Are you prepped for peak?

With the summer holidays over and the kids back at school hopefully you’re back in the swing of things and focusing on getting your brand geared up to make the most of the 2018 peak sales and shipping season.

It’s mere weeks until we’re into those insane months covering Black Friday, Cyber Monday and Christmas that can make or break a brand, so what do you need to be aware of to ensure success for this peak season?


What you need to know

Black Friday and Cyber Monday are now no longer considered separate days but part of a larger, all encompassing “Cyber Week” which will run from the 19th until the 26th November this year.

A PwC survey found that 31% of people will be completing their Cyber Week shopping using just their mobile phone, and that 65% of over 65’s (a market often neglected by brands online) will be doing their Black Friday shopping digitally.

Over the Christmas period the UK is predicted to spend 33% more compared to the rest of Europe. And on Christmas day, 1 in 5 people are expected to be shopping – online of course. So even though all the shops are closed, the 25th December is predicted to become a £1bn shopping day.

Plus, with delivery options better than ever and buyer confidence increasing, Christmas gift interest isn’t expected to drop until the 21st December. 3 or 4 years ago, interest would drop much earlier around the 15th or 16th.


The peak period knock-on

All this has a knock-on effect though. The January sales period is expected to continue dropping in value for retailers Year on Year (as it did in 2017), as the boom period between cyber week and Christmas day compresses the festive shopping period earlier in the calendar.

But what do all these online shopping developments mean for us marketers?

The big picture is that there’s a lot of customers and a lot of revenue to be had online this festive season. But you’re going to have to be ready to fight for it.

All your competitors will be going big, but it’s not necessarily about going bigger. It’s about doing the RIGHT things.


Doing the RIGHT things to prepare for festive shoppers

So, what should you be doing to make this peak season a great one for your brand? Here are our 3 top tips:

  • Build awareness now – If you kick off your brand building and awareness activity in cyber week itself, you’ll be far too late to the party. You need to start engaging your target customers with softer, design lead and more brand focused messages and creatives so you fill the top of your funnel now. Speaking of the funnel…


  • Look at your whole funnel – It can often be the case that around peak season you throw budget at bottom of the funnel activity looking to convert customers quickly. This can mean you end up in an arms race with other brands with escalating CPCs and diminishing ROI. Spending budget wisely further up the funnel – on social awareness campaigns or creative content for example – can often lead to better ROIs overall, increased conversions and improved brand loyalty beyond peak season.


  • Open up your channels – Making sure you’re present wherever your customers are is key. But some sales channels can often be forgotten or even avoided – Amazon being a case in point.
    Some retailers see Amazon as the enemy, but If your products are on Amazon your customers will be too, so it makes sense to work with Amazon and use the functionality that Amazon Marketing Services (AMS) provides to secure sales.


Hopefully the stats we’ve shared and our 3 top tips have given you food for thought and you’re well on your way to being prepped for peak. If you still feel like you need a helping hand though, just get in touch.

Travel Trends 2019 – Part 2

With a variety of travel trends coming to the fore, as we discussed in the first blog in this mini-series, what can you be doing as a marketer to ensure you’re making the most of them and ensuring your brand is front of mind when travellers are making their bookings?

Let’s explore…


Be there for Micro moments

Technology is expected to keep changing how people book holidays. A Google study found 44% of people expect to use more than one device when planning their summer holiday and that people are more likely to use mobile than desktop to look for family holidays, luxury travel, couples travel and honeymoons.1

The popularity of mobile has started a new customer behaviour called ‘micro-moments’ – referring to the moment when people turn to their smart device when they want to learn, do, watch, discover or buy something. Micro-moments are intent-rich and give people the immediate results they’re after in the moment.


Travel retailers that can “be there” for users in each of the four micro-moments get more exposure and will encourage more travellers to book with them.

There are a variety of digital and search marketing tactics and techniques that can be used to gain maximum exposure for your brand across micro-moments such as geo-located PPC ads, Facebook ads, localised voice search, and search-term-rich content.

What will work for you will differ from other brands but the key is to make sure you’ve got a thorough understanding of your ideal customers intent and ambition at each stage of their booking journey. That way you can provide the right information at the right time to be the most relevant brand for them at every stage.


Centre your online experience on mobile

An ABTA report puts online as the dominant booking method, with 76% of people surveyed from the UK having booked a holiday online in the previous 12 months.2

Looking at online bookings by device and age we see that older audiences (45-54, 55-64 and 65+) tend to book on desktop, with a small amount booking on mobile. Mobile and tablet bookings are most popular with the 25-34 audience. have found a new accommodation booking trend where users searching for same day arrivals are more likely to book on mobile, which makes perfect sense.3 These searches are made by people who’ve arrived at their destination without knowing their plans and means bookings for accommodation will on the go, rather than at a desktop.

This trend might be affected by roaming costs currently being low (from 15th June 2017 for at least 2 years ) for UK residents in Europe – but it’s thought this may change with Brexit.4 also found that half of traveller research journeys start on mobile, and Google agree that this is where most searches begin.5 But Google suggest that 94% of leisure travellers end up switching between devices when planning their trip.6

This all points towards a focus on online experience and especially mobile being crucial for travel brands if they want to secure traveller’s bookings for the future. Thinking mobile first will be paramount but then ensuring the online experience across other devices is seamless whilst customers switch between them will be crucial. Providing that easy to navigate journey across devices will only encourage customers to stick with you throughout their booking process.


Use digital publications

The days of visiting a travel agent to pick up brochures that you browse through over a cup of tea at home is fading fast. However, the travel brochure of old may have found a new, digital lease of life.

New-age editorial content, and a rise in digital publications, have completely changed how people are getting their information about, and motivations for travelling. People don’t want to sift through hundreds of dry hotel and resort specifications and price lists though, they want to be inspired and enthused about their next trip.

The popularity of mobiles and tablets makes digital magazines a popular and a highly influential content format for travel brands to feature in and be seen as much more of a lifestyle brand, suggesting experiences rather than pitching holidays.

Readers can visit websites from the digital magazine for instant information, they can view interactive content and they can check out reviews all from one place.

