Wistia before, but who could be interested in watching our content.
“By creating a sub-brand forBrandwagon, we were able to represent the show in a way that might entice folks who have never heard of Wistia before, but who could be interested in watching our content.”
Not only does a sub-brand help expand your reach, but it also allows you to highlight your company’s creativity. By default, creating a video series for your company will make your commitment to creativity apparent. But why stop there? If you’re going to create a video series, go big or go home! After all, our brains are hard-wired to be drawn to novel creative experiences. Making a sub-brand for your video series does take extra effort, but it gives your promotional efforts the chance to stand out in a cluttered social media feed.
From choosing a name to the colors you use there’s always a lot to consider when creating a sub-brand for your next video series. But no matter which direction you take, it’s important to always stay creative. Creative thinking is what drives any successful business and has helped us make some of our most important decisions to date. So start there and see where it takes you! No matter where you end up, chances are, you’ll learn a lot along the way. Already thinking of ways to expand your brand? Let us know in the comments below!
Start Identifying Your Brand Values by Answering These 6 Questions
“Salad is food, and a lion might be hungry,” writes Jay Acunzo, founder of Marketing Showrunners, in a blog post about collecting audience intel before launching a new show. “But you should never feed salad to a lion.” What’s Jay getting at here? Admittedly, without reading the whole article you may have no idea. To put it simply, he’s pointing out the fact that marketers need to create the right kind of content to succeed in the video series and podcast space — not just Any Old Show™️.
Deciding what kind of concept to run with can feel like an uphill battle, and without a crystal ball or omnipotent powers, it’s hard to know if your audience will enjoy watching or listening to the content you worked so hard to create. One strategy to consider when trying to land on the right concept is rooting the premise of your show in your brand values. Simon Sinek, an author, motivational speaker, and organizational consultant, once said people buy the “why” behind your organization, not the “how” or “what.” So, using your brand’s purpose to drive the creative direction of your show is one of the most effective ways to build a loyal, passionate audience.
But your audience also identifies with some of your brand values more than others. As a result, to create a show that resonates with your audience, you need to understand which of your brand values they care the most about. That’s why we’ve compiled a list of six, research-backed questions you can ask your customers, founders, and colleagues so you can truly understand which values resonate most.
Why did you choose us?
The overwhelming majority of your customers agreed to do business with you because they connected with you in a meaningful way. In fact, psychology has proven that emotions drive purchasing decisions while logic rationalizes them.
When you interview your customers, be sure to uncover the main reason why they resonated with your brand in the first place, and in turn, chose to do business with your brand. Their answers will reveal some of your most important brand values — the ones that ultimately convinced them that you were the right brand for them — so take note!
How would you describe our brand if it were a person?
In Jay Acunzo’s podcast with Drift, called Exceptions, he features an exceptionally creative B2B brand that’s relied on brand marketing to succeed in their industry. At the beginning of each episode, he asks one of the brand’s customers to describe the brand like a person in their life, which paints a vivid picture of what their customers truly admire about them.
For example, in an episode featuring ProfitWell, a subscription software service, the CEO of Tettra, Andy Cook, compares ProfitWell to his mother, who is the voice of truth in his life. When Andy started his first business, she steered his focus toward generating revenue instead of boosting secondary metrics. In other words, she helped him focus on the things that truly mattered while filtering out the fluff. As it turns out, this is exactly tied to ProfitWell’s mission: To help people find the truth using the power of data.
Humans evaluate brands based on the same personality traits they use to evaluate people, so asking your customers to describe your brand like a person in their life will clarify your brand’s attributes that resonate with them the most.
Why did you start this company?
There’s a compelling reason why your founders started the company you work at today, and more often than not, it definitely wasn’t just to make tons of money. Chances are there was a huge problem in your industry that ruffled their feathers, and your company’s founders set out to solve it. Sure, they saw a market opportunity, but their passion for solving the problem vastly outweighed their desire to cash-in on it.
Asking your founders why they started your company will reveal your company’s true purpose and, in turn, a brand value that will resonate with an audience. For instance, Yvon Chouinard started Patagonia to make environmentally friendly climbing tools that could replace pitons in the 1950s, which were metal spikes that mangled mountainsides. Ultimately, his unwavering passion for helping people explore the outdoors while preserving it is what prompted him to start the company. And it’s also a huge reason why Patagonia is a billion-dollar company today.
What do you value the most, personally?
Your founders’ own personal values tend to drive the direction of your company, but before you designate their personal values as your company’s brand values, get some feedback from your peers. It’s crucial that these personal values align with the business’ values as a whole, not just your founders.
Back when we first wrote (and rewrote) our company values at Wistia in 2015, we did an exercise to create values that reflected what our entire company stands for. Our new values pushed us to do something we never would’ve considered before: running a funny, creative mobile billboard during conference season in Boston.
