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Memes are part of the Internet in the same way as food pictures are part of Instagram. Success Kid, Bad Luck Brian, That’d be great or Grumpy Cat are some of the best known memes out there and have had countless users laughing. At first glance, memes seem like trivial forms of modern online culture. But if you look again, many memes are really creative, pick up on current events and convey political opinions. So, it’s also time to take memes seriously in online marketing. You can discover the different types of memes and how to use them for communicative purposes here.

Memes are now an integral part of social media

My grandmother and older generations are probably shrugging their shoulders when it comes to the question of what memes actually are. The term meme is a derivation of the Greek word “mimema”, which means “imitated”. Memes are photos, videos, GIFs or social media posts whose content, form or message is imitated or modified in a creative way. Memes are then shared via channels such as Instagram and Twitter or even special meme websites and blogs.

39% of German Internet users know what memes are and more than a third have shared these kind of images and videos before. Memes are already very popular with 16 to 29-year-olds online. In fact, 43% of young users regularly share them and 37% even regard memes as art (Bitkom Research, 2019).

Meme marketing: a creative content format for brands

Memes are no longer only created by millennials and GenZ’s – more and more customers and companies now also use memes to reach younger target audiences and to transmit a humorous brand image. To do this, brands can follow two different strategies. They can either create their own, new memes, or jump on the hype wagon of an existing meme.

The beauty brand Glossier often integrates memes it has created alongside product photos on its Instagram feed and effortlessly combines “Internet Ugly” with modern Instagram aesthetics.

How brands can modify and adapt existing memes for themselves can be seen in the current example of Area 51 memes. Background: Two million users responded to a Facebook event on 20 September 2019 that invited them to storm Area 51 in Nevada. Conspiracy theories suggest that aliens are hidden in the highly classified United States government facility. Thousands of memes have resulted from this event and many brands have joined the hype with creativity and humour.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Whether created or adopted, if brand memes are done well, they can lead to high visibility and increased engagement. In times of infinite content but limited receptivity, memes are an appropriate format to stand out from the crowd and grab consumers’ attention.

Meme accounts and memers as content producers

A company decides to integrate memes into its marketing strategy and tasks its marketing agency with the implementation. But where can the agency employees find the right memes to use for their customers’ creative marketing? Websites such as reddit, me.me, cheezburger and knowyourmeme have extensive meme collections.. Knowyourmeme is particularly helpful as it also explains the meaning and the origin of the meme, as well as showing several variations of the meme.

There are also a number of meme accounts on Instagram, which have considerable reach with millions of followers. The biggest accounts include @epicfunnypage (16.8 million followers) @fuckjerry (14.4 million followers) and @sarcasm_only (14 million followers). These accounts are bigger than the accounts of many beauty, fashion and lifestyle influencers. This is why it is time to take the meme community seriously and to see memers and operators of meme accounts as relevant content producers or curators. They know their community and understand the humour of their young followers the best, so agencies and brands should make use of their expertise and collaborate more with them in the future.

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Authors: Florian Haller, CEO Serviceplan Group, and Niklas Schaffmeister, Managing Partner Globeone

Again and again, brand managers underestimate the simple fact that brands are first and foremost created in the minds of local consumers. The results don´t always meet the expectations of the top management at HQ. A Volkswagen may be a mid-size car in Germany, in China it is definitely a premium car for most buyers and perhaps even a luxury car in India. The development of an international positioning strategy therefore requires a thorough analysis of one’s own brand perception in the target market. This is necessary to ensure that the communication of one’s own strengths can be aligned with consumer needs. In recent years, we at Globeone and Serviceplan have advised numerous blue-chip clients and brands in international expansion projects. Based on this experience, we have identified four major stumbling blocks in brand communication that may cause an international positioning to falter. For all the details, see our new Springer publication “Successful brand development in the major emerging markets”, written in German, by Niklas Schaffmeister (Managing Partner Globeone) and Florian Haller (CEO Serviceplan Group).

