Walmart made another move in building out its e-commerce advertising offering Friday with the launch of Walmart Advertising Partners. The company named four initial ads API partners: Flywheel Digital, Kenshoo, Pacvue, and Teikametrics.

Why we care

This signals a significant next step for Walmart Media Groups’ efforts to attract large manufacturer budgets. Companies that are already using one of those vendors to run Google Shopping or Amazon Sponsored Product campaigns, for example, will be able to switch on Walmart Sponsored Search campaigns with relative ease.

Like rival Amazon, Walmart Media Group offers advertising opportunities that reach people as they’re shopping and enables brands to target using its valuable online and offline shopper data. The selected partners’ specialties cut across search and marketplace advertising.

More on the news

  • Walmart Media Group, the company’s in-house agency arm, has been focused on establishing an advertising proposition for brands and retail manufacturers. (The company severed ties with its agency partner Triad in early 2019.)
  • Walmart Media Group acquired self-serve ad tech platform Polymorph in April and has integrated it into its existing ad targeting and measurement platform.
  • Walmart claims nearly 160 million people visit its stores and website weekly, with 90% of Americans shopping at Walmart annually.

Join us for two information-packed days on digital commerce marketing at SMX West, February 19-20.

About The Author

Ginny Marvin is Third Door Media’s Editor-in-Chief, running the day to day editorial operations across all publications and overseeing paid media coverage. Ginny Marvin writes about paid digital advertising and analytics news and trends for Search Engine Land, Marketing Land and MarTech Today. With more than 15 years of marketing experience, Ginny has held both in-house and agency management positions. She can be found on Twitter as @ginnymarvin.



Lately, some large brands have made some very big rebranding and logo redesigns. Two of these redesigns that are very interesting are those of Volkswagen and Warner Bros. Both of these brands have existed since the early 1900s and have made many major changes in their logo designs. Both of these brands started out with a simplistic, flat logo. This style was also common due to the technical limitation of the time so, over time, their logos became more and more detailed and ‘3D’. When flat and more simplistic logos became more popular in recent years, most brands changed with the trends. However, in some industries like the car industry, 3D logos are still widely used. Mainly because that’s the way they are presented on the cars, making them more recognizable. This is why this is such a big change in terms of logo redesigns.

Volkswagen's Logos over its lifetime

Volkswagen Logo Redesign

Volkswagen was founded in 1937 in Berlin, Germany. Volkswagen’s history, just like many German companies operating at that time, is very dark. The Volkswagen brand was founded by a nazi labor party and their first logo looked just their current logo in combination with spinning wings that are in the shape of a swastika. They used this logo until after the war when they removed the swastika shape. This is roughly when they began using the logo that looks most like the logo that is used today (first logo in the image above). This form of the logo was used for most of the existence of Volkswagen. When car design trends went from boxy and simplistic to more rounded luxurious, they slowly updated their logo to be more 3D and fitting with the rest of the car. During this time, it was common for most brands to use a 3D logo because it became a lot easier to create a logo like that with modern computers.

Besides Volkswagen, we also saw some other car brands dropping their shiny 3D logos for a flatter design. Some examples are Audi (owned by Volkswagen) and Toyota. It certainly seems like it’s becoming more normal to use a flat logo design in the car industry.

Warner Bros.' Logos over its lifetime

Warner Bros. Logo Redesign

Warner Bros. was founded in 1923 in Burbank, California. Warner Bros. started out as a movie theater business, showing films using a projector. These projectors weren’t as advanced as they are now so their logo was mostly seen in black-and-white, just like the films they showed. When they started producing more films, their logo became more well-known. They didn’t keep their flat, stretched-out logo (first logo in the image above) for very long, only showing it before 4 films before they updated it to look more like the logo that most people know today (second logo in the image above). From 1937 until 2019, their logo didn’t change much. It had some minor tweaks and improvements over the years and they used other logos for some years after the company was sold two times, but they ultimately stuck with the same logo. This changed after Warner Bros. hired famous design firm Pentagram to redesign its logo. This was mostly due to the fact that it was hard to customize or scale the last logo, which was important for Warner Bros’ digital platforms.


On the heels of a record-breaking Black Friday, a subtle sense of relief could be felt — albeit briefly — throughout the marketing community as Cyber Monday closed out an intense week for marketers.

By the end of Cyber Monday, a record $9.4 billion was spent online in the U.S., according to Adobe Analytics, setting the record as the largest online shopping day in U.S. history. The firm also indicated that mobile transactions drove $3.1 billion of Cyber Monday sales, representing the highest year-over-year dollar growth for mobile.

Small businesses and DTC brands cashed in. Major brands and retailers weren’t the only ones surpassing expectations this year. Smaller e-commerce shops and direct-to-consumer brands also saw heavy traffic and high conversions during Cyber Week.

