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Brand Strategy Analysis 1

Brand Strategy: Hot Design Express


Manuel Wilhite
Full Sail University
5 April 2015

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Abstract
Hot Design Express is a hybrid digital marketing and design firm. They deal exclusively with the
hair and beauty industry. They have hired us, ABC Brand Analysis Company to give them an
assessment of their brand structure, strategy and alignment with the core foundations of their
brand inception. It is beyond the scope of this report to cover all existing consumer audience
contact points, but there will be an analysis of core brand aspects that represent fundamental and
foundational brand presence and perception. These areas will include the brand name, identity,
business card and archetype. Some other areas that will be covered are the tag line, mission
statement, target market, brand story and promotional plan. Finally we will review the actual
product and its differentiation it has from the competitors. Throughout this report we shall use
observations from a book called The Brand Gap by Marty Neumeier a respected author in the
field of brand strategy. This will allow us to contrast best practice with how the brand is aligned
presently. Using this method we may gain a richer perspective while exploring deeply, all
avenues to progress the brand in the eyes of the consumer audience. The goal of this report is to
convey successful strategy based on the context of where the brand stands presently and how it
can progress through the implementation of contemporary best practice.

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Introduction
Who is Hot Design Express? They are a modern consultancy that is a departure from the norm,
representing a newer more contemporary operational apparatus that is more aligned with present
day media convergence patterns. What do they do? They represent through contemporary
practice, the rich mixture of the present day media channel structure that enables Hot Design
Express to have a fluid response to needs of the market. Where the old agency or consultant
structure promoted a silo type solution to project management, Hot Design Express approaches
such tasks with a modern approach that exhibits efficiency and measurable results. Why is this
important to the consumer audience? This efficiency allows for a richer set of solutions and
holistic digital marketing experiences in the form of an end-to-end approach. To project a stature
for this brand requires the same multifaceted innovation the premise of the brand asserts, a new,
modern and representative approach of the future. The challenge here though is to temper this
brash innovative spirit with a core philosophy and mantra that conveys a genuine feeling born
from the legacy of Annie Malone. Annie Malones name is scarcely known but her impact in the
hair and beauty industry is great. Her product design, market innovations and philanthropic traits
are the legacy in which Hot Design Express wishes to exemplify today. Helping people is a form
of problem solving. Hot Design Express seeks not only to differentiate itself through innovative
market practice, but through the focused intent of helping people market better within the hair
and beauty industry. They will achieve this by solving common problems in the brand space of
the consumer audience they serve, the small and medium sized salon and product owners within
the hair and beauty industry.

Hot Design Express Brand Components

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Brand Name
Hot Design Express was created as a simple and sturdy name. In much the same way as the hood
of a high performance vehicle hides the complexity of what lies underneath, so was the name of
Hot Design Express chosen to hide the complex representation of media convergence that is used
in a multi-channel campaign operation. Since 1995 a dramatic transformation has taken place in
the way humanity communicates. Initially the media changed, followed by the structure of many
business models and finally the patterns of how we as a society interacts socially. The name Hot
Design Express was chosen to put a potentially complex marketing solution into a flexible term
that means innovation and efficiency. On the surface the name may seem odd and generic. You
certainly dont think of hair and beauty when it is mentioned. But just as a high performance
vehicle is judged by its speed and flexibility, so too is Hot Design Express defined by the amount
of complex multi-channel tasks that are handled with speed, efficiency and measurable outcome.
Hot Design Express gets the meaning from a passion. A passion for the service it wants to
provide. Hot represents innovation, meaning new and contemporary concepts brought to fruition
through thought leadership. Design refers to the many levels of creativity within the scope of the
Hot Design Express spectrum of skill sets. Express refers to the simplicity and efficient elegance
of service delivery, often taking complex tasks and streamlining them to provide small and
midsize hair and beauty operations with contemporary marketing flexibility. As we examine the
Hot Design Express name with Marty Neumeiers seven criterions for a good name, it can be
seen that 100% alignment is not achieved but great promise remains for the components that are
well aligned. Is it distinctive? Yes. Hot Design Express separates itself from typical design firms
by boldly claiming a promise of innovation and timely, efficient service. Does it have brevity?
No. Hot Design Express is not a snappy one-word phrase that fits neatly within quickly worded

