Marketing ethics has always been a never-ending conversation, especially considering the ongoing changes in our technology and the way we market. Today, we’re talking about ways your business can promote ethical marketing, and how to apply these practices in your next campaign while navigating through the Information age.
Advancements in Ethical Marketing
At first glance, marketing ethics can come off as simple – often viewed as just being honest with your advertisements and not promoting scams. But with the integration of digital marketing, there are much more complex, ethically charged dilemmas at hand that marketers come across on a day-to-day basis. If handled incorrectly, these dilemmas can hurt your brand’s reputation and cost you customers. Recent surveys show that 35% of consumers have stopped buying from brands they perceive as unethical, even if there’s no substitute available. That said, there are many approaches your company can take to tackle these ethical dilemmas and promote brand integrity.
Here are some common ethical dilemmas of the information age:
How you obtain and use your data is everything when it comes to marketing tactics and campaigns. Surveys show that around 1 in 4 employees are uncomfortable with not only how their companies buy their data, but how they use it. This leads to the conversation of data ethics and establishing goals within your company to promote ethical data use. Data goals look different for every company in terms of tracking, reporting, and level of controls. This requires internal transparency and accountability, as there aren’t clear universal rules. A good start is to design your programs from the start to be transparent, for everyone in the company, and for consumers. There should also be equal expectations for data usage with your partners, suppliers, and publishers.
Privacy & Transparency
Privacy is another concern that’s always on consumers’ minds, and we can’t talk about its standards and rules without mentioning the General Data Protection Regulation (GDPR). The GDPR is by far the most comprehensive set of data protection regulations in the entire world, and provides clear digital marketing guidelines on consent, data transfers, breach reporting requirements, and limits on automated data processing. While 47% of people say they have greater trust in companies because of GDPR improvements, providing security to ensure your consumers’ data is not at risk should always be a priority. Since 84% of customers say they’re more loyal to companies with strong security controls – it’s safe to say (no pun intended) that an extra security spend is worth the cost. Ultimately, privacy boils down to being transparent with your consumers while keeping their data and information confidential.
Advancements in digital marketing have enabled marketers to target their advertising campaigns around specific user data and demographics, which can lead to several different ethical dilemmas. The American Marketing Association spoke about these targeting issues best, by saying, “While there are some good ways to target by group, targeting or excluding by race, sex, sexual orientation or other immutable traits is largely ineffective and, at worst, unethical.” This leads to the concept of ethical target marketing, where companies will research consumers to see what ways an individual might purchase a product without taking advantage of their information. While companies can advertise to certain groups, there needs to be an emphasis on making sure the message isn’t offensive or discriminatory.
Honoring & Upholding Commitments
This may come off as obvious, but it’s important to place integrity on your company’s end when marketing a product or service. Make sure your commitments within marketing statements are both upheld and correct, and that you’re actively deleting loopholes within your advertisements and contracts. Then, ensure that all content presented is not misleading and easy to follow. Provide complete information on product features or service specifications.
We know there are a ton of moving parts when it comes to marketing ethics – and it can be overwhelming. That’s okay. At the end of the day, what’s most important is putting your consumer’s needs, privacy, and safety first – and letting everything else fall into place.
Feeling informed and motived? Contact us today to learn more about how we can take your next (ethical) marketing campaign to a whole new level.
With the Top 10 (Other) Best Rebrands & Refreshes
We can’t believe we’re already celebrating the one-year anniversary of Strata’s brand refresh. It’s been quite a year (to say the least). But we can honestly say that, with all of the struggles of 2020-2021, our brand refresh wasn’t one of them. If it did anything (and it did a lot), it definitely brought us together, made us more confident, and better showcased our personality, vision, team, and solutions. The brand refresh catapulted Strata into 2020, helping us solidify our style and services, attract new talent, and stay inspired.