“On Cyber Monday, both large retailers (over $1B in yearly revenue) and small retailers (< $50M in yearly revenue) benefited greatly from consumers’ attention, as large retailers saw a 540% boost in sales over an average day, while their smaller counterparts lagged slightly behind with a 337% increase,” said Adobe.

Shopify reported that over 25.5 million consumers made a purchase from Shopify merchants over the weekend. Meanwhile, independent third-party sellers in Amazon’s stores — primarily small and medium-sized businesses — sold more items during Cyber Monday 2019 than any other 24-hour period in the company’s history, said Amazon.

Cyber Week is growing globally. Shopify reported that from the start of Black Friday through the end of Cyber Monday, merchants from over 175 countries sold over $2.9 billion. “These unprecedented sales demonstrate the power of borderless commerce and how independent businesses and direct-to-consumer brands around the world have become the heroes of Black Friday/Cyber Monday,” said Shopify.

Source: 2019 Salesforce Holiday Insights

Salesforce reported a growth rate of 11% in U.S. digital sales since last year, while global digital revenue grew by 13%, reaching $30 billion. This represents healthy growth — and share — across Cyber Week.

The steep growth could be attributed to the mobile impact on Cyber Monday. “Smartphone traffic has eclipsed desktop in traffic for a few years now and continues to make gains in conversion impact. Smartphones are also changing when consumers buy,” wrote Marketing Land editor-in-chief Ginny Marvin.

Paid search and social. Paid search ads drove a large volume of Cyber Monday traffic. Adobe indicated that 24.1% of e-commerce site visits came from a paid search ad, while direct traffic represented 22.5% of visits.

Despite driving a growing share of web visits to e-commerce websites, social channels struggled to convert site visits to sales. Adobe Analytics found just 2.1% of Cyber Monday sales attributed to social media. However, note that Adobe’s data skews desktop compared to Salesforce and Shopify’s numbers, and the vast majority of social ad spend occurs on mobile devices.

A heavy lift for email and SMS. Marketers relied heavily on email and SMS to reach customers on Cyber Monday. Salesforce reported 4.7 billion emails sent, representing 18% growth in volume over last year’s shopping event. SMS and push notifications saw a much bigger increase in volume, with 42 million SMS and push notifications deployed, up 134% from 2018.

About The Author

Jennifer Videtta Cannon serves as Third Door Media’s Senior Editor, covering topics from email marketing and analytics to CRM and project management. With over a decade of organizational digital marketing experience, she has overseen digital marketing operations for NHL franchises and held roles at tech companies including Salesforce, advising enterprise marketers on maximizing their martech capabilities. Jennifer formerly organized the Inbound Marketing Summit and holds a certificate in Digital Marketing Analytics from MIT Sloan School of Management.


Twitter is giving brands and users more control over their social narratives with the ability to hide Tweet replies. The feature is rolling out globally after months of testing in some countries, including Canada and the U.S. Twitter made the announcement via a blog post on Thursday.

“Currently, repliers can shift the topic or tone of a discussion and derail what you and your audience want to talk about,” the company said. “We learned that the feature is a useful new way to manage your conversations.”

How it works. Users can opt to hide replies to the tweets they create. However, users can still see and engage with hidden replies by selecting the “View hidden replies” option in the Tweet’s dropdown.

A Tweet author also has the option to unhide all replies – or a single reply – at any time. When a Tweet author hides a reply, the author of the reply will not be notified. 

Why we should care. When the feature was still in beta, Twitter said it found that the majority of users hid replies that they believed to be irrelevant, off-topic, and “annoying.”

For brands, the ability to hide Tweet replies could help give them more control over the context of their engagements – such as weeding out spam replies. On the other hand, hiding all replies could have a negative impact for users who rely on replies to find out more information about the product or topic discussed.

How it’s available. The hide replies feature is now available globally for all Twitter users on iOS, Android, and desktop, but is not currently available on Tweetdeck. The feature marks another step by Twitter to continue cleaning up its content ecosystem by providing more controls for users.

About The Author

Taylor Peterson is Third Door Media’s Deputy Editor, managing industry-leading coverage that informs and inspires marketers. Based in New York, Taylor brings marketing expertise grounded in creative production and agency advertising for global brands. Taylor’s editorial focus blends digital marketing and creative strategy with topics like campaign management, emerging formats, and display advertising.


Facebook has introduced three new features for Messenger designed to help brands communicate with their customers on the platform: “icebreakers” for business profiles, updates to Click to Messenger ads, and more options for users replying to messages from a business.

Icebreakers for commonly asked questions. Facebook is also rolling out “icebreaker” questions that businesses can add to their Messenger profile via the API. The feature offers users the option to click on a common FAQ — like “What are your hours today?” or “Where is your store located?” — to receive an automated response.

“Icebreakers help businesses reduce friction in starting a conversation by surfacing common questions or topics of interest,” writes Facebook on its Developer blog.

