How we built our brand

By founder Eric Zimmett

When I launched my agency in 2014, my first step — almost before securing any clients — was developing the Brand. As an advertising agency, I wanted to treat the agency as our first client.

I chose Braden, my middle name, as our company name — first with Braden Zimmett LLC then later in Braden Social Media LLC.

After initial research, I found that the name Braden had an interesting history and some potential branding options. Braden is derived from an Irish & Scottish Gaelic word meaning “salmon.” Immediately I recalled that salmon Swim Upstream. A bit too cliche for a tagline, I tweaked it a bit.

Swim Against The Stream had a nice ring to it. Another search revealed, surprisingly, that the domain name was available, swimagainstthestream.com. Sure it was a lengthy domain, but any time you can own your brand or slogan on social media is a bonus. I also noticed that the hashtag #SwimAgainstTheStream was used some but not as much as other variations.

Braden Social Media first logo

Next I created our first logo, a simple badge design with the letters “BZ” in the center, for Braden Zimmett. Though I inserted a little fish in the bottom to showcase our salmon origin.

I began to dig deeper into the Braden name, soon finding it had even more history, mythology even. In Irish Folklore, bradán feasa is the ‘Salmon of Knowledge.”

594px-Bigfish_Belfast_closeup
Scales on the Big Fish or Salmon of Knowledge sculpture in Northern Ireland celebrates the return of fish to the River Lagan

“According to Celtic legend, an ordinary salmon ate nine hazelnuts that fell into the well of wisdom. By this act, the salmon gained the world’s knowledge. The first person to eat of its flesh would, in turn, gain this knowledge.”

A fantastic tale of a poet, Finneces, and his student Finn McCool. Swim Against The Stream… The Salmon of Knowledge… Finn McCool… Now this is something I can really see my brand embracing. Next I edited my own version of the tale and sent it to a voice-over artist to record. Listen below: 

With a little work, we had developed a Brand name, a logo and a connected to a story.

Develop your Brand & positioning before you even consider Strategy or Marketing.

What matters is giving the brand a story, and making sure the story has meaning — that our brand stands for something.

How we started Social Guerrilla Marketing

Our Social Guerrilla Marketing started in 2015 almost by accident working with the Student Book Store. The store’s mascot, Bookie the Bear, had been all but forgotten.

We wanted to resurrect his presence on social media by having him take over the store’s Twitter account for the week in #BookieTakeover. For that we’d stage photos and have the mascot take unconventional photos like Bookie diving into a dumpster, riding the Nittany Lion statue or sitting among students in the Hub.

For a few hours any many miles we walked on campus, one of us – a lucky intern of course – in a very sweat-inducing costume. We got just about all the shots we wanted and considered the shoot a success. Including a chance encounter with another mascot known to Penn Staters across the country — The Nittany Lion himself, who also tweeted a photo of the encounter, though later deleted it, likely after discovering The Student Book store directly competes with the Penn State Book Store.

What we didn’t anticipate was the live, experiential marketing benefit of the promotion, with many students and strangers reacting very positively to the promo and Bookie the Bear.

Moving forward we wanted to better plan and encourage both the social media effects but also the in-person experiential-marketing promo — thus our Social Guerrilla Marketing was born.

It certainly made a mark in our community, generating buzz in the streets, on social media and in the news. Onward State, the student-run news site, picked up the story shortly thereafter in Bookie The Bear: The Student Book Store’s Resurrected (And Creepy) Mascot by Mike Reisman.

On any given day, you can see a near innumerable number of strange things on campus, from students unicycling to class, to a guy in a red sweatshirt screaming at you about your sins, and even a girl putting a hat on a squirrelRecently, however, some students may have seen something even stranger: a human-sized blue bear walking around campus committing atrocities like ruining Oreos, and eating food at the HUB while staring aimlessly into space.

The National Association of College Stores, NACS, also spotted our promo and recognized how The Student Book Store had updated its old mascot. In Campus Marketplace, Student Store Brings Back Bookie the Bear by Dan Angelo

Once we did the #BookieTakeover of our Twitter account, he kind of took off,” The Student Book Store’s Michael Woytowich said. “A lot of people were interested in what we were doing. We actually had students take time out of their studying to take snapshots of themselves with the bear. We had a lot of fun with it and were encouraged with the response.

Since that first promo in 2015, we’ve now executed another half a dozen promos — for restaurants, retailers, public transit agencies and now grocery delivery services. Clients including Harpers in downtown State College; AMTRAN in Altoona, Pa; Go2Gro grocery delivery in State College; and more. Featuring Instagram photo frames; Halloween accessories; a wooden whale for Vineyard Vines mascot, Whaley; a giant Weis grocery bag; a man-sized Tomato costume; thousands of impressions and experiences for clients, fans and our agency.

Brands Swimming Against The Stream: Arby’s

Brands Swimming Against The Stream: Arby’s

Highlighting companies that don’t follow the competition’s lead, but instead stand out by Swimming Against The Stream.

Brand: Arby’s.
Campaign: We Have The Meats

While McDonald’s and others are advertising lower calorie choices, Arby’s takes fast food head on in advertising campaign and site http://arbys.com/the-meats.

As we would have predicted, the campaign is a huge hit. Arby’s has seen an increase in sales since its launch.

Results: In the News

Congratulations, Arby’s, on your meats, and for being recognized as our first brand that Swims Against The Stream.