Our billboard’s main purpose wasn’t to peddle our product — it was to take a creative risk that would connect with our customers, put a smile on their face, and teach us a lesson about marketing. This risky ad ended up being a hit with our customers, prompting them to tweet a ton of pictures of the billboard (featuring our office dog, Lenny, didn’t hurt either). Chances are, we wouldn’t have felt comfortable taking this risk had we not gotten super clear about our values and what risks we were and were not willing to take.
Why did you join our organization?
According to Jim Schleckser of the Inc. CEO Project, the majority of your employees joined your company because they believed in what you stand for, what you do, and the work they get to do. Like we mentioned before, your customers also likely do business with you because they support what you stand for and what you do, so tapping into what attracted your employees to your organization can uncover some brand values that will also resonate with customers.
For example, if most of your employees mention that they joined your company because of your commitment to creativity, then it’s worth figuring out if your founders and customers also agree with and resonate with this sentiment.
Why have you stayed here?
According to Harvard Business Review, the more aligned your employees’ and company’s values are, the more satisfied your employees will be, the more comfortable they’ll feel at work, the harder they’ll work, and, in turn, the longer they’ll stay. So, if you can uncover the genuine reasons why your most loyal employees still work at your organization, you could potentially uncover even more of your brand values that your customers will also passionately support.
For instance, if most of your employees praise your company’s dedication to a long-term strategy, then it could be one of your most important brand values, especially if your founders and customers also appreciate it.
After identifying the shared values that your customers, founders, and colleagues all say your company possesses, you can create a show concept that reflects them by creating a Show Positioning Statement. A Show Positioning Statement describes who you’re creating binge-worthy content for, what message you’re communicating, and why your audience should care.
Your Show Positioning Statement will have three elements: Audience, Insight, and Theme. Your audience is the niche audience you’re targeting, your insight is the problem your audience faces, and your theme, which is driven by your brand values, is the solution to that problem. Altogether, your Show Positioning Statement will look like this: “We connect with people who [audience] but [insight] by [theme].
These days, people buy more than your product — they buy what you stand for. And if you want to create binge-worthy content like video series and podcasts that will build a loyal audience, infusing the brand values that resonate most with your audience is the first step toward success.
Once you distill the values expressed from each group, you can paint a clearer picture of the brand values that should guide the direction your show ultimately takes. So, get out there, ask the tough questions, and get introspective on what makes your brand tick!
The Story Behind Cladwell’s Video Series Strategy
Cladwell is a personal styling app that makes getting dressed easy. What’s typically an expensive endeavor for clearing out overwhelming clutter and perfecting your wardrobe, Cladwell has made an affordable and accessible process for many. But the company’s values go far beyond only helping people enhance their personal style. For Cladwell, it’s also all about transforming the fashion industry into a force for good.
So, how are they showing people exactly what they stand for? Cladwell is creating binge-worthy content like The Making of Cladwell and using Wistia Channels to build their brand and grow their audience. Read on to learn more about their series and why they’re bought-in on producing episodic video content.
Cladwell’s Founder, Erin Flynn, comes from a content creation background, so she knows how powerful video can be for establishing a connection with potential customers. When she and her husband and co-owner, Colin, purchased the company this past year, she started carving out a video strategy to introduce Cladwell to the world and communicate their values.
To produce their video content, Erin and Colin worked with external contractors and their longtime collaborator and videographer-friend Levi Bethune of Le Video. With a self-proclaimed “scrappy” production strategy, Cladwell is a great example for many small businesses out there that you can get a lot done with some elbow grease, resourcefulness, and careful planning. It’s really inspiring to see it’s possible to create quality video content with very limited resources. Check it out!
From showing how Cladwell can help you simplify your lifestyle by creating a capsule wardrobe to explaining the major problems with fast fashion, each episode shares what they do and what they believe in. Although it looks like they produced each video as part of a series, these were one-off videos made entirely separately.
In order to keep people engaged and spend more time with their brand, Erin set out to find a way to group these videos together on Cladwell’s website, and that’s where we came in. With Wistia Channels, she was able to easily embed her videos right into a sleek-looking display that encouraged visitors to binge-watch each episode like they would a Netflix series. The final product is pretty neat if we do say so ourselves!
Here’s what the Channel looks like on their website:
The Making of Cladwell isn’t the only episodic series Erin is excited to feature on their site. Cladwell has also created four other additional series from repurposed content she’s produced over the past two years:
With all of these shows and more on the horizon, it’s clear that video is one of Cladwell’s primary marketing vehicles for building brand affinity with new and returning members of their audience. So, how do they come up with all of their ideas for the content they create? Well, Erin has a pulse on her niche audience’s interests because she is actually Cladwell’s ideal customer. Brainstorming creative ideas may seem like one of the biggest roadblocks to getting started with show creation, but if you’re like Erin, relating to and understanding what makes your customer tick is one of the best places to start.
Are you interested in creating episodic content just like Cladwell? After watching some of their videos, you may be inspired to pick up a camera and get going yourself (which is great!). But don’t forget, chances are you’ll still encounter some challenges along the way if you’re new to the world of video production. Erin wasn’t afraid to share with us that producing these videos without a game-plan would have been pretty tricky. She explained how it takes time, effort, and resources to create quality content you’re truly proud to share, so make the right investment up front and put your best foot forward.