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pitches. Yet it does maintain a quickness when recited, making it not as troublesome as a phrase
with even more syllables. Is it an appropriate name? Yes. Hot Design Express is embodied by the
name, which is innovative design in a fast and efficient manner. Is the spelling and pronunciation
easy? Yes. Hot Design Express is very easy in spelling and pronunciation. Is the name likable?
Yes. Hot Design Express projects value by nature of the premise it claims which is innovative
design with speed and efficiency. This is a desirable trait and therefor deemed likable. Is it
extendible? Yes. Hot Design Express by nature is multi-faceted being that it is representative of
new age media convergences both in design and marketing. This agility in meaning is carried
over to the name and aptly describes many things with one phrase. Is it a viable option for
trademark? Can it be used in web space? Yes. Hot Design Express is a registered domain and
business entity. This being stated, Hot Design Express does not really convey the core
philosophy through the name. The focus seems to be more on service and performance rather
than a name that shows the level of caring put forth in their philosophy. Though a challenge, it
may be wise to find ways to skillfully align the name more with the caring persona they wish to
evoke.

Brand Identity

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figure 1
The Hot Design Express logo may be the ultimate compliment to the brand name. Where the
brand name signifies logic, function and performance, the logo exhibits caring and grace. The
elegance of a lady looking downward with eyes closed as if in inner contemplation gives the
impression of beauty. The hairstyle she dons metaphorically represents the heat of innovation
fused with a deliverance of beauty. The strong lines hug soft curves but give way to sharp edges
representing variety yet simplicity while forming the complete image. The logo is left black and
white intentionally as a means to keep it neutral. This gives it a chameleon like quality and
makes it adaptable to many formats and mediums. The curvature and line format along with the
facial composition could be reminiscent a well-known artist from the art deco era. This logo is
effective at bringing balance to the brand name and skillfully conveys a feeling of care and
compassion. It could be said that it has aesthetics, because its the language of feeling.
J. Morse states what logos should posses in his article on the subject, There are four principles
that make for a great logo. It must follow solid basic design principles, be functional, represent
the company and be unique. Morse, J. (2014) Hot Design Express has devised a logo that embodies
these traits. Its function is represented in the manner it effectively conveys grace and beauty. The lines
and forms follow timeless design principles making it appealing and recognizable. The style in which the

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composition is rendered makes it unique and all of these facets together combine to represent the
company quite fully. The Hot Design Express logo is meant to communicate a nurturing aura that shields
them from the harsh reality of tech dense activities multi-channel campaigns can involve. Though the Hot
Design Express logo has much strength, the fact it has no color may be a hindrance to achieving an
instant connection. Color triggers emotions that should be aligned with brand persona. Finding a way to
have a standard color scheme would aid in the holistic projection of brand charisma.

Business Card

figure 2

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The business card for Hot Design Express is much like the logo and name in that it is simple and
elegant, yet functional and with meaning. The logo is shown prominently at the top of the
portrait-oriented layout. The font is Minion and expresses a sense of timelessness and effective
communication with its clarity. In an article by mashable.com outlining best practices on
business card layout, they put forth some points to be noted when preparing your own, Dont
over populate, dont make it bland and dont list a fax number. These simple yet applicable
rules have been implemented for the most part except for the bland part. It is a fine line between
simplicity and bland. It is our opinion that there should be avenues sought out to make the
business card stand out more. The tag line is an attempt to let the cardholder know the intentions
of the company. The words, guiding the possibilities in hair & beauty marketing are an
optimistic symbol of hope. It is meant to convey a sense of confidence in the future of the
opportunities that await us. This tagline as well as the other elements of this business card is
aligned with the brand, aside from the blandness and lack of color vibrancy.

Archetype
The archetype for Hot Design Express is the Caregiver. This stems from the intent of helping
people to market better within the hair and beauty industry. In embracing the philosophy and
philanthropic traits of Annie Malone, Hot Design Express aims to solve problems by proving
thought leadership openly and geared to empower small and medium sized businesses in hair and
beauty. Annie Malone once oversaw a hair and beauty empire over 100 years ago. She was the
first female self-made millionaire and she used her wealth to open schools and orphanages.