Facebook icebreaker feature for Messenger

Click to Messenger ad update. For businesses that already have multiple Facebook apps connected to the Messenger platform, the company is making it easy to select which app they want to use for their Click to Messenger ads (an ad that runs in the Facebook or Instagram News Feed, but opens a chat in Messenger when a user clicks on it).

The company didn’t give explicit details on how brands can select the apps they want to be connected to their Click to Messenger ads, but said the “first phase” of the solution is now available, with additional improvements to be announced in the coming weeks.

More reply options for users. The third feature from Facebook Messenger are reactions and message replies that users can take advantage of during conversations with a business on the platform. The reactions allow users to use emojis to react to a response from a business. The message replies allow for threaded conversations so that businesses can see which exact message a user is responding to. “This adds more clarity to the conversations and helps businesses respond to inquiries better,” writes Facebook.

Why we should care. Consumers say they want more businesses to be available via messaging platforms. A recent survey of more than 11,000 people ages 18 to 24-years-old, conducted by Facebook, found that 60% wished they could message more businesses. These latest updates from Facebook do just that — helping create more opportunities for brands to communicate directly with users.

As social platforms — and social usage patterns — trend to a more personalized, messaging experience, brands adept at one-on-one communication with consumers will have an advantage over the competition and a better chance at attracting a loyal following.

About The Author

Amy Gesenhues is a senior editor for Third Door Media, covering the latest news and updates for Marketing Land, Search Engine Land and MarTech Today. From 2009 to 2012, she was an award-winning syndicated columnist for a number of daily newspapers from New York to Texas. With more than ten years of marketing management experience, she has contributed to a variety of traditional and online publications, including MarketingProfs, SoftwareCEO, and Sales and Marketing Management Magazine. Read more of Amy’s articles.


The hottest segment in retail is direct-to-consumer (D2C) brands. It’s also very competitive and quickly evolving, from online-only to multi-channel, with many companies adding physical stores to maintain an edge and continue growing.

Three D2C leaders, Rich Philip, co-founder and CEO of Brooklinen; Arianne Goldman, founder and CEO of Hatch Collection; and Justin Hughes, chief product officer of M.M. LaFleur, spoke about the evolution of their direct-to-consumer businesses during a session I moderated at Yotpo’s recent D2C conference in New York.

We discussed the nature of brands today, how to build loyalty, what marketing channels are most effective, the value of stores and the best advice they’ve received. Below is a transcript of our discussion, which has been edited for length.

Does brand loyalty exist anymore? Yes, but . . .

Greg Sterling: Survey data argue brand loyalty is in flames and that Millennials are much less loyal than earlier generations. What’s your response to this?

Rich Philip: I think the onus is on the brands very heavily these days because there’s a ton of competition. You need to put a lot of emphasis on creating a brand that people desire and want to be a part of for as long as possible. And that puts pressure on brands to keep evolving, to keep innovating, to keep having a new offering that’s enticing to customers. I disagree that brand loyalty is wavering. I think if you have a good product and a good brand experience, people will stick with you. You just have to do right by the customer.

Arianne Goldman: I totally agree. Hatch is a company for women who are pregnant, which can see you through your journey before, during and after pregnancy. The conversation and the trust developed with the customer is key. Loyalty is critical to success and to actually meaning something to people, which is kind of my definition of what a brand should be.

Justin Hughes: M.M. LaFleur is a direct to consumer women’s fashion brand for women that are busy and purposeful. I would say that our consumers aren’t cynical. As you look at the younger group of customers that we have coming through, I would say they’re more mission-oriented. They’re looking for something to come out of the brand. They want you to be meaningful. They want you to be sustainable. And that’s what’s driving them. They’re looking for more social proof. If they don’t get that, they’re going to move away from the brand.

Arianne Goldman: I think following a customer on their journey, knowing what they want and providing things that continue to bring them back. And letting them know that you understand what they’re going through and that you’re just not just selling stuff, you’re actually in it to be their partner through this moment or whatever moment they’re going through.

In my case, it’s a little different because I am obsessed with following the woman on her journey. So that promise to stick with her is quite different from the competition. A big box retailer might have a maternity category, but it’s not their sole focus. Hatch focuses on the woman. I gained her trust not only through great product, but by really evolving into community and letting her know that she can trust us, not just for a beautiful pair of pajamas, but also for a doula connection, or whatever, as well.

How to make (their) brands stand out

How would you describe the personality or essential characteristics of your brands? What helps them stand out?

Rich Philip: We think about the brand as a person all the time. We want to be that nice person that you’d like to be around — not that annoying person, or that abrasive person but somebody that is generally enjoyable. It comes across in the communication and giving good advice. People ask us all the time: My room is this color what do you suggest I do? I live in Minnesota and it’s really cold; what do you think I should go buy? And I think that’s a differentiated experience from our competition or the big-box stores, the department stores that don’t offer any kind of help or personalization or guidance. So if you really just take care of the customers and listen closely, then you can do right by them and that’s how you keep a customer for life because you keep servicing them on that level.