With the need to embrace micro-moments (as discussed above) content rich digital publications that easily direct viewers to the next steps on their booking journey could prove a valuable channel for you.


Work with Bloggers and influencers

With traditional ad placements losing their impact and the use of ad-blockers online becoming ever more popular, customers tolerance for obvious and in-your-face advertising is waning fast.

People don’t want overblown claims and flashy ads. They simply want to hear from and get recommendations from real people they trust to give their honest opinion, which is where social influencers and bloggers come in.

80% of 25 – 54-year olds in the UK use the internet to find out about things before buying them and 57% of consumers admit to making a purchase based on an influencer’s recommendation.

Working with influencers can help brands reach people in a natural and organic way, with content and first-person recommendations that instantly build trust in your brand by association and can also help to create demand and drive bookings/enquiries.

However, blogger and influencer partnerships should be based on shared values and ideals. Although consumers are making purchases based on influencer recommendations they can easily spot obvious and insincere posts that are simply flogging something. And posts like that could do more harm than good to a brands reputation.

Picking the right influencers for your audience and your brand can work fantastically well if done right. It does require the right experience and understanding of the space though, so you can ensure a partnership is built that is mutually beneficial for your brand, the influencer and your customers.


Double down on video content

It’s estimated that a third of time online is spent watching videos, with 55% of people saying they watch online videos every day. That’s a lot of people making time to watch others’ content. And when you add in that videos are shared on social media 1200% more times than text and links combined, it’s clear that if you aren’t already making video content, you should be.

Video engagement on Facebook, Instagram and YouTube is impressive. Over 500 million people watch Facebook videos every day, and 4.1 million YouTube videos are watched every minute.

The way we’re using social networks is shifting towards a mobile entertainment experience – placing social videos in prime position for brands looking to reach people. Brands like yours.

If you’re looking to tap into the some of the future travel trends mentioned above, then video is the ideal medium. What better way to show that people can experience an adventure, sample local delicacies or boost their wellness than with videos depicting exactly those things.

Text and images will only get you so far. Video will allow you to tap into those micro-moments and forge an emotional connection, spurring people to action with much greater ease.


Understand customer search patterns

To ensure you can properly tap into micro-moments and provide the best experience for potential customers you need to have sight of when and how people are searching for holidays or experiences you provide.

For instance, a lot of search terms associated with taking a trip away – Package Holiday, Hotel, and Cruise for example – peak in January every year, when people have got Christmas out of the way and start to think about summer, with an extra mini-peak happening in July most likely caused by people planning a holiday for next year.

The term “last minute” is relatively flat in terms of search volume most of the year but spikes dramatically in July and August as people look to get a bargain holiday.

These are obviously quite generic search terms so it’s key that you have visibility of the search volumes for the terms that are relevant to you and your brand, so you can properly plan your marketing activity to hit these peaks and tap into potential traveller’s micro-moments as they occur.

Make sure you’ve got a proper grasp on your SEO and Insights activity, so you can be sure you’re positioning yourself for and competing for the search traffic that you can cater for.

So, with a full understanding of the trends influencing travellers and their booking behaviours from our first blog, plus a view on what you can be doing to ensure your brand is front-of-mind when travellers are booking their trips from this blog, you should be well prepared to drive greater growth for your travel brand.


Should you need any help with capitalising on these trends and making sure your brand is set up for success, just let us know. Our bags our packed, our passport is in date and we’re ready for a journey.



Part 2 references


Travel Trends 2019 – Part 1

Travellers don’t just “go on holiday” any more. The days of jetting off in economy class to spend 2 weeks half-board in a sea-side resort, barely moving from a sun lounger seem to have passed as travellers are demanding more from their overseas expeditions.

A “holiday” won’t cut it anymore. They now want experiences they can treasure and share with their friends and families, that they’ll remember for the rest of their lives.

But just what is motivating people to travel nowadays and seek out these experiences? And what’s going to be motivating them for the future?

To help you out we’ve pulled together the latest research from across the travel sector and condensed it all down into easily digestible nuggets of info, split across a mini-series of 2 blogs.

The first blog will help you better understand what travellers are now looking for from their trips abroad, getting under their skin to understand their motivations.

The second blog will then give you a steer on what you need to do so you can make the most of these trends and ensure your brand is front of mind for travellers when they’re booking their next trip.

Bon Voyage!

The Latest Travel Trends

What is motivating people to travel nowadays, and which trends could (or should) you and your brand be making the most of?

Currency Consciousness

The World Travel and Tourism Council (WTTC) believe the falling value of the pound (down 15% after the Brexit referendum) is likely to stunt UK travel spending overall.1

With the pound down against the Euro and the Dollar this is likely to have an impact on UK tourists heading to countries with the Euro as currency as well as long-haul travel to the USA and the North Americas.

However, ABTA found that 71% of travellers are expecting to spend the same of more on their holiday in 20182 – suggesting that holidays aren’t something that people are willing to tighten their belts on. Travellers are simply looking to get more for their money, with expedia finding that more than 60% of travellers saying budget was the key factor in deciding on their travel plans.3

ABTA also think travellers will continue to look for “currency conscious” holidays, with a stress on value for money.4 This often drives people to visit places where the pound goes further, like Argentina and South Africa, and look at different types of holidays, like all-inclusive resorts where spending when actually on holiday is minimal.


The children are the future…

The World Tourism Organization (UNWTO) believe there’ll be almost 300 million international youth trips a year by 2020.5

And in their “The Power of Youth Tourism report they found that young people tend to spend more than others on their travels, and are most likely to return to the places they’ve visited. Giving them a high lifetime value.

The UNWTO think it’s worth targeting young travellers – as they not only offer a large spend over their lifetime, but they also believe environmental and political factors like terrorism, civil unrest, disease and natural disaster are less likely to put them off travelling. 5


Doing it “for The Gram”

Social media is playing a much more important part in holiday choices – especially among younger people.

As many as 40% of millennials (18-33 year olds) now take this into consideration when choosing where to go on a holiday.6

Global travel motivation trends show that people are looking for obscure destinations that are unexplored by their friends and family.7 And this is especially a motivation for younger travellers.

