by Steve Wagner
You don’t have to have friends like Weird Al to appreciate the fact that Yankovic is a huge brand. Yankovic focuses on parody, he is clever, he can make you smile and he wears an outrageous outfit with equally matching hair (or wigs). With that characterization, Rebecca Ritz began her topic, one of several at this year’s Eastern Wine Expo. “The interesting thing about Weird Al is that he knows his target audience,” she says, “and what they find funny. He nails it almost every time he does a parody video.”
Ritz tells her audiences that she and her business partner, Michelle Sciuto, operate a business called Bauerhaus Design, Will Design for Wine. The duo shares 30 years of branding and marketing experience, working with hundreds of small businesses, including wineries.
Ritz said Weird’s solid branding and marketing strategy can be adapted by wine marketers. Ritz defines a brand as a logo, design elements and photos, tone of voice, colors, a personality, a story and even how a customer is greeted at the door. To illustrate, Ritz threw up a photo on the screen that had a bottle of golden ale resting atop a piling at the beach. A slice of lime was tucked into the bottleneck opening. A ‘nude beach’ sign in the background teases the libido. Blue skies were evident along with low tide waves lapping the shoreline. “You know right away the beer is Corona,” explained Ritz. “There is no Corona label on the bottle so how do you know that? You know because Corona has consistently used beach photos, beers with limes, and blue skies, all very relaxing.”
Ritz said our senses take in about 11 million bits of information every second, but that we are only conscious of about 40 of those bits of that information. This is called Unconscious Branding. “Let’s say you are driving to work,” Ritz hypothesized. “You’re thinking ‘I have to do this when I get to work, and do that; and when you get to work, you ask ‘how did I get here?’ That’s what this is about. All this information is coming to you all the time, whether you know it or not.”
To be successful with your wine branding, there is one thing you should not do, and a couple of things you should not fail to do. “If a winery comes to me and says I want a wine label that focuses on every single wine drinker in the world,” Ritz says, “that is not going to be a successful label.” Rather, she suggests, picking a niche (not all wine drinkers), and try to know your audience’s personality. Ritz makes her clients write the following sentence: Only (your winery) delivers (unique differentiating benefit) to (target audience). You have then defined your brand and your niche. To cite an example, there is a wine brand that focuses on millennials. “This wine brand has a very casual logo,” according to Ritz, “and their wine labels are very non-traditional. It does not look like a typical wine label. All of their marketing reflects this, their website, social media, tech savvy, and all of their emails are very casual to make wine fun.”
Weird Al, she said, is great because he is a unique brand, is consistent, embraces social media, keeps it current, is obsessed with details and partners up. Elaborating on the part about embracing social media, Ritz counsels that it is advantageous having active Facebook, Twitter, Pinterest, Instagram and/or You Tube accounts. Also, when you have a new product or brand, don’t merely announce with a press release; think viral. “Weird Al,” she notes, “launched eight videos over eight days online. He didn’t just say ‘hey, I have this new album coming out.’ He built momentum. He used a hashtag – #8videos8days.”
Furthermore, she adds, there are five mistakes businesses make in social media, and they can be avoided.
- Multiple Personality Disorder – not staying true to your brand online. If your brand is light and fun like Weird Al’s, don’t try to be serious on your Facebook page. The look, tone, and message of your social media posts should feel the same as if your visitor was visiting the website. Be consistent.
- The Cold Shoulder – don’t create a social media account and forget about it. It’s about creating relationships. Create content, and engage with interested seekers. Respond within one business day, or sooner.
- Don’t be THAT person – social media is a conversation; it can’t all be about you. Ask questions, share articles and videos, stories and testimonials.
- Location location location – not knowing your customers and where they spend time online. You won’t reach baby boomers on Instagram.
- Power of the # sign – not utilizing hashtags which serve as searchable keywords or phrases on social media platforms. Example #WillDesignforWine. Or #SellMoreWine.