Justin Hughes: When we talk about our brand we want to make it both practical and charming at the same time. That’s a really tough intersection to hit, especially when you don’t often get to talk to people face to face in a store. We just opened up in Brookfield place, a little bit down the river, and it’s a pit-stop for women who may have spilled something on their clothes, or the office is too cold and they want to pick up a sweater, or they just want to sneak away and get a glass of rosé in the middle of the day. We try to be practical and be there for them, and be a little fun too.

Customer engagement starts with instilling connection, regardless of channel

Picking up on the idea of the customer conversation, how do you engage with the customer, through what channels: email, social media? Are you doing surveys? Tactically, what are you doing?

Rich Philip: Every channel you mentioned and then live in our brick and mortar experience. We had a pop up earlier this year and we’re opening a permanent store. But it actually started from the very beginning for us. My wife and I co-founded the company and bootstrapped it for two and a half years. We both did almost everything when we started, including customer service. You get a lot of insight by doing customer service.

We actually bake that into our employee onboarding process. Regardless of level or department, everybody does customer service for two weeks when they start at our company. The philosophy behind that is, regardless of your department or role, you can learn something that’s applicable to your team.

Arianne Goldman: Similarly, I bootstrapped the company for the first five years and really had a chance to take the brand on the road and build it organically. We were doing trunk shows and partnering with key influencers in-market and with some retailers. Women were spending 2X to 3X in-person that they were spending online. It was really that customer interaction, which definitely informed me that brick and mortar would be part of the greater strategy for Hatch. But engagement comes honestly, you can kind of pay for it at the top, but we’re also building it from the bottom: grassroots of meeting people, focus groups, talking to women about what is missing from their lives, what more can we provide them. Then we’re getting in front of them physically to make it more of a touch and feel experience.

Email is about 35% of our revenues. Having that conversation on a weekly basis, several times a week, keeping that conversation fresh and not boring is challenging. But it’s a real opportunity for us; you have to be saying things that are relevant and that matter to keep them engaged.

Justin Hughes: Talking face to face is really important. We always try to use engagement opportunities as a means to create community. Community is something we try to foster as much as we can. If we’re talking to you, chances are that somebody else in the community who’s buying from M.M LaFleur also has the same question or the same thought. And we try to turn that into an opportunity.

Every week we do a “women of the week,” where we take one of our customers and tell her story to the rest of the community. We foster community groups or dinners at our showrooms, so people can tell their stories and learn from each other — so it’s not just about us, it’s about the consumer as well.

Maintaining customer experience at scale

In the beginning, as you mentioned, there’s a lot of hands-on time. As the company grows it becomes harder to deliver the kind of high-touch experiences you’re describing. Talk about how scale has impacted your thinking about how to deliver the best customer experience?

Rich Philip: We have a lot of tools and solutions that have kind of evolved over time. I’ll start with customer service. Customer service is so critical to our business. I just want to take care of every customer and every interaction. When you hear similar questions, similar things all the time, it gives you an opportunity to automate and optimize on that.

We have several tools, AI tools that help us on the customer service side. One of those tools does the work of a few CS reps on its own for us, and it’s become very impactful to answer questions. On the website, I put a lot of pressure on our team and our e-comm team because we strive for segments of one person. Personalization is how you create the relationship with the brand. So if we knew that you bought this or you were on that page, you have a very high likelihood to take another action. And if we lean into the data, then we can really service the customer and give them something they really like.

Arianne Goldman: I’m looking at it inside-out when I think about growing the business. It’s about people first, not necessarily tech first. Building community is about how do I get in front of more people physically and personally? That to me then translates into greater revenue growth.

How to deal with customer experience missteps — and the dangers of social media

What happens when you mess up? How do you handle bad personalization or a bad experience? Give an example of what you did in response to the worst screw up you can remember.

Rich Philip: We make it right at all costs. I don’t want people going out to social media or on our reviews and just skewer us for something. A story that we tell all the time is, we lost this woman’s package and it was a Christmas present. It was like an hour and a half east of Long Island. And this was like December 23, two years ago. She went crazy on us that we lost her Christmas gift. So we put a replacement in an Uber — a $150 Uber ride — and sent it out to her. And she wrote us this long essay about how we saved Christmas for her family. That’s a customer for life, and she has been. Those kinds of little experiences really make the difference and show what a brand with a personality will do that the big box store or the department store wouldn’t do.

Arianne Goldman: Before starting Hatch, I worked at American Express for about nine years, and the card member was always right. I took that into my own company; the customer is always right. The goal is to make sure our customers feel good and happy and at any cost, making sure that their experience is protected. It’s a little more challenging for me because I’m dealing with hormonal women who really have no idea what the hell is going on in their life. So they tend to bark at us a little bit more than usual. But at the end of the day, she’s always right. What can we do to just make this experience better for her?