Young people are likely to want to share their travel experience as part of a ‘boasting’ social media culture – making unexplored destinations a perfect choice. This isn’t something that’s just done by young people but is definitely a motivation for the 18-30 audience surveyed.


A spirit of (specific) adventure

Active and adventure trips are seeing growth over all age groups for activities like hiking, climbing and once-in-a-lifetime water sports.8

The recent Euromonitor report points out how this is following a global trend of people moving away from valuing possessions, instead wanting actual experiences.

Interestingly, people aren’t searching online for terms like “active holidays” or “adventure holidays” though – instead they’re searching for the specific activities themselves, with a rise around activities like climbing and snorkelling.


  • Peak: March/April
  • Mini Spikes: January/ February and August
  • End: November/December


  • Peak: August
  • Mini Spike: January
  • End: November


(data pulled from Google search trends analysis)


Taking a trip to give back

The UN called 2017 the ‘international year of sustainable tourism’9 – and it’s a trend that looks set to continue, with a recent AIG report showing that 52% of travellers think sustainable travel is important.10

Travellers want to give something back to the community they’re visiting – either through ecotourism or voluntourism. And it’s thought that responsible and sustainable tourism will actually become incorporated into UK tourist’s holiday bookings. found that over a third of travellers (36%) plan to choose more eco-friendly travel options compared to previous years – and that nearly 2 in 5 are interested in eco-tour travel experiences.11


Holistic Holidays

Wellness holidays are expected to become more popular in the UK, with rising interest around living a healthy lifestyle. found that 2 out of 5 people are interested in a health and well-being travel experience, with just under half saying they use their holiday to “reflect and make better life choices”.12

And travellers are looking for unique ways to “relax, unwind and recharge holistically” according to Trekksoft.13

Wellness holidays go hand in hand with the trend for sustainable tourism – with those motivated by wellness likely to expect eco-friendly tourism as part of their trip.

Global Gastronomy

Holidays that include a taste of local cuisine are growing in popularity and show no signs of slowing down. Travellers want an authentic food experience from the local area of their destination.

18-33-year-old travellers are also influenced by the chance to post pictures of their holiday food on Instagram and Facebook – and the opportunity to do so will influence destination choice.14


Short and sweet?

According to an ABTA report, City breaks are now the most popular type of holiday15 – making up 53% of holidays taken in the year leading up to September 2017. They’ve overtaken the beach holiday, after the two were “head to head” in the previous ABTA Travel Trends Report for 2016.16

This is due to a change in the way UK holiday makers are travelling.

The Office of National Statistics (ONS) have noticed that UK tourists are not taking two-week holidays like they were a decade ago. Instead they’re enjoying multiple shorter holidays from two to seven days.17

The holiday trend is seen in a lot of UK travel shows like ‘Travel Man: 48 Hours in’ and ‘Rick Steins Long Weekends’ – giving ideas and inspiration for the short city break.

This could likely because of the rise of budget airlines offering cheaper flights.  This is about “filling a gap between longer holidays”. People want to take a short break outside of the summer months – often as short as 2 days in length – to break routine, relax and spend time with loved ones.


Peace of mind

Terrorism has had a huge impact on global travel – with destinations that have been victim to terrorist attacks, like Paris, Barcelona and Berlin seeing a noticeable downturn in tourism. The World Travel & Tourism Council (WTTC) however suggest that some destinations have actually seen a rise in inbound tourism, like Cyprus and Bulgaria as they’re seen as “safe” destinations.18

The UK government have said that there is currently a higher threat of terrorism against the UK and areas of interest and has asked UK residents to be wary when holidaying abroad. An official stance like this from the UK government will likely mean UK residents rethink their destination choice.


Having got to grips with the trends influencing and motivating people in this blog, the second blog of this mini-series we will give you a steer on what you need to do so you can make the most of these trends and ensure your brand is front of mind for travellers when they’re booking their next trip.



Part 1 references


Fulfilling your eCommerce Delivery Promises

How often do you break the promises you make to your customers?

Whether they’ve been made explicitly or implicitly, failing to keep any promises you make as your customers travel through the purchase journey with you could have a significant impact on your brand.

The PwC Global Consumer Insights Survey 2018 found that ‘trust in brand’ was among the top three reasons for shopping with a retailer; other than price. Customers need to trust a brand.

But if you’re breaking your promises – through your own fault or that of a partner— you reduce your chances of building trust, will ultimately damage your reputation and find you’re unable to build those long-term customer relationships.

So, how do you stop breaking your promises?

You focus.

Making sure every stage of your customer’s purchase journey is seamless means your customers will have the best experience possible and, in turn, your brand will see the optimal value from each customer.

Certain elements of the customer journey may seem distant or disconnected from one another, like your customer acquisition (through paid social, PPC, or whichever channels you use) and your logistics capabilities that exist at the opposite ends of the customers’ journey.

But, they’re more connected than you might think.

What you promise in your campaigns and marketing activity will directly impact your logistics needs. Conversely, your logistics capability will directly influence what you can promise in your customer acquisition.

But how do your logistics capability and customer acquisition campaigns impact one another? And how can ignoring the link between the two lead to breaking your promises and damaging trust in your brand?

We explore 3 scenarios where this is the case, and with the help of our sister company SEKO logistics, have looked at the ways you can deliver your promises.

The Returns conundrum

Shipping products is easy but, as you’ll know, returns can be troublesome.

It’s unfair to charge a customer to return something that was bought in good faith, but it could be financially crippling for you to pay for each and every return. So, who foots the bill without promises being broken?

The answer is “everyone”.

Work with logistics data to find the likely number of returns per product (or category) and you’ll be able to calculate a percentage of the purchase price to cover potential returns. That percentage can then be built into the cost of the item.

So, although returns appear to be “free” on the surface, the reality is that, whether they return it or not, every customer is actually paying for returns upon purchase.

Another aspect of the returns process is refunds. Why should a customer have to wait three weeks to get their money back after returning a product that wasn’t quite right? The quick answer is – they shouldn’t.

Rather than having to juggle accounts and transactions, ‘charge and collect’ portals have been created to act as a holding account – an easily accessible pot of cash – to enable quick refunds to customers. These have proven to be effective and can be set up with your delivery partner.