And while the production process can be a taxing endeavor, that’s not where all of the hard work ends! Erin noted that once production is wrapped up, she still needs to think through how she wants to distribute all of that awesome content — which is just as important as creating it, and equally as challenging. In today’s marketing landscape, learning how to market your content like a media company is the key to social media success across multiple channels when the goal is audience acquisition for your brand with episodic content.
As a parting piece of advice for businesses ambivalent about getting started, Erin said you should believe in the story you have to tell and forget about producing your videos to perfection. For those of you who are thinking about embarking on a video series of your own or repurposing your content, look to Cladwell as an example. Despite having limited resources for production, their video strategy is super impressive and just goes to show how episodic content paired with the right creative strategy can really help your brand stand out.
Why Ads Alone Can’t Buy Your Brand Love
We like to believe in love at first sight, right? But real love takes time. If we think about the nature of ads, one impression might not be enough to grab someone’s attention — let alone make them fall in love with your brand in the blink of an eye. So, as marketers, we need a better way besides traditional advertising campaigns to get people to spend more time with our business and keep them coming back for more.
In this post, we’ll get real with you about the results of a $2M ad campaign we ran at Wistia and what we learned from our mistakes. To grow your audience and create true fans for your brand, here’s why your business should stop chasing after awareness and focus your marketing efforts on building affinity instead.
Don’t count your chickens before they hatch. Don’t bite off more than you can chew. Idioms aside, hopefully you’re starting to get the the picture. We went all-in on this one campagin and learned a ton along the way. At our live-streamed event, Change the Channel, our co-founders Chris Savage and Brendan Schwartz took a trip down memory lane and dug into just what happened after we saw the results from this blunder of an ad campaign (er, learning experience?).
A few years ago, we invested in a $2M ad campaign where we ran digital ads, plastered ourselves across highway billboards, produced NPR spots — the whole shebang. Here’s a look at one of the ads we made. We still stand by its cuteness, for the record:
Our goal was to create more brand awareness with this campaign. We originally thought that if we could just increase awareness, more people would care about us, which would move the needle and help grow the business.
“We originally thought that if we could just increase awareness, more people would care about us, which would move the needle and help grow the business.”
After analyzing the results, the campaign got 43 million impressions, which was a pretty impressive number by itself. However, traffic back to our site was actually lower than a reasonably successful blog post we distributed around the same time. When we asked ourselves, “Did more people really care about Wistia or find our products?” The answer was a humbling and resounding, no.
When it comes to ads, we all like to think we’ll be the exception to the rule. But the truth is that although advertising is great for building awareness — always has been, and always will be — it’s not great for building affinity. Awareness alone is not enough to grow your business, which is what we realized after that cool $2M went down the drain. Luckily, this loss wasn’t a major setback to our business, but we know that’s not the case for many other businesses out there. That’s why we want to help you learn from our mistakes.
What is brand affinity?
It’s the most enduring and valuable level of a relationship between a business and consumer based on the mutual belief that they share common values.
Making people aware of your business doesn’t necessarily mean they’ll be motivated to care about you, sign up to learn more about your product, or tell other folks about you. Someone needs to have a connection to you. They need to know that they share your values, and they need to spend time with you to become a brand advocate. Brand love is built on affinity, and this is something great brands have already figured out. Now it’s time for small and medium-sized businesses to also re-focus their efforts on building brand affinity in today’s marketing landscape.
Looking back at those 43 million impressions from our ad campaign, we learned a tough lesson, which is that impressions don’t necessarily equal the number of people impressed. As we explain in our Brand Affinity Marketing Playbook, consumers have become adept at mentally ignoring things they don’t want to see across the web. It’s no longer the case that by exposing them to a compelling tagline or 10-second video upwards of seven times, customers will come to know and trust your company name.
Of course, there is the exception that proves the rule. Occasionally, a campaign will hugely impact a company’s reputation by going viral and achieving PR success, but these cost a fortune and are one in a million.
What small and medium-sized businesses should know is the vast majority of advertising campaigns have little genuine impact on the trust and affection people have for a brand. To mask this problem, distribution platforms measure success with metrics like impressions, clicks, and views, giving trivial passing interactions the same weight as meaningful engagements. So, although 43 million impressions sounded like we gained millions of new brand fans for Wistia, it simply wasn’t the case.
“What small and medium-sized businesses should know is the vast majority of advertising campaigns have little genuine impact on the trust and affection people have for a brand.”
How are we seeing some of the greatest brands doing Brand Affinity Marketing? They’re creating entertaining, binge-worthy content that aligns with their brand values without asking for anything in return. The result? More brand advocates for their businesses. With Brand Affinity Marketing, you can gain more loyal fans for your brand that can help drive your business forward. Now that you understand the mistakes we made trying to build our brand by focusing our efforts on gaining awareness, you can re-evaluate your strategy, and hopefully, start growing your brand affinity.
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