Branding, Buzz, and Team Communication
Posted by Joe M. Turner | TurnerMagic.com on November 5, 2010
How Magic Works In Corporate Settings
Part Five: Branding, Buzz, and Team Communication
One of my recent clients brought an interesting magic communication project for me to address with Message-Driven Entertainment: a launch of a new brand, but with an important twist.
Now I’ve been part of other promotional events and launch events before, but they were usually targeted to clients and/or consumers. Advertising and marketing campaigns, trade show exhibits – this is standard fare for the magic-enhanced edutainment presenter.
This client’s event, however, was targeted to an internal audience of employees, including developers, sales reps, marketing folks, and others. The new brand identity – specifically, new logos and a new tagline – was being rolled out and these people would be the first to see the final results.
Internal and External Audiences
In a standard launch for consumers, there are some obvious advantages (as well as some risks, which Gap recently learned). First, the external consumer audience is often a clean slate. They have no idea that a new launch is coming, and largely have no skin in the game with regard to one design over another. Furthermore, they are probably unaware of the leadership dynamics within the company, or any competing factions. In the absence of a truly loved brand – and let’s face it, most brands are not truly loved – the details of the process behind the change are usually trivial to all but the most dedicated fans. You can sell the new brand (the product) on its merits.
In an internal launch, much of that goes out the window. Employees are not a clean slate – they know what happened, where, to whom, when, how hard, and for what reason. They have relationships with other employees and leaders up and down the org chart, and if there are tensions, they know about it. Everyone knows all the marketing messages, but they also know if there are any caveats or “yes, but” qualifiers behind those messages. In this case, you still have to sell the new brand on its merits – but you also have to achieve some buy-in for the change.
Selling the Process
My approach for this event was to sell not just the product, but the process. This client had taken the smart route, with numerous surveys and checkpoints with employees, customers, and other external sources. This process had been fairly lengthy, though, spanning many months. Employees had not all been privy to drafts along the way; they would be seeing the final result a long time after their contribution to the process had taken place.
In addition to simply unveiling the new look, I knew it was important to reemphasize for the employees that they had been a key part of the process, and even if the new look wasn’t precisely their cup of tea, they needed to be reassured that the end result had been reached with their contributions as an important component.
The opening of my program was a review of the process, reminding the audience from the very beginning that they had been part of the process. This part of the program included terms like “How many of you remember…” and “As you recall…” and “Way back in April.” The process was explained until all the pieces of the process visually and magically melded into a large print of the new brand. It was not a sermon, just a quick reminder of the process.
Where To Now?
Once the new look was out in front of everyone, the rest of the program focused on helping everyone understand what the messages behind the logo were, as related to key benefits to the different customer groups.
I used customized visual and psychological illusions to reinforce the specific benefits that the client’s marketing team wanted to emphasize. In the case of this product, those key benefits were saving time, saving money, and saving hassles by using a tool designed to facilitate regulatory compliance.
- In the case of saving time, I presented a magical effect developed by Alex Elmsley that concludes with a “traveling back in time” moment. By saving customers time, we are metaphorically giving them the ability to “go back in time” and reclaim what would have been additional minutes spent on each transaction.
- To emphasize saving money, I turned to a classic comedy routine in which a borrowed hundred dollar bill is burned and eventually restored. Messages to customers: don’t burn your money on inferior products, time saved is money saved, and our product’s streamlined efficiency is reflected in our new brand.
- Finally, the complexities of regulatory compliance were represented as a snare that entangles people and organizations, often simply by accident, due to the complexities and details of the law and regulations surrounding their industry. The client’s product enables customers to complete all the processes and stay compliant. To illustrate, my wrists were bound with rope by two of the team members, and I escaped from the bonds with a comic flair.
The end result? The client had an engaged, attentive team who not only understood their contributions to the new brand, but who were fully equipped to discuss the key benefits with their customers. That’s a great place to be, but the bonus is that we all had a great time getting there.
Here’s how my clients put it:
“We are so lucky that we found Joe Turner! We wanted to give a creative twist to the re-launch of our new brand identity for our employees and we got so much more! Joe worked with us and did his homework to help us communicate our new brand and key messages in a very creative and memorable way. The employees loved it and will remember this event for a long time. We will definitely look for ways to work with Joe again.”
— Director of Marketing
“Joe is perfect for corporate events! Entertaining, smart, creative; all those things for sure. But most of all, we loved how adaptable and creative Joe was in tailoring his ‘show’ to fit with our marketing message! Excellent fit. We’ve had other ideas on how to use his talents and hope to do so in the future.”
— Senior VP and General Manager
The underlying point of the story is this: professional entertainment can enhance messaging, but it has to be handled skillfully. It requires more than just a cool talent or stage presence — it also takes someone who has been there and “gets it.” When choosing someone to integrate messaging and entertainment, you want someone with real-world talent and experience in both arenas. It’s a unique skill-set, but if you’re reading this blog, you’re connected to the right resource.
I treat your message with the same respect that you do. It is not trivialized, boiler-plated, or caricatured. When you select me to work with you on a marketing or branding event, I supply the showbiz talent and even change management expertise, but your message is the real star of the show.
Let’s work together to make your trade show, product launch, brand introduction, or other message-driven event a spectacular success!