1. Brand awareness: Wishful thinking should not subdue reality

It is an old truism: awareness is not everything, but without awareness almost everything is nothing. However, brand awareness cannot be achieved with the crowbar – especially not in large emerging markets, which are difficult to understand due to their enormous geographical spread and diversity. In addition, there are often horrendous costs for classic media, frequently forcing brands to switch to cheaper digital advertising channels. This, however, runs the risk of communicating below the critical perception threshold in the fight for the attention of target groups. The development of brand awareness should therefore not be based on intuitive assumptions about consumer needs, but on empirically proven facts and a well thought out communication concept.

2. Brand image: Known but without profile

If a brand enjoys excellent recognition values but is hardly bought, it usually has a veritable image problem. The brand has not been sufficiently focused on the wishes and needs of local consumers or is simply interchangeable because it is not sufficiently differentiated from competitors. In this case it is important to act quickly in order to not jeopardize the success of market entry in the long term. A clear understanding of the brand drivers – i.e. the most important decision factors for a brand – must be developed and translated into a convincing communication concept and storytelling that sufficiently differentiates from local champion brands.

3. Country-of-origin: Communicating the strengths of the country of origin correctly

Notably in the premium segment, brands can often benefit from the image of their country-of-origin. This so-called image transfer from the country-of-origin to the brand (e.g. “Made in Germany”) is an important competitive advantage that is difficult to imitate. Nevertheless, brands frequently fail to properly bring this advantage of a strong and positive country-of-origin image to bear in their communication concepts. Often there is simply no strategic storytelling that systematically establishes the connection between the brand tradition and the history of the country-of-origin. But strong brands live from exciting stories about their origins.

4. Purchase activation and loyalty: If the customer still does not show up

Even with high popularity and image values, sales figures may fall short of industry standards. Usually two things lead to this problem: either a narrow focus on an undersized target group, or an incomprehensive local sales and logistics structure. Brands must regularly ask themselves whether they are attractively priced for a sufficiently large target group and whether they are actually available everywhere. Digital sales channels may help, if a brand can’t build enough local branches.

A comprehensive brand monitor in the corresponding target country will help to identify and avoid these stumbling blocks. However, the conceptual effort should not be underestimated: careful preparation is essential in order to understand the local perception and performance of your own brand correctly.

 

Lufthansa’s new look is a model example of thoughtful and intelligent modernisation of a long-established brand. The new look exudes the feeling and respect for the brand and its history, and you get a sense that design methods have been correctly used.

Everything seems familiar, but the new look seems to be simultaneously much clearer, fresher, more elegant and more dynamic. Especially in the case of a successful, evolutionary step, it is worth taking a close look to understand which changes have had which effects. First off is Lufthansa’s most striking symbol – the crane. The brand icon also still seems the same at first glance. However, on taking a closer look, you can see that it is leaner and thereby more dynamic. The character and style have however remained unchanged.

The biggest change that customers will see is perhaps the change in the use of Lufthansa’s corporate colours. The most striking feature is on the aircraft itself: the yellow circle on the blue tail fin is missing.

Colour creates semantic references. Yellow stands for warmth and emotion; blue stands for trust and quality. It is therefore not surprising if people will miss the yellow, i.e. the symbol for emotion, on the aircraft and that a highly controversial discussion of the new corporate design, and in particular the paintwork on the aircraft, is likely to ensue. Looking at the image as a whole, it is obvious that the colour palette has in essence remained the same, but that blue is now clearly the main colour. Yellow is used in places on the signage where trust and closeness should be created.
For digital use, simplifying the colours within the corporate system is certainly the right step.

The new typography is more modern and has gained in character without losing the required objectivity, clarity and seriousness. It is an alignment with the spirit of the times without following it opportunistically.

On the whole, Lufthansa’s new look as a brand provides new impetus and brings a new self-confidence to the fore. It is perhaps a little more distant than before, but this may also be a new facet of the new identity of a German brand on the road to globalisation.