Keeping It “Fresh”

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Posted: November 14, 2012 at 6:00 P.M.
by Becca Bryant

What first comes to mind when you hear the words “Eat Fresh”?

Subway!

Subway has made a name for itself in more ways than one. A recent PR Daily article revealed Subway as the number one “most-liked brand on social media,” according to the BrandIndex 2012 rankings. Scanning through its online profiles, you can see why. Reaching more than 16 million “likes” on Facebook and 733,000 Twitter followers, Subway must be doing something right.

We now live in a social-media-driven world, and the next step is to figure out how to stand out among all the clutter in today’s online world. Social platforms can change daily. PR professionals have to constantly be on the lookout for the next big thing, and be it.

So, what does Subway have that other companies do not?

Innovation– Subway is constantly offering new concepts to its publics. Jared, avocados and Apolo Ohno are just a few of the initiatives Subway has introduced that help keep the company “fresh.”

Randall Huffaker, president of Alchemist Branding and an advertising and PR instructor at The University of Alabama, said, “It’s not stale, and they integrate it well with their advertising. Their timeline tells the story of the company through their advertising and their history.”

When a brand becomes stagnant, it loses its fan base. Companies must be visionaries in order to stay ahead of the curve and remain interesting to the public. People generally have short attention spans, so the information must stay relevant.

Originality– We can instantly recall memorable slogans of certain brands, companies or services. Subway has formed an impressive individuality. It has that “thing” that gains and holds the audience’s attention. You can spot a Subway sign from a mile off the interstate and instantly know the “5-dollar foot-long” jingle anywhere.

Subway is recognizable and distinguished, helping its identity stand alone against the competition. Huffaker noted Subway’s strategies are ever-changing and centered around its customers. He said Subway’s content variety gives the audience a reason to visit its pages regularly.

Consistency– Subway has maintained its reputation through a consistent identity. New strategies and tactics may be presented, but the manner in which they are implemented stay consistent with the identity Subway has established. The Subway colors, design, store layout and slogan remain the same no matter the location. This consistency makes it possible for the public to not only spot a Subway restaurant, but also want to stop in to eat.

Interaction– Becoming real to the audience is key. The audience wants to be heard, and social media also allows a company or brand to listen.

“Social media is really just an extension of brand. Subway is using its offline marketing to engage consumers. The reason is the fresh content, consistency and interaction,” Huffaker said. “It’s not about pushing a message but more the conversation.”

The company must create two-way communication and notice the customers’ concerns and questions, addressing them with efficiency. Maree Jones, social media coordinator at KC Projects, advises companies to respond in a timely manner to questions and concerns while also encouraging people to share their experiences. People like to know their opinions matter.

How can your company achieve Subway’s brand recognition?

Ask questions. Find out what is missing in your industry or what your company can add; that is when you will find those innovative ideas. You must set your company apart from the competition by being different. Once you have created this original identity, you must maintain it through an online presence.

Jones said you must have a balance and not just produce self-promotional material. The audience quickly becomes uninterested.

There are ways to promote your company or brand while simultaneously engaging the public. Depending on what specific target you are trying to reach, this engagement can be accomplished through quotes, humor, facts, infographics, giveaways, images and Q&A incorporated into the company’s updates and conversations. The list is endless, but creativity is key.

“Conversations surrounding various brands and industries are happening 24/7 online,” Jones said. “It has become critical for organizations to not only monitor what is being said, but to develop a strong identity as a subject expert in digital space.” Your company or brand not only has to be present, but also it must be active online.

AYTM Market Research noted  in a recent study that most Facebook and Twitter users prefer short updates via social media as opposed to emails and hard copy ads. The consumers help make a business successful; therefore, they should be the primary focus. The fastest and easiest way to interact with your audience is social media. Let them know the latest news while also requesting feedback.

Interaction has allowed a gourmet sandwich shop to transform into a human being who cares about what the consumer has to say. Follow Subway’s example to ensure that your brand keeps social media “fresh.”

2 Comments

  1. Gloria Kelly

    I would agree that Subway leads the way to the social media ideas for companies around the globe. Its communication team has a great marketing technique of using social media to brand the company! I can remember growing up and always seeing the tv commercials with Jared on the screen and then with the catchy slogan “Eat Fresh” at the end of each commercial. The social media hit a record high in my opinion when Subway had the 5 dollar foot long song. Such marketing techniques do a great job at getting people thinking about the company; even if they do not even eat at Subway, they will still have the company in their minds. I feel that social media is the ever growing side to Public Relations and each company should take the opportunity to utilize the success to reach out to the different audiences. Everyone nowadays has a smartphone or a computer that they can look up the different company social media sites and commercials.

    Reply

    • Brian Hoff

      Becca and Gloria, both of you are right that Subway has done a fantastic job using social media in new creative ways throughout the company’s history. I can remember Jared’s before-and-after ads as a child, the $5 footlong ads in middle school, and most recently, the unavoidable ads featuring Subway as the “Official Training Restaurant of Athletes Everywhere.” One of the more creative ploys Subway has used recently was in an episode of “The Office.” Ryan Howard, the baseball player, made a cameo appearance on the show where he said, “Eat fresh,” every chance he could. This is an approach to product placement – saying the company’s slogan an obnoxious amount of times – that I never could have imagined would work, but I haven’t been able to get Subway off my mind since watching that episode. What do either of you think about the company’s move to using comedies as vehicle for promotion? Pepsi and Doritos did it in “Wayne’s World.” Both of those companies are still doing phenomenally. Is the promotional comedy scene just beating a dead horse, or is this new promotional life that Subway has found?

      Reply

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