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A more recognizable public figure that shares the same archetype as Annie Malone is the actor
Cicely Tyson. She is known for playing powerful roles as mothers and strong compassionate
women. As the mother that bore Kunta Kinte in the movie Roots, she showed the care and
compassion only a mother could exhibit. These traits embody the Caregiver archetype. The
Caregiver archetype is comprised of emotions such as making people a priority.
This archetype is compassionate and generous; frequently helping others is how they find their
meaning. They provide exceptional customer service and are consistent and trustworthy.
Caregivers have been known to put themselves last though, so it is important to maintain a
balance so that objectives are not totally emotionally based. There are other negative sides to the
Caregiver archetype besides over sacrifice such as the tendency of needing to be important and at
the center of attention. That being said, Hot Design Express exemplifies this archetype through
the help and thought leadership it provides on their site. Many people find it hard to wade
through the mountains of information it takes to understand complex marketing strategy. Product
design can be an equally harrowing task to assess and implement a brand-aligned solution. When
the two are mixed together it may be near impossible to ascertain a brand solution without
consulting several entities and getting unpredictable budget outcomes. Some information found
elsewhere may not be specific to the area of hair. Through a section on the site called Hot
Design Social, product and salon owners can view articles and videos, share stories and ask
questions to help themselves. Hot Design Express calls this the Marketing Community and
invites participants to share their marketing journey. By encouraging small and midsize business
owners to collaborate and share their experiences they learn through context. Besides that Hot
Design Express has an area on the site called Ask A Question. In this area they take more in
depth questions from the consumer audience and make content from it. This method plays a dual

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role because as well as informing the consumer audience it provides the site with relevant
content, potentially answering other questions before they are asked. This community is open
and free, showing that Hot Design Express cares for the hair and beauty ecosystem of small
business. Through these demonstrations the values of Hot Design Express are aligned with the
character traits of the Caregiver archetype.

Mission Statement
Providing innovative, timely digital marketing and design while caring for the hair and beauty
ecosystem.

Hot Design Express has chosen a mission statement that does its best to reflect the values and
intentions of the brand. By drawing from the qualities of the company philosophy and brand
name, the mission statement provides a glimpse into the vision it takes to fulfill the promise.
Previously we discussed how the word Hot in the brand name described innovation, the mission
statement puts this value front and center. The word Express in the brand name is represented by
the word timely in the mission statement, again aligning itself with the core values of it. Digital
marketing and design specify the core services of Hot Design Express and are indeed how the
brand brings value to the consumer audience. The part that says, while caring for the hair and
beauty ecosystem is also in alignment with the brand philosophy and archetype characteristics.

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When all of these elements are placed together to form the whole statement a clear objective
unfolds. Looking at an article by Inc. Magazine, they give us insight into good components a
mission statement should possess, you should be able to convey the value of your company
or why your brand exists, inspire and encourage your employees. Lublin, N., & Lublin, N. (2009)
Furthermore they state that you should focus on what your company really does and convey the value that
demonstrates. We feel this mission statement accurately reflects and aligns with the brands goals and
objectives.

Brand Story
We would like to stress to Hot Design Express to use their brand story to demonstrate a
genuine empathy for the customer to gain a deeper connection on their level. Quicksprout.com
made a statement that supports such a view,
Contrary to popular belief, brand storytelling is not about your company. Its about your
customers and the value that they get when engaging with your product or service.
Inc.com, (2015)
This story displays these values. Trina was fresh out of cosmetology school, so she should be
finished with the hectic schedule right? Wrong. After graduating school and feeling like she was
supposed to know more, all she was left with was the word how. How do I promote my salon
services? How can I promote my hair product? What about packaging? How about sales,
distribution, websites, and all of the 1000 other details to go over? With a three year old girl, a
car note and a student loan looming, Trina had no time to surmount a learning campaign to fill in
the missing pieces of getting more clients and sales. Then Trina found Hot Design Express
through a banner on her favorite hair blog. There she discovered the marketing community, a
place where people like her were trying to do things like her, namely starting businesses or

