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Guest blogger Marie Jansen enjoys practicing traditional media relations, social media, marketing, advertising and event planning, having gained experience in New York City, Baton Rouge and Dallas, working for large and boutique agencies. She has also assisted Capital Area Special Olympics as an event planner, and served as a brand educator for Vita Coco coconut water and Coca-Cola. Marie has worked with both business-to-business and business-to-consumer clients including American Girl, Belvedere Vodka, Coolibar sun protective clothing, Ernst & Young, Essilor, General Motors, Grand Marnier, HomeTeam Pest Defense, KaBoom!, Lululemon, No Kid Hungry, Qualcomm, Verizon, and Veuve Clicquot. Marie earned a Bachelor of Arts degree in public relations and a minor in business administration from Louisiana State University, and is an active member of LSU alumni and the National Associate of Professional Women.

Marie Jansen, 2014 graduate of the Manship School of Mass Communication

Marie Jansen, 2014 graduate of the Manship School of Mass Communication

When you think of a brand, you either automatically think of an association with it, good or bad, or you don’t think of it at all, because you’ve never heard of it before. And most of us have a specific brand that we love, not because its product is necessarily different, but because we know or like the brand.

In order for consumers to buy a brand and develop brand loyalty, they have heard of the brand or its product before and they have had a good interaction, whatever that interaction may have been.

It takes seven seconds to make a first impression. With that being said, a Harvard study shows that it takes an additional eight positive encounters to change a negative opinion. So, just because someone may not like a brand at first, doesn’t mean that they won’t always dislike the brand.

That’s where you come in. Brands need to be promoted and need some form of public relations to do so. I spent almost every semester in college and two additional summers in New York City as a brand ambassador or brand educator, so they say. I’ve ‘educated’ for Vita Coco Coconut Water, Victoria’s Secret Pink, Coca-Cola, and Cosmopolitan Magazine. They all had one thing in common – they were trying to reach like-minded consumers and connect on another level, not just through the product, but also through the experience.

There are many ways to go about promoting a brand, whether it’s through an event, a sampling, a tasting, a conference, social media, the media, or advertising. I’ve experienced all of the above, because all of the above are typically needed. The events, conferences, samplings and tastings are always great for a consumer-facing product, because it lets the consumer interact with or try the product before deciding to purchase. This also puts the thought of purchasing the product in someone’s mind, when they may have never thought of doing so before.

I’ve seen various success stories while brand educating for Vita Coco. Coconut water is an acquired taste, not everyone likes it, and a lot of people don’t like it at first because they tried the wrong flavor, tried no flavor, or weren’t expecting what it would taste like. As a brand educator, I was able to tell people which flavor to try first based on their preferences and tell them about the health benefits to drinking coconut water, which is a major selling factor.

Other brands aren’t about the specific product, but the experience behind it. Victoria’s Secret wanted to connect with college-aged women and let them know their clothes were made for them and are ‘in.’ They did this by offering discounts, giveaways and showing their school spirit in the community. Now, people associate their brand with their school too. Almost everyone I know, knows about Coca-Cola, but their purpose of brand promotion wasn’t about the product, it was about their lifestyle. They want consumers to know that drinking Coca-Cola doesn’t just satisfy your thirst, but it brings happy memories, like the memories from the event we put together on-campus. The brand wants to associate making an A on a test, with drinking Coca-Cola, and to do that, you have to remind consumers about your brand all the time.

So, whether you’re introducing a new brand, creating a new, positive impression, creating an experience, or building a relationship with the community, there is and will always be a need for brand promotion, to create brand loyalty.