When we decided we needed a new look – we had to pick between a full rebrand or a refresh. For us, the answer was easy. A complete rebrand would have required scrapping our identity and starting from scratch, where a refresh allowed us to keep our main identity and strategy intact. Our brand was strong with our current clients and we had a great reputation as problem solvers and solutions experts – so a refresh was perfect for what we needed to do.
With any rebrand or brand refresh – “consistency across all channels is key”. Over the past year, we’ve ensured that all our materials – from website to print, are on-brand.
Since we now have a bit of rebrand and refresh experience under our belts, we wanted to take a look at the top 10 best company rebrands and refreshes (in our eyes) besides Strata’s, of course.
Our Top 10
Dropbox refreshed its brand in 2017, and it was nothing short of successful. The company worked with design studio “Collins” to create a cleaner and simpler logo and lots of illustrative elements to better connect with their primarily creative and collaborative audience.
Airbnb did a full rebrand in 2014 with Design Studio, sending their team of designers to 13 cities to truly immerse themselves in Airbnb’s offerings, community, and mission. It resulted in a beautiful brand that differentiated Airbnb from its similar competitors. The CEO of Airbnb even stated, “When I look at this brand, I suddenly realized everything I’ve been trying to say, now we have a way to express it.”
“There are very few companies in the world that managed to change the public perception of their brand as successfully as Walmart did.” In 2008, Walmart made this change to get away from their “always low prices” slogan that often-made customers feel like it was also “always low quality”. They also wanted to steer clear of the questionable corporate practices they were called out for in the early 2000s. So, Walmart did a complete 360 with a whole new brand from redesigned stores to a new look and personality.
We love this brand refresh because it reminds us of ours. Without a complete overhaul, Southwest changed its look and logo to showcase their humanity and heart – literally.
Good old Guinness. Many love it, others don’t, but it always holds true that Guinness makes us feel like we’re back in the olden days, sipping a brew in the pub. Instead of following the crowd of flat logo designs, Guinness actually added detail to its logo in 2016, working “with real harp makers to breathe new life into the legendary logo” that “could be built into an actual harp that would work properly and be in tune.”
Starbucks is loved by many – and dare we say it – is mainly successful because of its brand (although we do love it a latte). They’ve made slight changes over time to the brand, always increasing their user experience and recognizability with a “distinctive color scheme, typography, and illustrations.”
You may not have really noticed Taco Bell’s brand refresh until now – but its cleaner, simpler look has helped it stay relevant among its many fast food and taco chain competitors. Along with this well-done refresh, Taco Bell has been named “one of the healthiest fast-food chains in America,” so, they’re doing quite well.
In 2016, Mastercard conducted a refresh with Pentagram to emphasize “simplicity, connectivity and seamlessness.” It’s simple and sleek look of just the famous two overlapping circles is surprising, but logic-based. “The change follows research by Mastercard that found that more than three quarters of people asked were able to identify the brand from the two interlocking circles alone.
For the first time in 20 years, Burger King conducted a brand refresh with a new logo, uniforms, and packaging – and we love its nostalgic look. The new logo is actually very close to BK’s logo design from the 70s-90s. The creative agency on the project wanted to “pay homage to the brand’s heritage with a refined design that’s confident, simple and fun.”
Last but not least, Intel’s 2020 refresh caught our eye because of its subtle hints to past logos. Again, it refers back to their past while being currently relevant. “This new logo includes elements of both (past logos), but in a much more subtle, minimalist way.”
To take a more in-depth look back at our brand refresh, visit our original refresh blog, here. If you’re looking to make your branding and marketing communications more effective and efficient, give Strata a call.
Get to Know These Tracking Treats
Within the world of marketing, there’s a lot of buzz around the topic of cookies and what the future holds for tracking website visitors and generating personalized advertisements. While the topic’s relevant, not many people are completely informed on what cookies are and the impact they have on our ability to create better customer experiences. In this blog, we’re going over what cookies are, the differences between first-party and third-party cookies, and the future of online tracking.