Justin Hughes: It’s the same for us and we always try to inject personal communication into everything we do as well. We have a lot of customers and it’s difficult when there’s a screw up because it will affect thousands of people. We always try to make sure that one of us on the executive team is always stepping in as much as we can to talk to customers directly. No matter how big the company grows we always have a touch-point and will be able to do that.

Rich Philip: One more thing; social media is a very dangerous weapon that’s out there right now. Everybody has a megaphone that they can broadcast your screw ups to everybody, and it’s dangerous. You don’t want to play with fire. So that’s why it’s worth whatever the cost is to correct those and turn the negative experience into a positive one.

Stores promote the brand in a way online cannot

Speak to the role of physical stores: important, sort of important, critical to your future?

Rich Philip: Very important to our future. Hasn’t been up until now. We’ve done a lot of work on the e-comm side, but for the next phase it’s very important.

Arianne Goldman: Critical to the future. I have two stores now. We’re going to roll out a few more in the next 18 months. But we’re not really looking at them just as stores, but as community retail experiences so that we can build the community and sell stuff simultaneously, but not just sell stuff.

Justin Hughes: They’re important for us as well. We have seven stores plus our popups, and they’re a critical touch-point to get to know our customers and foster that sense of community. They’re very difficult to scale. So, on the revenue side, they’re a fraction. We’re still trying to work out what that model really looks like so we can take that next step.

Rich Philip: Stores promote the brand in a way that online has trouble doing, I think.

Social media has become 4X more expensive

What’s the most effective channel or channels for you, and is digital getting expensive?

Rich Philip: Word of mouth referral and depends on the channel. Some channels are too expensive.

Justin Hughes: Social has gotten 4X more expensive over the past four years, and so actually we’ve been shrinking that as percentage. We’ve also been going back to traditional media, direct mail, doing events. A lot of that has been working a lot better than it had been over the past 10 years. And then of course influencers have taken over a larger percentage of our budget and time, especially as we’re tracking younger consumers today.

Arianne Goldman: Yeah, I’d say going old school and just building a brand from ground-up is going to be the sweet spot that’s going to differentiate you from everybody else.

Best advice they ever got

Finally, what’s a lesson learned or the best piece of advice you received?

Rich Philip: Somebody told me this early on, tomorrow is going to be more difficult than today. It’s super true. Watch out.

Justin Hughes: The best advice I’ve ever gotten was success breeds success. If we ever feel like we’re trying to chase after an idea, it’s probably the wrong one. We take a step back to try to look at a framework for us to get to the right answer and learn over time.

Arianne Goldman: The the best advice I got was always have a sense of humor because it just doesn’t end. It’s a big, big beast, and if I knew then what I knew now, I probably wouldn’t have done it.

About The Author

Greg Sterling is a Contributing Editor at Search Engine Land. He writes about the connections between digital and offline commerce. He previously held leadership roles at LSA, The Kelsey Group and TechTV. Follow him Twitter or find him on LinkedIn.


We sat down with Aaron, a creative director at Ueno, to talk to him about Ueno’s approach to a branding project, his thoughts for the future, and how he got started with design.


How did you get into the world of brand identity design — and what made you stay?

The rock group KISS was my first exposure to a brand when I was just 3 years old. The hair, make-up and album covers are embedded in my mind to this day. It’s funny because KISS has a ‘maximalist’ aesthetic, whereas today, I consider myself to be a modern minimalist.

Aaron Poe — Creative Director at Ueno.

As I got older, as an active athlete I was interested in sports branding, so I’d rebrand NFL and MLB teams as self-initiated projects. During my junior year of high school, there was a competition to come up with the logos for 2 MLB expansion teams, the Florida Marlins and the Colorado Rockies. I submitted my ideas and they were super similar to what they ended up becoming when the teams launched. It was then that I realized I could become what my mom called a ‘commercial artist’ which clarified the difference between art and commerce. So, I give most of the credit to my mom who always encouraged me to see things in a more positive light. I’ve been a visual designer ever since, starting in surf/skate branding, and now more corporate branding for well known companies like adidas, Beats, Lyft, Square, and too many tech companies to list. Creating brands from scratch motivates me, and I still find the industry challenging as I progress in my career. Ever-changing technologies, mediums and consumer habits all play a role in keeping me intrigued and insanely curious.

Is there a perfect brand identity brief? What does it look like?

The best brief should not have it all figured out. Of course, it’s preferred and expected to have main objectives, deliverables, KPIs and key stakeholders identified. That said, the best briefs have a bit of ambiguity — it allows me to ask questions, identify the gaps and challenge assumptions on what the client thinks they want or need. It is that creative tension which generates new ideas and allows me to help shape the brief with the client. It’s also a clever way of building immediate trust. The client sees that you care, that you’ve done your homework. When a client gets that you’re into what they’re doing, you can begin to communicate more clearly. It’s my job to push the client — make them feel slightly uncomfortable. Change only happens when you’re uncomfortable.

