Books is Not Your Brand

Businesses and organizations have some pretty recognizable stuff. McDonald’s has their hamburger. Nike has their swooshy logo and their “just do it” tagline. Google has their search engine. Apple has the iPhone.

These things – products, logos, and taglines – aren’t brands. They are products, consumables, and marketing projects. They are things the company produces.

But what’s a brand? Here are some definitions:

  • “A brand is a person’s gut feeling about a product, service, or organization” (from gist brands)
  • “… your brand is a story, a set of emotions and expectations and a stand-in for how we think and feel about what you do” (from Seth Godin)
  • “The perceived emotional corporate image as a whole” (from JUST Creative)

So when I hear someone say that a library’s brand is books, it irks me a bit. Because it’s simply not true. Yes, books are a very recognizable thing that libraries have; a major “product,” if you will. But having a collection of books is just one thing we do out of many.

And these days, you can get books pretty much anywhere: at Walmart, at the grocery store, or through a click on my Kindle app. Having access to a bunch of books isn’t really a unique thing anymore.

I love what Blackcoffee says about brands and products in their blog post, A Product is Not a Brand:

“Many companies fail to achieve their branding goals because they mistake their brand for their product, service or technology. Simply put, a brand is none of these! A brand is an experience that lives at the intersection of promise and expectation. Your products are a way to deliver upon that promise. Forget features, concentrate on the unique experience you can provide.”

Don’t mistake a major product – your book collection – as a brand. Because it’s not. Even better – go the extra mile (or two, or three) and work to define your library’s brand. Then see where that takes you!

More information on Branding:

Book image by Dawid Palen

#checkitout, Taylor Swift, & National Library Week

Guess what? It’s National Library Week! To celebrate, some really creative staff and customers at my library have made a fun, creative, and AWESOME parody video of Taylor Swift’s song Shake It Off.

Yes, ours is called Check It Out. Please watch the video (pretty sure you guys will like it).

We have a goal: we want to encourage library advocacy, and get people to check out the library!

We also want this video shared as widely as possible. So, I have a request or two:

  • Please share the video in your favorite social media channels – the Youtube Video link is here.
  • Use these hashtags everywhere you share the video: #checkitout #NLW15 #taylorswift #swifties
  • Let Taylor Swift know about the video – she’s on Twitter and Facebook (we’d LOVE it if she saw it).

While you’re at it, see if you can find all the “easter eggs” in the video. There are a TON of Taylor Swift references hidden in the video.

Either way – this week is a good week to remind people how important libraries are to our communities. So please remind them!

iBeacons and the Library

an iBeaconI’ve shown what iBeacons are, and what they do in non-retail settings. Can they be used in a library setting? Definitely – because some libraries are already experimenting with them!

There are currently two companies in the library industry working with iBeacons (that I know of, anyway):

What are these companies focusing on?

Bluubeam sends out location-based messaging. For example, if you walk into the teens area of the library (and have the Bluubeam app on your mobile device), you might get a message about what’s happening in the teen section that day, or get a message about an upcoming teen event.

So think location-based promotion of events and your stuff.

Capira Technologies does location-based messaging. They’re also working on more personalized info. For example, here’s what they say about circulation notices:

Patrons who have authenticated their account information in your library app can receive notifications about items due that day, items ready for pickup, and much more when they enter the building. Library staff know that patrons often visit the library and forget they have items due that day. Automatically reminding them to stop by the circulation desk and renew them before they leave is a great customer service.