So, What Are “Cookies”?
Although many of us are “foodies” here at Strata, and could talk about a good dessert all day, this blog isn’t about Oreo or Chips Ahoy. We’re talking about web “cookies” – text files put into a user’s browser page while they’re visiting a website. Cookies are known by several names – web cookie, internet cookie, browser cookie, or HTTP cookie, but they’re all the same, and in general, they track and log browsing activity against identification data such as IP addresses. Why is this information useful? Primarily, cookies help save information about a user in order to personalize their website experience and the advertisements they’re shown.
While cookies have enjoyed a childhood free of regulation, their “free-willy” time is coming to an end with recent regulatory initiatives driven by an increase in public concern over internet privacy. The first major change came when General Data Protection Regulation (GDPR) made consent mandatory in order to track visitors on a website. To give you a feel for the impact of GDPR – about 11% of users click to “accept all cookies”, 76% of users ignore the banner completely, 12% close the cookie banner, and 0.5% of users actually open up cookie settings, read through terms and agreements, and sometimes make adjustments. These numbers are misleading, however – what GDPR essentially did was force the user to choose between viewing the desired content and accepting cookies OR (with exceptions) leaving the site entirely. So, while it looked good – almost all of the visitors in the stats above were still being tracked.
At this point, you might be thinking that we need to eradicate the cookie – if so, hold that thought. Cookies almost always make your experience on the web better – they’re your friend, not your enemy. To solve privacy concerns – which is the intent of all privacy-centric regulation – we’ll need to jump down a level. There are two major types of cookies – First-Party and Third-Party. Both contain the same pieces of data and technically can conduct the same actions, but they’re created differently, used differently, and have different benefits for distinctive situations. Let’s get into each one.
These cookies allow website owners to collect analytical data, remember individual user settings or content (remembering what’s in a user’s shopping cart, their language preferences, or their username and password), and perform useful functions to provide better user experience. That last part is important – first-party cookies primary purpose is to deliver more relevant, user-friendly experiences to individuals. If you’d like to see the difference they make, just clear your browser cache and visit some of your favorite websites.
Contrasting first-party cookies, third-party cookies are not created by the domain of the website the user’s currently visiting, and therefore, can often seem intrusive and un-welcomed. This type of cookie is placed by another site, such as an advertiser or social media platform like ad.doubleclick.net – and is separate from the home domain. These cookies are usually used for online advertising purposes, and are added through a script, code, or tag to track a user across several websites. Enabling these cookies can help users see relevant discounts and catered advertisements, but can also possibly involve them in a breach of privacy. For this reason, third-party cookies are blocked by many browsers, and are currently being chastised as unethical.
Phase Out of Third-Party Cookies
In February of 2020, Google announced its phase out of third-party cookies by 2022. When this occurs, it will cause 56% of web browsers (the percentage that use Google Chrome) to block their use automatically. As stated by Google, their reasoning for forcing this phase out is to increase security and protect the user. You have to wonder, however – are ethics the driving principle here, or is this a strategic move to further corner the digital advertising market?
All-in-all, this change won’t make as much of a difference as you’d think, as a 2017 study showed that 64% of tracking cookies were already being blocked as users surfed the web. Those at Google seem to think that third-party cookies will not be replaced by another resource due to increasing privacy concerns, but they’ll continue to “support first-party relationships on our ad platforms for partners, in which they have direct connections with their own customers.”
What’s Next for Cookies?
No matter what the circumstances with third-party cookies, first-party cookies are definitely here to stay. If configured correctly, they’ll continue to function within most browsers – even if those browsers block third-party cookies. So – fear not – first-party cookies will provide marketers hindsight and insight on your website visitors for the foreseeable future – even if you might now be forced to use Google to reach them.
Now that you know a bit more about cookies, you may be motivated to improve and optimize your next digital marketing campaign. If so, contact us today.