Essence logo.

You recently did the Essence Global branding. How do you creatively approach a project like that — from beginning to end?

It begins and ends with strategy. For a rebrand of an established industry leader like Essence, I will pose questions like “If your company went away tomorrow, why would anyone care?” This elicits a really candid conversation. It gets the client thinking differently about themselves, helps them organize their thoughts and encourages self-reflection about what is ‘good and true’ about their product or offering. The best thing a design consultancy like Ueno provides is objectivity. Essence has an in-house team, but they recognized that they were too close to their own brand to successfully help redefine and reinvent it from a strategic and visual standpoint.

Old vs new logo.

At its core, Essence is a data-science advertising agency. Since joining Ueno, I’ve worked with a lot of data driven brands across different verticals such as AI, Advertising and SaaS. It’s a trip. Data is the new currency. At first, I was hesitant about working with yet another data company on a rebrand, but I took a step back and tried to focus on the positive and turn it into an opportunity to learn and grow. (Thanks mom) All the brands I’ve helped launch come to us with unique business challenges, all with different audience personas, and different business goals.

So, once we’ve discovered their purpose and shaped the brand strategy into an actionable deliverable, the design part becomes an exercise in inevitability. As we get ready to launch the new brand into the wild, we are very strategic about it. We partner with their internal team to make sure they are set up for success. Design agencies are there to provide the tools and guidance to allow their team to confidently own the brand moving forward, but ultimately, it becomes their domain.

Essence logo construction.

Thankfully, the team at Essence is a well oiled machine. Not only are they design savvy, but they operate with a collaborative attitude during the entire process. It couldn’t have been a better partnership. The work speaks for itself. It’s simple and direct, elegant but not pretentious — and it’s honest to who they are as a brand who deals with your sensitive data. Check out the Essence brand guideline here.

What is your preferred client/studio relationship or process when working on a brand identity concept?

I love extreme collaboration. I prefer to expose the client to our process, invite them to take a peek behind the curtain if you will. By involving them earlier in the process and in a more informal manner, it helps speed things up. Exercises such as in-person half-day workshops, preparing brand identity spectrums, asking open and direct questions like “Is your brand in need of a reboot or are we flipping the table here?”

Essence color palette.

Once the fog of the brief begins to burn off, we quickly move from talking to doing. If the client or the internal organization is design savvy, and have experience working with agencies, the education part may not be needed. If they are new to this process, then we roll up our sleeves and unpack how to evaluate things like a logo, typography or color palette.

At Ueno, we don’t build decks, we build brands. Of course we put the ideas into a keynote, but sometimes that’s just a formality. Typically, we open up the Illustrator or Sketch file and show messy artboards, with loose sketches. Some clients can handle this level of ambiguity. For those who prefer a more buttoned up presentation, we deliver that way as well. It takes a certain level of EQ to determine which approach to take.

Essence homepage.

What do you or your studio do differently than others in regard to brand identities?

Ueno is a natively digital agency, with deep roots in development. So when we create brands, we have a leg up on the digital storytelling aspect. That’s our special sauce. We’re not a traditional studio, we’re aware that a brand lives on the streets, in print, and on the social web so it’s important to be able to flex in both OOH marketing as well as motion driven branding for screens.

What are your thoughts on brand guidelines? How do they fit into the process?

They’re important. It helps codify things and provides some healthy guardrails. Lately, thanks to Brandpad, we’ve been delivering public facing web-based guidelines for all of our branding projects. Clients love it, the press loves it. We as designers love it. It just makes sense.

Do you have a ‘truth’ you follow when working on visual identities?

Strategy first.

Has brand identity design changed in recent years? What do you expect for the future?

Currently, it’s become a sea of sameness. I see a lot of dull stylish appropriation. A copy, of a copy — thanks in large part to the social media attention economy and instant gratification.

A positive change is the reemergence of strong copy. I feel strongly that the ‘verbal identity’ is way more important than a logo. Type as voice is super powerful. It’s what helps cut through the noise. Motion and audio branding is another positive trend of late. Purposeful and contextual animations or living identities, when appropriate, can add a level of inventiveness that sticks in your mind.

Essence illustrations.

The good news is the next wave of brand, does not exist yet. That seems like a great opportunity to help define the future of branding at large. I predict the logo will matter less and less. A logo is not your brand, rather, purpose driven brands with a moral compass will rise to the top and it will become more content-driven, less style-driven. More more impactful, less decorative.

Aaron Poe is a Creative Director at Ueno in San Francisco. Ueno is a full-service agency, busy designing and building beautiful digital products, brands, and experiences. You can read more about them here.

Behind Brands™️ is an interview series by Brandpad, initiated to explore the people and processes behind visual identities. See all the interviews here.

For questions, please
contact us.


We sat down with Bjørn, a designer at Blake in Oslo, to talk to him about how he got started with design, his process and how he approaches a brand identity project.