So, if you can provide free returns and ensure customers get speedy refunds, with the right help from your delivery partner, that’s two promises you can make (and keep) in your customer acquisition campaigns.


A seamless delivery experience is good

After your customer places an order they’ll want to know where their package is and when they can expect to receive it.

Being able to provide your customers with a near-real-time view of where their delivery is, regardless of the carrier or courier, will only build trust in your brand, help you keep your promises and increase Customer Lifetime Value (CLV). We’ll explain how.

White label tracking portals.

These portals give you a wholly-owned and branded platform that you can use for remarketing, as well as, customised ad placements.

White label tracking essentially opens up a whole new channel to re-engage customers with relevant, additional products, at the exact time that you know they’re thinking about your brand.

These devoted customers can then be encouraged to place a new order while they’re waiting for their current order to arrive – seamlessly weaving acquisition activities into your logistics capability.

Investigate and Re-engage

With the proper logistics partner and capabilities in place, you should have a complete view of purchases made, deliveries completed and returns processed. An effective logistics partner will provide you with rich data and detailed insight into your customers’ behaviour.

With all this insight, you’ll have plenty of information to help you plan and run your next acquisition campaign. For example:

Discovered that you’ve got a large audience of serial returners?

Offer them an annual subscription that covers all delivery and returns fees, so these consumers are worry free and more inclined to shop with you again.

Know that you have a pocket of customers that regularly get late deliveries?

Run geo-targeted ads focused on this audience to reduce any ill feeling they may have and offer them a promotion (while you have a word with your logistics partner).

Found out there’s a particular day of the week when people are asking for orders to arrive or returns are being sent back?

Plan your campaigns around these peaks in activity so you can either capitalise on them or negate them.

With the right data to hand you can make some new and specific promises to your customers which, if you can keep, will mean they come back to your brand time and time again.


Do you need to stop breaking the promises you make to your customers? Just get in touch and we’ll show you how.

The 5 re-brands everyone is talking about

The past month has seen re-brands coming in thick and fast with the likes of Burberry, Debenhams, Céline, Harvey (Holly) Nichols and John Lewis & Waitrose all giving their branding a refresh.

We delve into the strategy behind the move to re-brand, the design and tone of voice as well as the likely success of the activation strategies being used to relaunch. And it’s no surprise some are better than others.

Burberry’s millennial re-brand

It seems only right to start with the brand that began the surge of retail re-brands – Burberry. For arguably the biggest British fashion brand to reveal the re-brand on Instagram already shows big changes for the fashion house in their digital-first approach.

With over 60% of users on Instagram between the ages of 18 – 34, it raises the question of whether Burberry is shifting focus to the millennial market and grabbing their attention at the early awareness stage.

The big reveal happened last month, and it consisted of 3 email conversations, a monogram and a new logo which soon caused a stir in the comments (mostly negative) on the design change.

The logo, designed by Peter Saville, showed ‘less is not more’ with feedback like ‘How is this genius?’ and ‘I could have created this at School’. The decision to ditch the knight-and-horse icon was another big change (again, not loved by fans on social), removing their heritage and core brand identity. The fashion house considered it to be a modern upgrade while retaining the sophistication of its past, however, the execution falls a little flat.

The inclusion of ‘London England’ was also a laughing point amongst users on social. Comments like ‘I think we all know London is in England’ appeared to mock the design and highlights the unnecessary need for both.

The simplistic logo was coupled with their new monogram, which appeared to receive less negativity. The interlocking initials of the co-founder Thomas Burberry showcased more creativity and style. We are now seeing this monogram plastered over flagship stores, taxis and billboards around the world, but it raises questions whether the classic cheque is being replaced for good.

As far as a re-brand goes, the engagement on Instagram was huge and press features were everywhere. They might have cleverly reached a new audience who love the re-brand and if the brand follows the mantra ‘no publicity is bad publicity’ then great. Otherwise, it could have a damaging effect on customers who have grown up with the fashion house and appreciated their classic heritage.

5 Rebrands - Burberry New Logos

Debenhams’ modern new look

From high-end to high street, the department store Debenhams has revealed their modernisation approach with ‘Do a bit of Debenhams’, including the first new logo in 20 years. Once again taking to social media Debenhams teased a 6-series image block revealing their new strapline to excite fans. Following this was their new 30-second brand identity video, created by Mother Design, showcasing the key messaging behind this campaign and their new visual style.

The wider campaign invites customers to enjoy shopping and reclaim it as a rich, experiential and joyous experience. The strategy behind the campaign is based on research conducted by Debenhams that found, in general, shopping was becoming less joyful and “it’s become a bit of a relationship with my post room” as one respondent said.

The design, described as a “modern and approachable twist”, appeals to a younger audience and brings positivity back to the high street considering its current conditions. Once again, a social-first strategy rolled out creative GIF and image content which made Debenhams look and feel ‘trendy’ again.

Alongside their digital strategy, 3 million print features were published for the department store to keep their loyal customers including features in The Sunday Times Style, Grazia and Marie Claire. The idea is to use digital for the big broadcast messages and print to communicate the array of Debenhams’ product offering.

5 Rebrands - Debenhams New Logos

Celine loses its accent

French fashion brand Celine also hit the news with a re-brand this month, however, it’s had a lot less engagement than the others. In short, the only ‘noticeable’ change was the removal of the accent on the first E. And the letter spacing has been tweaked for consistency.

Instagram took centre stage again as the chosen platform to announce the re-brand (if we can call it that). Creative director Hedi Slimane announced the start of his era with a ceremonious-like Instagram post that wiped the entire account. Starting afresh by uploading three identical posts announcing the new brand identity. Like Burberry, this change still managed to spark controversy on social with comments including ‘RIP Céline’ and ‘No Accent No Céline’.

From a design perspective, there isn’t much to comment on however it gives the logo a more global appeal and allows consistency across its usage from product labels to social media posts. But it’s not very ‘creative’.

Harvey Nichols changes its name

Next up Harvey Nichols, or throughout September, Holly Nichols. The luxury department retailer has re-designed their first floor (womenswear), re-branded its storefront, website and social channels for the whole of September to support its new female empowerment campaign – Let’s Hear It For The Girls.