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making established businesses prosper. Even before joining the marketing community she
submitted a question to the Ask A Question area of the site. To her surprise she got a reply within
24 hours. Her question was even good enough to be made into an article, which was put up a
week later. When her article was posted she was informed and thanked by Hot Design Express,
then other community members also commented on the article over the time it was posted. Trina
was feeling less anxious now and even energized, knowing that even though she couldnt afford
full service consulting, Hot Design Express provided enough information to make her informed.
She started to frequent the site more often to engage in other people that owned salons and
products, developing contacts and even picking up a client or two. As time passed by, she used
the advice to do simple steps, like posting regularly on her social media touch points and how to
measure their effectiveness. She even averted disaster by not signing up for a web site she knew
wasnt of value. Since her friend recommended it to her she usually would have gone with it. But
this time she attended a webinar outlining best practices on choosing a web designer and why,
there she found key questions to ask and what to expect. Her friend lamented to her months later
about the broken promises of more traffic and the steep monthly payments she was making.
Trina now felt very proud, only months ago she felt powerless to navigate her business or what a
brand was. Now not only did she have a community to turn to and gain insights into common
problems, but she now had a broader offline network as well. Trina and other community
members would get together for glamour meet ups and even have outings for the kids. But aside
from these qualities she enjoyed by joining the community, she liked the energy and the buzz
every time she and the other community members were together. Sure there was a lot of reading
and ever more question asking, but doing it in a community she learned more from context and

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that made it seem natural. It really seems as if they were there every step of the way, I now feel
more confident about the future of my business and being able to care for my family.
This story represents an experience of a typical community member. It shows how Hot
Design Express fosters a community and tends to needs that small and medium sized business
owners have. By sharing the philosophy of helping others, the feeling perpetuates throughout the
community leading to broader learning, engagement and increased opportunity. This scenario is
in line with the Caregiver archetype as it demonstrates compassion for the welfare of people and
their businesses in the hair community. There was sense of emotion conveyed by the relief Trina
felt after feeling less helpless promoting her services, even though she couldnt afford full
service. Emotion was also displayed in the friendships she generated through the community that
led to offline meet ups. Trina was also glad she had averted buying a bum web site by using
information from the webinar she attended. All of these instances together can be traced back to
the environment that nurtured Trinas search for answers. This environment embodies the
archetype Hot Design Express professes.

Target Market
The target market Hot Design Express seeks to engage is mostly female and African
American, and owns their own product, salon or both. Probeauty.org, in their annual report on
the state of the hair care industry, presented some astounding facts. Probeauty.org (2015) They
find that the salon industry is vibrant and growing with close to one million establishments that
have an annual income of over $40 billion. Of this total amount of salons in the U.S., 20% have
African American owners, compared to just 7% of business in the private sector. Also from this

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total amount they find that 60% of all salons are owned by women compared with just 20% of
overall business in the private sector. Salon owners frequently launch their own products even if
just sold in their own salons. Of this population of salon and product owners, 25% are 18 to 24,
11% are 25 to 34, and 37% are 35 to 44. The median age is 40 and the average household income
for 50% of this demographic is $50,000, with 38% making over $75,000 and just 20% making
over $100,000. Over 44% of this demographic has attended college and 88% have attended some
college in their lifetime. 70% of this demographic is employed full time while 58% of this total
demographic is married and 38% have children. Finally 58% of this demographic is married.
A report by Neilson on Afro American shopping habits point out great insights into the likes and
dislikes of this demographic segment. Nnpa.org,. (2015)
Blacks commit 18% of their annual retail dollars to store brands and continue to
show resiliency in specific non-edible categories such as Ethnic Hair and Beauty
Aids, where they are more likely to spend nine times more than other groups.
Also in their findings they report that Blacks watch 37% TV than that of the overall
population, another insight into frequented activities. They also have found in their study
that Afro American women are the fastest growing entrepreneurial segment of the
population. As a target market, Hot Design Express has aligned the brand with a good
understanding of who their base clientele is and why they engage on certain levels.