How did you get into the world of brand identity design — and what made you stay?I knew right from the start. I´ve always been more of a problem solver than an artist. Identity design often lets me play around with my biggest passions in design; typography, custom lettering, and illustration. Combining these in logo design, and creating a universe around the brand reminds me of how I used to play and think as a child. I´ve kind of taken the back way into it, working with many other aspects of design and advertising but I think that is a strength in itself. It changes the way you look at problems and challenges. It is not just playing around though, good identity design is the most challenging part of visual communication. But that’s also part of why I love it.

Bjørn I. Thomassen. Photo by: Simon Tonev

Is there a perfect brand identity brief? What does it look like?

It’s the same as any other challenge, preparations are essential. The client needs to have a clear mind about why. Why do they need this, what are their core values? Both designer and client need to understand who the client is. Surprisingly many haven’t thought this trough. We are happy to be part of the strategic process and guide the client on the road to create a good brief. Communication, collaboration, and level of expectation are important factors.

Blake recently did the Höegh branding. How do you creatively approach a project like that — from beginning to end?

Having the same level of expectations, when is what delivered, when do we touch down together. Good communication is important. When the brief is in place we do an analysis of the client’s vision, values and needs we can start research. In this part, we work closely with the client. After it is only the rest left, in this phase we withdraw a bit and focus on developing solutions and answer the brief we have created in partnership with the clients. If we need to involve any of our friends (Blake and Friends) this will be the part we do so. In this case, we chose to reach out to Lisa Tegtmeier from Hamburg, after the strategic phase we knew we wanted a playful look on it and Lisas style was perfect. This is the process we create the visuals based on the tone of voice we have set earlier in the process.

On this job in particular a lot of the strategic job was already done by the client, and they had prepared for the process. This foundation carries the entire brand and it has to be solid. It also gives us creative freedom within a set of frames that helps us focus on the right areas to build a strong brand and guidelines that fit the individual client.

What is your preferred client/studio relationship or process when working on a brand identity concept?

I like the first part of the process to be the same for all clients. Finding out together the whys and wherefores. Then, when we take a step back to work creatively the process can take any direction depending on the previous decisions and how our foundation is built.

Typically, it’s not so different from client to client, some have a clearer thought on why they come to us in the first place, either an idea or a problem. Other needs us to help them analyze this and find a path. Either way, the end goal is the same and both starting points have their pros and cons.

What do you or your studio do differently than others in regard to brand identities?

I’m not sure what we do differently than other studios, but we try to work harder and more organized in the research phase. We steer away from the classic team set up and involve whoever has the qualifications among our staff that is needed for this brief or client.

What are your thoughts on brand guidelines? How do they fit into the process?

Consistency is important, and so is being true to your brands tone of voice. This is where your guidelines are important so you don’t wash out your image and keeping your brand on the path you have set out on. It is important to find a good balance as brands change along with the world at a terrifying speed. Don’t get locked down to hard when your competition changes, and don’t be so fluid that no one understands what you are trying to communicate.

Do you have a ‘truth’ you follow when working on visual identities?

Its “easy” to make something beautiful, the hard part is to make something right and smart. Don’t get too carried away with trends, and dare to be different.

Has brand identity design changed in recent years? What do you expect for the future?

Absolutely yes. And I don’t think we have seen the half of it yet. It’s impossible to say for certain whats next, but we see an increasing amount of living identities and adaptive profiles. There is also a trend in branding to create what I call “festival branding”, by that I mean that some seem to want to put all new tech and ideas into a profile, often it looks beautiful and it’s super “up-to-date” and modern, but also often lacks the ability to withstand time. It’s important not to forget that classic is classic for a reason. It is, of course, important to be curious and experimental but don’t overdo it and use it at the right times.

Bjørn I. Thomassen is a designer at Blake and a board member for Grafill both located in Oslo. Blake is a branding agency that develops strategic advertisement and digital solutions. You can read more about them here.

Behind Brands™️ is an interview series by Brandpad, initiated to explore the people and processes behind visual identities. See all the interviews here.

For questions, please
contact us.

cost goes up. Brands should be concerned because the cost of acquisition is becoming higher than the average order value (AOV),” said Pini Yakuel, CEO and founder of customer data platform Optimove on the long-term implications of rising customer acquisition costs. “This means that if a customer comes to your site or storefront once, makes a purchase, and never returns, your brand is losing money.”

CAC is outpacing customer lifetime value

With the influx of D2C brands (and their inevitable competitors) playing fast and loose in the digital ad space, more dollars are needed to compete for the same impressions. As a result, CAC has reached a point where it’s outpacing customer lifetime value (LTV). This means the total amount a customer spends with a brand is less than the cost it took to acquire them, when calculating the marketing resource costs (effort and ad spend).

touched on this issue in her 2019 Internet Trends report, deeming the rise in customer acquisition costs “unsustainable.” Depending on the industry, acquiring a new customer can cost anywhere from 5 to 25 times more than retaining current ones – and the cost will continue to rise as marketers attempt to stay afloat in a noisy digital marketplace.   