On Monday 3rd September, the iconic signage was switched from Harvey to Holly, and they’re kicking off a month of fashion shows, launches and inspirational talks from women they admire.

Their digital strategy includes their updated website with a custom landing page outlining the concept and all brand logos changed to Holly Nichols. The core messaging explains:

“This is the year of the woman, a celebration of you being you, a celebration of all-of-us being all-of-us, united in honouring female empowerment (in high-top sneakers and a really good lip colour).”

All social media channels have undergone a temporary rebrand to support the campaign. And fans are loving it. They’re also running a competition on social to win a £1000 private shopping experience. Entry is to share a snap of the store on Instagram tagging @HollyNichols.

This re-branding strategy has been cleverly executed to bridge the gap between online and offline. A new magazine launched with a printed version in-store and an online version with direct links to shop the looks. A ‘Meet the brands’ page sits on-site and directly links with their featured designers in their ‘fashion on first’ section. All their content ties the campaign together and remains positive and focused on their core identity.

5 Rebrands - Harvey Holly Nichols Name Change

John Lewis & Waitrose play up their partnership

Last but not least is the John Lewis & Waitrose partnership re-brand. It’s a subtle and modern re-brand by Pentagram which is a result of three years of detailed design thinking. And you can tell.

From product labels to staff name tags to carrier bags, every element within the re-brand has been carefully considered. It’s the first time both John Lewis and Waitrose have ever launched a joint marketing campaign.

The core of the re-brand was a 2-and-a-half-minute TV ad released on Twitter on the morning of Tuesday 4th September, but most viewers (including us) first saw it during the first ad break of the Great British Bake Off.

This cleverly put it straight in front of their core audience and the execution was equally as slick as their Christmas ads. The advert shows a primary school orchestra playing out of tune before they burst into life and perform Queen’s song Bohemian Rhapsody. It ends with the phrase: “When you’re part of it, you put your heart into it.” This copy cleverly links into their core values with their staff and coincides with their new titles ‘Waitrose & Partners’ and ‘John Lewis & Partners’.

With the video pinned on their Twitter feed, the engagement continues, and positive comments are flooding in. A staggering 1.6 million views in 3 days = success.

On their website, they have a host of new landing pages to coincide with the re-brand. A new about us page includes the video ad and shows the brand’s commitment, services and shops.

The overall design has had mixed reviews, but the majority are positive. As a complete end-to-end design, it has been careful considered and links in well with the brands’ value and visual identity. The Gill Sans typeface was an obvious choice to unify all companies under the partnership and was clearly one element they didn’t want to lose.

The graphic lines or ‘brand lines logotype’ is a combination of lines alternating in thickness. At first, it just looks like a nice pattern addition, but it is inspired by the “precise proportional relationships derived from the original pattern” – one Peter Hatch designed for the John Lewis Partnership during the 60’s.

The re-brand also brings a new 300-piece womenswear range. A stylish and colourful collection perfectly timed for Autumn and John Lewis & Partners have said it’s completely ‘free of fashion gimmicks.’ It’s also launched ‘Find Keep Give’, a 33-piece home accessories collection with most pieces created by members of staff (the partners).

5 Rebrands - John Lewis Waitrose New Logos

All these re-brands have audiences which engage in both print and digital, however, there has been a clear digital-first approach in all of them. And in some, an ‘Instagram-first’ approach. This could be down to the immediate and measurable results you can get from digital compared with print, or the brands see these as the key channels for their core consumer engagement.

If we had to pick a favourite, John Lewis and Waitrose comes out on top. Their end-to-end strategy is executed perfectly with a slick and timely launch across print and digital. This now builds up the excitement to Christmas (dare we say it) to see whether these brands continue their performance of well-executed content for their Christmas campaigns.

Not flashy, just vitally important

We know that data and Google Analytics are far from the most gripping topics to be writing about. We could blog about headline grabbing ad campaigns or the latest influencer controversy but we’re not here for headlines and controversy (at the moment).

We’re here to help marketers like you feel smarter and lend a hand in growing your brand.

What data and GA lack in head-turning appeal they more than make up for in importance. The data you have access to is the lifeblood of your brand, and the platform you use to source that data needs to do its job properly.

As a marketer your job is all about making decisions based on the data and information you have available to you.

If you’ve got great data that should mean you’re better equipped to make great decisions. But if you’ve got poor data that will likely mean you make poor decisions.

But do you know how great or poor your data is?


Great data / poor data?

From start-ups, to household names, to multi-channel retailers who have implemented Analytics 360 – we’ve looked at their data and found, regardless of profile, there are several common issues that occur with data and GA set up time and time again.

Across all of the GA Health Checks we’ve carried out, we’ve found that 3 out of 4 brands are less than 50% compliant with best practice.  The average score is a rather poor 39% and the worst score we’ve found is a scarily low 9%.

Even if you hit the average score, it still questions whether 61% of your data can be trusted to make decisions from.

Do you know how compliant you are with best practice when it comes to your Google Analytics set up? When was the last time you checked? Have you ever checked?

When it comes to your Google Analytics set up there are some fundamentals you must get right otherwise you’ll be left with an ineffective tool that pulls through incomplete or irrelevant data, which is not a great source of information for making decisions.

A white number 4 printed onto black bricks

The 4 fundamentals

There are four key areas you need to be on top of: Configuration, Acquisition, Behaviour and Conversions. All of which have different best practices, so you can be sure your GA is doing what you need it to.

Here’s what you need to know about each of them and why you need to make sure they’re working as they should be.


Configuration is all about how your Google Analytics account is actually set up. Things like whether you’ve got the right tracking code implemented and if you have the right integrations and filters in place are key to a proper GA configuration.

Without the right configuration of your account you’ll be on a shaky foundation for capturing data and may find you have unstructured data spread across your account in a variety of locations – not great for analysis.


Acquisition looks at how you’re driving visitors to your site and whether you’re using things like UTM tracking and channel grouping properly so you can effectively measure campaign performance. This is crucial for proving which activities are driving acquisition.

Without proper acquisition processes in place you won’t be able to see where site traffic is really being driven from, which in turn will mean you won’t be able to properly prove the ROI of campaign activity.