What types of things could you do with iBeacons in a library? Here are some ideas:

  • Event notices that are location-based
  • Promotion of new library services. For example, if a customer walks by your new makerspace, they could receive a message explaining it, and maybe an “ask the librarian” prompt for more information.
  • Building tours!
  • Around-town tours. I’d love to see iBeacons connected to a historical walking tour, for example. This has the potential to be much better than portable headsets, and definitely better than QR codes.
  • Art gallery explanations. We have an art gallery. It might work to have explanations of art pieces or more information about the current exhibit.
  • Shelving notices. What’s on this shelf? Capira goes much further with this idea – “For example, if a library offered a row of shelves with New Releases, a patron could view items released that day using their device and a beacon located on the shelf.”
  • Patron Assistance (again from Capira). Devices can time how long a beacon stays in range. Staff can be notified if a patron spends an excessive amount of time in a specific area or room without moving, possibly indicating they may require assistance looking for items.
  • Beacon Tracking – Anonymous tracking via iBeacons can capture how library customers move around in your building, along with how much time is spent in each area. Retail stores already do this, and then move their products around to where customers gather. Something to think about!

Again – there is potentially a LOT of possibility here. What do you think? Please share!

iBeacon image by Jonathan Nalder

Fun Interview – Check it out!

Angela!I was recently interviewed by Angela Hursh, the Content Team Leader for the Marketing Department at the Public Library of Cincinnati and Hamilton County. Angela has a cool new blog called Content Marketing for Libraries.

Go subscribe to it right now!

Anyway … it was a fun interview. Here are the questions she asked me. If you want to see my answers, you have to visit her blog!

The questions:

  1. It amazes me that, even today, libraries have an image of being stodgy and traditional. I think there are so many libraries doing amazing, forward-thinking things. So we obviously have a promotion problem, individually and as an industry. How can we do a better job at spreading the word about the cool things happening in the library space?
  2. What’s the biggest marketing problem libraries tell you they are having right now?
  3. Share your top three tips for improving a library website.
  4. Social media still seems to intimidate many libraries. Can you give three tips for libraries looking to take their social media game to the next level?
  5. You’ve written a book about using social media as a tool to make customer connections. Why is it so important to libraries to connect with their cardholders?
  6. Many library marketers have told me they just don’t have time to do all the things they want to do. You do a lot… you have your full-time job, your blog, your speaking engagements, and your personal life. How do you manage it all? Do you have some tips on time-management?
  7. What’s an emerging technology trend that libraries and particularly library marketers need to pay attention to?
  8. You worked a lot of jobs before landing in the library world… and you’ve stayed here for a long time. What’s so great about working for a library?
  9. What book are you reading right now?
  10. If you could send a message to yourself ten years ago (in 2005), what would you say?

Enjoy!

Picture from Angela Hursh’s Twitter account

Developing an Online First Mentality, Part Three: Everything Online

I’ve been talking about developing an online first mentality for your library. In part one, I introduced the concept. In part two, I gave some examples of how it might work in a library setting.

In part three, let’s make sure that everything your library does is represented online. At least, all the parts that customers interact with.

What’s that mean? Think about what your library does for a second. Is everything – programs, events, services, etc. – represented online? Can you sign up for them online? If not – how come?

Sometimes, a library doesn’t represent a service online … because it might become too popular. Seriously. I’ve heard of libraries purposely NOT sharing something online because of capacity issues.

It might be a book group with limited seating. It might be a service that the library couldn’t handle if the service got too popular. Sorta like the In-N-Out Burger secret menu (if it wasn’t shared online) – if you happen to know about it, we’ll do it. We just won’t tell you that’s an option.

There are a few ways to handle those situations:

  1. Consider NOT doing it anywhere. Either promote it and do it well, or don’t do it at all. Maybe you should be focusing staff energy in other areas?
  2. Consider ramping it up. Gina Millsap, my library’s CEO, likes to say that we “organize around the work.” So if there’s more work to be done in a certain area, we shift staff to go do that. You could also hire more staff – if the service is truly popular and worthy of that type of investment (and, of course, if the powers-that-be say yes to that pricey request).
  3. Consider creating an alternative. Back to the book group idea for a second. My library does book groups. If more people want to start a book group, we have a cool service called Book Group in a Bag. We stuff 10 copies of a book in a bag, along with some “how to run a book group” instructions, and let customers check it out … and start their own book groups.

SO can you represent everything your library does online? I think so – get busy!

Photo by Steve Rhodes