“We all know that it’s much more expensive to acquire a new customer than to retain and grow the one you have,” said Jake Sorofman, CMO of Pendo. “This continued obsession on acquisition — at the expense of retention is what’s inflated today’s customer acquisition costs.”

A fiercely competitive digital ad environment and a more saturated market will force D2C brands to seek more diverse, and potentially less-targeted forms of marketing. Likewise, they’ll need to stay hyper-focused on customer experience to retain a customer base for the long-term. For the digitally-native brands that grew up in the golden days of social advertising, sustaining growth in today’s environment means a return to brand-building basics.

Related: Welcome to the next era of social media marketing

Loyal consumers are the most effective brand advocates. They translate brand value to the masses in the form of reviews and engagement – which helps bring in new customers at little to no acquisition cost. But for that to happen, brands need to nail experience and deliver value. 

How to reduce customer acquisition costs and grow lifetime value

If loyal customers are the benchmark of value for a brand, then brands must be willing to give value back to those customers — particularly when it comes to data.  

Deliver personalized value. “Digital and mobile experiences are a rapidly growing part of this equation,” said Mike Stone, SVP of marketing at Airship. “But these experiences can’t just be a novelty, there must be a true value exchange. The most impactful experiences are often highly personalized, and personalization requires some exchange of customer data… that means we need to give consumers something that clearly and proactively makes their lives easier.”

Examples of successful value exchanges include Wayfair’s augmented reality app that shows how furniture might look in a customer’s home, or Sephora including free cosmetic samples with loyalty program purchases. Apps such as Accuweather sends a push notification before a thunderstorm strikes, and airline apps send texts to notify users about flight updates such as upgrades and gate changes.

Image result for wayfair ar appmemorable brand experiences for customers.

“Brands can use marketing tech to
mitigate the rising customer acquisition costs. They’re using technology to
unify customer data, create contextual single customer views, strategically
segment customers, and treat campaigns as experiments to optimize as they go,” Yakuel
explained. “In order to treat your customers the way they want to be treated,
you need to look at all your marketing as relationship building, and find the
right tools to get you there.”

Yukelpointed to its customer, activewear brand Sweaty Betty, as an example. By optimizing for customer lifetime value with automated personalized messaging campaigns, Sweaty Betty reduced CAC and increased LTV, while still acquiring 42% more customers compared to the prior year. Customer churn dropped by 32%.

Lean into the customer experience. Customer experience impacts how an audience will value a brand, and can also indicate how long a customer will stick around. The D2C brands that are making the most of customer experience have invested in building niche communities, strengthening one-to-one personalization, and diversifying their marketing channels to connect with consumers both online and off.

Julia Stead, VP of marketing at Invoca, explained that contextual, personalized customer experiences are essential to building lasting customer relationships.

“While there are many avenues like retargeting and freemium to get there, success depends largely on delivering on this personalized promise. Personalized, relevant and timely engagement is how you convert non-paying to paying customers, no matter the model. Brands need to ensure every touchpoint not only feels personalized but is also done cost-effectively,” said Stead.

But building a strong customer experience often requires a foundational shift in strategy, where digital advertising isn’t always the silver bullet. Achieving a reliable customer experience at every touchpoint involves marketers reaching beyond digital to be present in the offline journey as well.

Take for instance Narvar, a company that seeks to help brands elevate the post-purchase e-commerce experience for customers. “Direct-to-consumer players and bigger brands are doing a better job of bridging offline to online and vice versa,” said Elain Szu, VP of marketing at Narvar.

Szu explained how Rent the Runway, one of Navar’s clients, is making moves to ease the process of e-commerce transactions for customers. Rent The Runway teamed up with WeWork and Nordstrom to allow drop-off service at the brands’ physical locations – much like Amazon’s Locker or Counter service.

“While these offline locations help Rent The Runway retain customers because it’s making their lives easier, it also elevates the post-purchase experience by alerting them about the status of their orders and returns in a timely and relevant fashion,” said Szu.

An omnichannel brand experience – like that Heineken wallscape or Casper ad in the subway – requires marketers to set expectations with stakeholders. Top-of-funnel, branding initiatives aren’t designed to produce the instant satisfaction of programmatic metrics, but that doesn’t mean they aren’t contributing to long-term profitability. It takes the right mix of online and offline strategies to narrow the experience gap for customers.

If brands make the effort to deliver value and understand a customer’s journey at every touchpoint, the effectiveness of those offline activations will be reflected in digital lift. Like any marketing strategy, finding that mix will vary depending on the type of market and target consumer.

Planning for sustainable customer acquisitions in our hyper-connected world means returning to the basics and restructuring the digitally-native foundation on which many modern brands are built.

Image result for casper ad subway