Behaviour is concerned with things like your site’s bounce rates, page views and demographic data to see if your site is doing what you need it to do.

Without a full view on how your site and its individual elements are performing, you won’t know what’s working well or not-so-well for you. Meaning you’re flying blind when it comes to understanding what you need to do to improve your site.


Conversions enable you to understand how and why customers convert throughout their journey with your brand. They look at things like ecommerce tracking, transactions and goals.

Without a proper view on conversions you’ll have no sight of performance across your pipeline, so you won’t know what’s working well and also what needs improvement to stop any leaks you may have.


The right guidance

With the right guidance it’s easy to become 100% compliant and ensure your GA is set up per best practice, but knowing where to start is the trick.

There is a wealth of knowledge available online from google themselves as well as industry stalwarts like Neil Patel and Carlos Escalera.

But if you’d like some expert guidance from a team that works in GA day-in-day-out (and who are also ALL qualified in Google Analytics by Google – yes, the entire agency!) we can offer our GA Health Check completely free of charge.

Our health check covers 14 best-practices across the 4 areas we’ve discussed above and gives you step-by-step instructions to fix what you need to. Just head here, complete the short form and we’ll take care of the rest.

Happy decision making.

Why SEO is like a jar of peanut M&Ms

Whether you’re launching a brand, running online campaigns or looking at a site migration you need to make sure your website – the digital face of your business – is the very best it can be.

Your site needs to be optimised so it’s viewed positively by search engines, which is where Search Engine Optimisation (SEO) or Organic Search comes in.

SEO is all about making sure your website is built properly and functions so that potential customers can find you when they’re searching online. SEO is a multi-layered discipline, that comes with its own terminologies and jargon that can seem complicated and confusing to a novice.

But here at Red Hot Penny, we don’t like anyone to feel confused by anything in search marketing. So, we’ve created this easy to understand guide to SEO so you can get to grips with the key principles and talk about them with confidence.

We’ve always found the best way to explain something is with an analogy, and if there’s one thing we love more than an analogy here at Red Hot Penny, it’s peanut M&Ms.

So here we go; Why SEO is like a jar of peanut M&Ms.

The Peanut is your readable text

The core of your site, or the peanut of your M&Ms is the readable text that the user sees.

To have the best core, you need to make sure you have the most optimised peanuts possible.

You need to carry out regular peanut audits to make sure they are the right size (big for blogs, small for titles), in the right place, home grown (not copied from anywhere else) and organic (not filled with artificial phrases or hidden additives).

You also need to make sure that you’re providing the right kind of nut too, not a hazelnut or macadamia nut. You don’t want someone searching for a swimming pool getting results for football pools, pool tables, Deadpool, Liverpool and so on. This means matching-up your offering with the right phrases and purposes.

You need to match the types of pages on your site with the stage people are at in the purchase funnel and make sure they’re signposted correctly with on-page elements like headings and H tags.

Any content you write involves keyword research which you should do for product descriptions, ongoing campaigns and special places like Amazon. Just like with sweets, you’re trying to appeal to humans rather than machines so selecting keywords and optimising content should be for people’s experience first and foremost, rather than bots.

But it doesn’t end there.

A peanut on its own doesn’t need anything else to function, but a lone peanut in a bag full of peanut M&Ms will sink to the bottom of the bag and look a bit out of place if anyone were to find it.

That’s why you need the chocolate.

The Chocolate is imagery and video

The chocolate coating to your peanut is the rich and luxurious stuff. These are the images, videos, user experience and calls to action which make the difference between a memorable and moreish experience, or disappointment.

It’s not just the written content that you need to optimise though, but people’s whole experience.

Images, videos, CTAs and all the other snazzy bits that draw your users in to the peanutty centre need to be optimised.

The emphasis should be on getting people’s attention and making them stay until they’ve accomplished what they, and you, want them to do, whether that’s learn something, go somewhere or buy something.

There’s a fine balance to strike to make sure your experience is satisfying not sickening. As with every delicious treat, you don’t want too much of a good thing as it makes you feel sluggish and it’s the same with images and videos.

As great as they may be, if a file is too big it’ll slow the site right down and put a bit of a dampener on your experience, so you need to make sure the right amount of chocolate goes into each M&M – not too little that it’s dull and boring, and not too much that you have to spend forever trying to chew through it.

You also want to make sure it’s your own imagery you’re using. Imagine biting into an M&M expecting that satisfying not too milky, not too bitter chocolate experience and finding out that it had been replaced with entirely unoriginal, not unique chocolate stolen from an advent calendar.

This means you need to put some effort into your own imagery to make sure it’s memorable and stands out amongst a whole bag of chocolates.

So, your site is looking good, it’s got a chocolate coating that satisfies the reader. But it’s still not finished. Once you’ve coated your peanut in chocolate you need to protect it, and that’s where the shell comes in.

The Shell is the technical framework

Your peanut M&Ms wouldn’t be complete without their practical and underrated outer shell, which in SEO terms, we can liken to a technical framework of security, speed and substance.

All your content would melt away without a solid technical underpinning.

Technical SEO is all about making sure the content can be crawled by search spiders, is indexed into a coherent format, is usable for users and is served up correctly – whether that be on a PC, tablet, mobile or voice assistant.

Having a properly formed and intact shell makes sure your website is fast, secure, reliable, free from spam and that layers of code like JavaScript and CSS are working properly.

It also makes sure that the version of the website you see is in the correct language and currency.

There are plenty of ways SEO experts can get hands-on in the data and code to smooth over any cracks and make site changes without needing to get a developer involved.

Just like a shell, you can use Technical SEO to indicate what’s underneath. By marking up the content with technical additions like Structured Data for Rich Results – Product Reviews or Pricing for example – as well as Page Titles and Meta Descriptions. These will entice people to click on your result from the search pages.

And it’s these search pages that are the bag your peanut M&Ms belong in.

The jar is the SERPS

You (hopefully) wouldn’t eat an M&M if you just found it on the floor which is why the jar is also key.

The jar is the search engine results pages where your peanut M&Ms will hopefully be found when someone searches. If they’re not in the jar, they’re really nowhere that anyone is going to want to find them.