Promotional Plan

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The Hot design express promotional plan is built with the target market in mind. By
knowing their likes and dislikes, we can more accurately engage the specific
demographic we need to. Social media is a must when speaking of engagement with this
particular demographic segment. There is also content, a very targeted way to draw this
demographic. Hot Design Express makes content from the needs of the marketing
community they administer as well as keyword research from word spaces that
compliment the brand. From these keywords they gather insight on trends within groups
that frequent those keywords. This content when posted draws targeted traffic that can
be directed to various funnels on the site with different objectives. Hot Design Express
also employs an influencer campaign it dove tails with press releases and retargeting
campaigns. Reaching out to hair bloggers, high profile stylists, successful product
owners and hair and beauty journalists, Hot Design Express invites them to take a poll or
participate in a content partnership. This is done around the same time of a press release
to maximize impact and make measurable results. With the bump in traffic retargeted
ads are employed to stretch the exposure of the campaign as the consumer audience
travels the net. Finally Hot Design Express re-purposes content and deploys it over other
channel to maximize reach and engagement. The social media touch points are the
essential six, Facebook, Twitter, Youtube, Pintrist, Instagram and Google+. Each social
touch point has its own attributes and content is formatted specifically for that channel
while making sure that it isnt the same as another channel. Throughout the touch points
the brand message should be consistent and the messages relevant enough to engage and
point back to the site for added traffic.

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Product Description
The Hot Design Express products are actually the innovation in project management it
provides. In the book The Brand Gap, it was stated as such, The successful company is
not the one with the most brains, he suggests, but the most brains acting in concert. M.
Neumeier (2015) Hot Design Express represents a newer form of consultancy that
reflects the convergence in media, communications and manufacturing. By wrapping
these processes in a package, shielding the client from the myriad of complexities, Hot
Design Express exhibits innovation in service deliver which creates overall value and
customer satisfaction. The book also says,
Today there are three basic models for managing brand collaboration:
Outsourcing the brand to a one-stop shop, outsourcing it to a brand agency, and
stewarding the brand internally with an integrated marketing team. M.
Neumeier (2015) Hot Design Express has developed many professional
relationships and outsource venders which gives them the flexibility to do
complex tasks almost in parallel. This level of efficiency across high-end skill
levels offers a competitive advantage to the client while creating the value of
projects completed on time and on budget. This type of innovative product
offering falls in line with the brand attribute of providing innovative design
services in a timely manner.

Differentiators
We congratulate Hot Design Express on their unique approach to a very targeted
and defined market. From this standpoint we could say there are no competitors

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but that would be unwise. The book The Brand Gap points out the benefits of
occupying well-defined niches like this and how they command a premium,
charismatic brands often claim the dominant position in their categories, with
market shares of 50% or higher. M. Neumeier (2015) Besides that, the book
claims, these companies claim up to 40% higher prices and are least likely to be
commoditized. This being said, Hot Design Express used these three
competitors as a comparison to highlight their differences.
1. http://theblackowlagency.com/
2. http://www.barbinc.com/
3. http://www.salonbuilder.com/
Hot Design Express is a hybrid digital marketing and design agency that deals
exclusively with hair and beauty. They highly measurable marketing campaigns over
multi-channel formats to achieve maximum exposure and branding to specifically
targeted markets. The first differentiator they possess is a highly targeted niche of salon
and product owners primarily in the African American sector. Of the three sites listed
only one site, www.salonbuilder.com specializes in salons though www.barbinc.com
deals with a similar niche, since it is barbering its not the same. The second
differentiator is services. Hot Design Express offers a robust set of services that are
integrated and reflect modern convergences in media, communication and
manufacturing. With packaging and product design mixed with the marketing and
launching of these products as well as a full set of measurable online visibility
solutions, the versatility in services they provide is hard to be matched. The site
www.salonbuilder.com offers canned web sites geared to charge a monthly fee for the

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lifetime of its use. The same is offered by www.barbinc.com, a monthly fee for a cookie
cutter site cobbled together with thin content and no optimization. The site of
www.theblackowlagency.com has creative services but they are unspecialized and
amount to little more than mere graphic design and not a complete solution. The third
difference between Hot Design Express and the three listed sites is community and
content. Hot Design Express regularly devises specific content and engages with a
community of targeted audience members. This content exhibits thought leadership
and the ability to contribute to the value of discussion and discovery among the
community. Out of the three, www.barbinc.com had the most relevant and up to date
content, an examination of their keyword structure revealed that there is no concerted
effort to optimize this content though. The other two sites had either stale content or no
content. A sites content and how it is structured is a dead giveaway as to the intent of
the site. A site without optimized content is a shot in the dark.

In Closing
Our analysis of the Hot Design Express brand has uncovered some good and some bad
but overall we are excited about the innovative direction they head and the ethical
philosophy they embrace as they do.