January 18, 2021
Case Study

Branding: 8 lessons to help you make the most effective brand decisions every day


When marketers talk about branding, the focus is often on the big – major logo redesign efforts, mood boards, stadium naming rights.

Let’s get small. Branding isn’t a once-a-generation exercise. It affects (and if you’re not careful can overshadow) day-to-day decisions around messaging, usability, and even what you say.

Read on for practical, everyday branding examples from a roadside convenience store chain, an influencer discovery platform, a PR expert, and a transportation company.

by Daniel Burstein, Senior Director, Content & Marketing, MarketingSherpa and MECLABS Institute

Branding: 8 lessons to help you make the most effective brand decisions every day

This article was originally published in the MarketingSherpa email newsletter.

Lesson #1: A good brand can obscure bad marketing

A good brand is a powerful asset in the marketplace.

But that power can blind you to inadequacies in the rest of your marketing funnel.

“Beware of those situations where the power of the brand obscures the quality (or lack thereof) in your messaging,” said Flint McGlaughlin, Managing Director and CEO, MECLABS Institute (parent organization of MarketingSherpa).

You can watch McGlaughlin review UBER’s landing page to see if the UX matches UBER’s brand power in the Beware of the Power of Brand: How a powerful brand can obscure the (urgent) need for optimization Quick Win Clinic from MarketingExperiments (sister publication to MarketingSherpa).

Lesson #2: Explore brand extensions

Stuckey’s was founded in 1937 as a roadside oasis selling pecan log rolls, candies and kitschy merchandise. Since buying Stuckey’s in late 2019, Stephanie Stuckey has been working to re-brand the company that was originally founded by her grandfather. Her team has focused on building the loyal customer base while also connecting with today’s consumers. Stuckey’s is changing recipes, expanding its lineup of healthy snacks based on Georgia-grown pecans, and creating brand extensions like pecan-flavored beer.

"We’re breathing new life into the Stuckey’s brand by collaborating with innovative partners like Wild Heaven that share our love for Southern culture,” said Stephanie Stuckey, CEO, Stuckey’s.

The roadside convenience store chain partnered with Wild Heaven Beer to make a brew that evokes Stuckey’s most popular product. “I wanted to make a beer that still tastes like beer while spotlighting what makes people love the pecan log roll,” said Eric Johnson, Brewmaster, Wild Heaven Beer.

Lesson #3: Crowdsourcing works

Crowdsourcing has played a role in some of the re-branding decisions. “We used feedback from Facebook and LinkedIn to evaluate logo choices,” Stuckey said. The social community chose a nostalgic logo and archival images, so the team replaced the chain’s 1980’s logo and went with the classic logo from the 1960’s that resonated strongly with its loyal customer base.

Lesson #4: Heritage matters

Stuckey’s helped grow its social reach by expanding the company history section to include more photos and an FAQ (frequently asked questions) section. “The data told us our audience wanted more of this heritage content, and this user-focused approach has helped us build our community of brand advocates,” Stuckey said.

Lesson #5: Location marketing is important

Critical to Stuckey’s rebranding is upgrading its website, which is a work-in-progress guided by regular reviews of analytics to highlight content most relevant to users.

The most searched for term after “Stuckey’s” was “find a Stuckey’s,” so the team invested in a plug-in function to enable users to find the nearest location and culled data on each store to provide a full listing of amenities offered. They also placed the “Store Locator” button at the top of the site.

Lesson #6: Be agile in response to data

Sales data showed the Stuckey’s team that consistent best-selling items were various pecan log roll sizes and varieties, so they pulled out the pecan log roll item from the candy section and created it as a separate nav header, listed first in the site navigation.

Creative Sample #1: Site navigation for roadside convenience store chain’s website

Creative Sample #1: Site navigation for roadside convenience store chain’s website

“Stuckey’s rebranding in 2020 contributed to improved profitability, online sales growth and social media engagement as the company built up its base of loyal followers and reached new consumers,” Stuckey said.

Online sales increased more than 285 percent from November 26, 2019 compared with the same date in 2020. Facebook daily views more than doubled in the past year increasing to more than 11,000 on November 26, 2020.

Stuckey actively uses LinkedIn to tell her heritage brand story, engaging with other business leaders, and traffic on the B2B social channel has increased dramatically since she became CEO of Stuckey’s in November 2019. She now has more than 26,000 LinkedIn followers and gets about 1,000 connect requests a week.

Lesson #7: Powerful web presence and top-notch UX can elevate your brand

“Branding has the power to enhance user experience or make your site visitors leave as soon as they come,” said David Morneau, Co-founder, inBeat.

When inBeat started a bit less than a year ago, the team experimented with different styles of landing pages, logos, brand colors, fonts, CTAs, etc. “We came to the conclusion that simplicity is the key to a flawless UX (user experience). The fewer distractions are there for the user, the more likely the user will enjoy interacting with your website,” Morneau said.

The TikTok and Instagram influencer discovery platform changed its logo to a minimalistic version.

Creative Sample #2: Old logo for influencer discovery platform

Creative Sample #2: Old logo for influencer discovery platform

Creative Sample #3: New logo for influencer discovery platform

Creative Sample #3: New logo for influencer discovery platform

They also simplified the UX by making CTAs (calls to action) bolder and more visible and reducing space taken by the logo, illustrations, and other unnecessary elements.

Creative Sample #4: Previous page with less prominent CTA

Creative Sample #4: Previous page with less prominent CTA

Creative Sample #5: New page with more prominent CTA

Creative Sample #5: New page with more prominent CTA

After understanding what customers were looking for in the UX, the team changed other pages to make them sleeker and more comfortable to navigate. For example, the team removed graphics, reduced the color palette to three to four colors, increased font sizes, and added ample white space to the “create a campaign” page.

Creative Sample #6: Previous “create a campaign” page

Creative Sample #6: Previous “create a campaign” page

Creative Sample #7: New “create a campaign” page

Creative Sample #7: New “create a campaign” page

As a result of this re-branding effort, the number of site visitors grew from 3,000 to 30,000 a month in just six months. Off-site and on-site SEO efforts played a role as well, but reduced bounced rates (by 20%) and increased average session duration (by 30 seconds) helped the site rank better. “Search engines care about your content, backlink profile, and keywords. But it is equally important how good you are at retaining users and making them come back. This is where branding plays a crucial role because it defines the colors, fonts, illustrations, graphics, text blocks, and your website's overall style,” Morneau said.

Lesson #8: There is no such thing as off the record

And lastly, a word of caution. While it can take years and significant effort to build a strong brand, that brand can be imploded in the blink of an eye if you’re not careful.

If you say something out loud, then it is out there and can be used. “Whether it is a newspaper interview, podcast pre-call, or networking event (online or in real life), only say and communicate what you are happy to [have] used. If in doubt about something, leave it and go back later when you have made sure that what you are saying is true, transparent, and on-brand,” said Natalie Trice of Natalie Trice Communications.

“Remember, that PR (public relations) is a marathon, not a sprint. Look at your efforts being consistent over the year. Yes, a massive piece in The Times is great, but what you are looking for is ongoing mentions in the media, so you are being seen by the right people (your clients and potential clients) on a regular basis and are part of the conversation,” she advised.

Related Resources

Mini Marketing Case Studies: 8 lessons for effective branding

Digital Marketing: What is a 21st century brand?

Branding: Online-focused rebranding increases website traffic 20%, Facebook fans 1,000%, YouTube subscribers 70%

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