However, if you’re in the jar you’ll be there with a range of similar yet subtly different chocolate treats. SEO then is all about ensuring your particular peanut M&M stands out as the choicest nut in the jar by being at the top, being the most tantalising and remaining intact.

There are a variety of techniques you can use to make sure your peanut M&Ms appear near the top of the jar – such as building links, outreaching to friendly sites, using google my business listings, or harnessing other channels such as social media and biddable media to make sure people are looking for and saying good things about your peanut M&Ms.

You will also need to satisfy the chocolate inspectors – Google and the other search engines.

In peanut terms these inspectors will take a sample of your peanut M&M / website periodically by crawling your pages so they can make sure it’s as it should be. You don’t know when it’ll happen and what they are looking for, but you have to be ready in any eventuality to satisfy their search algorithms.

Mama always said life is like a box of chocolates, well SEO is a peanut M&M. And by taking the care to consider each layer, people are more likely to pick your M&M.

Is your website up to scratch or lacking a crunch? Let our Organic Search team take a look for you.

Cross Brand Collaborations: ‘x’ Marks the Spot

Cross-brand collaborations seem to be everywhere right now. Across fashion, beauty, travel, homewares and beyond, you can’t seem to move without seeing a big ‘X’ sandwiched between two brand logos to show they’ve been working on something together.

But why the sudden explosion in collaborations? And why do brands do it?

Is it just a marketing tool that’s being hammered hard for short-term social media awareness, or are collaborations the way forward for brands?

We’ve delved into some of the likely reasons behind cross-brand collaborations and collected some handy examples of those collaborations in action. X-citing times.

Cross-brand collaborations Feature 1 Moschino x HM

Brand collaborations to open up new markets

One reason for collaboration is to open new, complementary markets and get your brand in front of potential customers. A collaboration will vastly increase your brand reach as you’re talking to two sets of customers rather than one and gives a signal from one brand that the other brand can be trusted.

We’re seeing this a lot in the fashion world. High-fashion brands are constantly collaborating with high-street brands. Think Moschino X H&MFenty X Puma, or Junya Watanabe X The North Face.  It helps to tap into different customer groups and introduce higher end brands to the high-street shopper through capsule collections.

But it’s also being done across sectors too. Virgin Atlantic X OnePiece and Grant’s Whiskey X may not seem to make sense on the surface, but look deeper and you’ll see the mutual interests around passenger comfort and heritage respectively that would lead the customers of one brand to then consider the other.

IKEA are current kings of the new market collaborations. They regularly collaborate with other brands and individuals with the recent wave including super-hot streetwear label Off-White, Lego, Sonos and Adidas amongst others. All of which open up the IKEA brand to new customers and markets.

Cross-brand collaborations Feature 2 Simpsons Lego Ikea

Show you “get” your customer

Sometimes a collaboration isn’t necessarily about accessing new customers but showing your existing customers that you get them and understand what they want. It increases brand value and makes your fans even more dedicated.

This is all about brands with a significant overlap in customer bases working together to create something they know their customers are going to love.

LEGO are particularly good at this with Star Wars, Batman, Simpsons and Harry Potter brand collaborations all reinforcing their respective brands even further within their target markets.

Sports brands are also getting in on the action by collaborating with sports stars and other ambassadors (who are brands in their own right nowadays).

Nike X Cristiano RonaldoPuma X Rihanna, and Adidas x Pharrell Williams are all examples of brands spotting trends amongst existing customer bases and using collaborations to reinforce their brand with their customers.

Get noticed

The marketplace in all sectors is so crowded now that brands have to do something out of the ordinary to be heard and raise awareness. And a collaboration is one way to do just that.

Some of the most hyped collaborations of recent times include Supreme X Louis Vuitton (what’s a blog about collaborations without at least one mention of Supreme?), Nike X Apple, and Uber X Spotify.

These all generated massive amounts of coverage and awareness, but it’s not just the big brands using collaboration.

Smaller brands can use collaborations to get ahead and piggy-back on the reputation of their better-known collaborator. Palace Skateboards, well known in their niche but not globally renowned, have had great success with their Adidas collaborations. As have Anna Glover X H&M with her fabric products and JW Anderson X Converse with their footwear.

Through the collaboration the smaller brands get access to a much bigger audience and the larger brand gets positioned as a champion of the next wave. Win – Win.

Cross-brand collaborations Feature 3 CALM Mark your man

Promote a cause

Brands can also team up for selfless reasons. The CALM X F&F #MarkYourMan campaign, WWF X Whiskas and GLAAD X Asos collaborations all help shine a light on different charity causes such as preventing suicide, protecting tigers and promoting LGBTQ rights.

There is still a sales message and a commercial drive behind the collaboration for a cause, but in most cases a portion of proceeds will go to the charity partner or donations will be made to them.

A collaboration can be a fantastic way for a charity to expand its reach and awareness with the relevant people, while also generating more funding. For the supporting brand, it can create good feeling as they demonstrate their commitment to charitable causes.

Cross-brand collaborations Feature 4 Cath Kidston Heinz

Reinvigorate a brand

Sometimes a brand collaboration can be a great way to shake the dust off an established brand and create a bit of positive buzz to show that it’s still relevant.

Heinz soup cans had been largely untouched for 108 years until a design collaboration with Cath Kidston was launched in April this year.

Cath Kidston have also been involved with a Disney collaboration project, using the characters to change up their classic floral designs.

Mickey Mouse and friends have also collaborated with footwear brand, Vans and “couture athleisure” brand, Opening Ceremony to shake up their character-lead designs and give them a bit of street-cred.

Crayola, beloved crayon brand and supplier of one of the best smells from your childhood have been getting in on the action, launching a make-up range with Clinique that sent beauty bloggers crazy. Their second make-up range released with Asos is primed and ready for festival season.

Both ranges will have reintroduced the brand to many former Crayola fans, and tapped into nostalgia to drive the brand forward.

Tap into the latest trends 

Collaborations aren’t necessarily long-term deals and that’s never more evident than when brands team up with pop culture flavours-of-the-month for short term collaborations.

No doubt they’re a great way to boost awareness and align a brand with something hot but they possibly lack the authenticity of a collaboration motivated by one of the other reasons.

The marketers at Topshop might love Stranger Things, the guys at Drop Dead probably binge watch Game of Thrones and the team at Covergirl are obviously massive Star Wars fans, but the mass appeal of the shows and the buzz around new releases is more likely the reason for the collaboration than any shared ideals or agendas.

Collaborations between brands don’t look like they’re going to stop any time soon, and with the ever-growing pressure on the high-street it may soon be a case of “collaborate or die” for those retailers who haven’t done so yet.

So, whether it’s to open up new markets, reinvigorate a brand or shine a light on a cause close to a brand’s heart which brands do you think will be the next to collaborate?

5 Brands Celebrating Pride Month with Content

This month, people around the world are celebrating LGBT Pride. Parades and events are held in June to commemorate the Stonewall riots and to celebrate the impact of the LGBT community.

It’s also a month where we discuss some of the issues that the community faces and raise support for charities who can help.

These brands are using content to do just that. From a hilarious Cards Against Humanity campaign to a practical tool from PFLAG Canada, we’re taking a look at the best content from Pride month.

Cards Against Humanity – Pride Pack

Makers of the self-described ‘party game for horrible people’, Cards Against Humanity released a special themed Pride Pack this month. It’s full of limited edition cards to add to your game, with all profits going to Howard Brown Health, a US-based charity.

But they released it in true CAH style, with an absurd landing page. Featuring animated illustrations of advocates like Cher, Ellen and RuPaul, the page sarcastically declares Cards Against Humanity a Gay Icon. It then goes on to sell two versions of the pack – one with glitter, one without.

Their trademark irreverent tone even makes its way into the FAQs section and it’s the perfect example of a brand knowing their audience.

June content round-up image 1

Nike – Be True

Nike have partnered up with their equality ambassadors including LGBT athletes in their Be True For Equality campaign. With a mission statement to make sports more inclusive, Nike are announcing their financial support for organisations that fight for equality through their Be True fund.

The campaign introduces Nike’s equality ambassadors in their own words and encourages users to get involved by adding their own picture to a photo mosaic with words of support. Nike fans can also show their support with items from the equality collection made specially to celebrate Pride month.

Kenneth Cole – Tied with Pride

Kenneth Cole have been supporters of LGBT equality for 25 years, so to celebrate this year’s Pride month, their Kam sneaker was given a makeover with a rainbow stripe. This detail signifies the brand’s continued support of the community and encourages wearers to show their support.

To launch the new products, the Tied with Pride campaign gathers together 6 individuals from the LGBT community and profiles their stories. Take a look at the campaign video below.

PFLAG Canada – Destination Pride

Canadian charity PFLAG provide education and support for people on the issues of sexual orientation, and gender identity. They have plenty of helpful resources, including their Destination Pride tool.

Using data from around the world, the tool gives each location a score based on the status of the rights of and sentiments towards the LGBT community. It’s designed to help travellers understand their destination’s level of acceptance.

The website uses data visualisation to present scores and breaks it down into different categories using the Pride flag.

Instagram – #Pride2018

With its majority youth following, Instagram has been established as a place for activism and expression. And to celebrate the fact, along with Pride month, the social media platform introduced 5 young LGBT leaders to their role models to encourage conversation about their work and lives.

Instagram wants to encourage others to discover and connect with their role models through the platform. So, working with GLAAD, Instagram identified the hashtags which the LGBT community use to communicate and have given them a rainbow gradient for Pride month to show their support.

They hope to create a safer, more inclusive community on Instagram and are using positive messaging to do this.

June content round-up image 3

These are just some of the ways content can be used for good and we hope they’ve left you feeling inspired. Don’t forget to check back next month to see more of our top picks.

On your marks: May’s best sports marketing campaigns from Under Armour, BBC and more

There’s a whole Summer of sport to look forward to in the coming months. With the countdown to the World Cup underway and Wimbledon set to be a scorcher, we decided to warm-up for the events with a look at some of the best sports and fitness content out there.  

From an awe-inspiring animation by the BBC, to an inspiring campaign by Under Armour, take a look at the top 4 sports content campaigns this May.   

BBC – World Cup tapestry  

This Summer will see the BBC cover one of the biggest sporting events globally – the FIFA World Cup in Russia. To celebrate, their in-house agency, BBC Creative, attempted a world-first ad by creating a 7-metre long tapestry of iconic events from the tournament’s history.  

Moments including England’s 1966 win are shown in a short film which premiered during the FA Cup Final. The film is made up of 600 individual frames and features Russian folk song, Oche Chernye, recorded at Abbey Road.  

The actual tapestry will be added to with memorable moments from the coming World Cup before being displayed in Manchester’s National Football Museum.  

Asics – I Move Me  

Sports and fitness wear brand, Asics, launched their I Move Me™ campaign with a manifesto encouraging people to move. The messaging focuses on how moving can make you happier, stronger and sharper, rather than any mention of body image.  

Asics has created short videos in collaboration with fitness influencers like Food & Lycra, to break down social body pressures. The videos have been shown as pre-roll ads on YouTube, with some gaining over a million views.  

Under Armour US – Will finds a way 

Under Armour US is pushing a similarly inspiring message with their Will Finds a Way campaign. Fronted by brand ambassador, Dwayne ‘the Rock’ Johnson, Under Armour have created short films with athletes to discuss how they achieve success. 

The landing page tells the story of each individual athlete with stunning imagery and lets users shop the look for their training gear.  

England Squad  Team announcement  

The FA announced the England squad for the 2018 World Cup with a video led by football fans. Young people from up and down the country got to reveal the 23-player team heading to Russia in the video which has since been viewed on Twitter over 3.4 million times. You can see the original tweet over on their profile, or check out our Marketer’s Guide to the England World Cup Squad.

The FA’s website also features helpful content for fans, including interesting player stats like who scored the most goals in the qualifying stages, and fixtures for the World Cup games. It provides a great hub for people to look at throughout the tournament. 

Mays Best Sports Creative Marketing Campaigns Team

Like us, you’ll probably be glued to the TV to see all the sporting action in the coming months. But you won’t want to miss any of the great marketing campaigns kick-starting over Summer, so check back to see more top picks next month.


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